Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blogging Break

Hey folks!  I am currently taking a break from blogging here at Stewardship Not Convenience.  You can catch me periodically at Keeper of the Home.  Thanks for your patience!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Giveaway Winner

Thank you all so much for all your giveaway entries and lovely, encouraging comments! I really loved doing the tutorial for you. If you haven't gotten a chance to become a follower of my blog, I'd love it if you'd follow me along on my journey. My posting is sometimes a bit sporadic during the school year because with homeschooling and all our other activities, I get a bit swamped. And now, we've added two new foster children to our family this week, bring our child count up to 6!

Okay, on to the winner of the giveaway!

Congratulations to Jennifer @ A Heavenly Perspective. Please contact me shortly so I can get your address!

Again, thanks for all who entered the contest!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Soap Making Giveaway

If you are wanting to enter my soap giveaway, just leave a comment on this post. Sorry for the confusion!

One lucky winner will receive 4 bars of soap (1 pound of soap) from the batch I made my soap making tutorial! This will give you a way to experience the homemade soaps before you actually start making your own. I love the mild, pleasant smell of fresh lye soap, and I hope you do, too!

  • To enter, please leave a comment on this page with your name and some way to contact you.
  • To get a second entry, please become a follower of my website, and then leave a comment that lets me know you did so.

I will leave the giveaway open until Saturday, April 24th. At that point, I will choose the winner with, and I will contact the winner. Good luck!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Save on Scrapbooking

For all of you out there that have been thinking about digital scrapbooking, you can now get the scrapbooking program that I use--My Memories Suite--for 10% off. To take advantage of this, just click on the ad in the lefthand column, and use GMC10off as your coupon code. It's already a really good price for digital scrapbooking software, but an extra 10% is a nice perk. When I started with this program, I had to wait for the software to get shipped to me. But now you can just download it and get started today! You can check out their store, too, because they have some pretty cute new designs in the store!

Note: I am an affiliate with My Memories Suite, so I do get a small percentage of each sale, but I only promote products that I really believe in, and as you have seen previously on my blog, I really love this scrapbooking software! Actually, I even designed my blog background with MMS!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Check It Out!

I'm so happy to let you know that I am a new guest contributor on one of my favorite blogs--Keeper of the Home. The Keeper of the Home blog was one of the blogs I read a lot when I was first trying out a more natural approach to life. So I feel blessed to get the opportunity to contribute. You can find my article there today!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We're Sick Again

photo credit Glisglis

When I have spare time, one of my favorite things to read about is natural living. I particularly enjoy learning about natural remedies for illnesses. I find it so fascinating that God has given us so many plants and berries and herbs for our healing. I admit I am a novice when it comes to natural remedies, but there is one remedy that I have tried and am very excited about--black elderberries or sambucus nigra.

I first learned about this wonderful berry last year, just as the "swine" flu was sweeping the nation. Black elderberries--usually sold in syrup form--have a strong antiviral quality to them, which makes them great for fighting off colds and the flu. They also are packed with antioxidants, which are very beneficial in staying healthy. Here are two great resources:
  • Click here for good information about the special properties of the black elderberry.
  • Below is a good video on how to make your own elderberry syrup, which is much more cost effective than buying it. I might have to try this next year!

Well, to make a long story short, last October, I actually got the swine flu. So, I pulled out the elderberry syrup and took it several times a day. Within just a couple of days, I was all better. I was truly amazed, but at the same time, I wondered if it was the elderberry syrup or if I was just at the end of my sickness. But when my two year old daughter started getting really sick, I gave her the syrup as well, and by the next day, she was already getting better. At that point, I became a believer. I love that the syrup is safe to give to little ones, and it tastes pretty good, too, so my kids are willing to take it.

Okay, so you may be asking yourself why I am posting this now, even though cold and flu season is almost over. There are two reasons:

First of all, I have a cold now, so eldberry syrup is on my mind. My kids and I have managed to stay very healthy this winter (except for the flu in October.) But we all are sick now. So, as soon as I press "publish" on this article, I'm headed to the store to buy some elderberry syrup!

Second, you heard about it in the video, and it is also in the article I linked, but elderberry syrup is a great way to STAY well. With all the antioxidants, flavanoids, and antiviral properties, eldberries are awesome for staying healthy. You can just take a little each day for an antioxidant boost. This would be great to try as a daily supplement if you made your own syrup, since it is far more cost effective.

So, I'm you take elderberry syrup daily as a supplement? Have you ever made your own syrup?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prayer and Perspective

photo credit Ree Drummond

This week has been a very difficult week for me. I have found myself, at times, at complete loss as what to do as a parent. Every day is a new challenge when you are a mother, but this week has been especially hard, and I've had some difficult things I've had to face. God has been very faithful to comfort me and to remind me to turn to Him for my strength. And in my crying to the Lord for help, I pulled out one my absolute favorite books to read. It's called The Valley of Vision, and it is a compilation of Puritan prayers. I always love reading through what Puritans have written because it helps me put things in perspective. I think the Puritans had their view of man's relationship to God correct, and whenever I read their prayers, I am humbled. I think too often I start to complain about my circumstances and I start to feel like I am unfit for what God has called me to do. But then God gently reminds me that it is my pride that says that, and it is my pride that demands comfort on this earth.

I wanted to share part of one of the beautiful prayers with you. This has been a huge encouragement to me as I pray for my children and family. I pray it encourages you, as well. And if you can, I highly encourage you go out and buy this book. It is a great read!

Help me to hate and forsake every false way,
to be attentive to my condition and character,
to bridle my tongue,
to keep my heart with all diligence,
to watch and pray against temptation,
to mortify sin,
to be concerned for the salvation of others.
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred.
Let those that are united to me in tender ties be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion, instruction, discipline, example,
That my house may be a nursery for heaven,
My church the garden of the Lord,
Enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting, for thy glory;
Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive, fall short of heaven at last.
Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience, soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word,
be not finally blotted out,
but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grocery Shopping In Your Own Kitchen

I'm having one of those weeks right now where I don't feel at all like going grocery shopping. My husband is out of town and it is the first time he's been gone since we adopted our three oldest kids. So, let's just say that their behavior has not been, um, up to par while Daddy is away. Anyway, it's on weeks like this one, or weeks when the budget is a bit tighter than usual that I employ a technique I call "shopping the pantry."

Before I had four kids, I regularly spent time with a wonderful, very wise woman from our church. She has grown kids and really exemplifies the Proverbs 31 woman. She taught me a lot of things, and the idea of "shopping my pantry" was one of them. I was so blown away by such a simple idea, and I wondered why I hadn't thought of it before. So, this post it to pass along what I learned just in case you, like me, have never heard about this before.

The idea of shopping your pantry is basically the idea of keeping inventory of everything you have in your pantry--and your freezer and refrigerator. I don't keep a written inventory of any of those things, but I generally have a fairly good mental inventory. But, sometimes things get pushed to the back of the fridge and get forgotten until they start to smell. And then other times, you end up with only 1/4 of a bag of frozen green beans, and 1/2 bag of blueberries, etc.

So, on weeks that you want to "shop your pantry," here is what you do:

First, go through your freezer, fridge, and pantry and make a detailed inventory of everything you have that is a food item--including condiments, oils, etc. Write down what it is and how much you have of it. This can be a bit time consuming, I admit. I think that's why some people choose to keep a running inventory of everything they have in their kitchen so they can skip that step.

After you've made your lists, look and see what recipes you can make with those items. Yes, we've all stared into our fridge and asked ourselves what we can make for dinner. But the idea of shopping your fridge is to figure out how many meals you can get out of the stuff in your freezer, fridge, and pantry. Can you feed your family until the next shopping trip? Now is the time to get the creative juices flowing! As you come up with recipes to make with what you have, cross off the items on your list as you use them. On a separate sheet of paper, write down the meals you have planned and the ingredients needed to prepare them. That way you won't forget what's on the menu.

You may find yourself with a lot of random ingredients that leave you wondering if there is anything you could possibly prepare with them. This is where the internet can be quite handy. You can search recipes to get some great ideas. There's also a website that is perfect for a situation like this. It's called, and you enter all the ingredients you have and it will bring up recipes that use those ingredients. So, esentially, it's kind of like a reverse recipe search.

After you have made your menu and have chosen your recipes, you may still need to go to the store, but your grocery list will be a lot smaller! So it's perfect for days when you need to keep the budget small, or you don't want to be walking up and down endless aisles at the store with a bunch of little ones in tow. <------ That's me!

This is such a simple and easy way to save money and cut down wasted and spoiled food. I would guess that a lot of my readers already know about this concept, but I just wanted to share this idea anyway because it has really been such a huge help for me. And it's a great way to be a better steward in the kitchen.

Do you like to shop your pantry? If so, what do you do to stay organized? Do any of my readers keep a running written inventory of their kitchen?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Wonders of Vodka

When you think about vodka, what comes to your mind? I can think of several things. But a few months ago, I started thinking about vodka in a whole new a wonderful household cleaner! It turns out that vodka makes a magnificent multipurpose cleaner.

I originally set out to buy vodka to clean my kids' bath toys. They had started to get that scummy build up on them, and I was looking for a good way to get it off and disinfect them. Most people told me to just soak them in a bath of bleach water, but since I don't even allow bleach in my house (that's a different story, though), I knew that wasn't going to work. Not to mention, bleach can leave an unsafe residue, and since a couple of my children are still in the put-everything-in-the-mouth phase of life, I didn't want any harmful residue.

Then one day I stumbled upon an article that suggested cleaning kids' toys with vodka. Afterall, it's non-staining, low odor, and the high alcohol level makes it a good disinfectant. Not to mention, it deoderizes well. And, any residue left on the toys would be harmless since ethyl alcohol is consumable by humans. Side note: I've had a lot of people ask me, "Why don't you just use rubbing alcohol to clean the toys?" Yes, rubbing/isopropyl alcohol is much cheaper, however, it not meant to be ingested, and since my kids still put things in their mouths, we're back to the same problem as bleach. Not to mention, the strength of the isopropyl alcohol can make it quite damaging to some surfaces.

So, I set out to clean my kids' bath toys with vodka. It did a very nice job, too. I had a ton of vodka leftover, so I decided to try cleaning other things with it. I didn't want to walk around the house with a bottle of Smirnoff in my cleaning kit, so I poured it into a new spray bottle. With the vodka, I can clean a lot of things at one time. In the bathroom, for example, I can clean the mirrors (because alcohol evaporates quickly and cuts the grime, it makes a great mirror cleaner!), then I can spray down the sink and faucet. We have corian countertops throughout our house, and this type of surface is notorious for streaking. So the vodka cleans them up without streaking, and does a great job of getting up the dried globs of toothpaste out of my kids' sinks. The faucets are shiny and germ free as well. Then you can wipe down the toilet with vodka, which kills germs and deoderizes as well.

I've used the vodka for some little, random jobs as well. We have a lot of windows in our house, and I've found that a little squirt of vodka on the windows does a great job at keeping them finger print free. I have also found that soaking toothbrush heads in the vodka (and then rinsing!) is a good way to keep them clean--especially after sickness in the house. If I get something hard or gooey on the tile floor, I will spray it with the vodka and let it sit, then it will come right up when I mop.

The best thing of all is that it is a very cheap way to clean. You don't have to worry about flavor if you're just using it to clean, so the cheapest kind will do. And I got a big bottle back in October, I believe, and I still have some left. A little goes a long way. I have really loved using other natural cleaners and homemade cleaners, but the thing I love about the vodka is that it is very simple--no mixing needed.

Have you ever tried cleaning with vodka? If not, is this something you'd try?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cowboy Casserole

I've always loved cooking with my crockpot because it's so quick and easy, and you get to actually sit down and enjoy dinner without wearing yourself out or dirtying every dish in the house! But my 3 qt. crockpot has just not been big enough to feed my family, so most crockpot meals have kind of been put aside lately. But my sweet hubby surprised me with a crockpot for Valentine's Day! (Before anyone gets upset that he didn't give me flowers or candies to celebrate, don't worry....I have always much preferred practical gifts! So I was super excited!) He bought me a big 6 qt. model, so now I have enough room to feed the family and have leftovers. In fact, I was just eating some of last night's leftovers, and I was thinking that I really needed to share the recipe since it was so good and nutritious!

I guess I would call this meal Cowboy Casserole, but it is modified from other recipes I've seen to pack more nutritional punch. Traditional Cowboy Casserole has white potatoes, but I made mine with sweet potatoes instead, and it was super yummy.

So, here's my easy, quick recipe for healthy crockpot Cowboy Casserole. This recipe makes about 8 servings.

1 lb. ground beef or buffalo (grass fed if available. We like to eat buffalo meat, too)
3 sweet potatoes, sliced
1 lb. black beans, cooked (or you could use a can)
1 lb. pinto beans, cooked (again, you could use canned)
1 can Rotel
1 onion, chopped (I actually used powdered onion because my husband and kids don't like onion texture)
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef, and salt and pepper. In crockpot, pile the sliced sweet potatoes and chopped onions on the bottom. Pour both kinds of beans (drained!) over the potatoes. Put the meat on top of the beans. Pour the Rotel over the top of everything. Cook on high for about 6 hours, until the potatoes and onions are tender.

And as I can personally attest to, this makes very yummy next day leftovers as well! :)

I hope you will enjoy this nutritious and very satisfying meal...perfect for a cold winter's dinner!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Get Ready For Valentine's Day!!

Note: The contest has been closed now, but you are still welcome to download the goody I have for you at the end of this post! :)

Hi there digital scrapbooking friends! Welcome to my blog! If you've arrived here because you are following the My Memories Suite blog train, please remember to look for the "hidden" word in this post (seriously, folks, it's not hard!). And then after you've finished reading here, move on to the next stop. Once you've gathered all the words, please follow the initial instructions and email the words to enter to win a free copy of MMS v. 2.0 and some other goodies! Good luck!

I wanted to share one of my favorite new features in My Memories Suite 2.0--the shape tool. In the first version of MMS, there was a shape tool and you could choose solid colors. But in the new MMS, you can make a plethora of shapes, including frames, circles, stars, and scalloped edges. AND, while you can still do solid colors, the new version allows you to very quickly use your background papers to create the shapes as well. I love it! It's super easy, too.

To use this tool, simply go to the background papers tab in the right-hand menu as you normally would. Then select the template paper you would like to use for your shape. All you have to do is press the button in the bottom left corner of the screen that says "Add as shape object." It will bring up all your shape choices. Choose the shape you want and voila! You have the shape on your page.

One thing that I really appreciate about this tool is that once it has created the shape on your page, you can stretch it in one direction and the paper pattern will not get distorted, as it keeps its proportions. To add a shadow to your newly created paper shape (you know you want to!), just go to the shape tab in the right-hand menu and choose "shadow."

So, creating a paper shape is a super easy way to add a bit of extra flair to your designs. There are so many possibilities, from layering to creating frames. It's really a great addition to the new version. As you see in the scrapbook layout above, and using StoryRock's "Cross My Heart" pack, I have used paper shapes to create frames for my pictures as well as layering to add some texture in the background, and it took no time at all. That's what got me hooked on My Memories Suite to begin's just so easy!

And now for a giveaway:

To thank you for visiting my blog today and to get you ready for Valentine's Day, I have a special "treat" for you. I've designed a Valentine's themed candy bar wrapper. It'll be the right size for a 1.55 oz. Hershey style candy bar, so print it off and give it to that special someone in your life! (Or you can make yourself some pretty chocolates to eat while you are scrapbooking!) To print the file, simply click on the photo to open the full sized photo. Then save to your computer and use it to print.

Like the elements I used for the candy bar wrapper? I used the Simply Joy and Whoo Loves You elements, available at the MMS store. The adorable fonts are from

Now, for your next stop on this blog train, please visit Brooke's blog here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What are you going to do with all those Christmas pictures?

(you can click this photo to see what a layout looks like full size)

If you're like me, you probably took tons of pictures of your family over Christmas break! I love capturing the faces of my kids when they open a gift that I worked long and hard to make. Plus, my kids are a lot more willing to sit still for pictures during Christmas...I don't know why. I think maybe they sense that it's more important during big holidays. Plus, this year, we had a Christmas blizzard, so I got the unexpected pleasure of taking pictures of my kids playing in the huge snow drifts. Needless to say, I have a ton of photos from Christmas.

My (unofficial) New Year's resolution has been to work on being more organized and efficient in every area of life. So I figured, why not apply it to my photos? Instead of letting my photos sit around on the computer (or worse, on the camera!) until I can hardly remember them, I'm going create scrapbook pages for them immediately. I guess this is one of the wonderful things about the world of digital scrapping because it only takes a short time commitment to make a few layouts. (And if you're really low on time or inspiration, you can buy premade layouts and just drag and drop your photos in and be done!) So that's what I want to do this year...scrapbook as I take the pictures. It'll definitely be better than what I did last year--wait til the end of the year to do most of the scrapbooking and then not really finish in time.

So, what are you going to do with all those precious photos from your Christmas?