Friday, December 26, 2014

Things to do : On the Cheap

So cheap has 2 meanings really,  low cost,  or low quality.  no one wants cheap quality,  but when it comes to low cost,  we all get excited,  just look at black Friday right?

I have been posting steps to making things work when laid off close to Christmas.

Step 2: No Parental presents.  While presents are great for the kids to open and get excited about,  as the parents,  my wife and I decided not to get anything for eachother this year.  That has proved much harder that I thought it would be.

  I don't mind not getting gifts from her,  but not getting her anything when there were only like 2 items on her wish list was a tough pill to swallow.  by doing that though,  we were able to stretch the budget a little more for some fun stuff.

We have been doing low cost for about a month now (since I was laid off) and since it is now the midst of the holiday season,  we want to be out doing things.  We obviously cant do everything on the cheap,  so I will share a few things that we have been able to.

Movie Night:

Who doesn't love some hot tea, popcorn, and a Christmas movie?  I haven't had microwave popcorn for a long time,  rather I make it on the stove. If you have never tried it,  here are a few tips.

1. DO NOT leave the pan unattended at any point in the popcorn making process.  The oil will ignite and start a nasty fire in your house if you leave it hot too long.

2. Make the recipe your own.  A lot of people will say how much oil,  salt,  and kernels to add,  and while following a recipe is a good idea,  feel free to put your own spin on it.  I always thought more oil would make the popcorn staler.  Not true,  not enough oil will cause chewy popcorn.

3. Serve hot!  There is nothing wrong with cold popcorn,  but right when you put in the movie,  or during the previews, take the 10 minutes,  and make the popcorn.  it smells good, and everyone will appreciate a nice hot bowl.

 Next,  Dinner with family. 

This is something we should probably do more often anyway,  but when we are invited for a meal,  it is nice not to have to think about cooking,  or grocery budget.  Plus I love lasagna.

Then:  Always have fun.  I didn't buy this,  but had some time to try it on.  If you cant look life in the eye and say during the hard times,  lets have some fun,  then the hard times are just going to get harder.

While Christmas is different this year,  it is still and always has been for us about God anyway.  He has opened my eyes to the fact that my job was not my identity,  and that when relying on him,  everything will be ok. 

Merry Christmas Everyone!



Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Layoff before Christmas

Let me start with some background.  A month ago I was laid off from my job of 5 years.  Completely blindsided,  and didn't see it coming.  I have actively been looking for a replacement career and have realized that 10 years in the industry is not as valuable to companies as a 4 year degree.  Basically I am no longer qualified to do what I have been doing my whole professional life.

It is a terrible time for something like this,  because even though I am a hard core optimist,  watching all the TV commercials about last minute gifts,  and even reading the blogs I LOVE with the gift ideas (which are great by the way) is getting me a little depressed.

I have noticed though,  that being forced not to be able to buy gifts,  has caused us to be more creative,  and focus on the other aspects of this holiday season,  namely,  you know our savior being born.

Now that you know that,  I wanted to share for those of you who may also have little or no income this holiday season,  some of the things we are doing to make it work.

Step 1:

We started Christmas early.  Maybe not the presents,  but we asked around,  got a fake tree,  and had it up and decorated before Thanksgiving.  Taboo I know,  but extending the d├ęcor longer has been great.

Even though my wife swore we would never have a fake tree (we live in the pine tree state after all) it has allowed us to keep it up longer, where a real tree would look pretty sad by now.
Also since her DoTerra business has been going so well,  we have been spraying the tree with white fir oil,  and since it's all natural, it smells just like the real thing.
Since Christmas is in a week,  I am going to keep sharing how we are coping on almost no budget, keeping the kiddos entertained,  and staying as happy as possible during "the most wonderful time of the year"
Tonight we have a fun activity planned.  Tomorrow I will share the details and pictures with you.
Enjoy the season!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Foliage Season - Leaf Peepers

As a kid, I never even knew that the trees didn't change everywhere in the world the way they do this time of year in New England.  It is one of those wonderful little things that are so easily taken for granted.

I never cared for the science of it all, photosynthesis and such,  but there is something about the turning of the leaves that is a fun safety net between summer being over, and not quite snowy season.

This morning,  the sun was gleaming on the bright colors, and I had to snap a few shots to share.

Its funny,  the giant maple in my yard, just turns a yellowish brown,  you would think it was a spicy mustard tree.  but some are bright red, or orange,  and look amazing.

I suppose I can take solace in knowing that what my trees lack in color this fall they make up for in syrup production in the spring.

Do the leaves change where you live?  If not,  do you ever come north just to leaf peep?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It's not the dogs fault

Making signs is just fun.  It's a lot like seeing a bumper sticker,  and thinking,  who came up with that?

Where I live,  my garden runs adjecent to the sidewalk,  and being that we live in town,  many people walk their dogs past our house daily.  

Now,  I love dogs,  I just dont love all dog owners.  some are loving caring and responsible,  while others,  have a dog, and could not possibly pay less attention to what it is doing,  even while on a walk.

So the idea for this sign came.   My vegetables are constantly peed on by the walking dogs,  and there is even one unattended neighborhood dog who chooses to take his daily #2 there.  

I made it,  but never actually put it out.  I still love how it came out though.  

do you let your dog freely go on your neighbors lawn and garden?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Back To Romania

Do you remember the 10 days of Romania series from a few years ago?  My wife went on a missions trip there,  and I posted what the boys and I did while she was gone for those days.  One of the things we said when she got back was that we would love to take the whole family there one day.  Teach the boys to serve others,  and have a cross cultural experience they would remember for a lifetime.

Well...We are going!  We actually leave next month,  and are taking the whole family (even the baby).

This is an amazing opportunity we are very excited about,  and are working hard to raise the necessary funds.

If you have been looking for a way to donate toward helping those in other countries,  would you consider donating to our trip?   All sales from my Etsy shop go directly toward the trip right now,  and there is also a paypal link set up where you can donate,  if you feel so inclined.

I am looking at every possible avenue of fundraising,  what is your favorite fundraiser?

Take a look at the post Heather wrote after her last trip.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Carrot Fries

As you may remember we completed the whole 30 this past year,  and while we are certainly not 100% Paleo now,  we did find certain foods that we really liked and kept in our regular rotation.

Allow me to introduce Carrot Fries!

Super simple (in fact I could cook them,  and that's saying something)

Start with a whole bag of carrots.

Remove the carrots from the bag.  (skipping this step can cause the final product to taste like melted plastic)

Foil some cookie sheets or pizza pans,  and put a tablespoon of oil on each,  lightly coating the whole surface

Cut carrots in half making them french-fry length,  also peel the carrots

Spread carrots onto oiled cookie sheets and season evenly.  I like salt pepper oregano,  and thyme

bake at 400 for 35 minutes,  check to see that they are a little wrinkled (they will not get too soft like boiled carrots,  or actual potato fries.

place as a side with your favorite protein and consume.  If they are still hot,  you may want to blow on them

Monday, January 20, 2014

1-4-3 means I love you

Do you remember pagers?

They were like cell phones,  except they didn't make calls, or play games, or.... ok so they really weren't like cell phones,  except that those who had them took them everywhere and it was a way to reach them.

Oh,  I know how to explain it better.  You know on Grey's Anatomy when they are about to get it on in the break room,  or there is an emotional moment about to be revealed at the bar,  when suddenly that little black box starts beeping?   THAT is a pager.

Well... the way it worked,  was you dialed the pager number,  then a second number which would appear on the pager screen.  In the case above could be a room number, or a medical code,  although I think theirs are probably more high tech.  So if you left your number,  the person with the pager would know to call you.  you could also page 911 to let someone know it is an emergency.

My favorite though was 143.  1 for I, 4 for Love, and 3 for you.  it is my favorite because even in the early days of wireless technology,  where we couldn't even send letters electronically,  but only numbers,  people were still finding a way to check in at random times to say I love you..

With the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday,  there will be a whole lot of I love you going around.  Cards, candy, flowers, stuffed bears with pink tutus.  And we will look at it and say thank you, display it for a week or 2 and then trash it.   Well,  compost the flowers, put the card in the recycling, and donate the bear.

This is where the Idea for a 1-4-3 sign came from.   They make a great gift,  because it is saying I love you in a creative fun way,  but it is also something that He or She can keep out, in the bedroom, living room, kitchen, cubicle,  or anywhere.   It is a conversation piece as well.  People will be sure to ask,  "What does that mean"? and you will be able to say,  "oh,  it means I love you,  so and so got it for me."

So go get some flowers, and chocolate, but save the stuffed bear the humiliation of being the latest on a Goodwill shelf in 3 months,  and pick up a piece of hand made art that will light up your love life for years to come.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Back to Juarez

Thats right,  Juarez Mexico.  That is where these pictures were taken.  2 years ago I was able to go there and build a house for  a family in need.  Casas Por Cristo,  which translates to Houses because of Christ, is an organization that provides housing for free to families that are selected by local pastors in Mexico.

In 30 Days I will be going back to build another house,  for another needy family,  and share with them the wonderful news of Jesus Christ.

I am behind in my fundraising though,  and I am asking you if you would be willing to help.

The trip costs $1,100,  and I have been raising money for a few months now.  If all my blog followers donated 2 dollars,  I would reach my goal.

Here I am holding Alan,  an orphan in Mexico who spent the day on my shoulders

examply of housing available in this area of Juarez

Frame for the foundation of the new house

Me on the back side of the house attaching the blackboard

Each house gets a plaque over the door with the house number

the completed project.

Would you be willing to join with me and help me raise the remainder of my funds needed to return to Juarez, and build another house for a family in need? You can using this donate button which donates to my Etsy shop, all proceeds of which are currently being used to help fund my trip.

Thank you for your support!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Work Space

Yesterday I was reading a blog that I follow,  and they posted pictures of the progress of their new studio they are building. (If you do not already,  you should totally follow Edi's Blog) clicking that link will take you to the post of her studio progress.

Reading it though,  I thought about how I recently revamped my workspace,  although on a much smaller scale . and realized,  it is an interesting topic for a blog post.  We often get to see the product,  but not the space it was created in.  For me it was all about moving inside.  I work in a detached garage for most of my projects,  but with the Maine Winter,  it is nearly impossible.  Paint just doesn't seem to dry at -5 degrees.

I have a basement which has been used mostly for storage the last 3 years.  I always noticed this box on the ceiling that I assumed contained an air duct of some sort,  when I checked recently though,  I found that it was just a box,  and held nothing.

So I ripped it out.  It took up a ton of head room,  and I can now actually stand in that sections of the basement.  While ripping it out I realized that the wood it was made of was beautiful wide rough cut wood,  and I couldn't possibly just get rid of it in the name of space.

I Glued the broken edges back on,  and I had beautiful good as new wood.

For Christmas this year my parents got me a home depot gift card.  I used it to buy all the 1x2 lumber I was going to need to turn the old box into my new work bench.  Making room under the box did mean moving the stuff that was stored there,  so now the basement looks like a tornado hit it.  I will be tackling that soon too.

I only had to cut the planks from the box a little to fit them into my design perfectly.  They make up the actual work space.

Upcycled wood makes a great work bench,  and I now have functional indoor space to work through the winter months until I can get back into the garage in the spring.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter Farmer's Market

Chances are,  when you think of Maine and winter you do not think Farmers  Market.  I know I certainly dont,  so when I heard there was one going on Saturday,  we had to check it out.   It was hosted at the Urban Farm Fermentory in Portland.

 There were plenty of local farms represented,  and root veggies up the wazoo.   Keep in mind we have nearly 3 feet of snow covering the ground right now,  so these farmers are working extra hard to produce crops,  AND they look amazing!

 We even bought 2 pounds of tomatoes.  Since we are in the middle of a Whole30,  fresh veggies are sooooo appreciated.

 Aside from Frank Barone giving me the stink eye,  I think everyone was having an amazing time.

 Afterall,  when you live in Maine,  and can get a farm fresh spread like this,   whats not to love?

Do you have a Winter Farmer's Market in your area?