Last minute holidays gifts that won't add to the clutter.

I was thinking of this post this week and thought I'd re-post it with a few add-ons. 


With the holidays coming up, our de-cluttered, simplified homes are in danger of becoming cluttered with new toys that will often only be interesting to the child for a short while.

In a matter of days the children will be back to playing with their favorite toys, leaving the new toys lying where they left them last.

Probably not in the toy box!

Encouragement to give your best in serving others!

Once again, it's been a while since I've had time to write a post on this blog! I'm usually busy over at Little Monkeys Design blog!! 

I think you would enjoy the post I wrote today on Little Monkey Shop blog about the recent business conference I attended this past weekend - the Business Boutique. I was really encouraged to continue growing my small business, using the gifts and talents I've been given to serve others. 

Hop on over there and have a read! 

Cabin in the Woods

We recently took some family time to relax in a cabin in the woods along the TN/KY border. We go to these cabins often to just relax.

Book Review - Insanity's Shoes

My friend Angela Tompkins recently published a book titled Insanity's Shoes about her experience with postpartum psychosis. As a RN and a IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), I felt I needed to read this book so that I could better screen and counsel the postpartum women I see and talk to on a regular basis.

It's Spring! Time to clean out closets!

Image courtesy of Aleksa D at
Spring means time to do your Spring cleaning! We recently moved, so I feel like we spent the last year Spring cleaning!
Since we live in a much smaller house now, we have a lot less closet space. This really helps you simplify! There's just not room for any extras!
Now that winter is (hopefully :)) almost over, it's time to look back over your winter clothes.
See those tops and bottoms that are really cute, you like them, but for some reason never wore them?
 Get rid of them! Lovely as they are, they are taking up valuable real estate!
 Time to sell or donate them to someone who can really use them. This will give you closet space for clothing articles that you will wear, not just decorate your closet with.
I have this problem too! I have several nice skirts and sweaters that I really like and will "one day" wear, but they aren't real practical on an every day basis. Keep one such out fit for that "one day", and donate the others.
I practiced this idea last Saturday and had a pile of winter clothes to donate to those in need. That feels good on two fronts - my closet is a little more organized and I'm helping someone out with a gift of "new" clothes.
Don't let these early Spring days go by without looking through your winter clothes and seeing which ones you never wore and finding them a new home!

The Quilted Heart - Book Review

In keeping with my New Year's Resolution, I've been reading a few more books this year than I have over the past few years.
I choose The Quilted Heart randomly, needing to add a few more dollars to my cart to get free shipping! It was a good choice!
The Quilted Heart is written by Mona Hodgson and are three short novels in one, all involving the same characters. The setting is a small Missouri town a the end of the Civil War. This intrigued me because we had just finished reading Across Five Aprils with our homeschool history program. I have read very few books about life in the North after the Civil War.

The perfect reader would be a young or older adult, more likely a female. :) This is a Christian book, so no moral or modesty issues. I would encourage my teenage daughters to read this book.
The three main characters in the book couldn't lead more different lives, but they are all intertwined as they try to piece their lives back together after the heartaches they experienced related to the intense hardships of the Civil War. 
At the center of each story is a quilting group ran by an older woman, Mrs. Brantenberg, who, though she too experienced great tribulations brought on by the war, was able to have a positive impact on everyone's life in the quilting circle, through friendship and prayer.
Mrs. Brantenberg says, "Life is much like quilting - a patchwork of scraps and remnants." 
"No matter our age. Life's changing seasons are as persistent as the ripples along the shore."  
I particularly like to read historical fiction books because I like to learn a little something in my easy reading. This book was perfect - it included the post Civil War Era and led into wagon trains going west from Missouri.

I enjoyed the uplifting qualities of this book too. Though the characters had suffered greatly and their lives were in a mess, they could find the good in the day and give praise where it was due. It made me see that we can always find something positive in our lives and underlined the need of daily thanking God for the seasons in our lives.

Kniting Heaven and Earth - a book review

This morning I'm over at Little Monkey's Shop with a book review of Knitting Heaven and Earth and a giveaway. Even if you don't knit - I don't knit - you might be interested in reading how this author uses her knitting to help her navigate through life experiences.
At the end of the post, I tell you how to enter the book giveaway.

My new Essential Oils Bag

Over the past few years our family has started using Young Living Essential Oils to better our lives on a daily basis. As I have learned more and more about natural healing, I've collected quite a few different essential oils. What to do with them all?

My friend Dori over at The Red Feedsack makes the most beautiful bags for carrying your essential oils in when you travel - or for just storing them. She gifted me one recently (because that's what friends do!) and I'm in LOVE with it! She even included a great gift tag.

 The essential oil bag is made out of high quality fabric, so it will wash well and look new for a long time.  She has lots of fabric colors and styles from which to choose. The outside has a zipper opening on top with a colorful ribbon to add some cuteness.

Inside, the bag is padded and lined. There are 10 little pockets for the oil bottles along the sides of the bag and four removable inserts with 3 pockets each.  This gives you space for 22 bottles of oil in the bag! Each bottle of oil is snug in its own space and isn't going anywhere or breaking!

As a seamstress myself, I can say Dori has done a fantastic job in sewing these essential oil bags. I use mine to hold my everyday oils and then add a few extras when we travel. It also looks great sitting on the corner of our bathroom counter.

If you are interested in getting an essential oil bag for yourself or a friend, Dori can be found on her blog at The Red Feedsack.  

Tell her Angela said, "Hello!"

Loop Scarf in time for Valentine's Day

Today I'm over at Little Monkey Shop sharing a free crochet pattern for this skinny or loop scarf.

Don't know how to crochet? No problem - this pattern utilizes the very basic crochet stitch - the chain stitch. You could even make it with your fingers if you don't have a crochet hook.

Let me know how your skinny/loop scarf turns out!

Day 5 of our Washington, D.C. Family Trip

This was the last day of our trip to Washington, D.C. so we got an early start. We walked to the Metro and rode it to the Pentagon. There's no public parking at the Pentagon, so be sure to take the Metro there.

There is a visitors center at the Pentagon, but you must make reservations 14-90 days in advance, so we weren't able to take the tour.

The 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon is open for anyone to tour, no reservations required.  Sept 11, 2001 American Airline flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into the northwest side of the Pentagon, killing 125 people working at the Pentagon and 59 people aboard the plane. At this Memorial, there are 184 granite-covered benches, each engraved with a victims name and arranged in order of birthdate.

From the Pentagon we rode the Metro to the Arlington National Cemetery. You better be able to walk long distances and up hills if you plan a self guided tour. There are tours you can pay for that include a trolley ride. We were up for walking.

This plantation includes the Arlington House - built by a descendant of Martha Washington, George Washington Parke Custis, whose daughter married Robert E. Lee. The Lees lived in this house until the onset of the Civil War.

More than 400,000 people are buried at the Arlington National Cemetery - from the American Revolution to present day conflicts.

Two highlights at the Arlington National Cemetery we toured include the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy and the Tomb of the Unknowns - unidentified remains of service men from WWI, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The changing of the guard, which watches over the tombs 24 hours a day, takes place every half hour April to September and every hour October to March, and every hour at night year round.

After a quick bite of lunch, we rode the metro to The National Archives Museum. This museum houses the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights in the Rotunda, along with many other fascinating documents and displays. The Public Vaults has over 10 billion records, including George Washington's hand written inaugural address. Admission is always free and guided tours are available. We just toured around on our own.

The next stop was the Capitol building.  We stood in line outside until it was our turn to go through the airport-type screening process for admittance into the Capitol building. Then we started the hour long tour that begins with an interesting orientation film. Then we visited the Rotunda, National Statuary Hall and the Crypt. Each state has a statue representing that state in the Capitol.

If you want to visit the House or Senate Galleries you must contact your obtain a visitor pass from Representative or Senator. This needs to be done quite a while before your trip.

We couldn't leave Washington, D.C without seeing the White House one more time. It is beautiful at night!

In summary of our trip - a trip to Washington, D.C. with children is a very educational and fun experience. Due to the large amount of walking, I recommend the children be willing for a stroller ride or old enough to appreciate the sites they are seeing. Done with a little planning, you can see quite a few of our nations icons in a short amount of time and at a reasonable cost.

If you've been to Washington, D.C, what was your favorite place to visit? I really enjoyed the Smithsonian - National Museum of American History.

See Days 1, 2, 3 and of our trip to Washington, D.C.

Day 4 of our Washington, D.C. Family Trip

Day 4 of our family trip to Washington, D.C. was also Thanksgiving Day, so not a lot of tourist places were open, but the Smithsonian was, so we headed there first thing in the morning!

The Smithsonian is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day.

We started at the Castle which is mainly an overview of the different Smithsonian museums - an information center with a café.

The Smithsonian Institute includes 19 museums - you could be here for weeks, if not years if you gave each museum a really good tour! We had one day so we picked the ones we HAD to see. (We had already been through 2 of the Smithsonian museums earlier - Natural Museum of American History and National Museum of Natural History.)

Cole, being an aviation major in college, picked the National Air and Space Museum. It is AWESOME! There is everything from the beginning of flight to space travel in this museum. It is crowded and hard to take pictures in this museum, so I didn't! I just enjoyed the exhibits. Even the 2 year old enjoyed this museum - there are lots of hands-on areas to play.

A few of us stayed at this museum all day! The rest of us ventured over to the National Gallery of Art. This is a good art museum, but doesn't quite compare if you've been to the Louve in Paris.

One wing of the National Gallery of Art was under construction so it was empty, but we did see most of the exhibits in the West Building. If you are an art lover, you will be in heaven! I liked that the art was separated by time periods and artist. You could spend all day here if you have the time.

Not too many restaurants were open on Thanksgiving, and those that were open were booked! I finally found an open reservation at Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers, but it was on the other side of town and for 7:45pm. We had plenty of time to sight see after the Smithsonian closed.

We headed to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial - a long walk, but interesting! It was dark, but there were plenty of lights to see the statues and waterfalls. The memorial is created with walls of granite, each commemorating a different term of FDR's presidency.

From the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial you can see the Jefferson Memorial.

Here is a beautiful night view of the Washington Monument on the left and the Jefferson Memorial on the right.

FDR was a great admirer of Thomas Jefferson and spearheaded the effort to build Jefferson's Memorial, so it's fitting that their memorials are close together - at least within easy walking distance.

Thomas Jefferson - wrote the Declaration of Independence, served as Secretary of State under George Washington, was John Adam's Vice President, and was America's 3rd President.

After a really long walk, we made it to Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers were we had a delicious meal! We took our leftovers home and ate them for lunch the next day.
Our Fitbit says we walked over 10 miles, and I believe it!
See Day 1, 2, and 3 of our trip to Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. with Kids - Day 3

On Day 3 the girls, Cade and I bundled up and went to the National Geographic Museum. We have a pass to a science museum that is suppose to get us in to the NGM free, but it was old news! No free admittance - BUT they let us in free anyways since it wasn't our misunderstanding.

The National Geographic Museum is AWESOME! The main exhibits are photographs that have graced the pages of the National Geographic Magazine. There are many genre of photographs from photographers of all ages.

There is also an Indiana Jones exhibit at the National Geographic Museum that is pretty extensive. It is a history lesson along with how they made the movies.

Washington, D.C. has so many beautiful buildings with wonderful architecture! You can walk around just looking at buildings and have a great time. 

We met up with the boys and ate some delicious BBQ for lunch. Then we headed to Ford's Theater, the place where President Lincoln was shot.

 There is a very interesting and educational exhibit in addition to the actual theater - which is still in use, but NO you can't sit in Lincoln's seat. You can also tour the house across the street where Lincoln was taken after being shot and later died.

And of course, there's a gift shop. Here is a tower of books all written about Lincoln. I didn't catch the number of books, but it had to be in the thousands!

By now it was late evening and we headed to the Kennedy Center to listen to a free Bluegrass concert. Every Wednesday the Kennedy Center offers a free concert in the early evening. I highly recommend going up to the top floor of the Kennedy Center and see the city view from there. Our cousin met us here and gave us this tip.
We were starving and headed to Georgetown for some dinner. We ended up at Pizzeria Paradiso - one word - DELICIOUS! They offered gluten free and dairy free options, which made a few in our party very happy.
Then we enjoyed window shopping in Georgetown on our way back to the hotel.
That's the end of Day 3 in Washington, D.C. Join me next week for a continuation of our Washington, D.C. trip.
Click to travel with us on Day 1 and Day 2 of our Washington, D.C. trip.