Friday, October 31, 2008

New Everyday Dinnerware for a Bargain

We still have the same dishes that we bought when we were first married, less a few from breakage. Another bowl chipped in the dish washer this week, so I figured now was the time to buy a new set. I wanted something cheerful - yellow or harvest gold. I had the hardest time finding just the right set in these colors, and at a bargain price. I found this set, Golden Autumn 16Pc Dinnerware for $19.64 at I got 5% off with this coupon code: opentip120012(exp. 12/13/08). Shipping was under $9.00. The leaf pattern is raised which make these a little extra dressy.

If these are a disaster and break easily, my second choice are these: Essential Home Round 16Pc Dinnerware Set- Yellow from K-mart. They are not as bright as I would like, but still in the right color tone and style for my liking. You can get two $5.oo coupons when you sign up for Kmart emails. Customers reviews for these dishes.

I never realized how difficult it is to buy dishes! I found a good number of beautiful stoneware dishes, but I didn't want to take the chance of them chipping or getting too hot in the microwave. My son fills the dishwasher and microwaves leftovers, so I had to take this into consideration. The little one still gets her food served on vintage non-breakable Melmac dishes.

The stoneware/earthenware I liked in the Mediterranean styles was much more expensive as well. I saw quite a few hand painted plates which I liked at our local Pier One store.

Also expensive and cheerful Pfaltzgraff Pistoulet,
and Sur la table's Portuguese earthenware. Ahhh, pretty.

December 2008 Update: I recently saw a similar color and style at Kmart, which I hadn't seen online. The price was similar to what I paid. Also, The Dollar Tree direct has some pretty sets - cut glass, and in-store sets which look very much like the yellow Kmart dinnerware set pictured above.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free Ebook for Preschoolers: Fun and Thought for Little Folks

Free and in public domain. Click here.

A White Rose

A White Rose

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
Oh, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud,
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

John Boyle O'Reilly

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free Ebook: How to be Happy Written for Children(Christian Character Study)By Lydia Howard Sigourney

How to be Happy was written by Lydia Sigourney and published in 1833. Click here to read this free public domain Christian character book for young children. This book is readable online and downloadable.

Per Wikipedia, "Lydia Huntley Sigourney née Lydia Howard Huntley (September 1, 1791 - June 10, 1865) was an extremely popular American poet during the early and mid 19th century. She was commonly known as the "Sweet Singer of Hartford." Most of her works were published with just her married name Mrs. Sigourney."

According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, "She was one of the most popular writers of her day, both in America and in England, and was called 'the American Hemans.' Her writings were characterized by fluency, grace and quiet reflection on nature, domestic and religious life, and philanthropic questions; but they were too often sentimental, didactic and commonplace to have much literary value. Some of her blank verse and pictures of nature suggest Bryant. Among her most successful poems are 'Niagara' and 'Indian Names.' Throughout her life she took an active interest in philanthropic and educational work."

See more at Victorian Web.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On My Bathroom Shelf: All Natural Products

Over the past two years I've rehauled my bath and personal care regime. I was searching for all natural products which were free of preservatives at reasonable prices. Here are my changes:

Toothpaste: I stopped using toothpaste two months ago and substituted Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps: 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap. I also use baking soda a few times a week for teeth whitening.

Facial Cleanser: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps: 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap. I add baking soda for a pore cleanser at night.

Facial Moisturizer: Virgin Coconut Oil, found in a jar in the vitamin aisle of Wal-Mart.

Shampoo: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps: 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap. Love it!

Conditioner: Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse Citrus .

Skin Moisturizers: Pure virgin coconut oil in a jar from the Walmart vitamin aisle, or olive oil mixed with a little glycerin and a bit of Burt's Bees baby lotion(sample size), or Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Lotion Lavender Coconut(very light - good for summer or oily skin).

Lips and Hands: Dr. Bronner's Sun Dog's Organic Balm Peppermint. Super! It comes in a metal sliding tin; great for your purse.

Body Fragrance: Rose water, or orange water - water with drops of pure orange essential oil in a spritzer. I tried Heritage brand orange spray, but it was too lightly scented, so now I make my own.

Deodorant: Lafe's Deodorant Spray Lavender, works well if applied twice during the day - morning and evenings. You still sweat, but it does a pretty good job of controlling odor. I wanted to get away from regular antiperspirants where the aluminum is chemically altered into smaller molecules in order to penetrate the skin.

Body Powder: Corn starch(soft powder) and baking soda(deodorizer).

Blemishes and Bug Bites: Witch hazel, vinegar, or grapefruit seed extract(GSE). I've added these ingredients to my body sprays and lotions because they are also good cooling astringents.

Hand/Diaper Wipes: Dr. Bronner's and cloth wipes. I keep a small bottle of water and a mini Dr. Bronner's Organic Pure- Castile Soap Tea Tree in my bag for myself and the children.

Sun Screen: Badger SPF 30 face and body

Bug Repellent: Burt's Bees Insect Repellent - Haven't tried this yet, but I plan purchase.

These changes have worked really well with my skin and hair chemistry. I no longer have to use heavy conditioner on my hair, and my skin is not dry after bathing. I feel much fresher and lighter with these products. Another interesting change was the disappearance of my eye allergies and extremely dry lips which I had for years. Because I use the same product for my hair and body, I no longer have to pin my hair up

Because I use Dr. Bronner's for my hair, teeth and face, it frees up space in my bathroom, another nice benefit. If you buy the very largest bottle, Bronner's will last you a very, very long time. It's meant to be diluted, and I dilute it 50/50 with water, and use an old Soft Soap pump hand dispenser. I use old spice bottles with the sprinkle tops for the corn starch and baking soda.

Another thing I like about Dr. Bronner's is that it is USDA certified organic, something Bronner does voluntarily.

Lower Fat Baking: Substituting Yogurt for Oil and Butter

Now that I make my own yogurt with my hand dandy Salton yogurt maker, I have begun to substitute yogurt for oil and butter in baking recipes.

See Yogurt for Lower-Fat Baking at Taste of Home. These do not wholly substitute yogurt for oil or butter.

Here are recipes for Cranberry Yogurt Muffins , Lemon Honey Muffins, and Whole Grain Banana Muffins with no oil or butter. Yogurt(and apple sauce in some of these) completely replaces the oils. More: Whole Wheat Maple Quick Bread, Ginger Biscuits , and Walnut Wheat Bread

You can find butter extract flavoring in the spice aisle at the grocery to give baking without butter more flavor. I have not tried this but may if I can find it.

Free Fire Fighter Clip Art

These pictures are in public domain.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Family Funnies

Need a giggle? Stephanie has the cutest Family Circus moment at her blog, Adventures in the 100 Acre Woods.

HT to Diana for the pictures.

Children's Free Cut-outs for Cards and Crafts

While this leaf birthday card/letter isn't the most sophisticated birthday card, it was perfect for all of us to work on, especially the three year old.

We used the leaf template from Kathy's Art for Children blog. The paper was purchased at OfficeMax, left over from another project. We don't have Microsoft Word, so I use one of two free programs for word processing: Jarte or Google Documents. Jarte has a better selection of Fonts from which to choose.

This was so easy, and the grandparents will enjoy this as frig art when they receive it.

If you want outlines and you don't want to draw your own, vintage public domain drawings can be manipulated so that they are very light. Just light enough to be able to color them. I have a big collection which I've been using as coloring pages with the help of Google's Picasa(free) photo editor. One nice feature is the ability to manipulate the size in one click when using Picasa's print feature. They have a few standard sizes from which to choose. Here's one we did - a fall apple. We made it light enough to color over, printed it out nice and large, cut it out, and taped it to the window. The pumpkin template is at Kathy's as well.

We are making another card for a grandparent tomorrow. I'll try to share a few of my fall themed public domain drawings in another post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Little Golden Books by Eloise Wilkins

Some of my favorite vintage Little Golden Books were illustrated by Eloise Wilkins. I found this book, Baby Dear(1962) at a thrift today for .50 cents. It's a beautifully illustrated story of a little girl, her doll and a new baby. I was wondering if this book is currently in reprint and found a pack of Wilkins' most beloved books at Amazon which included Baby Dear.

Born and educated in Rochester, New York in 1904, Wilkins' drawings of people always remind me of German Hummels with their cherubic faces and soft muted colors. These old fashioned classics are a treasure!

More about Eloise Wilkins, the artist
and her published works here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

DIY Children's Kitchen Entertainment Center

I had linked to a craft site last year for this idea, and after seeing this, MJ of Making do with the not so new was then inspired to create her own children's kitchen from an old entertainment center. As you can see, it turned our beautifully and would make an awesome DIY, or rather BIY(build it yourself) Christmas gift for a little girl.

Go see how she did it here. Guess how much it cost her, $6.22! She's got a really neat blog - great frugal living tips.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Natural and Organic Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers

I'm really loving Their prices are so inexpensive, and shipping is a flat fee of $4.99. I've ordered from them before and was very pleased with the products and fast shipping. I don't know how they do it, but I'm grateful. I ordered my sister and her family Dr. Bronner's Certified Organic Castile Soap in the 2 ounce bottles for $1.49 each. She and her family are coming from overseas for Christmas, so she will need gifts that are on the small side to take back with her.

Dr. Bronner's Organic Pure- Castile Soap Tea Tree -- 2 fl oz

Dr. Bronner's Organic Pure- Castile Soap Lavender -- 2 fl oz

Dr. Bronner's Organic Pure-Castile Soap Peppermint -- 2 fl oz

I got a few for myself because I make my own hand and diaper wipes. These little bottles will be perfect to stick in my bag along with my cloth wipes. I don't use the soap full strength - just a few squirts in some water.

I also got some natural body(or home) spray - orange. It's purified water and pure essential oils - very nice to spray on your sheets, body, hair or in the air. Heritage Products Orange Water w/Atomizer -- 4 fl oz Update: This is very weakly scented. I will not purchase this again. Try the Home Health brand at Vitacost. The rose scented water(spray) was very nice - not too strong, and not too weak. I had to add my own orange essential oil to the Heritage product to even smell it a little.

BTW, in case anyone is wondering about the weird religious ravings on Dr. Bronner's soap bottles. You are not funding a bizarre religious cult. ; ) Dr. Bronner was a harmless eccentric and former mental patient from a brilliant German Jewish family. His parents were murdered by the Nazis, but he and his siblings escaped the same fate by immigrating to the United States before the war. His real family name was Heilbronner, successful German commercial soap makers before the war. Bronner has since passed away and his children carry on the business. More here.

DIY Inexpensive Pedicure Tool: PedEgg

I've been using a PedEgg for quite a while now, and it works much better than a pumice stone or a foot file. The results are as good as a professional pedicure, but a lot less expensive! I got mine at Target for $9.99; it can also be found at drug stores and Walmart. The only complaint that I see popping up again and again is that the filings fall out of the tool, but if you use it on moist feet, this is less likely to happen. I no longer have that dry outside edge on my heals. I have to use it monthly to keep it away, which is fine. The PedEgg keeps my feet looking neat and healthly without the cost of a pedicure. Whoever invented this tool is very clever, and I'm glad they are offering it for a reasonable price.

Here is more information and a PedEgg review with comments at the MSNBC Health section, Does It Work?

PedEggat Amazon is $7.68. Shipping is free if you buy other items from Amazon(not associates) in order to reach the free shipping threshold of $25.00.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Before Modern Rhinoplasty...

1920 advertisement for a nose shaper in a teacher's periodical. Just some of the funny(weird) advertisements I find in vintage books over at Google Books.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Random Frugal Homemade Recipes

Here are few quick and easy homemade dishes and desserts we had this week:

Pollo Loco(crazy chicken) An excellent tart and spicy chicken. Recipe for the Mexican Seasoning.

48 ounce bags of boneless skinless chicken can be found inexpensively at Walmart. Ours is $6.98 a bag. Hint: add a little sugar, and use up your orange sauce in this recipe from leftover Chinese takeout. I left out the cilantro, and added about a cup of vinegar to the marinade. Instead of grilling, I cooked them in the marinade on the stove, and used a little of the same in a pot of rice. Serve with salsa(or chopped tomato) and/or homemade guacamole, if you have some avocados.

Barbecue Baked Beans I deleted the green peppers.

Peach Crumble with two bags of frozen peaches
Easy! Fresh peaches are better of course.

Classic Blueberry Crisp I used frozen blueberries.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Raisin Muffins includes an easy recipe for the buttermilk. I ran out of butter, so used oil. The children ate these up fast!

Frugal U.K. Home: A Low Impact Welch Woodland House

Built with natural and recycled products for just 3,000 pounds(about $6,000) and a lot of sweat equity, this little home reminds me of a Hobbit home. Read more here.

Economical Homes: Straw Bale Houses

More common in California, New Mexico and Arizona, straw bale homes are inexpensive to build, green, sustainable, super insulated, sturdy, and highly fireproof. Apparently they are quake-proof as well(CNN Tech article)., blog, pictures, workshops, and information.

Straw Bale House Free Plans

Plans and Budget for Building a Small "Starter" Straw Bale Home (low cost to build - ultra energy efficient - no utility costs) ESTIMATED COST: under $10,000 including utilities. Also consider that these small home plans might make a nice in-law house or rental unit. A smaller simple version could make a cute playhouse, animal shelter(farm), or tool shed as well. The ideas are limitless and extremely affordable when using straw bale walls.

Straw Bale Home Construction

How Straw Bale Houses Work

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Free Homeschool Fourth Grade Columbus Day Lesson Plan and Readings

Columbus Day is Monday, 10/13/08. From a 1920's periodical, Primary Education: Click on images to enlarge and print the two page lesson plan. All are free an in public domain.

Recommended readings per lesson:

The Beginner's American History by David Henry Montgomery - Pages 1-14

From the Old World to the New by Marguerite Stockman Dickson - Chapters 4, 5, 6

A History of the United States by Waddy Thompson - pages 4-8, 11-12

The Story of Columbus and Magellan by Thomas Bonaventure Lawler - Pages 1-67.

If you don't want to print all these pages, these books are downloadable so that you can read them on your desktop or laptop.

About Me

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I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here: And a blog: