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Giving Up Groceries for Lent

giving up groceries

A few weeks ago, shortly after Lent began, I made a spur of the moment decision to feed my family on $25 a week for each week of Lent, and then donate the money that we saved to someone in need.
I have to admit, it feels a little crazy to me because:
a) I’ve never given up anything for Lent.  Never.
b) $25 is a very, very small amount of money.
c) since I made the decision so quickly, the pantry was not stocked beyond it’s “normal” state, so there was no preparatory hoarding of dried goods or anything like that.

How it started
I read the introduction to 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  It is so. incredibly. powerful.  Please go read it.  Read the whole book.
I was already leaning towards the idea of reducing excess with my Love Your Little House series and posts on purging.  And last year, I joined my friend Amy from All Things Home in a Pantry Challenge where we spent only $100 for a month, and instead tried to use up the things in our pantry. It was actually pretty easy. Bart doesn’t even remember that we did it, so I must have done okay!
So when I read that intro, the $25 Idea popped into my head immediately.  I thought about it for about 3 minutes and decided to do it.

Weekend Update

What a fantastic, beautiful weekend!

We spent a ton of time outside…
I tackled this

Details: Our Pfister Faucet

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pfister for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
A couple of you commented on the Pfister faucet we chose for the new bathroom, and I have to say that it is one of my favorite parts of the room. It was slightly more expensive than the other options we looked at, but the style was just perfect for our farmhouse bathroom.

Pro (food) Choice


Before I went to Charleston for Common Ground, I will admit that I considered organic or non-conventional farmers to be my enemy.

But I realized, while I was there, that we are not enemies.  We are on the same team.  A farmer is a farmer…and having both types is important so that we can offer the world choices in their food.


Neither type of farm is better or worse, but they offer consumers different options when purchasing food.

I want to have those choices available.  Personally, I want to be able to purchase food that is less expensive, but still healthy and safe.  And I want to be able to raise that food for others who want to make that choice.

But when people attack modern farming, those opportunities are put into jeopardy.  When policies are made based on consumer opinion, instead of science, that less expensive alternative is put at risk.

For example, many grocery stores have decided to quit selling meat containing “lean finely textured beef.”  And in this article, it says more than once that Safeway believes the meat to be safe, but has decided to quit selling it due to customer demand. 

Again, like the McDonalds gestation crates issue, a policy related to food production has been decided by consumers, instead of by experts.  And because of that, food production costs will rise, and your food prices will rise.

For many of us, rising food prices aren’t THAT big of a deal.  Yeah, it kind of sucks, but we won’t go hungry.  But there ARE people who WILL go hungry.  As Jen Hatmaker said in 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess:

The working poor are one missed shift from homelessness, one lost paycheck from hunger, one overdue bill from repossession.  However, they learn to camouflage nicely into society.  They laugh at the right jokes and deflect questions with sarcasm or silence.  The children are ashamed to admit they haven’t eaten all weekend or can’t afford to play soccer, so you’d never know.  In many ways they are invisible.


People, those are AMERICANS that she is talking about.  Those are your neighbors…your kids’ classmates…the guy down the road who lost his job with the latest factory closing. 

I support food choice and you are free to choose whatever you want for your family.  But keep in mind that as soon as you start attacking modern farming, or supporting policies or regulations that are based on myths, misconceptions, or misrepresentations, you put food security at risk. 

I will be writing to my local grocery store, encouraging them to continue offering the safe, sustainable, less expensive lean finely textured beef, and I would love if you would do the same.

You can also use this button (just copy the html below the picture and paste it to your blog) to show people that you also support food choice.


On the Banks of Squaw Creek
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.onthebanksofsquawcreek.blogspot.com" title="On the Banks of Squaw Creek"><img src="http://i1220.photobucket.com/albums/dd448/katieolthoff/profoodchoice-1.jpg" alt="On the Banks of Squaw Creek" style="border:none;" /></a></div>


Vintage Primary Nursery Mood Board

My friend, Anna, welcomed a sweet baby boy into her family on Leap Day.  Hayden was born a few weeks early, but got to come home after only a couple of extra days in the NICU.  He is such a blessing, and so adorable!

Anna asked me to help design his nursery, so I decided to do my very first mood board!
hayden's nursery
I drew inspiration from a curtain that Anna bought from Target and the large, framed vintage alphabet poster she already has hanging in his room. 
The fun colors in the curtain and poster immediately reminded me of the striped, polkadot and argyle fabric from Hobby Lobby and I thought it would be so fun to use it to create a pennant banner with his name on it.  Before seeing my mood board, Anna emailed me the same suggestion!  Great minds think alike!!
I included the white dresser because Anna said she bought a white bedroom set from her neighbor for $75!  What a deal!
I also included the silhouette art from Adam’s room, since Hayden is a farm boy as well.
The vintage fan and lantern are right up Anna’s alley – her mom owned an antique store and Anna likes to decorate with antique and vintage items.
And I think incorporating some more vintage metal items would be really cute, too.  Maybe Hayden’s books could go in an old tool tote?
A vintage egg basket or vintage wagon could help corral toys as Hayden gets bigger.  (This is an old picture of my china cabinet.) 
And how about a big barn wood H for Hayden, like this “A” I made last spring?  I think it would be adorable hanging on the wall!

But now, I’ve gotten word that she’s bought a different valance for the room.  Guess I get to design another nursery!

**By the way, I designed that mood board using Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus.  It was VERY easy!  You can buy it from me, here.  **

Shared at: Tatertots and Jello
Saturday Night Special
Wow us Wednesdays 
Tutorials and Tips Not to Miss 
Metamorphosis Monday 
How to Nest for Less 

A Child Friendly Family Room

When I saw a glimpse of this family room from Crystal, I knew I had to feature it here!  It is a perfect example of how to design a child and adult friendly family room.  So, here’s Crystal…

Hi, Crystal here from The Weekend Homemaker. I just want to thank Katie for having me as a guest blogger today. Katie asked me to talk about my plans for turning my "formal" (and rarely used) living room into a more play-friendly family room. The room is still in the works so my pictures are limited to certain areas but I'm happy to share what I've done so far and my future plans for the space. Let's start with the before picture.    Boring and dated, I know. I like to say that our color scheme was beige on beige with a splash of brown. Most of the room was furnished with hand-me down furniture and since we didn't use it much, I'm embarrassed to say, I really didn't care how it looked. As our family grew from just me and my hubbie, to us plus two kids, I knew we didn't have space to waste. So my plan to turn this room into a play-friendly family room was born. I started by researching fun, colorful family rooms with plenty of storage for toys and games, such as the one below. You can see more of my inspriation images here.

    Next, I went shopping for fabric inspiration to bring color into the space. I settled on this beautiful Richloom Invigorate Confetti fabric. I found it at a discount fabric store and bought every last yard they had (8 3/4 to be exact). I had planned to make curtains but don't have enough for two windows (boo! hiss!).    Instead, I made some pillows and have since made a bench for our front entry which opens to the family room.    Since I had a beige sofa and a beige rug, I knew I wanted some color on the wall. I used the fabric to help me determine the wall color. Though I was drawn to the St Lucia Teal, I ended up going with the Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue.    I later chose some coordinated fabrics and layered pillows to add more color to the boring beige sofa.    I mentioned that this room was originally full of hand-me down furniture (still is for the most part). However, I decided to paint a few pieces, like the bookcase that was in my husband's room when he was a kid.    I painted the outside white and the inside Benjamin Moore Meadowview. See where I got some of my inspiration here. This piece is great for storing games and I added some fun art and free printables above.    My next project was to add a kids art gallery to the wall behind the sofa. See that painting with the orange background, I relocated it to be a part of the gallery wall. You can read about my easy method for hanging the frames here.    The addition of some fun lamps from HomeGoods added some much needed lighting as well as more color. They're so big and fat and round, I just love to pat their belly.


Next, on my list is some media storage, a kid-friendly coffee table or ottoman, more toy storage and perhaps a desk or art space for the kids. All in due time, all in due time. Thanks again, Katie, for allowing me to share my space. To see the room as it progresses, stop by my blog The Weekend Homemaker.


Isn’t it amazing the way she integrated her childrens’ art and all those fun colors!  She also has an amazing office makeover that is going to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens!  Go check out her blog – NOW!

How to Hide Toys in Plain Sight

It’s not what you think.  No, it’s not my pretty diaper box storage bins.  It’s not about putting them in matching baskets.  And it’s not about storing them behind the doors of your media cabinet. (tried that.  Fail.) 
No, it’s not what you think.
Yesterday I posted about my love for “colorful-without-a-color-scheme” rooms.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love a gorgeous Belgian inspired living room, soothing grays, and a monochromatic navy and white bedroom.  I’ve just finally realized that they’re not realistic for our family.  They may look relaxing in magazines or online, but for me, they actually induce stress. 
Because they make the toys too noticeable.
So how do you hide toys in plain sight?  Make sure they’re not the only colorful things in the room!
I applied this idea in my dining room.  I’m not sure if it comes across in pictures, but in real life, the toys are NOT the first thing you see.  Yes, if you were to spend any amount of time at my house, you would realize there were toys there.  But they wouldn’t be the focal point of the room.

Take a look at these rooms – you could easily put a basket of toys in each of them without “ruining” the look.  A matchbox car on the shelves wouldn’t incite a riot.  A stuffed animal left on the couch wouldn’t be the end of the world. 

Let’s start with a gorgeous living room from HiSugarPlum.
Next, even though this room is very “white” there are few colors that would look out of place.
Source: freshome.com via Katie on Pinterest
Here is a more traditional, but equally beautiful living room from Holly Mathis.  It just goes to show you that you don’t have to use bright colors to achieve this look.  Muted tones will work just as well.

Michael Penney has designed a sophistocated room for grown-ups, that also includes enough color that the toys would blend in!

I love this one – the colors remind me of an old map, and scream spring! Notice the light blue sofa?  That’s the second one in this post!

Layla and Kevin designed this room for newlyweds, but I think it could be a great room for a family with young kids, too.  With all the bright colors, an exersaucer or lego table wouldn’t actually stand out too much!
And finally, this great family room, from Lisa Leonard, would be equally comfortable for kids or adults.

Adding color to your family room is a great way to make the toys blend in while keeping the room comfortable for adults as well.  Tomorrow, I’m going to show you a real-life family room that is a perfect example of this idea!

Shared at: Wow us Wednesdays 
Tutorials and Tips not to Miss 
Metamorphosis Monday 
How to Nest for Less 

Decorate with Color, but Without a Color Scheme

I’ve noticed a trend lately in the blogosphere, and I love it.There have been all kinds of beautiful, sophisticated rooms full of different colors!
I admit, for the past few years, I’ve stuck so rigidly to certain color schemes, it would bother me if the family photos I displayed weren’t in that color scheme.  I hid away photo albums and scrapbooks if they didn’t fit the scheme.  The Iowa State throws and light blue baby blankets didn’t match the living room – Get ‘em outta there!

But now, I’m turning over a new leaf.  In my dining room, I decided to decorate with color, but WITHOUT a set color scheme.

img_5874It has been so freeing. 
I can put my favorite books on the shelves, I can display my favorite family photos, and I don’t have to stress about everything “matching.”

Here are some other beautiful, colorful-without-a-color-scheme rooms I’ve spotted lately.
Emily A. Clark’s home office is the perfect example of this.

And this dining room, recently featured on Young House Love.

The keys to doing this successfully:
1.  Start with a very neutral background.  White, tan and gray are very popular, but other colors, like yellow or light blue will work, too.

2.  Give the eye a place to rest. Blocks of color keep things a bit less hectic.  My white dishes help balance the colorful fruit and storage boxes.

3.  Disperse a kazillion different colors throughout the room.  How simple is that?

What do you think?  Do you love this colorful trend?

Shared at: Wow us Wednesdays  
Tutorials and Tips not to Miss 
Metamorphosis Monday

I’m not scared! Are you?

For the past couple of weeks, something’s been bubbling under the surface and it’s ready to come out.  So here it goes…

Let me start out by saying that I support all types of farmers – livestock, grain, vegetable, fruit, organic, traditional, conventional, big, small, whatever.  I mean it.  We’re all in this together.

And every time you purchase food, you are supporting a farmer, too.  Thank you for that.

And I will never tell you what to eat or what not to eat, but…

I’m tired of people telling me to be scared of food.  Sick and tired of it.

I don’t need to “make sacrifices” or “prioritize” in order to buy my family special apples.  I don’t.  You don’t.  It’s not necessary.  “Regular” apples are incredibly healthy and packed full of nutrients.  Even MICHAEL POLLAN agrees with me:

In a January 9 Boston Globe article, Michael Pollan was asked, “Do you recommend eating organic ?”  His response:

You don’t have to eat organic to eat healthily. Eating real food, whether it’s organic or not, is going to do a lot for your health. Any apple is good for you. The pesticides are probably a problem, but the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables outweigh them as far as we know. And there are ways to minimize pesticide exposure by washing and peeling.”

Source: Click here.



And those “nasty” pesticides?  Dr. Carl Winter told me not to worry about them.  He explained his research, explained why people are so afraid, and then sang to us. Seriously.  But if you don’t believe me and him, go here


And guess what else?  I do NOT need to spend $4.69 on organic, free range eggs.  Don’t need to.  The USDA, which certifies organic production, makes no claims that organically-produced food is more nutritious than conventionally produced food. Organic food proves to be only different in how it is grown, handled and processed.



Phew.  Glad I got that off my chest.

Keep it Simple, Make it Meaningful: The Birthday Edition

In February, I wrote about my new holiday motto: Keep it Simple, Make it Meaningful.  Now, I have another chance to apply it.

Isaac will be 1 at the end of the month.  Can you believe it? 

To celebrate, we are planning a small party for his grandparents, great grandparents and aunts and uncles.  That’s only 19 people.

(That breaks tradition from what we’ve done for Adam’s birthdays.  We’ve always invited the whole family, and had 40-60 guests.  Phew.  Makes me tired just thinking about it.)

This year, with Isaac’s first birthday, we’re setting a new precedent.  Smaller.  Simpler.  Less.

But, it will still be meaningful. 
He will get a smash cake, and maybe wear the party hat that his big brother wore on his 1st birthday.
And I plan to make a video montage of his first year of life (better get busy!) just like I did for Adam.  Watching Adam’s video still brings tears to my eyes.  How’s that for meaningful?

What other things do you do to celebrate birthdays in a meaningful way?

Progress Report

We have three major projects going on, and I’ve totally left you hanging on all three of them.  It’s way past time for a little update!
Project 1:  The Upstairs Bathroom AKA Grandpa’s Bathroom
Grandpa’s role in the bathroom is pretty much done, now it’s just up to me to prime, paint, and paint some more.  And pick out a mirror.

Project 2: Isaac’s Room
Well, there’s been progress.  Can NOT wait to get that baby out of my bedroom!
Project 3: The Siding
Two sides were (mostly) completed last fall, and the other two will be done this year.
And then, paint.


This would be a much better DIY renovation blog if we actually got things done.  Someday, I’ll have beautiful “after” pictures for you.  In the meantime, enjoy some “befores.”

Shared at:
Saturday Night Special 
Wow us Wednesdays