I'm on Etsy!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Croissants "Recipe"

I made this recipe up all by myself.

I don't get specific about measuring ingredients much of the time. So I will tell you approximately what you'll need for this. It's faster when you don't have to measure anyway.


Cut up one apple and sprinkle cinnamon until it looks like an appropriate amount. Fry it in an appropriate amount of oil until it seems an appropriate amount of soft.


Spread an appropriate amount of cinnamon sugar on the croissants. (To make cinnamon sugar, simply put the appropriate amount of cinnamon into sugar and mix it up). Put a few apples on each triangle.


And roll it up. You can sprinkle some more cinnamon sugar on top if you like.

Follow the baking instructions on the croissant can.


Serve with bacon. Because the internet is crazy about bacon. 

And I guess I am too.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

David must have secretly been on Pinterest

Because he got all Pinteresty on one of our pumpkins.

Perhaps when he realized how manly it would be to carve a pumpkin with a drill, he couldn't resist.

My kids often find a need to wear flashlights on their heads.
And when he cleaned the pulp off of the outside, naturally, he used air dust.


Pretty!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A brand-new family heirloom

My mom is pretty craft herself when she's not too busy. Recently I shared some pillows she made.

She has also been known to paint, and among many smaller pieces, she has painted the top of an old wooden desk and the front of small cabinet. For some reason, she wouldn't give me one of those pieces of furniture. Mothers.

But I asked her to paint something for me, and she has! 

It's this lovely table that I picked out at the unfinished wood furniture store. (Not a cheap table, but one which will last forever.)



This tiny piece of furniture has added so much color to my foyer!
So many details I love.



This reminds me of the hot air balloon festival they have here every Spring.

"Wood Shop"

Precious tiny flag.







I plan to pass this down to my kids and grandkids. I love that someday someone will look at this signature and say "Your great-great-grandmother painted this."

Maybe they will think that we lived in a little seaside town that looked just like this. 

Maybe I should hide a mysterious note in a crevice underneath for my descendants to find. A note that would make them think we went through terrible trials, were involved in scandal, or were responsible for ridding the world of communism and repression once and for all.

Maybe I read too many books.

Do you have any interesting heirlooms, new or old? What makes them special to you?



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Money Question Monday - Budget Disagreement

Every Monday, I'm going to answer your money questions. Email your questions to charlottewoodwind at gmail dot com, and I'll change your name to something unusual so no one knows who you are. David will help out like he has today when there is a disagreement/discussion between spouses about how to manage or spend money.

Charlotte, 
Finances is the one thing my husband and I disagree on. I think we need to increase our spending in the areas of groceries and personal money and giving. My husband tries to spend as little as possible all the time. I just hate one ply toilet paper. First world problems!

Anyway I feel it is very important to buy non GMO food and eat natural and he wants to buy the cheapest food possible! We compromise on this because I cook, but my husband still grumbles about it. Any thoughts? 


Susie,

David says: This sounds like one of you is the saver, and one of you is the spender, which makes you...NORMAL.  :-)  The saying that "opposites attract" tends to be true, and can present challenges when it comes to money.

My first thought is, have you both sat down and agreed on a budget together?  Normally the saver would take charge of this task as it's more important to them, but they need to listen to the input from the spender, and what's important to them.

The idea here is what you just said.  Compromise.  The budget may not come out exactly how either of you would have wanted if it were just you, but it will come out how you, as a married couple (two becoming one) agreed to.

My second thought is how powerful prayer can be.  Why not open your budget meeting in prayer and ask God to guide your discussions and hearts?

When I think about this, I think about how too much of a spender would be dangerous (we'd go broke).  And too much of a saver could be dangerous too (take life too seriously and not have fun).  So, it is through working together that we enter a healthier blend of these two personalities.

Charlotte says: Since the two of us have corresponded a little bit about money before, I am pretty confident in guessing that you do not have any debt, except for your house, you have a plentiful savings account, and you are right where you should be in saving for retirement. Your husband is careful with money, and I imagine that is one of the reasons that you felt he would be a good man to marry.

Maybe if you sit down with your financial adviser (I have a feeling you have one), and you discuss with him your goals for your retirement, and you determine that you are saving an adequate amount, your husband might feel like it's ok to spend a little more money each month.

Are you using the envelope system When you choose a number ahead of time for what you're going to spend in each area, it really cuts back on disagreements about spending too much personal or grocery money.

I don't worry about non GMO food myself, but what matters is that it's important to you. If you were on a tighter budget, or trying to get out of debt, then I might say that you don't have room to eat only non GMO food. But I think you probably do have room in your budget. You just have to come together on the numbers. It might help if he goes shopping with you, so he can see what food really costs (if he hasn't already done that).

When you say giving, do you mean giving to your church or gift giving? An envelope for gift giving will take care of that. Giving to the church is a little more complicated when it comes to agreeing on how much to give. My pastor has a great sermon about tithing. Everyone should listen to it. What I have learned about tithing is this: It's not about making sure the church has enough money, it's about worshiping God and putting Him first in your heart and in your wallet. If your husband doesn't believe in tithing, it is going to be hard to convince him. I hope your pastor talks about tithing. It will probably be easier for your husband to hear from him. Of course, pray for your husband, that he would make the right decision about this. If you were to talk about it too many times, it would come across as nagging. Bring it up once without discussing/arguing, and just say that you want him to think and pray about it. You pray about it, and wait. I hope you will find that he is the one who wants to talk about it next time, though it may take days, weeks, or months.

I hope you find something here helpful. It's hard to know how to get husbands and wives to be of the same mind. If I knew how, my husband wouldn't be setting his alarm for one hour earlier than he actually gets up.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Sweater Poncho

For me, knitting and crocheting requires a certain weather. I just can't get out the needles on an 80 degree day. I started this poncho in August when we had a few unseasonably cold days, but I put it away when I was cleaning up for company and I haven't gotten it back out until reasonably.

I love this pattern. You can find it here. It's about halfway down the page. Their version is in orange. This is a french website, but don't worry, because the directions for this one are in Chinese. There's a handy diagram that isn't too difficult to follow. But just in case. There is one difficulty. There's a lot of numbers on that page, and I couldn't figure out which was the number for how long the first chain should be. I tried 70.


Seventy was much too short, and for some reason, I thought the pattern was wrong and I kept trying to fudge it, and you see how that fudging made it turn out misshapen. It turns out there was nothing wrong with the pattern.


 So I pulled the whole thing apart.

I think that 70 might have referred to the number of centimeters. Looking back I think that the 113 might be the number you are supposed to chain. I guessed and went with about 130.


This pattern is actually pretty simple. It's just two rectangles sewn together.

Here Sweater poses with it's other Fall friend, Leaf.

Take the picture, already.


I like how the different colors bring out the different stitches.

I'm not sure what I was gesturing towards. Perhaps the fact that all of the shoes happen to be inside the basket. That is quite unusual.

I already had five partial balls of yarn that I used for this project. I ended up needing to buy three more. But I didn't use them up. I think five or six full balls of yarn would be enough. Yarn isn't that cheap, so you could probably buy a sweater cheaper than you could make one.

But you wouldn't be as proud of that sweater. And you wouldn't feel accomplished for buying it.


I thought about writing out the full directions in English for you. But I don't really believe that anyone who reads my blog would actually decide to make this sweater.

What's on your needles lately?

Go. Create.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Homemade Halloween

This is what I've been working on today:




The kids are going to be Mario and Luigi, and David is going to be this square question mark guy:


Maybe if you bump into him, he'll throw you penny.

I made a stencil using a pen, ruler, and razor knife.


And a stencil for the squares.
You can't tell, but I painted the whole box gold.



Just imagine David's head coming out of the top.
The boys will wear regular jean overalls, with a red shirt for Mario and a green shirt for Luigi, adorable corresponding hats, and if I can convince them, a mustache stuck on with tape. I'm glad that they can also wear the shirts and the overalls as regular clothes. There's a possibility that I will attempt to be Princess Peach. But I don't have a pink dress anything like this:


I have a green dress. And I can make a cardboard crown. I can wear white gloves. Well, mittens. If I hang out with question mark box, Mario, and Luigi, do you think people will know that I am Princess Peach?


What kinds of costumes have you made? 

When my older son was three, I made him an awesome digger costume.


Check out those headlights.

But between the box and his short little legs, he couldn't climb stairs to people's front doors. I had to climb the stairs for him, and ask for candy, and explain to suspicious people at every house that he couldn't climb stairs in the ridiculous costume I had made for him.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Money Question Monday: Joint Checking Accounts

Every Monday, I'm going to answer your money questions. Email your questions to charlottewoodwind at gmail dot com, and I'll change your name to something unusual so no one knows who you are. David will help out like he has today when there is a disagreement/discussion between spouses about how to manage or spend money.

Real, live people have asked questions, so I don't have to make any up!

Hi Charlotte! It's Dot. I think most people agree that when you get married, part of that is joining bank accounts to have just one. For some reason this really bothers me even after three years. Herbert admits that he is really bad at managing money, therefore I pay all the bills. Right now we have a joint account and each have a separate one. 70% of Herbert 's pay checks go into the shared account and I use it to pay all the major bills. The other 30% he can spend as he wants...gas, fast food, whatever. So my paycheck goes into my own account which I use for everything else that comes up like groceries, doctor bills, vacation, school clothes, etc. I try to use my account as a backup/emergency/savings. I feel kind of guilty since Herbert never knows what's in my account. However (and he will admit this) money burns a hole in his pocket! So I guess my question is, as a married couple is this technique just avoiding the problem or should we stick with what works? Also what percent of money should we or do most people spend on bills? I feel like even when Herbert got a raise we were still paycheck to paycheck for the most part.
Thanks for your advice,
Many more questions to come


Dot and Herbert,

Thanks for the question! We feel honored that you have asked our opinions. 

Is it a good idea to share a checking account?

Charlotte says: I think it's a great idea to share one checking account. Matthew 6:21 says "wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart also be." When a married couple doesn't share all of their money together, it's almost like they are keeping a little bit of their hearts back. When you share a checking account, it is vital to sit down together and plan your budget and goals. Discuss what you need to spend each month in each category. Discuss what you want to save up for. Each person has an equal say in the budget. This process might even draw you closer together. Here's a great form from Joe Sangl's website to use. Click on "monthly budget" and download it. You will need to have Excel to use this form. Or you can use this link to the Google Drive version. Just click on "file" and "make a copy" in order to be able to fill in your own information.

David says: It may seem tempting to keep separate checking accounts, but it's not healthy financially, or for your relationship.  When we are married, two become one (1 Corinthians 6:15-17).  While this primarily has to do with sex, it also has to do with the joining of the souls together.  Financially is one way in which we do this.  


Having a joint checking account is one way to truly become one.  Over time, communication will improve because it's important to talk regularly about money and your budget.  Also, it makes you more careful about your purchases and not going over the budget because you have someone else working together with you on that same account.  Resulting in....more money, and abilities to bless others!


Normally one person is the spender and one the saver (who enjoys budgeting).  Let the saver do most of the work regarding the budget, but the spender should have a vote too.
Charlotte says: We use the envelope system. This means that we take out cash and decide how much goes in each category. This is practical to use for categories such as groceries, personal spending money, eating out, home improvement, and gift giving. Depending on what you spend money on, you might have different categories. For me, personal spending money includes any time I buy clothes, or a special coffee, or materials for some craft. David has his own personal money, and this has given us the freedom to not worry that the other might be spending too much on any particular area. 

David says: The envelope system is like a governor on a go cart.  It keeps it from going out of control and crashing. It's so easy to just use a credit card freely, but that also frees you up to make unnecessary and impulse purchases.  

Earlier we talked about a joint checking account.  That, combined with a budget and envelope system result in success because you are then in control of your money and not overspending.
Treating yourself to a $3 coffee each weekday sounds like a small  thing, but it results in $780 less at the end of the year.  Dave Ramsey puts it best when he says, "sacrifice now...to WIN later."

Charlotte has a nice Dave Ramsey wallet (they have red and black)for our envelope money and basically we just used each divider for each category (food, Charlotte spend money, David spend money, home improvement, etc.)  When we get paid, we go to ATM and get the set amount needed, and I get my spending money and put in my wallet.

Charlotte interjects: Dave Ramsey is no longer selling the accordion style wallet that also has room for cards and a checkbook. His have either paper envelopes, or no place for cards, so I don't like them. Other companies are making good wallets. Just search for "envelope system wallet".

David continues: So, the first step is to do the budget, then to agree how much should be taken out each paycheck for envelopes, and then to live within those means.

We aren't perfect here either.  Sometimes, we do pull from one category to another, and once in a while, yes we'll use the check card within reason.  But, in our budget we have a line item for "miscellaneous/blow money" to allow some wiggle room.

And don't forget to have fun during all this, but in moderation.
 What percent of money should we spend on bills?
 David says: Here is a good guideline from Dave Ramsey:



ITEMPercentage
GIVING10-15
SAVING5-10
HOUSING25-35
UTILITIES5-10
FOOD 5-15
TRANSPORTATION10-15
CLOTHING2-7
MEDICAL HEALTH5-10
PERSONAL5-10
RECREATION5-10
DEBTS5-10
 Charlotte says: If you decide to combine your checking accounts and start the envelope system, it will be a difficult transition, but I know you will be happy with the results!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autumn button pillow

My mom has been working on a pretty adorable pillow for Fall.

(It hasn't been stuffed yet).

Her pink monster is out of commission, and she "can't figure out how to work my sewing machine", so she asked me to sew up the edges of the pillow.


That tiny acorn button is absolutely my favorite.

I think you can figure out how to make your own just by looking at it, so I won't bore with those details. I'll just show you the lovely pictures.



This would be a great project to do while watching TV. Maybe "Once Upon A Time". That's my newest favorite show. I am watching it every single night until I finish it, thanks to Netflix. When I finish it, maybe the next season of White Collar will be available. I've been waiting forever.


This is the Summer version that Mom made last year. Maybe we'll see a Christmas tree with little red ornaments on it, next.

With the Fall version, I noticed the buttons are all piled on top of each other and overlapped. I think I like that look better.

Isn't Mom great? I can't wait to show you the table she has been painting for me. It is really outstanding and very complicated. You won't get a tutorial on that.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ask me your money questions, or I will be forced to make some up.


I love volunteering as a financial counselor at my church. I get to meet with people and discuss areas they can cut back, ways to generate money, what they want in their future and how to best plan for it. I imagine that it's difficult for a lot of people to sign up for financial counseling and lay bare their most private thing, their finances. Well, maybe that's the second, third or fourth most private thing. 

Do you have any questions about money? Please send me your questions and I will be happy to answer them on the blog, without revealing who you are. Unless you really want me to. I could even go over your whole budget and give you ideas where you could save money. 

I could mediate the money disagreements you have with your spouse.

If you have a financial conflict with your spouse, my husband David has agreed to guest blog with me, so you can be sure you're getting a balanced answer.

Email me at charlottewoodwind at gmail dot com.
If no one asks a question, I will be forced to make one up.

I think it would make a great TV show if people would meet with financial counselors, and then six months later, whoever paid off the most debt/saved the most money would win some money. But the winnings would always go to something boring and responsible like a retirement or college fund. People love being on TV. They wouldn't mind showing the whole world their private financial business.

Too bad I'm not giving away money.

Would you watch that show?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wood Art

I'm editing this post because I'm going into business selling my wood art. And it seems like bad business to tell you how to make your own. But you artsy people will figure out how to make your own version if you want to. I've improved my process and added/changed designs since I've made this first one.  I'll still show you some pictures from my first attempt.

I'm pretty excited about this project.






These are the first colors I picked.

But that doesn't look good. At all.
It's okay to fail. Pick yourself up and try it again.

That is too much red and the yellow is too bright. So I changed the colors.


Ta da!









Mice on Main, Falls Park, and the Plague of Blood

If you haven't been to downtown Greenville, SC, you really should make the trip. Some friends are in town visiting from Pennsylvania, so I wanted to show them around. And we didn't have to spend any money! I did spend money. But I didn't have to. Since we had small children with us, I went ahead and parked in the first spot I saw which was not a free parking spot. If you go on an evening or weekend, (when there's no event going on) most of the parking is free. 

When I was growing up, there used to be one coffee shop, one hip clothing store, a Hot Dog King, an Army/Navy store, and lots of empty parking spots. But in 2003, they tore down the bridge in the picture below. 

 before

It was going right over a beautiful waterfall that no one could see. I thought it was a bit communist to tear down a perfectly good bridge in order to build a silly park. But I was wrong. They built an awesome park that people have flocked to. I think that the building of this park has really turned downtown around. I started to notice that people were walking around downtown where they hadn't been before. They started to build new buildings, renovate old buildings, and lots of restaurants and shops were moving in. 


There's this walking bridge in the park, which is not quite as curved as this panoramic picture would have you believe.

View from the bridge.

Why, thank you, Bridge. You are too.


 



 

There are charming little mice-sized mouse statues all down main street. We went on a scavenger hunt to find them. Here's some clues, but I didn't find them too helpful. It was the watchful eyes of Ashley that were most helpful. 



We found them six of them before we had to turn around in order to get home for lunch and naps.

You can buy replicas in the Mast General Store for only $7 if you are so inclined to buy adorable useless bronze mice. We went in there and found a Christmas present or two for certain hard-to-buy-for Grandmothers.




Here's a statue of a drooling wild boar. Really.

This sign seems to say "See how much fun skateboarding is? Too bad."
 A fun time was had by all.

It's breast cancer awareness month, so downtown is celebrating in their own "special" way.

  

With fountains of blood. 

 

Perhaps they wish to remind us of our fate if don't donate to research on this one disease which is apparently much more important than all of the other diseases that might affect us.