I'm on Etsy!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Woman Who Gives Her Child Up for Adoption is a Wonderful Woman

Which one will you see as your solution?
I've been seeing so much about abortion lately. And it makes me so sad. Have one in three women really had an abortion?

 I think one reason that the abortion rate is so high is that people feel too ashamed to carry a baby to full term when they cannot take care of it. Women can have abortions and no one has to know. But everyone knows you are pregnant if you carry a baby to term in order to give him up for adoption.

I don't want to condemn anyone for what has already happened. If one in three women have had abortions, then I'm sure I know several women who have. I forgive you, Jesus forgives you, and everyone who loves Jesus should also forgive you. But if I can prevent any future abortions, I really want to. In order to do that, I think we need to celebrate the women who are brave enough to give birth to the babies that they are not able to take care of. It needs to be socially acceptable to give a baby up for adoption when the parents aren't able to take care of him.

I'm not too eloquent, but I have something to say. Lots of people are celebrating adoption, forever families, and the parents who are willing to adopt. But I want to celebrate the biological parents who give their babies a chance at life even though they aren't the ones who are going to be able to raise them. Will you celebrate them, too? Will you spread the word that it's okay to give a baby up for adoption? Will you forgive them for getting pregnant? (You and I aren't so perfect ourselves).

Lots of people are waiting to adopt your baby. I am one of them. We've been waiting for a year now, even though we've raised our age limit up to 10. If you or someone you know is considering an abortion, would you consider letting me and my family raise your child? It's not about my family wanting more kids, though. I don't want you to think that. It's about giving babies a chance at life.

Spread the word: It's okay to give your baby up for adoption.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Barefoot Sandals: A Vague Tutorial

Yes, they are completely impractical, and yet I wanted some. And I was even willing to shell out $1.25 for a new crochet hook in order to make them. 

You'll need a size B/1-2.25 mm crochet hook, some leftover washers from your husband's stash,

and this cotton stuff that your great grandmother used to crochet her doilies.

Since you may not have the same size feet, yarn, crochet hook, or washers, I will give you the general directions, and you just make it fit your situation. You don't have to count stitches. I find that freeing!

I used three different sized washers, but like I said, make this your own and use what you have.

If the hole on any of your washers is only 4 mm like one of mine was, then add a single stitch chain after every second stitch. If you don't, you won't room for all of the stitches and your circle won't lay flat. 

Like this.

Before I give you the directions, I will do my best to show how to crochet into a washer. In the pictures, I was doing the double crochet on the middle ring, but you do the triple and single crochet in the same way. 

First, wrap your yarn around the crochet hook, then put the hook through the hole in the washer.

Wrap the yarn around your hook. 

Pull it through. 

Finish your stitch like normal. 

Do the second stitch in the double crochet. 

Finish up. The first stitch in each washer is awkward, but the rest get easier. 

Now that you've got that, here are the directions.

Chain until you have about 20 inches. (Now, isn't that easier than counting maybe 212 stitches?)
Triple crochet around half of your largest washer. 
Chain 1 stitch. 
Double crochet around half of your medium washer. 
Chain one. 
Single crochet around half of your smallest washer. 

It should look like this:

Chain stitch until you have enough chain to comfortably wrap around your second toe. Don't make it tight. 
Bring your chain to the smallest washer and single crochet into the last stitch there.
Single crochet around the second half of the smallest washer. Fit in as many stitches in as you can.
Single crochet one stitch into the chain that connects to the next washer.
Double crochet around the second half of the medium washer.
Single crochet one stitch into the chain that connects to the next washer.
Triple crochet around the second half of the large washer.
Single crochet one stitch at the base of your first chain.
Chain another 20 inches.
You're done!
Just kidding, you have to make two.

Now you have a set of completely useless toe jewelry, and you will probably be looking for reasons to go outside barefoot.

I painted my toenails just for this picture. It was time. They weren't presentable.

The one on the left is the rough draft, and I learned a few things while making that one that I incorporated into the directions above and the final draft that you see on the right. If I don't get too lazy, I will take it apart and redo it.

These will look better on you because you have a tan and daintier ankles.

I hope the directions were clear. Let me know if you have any problems or questions. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Four Stages of Being Frugal

Stage One: You go shopping for fun and buy everything that you like. You say things like "There's a reason those things are on clearance." And you don't shop in that section because you worry about what people think of you, and you don't want to buy things that other people didn't buy.

Stage Two: Regret. You realize that you have a lot of stuff. You feel like you need to buy a new organizing system to store all of the stuff. You realize that you no longer use much of this stuff. You run out of places to put new stuff. You have a yard sale.

Stage Three: You go on a budget and only buy cheap stuff. You go shopping only when you need something instead of going shopping for fun. You don't have a clutter problem. You start to pay off debt and grow your savings account. You shop at yard sales.

Stage Four: The cheap stuff you bought has broken and you have a crisis of identity. You resolve to only buy stuff that will last. You save up in order to pay more for something of higher quality. You read reviews and make careful purchases. You do without rather than buy something that will only last a year or less. No more plastic spatulas for you. No more pressed wood furniture. You embrace stainless steel, solid wood, leather, and wool. And you still shop at yard sales. Because if something is used and it's still in good shape, then it is probably built to last. And you get it at a 90% discount when you buy used at a yard sale instead of new.

When buying more expensive things, ask yourself this question: If it costs twice as much, is it in some way twice as good? Does it last twice as long or function two times better? Don't assume that a higher price means better quality.

Can you arrive at stage four without ever experiencing at least some of the first three stages? I'm not sure. It might be that you need to experience all the stages before you can arrive at stage four. And there's probably other stages I haven't experienced yet because I'm so incredibly youthful.

I think that if you come back tomorrow, you will probably see a post about buying things that last. But I can't predict the future. You never know what is going to happen.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Exciting Announcement!

I am willing to admit that my "exciting announcement" might be more exciting for me than it is for you, as is the case with most exciting announcements.

Are you ready?!

I am opening my Etsy shop!

I have always enjoyed making stuff. And I have long been looking for a way to sell some of my creations at a price that is affordable for you, and still compensates me for my time and materials. When Gabriel was a baby, I knitted him an adorable green hooded sweater, and several people told me that I should sell them. But let me tell you: It took me so long to make that sweater, that I felt like I would have had to sell it for $100-$200 in order to make it worth my time. (I might be a slow knitter). I certainly wouldn't pay that much for a baby sweater that would only fit for three months, and I wouldn't ask anyone else to, either. 

Here's Paul sporting the green sweater, and Gabriel sporting a ketchup stain.

Until now, I have limited myself to making things as gifts. But I have finally found something that I can make and sell at a fair price. I have already sold a set of three that will be displayed in my husband's new office building. Well, they have to get it approved in the budget, but that counts, right? And he's not even the one in charge of buying art. So that's what I'm making: art. Hand-dyed wooden wall art.

This is one of my favorites. My art is all about vibrant color and texture. It might seem expensive. But if you compare it to something mass-produced in a similar size (two feet by two feet for this one), I think you will find that it is a good price. And it has added benefit that no one else will have the same one.

So check out my shop, CharlotteWoodArt. Since my name is Charlotte Wood and I make wood art, it seemed like an appropriate name. Better than Wood Wood, which I also considered. So if you like my shop, you can make it a favorite or like it on Facebook. If you click on an individual listing, you can pin it to Pinterest. If you really, REALLY like it, you can pay me money and I'll send it to you. If you want a particular color or size, I can do that, too.

Have you ever sold any hand-made items? Do you have any advice for me?

Didn't David do a great job adding my Etsy shop to the top of my blog? What would I do without him?!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Super Secret "Get Out Of Debt" Trick That Doctors Don't Want You To Know About

I'm just kidding. There's no trick.

There's only two ways to get out of debt:
1. Make more money.
2. Spend less money.

If you are going to get out of debt, you are either going to sacrifice by working more, or sacrifice by cutting things out of your budget that you didn't think you could live without.

If you do not make sacrifices, you are going to continue plodding along, dragging your debt behind you, paying interest, and never getting ahead.

Here are some things that you CAN live without:

1. If you are renting, you can move. You can find a cheaper place, or you can get a roommate. 
2. You do not have to have cable. You can get Netflix for $9/month, or free TV for $0/month, or you can be really productive and stop watching TV altogether. I'm not about to stop watching TV, but if you do, I will admire the stuffing out of you. 
3. You can spend less on haircuts by having your wife/friend cut your hair, or if you are a woman, such as I happen to be, you can grow your hair longer, and you will hardly ever need to get it cut.
4. If you are willing to limit your cell phone use, you can read about a great plan through Ting Mobile here. You can cut your bill by about 80%, but you have to be willing to cut back on your usage.
5. You can sell your car and get a real clunker so you don't have car payments anymore. You are way too worried that an old car won't be reliable. It will be. And it's temporary. Is biking an option for you? (You would be sooo healthy!) Is sharing a car with your spouse or public transit an option for you?
6. You probably have enough clothes to last you for a while. Only buy something that you absolutely need while you are getting out of debt.
7. Remember 1995? Maybe you don't. Was that really 19 years ago? We were fine without the internet. (Mom, what was it like to be born before the internet?) We all know we would get more done without it. I'm not giving it up, because my house is my only debt, (and also because I'm weak), but I would be super proud of you if you did! The library has free internet for when you really need it. Also, free books! My favorite! Rabbit trail: One time my brother came to visit and saw a library book in our house and asked if I stole it from the library. "Actually, they are giving them away for free!" is what I had to say about that.
8. You don't need to eat in restaurants. At least, not as often as you are.

If you are thinking of all the reasons why you can not sacrifice those things (and other things), then you are always going to be in debt. You are never going to win. And I cannot help you.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Have A Problem With Exercise

There's something that bothers me about exercise. I mean besides the fact that it is "hard" and makes me "feel horrible". The reason that we need exercise is that we have all of these machines that make our lives easier and we no longer get exercise because of the work we have to do. We used to have to walk wherever we went, grow/hunt/gather our own food, cut firewood, etc.  It bothers me that when we exercise, we are not accomplishing anything, other than making ourselves healthier. (And when I say "we", I am talking about those of you who actually do exercise, as this does not generally include me).

I like the sort of exercise that accomplishes physical work like shoveling snow, working in the garden, painting walls, and fixing things. I like feeling like I've accomplished something. If I ride a bike, I prefer to have arrived at a destination, and not just having ridden my bike in order to be healthy. Or if you are going to ride a stationary bike, wouldn't it be great if it at least generated electricity? What if our computers ran on bike power, and if we stopped, our computers would turn off? I would be so healthy.

I guess I'm saying that I need more motivation, more rewards than just health itself. 

My dream is to buy a distressed house at auction and spend my time fixing it up, in order to either rent it out or sell it at a profit. I'm not sure if it'll work out, but I figure that will be great exercise, and create an income at the same time. Right now, I need to save up some money and I'm waiting for my youngest to be in school. I don't really want to get a regular job. I want to be home when my kids get home from school, and I want to be able to stay home with them if they're sick, or have a snow day, and I want to be able to chaperone their field trips and help in their class rooms. A regular old part time job that would allow me to be home with the kids after school wouldn't pay very much, and certainly wouldn't be as flexible as I want it to be.

Maybe there should be a gym alternative where instead of paying a monthly fee, you could volunteer and accomplish things such as ... I'm not sure what. Do you have any ideas?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Money Question Monday: How Do You Budget for Surprises?

Hi, Charlotte!

I have a question regarding budgeting for gifts, particularly between spouses.

I'm thinking we need to decide how much we can afford to spend on gifts in general and include our birthdays, anniversary, and Christmas gifts to each other in that category. Then, any little "just because" gifts throughout the year would come out of our personal money we each have monthly. Do you take a similar approach, or do you do something completely different?

Thanks! I still really enjoy reading your blog!

Thanks for the question! There are several ways that you can budget for gifts, but the main thing is that you both agree. It sounds like you already have a pretty good idea about what you want to do. That sounds like a great way to do things. 

We have a gift category in our cash envelopes that we put $40 a month into.  That way we are prepared to buy small presents, mostly for people outside of our immediate family. (And I will admit that we often don't have to buy any presents and we plunder this envelope for something like eating out. And I am okay with that). If a present giving occasion is coming up that will cost more than $40, we decide how much we want to spend and budget for that.

So you could decide to go ahead and budget for surprise gifts, if that is your love language and you do a lot of that. Or just use personal money. Either way is great.

When we started using cash envelopes, I felt that there wasn't room in the budget for being generous. We remedied that by adding generosity into the budget.

The benefit of using cash when you share a checking account, is that your spouse will not see what store you bought his/her present from, and won't be able to guess what they are getting.

To answer a question that you did not ask: it's a great time to start saving for Christmas. You can set up a separate savings account and start putting a set amount in there each month. Decide what you want to spend at Christmas and divide by 11, since it is already February.

Thanks for asking the question!

If you have a question about money or budgeting, email me at charlottewoodwind at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Snow Day Perfect for Russian Tea

Thank you Christy, for this recipe! I haven't seen you for a while since we're far away, but you and your mom always have the best recipes, (except for that one cake, ha ha) and I have left your house so many times with a new recipe card in your or your mom's handwriting. And I think about you every time I make one!

I tweaked this recipe a tiny bit. 

I like to make a great big pot so I can put some in the fridge and heat it up later. This recipe makes about one gallon.

Russian Tea
12 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 large size tea bags
4 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
12 cloves in a tea ball

Bring water to a boil. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Remove from heat and add tea bags for five minutes.

Remove tea bags. Add orange juice, lemon juice, and cloves.

Tea balls are a little bit adorable.

Husband says "It's dope."

I hope you have a fun snow day!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Guide to Meal-Planning. But Without the Actual Planning of Meals.

Everyone has different ideas these days about what is healthy. You may not eat gluten, preservatives, dyes, GMO foods, meat, meat that was poorly treated, vaccinated, or had hormones added. And if any of these things are important to you, judging by facebook, they are VERY important to you. I try to feed my family healthy foods, but this is a guide to help you always have food in your house that you can put together to make a meal, so that you don't feel like you have to go to a restaurant. Naturally this list includes a lot of things that last longer, so some of them will have preservatives, and who knows what else. You have to pick your battles. And you can't do everything.
I didn't really want you to judge what was on my list.

The first step to always having food on hand is to keep a grocery list. Keep it in the same place and whenever you use up one of your staple foods, add it to the list. I've never written it down before, but this is my list of what I always like to keep on hand for dinners:

In the freezerIn the fridgeIn the pantryCanned goods
chicken*eggsspaghetti saucenavy beans
hamburgercanned croissantsalfredo saucepinto beans
sausagegreen pepperspastablack beans
peas and carrotstomatoescorn bread mixkidney beans
broccolifeta cheeseflour, sugar, spices,etc cream of mushroom soup
fish stickscheddar cheese***potatoesgreen beans
friessour creamonionscarrots
pizzasalsatortilla chipspineapple
stir fry vegetablesteriyaki saucericecorn
bread crumbs**soy saucegravy mix


cream cheesebread

canned biscuits


You will make up your own list according to what you like to cook.
These are not the only things that I buy, but these are things that I always keep on hand and I find that I can use them up before they go bad.

These are some of the meals that I can make with those ingredients:

taco salad
stir fry
rice: pick any meat, vegetable, and sauce
chicken alfredo
white chili
tuna casserole
sausage and gravy biscuits
eggs, bacon or sausage, biscuits or toast
egg burritos

Side dishes include:
fried potatoes
baked potatoes
mashed potatoes
rice and gravy
any vegetable

*I find it saves time to buy a big batch of chicken, cook it all at once in the crock pot, cut it up and put it the freezer. I make it as flat as possible to make it easier to break off the amount of chicken I need. Then I just warm it up in a pan.

I put my hand in the picture so you would know this is not a sandwich-sized bag of chicken.
**Whenever there is only one piece of bread left in the bag and it is the end that nobody loves, I put it in the freezer. When I have so much bread that it starts falling out of the freezer, I chop it up in the food processor and put it back in the freezer. Bread crumbs are useful for meatloaf and casserole toppings.

***I do try to stay away from food dyes at times, so I buy white cheddar cheese. At my store this does not come in the convenient pre-sliced packages. So my sweet husband bought me this cheese slicer from Amazon, which is really MUCH easier than using a knife to cut cheese. Even though it's not very big, it still cuts the largest size blocks of cheese.

I cut it all at one time, so it is ready to use. If I read all the scary food articles passed around on facebook, I'm sure I wouldn't eat anything that is processed, so I may stop reading those articles. But I did read the one about particles of wood in the packages of shredded cheese to keep it from sticking together, and I stopped buying that. (You can't find white cheddar that is already shredded anyway). I use my food processor to chop up a lot of cheese at one time. It is not shaped like shredded cheese, but it performs the same function. I don't have problems with it sticking together, even though I do not add any particles of wood. At all.

What are you doing to save time in the kitchen? What would you add to my list?

Monday, January 13, 2014

How much does a Keurig cost?

I love Keurigs. I kind of want one. But I've seen how much the coffee costs. And being the sort of person I am, I wanted to find out exactly how much more it would cost to have a Keurig. 

The cheapest K-cups I could find were at Sam's for 49 cents per cup. There might be cheaper ones somewhere, but they are mostly around 60 cents, with the Starbucks going up to 81 cents a cup. Cheaper than a coffee shop, I guess. 

In my house, we usually drink 32 ounces of coffee a day, which is four small cups or two big ones. I figured out that we spend about 34 cents a day for our four cups of coffee, plus one filter. That's about $124 a year.

If we were to get a Keurig, and knowing us, we would buy the cheapest coffee, we would spend $715 on coffee each year. There is an option of using a reusable filter and pouring your own coffee into it. But to me, that defeats the purpose of having a Keurig. If we liked Starbucks K-cups, we would spend $1,184 on coffee each year, not including the cost of the machine. That's almost $100 a month.

Here's a handy table so you know how nerdy I really am:

Amount spent on coffee in one year based on how many cups, and what type of coffee you drink.

Cups( 8 oz. each)Regular coffee maker JFGRegular coffee maker StarbucksKeurig FolgersKeurig mid-pricedKeurig Starbucks

7.5 cents/cup17 cents/cup49 cents/cup60 cents/cup81 cents/cup

(Add $16.42 for one filter/day)

Remember that you don't have to brew a whole pot of coffee if you don't plan to drink all of it.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a Keurig if you want one. I just want you to know ahead of time how much it is going to cost you.

And don't buy one as a Christmas present.

That would be like surprising someone with a puppy.

I don't think I'll discuss all those tiny plastic cups being added to the landfills, because this post is not about that. But you can discuss it if you want to.
Have you ever bought anything that cost you more in the long run than you expected?

How to Stop (Some) Money Arguments With Your Spouse

Do you ever look at your bank statements and wonder how your spouse could WASTE SO MUCH MONEY on ________. And then you might say "Sweetie, what'd you buy at BestBuy?" "We already have a Wii, do you really think that we needed a iGame, too?" (I don't even know the names of the new ones. Let's just call them Nintendos). And then he might be defensive, and ask what you bought at Banana Republic. After all, you already have pants. 

Yes, but new pants are new.

And they make me feel good.

And self-esteem is important.

But when we use the envelope system, we have decided ahead of time how much each of us gets to spend. We get it in cash. We can save up for something big, like a "Nintendo", or fritter it away on Starbucks, but it doesn't matter because we have already decided that it's okay to spend that much in whatever way we please. 

In one way, it is a limitation, but mostly it is freedom. Your spouse will never question your spending again if you stick to the envelope system.

 In our case, we each have $80 a month to spend, but you can make it whatever is appropriate for your family. It's easiest if you choose multiples of $20, since that is what you can get at the ATM. 

This is my envelope system wallet. I bought it at DaveRamsey.com, but they are no longer selling this exact version, which, in my opinion, was the best version. 

The point of the envelope system is that when your envelope is empty, you are supposed to stop spending money. That is the easiest way to stay within your budget.

We use cash envelopes for groceries, gifts, home improvements (paint, door knobs, etc), entertainment, and, of course, personal money.

Could you use a little more freedom to spend money?