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Thursday’s RANDOM Thoughts

Thursday’s RANDOM Thoughts

What to write, what to write?  Well, it’s not that I don’t have any thoughts today per se,  it’s that I have too many thoughts!  And my thoughts jump around from one subject to another faster than my two-year-old can gobble down parade candy! 

Thoughts, thoughts….

Well,  for one I’m excited (and a slightly overwhelmed) to start a new school year.  I love looking through our homeschool curriculum and seeing all that we’re going to learn this year.  It will be a challenge since this year I have 2 kids in school grades, not just one.  Before I could just keep the other three busy and work with my oldest.  Now I have a 2nd grader AND a kindergartener to “teach.” And I suppose the preschooler and toddler will have to be occupied too.  But I love how just being all together at our own dining room table the younger children glean so much as I teach the older! Should be interesting!  

 I think the kids are ready for school too.  These last two weeks they’ve been asking for crayons and papers and scissors, doing more sit-down-inside things rather than spending sun up to sun down outside as they have for the last three months!  A little more structure and routine will be good for us all.

Other thoughts floating through my head…I’m looking forward to visits from family!  My dad and step-mom are driving up right now as I type! They live in Oklahoma and are making the 14hr trek to come spend a long weekend with us! And at the end of September my mom will fly in from Idaho to spend 10 days here!  Family is precious and we’re so glad to spend time with loved ones! YAY!

Speaking of family, we also have a wedding to go to this weekend and I’m beating my brains to come up with some amazing homemade gift.  I’m coming up with a big fat nothing!  Creative juices are NOT flowing! Bummer.  I may have to break down and buy something. 

I was just wondering where all those creative juices went.  I think they went into our newest project: we’re building a house!!! (I hope!) We have to submit the house designs and wait for construction loan approval, but we’re doing a lot ourselves, including the designing and we’ve worked with a bunch of different styles on paper and have finally narrowed it down to one!  My incredibly talented husband is the main brains of the operation, but he assigned me the task of laying out the floor plan and we FINALLY have one we both love.  (And do you know how difficult it is to design a house plan for two indecisive people!?!?!  VERY!) But we did it.  We may not get to start building this fall, but it’s still exciting changes ahead for us! Stay tuned!

So…if you could follow any of these random thoughts maybe there’s hope for this blog (and for me) yet!  😉  Happy Thursday!

Bug Repellent Lotion Bar

Bug Repellent Lotion Bar

In Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, we know mosquitoes! And two of my children have very bad reactions to mosquito bites.  So after seeing some homemade bug repellant recipes on-line I decided to try making my own in a lotion bar form for my family.   If you’ve never heard of a lotion bar (a pretty new concept to me too!) it just what it sounds like.  It looks like a bar of soap and you rub it into your skin where you need extra moisture.  The recipes I found used bees-wax too which really helps add protection to the skin as well as moisture.  And since you can use whatever essential oils you want in a lotion bar, I thought I’d use the essential oils that will {hopefully} repel mosquitos.

So here’s the basic lotion bar recipe:  (ANOTHER POSSIBLE CHRISTMAS GIFT!!!! See other Christmas in July posts)

  • 1 part beeswax
  • 1 part cocoa or shea butter (I used a combo of both)
  • 1 part oil (jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, or I used a combo of olive oil and coconut, mostly olive oil)
  • Vitamin E gel caps (optional)
  • Essential oils (optional)

**To make this lotion bar with bug repelling power using a combination of these essential oils: citronella, lemongrass, cedarwood, lavender

1. Use a scale and weigh equal parts beeswax and cocoa/shea butter. (Definitely go by weight rather than volume!)

2. Use a liquid measuring cup to measure the same amount of oil.

3.  On low heat (or using a double boiler) gently melt wax, butter, and oil together. 

4.  If you’re using Vitamin E, poke a hole in a gel cap and squeeze the oil into each mold shape (I used a silicon muffin pan, but you can use candy or soap molds or metal muffin pans too!)  Add drops of essential oils in each mold shape too if you want different scents for each bar.  If you want one batch of the same scent just stir the essential oils into the melted wax after it’s taken off the heat.  Pour melted mixture of wax and butters into the mold and stir each one.  Let them sit for several hours until cooled and hardened.  (You can put in the fridge if  you’re in a hurry, but don’t use the freezer.  From what I read it may crack the lotion bars.)

5.  To use simply rub the lotion bar on your skin.  It might feel a little greasy at first but it will quickly be absorbed.

For my first batch I tried a variety of essential oils…a different combination in each mold opening!  I used 3 oz of each: wax, butter, oil and my silicone muffin pan holds six bars. 


Heart-Shaped Lotion bars!


And now we’ll be testing to see if this really keeps the bugs away!   There will be plenty of opportunities around here!  Check back in and I’ll let you know how effective it is!  (And if nothing else, at least our skin will be silky smooth!)  😉

Note:  You can also make a liquid insect repellant spray with the same essential oils, witch hazel, and water.

Other posts you may like:

DIY lotion

DIY face wash

DIY  lemon sugar scrub

You can buy carrier oils, essential oils, beeswax pastilles, and different butters at Moutain Rose Herbs.

Enchilada Sauce {YUM}

Enchilada Sauce {YUM}

Here’s another thing I have added to the list of things I don’t have to buy…enchilada sauce!!  I tried a few FAILURE recipes before this one…and this one is AMAZING!  For the effort it takes to make a batch, I usually double or triple to have some to freeze.

Enchilada Sauce

  • 3TB butter
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1/4 C tomato sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1 tsp cummin
  • 3 TB chili powder
  1. Melt butter in skillet on medium high.
  2. Stir in flour.
  3. Add broth gradually, whisking constantly until smooth.
  4. Cook until it boils and thickens.
  5. Stir in tomato sauce and spices.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally.

 Other posts you might like…

A LIghter Version of Tacos

Making Money by Living Lighter

He Dosen’t Fit the Mold…and We’re Okay With That


Christmas in July: Home “Grown” Gifts

Christmas in July: Home “Grown” Gifts

Well, folks, I’m off to the Oregon coast to spend time with my relatives! But before I do here’s another idea for Christmas in July: home “grown” gifts like canned pickles, salsa, or jam!

Even if you don’t grow the produce yourself if you come across a great deal on some fresh fruit or veggies consider trying your hand at canning or making jam and jelly!  It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be and it’s such a special treat to share with friends and loved ones at Christmas time!

My first batch of pickles!

Homemade Mint Extract {Christmas in July!}

Homemade Mint Extract {Christmas in July!}

Last year I tried my hand at homemade vanilla extract, and gave bottles away as Christmas gifts…it was a hit!  So…this year, I thought we would try mint extract!

We have an abundance of mint growing in our garden area, and if you’ve ever grown mint, you know it is actually a noxious weed…it is EVERYWHERE!  So I have been finding all sorts of new ways to use it!

What you need…

  1. 3-4 cups of mint leaves

  1. A pint of vodka…the cheapest kind is fine!
  2. A glass jar


Chop your mint leaves into smallish pieces…you want to break up the leaves so they can release the flavor.

Add your leaves to your jar…I had to STUFF mine in!

Pour your vodka over the top and wait…it should be ready in two months!  When you are ready to use, strain the liquid from the leaves.  The extract will be tinted (green-brown) from the leaves.

{My mint is behind my vanilla jars…a litle hidden!}

I hope to aquire some cute little jars to put my mint extract in and give some away to friends I know love to bake for Christmas!


Christmas In July

Christmas In July

It’s hot here in central Minnesota.  REALLY hot and humid! Winter is about the last thing on my mind right now.  And I know Christmas seems like a loooooong way off, but there’s good reason to start thinking about it now: HOMEMADE GIFTS!

On one side of our extended family we decided to exchange only homemade gifts at Christmas time last year.  It was nice for many reasons:

  1. We all have so much stuff,  and I found myself  looking at trinkets I might afford but would only add to someone else’s clutter.
  2. The focus was more on spending our time and talent on the gifts rather than money.
  3. It was fun to tap into my creative reserves and learn (or grow in) a new skill!
  4. Age and income didn’t matter as much, everyone can make something!!!
  5. They ended up being more useful or practical gifts.
  6. Since we made our gifts at home we didn’t have to run around as much in all the Christmas Retail Chaos and fight crowds and parking lots!
  7. The gifts seemed so special knowing the love and time that went into them!

Some of the things given and received:

Homemade Vanilla

Friendship Bracelets

Homemade Candy and Sweet Treats

Sewn kid bathrobes

Crocheted Hats and Scarves

Dress-up Superhero Capes and Crowns

Sewn Backpacks and purses

Premixed Meat Rubs and Spices

Pajama Pants

Wood carved toy rifles

Quilted Table Runners

Painted Christmas Ornaments

Rice-Filled Hot/Cold Packs

Homemade Jewelry

Sewn Pillowcases

The homemade bathrobes, superhero capes, and crocheted crowns were big hits with my kids!


There are so many options out there! If you start to think about it now, you could even learn a new skill like crocheting and give away simple dishcloths! The point is, start looking now and considering having a Homemade Christmas this year!  It might become an annual tradition! J

Some of our other favorite blogs are showcasing different  homemade gifts too. Check out Happy Housewife’s Christmas in July posts here.

On A Lighter Journey here’s a couple options for Homemade Gifts:

Lotion/Hand Cream

This recipe for lotion takes less than 5 minutes to make!!!


Homemade Vanilla needs a couple of months at least to make and the longer it sits the better the flavor!

Come back throughout the week to see more thoughtful gift ideas you can start working on now to prepare for the Christmas season!

Frugal Summer FUN!

Frugal Summer FUN!

I saw an idea similar to this on Pintrest and thought I would give it a try…I knew my boys would love it!

I filled a big bowl with water,and added various toys.  Some that sank, and some that floated.  Then I added some blue food coloring…because that’s what the lady on Pintrest did, and it looked like fun.  Let’s just say…my kids look like smurfs.  Seriously.  Next time, no food coloring.

I froze the bowl for about 18 hours, until all appeared to be solid.

We tipped the bowl over…(see…WAY too much blue!)


I had the boys put on OLD swimsuits and T-shirts…gave them some of daddy’s small chisels and other tools I don’t really know the names of and let them at it!

The baby girl even joined in…

They chiseled and banged and scraped away until all of their toys were free! 

Now I have two very blue, but very happy little boys! *Maybe* they’ll nap today!?

Other posts you might like…

DIY Magnet Letters


Cloth Diapering





Thursday’s Fruity Thoughts

Thursday’s Fruity Thoughts

Lately I’ve been struggling.  I know there’s a lot of areas in my life that need work.  And it seems like I  gain ground in one area at the cost of falling short in the other areas I want to improve in.  So then I switch to one of the other areas and gain ground there…and digress in the previous area and more.  It’s so overwhelming!!!!

What am I trying to work on? Oh just a few things like…

  • healthier cooking/eating
  • more exercise
  • more organized and tidy home
  • keeping up with dishes
  • keeping up with laundry
  • controling my temper
  •  being patient & gentle…especially with kiddos
  • being consistent in training/disciplining kiddos
  • managing my time better
  • keeping to our budget
  • etc., etc., etc.

Can you see how this is a little overwhelming?!?! AND I really need to floss more too. 

 I know some people do great with a detailed plan, not me.  I can make a plan…I just lose steam after starting and forget the plan.  But now I have a new plan!

I’m going back to the basics. If I boil all those things above down to the principle a lot of them are the fruits of the Spirit (love, self-control, gentleness, kindness, etc.) You name a fruit of the Spirit and I know I could use more of it in me!  But we don’t get more fruit by focusing on the fruit (or lack there of)!  Fruit is a natural outcome of being rooted in Christ, nurtured in truth, filled with His love and grace.  If I keep Christ my priority I think the other things will come much easier.  See, I’ve been using Him more as an afterthought or last resort.  That doesn’t work so well for me!

So  now I’m focusing on making sure I take time everyday to soak in the Holy Spirit, reading the Bible (focusing on Proverbs now), and not over thinking things (like my above list) too much.  I’ve been getting up just 30 minutes earlier than the kids and trying to focus on God as I begin the day.  I don’t do dishes, or start folding clothes, I just sit on the couch and spend some time in prayer and reading the Bible…sometimes only one verse. I’m  rooting myself in Him, the True Vine.

Wow! Let me tell ya, it’s only been a few days, but these days have gone much smoother! I still fall short, but I’ve also been able to get more accomplished in every area above.  I’ve still got a ways to go, but I don’t feel so overwhelmed by it.  I still mess up, but I’m much more at peace knowing I’m headed in the right direction. It’s nice! You should try it! 😉 We could all use a little more fruit!

Grilled Glazed Pineapple

Grilled Glazed Pineapple

Last week a local store had whole fresh pineapples on sale for a dollar each!  I was super excited because, well, I LOVE fresh pineapple.  We bought a whole bunch and have been enjoying them all week-long.

We had tried a grilled glazed pineapple at a restraunt we love (Tucano’s anyone?) and decided to try on our own!  This was mostly my husbands idea and concoction, and he’s the family grill master, so I left it up to him.  It was fantastic!!!

What you’ll need:

  • A whole fresh pineapple
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 T. lemon juice

Cut your pineapple like this…

Cut the top off…

Slice the skin off lengthwise, from the top down.

Mix together the brown sugar, (melted)butter and lemon juice…rub the glaze onto the pineapple.

Set it on the grill, with low heat, for 5-10 minutes, rotating it to grill all sides.

Slice pieces from the top down and ENJOY!  An amazing and healthy summer treat!


4th of July Ideas!

4th of July Ideas!

With my husband just getting back from Alaska yesterday in the early morning hours we’ve been a little preoccupied! Not to mention the camera was with him, so for your Tuesday Tutorial today on A Lighter Journey I’ve linked up some cute 4th of July ideas from Pinterest.  Break out the red, white, and blue!


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Look at this yummy dessert (above)! Link here!

4th of July party ideas including these yummy red, white, and blue strawberries you see below!

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Here’s a cute patriotic wreath tutorial!

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