Finishing my photo album 5 years after my Israel trip…. thanks {Project Life}

I took the trip of a lifetime 5 1/2 years ago.  I traveled to Israel… aka “The Land.”  When I first saw it, from the air in the plane, I had to hold back my tears.  The Land where my Saviour walked.

I spent three months there.  I traveled alone, then took a 2-week Christian tour, then participated in an archaeological dig, then volunteered with Volunteers for Israel.

I could go on and on about how amazing this time was for me.  And I wanted to share it with my family and friends as well.  I am an avid scrapbooker and have boxes of supplies to prove it.  And when I got home, I dutifully picked through my thousands of photos and printed and organized them with their corresponding pamphlets, brochures, or other mementos that I had kept along the way.

I only completed 7 pages.  Of at least 50 that needed to be done.  Then I got a husband, a Masters, a career.  And two babies.  No time for 1 hour per page scrapbooking any more.

Enter Project Life.

This is easy. All you need is:

  • a photo album
  • an edition of beautiful cards
  • a big pack of page protectors
  • a pen
  • and your pictures!

No tape or adhesive required.  No stickers, no stamps, no brads or ribbons or crazy other beautiful stuff. Certainly you can add these things along the way, but they aren’t needed to create your album.

All of the above listed items are available at Amazon.  There are so many different styled editions to suit everyone’s tastes.  I chose the absolutely gorgeous Olive Edition. This couldn’t be any more beautiful or more “me”! I love the greens and browns and now that I have a daughter, all of the sudden I love love love PINK!

Check out Becky Higgins’ {Project Life} website and blog here.  There is a huge Home Shopping Network sale on two new editions: Blush and Jade, and if you are interested in starting {Project Life}, now is the perfect time to buy because these kits are nearly 50% off!  The sale is only going on through Tuesday.

I didn’t add any frills to my album because, again, I did this to save time.  And now it is done.  I have a beautiful Israel album that I can finally share with my family and friends.  Here is what I did in Israel!!  It took about 3 full afternoons, probably 4 uninterrupted hours, with my baby daughter sleeping on my back.  It took this long because I wrote a lot on the cards.  There is so much room to write your thoughts, and in my case, write the corresponding Bible verses for where I was in Israel.  Or you can leave the cards blank and they are so cute that it’s fine that way too. The cards that come in the editions are rounded, which I love, and I didn’t even round my photo corners, even though I have two little gadgets for it, because I wanted to get this done.  I love this system.  

I kept taking pictures of my pages because I couldn’t choose my favorite pages, so here they are to illustrate:

Jerusalem

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I added a 5×7 page protector to hold a pamphlet — I used tons of these to hold different mementos!  So easy: DSC02184 DSC02185 DSC02186

The Golan Heights, Nazareth, Tel Dan, Sea of Galilee

DSC02191 DSC02192 DSC02193  Below is another 5×7 page protector to hold a postcard — so easy: DSC02194

Masada, Qumran, Ein Gedi, Tel Beersheva in the Negev Desert

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The Jordan River DSC02190

My time with Volunteers for Israel

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As you can see, I couldn’t choose what photos to share, so I just shared a bunch : ). I hope that you have gotten a feel of how beautiful Israel is and how easy and awesome {Project Life} is!

If you are a {Project Life}-er please leave a link so I can see your pages too! (I am not committed to being a 52-week-er, that is, doing a two page spread every week, but I will never say never!)

Thank you Michelle from Delightful Learning for introducing me to {Project Life}!
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The Mom Creative

Action shot: cutting my Betty Lukens bible felt set

I just stumbled upon this picture!  I am so thrilled because I wrote a post a while back about how happy I am with my purchase of the Betty Lukens bible felt set.  I didn’t think I had a picture of the huge felt sheets that came to me in the mail — probably 10 huge sheets of felt that I cut!  (With a $30+ pair of scissors that I got for half-off at Michael’s!)  I got very motivated one week and that is literally all I did!  Very intense.

I love this picture because at one point John really wanted to help, so he is cutting with his little safety scissors — which really can’t cut anything — so after about 10 minutes of dad holding the paper just so for him, I think they both called it quits.  I’m so happy that my husband got this sweet shot <3

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Though this is a very sweet Sepia photo — we have been in dire need of a decent camera.  We’ve been using my tiny 5+ year old hand-held which is just not at the level I’d like.  So…. I finally picked out a new camera, so I should be featuring much better pictures very soon!

I picked out the Sony Alpha NEX series —I bought an F3 — which are a smaller camera but have the same high-quality of a DSLR.

I will probably do a mini-review on it after I play around with it for a bit!

Easy and child-safe multi-purpose cleaner

I don’t like having chemicals in the house.  Before I was pregnant, while being pregnant, and now with kids.

When my son started to crawl and move around everywhere, I really wanted to ensure he wasn’t coming in contact with gross germs that come into the house from shoes (thus the no shoes rule in our house), and I also didn’t want him to injest chemicals.  Dirt, no problem.  But chemicals produced in a factory, that is a big problem.  And I can control that aspect in the house — especially because there are many other “natural” cleaners that, if digested, wouldn’t kill you.

This cleaner recipe is easy, cheap, and gets things clean — which, lets face it, a lot of “natural” products just don’t do as well as the chemical filled ones.  This can be used as an all-purpose surface cleaner, and I also use this recipe for mopping my kitchen floor, as well.

Simple Recipe:

Equal parts of the following (or you can do 200 ml each, no need to be exact):

  • white vinegar 
  • rubbing alcohol
  • water
  • and a few squirts of dish soap

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And put it all in an empty squirt bottle you already have, or I found one at the hardware store for $.99 : )

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Happy cleaning!
Organic Aspirations

All I need…. is a bay leaf

I made soup last night.  I added all sorts of yummy and healthy ingredients — tomatoes, chicken stock, onions, ground beef, corn, green beans, sea salt.  I tasted it about 30 minutes into boiling, and it was awful.  What do I do?!  God spoke to me, “Add a bay leaf.”  And I did.  About 15 minutes later, and the soup was amazing.

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How to soothe sore nursing nipples: Ode to calendula oil

calendulaoilI love my little nursling babies. But, boy, do my nipples hurt sometimes. I
am talking about the achy, oh, I let him/her nurse for way. too. long.
feeling. (Not thrush, which is that sharp dagger feeling, which in that
case, try grapefruit seed extract or good ol’ prescription Diflucan.)

But if you want your nipples to just feel good again, look no farther than
Wise Ways Herbals’ Calendula oil! This stuff is a miracle. Before I came
across it (at around 4 months into my nursing career with my son), I tried
everything from lanolin to coconut oil to the Motherease Thrush and sore
nipples ointment. Nothing worked. Is it too much to ask to just feel
normal again? No, it’s not. This oil is a miracle worker.

The ingredients are only olive oil and calendula extract. I put it on at
night, with my beloved Nuk brand nursing pads (these are the flat ones, the
only ones I use). And the next morning, your nipples are brand new! I do
this for two nights after I feel them begin to hurt.

Wise Ways Herbals’ Calendula oil is only around $16.99, and the whole bottle
has lasted me through two children! I contacted their customer service
regarding the lifetime of the oil and I received a timely email back
explaining that the shelf life is about four years or until the olive oil
base smells “funny.” (My son is 29 months and I nursed him for 19 months
and my wee daughter is only 4 months at this point, and I know it will last through her as well.)

Cutting my Betty Lukens bible felt set …. it is worth it!

My mom bought the beautiful Small Bible Felt Set from Betty Lukens for my children/me for Christmas.  I fell in love with this company when my son got a farm felt book as a gift (but the gift-giver kindly had already cut everything out!)  I was grateful to her for such a great gift.  There are more backgrounds and overlays that I plan to buy (half the price of the boards), but this is enough to get me started!  Now this has been a challenge.  Cutting about 12 huge sheets of felt out.

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Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel?  Yes!

I am planning on starting a bible story (or bible theme, such as Creation, which is more than one story) a week.  There are 182 stories included in the wonderful included guide which has a retelling of the stories and lists what felt pieces are needed for each story.  But of course, you can tell more stories than than if something isn’t included that you want to focus on.

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And an example of inside of the book:

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I have decided to organize in this way:

  • I rough cut everything and organized according to the TINY numbers on each felt piece
  • The back of the guide has a detailed list of each item and its corresponding number.  I made labels and put them on each of my envelopes so things are easier to find.  (Betty Lukens does sell an organizer for $40, but I like using my system for other homeschooling materials, so I decided to keep with a system that I like.)
  • I organized using Target’s Up and Up brand of snap envelopes (they can hold 9×12 pages) and put all my envelopes in a square canvas bin (also from Target)
  • Each Sunday, I will only have to cut out 10-20 pieces for that week’s story — I will try to have two or three done in advance so there aren’t any cutting emergencies.

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To my husband: No, I am not crazy.  Our children will grow in their knowledge of the Bible and the Lord through wonderfully illustrated and vibrantly colored stories!  I can’t wait to get started!

Two things (I can’t live without) (right now)

These amazing Land’s End Starfish tops. So comfy (my husband says frumpy but blah), so warm, impeccably made — I could literally live in these shirts.424049_A712_FF_EGH

And The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats. This has quickly become my favorite Christmas song. The words are so quaint and honest and Gospel-centered. And Mr. Keats is my absolute favorite children’s author. The two combined is simply a masterpiece.thelittledrummerboy

I played my drum for Him
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum

I played my best for Him
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
Rum, pa, pum, pum, rum, pa, pum, pum

Then He smiled at me
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum

Me and my drum

The best cream for my son’s eczema: Ode to Vanicream

My son has eczema. And not just “oh a little dry skin and I’ll call it eczema”. His skin made me cry it was so bad. When he was a baby, my doctor told me it was the worst case she’d ever seen. We had tried every organic lotion and oil known to man, as well as most over the counter creams. Nothing helped his red, cracked, itchy skin.

And our referral to the dermatologist ended with prescriptions for steroid cream and antihistamine medicine. These are just bandaids on a gaping wound. I didn’t want to give my son something that wasn’t going to heal him, and only block some symptoms. So, I never filled these prescriptions, but took her advice to try plain ol’ Vaseline, especially on damp skin to “seal in the moisture”. This did help immensely, and was the best product we’d tried. Who knew that my mom and grandma were right? Petroleum jelly, say what you will about its “un-naturalness”, but it saved my baby’s face and legs, for a while. His skin didn’t look or feel smooth, but it was no longer cracking and it was a lot less itchy. I was annoyed when it stopped being as effective, because using it had taken a toll on his clothes, sheets, my clothes, due to the greasy nature of Vaseline; this stuff does not soak in, it just sits there.

Well, I dumped the Vaseline, and tried a few more over the counters: CeraVe, Aveeno, Aquaphor, Eucerin, Egyptian Magic, Tate’s Miracle Conditioner, coconut oil, calendula oil, etc, you name it. I have tried at least 20+ different remedies. We were using Eucerin for a while (also a petroleum based cream), but then my son’s gluten allergy was diagnosed…. and in about all the lotions you see at a pharmacy are that evil “wheat product”. That’s why his skin is red every time after I apply. Doh.

Another trip to the dermatologist, with more lies that I used the creams and drugs they prescribed, claiming some relief, but not long term (which I knew would be the case even if I had used them). And she suggested (Ah, angels singing!) Vanicream. I ordered it, reluctantly. Another $15 down the drain. Amazon carries it; pharmacies do not. And I can proudly say that, after one month of using it on my son’s scaly, red, cracked, itchy legs, he is not red and he is even smooth! This is a miracle. Not only does it work, but it is a nice consistency, soaks in, a nice thick cream that lathers on him after his baths and before bed. He does not itch at it. And in his sweet two year old voice says, “soothing,” as I moisturize him up.  (I have to add, too, that the SUN has probably assisted Vanicream’s miracle-ness, but no other lotion has helped him, even with all the sun in the world.)

I hope and pray that its effects won’t wear off. I hope this is all we will ever need. I have even begun using it and am happy with the results in my face and body. This is a wonderful, hidden secret, and every mom whose child has skin ailments must try it! I hope you get the same results as we did.

$11 for a wonderful cream, free of dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, lanolin, parabens, and formaldehyde (16 oz).  Well worth it.

**I was not compensated for this review.  I just love Vanicream and I know you will too.

Low iron in pregnancy: Ode to Floradix

I am now 7 1/2 months pregnant with my second child.  I had been feeling so worn down — I couldn’t climb up the stairs without stopping to catch my breath, I couldn’t pick up my 2 year old son, I couldn’t stand for very long at all.  My midwife guessed that I had low iron (and my blood work came back a week later to confirm this).

She recommended a whole food supplement called Floradix.  This product comes in a dark glass bottle and the adult recommended dose is 10 ml two times a day.  I have been taking about 15 ml in the mornings — simply because I am running around so much that it would be hard to remember to take two doses.  Floradix is made by a German company and it tastes great going down (fruit juices are added to make it more palatable).

My midwife told me that I would be able to tell within 24 hours if the Floradix was helping my anemia.  And it worked!  I began feeling light on my toes again (yes, even with an extra 35 lbs on me), I could (gasp!) walk up the stairs without thinking I was going to die, and I could, most importantly, pick up my little boy again.  I can’t believe it, but for about four weeks now, this has been the best of my pregnancy and I feel great!

If you have been struggling with energy, lethargic-ness, always feeling tired, etc., than you may benefit from trying Floradix.

One more tip:  I take my other supplements in the morning when I gulp down my Floradix.  I take a cod lover oil, a fish oil, and a vitamin D (5000 iu).  I ran out of vitamin D about three days ago, and I have started to get that feeling back — worn down and tired, and I did a bit of research and see that vitamin D aids in the absorption of iron, so I’m assuming that once I can get to the store (tomorrow?) and pick up more vitamin D, I will be in tip top shape again.

**I am in no way affiliated with Floradix and have not received compensation for this review of the product.  I just want to help other pregnant mamas out there who may be struggling with low-iron symptoms and would like to try a low-risk, whole food, natural supplement.