Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Melissa and Doug on

Have you ever heard of i just recently came across it, i'm a sucker for a good deal and wanted to share some of the deals i found! It seems like an online version of the store Five below. i haven't explored it fully, but so far it seems everything i've come across has been under $5.  If you sign up using my referral link we both earn a $2 credit.  i believe there is also free shipping on your first order, but there is a $10 min. purchase.

We LOVE Melissa and Doug products!  If you click the gift section on they have a huge selections of Melissa and Doug craft sets and toys from $3-$5.   My daughter loves the Sticker pads and jumbo coloring pads. They are only $3 each! These are nice to  keep on hand for b-day parties!  They also have the Melissa and Doug kids gardening tools, outside toys etc all at really low prices! 

Another deal i had to share are these Doctor Who blind bag mini figure sets. They are only $2 each!!   My kids love these! They started collecting them last x-mas after receiving a few in their stocking. They typically cost $4.99-$6.99, so i snagged several of these to save for stockings/Easter eggs etc.  

My daughter had a Unicorn Pillow pets before the fire, and every time we see them in the stores she asks for one.  i had put off getting another one, but when i saw these for $2 i gave in and bought one for her upcoming birthday. These are the glowing pets that retail $19.99 and are 18" long. They do have a limit of one per order.  

Use my referral to automatically get a $2 credit. Then share your referral link with your friends and get $2 credit when they sign up and place an order! i got free shipping on my first order, so i think that applies to everyone although i can't find where it says it on the site.  After the first order, you still get free shipping on orders over $25, not sure what it is for orders under that.

i try not to spam ya'all too much on here, but some of these deals are just too good not to share! i'm so excited to find the Doctor Who mini-figures. :)  i also plan to stock up on the Melissa And Doug sticker pads ($3), and Russ Lil'l peepers ($2) to add to birthday gift bags. 

Find any other good deals on site?  Let me know in the comments! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Seventh Generation Product Review and Giveaway!

As part of the Generation Good community, i sometimes receive products and samples to try out and review. i recently received samples of their 4X free and clear Laundry detergent and free and clear baby wipes.i have used Seventh Generation's 4x free and clear laundry detergent before, infact it's one of two brands that i purchase most often. i have always been happy with it's performance. My daughter has very sensitive skin, so i always stick with the free and clear products, even though i secretly prefer scented. A little goes a long way with this product. It is highly concentrated and designed to produce the best results when measured and used according to the directions.  i do find that some stains still need to be pre-treated, but over all the product works very well to clean our laundry. A bit about the product- Seventh Generation's 4X concentrated triple-enzyme formula works great even in cold water. Removes stubborn stains and grease. USDA certified 95% biobased concentrated laundry detergent. Clinically tested to be non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Made without dyes, synthetic fragrances, or optical brighteners.  Liquid laundry detergent is designed for standard and HE machines. 

i was also give some Free and Clear wipes to try. Specially designed to care for baby and planet, Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes deliver the clean you need with the gentle care your baby's skin deserves. Free from fragrances, parabens, phthalates, alcohol and dyes, these wipes are also good for hands and faces and hands that go on faces!
Since i don't have a baby here to try them on, i used them as wet wipes for my daughter to clean her face after eating. She has pretty sensitive skin and it's not unusual for her to get irritation and redness around her mouth if any food is left on it. Many lotions and soaps also cause her irritation. The Seventh Generation free and clear wipes worked great to clean her face and didn't cause any redness or irritation. They clean with plant derived ingredients and are gentle and refreshing on sensitive skin.  Also, they are not tested on animals and do not contain any animal ingredients.  
i was given a few samples to try and a few to share with friends. So i thought it would be fun to give them away here on my blog. It's been a while since i've hosted a giveaway and i always enjoy doing them. This giveaway is open to US only. 

About Seventh Generation: Seventh Generation is one of the nation's leading natural brands of household and personal care products. The company lives its commitment to "caring today for seven generations of tomorrows," with products formulated to provide mindful solutions for human health, air, surfaces, fabrics, pets and people within your home -- and for the community and environment outside of it. Since The company's founding in 1988, we have never, ever, conducted or commissioned any animal testing of our products or their ingredients. In fact, we design our products to be safe for people, their homes, their pets, and the environment, and we don't believe any animal should be harmed in the process of making the products you use to create a clean and healthy home. 

disclaimer. i did not receive compensation for this post, however i did receive a free product to review in exchange for my opinion. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. 

Daily Gratitude- in pictures

A single crocus blossom ought to be enough to convince our heart that springtime, no matter how predictable, is somehow a gift, gratuitous, gratis, a grace. -David Steindl-Rast

As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. ~Terri Guillemets

The daffodils too have begun to bloom.  Every year i get a picture of snow on my daffodils, it's always the last snow of the season. So now with my daffodils in full bloom, i know we will have one last snow.  It's our final goodbye to the winter, and when the snow melts spring will officially be here in all her glory. 

Spotted my first butterfly of the season. This is a Mourning Cloak,  Nymphalis antiopa. This one danced around my yard, eventually sitting still just long enough for me to snap a picture.  In just the last day i've also spotted a Spring Azure and a Comma butterfly, but couldn't get pictures.  

First signs of spring always fill me with hope.  After what feels like a long winter, i am always grateful when the spring flowers begin to bloom.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Weekend Homesteader- Review

The Walden Effect is one of the very first homesteading blogs that i began to read regularly.     i've been following along on their homesteading journey for a few years now and have always been impressed and inspired by many of their projects. They are constantly finding new and better ways to help themselves become self sufficient and sharing the progress on their blog.

So i was really excited to see that Anna was putting all of these great ideas into a book.  When the book first came out, Dec. of 2012 i volunteered to do a review of the book on my blog. However, our house burned down in January of 2013 and i lost the book and had not yet finished putting the review together. Yesterday, i was cleaning uip all the unpublished drafts and found this review. i'm only 3 years late, but still wanted to post the review that i had committed to back in 2012.

The Weekend Homesteader is organized by month—so whether it’s January or June you’ll find exciting, short projects that you can use to dip your toes into the vast ocean of homesteading without getting overwhelmed. If you need to fit homesteading into a few hours each weekend and would like to have fun while doing it, these projects will be right up your alley, whether you live on a forty-acre farm, a postage-stamp lawn in suburbia, or a high rise.

You'll learn about backyard chicken care, how to choose the best mushroom and berry species, and why and how to plant a no-till garden that heals the soil while providing nutritious food. Permaculture techniques will turn your homestead into a vibrant ecosystem and attract native pollinators while converting our society's waste into high-quality compost and mulch. Meanwhile, enjoy the fruits of your labor right away as you learn the basics of cooking and eating seasonally, then preserve homegrown produce for later by drying, canning, freezing, or simply filling your kitchen cabinets with storage vegetables. As you become more self-sufficient, you'll save seeds, prepare for power outages, and tear yourself away from a full-time job, while building a supportive and like-minded community. You won't be completely eliminating your reliance on the grocery store, but you will be plucking low-hanging (and delicious!) fruits out of your own garden by the time all forty-eight projects are complete.

The best thing about the book for me, is that the weekend projects that are arranged by month.  i personally have a tough time with organization, and it's really nice to find a guide with everything already  laid out for you. The book is broken into months, with four projects per month.  It can be read cover to cover, or used as a simple guide to flip through and complete projects that you have time for or are most  relevant to you. . It's really a wonderful beginners guide to get you started, but also offers some really good information for seasoned homesteaders.  i highly recommend it and also suggest that take a peek at The Walden Effect blog.

Visit her  blog at Walden Effect
 You can follow along on their facebook page.
 here's a link to book

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Doll progress.

i'm really happy with my doll progress and hope to have a few available for sale soon. i admit, i really like to take my time and 'get to know' each doll before finding them forever homes. i tend to change the outfits/hairstyles several times before i'm completely happy with them. 

This is the batch i started back in February. The dolls themselves are done, except a couple still need hair sewn on, but most are just waiting on the details. Finding the perfect outfit, shoes and accessories...all the things that give them personality. i'm in no hurry to finish them though. They are a labor of love, and at this point the only benefit to selling them is that i'll have money to buy more supplies so i can make more. :)

i do have a few i'd like to introduce you to though.

This is River, she is a free spirit with unruly hair and a love of the out doors.

She's wearing gorgeous batik cotton fabrics, is wearing a hand beaded mandala pendant and has a felt bag and shoes.

This is Muriel.  She has a big imagination and loves to pretend play, dance and do anything creative.     Her batik dress is in bright rainbow colors, and she has rainbow streaks in her hair as well.  

This is Madeline, although she prefers to go by Maddie. She is a bit shy at first, but warms up once she gets to know you. She loves spending time in the garden or curled up with a good book. Her dragonfly dress has a corduroy heart appliqued on it, and she's wearing matching corduroy pants and felt garden boots.  She is carrying a handmade rope basket filled with needle felted carrots.

So as you a can see, a lot goes into these. Much more than just sewing together fabric. Each doll has a personality waiting to come out. Some are quite obvious, but others take a bit more time.

i know i've mentioned before that i am enjoying the 'process' of doll making, and i truly am. i look forward to finishing up the others and seeing their personalities come together. i hope soon i'll be seeing pictures of these dolls in their forever homes with the smiling children that have adopted them.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Daily Gratitude- in pictures.

My hens are starting to lay again! 4 dozen eggs in 2 days!

Seed orders arriving in the mail. :)

Daily hikes in the woods alone to recharge. Bright green moss growing everywhere.

A sure sign that spring is near.

kids put down their electronics to play outside, together without being told.

Daily Gratitude in pictures is a new thing i am going to try doing. i'm not sure i'll post every day, but i hope to post a few times a week. If you'd like to join me in posting about gratitude i can turn this into a blog hop or link up.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. ~Author Unknown

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cloudborn Fibers on Craftsy!

i was recently selected by Houseparty to to be a chatterbox for Cloudborn Fibers on Craftsy. If you are not familiar with Houseparty,  You can read about it here

Chatterbox is a new feature of Houseparty that allows you to try free products, share samples and coupons with friends and family, but you are not required to host a party. You just review the products and discuss your experience with the chatterbox community and other social media outlets.

i occasionally get invites through houseparty and chatterbox, but a lot of the products offered haven't really been anything that interested me, When i saw the invitation to review Cloudborn yarn i jumped at the chance! i signed up as soon as i received the email, and then sat around with fingers crossed hoping that i would be picked to participate. 

As a Cloudborn fibers chatterbox participant, i was able to pick to a free knitting kit from a selection available on the Craftsy site.   i picked the Baker moss stitch cowl, really just because of the yarn. i'm not a huge fan of cowls, but love the thick chunky roving yarn and wanted to check it out. i was not disappointed!! The Highland roving yarn is thick, soft and fabulous to work with.  The color i picked is the Plum Heather. It's displays a little too bright in this photo, but still an absolutely gorgeous color. The pattern is a PDF file that i was able to easily download onto my computer and print up. 

The chatpack provided me with some coupons to share with friends. Instead of a coupon code, they just have a web address that takes you to the Cloudborn fibers page where everything is 20% off. The link is .  

 If you don't already have a Craftsy account, you'll want to sign up! It's a fantastic online crafting community that has online classes, patterns and supplies right at your fingertips! The Cloudborn fibers are available exclusively through Crafty. It is sourced through the finest mills and has long lasting quality and exceptional colors. i am really pleased with the Highland Roving yarn, it is much thicker than some of the other roving yarns i've used and the color is really fabulous. i look forward to creating something wonderful with it.

So, obviously this is a #sponsored post. i did not receive compensation for this post, however i did receive a free product to review in exchange for my opinion. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cow Shares, homemade butter and cheese making.

Several months ago we purchased a cow share from The Sweet Land Farms .
What is a cow share?  A cow share allows you all the benefits of owning your own dairy cow, but none of the work! Virginia Department of Agriculture wants all milk sold to be heavily processed. It is not legal to sell raw milk. So to receive fresh, unprocessed milk, you need to own your own cow so you can drink it how ever you like it.
When you purchase a cow share, you purchase a portion of a cow and then pay a monthly boarding fee for them to board/feed your cow for you. Since we own a share of the cow, we get a part of her milk production. 

 In 2013 after we lost our home in a fire we rented a house that was right next to The Sweet Land farm. These lovely Jersey cows hung out right behind the house munching on the fresh green grass.  We saw first hand how they were treated, met the folks that run the farm and watched the cows lazily hang out in the grassy fields and line up when it was time to milk.   It was definitely a local business we were happy to support. The cow share provides us with one gallon of fresh raw milk each week.

Jersey milk is high in natural butter fat content.  See all that lovely cream at the top of the jars? Each week we skim that off to make fresh butter. Sometimes, i'll make butter with the cream from one half gallon and use the cream from the other to make Red Pepper fettuccine.  It's so good!!   We really don't drink a lot of milk, so the one gallon per week is the perfect amount. Sometimes we only make it through 1 half gallon by the time we are picking up milk again, so i use the extra milk to make Mozzarella cheese.  This is something i have always wanted to do and i was quite surprised how easy it is. 

i followed the directions from The Cheese making website. First i separated some of the cream from the milk. Then i put the milk in a non-reactive pot and added 1 1/2 tsp citric acid. i heated the milk to about 90 degrees F. i do not have a digital thermometer, so i used a candy making thermometer.  Once the milk reached the correct temperature i added vegetable rennet and let it sit for about 5 min. Then you cut the curds, and heat them up again to about 105 F. remove from heat and stir for a few minutes. Then drain the curds, reserving the whey for ricotta. Press out any remaining whey and microwave about 30 sec.  knead and reheat another 30 sec or until the cheese reaches 135 F. It will be very hot.  

Knead the cheese as you would bread dough, and it should begin to stretch.  Continue stretching it, and stretching it and then form it into a smooth shiny ball. That's it!! Then i use the left over whey to make Ricotta

This is what you can get out of one gallon of  raw milk. i made about 12 ounces of fresh mozzarella . A ball of fresh butter, around 1 cup of buttermilk, around 1 1/2 cups of fresh cream and 1 cup ricotta cheese. i also had over a quart of whey, which can be added to soups and smoothies etc.

Although my goal has always been to milk my own dairy goats, it just hasn't work out for me yet and i admit i am really enjoying the cow share. If you are interested in learning more about raw milk and cow shares check out  to find a farm near you.  i highly recommend that you visit the farm, meet the farmers, meet the cows and see their milking practice.