Little House on the Prairie is Back!

Growing up, one of my favorite things to read was the Little House book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was so fun imagining what it would be like to live on a prairie, in a log cabin, or even in a house in the ground!

Little House on the Prairie is Back! | Vicki-Arnold.com

I don’t remember when I first saw the Little House on the Prairie television show, but I loved it, too. I loved to not like (we don’t hate, right?) Nellie Oleson and just watch Laura and Mary live out the scenes that I had played in my head over and over again as a child.

Fast forward a few (many) years, and I taught a Little House class for our homeschool co-op. It was a huge class. We read through Little House on the Prairie, which is book number two in the Little House series. As we read, we did a few activities and discussed what prairie life really was like. I learned a lot in the class, I hope the kids did, too!

Why do I tell you this? So you will understand why when I came across the opportunity to review the newly relaunching tv series on DVD, I jumped on it! I was sent a DVD copy of the first season and a documentary about Laura.

Mail days like these are one of my favorite parts about blogging!

A photo posted by Vicki Arnold (@vicki_arnold) on

Little House on the Prairie is Back!

My kids have seen several episodes of the series from when we had a satellite dish a few years ago and we all came down sick when there was a Little House on the Prairie marathon on one of the channels. But we have never watched them in chronological order and I thought that would be fun to do with them.

The series has gotten a digital facelift, remastered is actually what they call it. The covers for these are gorgeous, such vivid colors. See?

The series is just a great as I remember it. It’s not overly dramatic or cheesy like some family friendly television can be. The picture of the remastered DVD looks great on our big screen. We will likely be adding seasons two and three to our movie library as we go through the series.

Little House on the Prairies is such a wholesome show, it’s one that the whole family can watch. There are hard times and death is a theme that is dealt with, so if you have particularly sensitive littles, you may want to preview each episode to know what scenes (or possible episodes) to skip watching with them.

The first season includes the pilot movie that chronicles highlights of their journey from the Big Woods to the Prairie. I think the actors/writers did a good job of showing how it wasn’t just a fun, easy going trip, but keeping it balanced so that it wasn’t depressing either. Simple little things like voice tones that I can relate to as a parent, facing hard times, but wanting to be strong for your children.

The episode Harvest of Friends was particularly heart-warming to me. I loved watching how the community came together to help a family in need that had given so much to so many previously. It was a great episode for showing the concept of reaping and sowing.

Little House on the Prairie Is Social!

This is kind of funny and would likely be a foreign concept to Laura and her family, but Little House on the Prairie now has a great website that recently launched. And it is just lovely. Perhaps my favorite find on the website to date was article on Pioneer Kitchen Gardens, but there is a LOT of information on the website that you will want to explore.

To celebrate, they are hosting an awesome giveaway so be sure to check that out, too. I’d love to read that Pioneer Girl book!

You can also find Little House on the Prairie on social media:

Be sure to check out all the new Little House on the Prairie fun and the digitally remastered DVD’s today!

Little House on the Prairie is Back! | Vicki-Arnold.com

Household Items You Can Replace With Essential Oils

Essential oils are natural, potent, and very useful. We have used them in our home for well over 10 years now…doesn’t seem like it is possible for it to be that long. My favorite thing about them is the ability to lessen our family’s chemical load.

Today I’m sharing ways you can do the same.

Household Items You Can Replace With Essential Oils | Vicki-Arnold.com

Household Items You Can Replace With Essential Oils

  • floor cleaners
  • disinfectant sprays
  • air fresheners
  • candles
  • dryer sheets
  • furniture polish
  • bug repellant
  • garden pest sprays
  • mold removal sprays

How I Use Essential Oils in Our Home

Floor Cleaners – I have a spray bottle that I fill with water and then add 20 or so drops of Purification. I simply spray our hardwood and linoleum floors and run my small mop over the floors. I personally love this bright, fresh smell more than Thieves. Thieves is more cinnamon and cloves smelling, which may be want you want.

Air Fresheners – I have actually used the same spray for my floors by spraying it into a stale room. You can use any other essential oil single or blend for this. More recently, I will pop some oil into our diffuser and diffuse something like lemon or orange.

If we are dealing with sickness, I’ll use something like Thieves, ImmuPower, or RC.

Disinfectant Sprays – Remember how I said essential oils are powerful? I will take the Thieves spray bottle and spray down door handles, light switches, and other common touch surfaces and wipe them down with a rag to get rid of the nasties.

Bug Repellant – We use a few different oils to try and keep bugs like fleas out of the house. With a dog that is both inside and outside, it can be ongoing in the summer months. We usually mix up our own dog wash (…my husband does it) and include various oils in it. This last time we used lavender.

We tend to use essential oils more for body care, but they are helpful in the home, too. I’ll cover body care in the future. Today I chose to go with the household items you can replace with essential oils because I am a part of a blog hop (yes, I’m doing quite a few of these lately, but that’s because they are fun!) put together by Kara from ALLterNATIVE Learning.

She has organized a huge collaboration for the month of April with a lot of bloggers because this is the month Earth Day falls in. It’s about raising awareness and helping families reduce their chemical exposures, teach children about good stewardship of the planet, and simply putting good resources into your hands.

She also has a great giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Door

The entry points in our house always seem to collect so much stuff, both inside and outside. Things that aren’t supposed to be brought in like muddy boots and large rocks and sticks are dropped right outside the door. The rest is carried in and then dropped on the floor a few feet in the door.

It’s a constant clutter battle. Unless you give up. Then it’s just a mess. That only flies for so long…because it drives me insane to look at (and trip over). At least, the stuff on the inside does…

Our house has two main points of entry, a front door and a back door. We have no mud room, nor do we enter through a garage. So the things outside the front door are on our front porch. It’s a bit embarrassing.

See?

Our sad, cluttered front door. | Vicki-Arnold.com

There’s more clutter to the left…but no picture of that mess. Use your imagination.

Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Door

Your definition may vary, but I came up with a sample of ways to spruce up your front door that were either cheap, quick, or both.

  1. Declutter – Throw broken things away, put misplaced items where they belong, and purge items that do belong, but you no longer need.
  2. Deep clean – It amazes me how dirty a door can get. Giving it a good scrub, shaking off any rugs, and sweeping the floor can make a HUGE difference. Especially if you have any white in the area.
  3. Paint – Paint is relatively cheap, particularly if you can find a “mis-tint” can at the store. A local to us store has $5 gallons of paint that was not just exactly what a previous customer wanted. Super cheap way to spruce up your front door if you can find the right color and style of paint.
  4. Replace – Has your door mat seen better days? Replace it with something new that you love. Still have old holiday decorations up? Replace them with the next holiday, or with seasonal ones.
  5. Try something new – Add a new container of flowers or make a fun new wreath to hang on your door.

For more ideas on ways to spruce up your front door, check out my Front Door Decorations Pinterest board.

Remember my front door? Well, I gave a few of these a shot. I was impressed with how much a difference decluttering and sweeping up up made:

Our front door, decluttered | Vicki-Arnold.com

But that was too plain for me. So I decided we needed some fresh fun containers to spruce it up a bit more. Never mind that I more often than not kill anything I grow in containers. That’s what I have kids for, right? I smell a new chore…just kidding…sort of.

Planting a Container Flower Garden

Yes, I did just say container flower garden. I talk a lot about gardening around here, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever really clarified that gardening isn’t just gardening in the ground. It can be as simple as growing some plants in a container or two. Really.

Planting a container garden is pretty simple. You pick some good plants, find a container big enough for the plants you chose, and enough dirt to fill said container. Then plant. A couple tips to help:

  • Make sure your container has drainage holes. You need those to keep from drowning your plants.
  • Put some gravel or rocks in the bottom of larger containers to save on potting soil (don’t short your plants though, they do need more dirt than what they come with) and to give the container weight if it is plastic.

Drilling drainage holes in a container for planting. | Vicki-Arnold.com

For my plants, I was so excited to be able to partner with Monrovia, who sponsored this post, to help get the word out about their plants. You can find Monrovia plants at your local nursery, if they don’t have what you need in stock, you can order from the website and have it shipped to the nursery!

I was fortunate to find a few great plants at our local home improvement store. There were a few different options that I just loved:

Monrovia plants at the local store | Vicki-Arnold.com

Unfortunately, I did not have enough containers to bring them home. Le sigh. ;) So I chose a few favorites that I thought would coordinate well with our orange door and the containers I chose. Or at least not clash terribly.

The Monrovia plants I chose were:

  • Reiman Clematis
  • Tiny Orange Sensation Asiatic Lily
  • SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

I also picked up some store brand filler plants to round out the containers.

My favorite thing about flowers is the wildlife they attract. It may seem like a bad idea, but we actually want to attract bees to our yard. They are pollinators and in grave danger. So any time we can help them out, we do.

Butterflies are also attracted to flowers. These make kids of all ages pretty happy.

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

I enlisted the help of my super awesome husband and we got to planting our containers.

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

 

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia Reiman Clematis with SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia Tiny Orange Sensation Asiatic Lily (I can’t wait for this to bloom!)

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

And just like that, my front door looks SO much better! I love the clean look of no clutter and the pop of color the flowers bring to our front porch.

Our front door all spruced up | Vicki-Arnold.com

I hope this gave you some help if you were looking for ways to spruce up your front door. It can make such a difference!

Be sure to check out Monrovia plants to see if there is something that will fit in your garden plans!

Dianthus bloom - Vicki-Arnold.com

A gorgeous dianthus bloom.

Simple Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Door | Vicki-Arnold.com

5 Good Reads on Christian Faith for Moms

It’s time for another round of 5 on the 5th. Seeing as today is Easter Sunday, I have decided to share 5 good reads on Christian faith for moms that I read this past month. I try to focus the Simply Vicki Facebook page on Christian faith each Sunday.

Sort of a setting apart of the day. And a lot like a lot of things, I’m not getting it perfect yet. But if you would like to come hang out with me over on Facebook, I would love that!

5 Good Reads on Christian Faith for Moms |Vicki-Arnold.com

5 Good Reads on Christian Faith for Moms

In no particular order, here are my choices for 5 good reads on Christian faith from March.

A Clean House and a Wasted Life – Tim Challies

If you struggle with housekeeping or keeping a balanced perspective of housekeeping, this is a good read for you.

The Hard Prayers of a Mother – We Are THAT Family

My heart resonates with this post. We are in the thick of the emotional moments these days. A particularly good quote for me – “Or maybe just letting go of our illusion of control never gets easier.”

6 Prayers for the Stubborn Child’s Heart – The Road to 31

I appreciate the author’s pointing out of the good in a stubborn child. It is so easy to miss when you are facing a defiant, stubborn child. Point #3 is very spot on and one that I try to keep at the heart of my parenting for all of my children.

5 Ideas for Ministering to Others Even With Small Children at Home – The Purposeful Mom

This read may be challenging or encouraging to you, it was a bit of both for me. I appreciated the reminder that if I want my children to minister to others, they need to see that happen often. For this, the thing I appreciated most about the article is the list of practical ways to actually do this.

The Most Loving Thing I’ve Done For Our Marriage – Club 31 Women

It is easy to lose focus of what really matters and to find ourselves spinning our wheels in a lot of areas. When we take the time to refocus, everyone benefits. In marriage, I believe she is spot on in her statements here.

Books for Gardeners of All Kinds

Gardening books are some of my favorite reads. We have a garden of some size every year. This year we are wondering if the only thing we will grow will be the strawberries because it looks like they survived the bitterly cold winter we had and our time seems to be growing smaller and smaller as the year goes on.

But that doesn’t stop me from picking up garden related books! I just love to look at them. They are so beautiful and full of information. I pick up something new from each one I read. Today I’m sharing my latest haul of books for gardeners from the library (and a couple from my shelves).

Books for Gardeners of All Kinds | Vicki-Arnold.com

Books for Gardeners of All Kinds

Homegrown Berries: Successfully Grow Your Own Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and More! by Timber Press Growing Guides – The photography in this book is gorgeous. The “more” of this book includes gooseberries, currants, elderberries, chokeberries, cranberries, jostaberries, huckleberries, juneberries, and lingonberries. That’s a lot of berries and a lot of information.

Grow a Little Fruit Tree: Simple Pruning Techniques for Small-Space, Easy-Harvest Fruit Trees by Ann Ralph – Fruit trees are intimidating to me. These fruit trees are literally little fruit trees. The yield is smaller and the care is easier because the trees aren’t too tall. At least, that’s what she spends roughly 168 pages explaining.

Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time by Craig LeHoullier – I am such a fan of how gorgeous gardening books have become. It makes me want them all. So at the risk of sounding redundant, this book is gorgeous. Lots of photos, lots of history, lots of great information.

Edible Spots and Pots: Small-Space Gardens for Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Containers, Raised Beds, and More by Stacey Hirvela – Very thorough, easy to read format. Doesn’t have the color photography of other books, but it isn’t photo free.

The New Horse-Powered Farm: Tools and Systems for the Small-Scale Sustainable Market Grower by Stephen Leslie – Not exactly my cup of gardening tea, but a great informational book. Covers horse breeds, care and training, and working with horses on your farm. It includes a section on working with horses with specific crops, too.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens: Growing Great Edibles in Containers, Raised Beds, and Small Plots by Andrea Bellamy – Walks you through the assessment and planning stages, even has photo directions for building raised beds. Also covers pest control and plant diseases you may face. Ends with a nice size section on specific edibles.

Farm Fork Food: A Year of Spectacular Recipes Inspired by Black Cat Farm by Eric Skokan – This is a cookbook, not a gardening book. It has a lot of recipes in it, a lot of unique recipes. Basil ice cream with summer berries? You’ll find it in here. Lots of things that I probably wouldn’t try, but you may be more adventurous than I.

Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook by LaManda Joy – The book is organized in three parts: gathering your community, building your garden’s supports, and managing your community garden. Community gardens need to become a thing, a big thing. There is so much potential for good.

Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein – I find this book fascinating. Permaculture uses lots of tricks and techniques that would be helpful to gardeners at large. A big book, with a ringing endorsement from Joel Salatin.

Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together by Sylvia Bernstein – Maybe you want to try a different way of gardening? You could give this a try and grow some fish while you’re at it.

The Ever-Blooming Flower Garden: A Blueprint for Continuous Color by lee Schneller – I get stuck in the thought process of food gardening when I think gardening, but vegetable gardens aren’t the only kind of gardens you can grow. This is a great flower gardening book. Flower gardens are great for drawing in pollinators like butterflies, bees, and birds.

There you have it, a short list of books for gardeners of all kinds. Let me know if you discovered a new to you book to add to your reading list!

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children – Jesus Storybook Bible

In our 3-6 children’s church class, we have been working through The Jesus Storybook Bible and I’m always looking for activity ideas for them. Today I have partnered with a group of bloggers to bring you some activity ideas for The Friend of Little Children as a part of a huge blog hop of sorts.

We are building a list of activity ideas for EACH story/account in The Jesus Storybook Bible. I signed up for The Friend of Little children. You can see them all linked up on the main page over at My Mundane and Miraculous Life.

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children from The Storybook Bible | Vicki-Arnold.com

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children

There are a few different themes you can explore with this story:

  • Friendship – As Christians, we are blessed to be friends of Jesus. You can explore the theme of friendship with your little ones by talking about what being a good friend is, role playing out different friend situations (when someone has a toy you want, for example), or make a gift for their friends.
  • Service – Exploring service with preschoolers is a great time for role playing. One possible activity is to wash each other’s feet. You wash your child’s and then have them wash yours. Or serve each other tea and cookies at a tea party.
  • Priorities – A good one if you have older students that you would like to include. Talk about what is important to us and compare it to what is important to God. Maybe make a picture graph for little ones with magazine cut-outs and have older students make a chart or list.

Our Activity for The Friend of Little Children

We chose to focus on friendship for our activity. After we read the story, we talked about how great it is to be a friend of God. Then we talked about our friends. The 3-year-old counted off his friends (most made the list more than once…).

Then we decided to make a gift for a friend. We decided to color a picture for his friend Jeremiah. Oliver is all about dinosaurs right now and my friend Annette over at In All You Do has several dinosaur printables that we just love.

I printed out the coloring pages and let Oliver pick one for Jeremiah. We talked about which one he thought Jeremiah would like and what colors he would like on it. He chose an orange cat. ;)

Dinosaur coloring pages from In All You Do

Then Oliver picked one of his Dragon Legends cards (purchased at the Creation Museum) especially for Jeremiah. He changed his mind after I took the photo so he ended up giving him the sparkly purple one.

Dinosaur coloring pages and dragon legend cards

Then we packaged it up in an envelope, which he also decorated, and hand delivered it to Jeremiah. It was adorable.

I’ve said it many times before, crafting and doing activities with kids does not have to be a complicated affair. They enjoy the time with you and will pick up much more than you could ever actually teach. They’re funny like that, little sponges.

I hope you enjoyed the activity ideas for The Friend of Little Children from The Jesus Storybook Bible. Be sure to check out all the other activities over at My Mundane and Miraculous Life!

Design Books for the Home

Can I tell you a secret? I am a TERRIBLE decorator. It’s one of those homemaking areas that I feel I should be better at, but I’m not. Some women seem to have no problem making their home beautiful, and I’m over here just trying to keep the mess at bay.

One of the things I’ve been working on slowly, very slowly, is decluttering. God has been working on my heart lately and helping me to “cut the apron strings” to my stuff. It is just stuff. Actually, it’s not just stuff anymore. It is stuff I’m tired of managing. I don’t want to be a manager of stuff anymore. Hence, the decluttering.

The slow part comes from my learning to stick with a project and work on it in manageable chunks. I’ve come to realize that I’m an all or nothing kind of girl and that doesn’t really work so well in the homemaking realm. So, I’ve been slowly working on getting things decluttered and cleaned as I can.

I’m still in the laundry room. Sigh.

Slow and steady wins the race, right? I sure hope so!

What does all of this have to do with design books for the home? Well, in my quest to de-clutter, I am also wanting to create a more beautiful home. One that has personality (like I like to think I have) and that my family finds comforting. I also want to do some DIY projects.

Design Books for the Home | Vicki-Arnold.com

Enter, the books. I actually am not even sure how I ended up with this particular selection from the library. It probably started with Amazon and then holds being placed at the library. This is a pretty common occurrence for me. Just ask my husband.

In the instance that you might find yourself in the mood for some inspiration, I thought I would share the list with you.

Design Books for the Home

It’s kind of funny to me that each of these books is by a blogger.

Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman – What I love about this one is it isn’t just decor. There are DIY projects, informational type articles on design how-to’s, and entertaining recipes. Some of the projects aren’t my style, but the general ideas can be tweaked to fit. There are several sections like Cloth Napkins 9 Ways (also mugs, vases, terra cotta pots, etc.) that are super fun.

Blog: A Beautiful Mess

Young House Love by Sherry and John Petersik – This book is full of great ways to update your home, 243 of them specifically. They have a handy little key for each one that gives you cost, time, and work in a bar chart, making it really easy to see at a glance how time consuming or expensive a project is. A LOT of them are free or cheap.

I am also really enjoying their commentary throughout the book. It’s a fun read.

Blog: Young House Love (though technically they aren’t blogging anymore, there are over 3,000 posts to sift through)

The $50 Home Makeover by Shaunna West – This one is mostly individual projects that you can make fit your style. I love the story behind her blog and book. Not all the projects are my cup of tea, but I wouldn’t expect them to be. There are a few that utilize washi tape, which I have only just recently discovered the greatness of, and a couple for Ikea furniture hacks.

Blog: Perfectly Imperfect

Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

I’m pretty sure Design*Sponge is considered THE original home decor/styling blog. It’s one of the very first blogs I ever read years ago. I am pretty sure it was their Biz Ladies series. But that is not the point here.

This book is so cool because it is a tour of so many living spaces from so many people. It is really neat. A great one to get visual inspiration from people who know what they are doing, or at least pretend really well.

Blog: Design*Sponge

And now that I’ve listed these, I remembered a book that my husband and I came across at the library once that was a lightbulb moment for us. It put a name to our style that we hadn’t heard before. And I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT IS! I do believe some browsing will be happening at the library very soon.

Do you have some favorite design books for the home? Please share them with me!

Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

You can’t not think of beans when you think of frugal family dinners. Dry beans are very economical, even organic ones. It’s a great way to save money on feeding your family.

The PROBLEM with beans, for me anyways, is that I can never think of how to actually fix them. I’m sort of on a mission to whittle down our food costs and I want to take advantage of the economical protein that is beans.

So I took to the internet to find some options.

Frugal Family Dinners - Beans - 40+ recipes to help stretch your food budget.

Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

I’m going to do my best to organize these, but there is some overlap.

Meatless Bean Recipes

Or mostly meatless.

Beans as Meal Stretchers

Or recipes with meat and beans.

Chilies with Beans

Slow Cooker Bean Recipes

Bean Side Dishes

Beans for Breakfast

Yes, seriously. (And yes, I realize this post is called frugal family dinners…)

There you go. Over 40 frugal family dinner ideas for beans. I have added a few to my list to try, which ones do you think you would try?