Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Restructuring the family routine, and a few new rules

It all started with sewing patches.  My oldest son is in his first year of the Boy Scouts, so I found myself sewing a lot of patches onto his new shirt a few days ago.  I'm a pretty amateur sewer on the machine, but especially with hand stitching.  I definitely improved my skills and patience, though!  :)  Hubby and I were talking about improving my sewing capabilities, and he said he was thinking of getting me a new sewing machine.  The machine I have now was his grandmother's, who passed away before he and I met.  She got it in the 60's, I believe.  When I first got it, I couldn't get it to sew without breaking thread, so he took it in for a tune-up, after which it worked pretty well.  That was about 3 years ago.  Shortly after we moved into this house, not quite 2 years ago, it started acting up again and I haven't been able to use it.  I've been wanting to get it in for another tune-up, but hubby said with what it costs for a tune-up every year or two, we'd be better off getting a new one.

That long story to say, I knew the first thing I wanted to make once I get my new machine and get a little more proficient at sewing:  a cover for the TV.  We have a LCD mounted on our living room wall, and I'm thinking something with elastic around the edge, kind of like those plastic wrap bowl covers that you just slip over the top.  But bigger and made of fabric.  And for the TV.  :)  We had gotten in the habit of having the TV on A LOT lately...even if we weren't watching, it was background.  The day after my TV cover idea, hubby came to me and said he wants the TV off from now on.  The only time we will have it on is as a treat or for special occasions, like football.  ;)  Hubby and I do have kind of a nightly "date" thing going where we watch an episode or two of CSI: NY on the blue-ray player before we go to bed, but it's always after the kids are all in bed and sleeping.  Yesterday was our first full day with no TV, and it didn't go quite as bad as I thought.  In fact, I swear the kids were in a better mood.  We're doing more fun things now, like playing board games or Go Fish, or reading together.  And doing more not-so-fun things, but things that really need to get done, like getting the house clean and organized, and thinking about getting ready for the upcoming holidays (okay, that last part is fun, at least for me!).

Another bad habit we had gotten ourselves into (and I think this one just naturally goes with having the TV on all the time) is not eating at the dinner table.  So, we re-instituted that rule yesterday as well.  And it has been nothing but wonderful.  :)  I really thought there would be protesting about this one, but the kids were actually excited.  And we're not just doing dinner, or just when Daddy's home.  EVERY meal is eaten together at the table.  I can't even describe to you what a wonderful time of fellowship and bonding this has been for us as a family already.  Not to mention, eating meals at the table forces me to make sure that I have meals planned out.  Yikes, I have let myself slip into these bad habits around the house lately, and meal planning (or lack thereof) has probably been the most disastrous.  It becomes too much of a free-for-all and it's too costly!

It's only been a day, but I am absolutely loving the changes that are already taking place because of these new "rules."  I'm already thinking about other things I can do to minister to my family and make this a more joyful household.  The next thing to work on is definitely my computer time.  I'm not constantly on the computer, but it's always ON (with the internet always up), and so easy to slip on for "just a few minutes."  It doesn't help that the chair at the computer desk has sort of become "my chair," either.  Even if I'm not on the computer, it's where I gravitate to when we're relaxing, or when I'm knitting, or reading, etc.  So, of course, that makes it even easier to slip on and see what's going on around the internet world.  So, I'm trying to change that.  I'm not there yet, but my goal is to have the computer logged off the internet and on sleep mode unless it's nap time or the kids are sleeping for the night.  Or, unless I need a recipe or something else pertinent that I need to look up while we're homeschooling.  The good thing is, is that when I AM on the computer, my time will be more focused and purposeful (such as planned blog posts, as I've been wanting to do!), as opposed to the "mindless wandering" I sometimes do.

I'm really excited about these changes, and, as always, I can't wait to see the plans that the Lord has for my family!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Frugal Friday: Books Revisited

I am a lover of books.  Anyone who knows me well knows this.  In my precious free-time, I can usually be found with my nose in a book...sometimes I can be found with my nose in a book when I technically shouldn't be having free time, but that's another story.  :)  Lately, I've been noticing that I've passed on my love of books to my kids, and I love that!  While I have been making frequent use of our local library--especially now that school is in full swing with my older two sons--I've been working on building our own library here at home, full of living books and classical literature.  And all at practically no cost to me.

How do I do this, you ask?  There are a couple of ways.  First, I registered for free at Paperback Swap (if you sign up, please use living4him2007 as your referrer!).  Upon signing up and posting 10 books, you get 2 free credits.  Each credit is good toward any book, or audio books cost 2 credits.  Then, when someone orders one of your books, you pay postage to send it to them.  When they receive the book, you get a credit.  Obviously when you order a book, the sender will pay the postage and you get it for free.  I have gotten quite a few books this way, and they come in very good condition.  I'm always on the lookout for free books or really cheaply priced books at garage sales, just so I can post them on Paperback Swap and keep my list fresh and keep my credits coming in.

Another way I get free books only costs me in time, and little at that.  I am registered at Swagbucks, and that is also a free registration.  Now, having been a member of quite a few "points" programs online, I have gotten very wary of these types of programs.  But, Swagbucks is completely legit!  All you do is use their search (as opposed to Google or yahoo).  Each search you do has a potential for getting Swagbucks.  That doesn't mean you will get Swagbucks every time you search--you won't!  But, if you like researching things like me, you can earn quite a few Swagbucks in a day.  Each search gives you the potential to earn up to 50 Swagbucks (realistically from my own experience, when you do get Swagbucks, it will be anywhere from 6-10 at a time), and Fridays are mega Swagbuck days, so then, the max you can earn per search goes up to 1000!  I haven't gotten that one yet, but I try!  :)  Plus, when you refer your friends to use Swagbucks, they will match what ever Swagbucks THEY get to YOUR account for their first 48 hours of being registered.  Take a look through the Swag Store and see what kind of things you can buy with your Swagbucks.  I always go for the $5 Amazon gift cards, which cost 450 Swagbucks each.  I have redeemed 6 of those in the past 3 months, and have been chipping away at my extensive Amazon wishlist with them.  I have my Swagbucks almost down to a science now...I just got a book in the mail that I ordered with a $5 gift card I earned, while I'm waiting for the last gift card I snagged to be credited to my account (it usually takes 5-7 days), AND I'm almost ready to snag another.

With just these two programs alone, I have a pretty steady stream of free books coming in the mail.  And, the kids love it, because most of the books are for them.  :)

One more way that I could earn more Amazon gift cards is through my Amazon Associates program.  There are 3 ways to get your commission: by check in the mail, by direct deposit, or by Amazon gift cards.  Right now, I have it set to gift cards, just because I don't want to wait to get $100 and pay the processing fee required for a check, and I haven't set up direct deposit yet, but I will eventually.

So there you have it.  If you love books and would love to build up a collection, but don't have the money, there are ways to do it very cheaply or even free.  It takes a little more time and patience, but--at least to me, anyway--it's worth it!