Archive for the 'Make-It-Yourself' Category

Preparing for Advent

I hope you have all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I love this time of year and how we move right from a season of thanksgiving into a time of reflection on the Lord’s coming to this earth to dwell with us. What better than a celebration of gratitude to prepare us for celebrating Jesus’ birth?!

In these few days before December arrives we’re spending a little bit of time getting ready for the advent seasons. Decorations will soon go up and we’ve just gotten our advent book and ornaments ready. More important than aesthetics and activity, of course, is setting aside time this season to truly anticipate the coming of Jesus. I thought I’d share just a few links that might get your mind’s and hearts thinking about this important season, if you haven’t started already.

This free book by Ann Voskamp is the one that we are using as a family this year to prepare our hearts throughout the Advent season. It is scripture focused and beautifully written. You can print the book, as well as the ornaments for each day. I made a very simple thanksgiving tree that I saw here and am using it for our advent ornaments as well.

I’ve mentioned this book  before while sharing about the significance of tradition. I absolutely love how Noel Piper encourages families to create traditions that place the focus on truly celebrating God in our festivities. Follow the link to download the book for free.

My dear friend, Vicky, an amazingly talented and  creative sister in Christ, made this simple modern version of the advent wreath last year. She has lots of other amazing holiday celebration/decoration ideas that might also inspire you.

Here was another great advent calendar idea from Jami last year on Missionary Moms. Also, in the comments a number of you left other great ideas and links!

Lastly, I just came across this advent wreath and thought it was a fun, lovely, and simple idea.

What are your plans to help your family focus on Christ this advent season? Do you have any ideas that you’d be able to share with us?

(Post by: Ashley)


A Little-known Remedy

olive oil

I’m about to let you in on a little secret.  It’s the world’s best remedy for bumps and bruises, and it’s probably already sitting in your kitchen cupboard, just waiting for so noble of a use.  Has your toddler ever smacked into the coffee table and come out with an egg on her forehead?  Or are your kids accident-prone and always getting bruises?  Okay, here’s the secret: rub olive oil on the owie!  That’s it.  It sounds crazy, but it greatly reduces swelling and bruising.  I thought it was crazy when I first heard about it, but IT REALLY WORKS.  And something about applying the oil on my daughter calms her when she’s crying.   For best results, apply it as soon as possible.

Do you have any other unconventional but trusted remedies that you use in your family? Please share!

(Post by: Jami)

Letters From Mom

baby books

I wish I were a scrapbooker. I love looking at my friends’ beautifully crafted memory books and love the thought of having such a keepsake to pass down to my children. Reality is that I don’t seem to find (or make) the time for scrapbooking and am just not as “crafty” as I’d wish.  I love to write, though, and to capture memories in poignant words. Being true to myself, I have been treasuring my children’s childhood experiences in a book of letters that I plan to give them when they are older.

Initially I thought I’d write a monthly letter to each child, but it has not followed the original plan. There have been times that I’ve written more often, and there have been longer gaps between letters at other times, but that isn’t what matters. I’ve enjoyed having this special way to record my feelings for my children for them to treasure, knowing that they would not likely otherwise remember of fully know these feelings on their own.

book 021

I also record their major milestones and accomplishments and even attach a “scrap” now and then, like in the picture above that has a letter to my daughter from “Auntie Kim,” a dear friend of mine, as well as a lock of hair from her first haircut.

How have you chosen to remember your kids’ childhood experiences? Do you scrapbook or “letter book?” Do you treasure and save memories in any other special way? Please share!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes for Missionary Moms

spice latte

This post is devoted to all of those Starbucks holiday drink lovers out there who are sacrificing Pumpkin Spice Lattes for the glory of God. Whether this sacrifice be due to lack of availability in a foreign land, or simply the fact that it costs about as much for one season of lattes as it does to put a kid trough college, God is certainly pleased with your willing sacrifice. But He is also loving and merciful and thanks to the internet and genious people who are willing to share their recipes, He has decided to bless us with the ability to bring this delicious beverage into our very own homes for a fraction of the cost.

I was searching online today to find out a good recipe for vanilla coffee syrup and I found a number of awesome pumpkin spice lattes recipes as well! I am enjoying my first of many such lattes this season as I write this post. It is SO good! Here’s the recipe in my cup:

1 C boiling water

1 C sugar

2 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spices (there are easy recipes online that tell the proportions of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves if you don’t have a ready made mix)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

-The above ingredients are for the syrup. Put the spices into a disposable tea filter if you have one, or into a coffee filter and tie it shut at the top. Mix the boiling water and sugar until dissolved and steep spice packet in syrup for about 5 minutes, stirring often to infuse the syrup with the spices.  Lastly, mix in the vanilla. Store the extra syrup in the fridge after you make your latte.

-Next, heat up about 1/2  cup of milk (the creamier the better in my opinion) and mix with about 1/3 cup strong coffee (more or less to taste). Obviously espresso would be ideal, but assuming that most of us don’t likely have an espresso machine, strong coffee will have to do.  Mix in about 2 tablespoons of your syrup and adjust from there if you’d like it sweeter. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg if you really want to go gourmet. Oh, and if you happened to have real pumpkin puree, toss a tablespoon of that it and it would be wonderful!

The above recipe is my own adaptation of the recipe that I found here. I simplified the process slightly and made it a bit more missionary friendly by removing the espresso element, but the ingredients are pretty much the same. Like I said, I tested out my method before posting it, so I promise you that it works!

Do you love holiday beverages too? Which one is your favorite? Have you been longing for a pumpkin spice latte and slice of pumpkin bread as much I have? It is my goal this season to experiment with a number of Starbucks-ish recipes, so I’ll be sure to share the successful ones. My longevity on the field will be sealed forever if I can just perfect the at-home eggnog latte… without the raw eggs…. big hitch, but we’ll see.

Make-It-Yourself: Travel Items for Kids

travel bag

There is a nice market out there for products designed to make travel with children easier. These ideas are genius and I am always excited when I hear of new products in this realm. There are two problems with many of these items though.  1) They are expensive, and 2) they are often difficult to find overseas, depending on your location. Here are some make-it-yourself alternatives!

M.I.Y Potty-topper- This is a great item to have throughout potty-training and toddlerhood when visits to less than ideal bathrooms are frequent. Rather than buying 10 for $5, if you can even find them, make your own out of waxed paper. You might need to tape two pieces together to make it wide enough, but it is easy and cheap.  Make a big rectangle, cut a hole in the middle, and voila! Test the first draft on you toilet at home for size. You could even make it U-shaped since most little kids only sit on the very front part of the seat.  You can hold it onto the potty with tape or a sticker if you want.

On-the-go dish soap wipes- We got a box of these awesome “pre-soaped” disposable dish rags that were wonderful for cleaning bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups  and the like in airports and such. You can easily make something similar by adding squirts of dish soap to  sturdy paper towels and sealing them in a plastic bag.

Disposable baby spoons- There are a number of “toss or save” sorts of utensils on the American baby product market, but in my opinion they are way too nice (a.k.a expensive) to toss.  Sometimes you can find disposable sugar spoons for coffee that are way cheaper and about the same size if you are looking for disposable.

Stand-in pacifier clip- If your child loses theirs and you are desperate, why not attach a piece of sturdy ribbon  to a diaper pin and tie it to the binky? Two safety points: 1)make sure it is shorter than the distance around your baby’s neck. 2) only use a real diaper pin that has a locking feature. If you are crafty you could probably devise a cuter clip than most on the market by exploring “classier” clip options and stylish ribbon designs.

Recycled formula dispenser- My son was a bottle baby for the second half of his infanthood and I quickly learned that traveling with all of that bottle gear is a pain! I loved our Avent formula dispenser cup with the nice little spout that was small enough to pour into a bottle without making a mess.  Much easier than a ziplock bag! You could achieve this same thing by recycling a small-ish pill container, depending on the size of the mouth of the bottles you use and the size of the pill container.

Take n’ Toss changing pads– Again, waxed paper is your friend.

Home-made disposable leak-proof  odor-free diapers- Just kidding!

Do you have any money-saving mom-saving items that you toss in your bag for travel? Any ideas of things we can make for ourselves to save on time, stress, and money?

Wearing Your Baby


Ironically, this week in language class we got onto the topic of the benefits of “baby wearing.” I think I have mentioned it before, but I am very much an advocate of wearing babies for the sake of mother-baby bonding and the general health and happiness of mom and child, not to mention for the sake of convenience. Our sidewalks are terrible for strollers, so the sling was so nice sometimes! Since the topic came up, I thought I’d share some thoughts and resources with you in order to do my part to promote global baby wearing (which I am sure most of you can share from experience, is in actuality already a very multi-cultural practice.)

Some reasons to wear your baby:

-Closeness and bonding (there are a number of studies out there that show that wearing your baby can help with postpartum depression and is very beneficial for the overall bond of mother/father and child).

-Convenience. It is easier than hauling a stroller out the door if you don’t need one. Also it is easier to get things done around the house if you have your hands free yet can be holding your baby at the same time.

-Comfort. Most moms find it comforting to have their babies close to them, and most (probably all) babies love being close to mom/dad.

-Colic… I wasn’t intentionally going with the “c” theme, but it seems to just be working that way. My son was really colicky and I called the sling his “happy place” because it was the only way that I could get him to stop crying on numerous occasions. It worked far better than anything else to soothe him!

-Development (moving farther on into the alphabet). It has been shown that wearing your baby promotes emotional, physical, and intellectual development and is especially beneficial for premature infants.

….and there are many more advantages, but I am out of time, so here are some links:

The Baby Wearer

Natural Child

Here are some other good links that I have found that help you to make your own wraps/carriers/slings.

Ring sling sewing instructions (I think one of you linked to this as well recently!)

Several make-it-yourself carriers

African Kanga (Kikoy) wrap instructions (using just a large piece of fabric)

There are also TONS of great ones that you can buy if you happen to be back in the US.  Some are the Ergo carrier, Moby Wrap, general pocket sling and ring slings, Mei Tai style carriers (like this one), Baby Bjorns… Find what you like and wear it!

(And in case it is of interest, though my kids spent much time in their slings, we did most naps in their own beds. Some sites recommend having your babies nap in their slings, and while this is great and something I did a lot at first, some moms prefer teaching their kids to sleep in their own beds early on for the sake of routine. I was just writing this little disclaimer to say that you can be a baby wearing mom on any end of the spectrum. Any time spent wearing your baby is good, even if you don’t wear them all day!)

Do you or did you wear your baby? What are your thoughts?

Great printable freebie!


In my post “Keep In Touch” I mentioned a fun Dr. Suess book called “MyBook About Me” that your kids can fill out and send to grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. as a fun way to keep in touch. It is great, but of course hard to find overseas and therefore would require some planning to obtain. I just found a great online site that has a cute,  free, printable book called “All About Me!” There is a girl version and a boy version. I look forward to filling them out for us to keep and for family too. Also, there is a permanent link to the site “” in the sidebar and there are TONS of other fun printable items there. Enjoy!

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