Succulent Cross

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It’s finally warm enough to spend some time out on the porch. My first priority of course, are plants and accessories. Never mind that there is no where to sit, or that my pile of rummage sale junk still sits in the corner of the porch. A pretty front door is so welcoming, and something green by the door just makes it so much more inviting.

cross before planting

Succulents are my one of my all time favorite things, and so are topiaries. I used to work in a green house and we planted dozens of topiaries early in the season. Topiaries were always hot items and they really aren’t difficult to plant. Succulents work well in them because they have shallow roots and don’t need a ton of water. I found this cross topiary online last year and thought it would be perfect for my Easter decor. This would also be a nice project for a grave site planting, as the succulents don’t need a lot of maintenance.

The first step is to soak your topiary in a bucket of water for 10-15 minutes until saturated. Then it’s ready to plant. I only used 6 plants for this project, but I broke them down into smaller pieces as I planted them so they wouldn’t be too big for the narrow parts of the cross.

close up of succulent cross

I used a screw driver to poke holes into the moss, then inserted the plants. The plants filled up the cross quite well and will grow into place even more over the garden season.

I used a Command Strip to hang it on the glass door.

whole door with cross

I will have to take the cross down and soak it in a tray of water when it is dry since I don’t want to mess up the wooden finish on the door by watering it directly.

cross on the door

I found the blue hydrangea plant recently at Costco. My cross dripped a bit after it hung for a while, you can see a bit of moisture on the lower part of the door. I will have to remember to let it drain for a bit before hanging it up after watering. I have planted the Bunny Topiary in past years, you can read that tutorial here.

Now that my door is ready, perhaps I need to go out and look for an Easter Bonnet?

Enjoy your Holy Week!

 

How to Keep Your Family Safe Online

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Keeping your family safe online is a huge topic of discussion and concern for people today. I hear every day of families who are distraught, trying to keep their children safe from the uncontrollable Internet. The statistics of children viewing porn and graphic content at younger and younger ages is staggering, even among Christian families. No one is safe from it. As a parent, I don’t want to see it either, it is annoying, frustrating and shocking. One wrong click of the mouse and your child’s innocence can be lost forever. How are we to keep this unwanted content out of our homes? There are a number of things you can do to keep the Internet in check.

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1) Set up parental parameters: Devices your children use such as the Wii, XBox, Nook, the Kindle and hand held game systems have improved internet safety software to keep children from viewing inappropriate content. Set up a parental login and get started.  Check regularly to see what your children are viewing and downloading online on each system. If you don’t know how to set up your device, call technical support and have them help you set it up over the phone.

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2) Set Up Cell Phone Blocking. Did you know you can pay a few extra dollars per month to your cell phone provider to block inappropriate content on all the phones on your plan? We use AT &T, they only charge $4.99 per month for this service.  Click here to find out more information. You can set up time usage limits, text limits, and even block specific numbers. This is money well spent for a bit of peace of mind. Blocking cannot stop all phone to phone content transfer, however. Be aware that if your child gets an email or text from an approved number that is inappropriate, there is no way for you block it. Hopefully, this will change in the future and parents will have even more control over their children viewing content.

3) Set definite boundaries with your children. Do not allow them to have private passwords, you need to be able to check their electronic devices, email and social media accounts for appropriate content. Make it a house rule, all passwords for electronic devices and emails are shared in the home.

4) Keep your computer in an open space. Do not allow your children to have online access behind closed doors. There is no reason they need privacy, they are children. Our children do online classes at home but they understand the doors are to remain open. If this is an issue in your home, try installing some glass doors instead or move your computer to an open area without doors.

5) Set your browser to remember passwords and record website history. Look under the System Preferences icon to on your computer to change this function. Check the browser history frequently to be sure everything is on the up and up.

6) Call your internet service provider and see what parental controls they offer. They may have some tools available that you weren’t aware of. If you bundle your services and have cable TV with them as well, have them help you set up controls on your television for cable.  We use Charter Communications and they have an excellent tutorial on setting up your TV blocking here. Many TVs are set up for Internet streaming, you want to have controls in place for that too, here another link for Charter that may be helpful.

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7) Install a content filtering router. You can purchase a special router to filter unwanted Internet content right at the source where it enters your home. With a router like this, no one in the household will be able to view unwanted content whether they connect to the router directly or wirelessly. A filtering router can work with your current Internet provider and is programmable so you can block unwanted websites and specific content. Generally these routers are rather expensive, but they are available. I recently won a router like this, and I can’t wait get started using it. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

8) Limit your child’s Internet access by age. Young children should have little or no reason to use the Internet, especially when they are unsupervised. Our doctor recommended no more than 20 minutes of screen time per sitting, not more than 2 hours daily for our kids.

These are some pointers, but the best way to keep your kids safe is by being an involved parent. Know who your kids are friends with and what their family rules and values are. Establish your own family rules and stick to them. You may need to step in and make some difficult choices, but your kids will thank you in the long run.

Are you wondering what all this silly artistic censorship is about? These silly art pictures won me the grand prize of a complete content filtering router system! I don’t have the system yet, but I will have more to share soon, including how you can get one for your family!

Stay tuned!

Joining the Link Up!

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10 Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

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I am ready for the Christmas season. The house is decorated, and the cookies are baked, the ham is ready to cook. We are so blessed to have each other, our health and so much more.

We have made a few simple gifts to give, but have not purchased gifts this year. This year, we are focused on serving others more than ever before.

For this reason, we are very joyful this holiday season.

We contributed our family’s normal gift budget to a couple of important causes. We bought a goat for a family in need through World Vision. Each year we “shop” through their catalog to purchase a livestock animal to give to families in need so they can support themselves. It is one of our favorite family traditions.

This is the first year I have noticed American children listed among those in need, it’s not just a world wide cause anymore.

We contributed through our church to the Advent Conspiracy program, and joined the masses of people who have decided to give more than they spend. Dozens of our local charities as well as many national ones benefited from the funds our church helped to set aside for them.

We baked cookies to give away and are serving on Christmas eve at church as well. These are our simple family traditions.

There are so many places you can serve no matter how little time or money you have.

I asked my fellow bloggers for some ideas on how they are serving this season. Would you like to join us in serving others this holiday season?

Here’s what they came up with:

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1) Commit Random Acts of Kindness: Ellen over at Confessions of an Overworked Mom has 25 great ideas for giving back to those in need. Commit at least one random act this season, or all 25! The more you do the more joyful you will become, guaranteed.

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2)Buy a pair of pajamas and a storybook: Contribute to the Pajama Program’s One Million Good Nights, NYCJenny blogged about her family’s experience buying a pair of pajamas and a children’s story book for this charity. There are so many children who have never experienced the simple luxury of wearing a new pair of pajamas and being read a bedtime story by a parent. This is so close to my heart, I can’t imagine a child not being tucked into bed by a loving parent. This is her husband in his footy pj’s promoting the event for a local news station.

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3)Teach Your Children to Serve: Briton from Rad Mom Cool Kid has ideas for children and how they can be of service. Teaching your children servitude helps to combat bullying and disrespect. Start now!

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4)Take part in Operation Christmas Child: Melissa from Fab Haute Mamma shared her family’s experience taking shoe boxes and filling them with simple gifts and basic hygiene supplies for Operation Christmas Child. This is also a great family activity! This is a national campaign, look for a drop off site near you and change a child’s life today!

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5)Give Back to your Community: Nichole from Simply Nicole has simple ideas for sharing the holiday spirit such as volunteering at your local senior center and cleaning out your closet for charity. I love the Campout for Hunger program she describes. Volunteers collect and distribute large amounts of canned food for a 5 day period! Wow!

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6)Search the Web for the perfect giving option: Ange from Inspiring Hearts and Homes put together a long list of places you can serve, including the Humane Society and the Make a Wish Foundation. Check out the list, and find an option that works for you in your area.

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7)Decorate a Tree for your favorite Charity: Vanessa Brady from Tried and True decorated a tree for her charity Project BRAVO which benefits the poor in her region of Texas.

Beautiful idea, I can’t wait to do something like this next year!

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8) Donate needed items to a food pantry:  Paula Biggs from the Frog Price Paperie has great suggestions for what is needed at the food pantry this time of year. Did you know that Almond Milk is greatly in demand at pantries? I had no idea! I will buy a couple extra bottles on my next trip to the grocery store.

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9) Ask others to buy Holiday Gifts for Giving Back: Stacy and Eric from Anastasia Vintage Home share their request to family members to give to others instead of themselves. They had some great ideas not on other lists such as Heifer International and Oxfam Unwrapped.

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10)  Be a part of the Drive Thru Difference: Our local Christian radio station started this idea. All you have to do is pay for the car’s order behind you when you are at a drive thru restaurant.  Visit this site to print out a letter of explanation and give it to the cashier when you pay for the meals. This little random act of kindness could change someone’s life today!

Photo Challenge: Day 12 Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunset

I am probably one of the minority of people who don’t have a huge collection of sunset photos stored on their hard drive.  It’s the rainy spring season here in the mid-west and we haven’t seen much of the sun lately. When we do see it, it’s short lived, and by night fall the clouds have rolled in.

Half the time, I don’t make it to night fall anyway. I find I am usually exhausted on the couch and wouldn’t possibly have the energy to go out and photograph a sunset even if there was one.

However, when we were on vacation, there were lots of sunsets.

I had lots of energy to sit on the beach, or walk among the waves enjoying the view.

Amazing how that works.

I am struggling with lots of things right now. Our plans to purchase a home have changed, and we are devestated.

We are all packed up and have no place to go.

It’s an awful feeling, not knowing where your going or when you will get there. I don’t do well with uncertainty.

It’s really a faith struggle, isn’t it? Do you trust God to lead you the way you should go, or not?

It’s easy to think yes, but not so easy to feel it. It’s hard when you can’t see where He is leading you.

I would give just about anything to be walking on a warm beach, enjoying the sunset and completely forget all our problems for a little while.

Why is it that God seems closer on a beach? Where do you feel closest to God?

To me, it seems easier to trust and have faith with a glorious sunset. I guess it reminds me of a rainbow and all God’s promises.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!

Enjoy the sunset today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jung’s Garden Seed Giveaway #2

 

 

 

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Have you ever had days when you have such a long to do list, you blank out? When you have a million things pulling you different directions, and you forget the one that’s really important?

Like hosting a Giveaway?????

Yesterday was my day to start the second Jung’s Garden Seed Giveaway, and I totally spaced it!

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You won’t want to miss this Giveaway! Jung’s is providing 11 packets of seeds, including 3 types of flowers and vegetable seeds. This Giveaway is valued at $30.00!  We have specifically chosen heat loving varieties that are easy to grow, so if you are a novice gardener you won’t be disappointed! I have been a long time customer of Jung’s, they have great quality seeds you can count on! Check out there website here for more information.

Leave a comment on the blog, or twitter/re-tweet the Giveaway for more chances to win!

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On another note, this is holy week. Today is day #3 of my Photography Challenge. Today’s focus is “clouds”. This is a tough subject in Wisconsin. We have two types of clouds here: snow and rain. This amounts to “grey and even grayer” clouds.

That pretty much sums it up.

Wisconsin clouds are not all that interesting. We don’t get many of the the big white puffy clouds you see in other regions.  My son did a science experiment tracking clouds recently. They were the same grey clouds for days on end.

So, today I decided to use our church steeple in my cloud shots, a point of reference can make things more interesting and detract from the grey storm clouds that are on the horizon.

Did I mention it snowed this morning?

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One of the things I love about our church, besides the beautiful building, is that we have a variety of local ministries. My favorite ministry, is the Food Pantry Garden. Each year our church members volunteer to plant and maintain the farm land surrounding the church. At the end of the garden season, all the food that is harvested gets donated to local food pantries.

Last year, they raised 4000 lbs. of food!

Wow! We are a truly blessed body of believers.

I tell you this because, even if you don’t grow a garden for yourself, there are others who can benefit from your gardening.

All the more reason to enter the Giveaway. You can donate your surplus if you choose!

Tune in tomorrow for another special announcement!