baby gift tutorial

I noticed that Baby Girl liked to play with the tags on toys, often more than the toys themselves. I mentioned this and my Aunt Kay (who is herself a super crafty and frugal gourmet) said she had seen ribbons sewed and looped around a bit of fleece and how cute it was.

Using some remnants of fleece, scraps of ribbon (and scavenging some ribbon scraps from my mom as well) and some advice from my mom (as I have very limited sewing experience)... this is what we came up with. I made one for Baby Girl and then wrote this tutorial as I made the second one for a gift.

I love that this is a personal gift that is creative and that (potentially) is free if you have the fabric and ribbon on hand.

Step 1: Cut out two pieces of fleece. Mine was about 10"x13" (it doesn't have to be any exact size)

Step 2: Select some bits of ribbon that you like. About a dozen is what I used. Cut them all to roughly 6 inches in length. (again this is not exact)

Step 3: Lay one piece of fleece right side up. Lay your ribbons out where you want them then pin them with the loop facing to the inside. Then go back and baste the ribbons in place.

Step 4: Lay the other piece of fleece on top (right side down) and pin the two together.

Step 5: Sew around the edges being sure to leave a space of 4-5 inches open so that you can turn it right side out. Since my space was over one of the ribbons I sewed the ribbon to one side only so that it would stay in place when I flipped it. After sewing, trim all the loose ends of ribbon, the edges and cut the corners at an angle.

Step 6: Flip it right side out. Pull the corners out. Use a needle and thread to close up the opening. I just whip stitched it closed (thankfully fleece is kind of fluffy so it's very forgiving if your stitches aren't pretty- like mine!).

Step 7: Sew once again around the edge of the blankie to give it a finished look and so it will lay flat.
That's it! Told you it was easy.

Any ideas for names for this little creation?

If you have a machine or want to put some money into this it would be cute to get one piece of fleece monogrammed before piecing this together and would look very professional.

For more frugal ideas check out Frugal Friday over at Biblical Womanhood!


the wylie home: my kitchen rug

Welcome Back to my home!

Here is something else about my home that I really love and appreciate... my kitchen rug.

We bought this rug at Tuesday Morning about... 3 years ago. When we bought it, it wasn't anything special, just a neutral color rug to go in front of our kitchen sink.

You can't really tell from the picture, but it's made of a loopy cotton thick yarn type of stuff. Right when it comes out of the dryer I could honestly stand on this rug and wash dishes all day (shh... don't tell!).
It really is the little things that we can be thankful for that bring comfort every day.

monday menu

Here we go... This is my menu plan for the week.

I also have to give a shout-out to a meal we made this past week (that I didn't post the plan for)- turkey burgers. They were fantastic, Jon couldn't get over the fact that there was hardly any fat in the pan after we fried them. It's nice to feel healthy while eating a burger!

Monday- unfried chinese rice, homemade bread, celery sticks with peanut butter. This was a hit from a couple weeks ago, so we'll try it again!

Tuesday- out to dinner with a gift card! Hooray! Mom is in town to watch Baby Girl :o)

Wednesday- I'm almost scared to admit this... we're having fried chicken piece things... ugh... I'm not looking forward to this actually. We bought an Angel Food Ministries Food Box a while back, mainly to see if the food was worth the money- it wasn't. It included breaded dark meat chicken chunks that are supposed to be deep fried. I can't figure out if it's safe to bake them or not!!! But we're not about to let food go to waste... so we'll see....

Thursday- egyptian rice and lentils, homemade bread and green peas

Friday- potluck with friends from church- it's a Mexican theme and we're taking taco salad

Saturday- leftovers

Sunday- this is still TBD... we're having another potluck for lunch with our Sunday School class. The way those usually go we may just have a bowl of cereal for dinner!
Check out orgjunkie for more menu plans!


exercising at home

After Baby Girl was born (almost 6 months ago) I kept thinking about getting back into exercising... thinking is the operative word there. We walked a good bit, but then it got cold and one or both of us would have the sniffles and the timing just wasn't right... can you tell I'm good at coming up with excuses?

The gym on-campus is actually very reasonable, but that's just not a luxury we're willing to pay for right now.

My solution has been fitness DVDs.

I checked a few out from the library, I dug out a pilates one from a drawer, I borrowed from friends.

Here is what I like about this exercise option:
1. The variety keeps things interesting and has helped me figure out what I do and don't enjoy.
2. I can exercise in my pj's.
3. My living room is never crowded with people trying to use different machines.
4. Baby Girl can nap or play in the exersaucer while I get fit.
5. Occasionally one might be able to convince one's husband to participate in something like Fit Pregnancy: Get your body back after baby, if one's husband is a very good sport and very sure in his manhood.
6. It's cheap! I have yet to buy a DVD (save the pilates one I bought several years ago).

For other frugal tips check out Frugal Friday over at Biblical Womanhood.



I'm not much of a political type person at all... I mean AT ALL. I just get really frustrated and cynical about the whole process: the hateful ads on both sides, the empty rhetoric, the enormous amounts of money that are spent on ridiculous things, and the way the pendulum swings back and forth... no one is ever happy.

However, given yesterday's events I feel that I can't go without commenting.

First off let me say clearly that I did NOT vote for Barack Obama, I will never support a candidate that is pro-abortion (check this blog post out- by Randy Alcorn, an author I really like).

Yesterday though, was an historic event. I count it a blessing that we live in a country where the transfer of power happens so smoothly and democracy is so clearly evident. I think it's wonderful that we now have an African-American president (though I would have preferred someone a bit more... conservative).

Here's my problem:

To many, to most perhaps, the chanting crowds yesterday in Washington were inspiring. To me... they were terrifying. I have never so clearly seen a people, a nation, so evidently hanging all their hopes on the shoulders of one man... and he is that... a mere man.

What will happen when he fails?... and fail he will... we all do.

What will happen when the economy continues to suffer?

What will happen when dreams aren't fully realized?

My only hope and prayer is that this hope that is now so misplaced will turn to the only One who is worthy of a nation's hope and trust.

"O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption." Psalm 130:7


cheap nasal decongestant

So I've been sick lately... ugh...

Medicine costs can really add up which makes being sick costly, on top of feeling bad!

Yesterday though, I made a discovery... Aldi sells medicine. I usually skip that aisle in Aldi because I get most toiletries for free at CVS, but yesterday was a different story.

I found the nasal decongestant... "compare to Sudafed PE, 18 tablets, active ingredient: 10 mg of phenyl blah blah" Yep... this was the same stuff that I had bought at Bi-Lo several days before and paid $4.19 for their generic. But no price was listed here at Aldi... I wondered how it would compare.

At the register I had the check-out lady check the price for me... $1.79... WHAT?!?!

I will never buy medicine anywhere else... AMAZING!


the wylie home: small whisk bowl

I love pottery. When I was little my mom collected it and I remember thinking... "yeah, yeah... pottery... who cares..."

Now I am a collector myself. I love the varied colors and imperfections and uniqueness of it! By far, my favorite piece is this small whisk bowl that I received from my mom at a wedding shower.

This bowl is perfect for:
- beating an egg or two for scrambled eggs
- making sauces (like cheese sauce for broccoli)
- melting butter
- mixing dressings
- and mixing any other small amount of anything!

I use it several times a week. (and if this says anything, when I told Jon about this series I was doing this was the first item he recommended... he loves it too!)
Everytime I wash it I get to read on the bottom where my mom wrote, "I love you Emily! MOM 7/15/2005" That's probably the best part about it!

Take a moment today and appreciate something small that you love to use in your home.


settlers- wfmw

Board games definitely work for me....and....this game ROCKS!

Jon and I were introduced to Settlers of Catan (aka, "Settlers") 3 years ago when we were living in VA. We have been playing it ever since.

Settlers is a German-made game and has won both the German and US Awards for board game of the year (1995 and 1996). The game has actually been around a while but is just now really gaining in popularity.
It is a little complicated so it helps to have someone who has played before explain it to you, rather than just trying to read the instructions.

In a nutshell this is how it works:
1. The goal is to be the first one to get 10 points.
2. You get points by building settlements, cities and doing a few other things.
3. You build things by collecting "resource" cards (wheat, sheep, wood, brick, ore)
4. You have a chance to get resources every time each player rolls the dice.
5. You can trade resources with other players (this can get intense!)
6. There are lots of other aspects to the game: ports, the robber, development cards.... etc.

My advice is to ask around, as I'm pretty sure you could find someone who has the game and could try it out.

Check out Rocks in my Dryer for more Works for me Wednesday tips.


we eat weird

Believe me, we have never been the type to eat out multiple times a week (we're more the once a month kind of folks), but within the confines of Wal-Mart and Kroger we didn't limit ourselves too much when it came to food.

If we felt like having guacamole then we made it, even if avocadoes cost $1.19 each.
If we (okay, okay if I) wanted ice cream, I bought the flavor I wanted, even if it wasn't on sale.
If we wanted meat with a meal, we had meat with the meal.
Etc, etc. We just weren't super careful.

Then our budget situation changed drastically (but that's another story) and we had to reevaluate.

So now we eat... well... weird.

1. We eat what we have. I am slowly but surely learning the art of "creating" food.

2. We eat random meals. If we have carrots and pizza and cold cereal then that's what we eat. (Okay, that's exaggerating a bit... we're not that weird! We did do french fries and cereal one night though... that was pre-baby and we're trying to be healthier now)

3. We're not picky. I am so thankful to have a husband who is truly happy to eat pretty much anything. This makes me more willing to try things out and use what we have.

4. We shop better than we used to... Aldi, sales, coupons... you probably do all that too.

5. We take whatever we can get for free. Case in point- Jon's work had a deli bring in sandwiches for lunch and they brought in sliced onions (which no one ate). They were going to trash them but Jon brought them home a whole big styrofoam takeout container of them. We sauteed them in a little seasoned salt and put them on nachos with cheese and a can of diced tomatoes... they were fantastic!

It works for us and it certainly is frugal.

For more frugal tips check out Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Fridays.


capital one

No I'm not being paid for this... well actually sort of I am... not paid to blog about a credit card company, but... go ahead, just read about it.

We really like our Capital One credit card!!!

We don't belong to the club that pays cash for everything... we're the ones who use our credit card for everything. But before you pass out or leave me a mean comment... let me explain.

Our Capital One card gives us 1% cash back on most purchases and 5% on a few others. That means for every $100 we spend we get $1. That may not sound like much, but when you pay for everything on the card it adds up... roughly to about $200 per year, give or take.

To increase this number we have both been known to pay for business expenses on our card and then wait for reimbursement (as long as we have the money to cover the immediate charge, of course!), simply because we can get cash back.

We completely pay off our credit card each month so we never pay interest. That means the Capital One folks actually pay us to use their card.

Some folks I have talked to who use a certain cash only plan (which will remain nameless), don't understand how this works. One well-meaning lady informed me that I must be confused because credit card companies are evil and would never give money away and I really should switch to a cash only system. She was sure I was somehow being scammed.

I don't spend what I don't have, I save, I am not in debt and I get paid to make everyday purchases... that works for me!

Check out Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday tips.

** Disclaimer: I am fully aware that some people find credit cards to be a stumbling block to their spending habits. You know yourself, a cashback card doesn't matter if you don't pay it off each month. **


the wylie home: exersaucer

While I was planning to include this item in my series on things I love and appreciate in my home, I didn't intend for it to have the place of honor as the first post... until today.

Today I learned something... mommies don't get to take sick days.
I am battling a nasty cold which has me more exhausted than anything else. So now, more than ever, I appreciate our exersaucer. Baby Girl has lived in this thing for the past day and half.

I got this at a consignment sale for $20 and it has already been worth every penny. I love that Baby Girl can entertain herself sitting in it and she really gets into all the toys. I can also pull this into the kitchen when I cook, or over near the sofa if I'm folding clothes.

So right now, especially, the exersaucer is one of my favorite things in the wylie home!


monday menu- the i'm sick and surviving version

I had high hopes... I always have high hopes and last night they came crashing down around me when I finally caught the nasty cold Jon has had for the past several days. So now... just take a gander at 3 slow cooker meals in one week! If that doesn't make it easy on me I don't know what will.

On a totally random aside I was super excited to find this blog- A Year of Crockpotting. I'm not ready to use my slow cooker for 365 days straight, but the recipes look good and are well organized.

Monday- Jon has to work, I'm eating whatever I feel like, probably a smoothie, an egg sandwich and an apple with peanut butter

Tuesday- Egyptian lentils and rice in the slow cooker with cooked carrots and homemade bread (this is a new recipe, I'll post it if it's good)

Wednesday- French toast and bacon

Thursday- Emily's Special Soup (i.e. whatever I throw in the slow cooker that sounds good to me... so far this has worked out well... though I realize one day disaster could strike) and homemade bread.

Friday- Leftovers

Saturday- My family will be in town to celebrate Christmas since we haven't had a chance to get together with them due to our different kind of Christmas. We're going out somewhere!

Sunday- This is a toss up... we might still be eating leftovers, if they're all gone I'll probably try another new recipe- Unfried Chinese Rice in the slow cooker with all sorts of bits of stuff in it.


new year, new series

I have been mulling over this series for a while and am excited to finally start posting.

Welcome to.... the wylie home

I live everyday in my home.

Some days I only leave these walls for a walk, other days I don't make it outside at all. When I look around I realize that everything I have surrounding me each day is here for a reason.

I want to be thankful.

This series focuses on the things in my home that I love. Please know that my emphasis is not on having stuff, but on appreciating the small blessings of everyday items in my home.

Each post will focus on one item, or maybe even an "idea," that is part of my home and I'll tell you what I appreciate about it and/or how it blesses me or helps me in my daily life.

More than anything this is a great way for me to reflect on appreciating my home and the blessings I have instead of feeling the pressure and urge from society to buy and do and have more.

No promises on how often I'll post, I'm planning to take this as it comes.
A word about my logo... this is our cat Finn hanging out in a box while we were packing to move last year. He's probably one of my favorite "things" in our home
so he gets the place of honor on the logo!


green goals in 2009

I was encouraged by this post over at Green Baby Guide to formalize my greening goals for the coming year. These are things I have been thinking about and working towards for a while, but there's something to be said for putting this all into writing.

Some of these things may seem very common sense, but I'm recording them more for my own reference than anything else.

1. Switch to eco-friendly (and kid and pet friendly) household cleaners. I'm using up my stash of the nasty stuff now (I can't waste it!) and will use this post to make my own when they're gone.

2. Walk and use the bus more. Once the weather warms up we'll walk to church, but I also plan to start using the bus for visits to the library and for grocery store runs for just a few items.

3. Buy used. We're going to do a better job frequenting thrift shops and craigslist for needed items.

4. Use the dishwasher and don't pre-rinse! I am bad about rinsing before I put in the dishwasher and that wastes a ton of water! Since I feel the need to pre-clean just a little, I'll run a cup of water and use that water to lightly clean dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. It's a compromise.

5. Be intentional. This is really vague... but I really just want to be more thoughtful about everything that I do. Like really thinking before I throw things away if there are other possible uses and being more creative in how I live to reduce my mark on the environment.
We'll see how it goes...