Tips for Moving ~ Guest Post from Cassandra at A Glimpse of Normal


My dear friend Cassandra from A Glimpse of Normal is guest posting today for finchnwren!  She and her family just moved into their dream home (WHAT a story!) and she’s written about how she and her family made the big move simpler and less stressful.  Enjoy–and then hop over to Cassandra’s blog and see their neat new home!

We recently made a big move and bought a new house.  It has been a lot of fun and it is my dream house.  It is a renovated barn and the kids have a lot of fun telling people they live in a barn.  Now that we have been here for a few months I have been thinking about the things we did that made our move easier.  That is what I want to share with you today.  This list is by no means all-inclusive and I am sure there are plenty of things I am forgetting to include, but these are the main things that helped us make moving easier.

1.  Declutter, Declutter, Declutter – If you are thinking about moving start decluttering. This will help you weed out the items you want to keep and move from those you don’t need anymore. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but just remember the more you keep, the more you have to move.
Start Packing Early – I know it sounds a little crazy to start packing before you move, but if you are even thinking of moving, start packing boxes. There are almost always things in our house that we can do without for a little while, so start packing those items. Packing takes forever in general, but the less you have to pack in the last couple of weeks before you move, the better off you will be.

2.  Don’t Pack the Crock Pot – When we moved our crock pot was our best friend.  We had the luxury of a couple of weeks to work in our new house before we closed on our old house.  So during the day I would throw our food into the crock pot and as soon as hubby got home from work, we grabbed what we needed to work that night, a load of boxes, and our crock pot.  Dinner was ready when we got to the new house.  We would eat and then work.

3.  Pack a Tote of Cleaning Supplies – Once we knew the closing date of our new house, I packed a tote of cleaning supplies to take with us on the day we closed.  This included bathroom cleaner, paper towels, toilet paper, kitchen cleaner, wash cloths, rubber gloves, window cleaner, and scrubbers.  This way I could begin cleaning while my hubby and the guys were ripping out carpet.  It also helped because I knew I had these supplies at the new house so I could work on cleaning it when I had a few minutes of downtime when we were remodeling.

4.  Check Out the Cost of Living Where You Are Moving To – Many people move and it just across town, but some are like us and you cross state lines.  This means that the cost of living for us is different.  One thing we did when we first started seriously considering our new house was to find out how expensive it was to live there.  We asked about the utilities, internet, insurance, car insurance, taxes, trash service, how far it was to the store, how much is gasoline there, and more like this.  We also made a list of things we could research when we moved like who plowed snow around us, heating and cooling companies near the new house, and figuring out where we need to go for things like licenses, county taxes, and so on.

5.  Plan for the Unexpected – Every new house you buy comes with unexpected costs.  There are things at our house that we thought were in good order when we purchased the house and they passed inspection, but once we started looking into it more, we had to make some repairs or replace a few things before we could use them.  Try to set aside some money for these unexpected costs.

6.  Work With the Kids – I mean this in a couple of ways.  Our kids were excited about the possibility of moving but at the same time they had reservations and fears.  Work with them through this.  One way we did this was we had a family meeting and we created a list of things we could do if we had a fresh start.  Many of the things on this list were things we could have done at the old house, but just hadn’t taken the time to do.  We have been very diligent about this list and we are making a conscious effort to help our kids check off these tasks from the list we made.  The other way I mean work with your kids is let them work alongside you.  My kids loved getting to decide how their new bedrooms would look.  They also loved being able to give a vote for paint colors and they have come up with clever ideas for decorating at the new house.  They loved being a part of making over the rooms we have made over so far and it gives them a sense of accomplishment and it helps them make the new house theirs.

7.  Enjoy the Process – Once we made the decision to put our house up for sale and put an offer on a new house life got a little crazy.  There is the hurry up and take care of this while at the same time you are waiting on other things.  The whole process of moving is a hurry up and wait kind of thing.  The best thing that we did through it all was to try to enjoy every moment of it even though at times it was frustrating.  We did our best to stay positive and stay focused on what we could take care of and not focus on the things that were out of our hands.  So I encourage you to try to enjoy it all, even the crazy last minute details.  The moving process happens so fast, but so slow and it will help everyone if you just try to enjoy it all.

If you want to read more about my dream house you can hope over to my blog A Glimpse of Normal and looks for my posts about Our Barn Home.  It is a work in progress, but we are truly loving our new home.  Thanks for reading my post today and I think I can safely say that we would love to hear any tips you have for moving.

P.S.  – A special thanks to FinchnWren for letting me share on their blog today.

I just loved Cassandra’s tips.  So helpful and things I might not have thought of off the bat!  Many thanks, Cassandra!

Enjoy! –Wren

5 Things You Didn’t Know About…Gena from I Choose Joy!

Welcome back to finchnwren‘s 5 Things You Didn’t Know About…Series!  This week, we’re featuring Gena from I Choose Joy!

In 5 Things You Didn’t Know About…, I’ll be introducing you to some of my favorite friends from the blogging world.  Each of them will tell you a little about themselves, how they recharge, what they’re reading and doing this summer.  Just lots of fun in bite-sized quantities!



Now, meet my friend Gena, who writes at I Choose Joy!

1.  Favorite summer activity:
I love visiting my in-laws’ lake house in northern Wisconsin a couple of times every summer. It’s a large house, so there is room for my big family to spread out. My mother-in-law cooks delicious food (I always have to go on a diet when I get back home!). My kids love playing in the lake, and I thoroughly enjoy the boating and jet-skiing! It’s very peaceful there, too, so I always have a book along with me to read and a writing or sewing project to work on.
2.  Best book you’ve read this summer:
I haven’t read one yet since the summer just started for us, so I’ll default back to last summer’s favorite. I read Love the Journey by Marcia Somerville. She is a veteran homeschool mom whose children are now adults. Marcia wrote the Tapestry of Grace curriculum (that my family uses). The book is really a great guide and help for brand-new homeschoolers. It helps you focus on so many different aspects of your homeschool so you can make informed and wise decisions. Love the Journey is also very practical and inspiring for moms like me who have been homeschooling for many years.
The book I have on my nightstand to read next is 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler.
3.  How do you renew your spirit/recharge your batteries?
I renew my spirit by going outside (flowers, water, birds), listening to beautiful music, and date nights with my husband.
4.  Something cool God has taught you lately, or a favorite meaningful quote:
Life will often not go the way you think it will, or the way you hoped. It can be a struggle to continue to trust God and follow Him completely. But, you’ll almost always see later on why His plan was best. Then, you’ll be grateful for it!
5.  This year, you’re looking forward to….
 I’m looking forward to getting fully organized this summer for next year’s homeschool. I’m using Kristi Clover’s course called The Ultimate Homeschool Organization eCourse along with the online planner Homeschool Planet!
Gena Mayo is a homeschool mom of 8 and music teacher of over 20 years. One of her passions is making it easy for others to include music education in their homes. See her website at Music in Our Homeschool  ( where she shares resources, tips, freebies, and giveaways. She also blogs about homeschool, family, and home at I Choose Joy! (  Find her online courses in music and theater at (

Be sure to hop over to visit Gena at one of her neat websites.  And thanks for stopping by to meet her!
Enjoy!  –Wren


Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours by Christine Schmidt ~ A Review

I love art books, craft books, creative how-to books. So when I had the opportunity to review Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours by Christine Schmidt, I was ecstatic…because this book is all those things in one!  Blogging For Books was kind enough to provide a free copy of this amazing book so that I could try it out and review it, and share my thoughts with you!



What is Make It Yours?

Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours
is a beautifully photographed, clearly written project and idea manual for those who love to craft or create…whether they’d consider themselves creative or not.  Each project contains photos of the process itself as well as the finished version of the project.  These range from stationery, to kitchen items, to home decorative furnishings, to gifts, and more!

Author and artist Christine Schmidt intros the book with a chapter that’s all about how to use the book, making it perfect for the seasoned artist and crafter and the newbie alike.  She talks about ways the reader can use the book and describes all the various art media and crafting supplies mentioned and utilized.  From that brief introduction, she jumps right into creative instruction.  The projects are divided into these six broad categories, with each chapter containing 4-7 different ideas:

  • Abstract & Geometric Patterns
  • Everyday Patterns
  • Custom Motifs
  • Occasions & Celebrations
  • Flora & Fauna
  • Travel-Inspired Patterns



Here’s what you’ll find in it:

  • Step-by-step instructions for 31 different extremely cool projects
  • Gorgeous, full-color pictures of projects the author has made
  • A complete list of supplies needed for each project
  • Instead of a slipcover, the softcover book’s front and back have 3″ wide bent covers that you can use instead of bookmarks to mark your place
  • Templates for various designs
  • Photos of supplies needed for design categories
  • Recommended reading
  • And more!


Some of my favorites…

Well…how would you like to learn how to gold-leaf a table?  Or carve your own stamp?  Make fondant cake decorations?  (Because, really, isn’t fondant the coolest??)  What about painting decorative plates, or doing a new sort of tie-dye?  This book is so packed full of so many different types of projects, the reader will never get tired of using it!  Because of course, if one completed every project in the book, she’d then have the mastery to start back over again and tweak the projects with her own learned skill and creativity!


And things I’m looking forward to making myself!

I received this book for review at sort of a challenging moment.  I love art and teaching art.  But during the time when I could have whipped out some of these amazing home and gift ideas, I had surgery which turned into almost 2 weeks in the hospital, followed by weeks of at-home recuperation.  So I haven’t yet been able to make ANY of these!  But here’s a short list of some I’d like to try first!

  • Shibori pattern tie-dyeing with indigo dye
  • Painting decorative plates with markers
  • Making my own stamps and stamping clay ornaments
  • I’m also hoping to adapt the leather-working aspects of Schmidt’s plaid tote to create an art display board for next year’s art classes
  • And more!  What a drool-worthy book!


Who would enjoy Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours?

  • Artists
  • Crafty folk
  • Homeschoolers
  • Art teachers (oh yes, there’s so much in this book to adapt for your classes!)
  • Families who like to do art together
  • Those who aren’t crafty or artistic but would love to be
  • Someone who’d like to update or personalize her home’s look or furnishings
  • A book club; what about reading this book together then doing some projects?


And my conclusions:

I think that Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours is a fantastic resource, well worth its purchase price of $22!  It’s easy to read and use, and gorgeous to look at.  Readers have the opportunity to learn printmaking, clay work, stamping (including how to make your own stamps), painting, dying…and so much more!  Really, it’s like a year-long art class packed into one nice thick book.  I am happy to recommend it!



I hope you enjoyed this brief glance of a wonderfully creative how-to book!  Thanks for joining me today!


Disclosure:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About…Gypsy Road

Welcome to 5 Things You Didn’t Know About… today, featuring the Gypsy Road blog!

In 5 Things You Didn’t Know About…, I’ll be introducing you to some of my favorite friends from the blogging world.  Each of them will tell you a little about themselves, how they recharge, what they’re reading and doing this summer.  Just lots of fun in bite-sized quantities!



Here’s my friend Yvie, who writes at Gypsy Road!

  1. What’s your favorite summer activity?

Can I say taking siesta?  We school year-round, but are much more flexible and laid-back in the summer months.  With the extended daylight hours, we usually get up early and get going while it’s cooler out.  When it gets hotter, after lunch, we just lounge around for a few hours…taking a nap, watching old black & white tv shows, reading books…it’s a nice, long siesta.  Summer isn’t usually thought of as a season of rest, but it is in our house!


  1. The best book you’ve read this summer is:

This is a toughie!  You have to understand that, with as much as we travel, we listen to five or six audiobooks a week, and I also read upwards of eight to ten books each WEEK.  (Thank heavens for e-books, right?  They free up car space!)  Some of my favorites from the past few months have included Sandpiper Cove (Irene Hannon), When Tides Turn (Sarah Sundin), What Falls From the Sky (Esther Emery), If the Haunting Fits, Wear It (Rose Pressey), Girl Off the Grid (Jillian Dodd), and A Year of Second Chances (Buffy Andrews).  Hey – in fairness, I did say that I read a lot!!  Each month, I do a summary of some of my favorite brand-spanking-new books from that month over on the blog – it includes both kids and adult books.


  1. How do you renew your spirit/recharge your batteries?

I go off-grid.  In today’s world, everything seems to be swirling at this crazy-mad pace that is just flat impossible to keep up with.  As a homeschooling, work-from-home, and sometimes-homesteading mama, there is already enough on my plate with daily chores.  I’m not even going to try to keep up with all the social media channels.  As it stands, I’m the only person I know with fewer than thirty Facebook friends…and that’s cool.  But sometimes, even that stuff is too much….so I’ll just unplug the computer for a few days.  And sometimes, God does it for me through the phone company!


  1. Something cool God has taught you lately, or a favorite meaningful quote:

God has been working really hard on me for the past year or so – I’m sure that he’s got something planned all out, but the end of the road is hard to see right now!  So my favorite quote of the moment comes from Woody Allen : “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him about your plans.”  I have to remember that he has a plan, and it’s not the plan that my Type A self has so carefully crafted!  But we still have to trust it.  J


  1. This year, you’re looking forward to….

Going home.  I haven’t seen my family in a few years, and we are going to be able to wrangle our way out there this autumn.  I’m looking forward to showing the boys the places my siblings and I used to roam and letting them have some ‘cousin time.’  We live in a mobile society, but with hectic lives, family get togethers just don’t happen as often as we’d like.  Thankfully, there’s Skype!


Yvie is a road-schooling mother of two active boys!  While traipsing across the country, she creates Lego-themed school and enjoys meeting up with other families.  Find her at Gypsy Road, Educents, Instagram, or on Facebook.


Thank you so much for joining us for 5 Things You Didn’t Know About…, and meeting Yvie from Gypsy Road!  Hop over to her blog or social media sites.  I know you’ll find much more to love.  And join us again next week for the second installment of 5 Things You Didn’t Know About…!
Enjoy!  –Wren

Introducing Our “5 Things You Didn’t Know About…” Series!

Finch and I are happy to welcome you to our new blog series!


Starting tomorrow, the finchnwren blog will feature a new blogger friend of ours each week.  We’ll be asking them 5 fun summer-y questions, and they’ll share their answers plus some fun pics.  We’re so excited to feature our neat blogging friends, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy meeting them.

You may just find some new blogs to follow yourself!

See you tomorrow…and enjoy!  –Wren

Tomato-Basil Bisque! We’re Resharing Our Fave Summer Soup!

From Wren:  Since it’s finally summer, my taste buds are ready for summer food!  Here’s one of our favorite soup recipes…perfect for a light summer meal!


My first foray into the world of Hello Fresh!

Super easy, quick and delicious! We took the picture of the finished product and ate it standing at the counter,,,it was that good. It came with organic greens for a balsamic salad (but we went straight to the good stuff and didn’t make)!



  • 2 pkgs organic crushed Tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 yellow Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 oz fresh Basil
  • 2 oz Sour Cream
  • 4 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg Vegetable stock concentrate
  • 4 slices nutty Whole Wheat bread
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 T Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

Take the butter out of the fridge early so it comes to room temp. Mince the Onion. Mince the Garlic. Finely chop the Basil leaves, leaving a few unchopped for the garnish.


Heat 1 T butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic stirring, for 5-6 minutes until soft and slightly carmelized, salt and pepper.


Add the crushed toatoes, stock concentrate, sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, season with salt & pepper.


Grilled cheese sandwiches: divide the cheese between the two slices of bread and top with remaining bread. Coat both sides of the sandwiches with butter. Heat a large skillet over low heat, add the sandwiches to the non-stick pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until brown and crispy. Allow to cool and slice into quarters.



Remove the bisque from the heat, stir in chopped basil and sour cream. We used a hand held immersion blender to smooth out the bisque.


Garnish with basil leaves and a quarter of a sandwich. Dip and enjoy!


  • 35 minutes
  • vegetarian
  • Feeds 4 people (we froze half)!

This is a link and referral code if you are interested!


Disclaimer:  Finch is an affiliate for Hello Fresh.  If you click on the referral code, she will receive a discount…but it will cost you nothing extra.  Thank you!

What Iron Man & I Have in Common

If y’all knew me personally, you would be laughing about now.



And maybe even from reading the finchnwren blog, you might be smiling at the title of today’s post.

In the Marvel movie, The Avengers, Captain America and Tony Stark have the following exchange:

Cap:  “Big man in a suit of armor.  Take that away, what are you?”

Tony:  “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”

So you can see from that alone how different we are!  But I had to laugh last week, when my husband, son, and I rewatched Iron Man, which introduced us for the first time to the man who would be Iron Man and part of the Avengers.

You’re still not making the connection, are you?

Well, it’s this:



This handy little machine is my wound vac.  If you’ve read any of the recent finchnwren posts, you know I had abdominal surgery at the beginning of May.  The incision became infected, and part of the solution is the wound vac’s job.  It’s attached to me by tubes, surgical tape, and sponges, and it brings healing by drawing out the infected cells and stimulating them and others to grow healthy cells.  It is working, but we’ve also had to add antibiotics b/c of several repeated infections (trust me, you don’t want to know the details on those!).



Still not seeing it?

Well, here it is then!  In Iron Man (just in case you haven’t seen it, I won’t include too many spoilers), Tony ends up captured and taken hostage, held captive in a cave in the Middle East by a group of terrorists who want his weapons and technology.  They demand that he build missiles for them.  But he has a very different plan.

Tony’s life has been saved by another captive who performed a dramatic surgery on him; he’s placed an electromagnet in Tony’s chest to keep the shrapnel from taking his life.  But the electromagnet has to be powered by something, doesn’t it?  Yep.  A car battery, attached to the electromagnet by wires.  So Tony has to tote the car battery around everywhere he walks in the cave.

That’s it!

Yes, it is.  My situation is not so grim, clearly!  But when I saw Tony carrying around that battery that was connected to him and saving his life, I had to laugh.  (Trust me, I DO realize that my reaction is not what the directors intended!)  And I continue to smirk every now and then when I pick up my wound vac as I head to the kitchen, up the stairs, wherever.  Where I go (for now), the wound vac goes with me.

And there you have it!

Probably the only thing that Tony Stark and I will  ever have in common.  🙂


Hope you’re all doing well.  Enjoy!  –Wren