I'm Tonia and this is my family. There's Hubs, my wonderful partner; Bug, my darling daughter; and Boo, my charming son. We are the Collins clan. We are a homeschooling family who try our best to live out God's will for our lives every day. There are lots of stumbles along the way, but we love each other and this little life we're carving out for ourselves. Recently we found ourselves called to make some big changes in our lives so we're packing up the McMansion and moving out to a little farm in need of a lot of TLC. We have tons to learn and tons to do and we invite you to share the journey as we turn our not-so-new heap into a home.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bartering for Beauty {And the Giveway Winner!!}

Congratulations Lisa Thomas! You won the hand knit scarf!

What do you do if you need something done that you really can't do yourself, but you have no cash for it? Barter, of course!  Although most of the younger generation hasn't really made use of bartering to get needs met, our grandparents and great-grandparents did it often. I was pretty excited to find a group awhile back who is trying to bring bartering back so I joined.right away. I've been able to barter some pretty cool things:

I traded some glass water bottles we weren't using for a cast iron griddle just like my daddy used to make pancakes on. I've wanted one for a long while, but couldn't justify spending money for it.

I had a freezer full of grass fed beef that was way more than I needed, so I traded some for pantry items I needed. I filled up my pantry with several months of essentials- flour, rice, peanut butter, chocolate chips, etc.

But today, I'm going to share my hands-down favorite barter so far.

When Whitney at Handcrafted posted that she wanted to barter photography for grass fed beef, I was giddy. It had been a long, long time since I'd had professional pictures of the kids done and even longer since we'd had family pictures done, but such things are just not in our budget. 

I've always loved pictures where old, rustic things look beautiful and meaningful and I hoped that the Heap would provide that kind of background.

I'm not going to lie. There was a bit of nerves about having someone we didn't know come out to the Heap- there always is. As much as I'd like to say I'm just completely comfortable where I am, there are still times when I feel embarrassed about how things are and wish like crazy for how they will be....someday. Would she see the beauty we do? Would she see our purpose and our passion?

All those worries melted away when we met Whitney. She was so sweet and friendly and she saw potential when she looked at the Heap- everything I prayed for. She spent time just walking the property and looking for the perfect places and when she started shooting she made us feel comfortable and like our lifestyle was amazing and lovely.

Her pictures are so gorgeous and I couldn't be happier. They show the Heap for what it is- home. Home, where my family is being knit together like never before and life is becoming more than I knew it could be. I am so grateful to have these amazing works of art.

Thank you Whitney!!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Handmade Christmas {And a Giveaway!}

Because of seriously tight finances, Christmas this year was a handmade affair. At first I was pretty bummed about the whole thing....and a little embarrassed. But, as the gifts came together, I started to really appreciate the situation. I don't know how to explain it, really, but it just felt right......like somehow, we were suddenly really getting the point of Christmas in a way we never had before.  We've always said the holidays were about family and the time spent together and I think we've always believed that, but this year was just different. I liked it. A lot.

There were aprons for my nieces and a jar cookie mix so they could bake with their Mommy.

There was homemade rub mix and BBQ sauce for my brothers and Dad- plenty there for a family cookout!

I made these fun jar cups and wraps as a test run for future craft sales. I loved them enough that several people got one for Christmas.

The darling jewelry holder was a perfect gift for Jenna's BFF.

I even made myself a little gift and I thought it was so cute I made one for my mom, too!

Knit dishcloths are a huge hit for my mom and my mother-in-law so they were gifted all around.

The thing about handmade is, there is no way to make someone a gift without really thinking about them. You can still give them something they don't like or won't use, of course, but you can't give them something that lacks thought and love when it's homemade. That's just the nature of making something for someone....you give a piece of yourself, too. And that, I think, is what it's really supposed to be about....the whole reason gift giving ever became a part of the celebrating. It was minimal, but meaningful. Like so many aspects of our new life, it's something I intend to keep- even when I don't have to.

And speaking of gifts- I have one for you!

One of the goals I have for 2015 is to get the blog reaching more people and to do that I need your help. Follow the blog for an entry in the drawing, comment here for another, and share on Facebook for another- a total of three chances! Make sure you let me know each thing you've done so I can give you credit. I will draw a winner on Wednesday January 21.

The prize? Something handmade, of course!

I knit this scarf using a rayon/metallic blend in a falling waters pattern. It has a lovely gold thread winding through it and it's soft and light- perfect for spring or fall.

Simple, purposeful, meaningful.....our goal for life at the Heap, may you find it in your life too!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bathroom Blues

Oooh, I can't wait to show you this! The bathroom was the last room I needed to get organized and truly moved into and this past weekend I was finally able to get it done.

It might have the grossest floor in house,  but one good thing about this room is that it has some seriously rockin storage. I mean, like a whole wall of cabinetry. Which is wonderful, of course, but also means there is a lot of room for things to just be thrown in and messy. It was out of control pretty much as soon as we moved in and it has been driving me crazy just about that long.

The top cabinets didn't change all that much. They are too high for anybody but the Hubs to reach without help so they just house things that are used occasionally.  From left to right there is: the vet box, the dog clippers, extra paper towels, and my essential oil business stuff.

 This cabinet was the most offensive. Since everyone in the house uses it, it pretty much is a major hot spot for trouble. There was a ton of stuff that just needed to go and then I was able to bring some organization to the rest.

 The top shelf contains the first aid kit, minus the essential oils, which are all housed in the medicine cabinet above the sink. There is also a basket with travel hygiene needs and another with the sunscreen and bug spray products. The second shelf is the Hubs' shelf. He resists any attempts at organization so I don't really even try anymore and instead just give him a basket to throw everything in. The basket looks nice and I don't have to think about the fact that everything is just rolling around inside it. The third shelf is the toothbrushes and toothpaste. The basket contains 4 small squares so each person has a spot for their toothbrush (inside a cup) and then there is a spot for the travel boxes and toothpastes.

Ever since I laid eyes on this middle cabinet, I have had the dream of making it into a little contained vanity area, so I asked the Hubs to make me a table top that would fit inside. He had an old headboard that fit the purpose perfectly so he cut it to size and mounted it in.

He was also able to put a better sized shelf at the top so I had more room for baskets of stuff. Now, I have my own little room within the bathroom and I couldn't be happier with it.

As with all things at the Heap, making it pretty will hopefully come later. I'm a Martha at heart and love to have everything in matching baskets and all that jazz, but for now, it's organized and functional and that is fantastic enough for me!


Saturday, January 3, 2015


Resolved: I will acknowledge technology as the tool it is meant to be. I will not allow it to distract me, destroy my peace, or create feelings of discontent and/or disharmony.

I've come to really appreciate Paul's instruction in Titus 2, that younger women should be "busy at home". When I'm working on things that really matter I am more content and more peaceful. When I let Facebook distract me I end up with hurt feelings or I find myself judging people and feeling disgusted with them. These are not qualities I want to feed. Over the past few months I've changed how I deal with Facebook, emails, and the internet in general......

* Anyone who isn't immediate family or someone I interact with on a regular basis is "unfollowed". The brutal truth is I don't need to know where the girl I sat behind in high school history class went on vacation and I sure don't need to know she thinks all conservatives are brain dead and should be shipped to a desert island. Facebook can be useful for knowing the day to day details of close friends....and using that knowledge to help them, but when it takes me an hour to check in with everyone and I leave with a pain in my heart, things have gone too far.

* Notifications in all groups are shut off. Only groups that serve a very specific purpose are followed at all.  If I have a specific question about a specific topic the groups I am a part of can be very helpful, but they can be a huge time waster otherwise.

* Emails and Facebook are checked twice a day- morning and evening. I'm not nearly as important as I like to think I am and anybody who needs an immediate answer from me should have a more direct way of contacting me. When I'm on the computer I'm not doing something else I could be accomplishing. All of real life happens far away from the computer.

Resolved: I will live in peace about my decisions. I do not need to justify them and I do not need to convince anyone that they are good. As long as I'm walking in God's will I am free.

From homeschooling to drinking raw milk, every decision we have made for our family has been made thoughtfully, prayerfully, and after much research. I have spent way too much time carrying the baggage of other people's judgement and it steals my peace and my joy. At the end of the day, that's not their fault- it's mine. I can live in gratitude and contentment or I can live on the defensive- I choose gratitude.

Resolved: I will make the most of every day with my children and treat this job as the calling it is. I will not apologize for investing my time and energy into them- these moments are fleeting and the most important things are happening right now.

What I do day by day is making all the difference to two people in this world. It's not wasted time and it's not unimportant. It also impacts an infinite number of others in ways I may never know. I have a necklace that says, "Raising Generations" on it- and that's exactly what I'm doing. What my kids learn today they will teach tomorrow. With everything I have I will teach them to love God, love family, and live in gratitude.

I'm excited to see what 2015 brings for the Heap! Blessings to you and yours in the New Year!