Sunday, May 31, 2009

Braden

video

Happy 3rd Birthday, my little precious one!

You are a delight. You bring so much joy to our family. God has richly blessed you with much personality and spunk. You're absolutely adorable and I treasure every moment as your Mom. You are abundantly LOVED!!!!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garage sale finds

Today was the day we had a garage sale with three other families. After buying all that I bought from them, we only made about $60. Obviously, we could've made more, had I not been shopping. Oops, I know that's not part of Dave Ramsey's plan...


I'll show you quick videos of my finds, if you're interested (again, remember we don't have a working camera...I promise they are short!)


video
video

video

Did you find any treasures out there today?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tomato Talk


OK...so that's not a picture of MY tomatoes, but it hopefully will be soon. Don't they look yummy and perfect?

I am obviously such a novice gardner. Clueless actually. But I so want to be a great one. I am experimenting with tomatoes right now. And having a ball (no pun intended).

I bought these two little tiny 5-inch cherry tomato plants at Home Depot about 5 weeks ago and put them into these huge pots. They grew and grew and grew very quickly. It was so fun to watch. (Again, proof that I am either a total novice...or a nerd)

Then here's what happened soon:
video
Then a couple of short weeks later, this:
video
I know, I know...I'm excited beyond belief about the smallest things. It's ridiculous.
If you have any helpful hints for me, like "how do I properly prune them?" or "do I even need to prune them?" or "when do I pick the tomatoes?", that would be great.
Please pardon the overusage of video. I now have a blog...and no camera. It broke. And since I'm paying off debt and not spending money, I have to make due. I suppose if I don't add something other than my rambling words, even my own mom will get bored.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not so simple heart at times...

Simplicity does not equal discontent. I may not fully grasp what having a simple heart is...but I know what it is not.

Confession: every so often, I get this twinge...ok...maybe a pain of discontent. I know this isn't pleasing to the Father who has blessed me beyond measure, but it is something I have to be mindful about keeping in check.

I soooo desire to live in a place where there are 4 full seasons. If you don't live in Texas, then you may not realize that in Texas,there are only 2. They are "icicle-cold" and "Texas torture-hot". Every once in awhile, we have these amazing, incredibly perfect days that I just relish. And then I become envious of whoever out there lives in a place that feels like THAT in spring. In other words, they have a full spring.

My husband knows that every time we travel, I get this way. He still takes me places, but I'm sure he braces himself for my mood that will soon strike. I actually love going to other places and seeing homes that are sprawled out. Property with trees. Property that doesn't have a kitchen window overlooking the neighbor's bathroom window.

For some reason, God has given me the insatiable desire to be where we can spread out...have a huge vegetable garden....let the boys run, explore, enjoy the OUTSIDE without fear of speeding cars or someone running off with them.

In time...maybe...when our finances are in order...maybe when my amazingly brilliant husband can figure out a way for his big-city job to accommodate his wife's desire for country life....maybe then...everything will line up for me to live in the country farmhouse I dream about.

Or maybe not. And is that okay? Can I line that up inside me?

My Father knows my heart. He gave it to me. He's also big enough to handle my conversations of longing. But I suppose He wants me to be mindful of my discontent and to continually ask for His help. He wants me to be grateful and thankful that I am where He has me. To be mindful of His richest blessings in my life, right now, right where I am.

I look forward to seeing where He takes us...and what His timing looks like. But mainly, I look forward to seeing how He grows me up in the process.

Confession time over. I feel better now, thank you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We're back in town!

We're back in town from being in Atlanta. We are all tired, but had a wonderful time with our family. We're getting back in the swing of things, as we step over mounds of dirty clothes and suitcases to clean out and put away.

Today would have been a logical day to begin working on all of that, and it's very hard for me to "sit" in this mess, but honestly, the weather was AMAZING and we didn't want to miss out on any of it. So we scrapped all "responsibility" and went to two different parks, took naps and made fresh fruit and marshmallow k-bobs. It was a great day. I enjoyed my kids immensely and for those of you who know me, I KNOW you're proud of me for making that choice.

Tomorrow is officially our last day of school (speaking pre-school and Mother's Day Out). The boys will be home with me all summer. Honestly, I'm stoked! I'm really looking forward to it. I've been planning activities to keep their brains working for the summer, on top of swimming lessons and just plain enjoying the summer and each other.

As far as diet/exercise, all I can say about that (pertaining to the past 5 days at the reunion) is "diet/exercise, schmiet/schmexercise!" We DID, however, actually go running one day (in the hills we're so not used to) and nearly died, but we also ate like food was about to be extinct. So I "start again tomorrow"....(do I hear an amen out there?)

As far as our budget for the month.....traveling is hard on the pocketbook. There are always unexpected expenses. And some of the additional expenses are just plain old stupid tax! (A phrase coined by Dave Ramsey, that unfortunately we refer to more often than we would like.) It means, just plain stupid financial decisions or mistakes made. We discovered the night before we were slated to leave that I had booked the flight for the wrong weekend! So, we had to pay a fee (un-planned for, of course) to change our ticket at the very last minute, as well as pay the ticket price difference. Ouch! I was also really shocked that the airline now charges to check a bag (which really chaps me!). Obviously I'm not big traveler and didn't know, therefore I didn't plan. Another ouch! So, I suppose we didn't do as well budget-wise this month as I had hoped, but we'll talk about that another day.

Hope you had a terrific Memorial Day weekend as well! Back to the grindstone....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Drooling for a moment...

Exercise/Diet Update: It's going fairly well. I'm on track for the exercising part. TRYING on the food part. (I'm actually doing pretty good, considering I have toddlers in my house whose favorite foods are cheese, macaroni and cheese and cheese toast!)

So since I'm only allowed to "indulge" one day a week...and that is on my favorite day, Sunday....of which today is NOT, I thought I'd drool a little. Join with me, if you'd like. I'm not sure if this is considered torture, but it feels close.
Ah.....
Mmmm....

Oh yah....

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about...

Pass me a napkin, please, so I can wipe my chin.

Help me, Rhonda...

Hold on now!
Shew. Now that that is done, I can go eat my carrot stick.
On another note....my family will be at a family reunion for the next few days. I won't have blogging access, but I just wanted you to know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I'll be back mid week next week.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
All photos provided by Southern Living magazine

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great healthy start to the day!

We're all back up and running today...feeling pretty much back to normal...and had a really healthy breakfast I wanted to share with you. We're a pancake family, so we're always looking for new and healthy ones. This one is great! It's different...texture-wise, but tasty. All the boys (big and small) in my house liked them...score! We added strawberries and blueberries to our plates as well.


Blender Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 1/2 cup soy milk (or whatever milk you prefer to use)
1 cup whole wheat berries (bought them in the bulk section at Sprouts)
1 T whole flax seeds (I used already ground milled flax seed)
3 T water
2 T oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup oats (not instant, again...bought in bulk at Sprouts)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp.baking powder
2 T. sweetener, such as sugar, honey, or molasses (I used honey)


Blend the first 6 ingredients in a blender very thoroughly. Could take awhile (I think I blended about 2 minutes), make sure the berries are crushed. (Disclaimer from the original post: Just make sure, however, that you listen carefully to your blender for change in your motor sound. If this mixture is over-blended, the gluten in the wheat will begin to bind and create a sticky substance that will wreak havoc on your blender. If this happens, stop the blender immediately.)

Pour the contents of the blender into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

Pour on a hot griddle and cook both sides untl golden brown.

Top with your favorite butter spread, syrup or whatever else you'd like. The sky is the limit! Enjoy.

And enjoy your day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Down and out

There is some minor bug going around our household. I say minor...because it isn't enough to make us bedridden, but just enough to make us grumpy and "off"....and headachey...and tired.

And of course, all of us have it, except one high energy, bounding little 4-year-old. God, please help me. Actually, help all of us.

Nonetheless, not much is getting done around here. Laundry is moving s-l-o-w-l-y through my washer. Dishes are up to my elbows. And yet...I find time to blog. Hmmmm. But all THAT requires is my sitting here. I can DO that.

Can I get a witness?

Hopefully I'll be back with something more interesting, creative or otherwise witty real soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Homemade Buttermilk

I had heard about ways to make homemade buttermilk, but wasn't sure if they would work. They DO! It's so awesome.

I know...buttermilk isn't an expensive product. But I always have it on hand to use in my baking, so if there was a way to not ever have to purchase it again, then I wanted to find it!

I took a quart mason jar and poured about 1/2 cup buttermilk in it. Then I bought some goat's milk (but you can use ANY milk) and filled the rest of the jar with it. I set it out on the counter for 12 hours.

When I opened the jar 12 hours later, I was afraid it would smell sour, but it didn't, it smelled like buttermilk! It worked!

Then, when that jar was almost empty, I took the last 2 inches of buttermilk in my mason jar, poured it into a NEW mason jar, filled it the rest of the way with 2% milk, and did the process again.

Wa-la...free buttermilk!

It doesn't take much to excite me.....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Progress Report and a High Five!

I told you I would start documenting our debt payoff woes...oops, I mean adventures. Well, here is the beginning....

I wanted to share, first of all, that we are 59% to our goal. We have a good long way to go, but we are FINALLY making great strides! It will now be fun to share the progress, as I know we will be moving forward in bigger steps each month.

I have so enjoyed the encouragement I receive from other family blogs out there. There are many like-minded women, walking the same tightrope. Some of my favorites are:
http://www.moneysavingmom.com/
http://www.mommyswishlist.blogspot.com/
http://www.freebies4mom.com/
http://www.goodtrueandbeautiful.com/
www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/blog/
http://www.moneywisemoms.com/
http://www.couponsavinggame.com/
http://www.grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/
http://www.smallnotebook.org/
http://www.econobusters.com/

There are many, many more out there, but these have given me guidance and inspiration for grocery shopping for next-to-nothing; inspiraton to "keep on keepin' on" (one example is being motivated by Chrystal who gives a savings update each month of progress made towards buying their next house with 100% cash!); many frugal entertainment and family ideas; etc. Thank you, ladies!

I look forward to sharing with you specific ways that we are saving each month, but I wanted to let you know that my sweet husband and I have decided to take the No Spend Month Challenge in July. This is following along with what Rachel's family does each July. This is a challenge to cut their spending down to the bare essentials. After paying bills, they allow themselves $250 for anything personal, which includes food, clothing, gas, coffee, and anything else their family wants during the month. They do this challenge to help take their eyes off stuff and spending for one month and to refresh their outlook. We're looking forward to taking this challenge for July as well. Our goals are to help us use any and all extra money we would spend that month...and throw it towards debt.

Lastly, I wanted to share with you Laura's High Five Recipes. I'm excited about trying these. These are healthy recipes, using 5 ingredients or less. Also, she has an Italian Roast Wrap that is featured today on Money Saving Mom . Let me know if you try any of these.

So,what do you think about the No Spend Month? Does it sound crazy? Does it sound do-able? Let me know your thoughts, if you'd like. I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's going on?

My husband asked me last night, "when are you going to post to your blog again?" I thought, "I'm not sure. I guess I don't have much to say."

We're just super busy doing life around here. I guess I can update you.

I have started hitting the gym again. And this time, it's not a "walk-in-the-door-look-around-and-decide-what-sounds-fun-to-do-and-do-that-exercise" situation...because nothing ever does sound FUN, so I aimlessly wander around for enough time to have some kid-free sanity, while half-heartedly "working out". Then, I go pick up my kids from the childcare area..and they are more sweaty than I am.

Nope. I am on a structured, regimented eating/work-out schedule. It's a 3-month committment. I KNOW I can do it, because I did it almost 7 years ago and felt and looked the best ever. So, I figured....rolling into the big 4-0 this fall, I wanted to go in swinging! I'll keep you updated on this. What I CAN tell you is this....3 days into it...and I'm still excited. Ask me again in 3 more days....

I'm still getting things organized around here. We're still cleaning up and cleaning out...hopefully to culminate in a yard sale on Saturday.

We've planted some tomatoes. I've enjoyed watching them grow about 2 inches in a week and a half. (I haven't actually measured them, so if that's not even possible, then know that I've only eye-balled them) Regardless, they seem bigger! Even with my 2-year-old drowning them with the water from the hose twice already.

For Mother's Day, I was given an hour massage, by my two little guys (which I plan to redeem at my earliest convenience!) and from their Daddy, I was given this fabulous book and permission to get the garden in the ground. I just need to collect my facts, my supplies, my help and then I'll have my gift. (Wow, this gift seems like a lot of work on my part) But I'm excited!

Lastly, and most importantly, I've been spending some treasured time with the Father in the book of Numbers in the mornings. What a full, rich and deep book! I am learning so much about the character of God...His provision for us...and love and devotion to us, yes...but also His undeniable sovereignty as the one true GOD, who must be worshipped and obeyed.

Summer is fast approaching. I am excited to have my boys home with me after June 1. I am planning lots of activity, to wear them out on a daily basis. I also hope to engage their minds and their hearts a little. I'll share those adventures as they occur.

Until then, I'm gonna go eat my celery for lunch. Totally kidding.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here she is....

I'd like to introduce you to one of the most powerful and beautiful influences in my life.

One of my very best friends and confidantes....
MY MOM.
Isn't she beautiful?

She hasn't changed a lick, has she?

Please indulge me for a moment while I chat with Mom....

Mom, these are the gifts I see in you:

You have great strength...a strong faith in God...and strong character.
You are hospitable, and have given me much guidance in this area.
You have great friends, because you ARE a great friend to others.
You are generous...and not just with our family.
You have always displayed a servant's heart.
You are fun to be with.
You have a great sense of humor.
You are gracious...always a lady.
You are beautiful...inside and out.
You have always been a devoted Mom...even when I didn't make it easy for you.

Thanks for your example, your love, your forgiveness, your love for Daddy, and your devotion to God and our family.
I love and treasure you, Mom.
Happy Mother's Day!

Now, if you'll excuse me....I need to go blow my nose.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Summer Fun

This is how Mamma's exercise ball gets put to use at our house...

video

I also wanted to take some footage of my two adorable little guys catching fireflies last night so I could post it here. But I opted not to...since they decided to catch fireflies naked. Ah...boys!

Few words

I just haven't had much to say lately.

My focus has been here:
And here:

And most definitely here:

(nothing sexier than a man in the Word!)
I know I talk a lot about having a simple life. Or at least the desire to have one. So THAT is where I am focused. I've really tried hard lately to evaluate HOW that can play out in my life.
This is a couple of ways I've come up with:
(1)We, at home, are getting organized and cleaning out. We don't want unnecessary clutter to crowd our lives or our limited space together.
(2) As a family, our focus is getting out of debt. Being motivated by April at Coal Creek Farm, I will start chronicling those adventures. There are plenty! I may even start keeping you abreast of our monthly progress. You never know...it depends on how transparent I feel on any given day! :) This is honestly a full-time job! It demands our constant attention.
Debt payoff has been an interesting journey. Simplicity and frugality don't always tie in together. For example, it's not necessarily more simple to make foods from scratch, but it's definitely more healthy and more frugal. But then, on the other hand, making foods from scratch represents a simpler time in the world. Interesting, huh? (No wonder the concept of "simplicity" is so hard to wrap my mind around!)
(3) But mainly, we are just spending time together. Focused time.
And we're enjoying the people outside our family that God has given us in friendship.
Have a great weekend. Come back on Sunday, so I can introduce you to the most wonderful and infuential woman in my life!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Others along the journey

I know, I know...I'm supposed to stay away....far, far away....until I get all my organizing/cleaning done.

I have to tell you. If I stayed away until it was all completely done, my cold dead fingers wouldn't be touching a computer screen ever again! So there. I'm back.

But I did get quite a bit done. My bedroom doesn't look like it vomited clothes, books, paperwork and kids toys anymore. I could actually make my way to the bathroom last night without falling.

But anyway, to the purpose of this post...As you know we have been trying to pay off debt, using the Dave Ramsey plan. I've written about it really very little...and when I have, it's mostly been serious. But...if you want to be completely entertained by someone else going through this process, you MUST go read April's accounts at Coal Creek Farm. Click on "Our Gettin' Outta Debt" Stories, on the right hand side of her home page. I assure you....she will make you tinkle in your britches (if you in any way can relate to the paying off of debt)! She is funny and very entertaining!

Now, I'm off to go to the gym. ...Now THAT's funny!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Head and House Clutter

I love cruising blogs! In fact...it's become almost an obsession.

I love the fabulous recipes; the remarkable ideas; the incredible thoughts of like-minded women; the genious thoughts of women way smarter than me; the energy and the wonder of new ideas available on ANY subject. It's an incredible world out there. For THOSE reasons, I am thankful for the Internet.

But there's another side of that coin....
As I peruse the blogs, I also begin to feel increasingly inadequate at times. Now, I KNOW that's about me...and my need to be SuperWife, SuperMom, SuperHost and SuperFriend all rolled into one. I have even begin to feel that I need to become a SuperBlogger (which is hilarious to me! It started as a fun outlet for me, and is evolving in my head to monster status!)

One of the fun things floating around out there in blogland right now are the many fabulous Spring Cleaning groups to join. There are groups that are doing it together. They are motivating each other and helping to put order to the chaos that cleaning out may bring temporarily. How great is that? BUT, there are also, many fabulous "Mother's Day" gift making ideas; Cinco de Mayo menu ideas; money saving blogs, etc., etc,etc.....AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! It's cluttering my head! I want to do all of it!!!

I'm composed now....
I want to enjoy the blessings of all that is provided in cyberworld. But I have work to do, people! Uninterrupted cleaning up, cleaning out and organizing of my own. It's all driving me crazy..and has been for some time now. I have miles and miles of piles. (well, not literally, thank God)

I know me. If I don't turn off the computer and step away, it won't get done. It will continue to pile up and pile up. And then I'll continue cruising the blogs, adding to my "I want to do" list, and never get anything done.

So....I will step away for a couple of days. I will miss you. But I'll be back soon. And hopefully, with a more simple approach to my very full life.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I have three words for you....

YUM! YUM! YUM!

I found this really great blog and tried this amazing chocolate cake recipe. It truly is wonderful!
Go check it out, if you want a little slice of chocolate wonder.
Double layered cake pictured...I made the single layer...it was still yummy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm sorry...but I'm coveting....

Are these NOT just the coolest dishes ever???
They are a brand new line of dishes by Dayspring. I learned about them today over at Nesting Place. They are a collection called Life to the Full, named from John 10:10, "I have come that they might have life and have it to the full".

"Honey....I NEED these!"

Anyway, these fabulous items come in brightly colored pieces, shades of blue, and just plain fabulous black and white.
OK...how awesome is this pitcher?!

And I'm absolutely in love with these aprons!!!!

Dayspring is generously giving away platters to 3 lucky readers of Nesting Place.
Go check out this fabulous blog, and while you're there, be sure to leave a comment, so you can have a chance at winning one!
And then go on over and check out the entire Life to the Full Collection. The coupon code LIFE20 will get you 20% off and free shipping on orders over $50.

"Honey, Mother's Day is approaching fast!"