Friday, July 31, 2009

Our week...

First to update you....my night away was heavenly.  It truly was.  I enjoyed quiet time....in the middle of the day, not just in the wee morning hours.  It was remarkable.  All that God was able to speak to my heart when it was quiet.....

those are truly treasured moments.

That massive recipe notebook project...I would love to say it is completed.  It's not.  
First of all, it is an enormous project.  I didn't realize how enormous.  So I didn't finish it.  But I was able to organize it.  That, in itself, was an accomplishment.  Secondly, I really didn't push myself to finish.  I enjoyed just being and relaxing while there.  

I also got hooked on this mini series on the Hallmark channel, called Unspoken Love (I believe).  When else would I have the luxury of watching a mini series?  It is a beautiful story of this amazing family in the pioneer days.  What a treat to be able to indulge in!

Since returning on Sunday, we had a full week of preparing for a drive to Mississippi to see the boy's grandparents.  That's where we are now.  We spent a few days getting clothes washed and packed, packing food, and getting "car activities" for the boys figured out.  All of this was then put together in a small SUV with a 3 and 4-year-old, for an 11-hour drive.  I have to admit, I was dreading it.  And was a little unnerved with my sweet husband who was determined we could do it in one day.  

Well, it went beautifully!  Our little guys were champions and we actually enjoyed our close-proximity family time together.  Only God can do that.  

We will be back home next week...and so blogging will resume.  I can't wait to catch up on reading other blogs, too!  Until then....

Friday, July 24, 2009

$20 update~

Remember this post? I wanted to give you an update on how the week went. We actually did it! We spent $19.63 on groceries this week! ($6.99 at Costco for a 3-pack of soymilk and $12.64 at Sprouts for fresh fruits and vegetables).

We made it work by living out of the pantry and freezer. I've been working for a few months now to plan our food well, so that we have excess to freeze for later. And you'd be surprised how much stuff is lurking in your pantry that you will tend to pass over because there are better options. Also, we were blessed to have 18 eggs thrown our way (well, not thrown) last Saturday.

Granted, we ran out of orange juice and eggs by Wednesday, but we improvised and barely felt it.

Amazingly, here it is Friday (our last day, since I shop on Saturdays) and I still have a frig FULL of food. It may not be the healthiest, but my sweet friend, Colleen, brought by 3 large pizzas and 4 dozen buffalo wings last night, left over from an event she worked for Dominos pizza. That should be able to fill my kiddos and husband up while I am gone for the weekend!

So, thank you for those who encouraged us and cheered us on. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I plan to incorporate more of those shopping weeks between now and Christmas. Just THAT little savings could pay for our entire Christmas...and then some.

On another, more serious note.....

PLEASE, please, please...take the time to head over to Nesting Place TODAY....right now. She tells of a lovely, Godly family that needs our prayers. I WILL be praying for their sweet daughter, Kate. I hope you, too, want to be a part of what God is doing here.

Have a blessed weekend! I'll be back on Monday.....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Somebody pinch me!

My man…

There are so many reasons he won my heart. I could go on and on. But I won’t right now. I will tell you that one of the reasons I love him so….is that he GETS me. He understands how I am wired. Even when I don’t always get me.

He knows that I need time alone. From time-to-time, I need time to focus on a project…kid-free; sleep without one ear open for a “Mommy cry out”; read or just sit in silence and think; or even go potty by myself. That’s just the way I’m wired.

So guess what my hunk a burnin' love did for me?! This very weekend he is giving me about 28 hours….ALONE. Let me say it again…it’s almost too hard to believe….

I am spending 28 glorious hours alone this weekend.

Yep, I think I even heard myself correctly. Now I will pinch myself.

But actually, it’s not alone per se….but it’s doing whatever my heart desires. I will set out on Saturday AM (8:00, to be exact) and hit the garage sales, with a Venti coffee in hand. Then I’ll have lunch with my friends, Amy and Pam. Then I’ll do a little bit of necessary family deal-shopping and such, since it’s Saturday, my usual shopping day, and I can’t shirk ALL responsibility. Then I meet another friend for coffee at 4:00.
But THEN, I will land here for the night:




Ahhhhh......

This is what my night will look like:

I will watch the tv shows of my choice…or none at all.
I will read my books…or not.
I will catch up on magazines...or go ahead and throw them in a recycle bin somewhere because free time to just look and read is so rare...and I know they won't ever get read.
I will sleep or maybe listen to music.
But my main objective is to work on this:

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I will come home with a fully functional and organized set of recipe books. Alas, I have time to do this project that has hung over my head for almost 5 years now! Let me pinch myself again.

I also hope to come home well-rested, and ready to take on the second half of summer with two toddler boys! Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not a "fancy" jelly maker!

Oh, how I wish I could actually can and preserve. For one, I don’t have the supplies…yet. Secondly, I’m not fully sure how to do it. But my goal, by the end of 2009, is to do both!

I do, however, make my own freezer jam. I sent my husband to the store for more pectin. When he asked the grocery lady where to find it, she said, “you mean there are people in Dallas that still do that?!”

OK…it dawned on me that some people have no idea how easy it is! If the lady at the store knew how easy it was, she wouldn’t have asked to talk to me on my husband’s cell phone to get the 411 on how to do it. For those of you who are REAL canners and preservers, please just humor us amateurs and pretend this is a really big deal that we can do this.

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OK, here's how you do it. Drum roll, please.

Step 1: Have clean jars ready to go.
Step 2: Buy some FREEZER JAM pectin. It will specify “freezer jam”.
Step 3: Wash your fruit of choice. You don't have to drown yours in water like I did...I'm just too lazy to wash individual fruit pieces.
Step 4: Dice fruit.
Step 5: Stir together the freezer jam pectin and 3 ½ cups of sugar (or sucanat or rapadura, or whatever you choose).
Step 6: Add diced fruit. Stir (for 3 minutes, I think).
Step 7: Pour into clean jars.
Step 8: Let sit on counter for 30 minutes to “harden” a little bit.
Step 9: Freeze or eat. (Will last in freezer up to 1 year….will last opened in frig up to 3 weeks)
Step 10: Consume on toast or ice cream or crepes or whatever tickles your fruit fancy!
Step 11: If your choice was consumption, now walk away…you’re gonna want more!

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We love making it...but love eating it more! Hope you can take advantage of the wonderful produce right now and all the great prices...and make some as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One Sale a Day

Molly over at Econobusters mentioned this site this past weekend. Interesting. She said that she has gotten some really great deals, and has even begun to stock up for Christmas gifts using this. Mercy me...is Christmas approaching again?!

I plan to watch this site closely. Let me know if you decide to take advantage of any of these sales!

I cheated...

I confess it.

I cheated on my hairdresser.
Don’t ever, ever do that, if you trust and like your hairdresser.

I wanted to copy someone else’s hair. Someone younger...with longer, more beautiful locks than I. So…I went to her hairdresser, thinking that my hair would instantly be transformed into goddess hair.

Just so you know....it doesn’t work that way.

My husband said I looked strangely similar to Joan Jett…in the 80’s. NOT the look I was going for.

I did have to go to confession to my own hairdresser, who graciously didn’t gasp out too loud. She forgave me, and set out to do damage control.

A couple of months have passed. I still don’t have goddess locks like my friend. But I no longer look like an 80’s rock star. There’s hope.

Lessons learned:
(1) Don’t cheat on your hairdresser.
(2) Don’t assume that all hair carries the same haircut the same way.
(3) Don’t try to copy the hair of a young 20-something beauty queen, without first seeing if it’s even a possible with the texture of your own hair.

Hair, after all, is very important. It’s our crown, right? At least according to Proverbs 16:31. Oh wait, never mind…I think that verse says gray hair is a crown of splendor….I’m not fully ready to go there just yet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Their Daddy would be so proud!

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I guess long gone are the days of “Mommy, can I watch Curious George?” or “Mommy, can I watch Diego?” Their Daddy introduced them to MAN VS. WILD. Great.

So now on this rainy morning, when they asked for a television show, they asked to watch Bear Grylls because they like when he bites the head off of a live fish, eats worms or flowers, or spears and fillets piranhas…all in the name of survival.

Boys truly ARE made differently than us girls. And truth be told, I’m glad they are.

Changed forever


This great little book called Fields of the Fatherless was introduced to me by my friend, Renee. I think it was totally a “God thing”. Eye-opening. Powerful. A peek into God’s heart in regards to the “unloved”.

I was interested in reading this book because my husband and I have an interest in possibly adopting a baby down the line. We both thought it sounded cool…and would be fun to have a baby in the house again. And why not help someone in the process, right? But I have to admit, I didn’t think much deeper than that.

And I knew it. I knew I really didn’t understand the heart of God in the matter. I really wasn’t aware of HIS thoughts. So I asked him to show me.

Boy, did he?! And then some.

I am forever changed. I wish I could encapsulate the actual “feelings” I had while reading this book. I know it’s similar to right after you watch an impactful movie, you feel changed and ready to do something about your changed heart. That is how I felt while reading this book and immediately afterwards. I may not still have the “camp experience high” about the topic now, but I have new information. I have a new mindset. I cannot see God…and loving others…the same.

One thing I did not expect to receive from this book was just awareness of all kinds of “fatherless”, not just orphans. My heart breaks for my grandmother now. It mainly breaks due to my own guilt about not “seeing her” with the right heart…not loving her well…not spending time with her. She is still here on this earth. At least in body…mind, not so much. There is still time for me to love her and to let her know she is loved. I thank God that he helped me see these last days with her in his light.

God, please continue to shine your light on people I need to love. I want to be your hands and your feet. Help me to not be so absorbed in my own stuff, but to take time to love others…and please your heart above all.

I challenge you to open this short easy read and see what God says to your heart. I dare ya.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's the simple things in life....

My brother and sister-in-law live on 40 acres out in the country. They raise chickens to produce their eggs.

When we were out at their house yesterday, they gave us 18 farm fresh eggs. What a sweet, simple blessing.
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Taste and see that he Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Frugal shopping plan

We budget $100 per week for groceries. I used to never be able to reach that goal. Then I started trying to reach that goal, and it became attainable. Then, Crystal, motivated me even more. She spends $40 per week on groceries for her family. Of course, she is the couponing and deal-finding champion, but I thought to myself… “I can’t imagine doing $40 per week, but what if I try for $80 or even $60?” So I tried. Last week I spent $65. And trust me, we have not been starving! In fact, if anything, we NEED to cut back. We’ve eaten heartily. Confession: I did, however, use an additional $25 for a treat for myself. I bought some vanilla beans. I plan to try to make my own vanilla extract. (I got them in the mail yesterday...so I'll post about the vanilla extract-making soon.) So my total for the week was $90. But all in all, I know I can spend $65 per week on groceries, if I don't make any additional special purchases.

We never did participate in the No Spend Month in July, due to various reasons...so I’m constantly trying to do what I can to help us pay off debt faster. I have planned my menu for next week. Here is my challenge….and I want you to hold me to it. I plan to spend only $20 on groceries for next week. Yep, that's right. I’ll let you know at the end of next week how it went and if I was able to make it happen.

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 17, 2009

OPJ…Other people’s Junk

I love other people’s junk! What does that make me?...A junkie?

I just took an old screen door out of the pile of bulk trash sitting in front of my neighbor’s house last week. It doesn’t fit anything at my house and I have no idea what I will do with it. But that is the beauty…I WILL find something! That’s probably why I have become so fond of Funky Junk Interiors. Go check it out.

I am starting to get addicted to Craigs List. I think it so much fun to see what bargains are out there. Today I went to go pick up 23 Mason Jars, of varying sizes, for $15. I like to use them for homemade jellies, taking soup or salad dressings with meals to others, making homemade buttermilk, for drinking out of, and of course, decorating. Candles and flowers look great in them! I suppose you could also use them for collecting things, like Wendy at Shabby Nest mentioned here. My goal is to learn to can and preserve more by next year, so the more jars, the merrier.

What junk do you have that you can repurpose in your house?
Or better yet…what junk do you have that I may want? :)

Potty training....

I’m sorry, this will be the death of me. Literally, my 3 year old needs to learn to do this before I die. I know…he most likely will not go to college with this malfunction. If he does, I truly will call it quits.

I am currently in this tension between “control” (his and mine), will, obedience, anger (mine) and grace. I know this is an over-spiritual way to look at poop, but how would Jesus act in my situation? Seriously. I can’t seem to find it anywhere in the Bible.

So, I just have to ask him to help me know the right way to behave and respond…and to have patience only he can supply. If you have any tips for me, I’ll gladly seek any wise counsel on this stinky topic.

On a sweeter smelling note, go read this fabulous post today by Ruthie at Sugar Pie Farmhouse. It will get your mind right and your perspective clear. I obviously need to go there again right now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lessons from Facebook

I thought I was really hip when I signed up for Facebook. I had been to my 20-year high school reunion and was convinced by some that I needed to. I really don’t have time to “do” Facebook, but succumbed to pressure anyway. Now…Twitter??? I am so not hip. I don’t even know what that is. Maybe one day I’ll be cool.

Anyway, I enjoy some things about Facebook. I really don’t use it enough to understand the ins and outs of it, but I like peering into the lives of others. Maybe it’s the nosy side of me.

But there is a downside. Once I look into the lives of others (namely through their pictures), sometimes I feel inadequate or that their lives are much more “together” than my own.

I just reconnected with a friend from about 8 years ago. I am so delighted to see that she is doing well. Really well. From all appearances, she is living a “Ken and Barbie” life. She’s beautiful, trendy and has a gorgeous “mini-Barbie” daughter.

Then I have another delightful friend from high school…who I deeply love, by the way. From all appearances, she is doing fabulously. She has a gorgeous, large home; friends by the handful; she’s gorgeous…and seriously doesn’t look ANY different than she did in 1988! She’s got 5 beautiful and active children and a sweet husband who is delightful to look at.

OK, seriously?! I’m starting to think there is nothing like Facebook to make you feel not-so-good-about yourself. Or is it just me? Am I that easily swayed into comparing my life with others?

I turn 40 this year. Thank God. As unsure of who I am at almost 40 sometimes….I was even more uncertain at 30. Turning older is truly a good thing. I just want the confidence to do it gracefully!

So anyway, at almost 40, I am just NOW able to discern between lies and truth.

Lie: Other people have better lives.
Truth: Other people have different lives.

Lie: Other people have no problems.
Truth: We all have problems.

Lie: These girls look better at their age now than they did “back then”.
Truth: They’ve had work done.
TOTALLY KIDDING. … They just look beautiful!

Lie: God has blessed them more.
Truth: God has blessed us all. My blessings may just look different.

I could go on and on, but what I know for sure is this:

(1) GOD’s Truth is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 149:14), as are my sweet friends.
(2) Anything I have is because God has given it (Job 1:21b). As is true for them.
(3) I am right where God wants me to be, because he is sovereign. They are where God has them in their lives as well.
(4) Appearances and truth may not always match up completely, so I am to always keep my eyes heavenward….not on everyone else’s blessings…or business.

So as I Facebook or Tweet or whatever the next newest cool thing is (because of course I want to be cool at 40!)….
I choose to cling to this verse:

Teach me YOUR way, O Lord,
and I will walk in YOUR truth;
give me an UNDIVIDED heart,
that I may fear YOUR name.
Ps. 86:11

It's nice to be back with you. I feel more refreshed. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Break....

I have decided to take some time off from blogging.


I need to focus on some things around here, and not on the fact that "I can't come up with something to write about today". :) And I need to figure out a way to get a camera...cheap! Remember, we're paying off debt. But to me, my blogging is deeply lacking without the ability to ever document in pictures. I feel like I lose many simple moments to show you...ones where words are not even needed.

Enjoy your summer. I hope to come back with a camera...some great thoughts to contribute...and a more organized blog. However, I do plan to continue reading the wonderful blogs I regularly enjoy.

Have a wonderful 4th!