Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thankful Thursday!

At the Nickel Dinner in LA.
Today I want to share with you a person that I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for my friend Sarah. It's funny how our friendship has become what it is. We met in high school and were friends for our Jr & Sr years. The crazy thing is, we weren't those friends that were attached at the hip, talking with each other every day, telling each other all our secrets and boy talk. When you think of a best friend from high school, we weren't "that" friendship. I don't think either of us fully expected what it has become now.
Yes, we were posing by what looked like a "pooping tree" because we're cool like that! ;)

We both have lived in different states ever since graduation, we talk occasionally and keep up with the main details of each others lives, but our day to day lives are very distant from each other. But she's the friend that I can call (or my husband will suggest I call when I need someone to talk to)--someone to understand. She's a friend that makes the short list of people to call immediately after 'big news' happens in our family. Thankfully this has never happened, but if it did, she'd be one of my friends that would get the 3 am phone call in case of a family emergency & hopefully she knows I'll be that friend for her too.

There isn't a phone call that takes place between us that doesn't involve at least one of trying to convince the other that they need to move to our respective cities. We've always got a 'house for sale' in mind for each other, conveniently located very near our home! ;) Usually followed by big dreams and plans of all the fun we'd have being neighbors! I'm certain if that wish were to ever come true, the dynamics between us would change and maybe that would be good. Only God knows if that will ever be the case for us, but for now I cherish the relationship that it is.

I think there is a richness to our friendship that has developed from us not being in each other's day to day lives. We don't know each other's circle of friends or people at each other's church. Really I think that's a blessing, because there are sometimes you need to call a friend who doesn't need to know all the details of your life, they don't need to know all your daily circumstances, they just need to know you. Sarah, is that friend for me. She is the friend that doesn't know all there is to know about me, but what matters when I call is that she knows me. I can tell her the truth about how I feel because it doesn't affect her daily life and the same for her. I will not be hurt by her telling me frustrations that she's experiencing with people around her, because to me all that matters is her. I think the same applies for her. She just wants to know how I am doing, how I am feeling, how I am handling life. The beauty of a friend like that is indescribable & the richness is priceless. Isn't that we all need? A friend that just cares for me, who I am and nothing more. The friend that says YOU matter (not your circumstances, your history, your details) so much to me that I will drop everything in my life right now to be here with YOU. Sarah is that friend for me. We can challenge each other in ways other people cannot, not sure why, but it works. She can also make me laugh at the most outrageous things that for whatever reason is only funny to the two of us! ;) I am so thankful for her and the physical distance between us that has helped create this invaluable friendship.

As a bonus our husbands get a long too and we do well vacationing together! :) SO FUN!

Oh my word! I love you, you little whoremonger!! Haha! I'm so thankful for you!

Do you have a friendship like that? I hope you do. Leave a comment and share with us about him/her!

Today, I linked up to:


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

101 in 1001

For quite some time now I've been meaning to finalize this list and get it posted. I finally got around to getting my list done! :) I'm excited to bring all of you along on the process too! So, it'll start July 1, 2011 (although I've done a few of these things in the last couple weeks, so I'm going to count them!) and end on May 20, 2014. I'll have this posted as a separate page on here too, so you'll have a quick reference to what's been completed. As I complete them, I'll write a post documenting the experience and link it the main 101 in 1001 page. If you've already done some of these things leave me a comment on how it went for you & give me some tips! :) If you'd like to try some of these things too and would like a buddy on the journey with you, let me know! 

101 in 1001 list

1. Make my own boots
2. Finish daughter's scrapbook -- this year
3. Finish son's scrapbook-- this year
4.  Have at least one scrapbooking day 
5.  Finish our wedding scrapbook.
6.  Do one craft project a month
7.  Do crafts more regularly with the kids
8.  Make a pillowcase or men's shirt dress
9.  Do an upcycled project.
10.  Take family "home" (traveling/hobby/personal)
11.  "Doll up" a top 
12.  "Spice up" a pair of flip flops
13. Knit another hat 
14.  Make reusable bag
15.  Make/replace our nightstands
16.  Take a photography class
17.  Learn/Take a sewing class to get better
18.  Expand the garden & learn more about gardening

19.  Stick to the monthly menu plan for a month
20.  Go to a new place on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
21.  Drink a frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity
22.  Eat a restaurant that has been featured in a movie.
23.  Have an April Fool's dinner
24.  Buy food from a street vendor
25.  Go on a local food tour
26.  Learn to make something new
27.  One new recipe per month
28.  Make file of yummy recipes
29.  Get all our meat from local farmers
30.  Make homemade yogurt
31.  Make homemade butter
32.  Transition to homemade bread

33.  Keep room clean for 2 weeks
34.  Plant trees
35.  Put all pictures on CD
36.  Organize all pictures
37.  Upload pictures to the digital frame
38.  Make lists of things in pantry to put on doors
39.  Update the pictures in the frames throughout the house
40.  Move the fridge and vacuum behind and under it 2 times a year
41.  Paint daughter's room
42.  Update the master bathroom
43.  Paint master bedroom
44.  Go to bed with a clean house for 1 week
45.  Re-organize the basement
46.  Go through basement closet and hope chests

47. Hang lights in bedroom
48. Build the patio
49. Decorate/Fix the patio
50. Make the backyard usable/fun space
51.  Go to NYC
52.  Travel Europe (may be longer then the 1001 days)
53.  Go on a family cruise
54.  Have a couple's weekend
55.  Try a new food on a trip
56.  Visit three historic sites
57.  Visit 2 new states
58.  Eat at 3 restaurants featured on a TV show on a trip
59. Write a master packing list
60. Go on a family camping trip--and have fun! :)

61.  Go on a girl date once every two months
62.   Make a new friend
63.   Memorize 1 Scripture per month
64.  Keep up with Bible Study homework for one entire session
65.  Read/Listen to an inspirational Christian book every 3 months
66. Keep a prayer journal for 30 days 

67.  Transition family to healthier food options
68.  Go to the gym 3 times a week until September '11
69.   Take multivitamin everyday for a month

70.  Take family pictures every 6 months
71.  Teach kids new skills each month
72.  Teach kids a memory verse
73.  Sleep under the stars as a family
74.  Have another baby
75.  Go camping
76.  Go on a family outing twice a month

78.  Keep a regular date night 
79.  Work on etiquette/manners

80. Volunteer some where as a family

81.  Read Bible once/day for 30 days
82.  Read from the Bible each night as a family
83.  Read through the Bible
84.  Read one book 'for fun' per month for a year
85.  Read 20 new books to the kids
86.  Get out of debt
87.  Save up an emergency fund
88.   Pay cash for a big project
89.  Start a "college fund" for the kids
90.  Teach kids basic money saving principles

91.  Invest 15% of income to retirement funds
92. Update our wills and beneficiaries on our accounts 

Enjoying life
93.  Lie down on the grass and watch the sky
94.  Watch a sunset
95.  Watch a sunrise
96.  Go to the taping of a TV show
97.  Go to one new store or restaurant every three months
98.  Have a spontaneous candle light dinner

99. Win a giveaway/BIG prize

100. Take three educational courses to keep up on my teaching skills
101. Reach 150 followers on my blog  

Wine Down Wednesday

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Get out of Debt--in a hurry!

First, here's a friendly reminder to go vote on the poll! :)

Now to the real post--I just found a Top Ten Tuesday blog hop and thought this would be a perfect time to give it a try! :) So here is my list for the week.

1. Start with the truth
First things first, you have to start telling the truth about your financial situation. Usually the first one you need to tell the truth to is yourself and/or your spouse. I've found that a lot of people don't actually know the number. It's time to add it all up friends, and face the truth. No more vague numbers. The sooner you know what you're really dealing with the sooner you'll move into action.

2. Get on a Cash Budget
Set yourself up on a cash only budget. Even if you pay off your credit card in full each month or you think you'll spend the same amount--chances are you'll save! Statistics show that nearly all of us spend more when using a piece of plastic over holding those little paper bills. Get yourself set up with cash so you can SEE your money coming and going. It'll also help with #10. If you'd like some ideas on how to set it up, check out this post or this one.

3. Hit it with all you've got
Here's where you get to fight, hit, kick, punch and yell at your debt! They've been winning long enough, now it's your turn to fight back. Get serious about paying off your balances, the more you pay each month the more determined you'll be to keep it up--and stay OUT of debt!

4. Know your weakness
There are some places I just can't go right now. First of all, malls aren't a usual hang out place for me currently---it's just not wise! ;) Target--no go! Basically any store with cute clothes, home accessories, crafty projects, and anything else other then groceries--not going for a while. If you're serious about getting out of debt, it's important that you identify what your spending weaknesses are. My husband's is eating out. ;) Once you've realized what these areas are, you'll know how to say no to them with  more strength and determination. Avoiding these tempting things will help you save tons! :)

5. Wait for the deal
No more impulse buying allowed! It's time to start putting off purchases until you can pay for them. Often times all those I-can't-live-without-it items will be on sale before you know it! A little patience will save you loads of cash in time.

6. Go green
Not only is it better for the environment, it's better for you pocket book--that's a win-win!

7. Take it when its free
Want to read a great new book you just heard about? Check your library or borrow it from a friend. There are SO many things that are free, just doing a little research and you'll find all sorts of entertainment for free, food, household products and more. Have you ever checked out the free section on Craigslist? You have to be QUICK, but if you are you can score some great finds! :) Do a little google search for what you're looking for before you buy it.

8. DIY
It's time to let out that inner crafter in you! Don't let the Do It Yourself words scare you. This can be all sorts of things. If you're good in the kitchen start looking at ways you can make things from scratch to cut your families budget. I've done some of that and have learned all sorts of new things! Here's my instructions for homemade baby food and a bulk cooking day to make for simpler dinner time prep. You can also learn how to can or freeze food properly. Not a kitchen guru, how about making homemade cleaning supplies? Here is a post that will lead you through the steps for laundry soap and dish washer soap.  There are also so many great ideas for crafty things you can make or fix yourselves. Get a little inspiration online if you are looking for some ideas! This can be one of the most fun parts of getting out of debt--let you imagination take over!

9. Be a Team Player
Getting out of debt is a team effort if you're married. You will have to work together to be successful. The closer your goals are to each others the easier your process will be. Make it a project you can both focus on and put effort into making happen. Both of you will have a part to play, so figure that out in your relationship and get to it!

10. Learn to say NO
This is by far the hardest part. No one wants to say no to themselves. Adults want to have the freedom to have what they want, when they want it. It's hard to see other people buying and getting things you just can't have for a while. But here is what keeps me motivated and on track, "Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else." -Dave Ramsey. We've had to make sacrifices to get where we are and you will too. I'm not gonna lie, I don't like it, it's NOT fun! The fun day will be when we can live stress free of bills and have the cash to do/buy what we like! :) That's TRUE freedom, I find a lot of American's are living in a false sense of freedom (living the way they want to, while having piles of debt). And, we're back to the beginning--start living in the truth.


Monday, June 27, 2011

A new kitchen for under $50!

I feel like I have a new kitchen! Like I shared with you last week my kids were in VBS each morning, so I took advantage of the opportunity to do a little kitchen update. Literally, since we've moved in--almost 7 years ago--I've wanted my kitchen to be green. Then I heard a green kitchen makes you eat more, so I didn't move forward with that idea. Now, years later, I've decided I really don't care if that's true or not, I want my kitchen to be green! And now it is! :)

Have I held you in suspense long enough?! Here are some pictures of the new and improved green kitchen.


Things to notice:
- The white walls 
- The chair cushions


Things to notice: 
- The corner counter on the left side of the stove


If you want to see the close up picture on the counter I already posted, you can see it here

The updates you can't 'see':
-The floor behind the fridge is all clean now
-The area around the floor boards and windows is now clean
-The trim is freshly painted white (again)
-The area about the counters, microwave and on top of the fridge are clean and spider web free

So here's the price breakdown on my little update:

-Paint and Supplies: $20
-New chair cushions: $28 for 4
-New utensil, knife and spice racks (can't remember, but approximate $20). We bought them nearly a year ago at IKEA. Since I already had them on hand, I did not include them in the price breakdown because it didn't affect our current budget to add them.

Total price: $48

I love it! I feel like it's made such a difference. The color does make the room feel a little darker, but that's okay. The color just makes everything look new though and it feels clean. I must say though, my favorite part is my extra counter space created by the IKEA organizers. Wish I would've hung those a year ago! ;)

A few changes I'm still hoping to make:
-New handles or doorknobs or these.
-Update: After talking to some friends, I might do black/dark knobs...thoughts?
Which do you like? Should we do some handles and some knobs? What would you do?

-A new plant in the corner (since it totally clashes now with the paint!)

-Clear off the refrigerator. I think a clean fridge makes a kitchen look cleaner, but it's so hard to keep that way! I'll be working on that one soon though.

What do you think?

Today I linked up to:

 Tip Junkie handmade projects


Saturday, June 25, 2011

I got a shout out!

This isn't the first time I've gotten a shout out on a blog.

My friend Jessie on her blog First Position, (where she writes all about what's happening in her world) has mentioned some posts she's enjoyed reading before, which is always lovely! :) I love hearing that people are getting something out of what I'm writing on here. It's a huge compliment also to know people are actually reading it. Hehe!! Thanks Jessie for all your support!!

(Picture came from her blog)

Then this week a new blogger friend posted about my blog. I've never had anyone that I don't personally know in the "real world" acknowledge that they are enjoying my blog and getting something out of it too. So flattering and a big encouragement, for sure. So, here's a special thank you to Alana at Taylor Made Home for writing this awesome post all about my blog! Be sure to check out her blog for all your organizing needs, she's got you covered! :) I love getting ideas and inspiration from her posts and ideas, I'm sure you will too.

If you like what you read be sure to follow either of these great blogging friends, us bloggers always love to see that number go up! ;)

(Picture came from her blog)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Homemade Pizza

A couple weeks ago I shared with you the bread kit idea from The Grocery Shrink. This week I used the first kit. We made homemade pizza which turned out really good! I was sure to document it all for you too.

First, here's a quick sneak peak at my kitchen update! :) More before and after pictures coming soon...

Back to the pizza. All I did was pour the water and bread mix into the bread machine. Turned to the pizza dough setting and let it do it's thing. 

While we went and did our thing...a little trip to the park and ride on bikes!

 When we came home we took the dough out of the machine, let it rise for a few minutes:

Divided it into two pieces! Two pizzas come from one batch of bread mix. 

Then you need to find yourself a cute little helper like this one to roll out the dough:

My husband got busy putting the toppings on while I was taking pictures of my cuties before I had a chance to snap another picture, but you get the idea. Here it is the final product: 

It was yummy! It's so great to know what's in your food and make it the way you want for your family. The entire process from start to finish probably took just under 2 hours (but that included a trip to the park too). Actually "effort" time was probably about 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm most thankful for an experience of a life time! Throughout our debt-diet process we have been living on very little and putting SO much effort into getting out of debt. We have worked really hard and have made a lot of sacrifices along the way. By the way, making sacrifices totally stinks! It's so challenging to be a grown up, with money in the bank and not do what you WANT to do, instead of what you SHOULD do.'s been challenging.

In the midst of all of this both of my siblings made commitments to live overseas. My brother already has been for several years, but has signed another contract and this year won't be returning for Christmas for various reasons. My sister just recently accepted a position to go work at the high school I graduated from in South America. During the process with my sister, my sibs decided to go on a trip to NYC this summer. I jumped on that train and decided I wanted to go too!! :) Wouldn't you?!?! ;) Well, long story short, it was looking for a while like I wasn't going to be able to do it. Again, our life was being run by our bills, not by our desires. After searching for cheap flights like crazy, I came to a place of realizing it just wasn't going to happen this time.

THEN, God showed up! Saturday night (2 days before I was supposed to leave), Priceline accepted my price and friends of ours from high school offered us a place to stay. So the combination put the trip back within our budget limits! I had money still set aside for my birthday present along with some money I'd been saving from my 'fun money', which also helped make it a more affordable amount from the 'family budget'.

All this to say, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to spend the week with my siblings in NYC. Also for my husband who not only was willing to make sure this happened for me & encouraged me to do it, but also stayed home and was a "single Dad" all week too! My parents also came through for me to Be able to go! They helped watch the kids while the hubs was at work to help make it all work for everyone.

I'll post more about my adventures in the big apple soon, today, I'm just thankful for all the opportunities I can have & for little blessings along the way, even while getting out of debt!

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Poll Results

Here are the results from our last poll. Apparently most of us are in the 'getting out of debt' stage still. Hopefully soon we'll all be able to click on a different answer for our financial goal! :)


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


This is how I feel right now about the series I am reading. UGH! I'm getting so frustrated by the direction the author is taking the story, which rarely happens to me and even less with this author! If you take a little peak at the "On My Nightstand" and "Just Finished" sections on the left side of the blog you'll see TWO Karen Kingsbury books just in the last month! That's not even the half of it. In about 6 months I think I read close to 20 of her books (starting with the Baxter series and through the Take One series). I know, right, a bit obsessed with the K.K. books. My husband agrees! ;) But, in my defense they are SO good, no really, SO good!

Well as soon as she was adding to the series I had been on by doing a Bailey Flanigan series I was really excited, I'm serious--really excited. Who gets this nuts over books?!?! ;) Anyway....the first one came out this spring and yes, I had it shortly after it was released and read it (Leaving) very slowly. I don't think it's ever taken me so long to read one of her books. I do have my reasons though, and whether you'd like to hear them or not, I will tell you. 1. I knew I was going to have to wait until June 20th (Yesterday!!) for the release of the second book (Learning), so why rush it, right? 2. I was SO annoyed by the direction I could see it going. SO annoyed! Really, Karen? Really? Can't you see this is going to be a disaster?! *sigh* She did not heed my advice and the series is on the brink of disaster now.

So, why am I just now sharing my frustrations with you? First of all because I thought for sure she (Karen K.) would redeem herself after asking a question of her readers on FB about the direction she should take this particular "dilemma" (a.k.a. disaster). I was very relieved that approximately 98% of her readers agreed with me! :) Yea, I know that's usually not that hard to do!! ;) Haha! Okay, anyway, I figured, great, she got the message, "We don't like it! It'll be a total failure! Please stop this before it gets any worse! She must chose the other option! PLEASE!!!" I'm serious, everyone was desperate to see this disaster turn around.

Well, I've read reviews on the second book (because I'm obsessed and anxiously waiting for the book!) and seen the new cover. And because I haven't had a chance to go get it. Friends, she's not listening! She's messing it all up! I feel like taking the pen out of her hand and scratching it all out and starting it over. KAREN! Don't do it! I'm so disappointed, I don't even know how I'm going to get through the book. I'm sure I will, because I HAVE to know what happens, but be warned the book may hit a few walls before I finish it....just sayin'.  And up until now I was giving her the benefit of the doubt, since there are 2 more books (4 total) that she would turn it around and redeem it in the 3rd book.

Darn FB has ruined my hopes again! She just posted that she finished the 3rd book and it has the WRONG cover picture! Not cool, Karen, not cool.

Sigh, so I guess now I can only hold out hope for the fourth book to make the series right again. So bummed out right now.

Am I the only one that gets this 'involved' about fictional people?!?! Please tell me I'm not...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Little Man!

My little guy is having a birthday today. Not quite sure how we'll spend all of the day today, but I we've got a big party bash planned for the weekend. Can't wait to celebrate with him and all who love him! Like I shared before, I like to do a lot of it myself, so it'll be a busy week around here getting ready for his little gig. ;) I'll be sure to post pictures along the way of all my creations and and how the party turns out too!

On to other news, in case you haven't noticed I've been working hard on giving this blog a little makeover! ;) I've been learning a lot about blogging and would love for this little "hobby-blog" to turn into something more. I have had a lot of feedback about our story being meaningful and inspiring to a lot of people and I'd love to expand that beyond a small circle of friends. If this process (though we haven't done it perfectly) and our story can make a difference for more people, then that would be wonderful to us. The other perk is that there are advertisers willing to pay bloggers for their space on a site and that could mean a little extra income to my family. Again, a benefit we could use right now, especially with our goal to be debt free. Why am I telling you this? Because you can help me! Here's some ways you can be a part of this process:

1. If you are a regular reader, but haven't ever clicked "follow", you can do so now. You do have choices as well. You can chose to subscribe by email (posts will go directly to your inbox), or by following through google (using a variety of accounts you may have set up) or through Facebook (networked blogs). Any of these options are helpful and it'll make it easier for you to keep up with the posts as well since you'll have them come directly to you each time I post! Feel free to pass all this on to friends that may be interested too.

2. If you already follow and have been reading all along, a way you can help is by commenting on blog posts. It's so encouraging to me and creates a community around the content of the blog. Which will give us all the opportunity to share more too! So comment away! Also watch for future rewards that may come to the top commenter! ;)

3. If you are a blogger and would like to you can 'grab my button' and post it on your site. Which would be awesome and I would really appreciate it! If you do, please let me know so I can swing by your blog and give you a special thank you & show some support to you too!

4. Continue to be the support you have been! It's so awesome to share this journey with all of you. Thanks for reading and following along.

Thank you all!! Have a wonderful week. Looking forward to hearing all of your thoughts on this new adventure below. I love reading your comments!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!

Yay! What a great day to celebrate the men in our lives. There are so many great things I could tell you about my Dad. He's a Godly man, extremely loyal and dedicated, thinks through things before committing to them, is honest and a hard worker. I've learned a lot of lessons from him and notice more and more of him in me each day. Of all the things I remember about my Dad, money wisdom was always a topic we were discussing. I've learned so many valuable financial lessons from him (and my Mom) about saving, living within your means, generosity, giving to God, staying out of debt, investing, and not letting money drive you. I'm so thankful for a Dad who was diligent in teaching us how to be good stewards of our resources.

My husband is another amazing Dad in my life! He is doing an excellent job with our kids and is instilling some of those great pieces of wisdom in them now too. He too, is a hard worker and brings a great balance of work and play to our family. He's always making decisions to better our family and take care of me and the kids. Beyond all the money 'stuff', he's all around just a fabulous Dad! He makes them a priority, has tons of fun with them and they know they are loved. They are bummed on the mornings they wake up and he's at work and do a little 'happy dance' when he comes home! ;)

Happy Father's Day to my two favorite Fathers!! :) I love you.

Just for kicks, I thought it'd be fun to share two other articles about Dads and Money today. Dave Ramsey asked his readers what advice they remember from their Dad's and some of their replies are in this article.  Then, LearnVest did a similar thing and their version can be read here.

Have a great day and enjoy spending time with your favorite father's today! :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Five Question Friday

Happy Friday everyone! :) As I mentioned yesterday this has been a fabulous week. I've been able to get some projects done and that feels great. I came across a new blog the other day in my 'wandering' the web and she does a fun thing on Fridays called 5QF (5 ?? Fridays). I thought I'd give it a try this week and see how it goes. These questions come from her blog, so anyone who is participating is answering the same 5 questions today! Kind of fun, right? 

1. What is your favorite summer time activity?
Hmm...if you know me I love, love, love everything summer! :) Well, not everything, but the list of things I don't like is short. ;) I enjoy being outside and that is probably the main reason I love summer so much. If I had to pick my favorite thing I think it would be going swimming. It's refreshing and fun, it's nice to get warmed up and dry under the sun while eating a yummy picnic lunch. All around it just makes for a great family day and it just makes me think, "this is summer!"

2. Do you have one laundry soap you stick to, or do you buy whatever's on sale?
Interesting you should ask! :) Well, I used to buy anything that was on sale and that smelled yummy. But for almost the last year, I've been making homemade laundry soap for several reasons (sensitivity to chemicals & cost being the primary ones).  

3. What is your favorite dinner to make in the summer?
Grilling. Nearly anything anything grilled is so delicious! Again, it's one of those things that makes me think, "summer". I'll be posting more about this soon, so stay tuned... :)

4. Do you have any talents?
Well, gee, I hope so. I don't think I have any random, goofy talent, but I'm sure I have some. Wow! Can't really think of any actual talent to tell you about though...this isn't good. Lets just all pretend that I do and I'll have to get back to you on this one! ;)

5. If you could instantly be an expert in something, what would it be? Why?
Hmm...I think there are a lot of things I would really like to be an expert at, but the first one that came to mind is the one I'll go with. I think it would be awesome to be able to learn/speak/understand languages quickly. Communication is such a keep to relationships and people, it's essentially the core of relating with each other and it would be sweet (in my opinion) to not have that barrier with people who don't speak the languages I speak. 

I hope you enjoyed my first version of 5QF. I did, so much so that I might try it again some time. While we're on the topic of questions, be sure to check out the new poll I have up. I can't wait to see all your votes and/or suggestions! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Wow!! There is always so much to be thankful for when we really stop to think about it, isn't there? Today I'll share my Top Three 'Thankful For...' for this week.

1. VBS
This has been a huge blessing to me this week. I signed my kids up, knowing they'd love the interaction with other kids and I'm always looking for ways to get them involved in church programs and learning more about God each day. This totally fit the bill. When I signed them up, I was thinking about how great this would be for them. But then...Sunday night I realized, "oh my goodness! I'm going to have 3 hours to myself every morning this week!" Then my next thought was, "I better do something!" It turned out to be a wonderful week. On Monday and Tuesday I painted my kitchen (pictures and details to follow). Yesterday I was able to go shopping with my hubby for some summer clothes WITHOUT the kids!! :) Today we are having a breakfast date and enjoying some quality time together and tomorrow I'll be running errands and getting a haircut--all of which will be kid-free! :)

So today, I'm thankful for ALL of the Harvest Fellowship volunteers who have worked so hard this week. Not only have they taught my kids about the Bible and God's love for them, but they've also blessed me with some "Mommy-Time", which I didn't even realize how much I needed. THANK YOU!!

2. My Sister
My sissy had a birthday this week. I'm so thankful for her and the gift she is in my life. You can read more about how awesome she is in the linked post AND you should, because you've gotta know she's the best sis in the world! :)

3. My Hubby
This week has been a busy week for my husband. He's had a lot of extra things for work, but he does it because he loves us. He is a great provider for us and does the best he can at his job to take care of his family. I'm so thankful for this work ethic and willingness to sacrifice for us. AND THEN...even after all he has had going on he still agreed to help me with the finishing touches on the kitchen project late on Tuesday night. Isn't he the best?!?! Yes, he is and I'm so thankful he's mine! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garage Sale Update

I'm posting a brief update today because I'm in the middle of a kitchen update that is taking up most of my 'spare' time! ;) We had a garage sale this weekend and it's so nice to have cash to add to our vacation fund and less stuff in our house/garage! It was pretty successful considering we had very few 'money-making' items. The best part was that when it was all over we only had one small box left of things to donate.

How about you? Will you be having a garage sale this summer? How do you get rid of things you don't use? Is it worth your time to sell it?

**Sidenote: I have to give a quick shout out to my Sis who is having another birthday today!! She is an amazing sister and I really cherish her friendship, her honesty and her generosity in my life. There are so many great things I could say about her and all of them would be true. She loves life (which is contagious when you are with her), and she is compassionate and friendly to everyone. I'm so honored to call her 'Sister'. I love her tons and I hope if my daughter ever has a sister, she'd be as great as mine!  I love you, Sis! Happy Birthday!! **

Monday, June 13, 2011

13 Things you'll always find in my pantry!

I know everyone probably has the 'basics' they keep on hand. So I'm sharing mine today. Having these ingredients on hand helps me stay out of the grocery store regularly and it also simplifies my life around dinner time when it's been a long day and there isn't a dinner plan! The savings add up from avoiding the store and the restaurants by simply keeping easy meal ingredients in the house.

1. Pasta
There is always a meal that can be pulled together with some pasta. I usually have a whole assortment of types of pasta. When we can find it for 49 cents a box, we stock up and are always ready for cheap, easy dinner!

2. Rice
Again, a basic that can be easily turned into a meal. It's nice to have options other then pasta, it's also a great 'filler' for meals that look skimpy! ;)

3. Potatoes
Who doesn't like some form of potatoes?! It's a great good to ingredient and can easily be part of the main dish or a quick and easy side.

4. Canned tomatoes
I find that these babies can go in ALL kinds of recipes. So easy to pull something together when you can some on hand.

5. Canned beans
Another great 'filler' to expand your meat. Also can be made into all kinds of main dishes or a quick side too. I like to keep a variety on hand usually some black, pinto, kidney, baked, garbanzo/chickpeas (for hummus) and refried. Some times I'll have the bags and cook it up myself, but I also like to have some cans too for a really quick dinner fix.

6. Cream of Mushroom Soup
Throw some of this in with some meat and veggies and you can pour it on rice, potatoes or pasta. Easy, pull together dinner. It also goes in a lot of recipes!

7. Dressings
I like to use dressings for sauce making and marinades so I usually have a few varieties in the pantry for a yummy touch to dinner. In the summertimes it's also nice to throw together a nice salad with a great dressing.

8. Marinara
Always have pasta ingredients ready! :) When we can't think of anything else we can always have spaghetti and meatballs. Plus it can go in all sorts of other creative recipes too. Since we can ours in the fall, we usually have a good supply stocked up.

9. Tuna
Seems like a good 'meat' to pull out when you forgot to freeze something! There are surprisingly a lot of things that you can put tuna in.

10. Condiments
I always try to keep an extra jar of mayo (especially) in the house. You never know when you're going to need to put together a pasta/potato salad. It seems like once you use it in a few things the bottle is nearly gone, so it's good to have an extra just in case! ;) We usually have an extra spicy/grey poupon mustard and ketchup around too.

11. Baking mixes
Last minute company or party you're going to. You can pull together a great dessert in about 30 minutes if you have a packaged mix. They are easy to find for about $1 (or less sometimes!), so having a couple around is affordable too.

12. Snacks
Usually the variety changes by what is on sale and what age the kids are! ;) Normally we have some kinds of crackers, maybe some chips, nuts/trail mix type snacks in the pantry. They are nice additions to add to quick lunch too.

13. Cereal
Oatmeal and cold cereal. When all else fails, there is always some cereal around! :) I remember those nights growing up. We'd get home really late (especially on church nights) and it would be cereal for dinner. And almost every morning we had oatmeal and toast for breakfast and sometimes for dinner too! :) Oatmeal is also nice to have on hand for baking.

What do you always have on hand in your pantry?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Things to Try

Alright! I've been coming across all kinds of great ideas lately. A blogging friend posted recently about handmade reusable snack/lunch bags and I fell in love! Luck for her, she won hers, and I was jealous! Ever since I've been wondering how I was going to get my hand on some of those!! ;) Of course, I could just buy them and there are ALL kinds online. But then I started adding it all up and if I'm going to use them regularly, I'd be spending quite a little bit of cash on them. So then I started looking into making them. It can't be that hard, right?! ;) My husband thinks I'm crazy for just considering the idea. Which means, I'll probably end up caving and buying at least a few. But there are SO many to cute styles and designs and'll be hard to chose just a few! I'll keep you posted on how this one turns out. I've seriously been thinking about them for a while now, it's a bit obsessive, really! BUT, just think of all the benefits. 1. It's so much better for the environment (much less wasteful/trash). 2. Cheaper, in the long run, you'll probably save a lot of money on baggies. 3. Convenient. I just think of keeping them in my husband's lunch bag, how easy would that be to just refill them each night. Especially once I have to start making several lunches each night. 4. Organized. I'm envisioning (see, a bit obsessed) a theme for each person's lunch/snack bag. Each person will have their bags and it'll keep things nice and simple, easy to keep track of. Of course, they'll have to get a cute coordinating lunch sack to go with them too! ;)

My other idea was also from a blog! ;) Homemade yogurt. Again, just think of all the benefits. Cost effective, healthier, less wasteful. I'm noticing a theme, are you? I'm going to be doing some real official 'google' research in a bit to figure out how to do all of this without the machine. Apparently you can use a crockpot. I'll be sure to let you know and fully document the process--that is, if it's successful! ;) I'm going to be collecting baby food jars for it too. So, if you live near by and have some, please save them for me! This same blogger, also made popsicles out of it, gonna have to try that!

I just came across her blog and I'm really enjoying it. I think we'd be friends in real life too, since we both seem to be trying to do a lot of the same things! :) She makes homemade deodorant! Since I've become a bit of a homemade nut, I figure, why not? I might as well keep trying these things, right? ;) I've actually heard that there are some links to deodorant and breast cancer...
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