Monday, September 26, 2011

Some time off

Friday morning my alarm clock went off to start my day. I had a full day planned and had to get an early start. Minutes later, I got a text saying my Grandpa was not responding that morning and emergency respondents were on their way to his home. Twenty minutes later, I got the call that confirmed he had indeed passed away in his sleep sometime during the night. All my plans started to unravel, including those for this week. Family trumps everything right now. In moments like this the most important things are instantly the priority and things are back in proper perspective. In light of that and all that will be taking place this week for my family, I will be taking some time off from blogging. Honoring my Grandpa's life and spending time with those that loved him and love me will come first, it's just that simple.

As far as Grandpa goes, honestly, I haven't had much time to process his loss. I'm sure this week will be full of ups and downs. He's been fighting for a while now and far out lived the doctor's predictions-he was a fighter, for sure! I don't think any of us were shocked, but just the same, it's never easy. He was done, he'd fought hard and long enough. He was at peace with his loved ones and with His Savior. Now, it's a time to celebrate his life here on earth and his eternal life where he now dances, young and healthy next to Jesus!

Have a wonderful week, I'll resume posting as soon as life allows!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Vacation Highlights

Not quite sure that's exactly how you are supposed to use them! haha!

Taken by our talented preschooler! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I'm not a morning person! I put this on my 101 list because I knew it would be a stretch for me. It was. It was totally worth it. I've obviously experienced seeing the sunrise before, but there is something so beautiful and peaceful about actually taking the time to sit and watch it.

My sister gets the credit for this one. It was her last day in town before moving overseas for a year. She'd started watching the sunrise regularly this summer and invited me and other close friends to join her at her favorite sunrise watching spot that final day. I wanted to spend the time with her and I knew I'd be disappointed if I didn't go, but setting my alarm the night before was a struggle! I did it though! :)

That morning, I literally, went to the bathroom and put on a sweatshirt and walked out the door. It was way too early to do anything else! Keep that in mind as you see these pictures! ;)

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. There are times that words just can't describe something as beautiful a moment as the birth of a new day. 


Me, Sis, Vanessa
Me, Sis, Mom

As the sun moved overhead, we headed to Starbucks to spend some quality time together while enjoying a yummy coffee to start our day. It was a fantastic morning. 

Watch the sunrise. So glad I did. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

iSpy Game

I found this idea on pinterest and had to do it! With our 16 hour road trip just a couple weeks away, I added it to my to do list. I also noticed other styles, some were made like a bean bag, which I was considering since I had no pretty jars.

Then, while over helping my sister pack, I noticed she had a water bottle that looked almost exactly like this one! :) Since she had no use for it, I snagged it! ;)

Do you want one too?

How to make them:
1. Gather your supplies-
~1 pretty bottle
~uncooked rice
~small toys
~hot glue gun

2. Line up your toys on a white sheet of paper to take a picture of them. This will serve as the key so the kids know what to find.

3. Using a funnel, pour some rice into your bottle, about 2/3-3/4 of the way.

4. Add your toys.

5. Put some hot glue around the lid to provide a seal, if you want to.

6. Give it a little shake to mix it all up and let them have it!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to the Real World

A quick update. Vacation is officially over and I'm back to the real world of laundry, unpacking, running errands, checking emails and the list goes on. We had a fantastic trip to LA and sunny San Diego. It was a great couple weeks and I'm already missing it! I have a TON of great things to share with you on here, but it'll take me a few days to get my life back together to do so! ;)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yogurt-Round 2 & 3

Remember a few months ago I posted about my homemade yogurt? Since then I've tried it two more times, making some variations each time. It's only fair that I share with you what I've learned, right? :)

The first variation I tried was to use Almond milk. It didn't work. It was a total FAIL. :( I'm not exactly sure what went wrong, but after I did a lot more research, I found others have had trouble using Almond milk as well. It may something you have to use a non-dairy store bought yogurt starter pack for {which I didn't do}. If I try it again {which I'm scared to}, then I'll try that route. Anyone else have any suggestions?

The second variation was a HUGE success! I didn't bother trying to change out the milk this time. I used a whole dairy milk, because I know it works! :) The changes I did make though were:

1. To use some dry milk when I added the yogurt to the warmed milk. This made the final result a bit thicker. The yogurt came out with a better consistency, closer {not completely the same} to the store bought texture.

2. I also added vanilla flavoring and honey this time. It turned out delicious! :) It's not very sweet and doesn't have a strong vanilla flavor either, but just adding a little bit gave it enough flavor that it doesn't taste so bitter like plain usually does.

3. Made half a batch. Since I knew we were leaving on vacation, I didn't want to take a chance and have WAY more then we needed to use up in a short time frame. I know you can freeze it {I've done this already in ice cube trays-so I could use them in smoothies too- and it worked just fine}, but I just didn't need a lot more frozen right now. Anyway, it worked just fine. I was a little hesitant because I'd read the temperatures may need to be different for a smaller amount, but I didn't have any trouble. The yogurt is fantastic!

There you have it. Those are the few things I've learned since my first yogurt experience!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I want to hear from YOU!

I always find that there are always so many ways to do the same thing. I know that our debt story is certainly not the only one out there, quite the contrary actually, people in debt are every where! Which got me thinking, why not share some of them on here.

*The plan: To feature other individuals or families that are working on meeting their financial goals (this can be getting out of debt and/or saving). The reality is that it looks a little different for each of us and I want to find ways to bring fresh ideas to all my readers. There isn't a "perfect" or "only" way to get out of debt and no two families have exactly the same goals. Why limit our resources to just one idea, right?

*The goal: To use other people's stories, ideas, goals and methods as a way to encourage and motivate A Simple Life readers. I think all our stories are valuable and worth sharing. We all have something to learn from each other. What works well for us, isn't likely to work for everyone. Maybe the way you do things will work better for someone then what I share on here. It's also highly probable that there are readers who are in a very different stage of life then we are in, so why not feature some families that are working on goals that pertain to a different season of life?

*The families: I have a few individuals/families lined up to work with me on this little endeavor and I'm so excited to introduce them to you, just not yet! ;) Patience! But I'm looking for some more! Maybe it's YOU!

~What it'll involve:

-A quick bio, picture, a brief sharing of your financial story {primarily focusing on your goals, ways you're working toward them right now}.
-{Depending on the number of participants} A monthly/bi- or tri-monthly update on how you've been doing on your goals. What's worked well, what hasn't,  how you're feeling about your situation, that kind of thing. {I will "interview" you each time there is an update}.
-Honesty. This is I'm sure the hardest one. It's easy to hide and pretend things are different then they seem, but once your truth is out there, then the hiding is over. I promise you, it's such a relief to stop living a "lie", but I also understand it's hard to be open about some of this stuff. I'll never ask you to give any information you're  unwilling to share {it's totally up to you}. For the purpose of this project, though, some things will need to be shared {at least a ball park figure}.

~What's in it for you:
-A chance to make a difference in someone else's life, for your story to be away other's find their own strength to move forward too.
-To be celebrated for your success, I'm hoping that other readers will come along side of you and encourage you on your way to your final destination.
-Get accountability to stay focused on your goals. Hopefully knowing we'll be "checking in" will help keep you motivated to finish strong and actually meet your goal.
-Your blog will be linked up and highlighted each time you are featured.

If you're interested in being a part of this, please leave me a comment with your email and I'll be in touch with you about setting things up. I'm looking forward to hearing your stories!

Also, I'm always looking for some guest bloggers, so if you're ever available to partner with me in that area, I'd love to hear from you too! Again, just leave me a comment with your email and I'll be in touch.

Thanks for being an amazing group of readers! I'm looking forward to learning from you & featuring YOUR story!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Garden Update

I haven't hardly blogged at all about our garden this year. So, in order to give you a quick update on how things are coming along, here are some pictures to show the progress! :)

A record growth of blackberries!
We are looking forward to carving this pumpkin in October. It's gotten SO big!

Fresh Watermelon.
Little princess has been excited about this all summer!

Yay! Lots of peppers--finally. This is the first year our peppers have done so well. 

We have a TON of pickling cucumbers.
Again, a record year.
We've already canned 8 jars.

Corn is almost ready!

The sunflowers have already hit their prime. :-/
Now they're just droopy. 

My favorite garden food! Love all those red tomatoes heading into my kitchen!
Look at that handful. :)  YUM!

There you have it! A quick garden update. I'm sure in the next couple of weeks they'll be even more, lots of canning in the days ahead! :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pantry Facelift

It certainly isn't a HUGE difference, but we were needing to change a few things around. I didn't have much of an area designated for snacks for the kids, so that needed to be added. Then the baking stuff was getting a little mixed around, so all I really did was re-organize. I'd had plans to do a big over haul and change things up quite a bit, but then reality set in.

The reality being that we have a TINY pantry.

There isn't a ton of other options. Adding a bunch more bins or containers would end up taking up more space then some of the actual items.

Short of taking out all of the shelves and reconfiguring the whole thing, this will have to do.

What I actual did:

- Updated all the labels with the current contents

-Moved things around to make room for two drawers of snacks. One is for the kid's snacks, one for the adults' munchies.

-Organized the canned goods by category

 -Went through all the junk that had found it's way into these pockets. I finally put things together that belonged together and got rid of stuff that just didn't belong!

What I've learned, through this process: I need to content with what I do have. I keep seeing all these organizers make their spaces look adorable with cute bins, labels and fun {which I love!}. I want all of it. I want to have a pantry that looks just as great or a closet that is all neatly organized and perfectly coordinated. I know I can make things look like that if I:

1. Spend a significant amount of money on all the bins, organizing tools
2. Have a bigger space then we have and/or less stuff {maybe a good combo of both}

Well, that's not my reality right now. I'm not going to spend money on those kinds of things right now. Although they may seem so, they are NOT necessary. The systems we have in place are perfectly acceptable and they work fine. We don't have an out of control kitchen, it's just not pretty and organized in a cute "picture perfect" way.  It is quite simply an envy problem at this point, so in order to "cure" my envy of other people's things I need to spend some time adjusting my perspective.

-We have a pantry full of food. There are children in Somalia dying of starvation as I type this. My children are well fed. My family eats at least three meals a day, plus several snacks!

-We have a home over our heads. There are people in Puerto Rico that are dealing with flooding in their homes because of hurricane Irene. Still others are concerned about their homes and safety as it continues to move toward the Dominican Republic and Florida. {FYI: this will post a couple weeks from now, so there may be more recent news on this, but the point is the same. My home still stands.}

Perspective: I have it now. I'm blessed. I have all I need. I do NOT need to have a picture perfect pantry in order to be happy. The things that matter are ALL in place.

Sure wasn't intending on taking this post in that direction, but there you have it. The real deal.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I came across this on Pintrest {which I'm in love with, by the way, so many GREAT ideas!} 
And I've been thinking about it ever since. I'm anxious to hear your thoughts. 

What do YOU think it means? 

I'll share my thoughts on it after I hear from you! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

The "official" end of summer. :-/ That always brings a bit of sadness to my ears, but then again, there is so much to look forward to during the other seasons too.

We will be making the most of our final summer hurrah, as usual! :) It'll involve being outside and enjoying some wonderful company.

I hope your Labor Day is filled with tons of fun too!

Happy Labor Day Blogging Friends!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Minor crisis averted. While I was on my mini blog break, we came very close to a little financial set back. While canning our pickles {which I will share with you soon}, our stove sparked a few times and then stopped working. Uh. oh.

My hubs tried the breaker switch, we tried the stove again. It made strange noises. Panic set in. Really? We actually have to run to the store to buy a new stove just like that?! The hubs got online did some quick research to figure out possible solutions. Found out a repair man will NOT be worth the bill, especially if a new stove will be in order anyway. He did some quick price comparisons online for local stores while I gathered up the kids. Twenty minutes later we are at store #1 and the sales lady is seriously talking me into a really great stove. Double oven? Oh yeah, that sounds great. Expandable burners? Really?! That'd be handy. A warming area you say? Yes, I do believe I do need all of those things. Problem is? The price tag. I gave my hubs the warning that if we didn't get out of there in the next 30 seconds, she was going to talk me into a stove I didn't even know I wanted until I walked in there. He took the hint and directed us straight to the car, casually blaming our little man as the need for our quick escape. Haha! Gotta love having the kids to blame! ;)

In the car ride to the next store, we logically made our decision to stick to the plan. A plain, no extra frills stove. We didn't need any of that stuff before then, why would we suddenly need it now? Just because the option is there, doesn't mean it's worth the extra money to have it. We aren't working this hard to get out of debt to back slide over a fancy, unnecessary feature on a stove!

Ten minutes later, next store. Cheapest online. Found the plain Jane stove without anyone trying to talk us into the $1,200 stove that we had NO business buying right now. Whew! Thirty minutes later we are walking out of the store with $700 less in our checking account, a delivery date and time set for 2 days later, a half started pickling process and a non-working stove. Interesting turn of events, right?

Fast forward to delivery day. Really nice men bring in the nice, clean new stove that suddenly I'm VERY excited to have. Nice men plug it in. Delivery men state the problem: power source is the issue.

Uh. Okay, let me call the hubs, he deals with this stuff. Call the hubs, tell him the situation, he says we'll have to look into this when he gets home 8 hours from now! After talking some more with the delivery men, they decide to try the breaker again. Okay, I say. Remember: I'm not the expert on this stuff, how should I know how to solve these things?!?!

Nice man comes back in from switching the breaker. New stove works.

Wow. Wait a minute.

If the NEW stove was doing the exact same thing as the OLD stove, we don't have a stove problem, we had a breaker switch problem.

Um, you're going to need to take that stove back out with you.

Well, ma'am, you have 7 days to decide.

What?!?! Genius, they make me keep the stove installed ALL day for me to use and fall in love with, so much so that I'm considering NOT returning the new, clean, pretty stove.

Parents and hubs get the old stove back in place to try, now that a second breaker switch had been flipped and voila! Old stove works. But it's dirty and ugly and I don't like it as much any more.

Then reality hits. $700! Yeah, I actually DO need that more then the new stove. We're trying to get out of debt, remember? Turns out I had NO complaints about my old, perfectly fine, working stove until a new updated model showed up to take it's place. Hmm. Contentment. It's tricky to find again after being tempted with something "better." After a good scrub down, my old stove is looking good as new {and with $700 back in the bank, it looks even better}.

That night I gave the wonderful store a call back, told them the situation. They very efficiently set me up with a pick up day. A couple days later the new stove was back to the store where it belonged and our money was back where it belonged too.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Small Project, Turned BIG! Part 3

The final part of my makeover project had two parts. Part 1: Linen Closet, Part 2: Bed Risers. There isn't much to share about the bed risers. I simply bought some and my husband and I put them under our bed. :) It turned into a bit of a project though because our bed was a bit TOO far off the ground. We aren't exactly tall people. Now we have our box spring listed on craigslist to help even out the height issue. The good news is that it gave me a lot more storage space under the bed though! :) Even better, there is only one small box under there right now. My plan is to use inexpensive laundry baskets as my storage containers under there because they provide easy access, but most importantly, will cost significantly less then the under the bed boxes or linen storage containers. That's it for part 2, the easiest project of them all so far. :) 

Part 1, the linen closet really didn't take all the long either. Before it just consistent of sheets, blankets, pillows and towels. I moved all the sheets that go on our bed into one laundry basket under our bed for now. The air mattress and pump was also moved to a box under our bed. Moving those two things out of the way freed up space for the cleaning supplies and a few extra things in the bathroom that could be moved out. 

Here's how it looks now:

5 cupboards/closets and one bed raised later, my quick little projected turned into a week long deal. Thankfully, I kept pushing through and finished them all. The result has been worth it. One of the hardest things about living in a smaller home is that spaces can easily become overloaded. It's good to every once in a while go through it all and sort out the stuff you don't actually use/need any more to  make space for your essentials. I can't tell you how many bottles of moisturizers and random toiletry items I found stashed in those piles. 

There's a good money saving tip right there: Find and use what you have at home!

What projects have you been working on? Do you have a "quick" project you want to work on, but you're afraid to start it incase it turns into a BIG project? ;)

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