Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter Thanks

This morning I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

We are by no means wealthy, but there are others who have less.

Our house is not very grand, but it is a warm roof over our heads.

We won't be having steak for dinner, but at least we know where our next meal is coming from.. right there in our fridge.

And though I may not be completely satisfied with this chubby reflection staring back in my mirror, I have a body that is healthy and whole.

Yes. I will be thankful.

" O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD."
Psalm 105

Friday, December 16, 2011

My groceries ate my wallet...

Groceries. They cost. Usually more than we would like to be paying. Okay, always more than we'd like to be paying. Is eating really that important anyway?

When we made the decision that I would stay at home we knew this also meant less eating out and more home-cooking. Up to this point meal planning was unheard of in this household. So the day we sat down,  jotted down some meal ideas and made an itemized grocery list... well, that was a pretty big day for us. The day I planned out our meals for a complete week I felt like a champion. :) {We won't discuss the fact it took a entire day.}

Somehow it seemed we weren't saving as much money as we had originally thought. So, we set a budget. Really I should call it a "suggested spending limit". My goal was to get everything I needed while trying to stay around  that limit. Pretty soon this was easy.

However, when sitting down to discuss and reevaluate our financial goals {as well as making our money "work for us"} once again that grocery budget was revisited.  So I found some other resources to help.

 Grocery University  - Caught this when it was on sale for $5 one day. Though I am not a "coupon-er" per say, I am  a person who occasionally uses coupons. This was great information for learning how to better use coupons, but my favorite part of this was the "Rock-Bottom Price List" that you can download. For those {like me} who aren't really certain what is a good deal - this will get you started. I also appreciate her view of a monthly budget rather than splitting it into weeks and her perspective on saving in your individual situation. Good info.

This got me thinking... how do I know that I am saving if I don' know what I'm spending? And if I'm getting a good deal or over-paying if I don't know the cost? 

So here is something new we are trying.

Using Money Saving Mom's printable Shopping List, I made my grocery list. Once at the store my husband would read it off, I would take us to the item and read him the price per pound/ounce {something learned from GroceryU} and then he would fill it in the empty price blank on the paper. At home we add those prices to the master Store Price sheet {also from MSM}. This will help me keep track of what our items cost and make me aware of any screaming deals.

Something else we're now considering:

Last night I used the price sheet to calculate just exactly what our dinner cost.

Tortilla Soup {Mom's Recipe}

  • Chicken breasts- {amazing deal at Safeway- they we're $1.69/lb- I bought 8lbs}
  • onion
  • garlic
  • spices {already had in pantry}
  • Mexican style tomatoes
  • Chicken Broth {oops.. not a great deal on these}
  • Juanita's Chips
  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Shredded Mozzarella
Total cost to make this pot: $8.87. Let's just say $9.00.
But wait, there's enough here  for at least three dinners. 9/3= $3.00 for last night's dinner. Can't beat that! And because we love it so much we're having leftovers tonight. :)

We're still learning. Still working through it. Still trying to find ways to whittle down our expenses.

What are your favorite money saving ideas? What are your favorite go-to resources for coupons/budgeting/planning? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6

Our real, live tree. {Mmm... getting smell envy?}We're a fan of classics.
And Baby's First Christmas ornament. This one took several tries since she thought the clay was fun to squeeze between her fingers.

There's probably a little bit of Christmas is every room of our house. But I was tired of taking pictures of that... so I moved on to this little munchkin!

We have too much fun.

She thought the bulbs looked tasty.

It was all fun and games... until she wanted the camera

How do you decorate for the holidays?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures...

This past weekend was one of those weekends. I had a lot going on, {well, I always do these days} but this was a Friday-Monday where every day had a plan. Important plans and important events in fact. 

A week ago my face started hurting... really hurting. I figured it was my sinuses. Every Fall they seem to take a beating; not sure why, must be something in the air. This time was different... every day was pro-gradually more painful than the day before. Ibuprofen was not helping what now felt like a jackhammer on my jaw. 

Jesus, I ask that you heal my body. Make this pain go away so that I can be productive...

After a few sleepless nights, I finally broke down and scheduled a dentist appointment for Friday.

On the way to my appointment my husband prayed again with me. Then I mentally began making adjustments to my schedule; arranging around this small hiccup. 

If I stop by here on the way home, then when I get home I can finished this... once that is done I can start on this.. and have this ready for tomorrow.. then after this event tomorrow, I can make time to work on this....

And then with one quick x-ray my weekend's blueprint changed. Dentist said that one of my wisdom teeth {yes, at 25, I still have not had them removed} was infected through the root and "must come out today."

Oh, great. I really do not have the time for this.

If you know me at all, of course I thought after this little thing called, "Oral Surgery" I would be able to just take some pain-killers and go on about my plans. Then Dr. Teeth-Puller gave me a list of dont's
How did he know what I had planned??? Then the numbness wore off. No one had to tell me. I now understood why he recommended I "clear my schedule." Frustrating.

Every day I was sure that the next I would be able to get up and go... and every day I had to cancel my appointments, lie on the couch, and allow my husband to take care of me. 

One day a dear lady in our church stopped by with dinner. {Soup of course}. Then she asked if she could do our dishes and clean up our kitchen while we ate! {It's amazing what  few days out of commission will do to one's kitchen} The next day, two of my girlfriends came by to visit, and one brought her oh-so-yummy Chicken-&-Dumplings soup. Talk about feeling loved and blessed.

Yesterday, after four days of doing nothing, a frustrated me began to ask the Lord, 

Why didn't you just heal me? I know You could have instantly. It would have been nothing for You. Why not just heal me and let me go about as planned? {Especially since most all my plans revolved around ministry.}

And softy- with His word- He reminded me:
"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth be beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul..."  Psalm 23

The truth is- I believe that in all of our busyness God knows that sometimes we need a break. So He brings about something that causes us to lie down and rest. 

It is a gift from a loving, heavenly Father.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

9 Months, Pumpkins, & Apple-Pie Sauce

My little girl is growing up too quickly. Way too quickly.
Technically she is still a baby;  in less than a week she will be 9 months old ... but how is this possible when it was just last week she was born? It's hard to believe she was once so small now that she is starting to look like a toddler in her big-girl pajamas.

These days are passing too quickly, so I am determined to savor every sweet moment. Event the moments such as now, when she is tearing apart the nursery behind me and talking to me in the little language only she understands. That's my little girl. 

Hadley and Me

First trip to the pumpkin patch... she wanted them all.

Favorite fall thing we've been doing this week..... making and canning applesauce. {Mmm.. Yum!}
Once you go homemade, there's no going back. It is just not the same. 

Here is my favorite recipe. It's simple, easy, and tastes jut like Apple Pie! Hence, I call it:

Apple-Pie Sauce

  • 6-7 Apples {I like Honey Crisp Best}
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Sugar
Peel, core and chop apples. {I don't have a fancy apple peeler, so I just use a potato peeler and an apple cutter, then chop the slices into chunks}
Place apple chunks in a pot with 1/4 cup of water, then sprinkle Cinnamon across the top {I never measure here, I just go by look.. enough to almost cover the top} and add a few dashes of Nutmeg, then mix around. Heat on Med-High until you hear a bubbling boil, then turn the heat to Med-Low and cover. 
Let apples simmer until soft and mushy, then use a potato masher to smash to sauce. Add 1/2 Cup of Raw Sugar and mix and mash some more. 
Then eat at least one bowl while still warm. Delicious. 

I like it in my oatmeal, my husband likes it on toast with Peanut Butter, and we all like to heat it up and eat it as a dessert. Hadley likes the sugar-free version. {Mostly because that's the only one she's had.}

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Give Thanks & Burlap Tutorials

Here we are, two days away from the first day of Fall; and although I appreciate the arrival of each new season, I LOVE Autumn and Winter best!

Ahhhh... how I love Fall!
Fall is full of the cozy's:  sweaters, apples, candles, baked goods, teas & lattes, roaring fires, crock-pots, books... my list goes on.

Oh, and I love to decorate for Fall! However, I do make myself wait  until October. If I do not wait until then I am tired of it all by Thanksgiving- which is when I want to appreciate it the most.

So, while I wait.... I decided to try my hand at some projects!

I loved {and so was then inspired by} Dear Lillie's "give thanks" pillow.

Here is how I went about it:

Give Thanks Ruffle Pillow Cover -

First- I grabbed one of my tired pillows off the couch, removed the pillow from the cover, and then used that cover as my "pattern" for cutting.

I folded the fabric {some type of canvas I found in the utility fabrics at Joann's} so that I would cut two equal pieces. Then I gave myself about 1/2 inch all the way around for the sewing, and just started cutting.

Then I cut a third piece, equally wide but half as tall.
This third piece will work folded on the back side of the cover, to insert the pillow.

Next, I grabbed some beige, jeweled wedding-veiling. Yup, I just so happened to have that lying around. Going to make a ruffle out of this. 

Since the veiling is so sheer, I folded it in half to double-up my ruffle. Then  I started cutting what I guess to be about 5 inches wide. {guessed being the key word}

Now here is where I forgot to keep taking pictures... {so I'll just give you a sneak peak as I explain}
I was distracted by the fact that my normal method for sewing ruffles using a high tension on my machine was  not working! Disastrous story short... the easiest way to ruffle veiling is to bunch/scrunch it and then pin it. 

So I scrunched, and bunched, and pinned it to my cover fabric as I went. 
Then I sewed a straight stitch down the center, attaching the ruffle to the cover.
{Sneak Peak}

After attaching the ruffle, I knew where to write. First, I used a pencil to freehand script "give thanks"... I followed Dear Lillies and then added some little curly-q's of my own. Then I went over the pencil writing with a Sharpie Paint marker.

Next, I took the two back pieces for the cover and folded the bottom of each to just about 3 inches; and ironed that fold.

Then I pinned the larger back piece to the front cover piece. Pin: Right sides together or it's wrong. {Thanks, Sue} And after that, pinned the small back piece {overlapping the larger back piece} to the front cover. Again: Right sides together or it's wrong.

Now, I sewed all the way around, using a 5/8 seam. 
Yay! Done!
So I folded the cover right-side open and stuffed it with the pillow. Pretty cute I think. 

Fall Burlap Candle Wrap-
I was inspired by my sister- Laurin- who is preparing for a burlap Christmas, and recently started wrapping her candles in burlap.
I cut a strip of burlap {long and short enough to wrap my favorite BBW candle- Leaves} and then used my Sharpie paint marker to write out "fall" in the center of the strip. Then I wrapped the candle, using a piece of Scotch tape to temporarily secure the wrap while I tied some twine around it. I double wrapped the twine on top to make a little bow, and once on the bottom to secure the wrap on the candle.
Done. Love it.

What do you think?

What are you working on for the Fall???

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peaches and Cans

Back in the day {before babies} Mom was quite the canner.  Mom canned almost everything, and at a great price; free! She and her friend, Teri, knew the "right people" who would allow them to come glean. {Very Ruth of her, if I do say so.} This went a long way in helping with my parents then tiny budget.

This year I asked her to teach me.. and she was more than delighted!

 Mom had a pressure-cooker explode on her when she was young, so she is very anti-pressure-cooker. We used the water bath method to can peaches. 

First we sterilized our jars and rings, and placed our lids in a small saucepan with a little water to simmer. {Not boil. That is important for some reason, but I can't remember why}

Then we rinsed the peaches {fresh from the Yakima Valley- where all the best produce comes from :) }and placed them into a pot of boiling water to blanch for 30-60 seconds.

After blanching, we tossed the peaches into an ice bath to cool. After this the skins just slipped right off. We then halved our peaches. 
{Mine were a little ripe, so some weren't as firm as you'd like}

We started the light syrup... 9 cups water, 2 1/2 cups sugar: bring to boil in a medium saucepan.

Then we packed our peaches face-down {pit side down} in our warm jars. Mom was fast at this; I was distracted by how pretty they looked. 

We packed the jars just to the top curve and then covered with syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of space. We used a butter-knife to get out the air bubbles; wiped the rim of our jars; then screwed on the lids. 
"Tighten with your fingers, not you whole arm."  - Mom

After this we placed the jars evenly on to the rack of the canner, and lowered into warm water, with just about an inch of water covering the jars.  {Pic is pre-water. Sorry} 

Then we waited. And waited. And waited for that large pot to boil. It was a long time. {It probably just felt longer.} You have to wait for the water to be boiling before you can even start the clock. 

By this point Hadley was tired of all this...

{couldn't help the cute baby pic}

Once boiling, you then start the timer base on altitude. I believe we set the clock for 25-30 min. 

After they were done, we carefully removed the rack and lined the jars up about an inch apart on a towel to cool. As the jar lids seal they making a popping sound.. this is Mom's favorite part.. but since I had fans going I missed it. 
I left the cans on the counter overnight to cool. 

I've already been mixing some of these in with my morning oatmeal. YUM!
I think I may love canning. Jellies, Apples, Apple-butter, Applesauce and Garlic Pickles may be next. :)

{Family- expect some for Christmas}

A Special Thanks To:
Mom- for teaching
Rachel- my in-house photographer
and Nick- for keeping an eye on the baby.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer and Avocado-Corn Salsa

By the school calendar, summer is over! And  although I am ready to get back into a more structured routine, I miss it already.
Our summers are usually a whirlwind of trips, activities, and projects; this summer did not disappoint!
We did, however, stick pretty close to home. {With the exception of a church Camp-out and a few Eastern Washington trips.}

Some of our summer favorites...

Our Family- Independence Day

Hadley Grace

Hadley's first Fourth of July!

Favorite recipe of the summer...

Grilled Chicken with Avocado -Corn Salsa

  • 3 1/3 tbsp fresh lime juice {I use 2 limes}
  • 4 tbsp chopped cilantro {or more}
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt & pepper {to taste}
  • 4 {6 oz} Boneless/skinless chicken breast-halves
  • 2 ears fresh corn {we use white}
  • 1 large ripe avocado
Combine 2 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp cilantro, and Salt & Pepper in a large Ziploc bag; add chicken. Now, shake around a bit to coat the chicken, then refrigerate at least 20 minutes. Grill Chicken.

To prepare Salsa- Grill corn till tender {or microwave in a  shallow dish with 1/4 cup water and covered for 2 min.} Use a large knife to cut the corn from cobs. 
Combine corn kernels with avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and salt & pepper.. then serve over grilled chicken!
{This is really so yummy that the salsa could be eaten as a salad.} 
{I do ;o)}

What did you do this summer?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Tomorrow is my wonderful mother's birthday; her ##st!
Mom and me.

If you have ever met my Mom, then you already know that she is the ultimate mother. Her love and nurture extends beyond us kids, and spills over to every one around her. She is protective and loyal; she strives to always be fair; she makes sure everyone feels included and sees to it that you have everything you need.

Mom is a giver. If you need it and she has it, she will give with great love. {She is cheerful about it too!}

There are so many things I respect  and appreciate about my mother... too many to list. However, allow me to share just a few:

- Mom prays {out loud}. Always has. In fact, I have very specific memories of listening to her pray for me! Because of this I know that when she says  she is praying for one of us girls, she really is.

- Mom has always made time for us. Usually this was in the evenings as we were preparing for bed. When we were little she read {or made up} stories. As we grew older she would talk to us about our day and maybe what was planned for the next. She let us talk, and she listened. We knew we had a safe place with her, so we were never afraid to tell her anything. {Even in those times when it meant we possibly would get into trouble.}

-Mom was never afraid to tell us "no". She even disciplined us. Of course, when I was a kid, I never believed her when she would say, "this hurts me more than it will hurt you.." but now that I am a mother I completely understand. She knew what was best for us, and that spoiled children become selfish adults.

-Looking back through every different season of her life, it seems that Mom has always had her hands full! I can't imagine how she felt the day that her baby was only three months old and she found out that she was pregnant with another. {Me!} Yet she has always handled things in stride and with grace.

-Mom has been involved is so many ministries; not because she just needs to be busy, but because she has a servant's heart. Bible studies, Children's, Youth, Prison Ministry, Music, Christian Education... those are just a few! And now with one grown daughter still at home, when she could be kicking up her feet, she is involved in  a volunteer Chaplaincy program at our local hospital. :) Proud of her.

I could keep going... but we would be here all day!

Mom, just want you to know that I am so very blessed to call you my mother. Thank you for being who you are to me {and my daughter}. I love you. Happy Birthday!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer = Watermelon

I love Summer.

I love the sights of summer: the flowers and freshly manicured lawns.
I love the sounds of summer: sprinklers running and neighborhood kids playing.
I love the scents of summer: BBQ's, bonfires, and sunblock.
I love the heat: you know that kind that makes you want to do absolutely nothing but drink water and eat cold fruit all day? 
I love that people are happy because it's sunny out, so they'll give you a friendly wave as you pass by.
I love that days feel longer and more productive because it stays light outside later.
I love the Iced Teas, both Green and Sweet. 

But mostly...
I love the watermelon!


I used to know nothing about picking out a good watermelon. Oh, I pretended to know {like everyone else around me} picking one up, looking it over carefully {for who knows what}, and then of course rejecting it before continuing on to another. Really I would just find one that looked pretty and hope for the best!

However, my good friend Susan recently taught me the trick..

How To Pick The Best, Sweetest, Juiciest Watermelon- 101:

First, look for the big yellow patch on the side of the watermelon. This tells you that the melon was actually laying in the field long enough to ripen.

Second, look for lots of black specks, almost dirt-like, at the tip where the stem used to be.This is the sugar coming out and tells you it's a sweet one!

Okay, so maybe you're a pro and already knew all of this? Well, it was news to me... and proved tried-and-true twice this week! {Yep, we eats lots of watermelon}

{Thanks, Sue!}

How do you pick your watermelon?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baby Food and Trust

Hadley is eating baby food now; she has been for about a month.
And since that very first day in which we sat down, attempting to spoon bits of homemade brown rice cereal into her little mouth, Hadley has wanted to hold her own spoon.

Each time she would see a fresh spoonful of food heading her way, she would reach out and grab on to it. She would then give me a look as if to say, "It's okay, Mom. I've got this." So a few times I let her try.

One heaping spoon to the eye. Ouch! Try again. One more spoonful to the nose. Not quite, but closer. Baby food everywhere.

If I let her have it her way, she would starve... so Momma still does the spooning and feeding, and Hadley still tries to take over the spoon.

One day, while chowing down some of her favorite {organic peaches, banana, & oatmeal}, Hadley quickly figured something out. She realized that by grabbing on to my pinkie-finger she could guide my hand {and her spoon} to her mouth when she felt like she was ready for more food. Holding on to that same finger she could push the spoon away when she found some other object in our vicinity more interesting than taking another bite.

{Smart cookie}

It was as this moment I realized that though she may look just like her father, she has quite a bit of me in her as well. She wants to be in control.

Yep. It's hard to admit that, but she got that trait from me. She wants to steer her own ship.

I began to wonder- mentally stepping back and looking at this parent-child encounter- how closely this may relate to my communication with God at times. Not the communication that comes via conversation, because we all know that as Christians we are good at saying, "I trust you, Jesus. I trust that You know what's best for me."

But what do my actions convey when I attempt to guide His hand? Maybe give Him a little "nudge in the right direction"? {Ha!}
What am I telling the Lord when I push away from what He is offering? Do I even recognize that what I am pushing away from is really Him?

No, I do not let my 6 month old daughter feed herself, because I know what is best for her.
And I, in turn, need to trust the Lord. Even when that means waiting, waiting, waiting... {that's hard to do}.. Or even when that means accepting what He has placed in my life or taking me through.

 Because He knows what is best for my growth.

"As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." - Ecclesiates 11:5

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." - Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Catching Up

First day of vacation and I'm up at 6:30. What's wrong with this picture?

Nick and Hadley are still asleep, so perfect time to catch up!

Where to start?
Almost three months have come and gone since you and I last chatted. {I wrote; you read} So much to tell you, instead I will just highlight some things I have worked on.

Hadley's baby dedication was beautiful! And it meant so much to feel the love and support of family and friends,.
Here is a little picture of Hadley Grace in on that day:

Looking at this picture now, she seems so tiny then!

Now, for projects...

I am mostly a DIY {Do It Yourself} kind of gal- when and IF possible.

Learning to be a wife and mother who willingly "works with her hands", I've taken up the art of sewing.

I had fallen in love with "knot dresses"and the cute little matching pantaloons. My options were A) buy one dress, or B) for the same price make three! Guess which I chose?
{Forgive the not-so-professional blurry photos... this little girl is always moving}

I found a pattern on Etsy and then just made adjustments to my liking. :) See here.

Last week was our church's All-Congregations Camp-Out, and even though we are well into summer the greater Seattle area apparently hasn't received the memo. The weather here is not to be trusted. Thank God for hoodies!

Would you believe I searched high and lo and there were no baby hoodies to be found? And then just when I had almost given  up, I found some on the back clearance rack... on the BOYS side of the store! 

So, how do we turn a boy's hoodie into something girlie? Well, I got inspired by my new friend Amy, over at Evy's Tree... and so I added a little pink owl.

Super cute with her matching bow! Not perfect, but it got the job done. ;o) I may try my hand at one for the 4th of July!Now, before I say goodbye...Since my last post I have stumbled across a few more blogs that I really like... here's one definitely worth sharing:


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