Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our Three Hour Drive...

.... that turned into a 27 hr adventure!

So Dave got his plane for New York Monday morning and the kids and I were off to Grandma's. Sunday afternoon Dave had taken the car into the shope to have two new tires put on and have it realigned. I left Redding confident that we would arrive safely.

About 20 minutes outside of town, the car started acting up again. So here I am, alone with two kids and ready to drive 3 hours with a car that's not running too well. Oh, and heading over two snow covered mountains.

We finally arrived in Weaverville, a hour from home and I had to stop and have the car fixed. It wasn't safe with the kids. Take it into the shop to find out that several things are shot and the axle is about ready to break in two. The mechanic tells me that he can't believe they ever aligned it in the first place with the axle being so bad.

To make matters worse, it's going to take a full day to get the parts 'cause I'm in a small town. And if I would have just taken care of it the day before I'd be on my way.

So my mom and grandma drive two hours to come spend the night with the kids and I in a hotel room while it gets fixed. A three year old and a one year old who comes down with a nasty cough and has to sleep in Mommy's bed.

We finally arrived here yesterday. Thank God. I ran to the grocery store and fed the kids quickly before leaving Weaverville. And then just drive straight through. I'm so glad to be here and frustrated that it took so much to get here. But we're here! Stay up late and crafting tonight.

What a way to ring in the New Year!

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Where is Lee?

You may have noticed that it's been quite quiet around here lately. This blog has really been lacking for posts as of late. So what's up?

The beginning of December my husband lost his job. Wonderful Christmas present, huh? For the first two weeks of December (the 9th-13th and 15th-20th), he worked in my hometown doing odd jobs for my uncle, helping around his property and working on a new ceiling for his shop. Since he was in my hometown, and in fact, next door to my mom, the kids and I went as well and spent two weeks with Grandma. My plan was to blog while I was there, but unfortunately, this was also the time that my mom's computer decided to poop out. The best laid plans.

It wasn't a total loss as the kids and I had a great time with Grandma and Great-Grandma. We baked, crafted, and spent time playing in the snow. In fact, we really had to plan our trip home this last weekend in order to avoid the next snow storm.

As if that didn't make life busy enough, we also commuted on the weekends to finish up Christmas preparations and attend church. The evening of the 14th we met up with friends at the big light display downtown. The kids rode the train and we took in the sites.

My daughter's first birthday was also yesterday. So coming home on the 20th, I arrived to clean up the house and get things ready for the party. We hosted family this weekend and celebrated with a small party. She was so dainty when eating her cake and quite the opposite of the wild woman we usually know. It was sweet to celebrate such a wonderful little girl.

Today (or yesterday as I look at the clock) was filled with finishing up loose ends. Baby Girl had her portraits taken and I made up a shift at the YMCA. Wrapped packages, and sat on my bum watching a couple of great movies. In fact, my favorite holiday movie is on right now, White Christmas. I'm never truly ready to celebrate till I've had a chance to watch it.

Tomorrow (or again today) we're driving my in-laws and spending most of the week there. Visiting family and eating too much hominey casserole, pumpkin pie cake, and homemade cookies. We'll be back for the weekend and church, then the kids and I are off again the following week to Grandma's while my husband is off to visit friends in New York.

So I just wanted to let you know that I haven't abandoned you. I'm still hanging in there if you are. While the posting may be light and fluffy for the next couple of weeks (although I do hope to write more than I have been), I do plan to get some great posts in January. I hope you're sharing a great Christmas with those you hold dear. And find the Lord working in your life in new and miraculous ways.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Simple Living: Part Eight

Simplifying Christmas is a hard one for me. It seems as soon as this time of year rolls around, I want to do it all. As if I didn't already have a SuperMom complex, it kicks into high gear when December rolls around. It's the one time of year that I really let go and want to treat my family and friends beyond the usual.

However, as the mom of two small children, I'm constantly confronted with my inability to do it all. So as I sit here tonight, I'm still paring down my list and trying to get to what really matters. These are just a few of the thoughts that are running through my head:

*Baking: I come from a long line of fantastic cooks. Recipes that have been passed down from my grandmother that symbolize home and warm, comfort and family. Last year when I was pregnant with Baby Girl, I had to really think about what cookies I wanted to symbolize the holidays for my kids. And I pared it down to two: Jam Shortbread Cookies and Molasses Crinkles. They have a warmth and richness that I love and instantly take me back to those holidays growing up. I still have many other favorites that I've continued to bake in our kitchen. But who says I can't start a new tradition? My grandma used to make chocolate covered cherry cookies for christmas. Now in my family we make them for Valentine's Day. Maybe one day they'll make their way back to December, but for now, we've started a new tradition.

*Christmas Cards: When Big Boy was little I made homemade Christmas cards. This year, I just threw my hands in the air and said forget it. I looked around in January for a pattern that I liked and planned on making a few a month. But when Nov rolled around and I realized I didn't even have a pattern, it just didn't seem worth it. That's when I started looking for a coupon code for picture cards. I paid a little more, but with one less thing to think about, the lack of stress definately payed for itself.

*Homemade gifts: This is my best tip and yet, the one that I'm still perfecting. I do a lot of homemade gifts. It started out as a way to save money and now it's grown into a labor of love. I love watching for ideas as the months go by and thinking of how I can bless other people. Making homemade gifts has forced me to be extra creative. I watch all year, making notations in a notebook of ideas that others may like. As I get a coupon for Jo-Ann's or Micheal's, I pick up supplies and work on it throughout the year. This year I've made some altered puzzles and calendars and am already thinking of some great ideas for next year. My only problem is that I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. Then I'm up late, and... well, it's worth it in the end to give them something that really represents how much I care for that person.

*Decorations: We decorate pretty minimally. Especially for a house with a 1 year old and a 3 year old, excessive decorations are not part of the deal. Why put a bunch of stuff out that's just inviting to be touched, only to tell my kids that they can't play with it? Maybe as they get old, I'll add too, but for now, it's just not worth it.

*Friends: I have some great friends, but I just can't afford to get them each something. I send Christmas cards and attend cookie parties. For me, it's more about making time to spend with them, rather than buying each of them something. If I happen to come across something that one or the other may enjoy, I might pick it up, but I never leave myself feeling obligated to buy for each of my friends. And I try to never make them feel obligated to buy for me. As far as even spending time together, I know that this time of year is so busy. This year I'm thinking of planning a Girls' Night for January or February to catch up with those friends that have hectic schedules in Dec. I just remember that they're trying to do the best they can like the rest of us.

*Outside obligations: There was a time when my husband and I accepted any and every invitation to get out of the house. Then we had kids. And although we're still pretty mobile for a family of four, we've begun to re-evaluate what opportunies are the most beneficial. Small group remains a non-negotiable, as well as church on Sunday morning. Our kids aren't in school so we don't have a Christmas program to attend. Our outside events generally boil down to: the lighted Christmas parade (tonight), one evening of driving around to look at lights, and maybe one social event in a home. That's about all we can take at this time of year. It's a time when I'd rather be at home "nesting" with the kids so we've decided these are the important things to us.

Although none of these things are earth shatteringly new, I hope they've caused you to pause and think about why you do what you do. How important is that 13 batch of cookies when you're little ones are begging to play a game of Uno or watch The Grinch? How important will they be next month when the rush of Christmas is over?

Just food for thought.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

We had a busy week last week, as most families in the US. Despite a slowing economy, we were excited to see the lowering cost of gas. We packed up the car with lots of snacks, clothes, and books and headed off to Grandma's. The day after Thanksgiving, my family goes out and picks out Christmas trees. It's always a full day event and lots of fun. So when we got home on Sunday, we put up our tree and started decorating. And then... I started to get frustrated...

Last Christmas we had a four day old baby and after the holiday, I was recovering from my C-section, exhausted and just ready for life to get back to normal. So the ornament packing wasn't as thorough as usual. Add to that a move in the last couple of months ... and you have broken ornaments and a very thrifty Mama trying to salvage them.

So here I am while my husband and Big Boy are decorating the tree, frantically trying to glue ornaments back together with Mod Podge which could only go so far, but it was all I had in the house. Sitting there, waiting, waiting, waiting, and trying to hold them together while they bonded. Yes, I do know I'm crazy to think it would work. But it did save Ariel's face and bust. However, the rest of it...

I'd planned on hitting Walmart in a couple of days, but on a whim, I thought I'd check out the Dollar Tree while I was in there this morning. That's when I saw it, three different types of the glorious invention: Super Glue. I never thought I'd find it there, but I'm so glad I did. I threw a package in my cart and practically ran to the checkout. I had to try it.

Here's my sad little bunch of broken ornaments. Ariel was practically glued from the Mod Podge and it also worked on the flip flops, but nothing else. I later found other ornaments on the tree that needed repair as well.

Big Boy gladly offered to take my picture while working on this project. Not too bad for a 3 year old.

And finally my happily fixed ornaments. I breathed a sigh of relief. It just felt so nice to have this little project done. I hate having things like this just sit around and accumulate, waiting to be completed. I also love having these little miniature memories on our tree. It's like a special scrapbook that only gets opened at Christmas. Just adding to the magic of the season.

And for a thrifty Mama like me... great tackle!

To see what others are tackling this week, check out Tackle it Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Menu Monday 12/1-12/7

WOW! Where did December come from? I was wondering why I wasn't in the Christmas mood today when I suddenly realized it's hard to be in the Christmas mood when it's 70 degrees outside. Jealous??? Our "heat wave" will end soon and you can be jealous of my 55 degree weather. I'm really roughing it, huh?

After a binge-fest with my family (turkey, mashed potatoes, broccoli salad, hominey casserole, and homemade cranberry sauce), I am definately in the comfort food mood. Which explains our menu for the week. I came home craving old favorites and looked in the pantry to realize we have a lot of this stuff on hand. I've loved making some new recipes (things like Tamale Pie which has become a family favorite), but I've been ignoring some of the essentials that we keep in the house.

So this week is a combo comfort food/clean out the pantry week. My challenge to you is to get creative, take inventory of what you have, and create from what's already in your kitchen. I'd love to see what you come up with. As I've said, I'm always looking for new and fun ideas to keep my kids on their toes.

Here's what we're cooking up this week:

Pumpkin Spice Granola
Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Fruit and Yogurt
Gingerbread Waffles

Turkey Salad Sandwiches
PB&J Sandwiches
Lots of salads
Carrots and dip
Fruited Jello

Monday: Chicken stirfry
Just a couple of chicken breasts, frozen veggie mix, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic--served over rice

Tuesday: Potluck: Creamy chicken and rice bake
Off the Evaporate Milk can--I'll post the recipe next week if it's any good

Wednesday: Bake Potato Bar
Tomatoes, olives, green onions, cheese, salsa and sour cream

Thursday: Chili and Cornbread
Cheap, quick and easy--possibly vegetarian

Friday: Vegetarian Pizza
Loaded with cheese, tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, green onions, zucchini, and lots more

Saturday: Grilled cheese sammies and sack meals (parade night)
Not sure what else I'm packing in our sack meals-- still working on this

Sunday: Lentil Tacos

As for the Pumpkin Spice Lattes I tried last week,.. I have mixed feelings about it. In my opinion, it really wasn't a latte. It didn't seem milky enough to fall into that category and the pumpkin flavor was lacking. However, it was still yummy and enjoyable. It probably would have been more enjoyable if I hadn't been so rushed in drinking it to keep it away from the kiddos. Maybe next time, we have it and let the kids have hot chocolate. Anyways... try it and let me know what you think.

Check out Organizing Junkie to see what others are cooking up this week.

Link Love

I'm anxious to try this Pumpkin Spice Granola by Annie's Eats.

Big Boy would love Mommy to try this idea for Homemade Playdough from Skip to My Lou.

Check out these 50 Ways to Have Fun by Yourself at the Simple Dollar.

My next sewing project should be one of these Spa Pillows by Jane's Apron.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Networking with Other Moms

Although I've lived in this area for a long time, I feel like I'm constantly learning new places. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I have two little ones and that brings new questions. We find ourselves in new situations continually and with that, I often want to throw my hands in the air in frustration. Where do I find a pediatrician? Is there a good children's dentist in town? Where can we go for good frugal fun?

So networking with other moms has become a lifesaver for me. I feel like I'm constantly coming to other moms with a list of questions and ideas. Have you tried this? What about this doctor? Who takes Medi-cal? What about the open gym at the gymnastics center?

Additionally, we've worked out babysitting deals to help with younger siblings. I've sat with little ones while other mommy's check out the new charter school down the street. Although I still have a few years before Big Boy starts, I've gotten some great information from other moms while they do school visits and I watch the kids. I now know who's arts focused, who's science focused, and who's language focused. Just information for things to come.

This was just further reinforced to me when I met a friend at a Lending Library this morning. She had been telling me about this great place to let the kids play and check out toys. We love our regular library, but haven't been able to get into a great routine since Baby Girl was born. So we thought we'd give this place a try. Walking in, there was a place for the kids to play. Then the rest of the place was filled with books, audio tapes, videos, parenting resources, toys, manipulatives, phonics programs, educational tools, etc available for checkout. What a great way to try out new tools before buying. Or have the chance to use big ticket items (some of those educational tools are expensive).

To the point... Networking with other mommies in my area has worked out great for me. we have another library to go to, a new pediatrician and dentist, and a future playdate to check out the bounce house in the next town. Moral of the story... don't be afraid to ask lots of questions or ask for a babysitter in gathering information you can share.

A word to the wise, networking with other SAHMs is just like networking in an other profession. Be sure to give honest feedback and return the favor. Pass on the information you have and share in the fun by inviting others along. Raise the bar and treat your profession with the respect it deserves. And never stop learning.

So what works for you?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

Oh, I love the flavors of fall. Why is it that this time of year brings out such a strong craving for pumpkin? Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie cake... I want it all.

So I saw this recipe on Martha Stewart awhile back, I knew I couldn't pass it up. Pumpkin and chocolate... could there be a better combo?

My interest was further peaked when MotherLoad's Notebook Experiment mentioned it after finding the recipe at Smitten Kitten. She includes a great tutorial with lots of photos.

So I broke down and make it, convincing my husband to try it with me as well. Here's what we came up with:

Ok, so food photographer, I'm not. But it was yummy. My husband wasn't fully convinced. He was expecting them too be gooey-er like brownies, while the consistency was similar to cake. But he did like it and the kids did too. Big Boy even ate it, despite the orange color. I think I'm adding a new fall flavor to our holiday tradition.

This article is also part of MotherLoad's Notebook Experiment for Nov. 20th 2008.

Check out Tackle it Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom to see what others are tackling this week.

Encouragment for Weary Moms

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Menu Monday 11/24-11/29

Wow! It's Thanksgiving week. I can't believe it's come around so quickly. It seems like we had plenty of food last week and still lots of leftovers to spare in the fridge. So before we head out of town for a few days, I don't think I'll be doing a whole lot of cooking. Just lots of cleaning out the fridge. Here's what's on the menu this week:

Scrambled eggs

PB&J sandwiches
Veggie sticks

Monday: Vegetarian Pizza
Tuesday: Potluck: Chile Relleno Casserole
Wed-Friday: At my Mom's
Saturday: Baked Potato Bar
Sunday:Aztec Chicken

Adding to the Thanksgiving Menu:
Pumpkin Pie Cake

Pumpkin Spice Lattes (I will try these this week)

To see what others are cooking up this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Conspiring at Christmas: Part One

Recently I posted a video explaining the idea of the Advent Conspiracy. For a lot of people, this is a dificult concept to understand.

The idea is to really put a lot of thought into what you will "gift" someone over the holidays. Some people focus on eliminating all gifts. While this is each person's perogative, I personally believe that boughten gifts are quite alright as long as they aren't overkill or just for the sake of giving a gift. I want gifts that are from the heart, rather those bought in obligation.

Another aspect of the Advent Conspiracy is relational giving: giving a part of your self, your time, or your talents. This could look like spending a special afternoon with someone, or making them something from one of your hobbies. It could be sharing your heart in a letter or sharing your talents in the kitchen.

To help you grasp on this type of giving, I thought I'd post a few ideas for you in the weeks to come. Here are a few that have been mulling over in my head:

For a young child:

Puzzles and board games: Even with very young children, these are great relational tools. One can spend time playing with these items in a group. They are great for cooperation, learning to take turns, sharing, and just playing together. Great relationship building.

Craft supplies: Spend some time purchasing supplies to craft with a little one in your life. Teach them to fingerpaint, stencil, color, use sidewalk chalk, etc. Encourage their creativity and imagination. Laugh while drawing for each other. Pre-plan some art activities and spend several sessions exploring the mediums together.

Books: There's nothing like snuggling up with a book together. And you might be surprised how a young child can even follow a chapter book like Little House in the Big Woods. Live too far away to snuggle up with your grandchild? Why not tape yourself reading the book and send the tape and book together? Then your grandbaby can snuggle up with Grandma every night.

Dolls: One doll. That's it. Watch how it sparks your child's imagination. Do you know how to sew? Even better. Take some time to make a few outfits complete with purses and accessories and provide your child with hours of play.

A weekly outing to the park: Make a committment to take your child to the park once a week, just the two of you or as a family. The quality time that you spend together will outweigh the joy over another electronic gift.

Special outings to the zoo, a baseball game, or event: Make a big production of it. Present your child with an award stating that the recipient is entitled to a fun filled day with all the trimmings. Baseball? Tickets, t-shirt, hot dog and Daddy's undivided attention. Zoo? Tickets, cotton candy, and a ride on the elephant. Some other ideas include: the aquarium, a local festival in your area, or the local water park.

Lessons: Swim lessons, dance lessons, sports coach, you name it. The list is endless. Swim lessons can be invaluable for little ones and is a fun activity that youngsters can enjoy with their parents.

These are just a few ideas to get you started thinking about how you can make this Christmas more meaningful with your family. I'm not suggesting that we cut out gift giving all together. Rather that we re-evaluate our spending and compulsion to buy.

To check out more Frugal Friday ideas, click on Biblical Womanhood.

To see how others are pursuing simplicity, check out Keeper of the Home and Simple Living Saturdays.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hi-Ho Cherry-O for Preschoolers

Big Boy turned 3 years old in October and he's growing and learning so quickly. I've been able to come up with some great ideas for helping him learn his letters and some practical skills like cutting and tracing. But math has always been hard for me. And since I'm intimidated by it, I don't have a lot of practical ideas for helping him learn it, even at this age. But I think we've found a solution... at least for now.

I picked up this game on clearance at Christmas last year and was just hanging on to it. A couple of nights ago, my husband dug it out of the closet and we played it with Big Boy. He loved it and caught on so quickly. Now we play every day, several times a day. He's quickly started to count objects in his head, count the fruit on the trees, I see glimmers of maybe some basic subtraction, and he's quickly learning to take turns. All from a $3 board game.

That Works for Me!

See what works for others on Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

When Tackle it Tuesday rolls around, I always have so many ideas rolling around in my head. Order those Christmas cards, hang some photos, write in the kids' baby books, work on Christmas presents... my to do list never seems to end. And those are just the fun projects that I enjoy doing. What about all the other stuff that needs to get done around here?

So I sat down and made a "Honey Do" list: A list of things that, although I may be able to do partically on my own, I really need help from my husband or housemate. We started a list and posted it on the fridge to remind us to take a few moments every day to hopefully get a handle on a few of these things. Although they're always in the backs of our minds, seeing these tasks in black and white will certainly be a motivator.

And it's already started.

When the kids and I got home from the gym this afternoon (Monday), I put them down for a nap and started a big pot of soup for dinner. While I was chopping, slicing, and dicing, my hubby headed out to the wood pile to split and stack wood. As soon as I got our dinner assembled, I joined him in raking the side yard and stacking some wood as well. We worked for over a hour and a half and got more accomplished than we have in weeks. Plus my entryway light bulb was changed and my housemate decided to take charge of a few of the handyman items as well.

So it feels good have gotten a few things done. Although I would have rather taken a nap or worked on Christmas stuff, I was excited to see that wood pile slowly start disappearing from my driveway. Who knows what I'll get done around here after this?

To see what others are tackling, check out Tackle it Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Menu Monday 11/17-11/23

I loved being at home and visiting my mom last week. It was refreshing and relaxing. The kids had a great time playing and spending time with their Grandma. And being there got my creative juices flowing. Thoughts about blogs and Christmas presents. And menus... I really do love being in my kitchen.

Here's what we have cooking up this week:

Cereal and milk
Monkey bread
Fruit and Yogurt
Chai Muffins

Turkey salad sandwiches
Peanut butter and Jelly
Fruit Jello, Fruit
Carrots and dip

Monday:Taco Soup
Tuesday: Potluck: Chile Relleno Casserole
Wednesday: Lentil Stew
Thursday: Spinach Calazones
Friday: Crockpot BBQ Beef and Bean Sandwiches
Saturday: Lentil Tacos
Sunday: Aztec Chicken

Berry Tart
Shortbread Dough for Freezer
Pumpkin Spice Latte

To see what others are cooking up this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Link Love

These Pumpkin Donuts at Organized Everyday look fantastic.

These Onesie Cookies from Homemade by Jill would be so cute for a baby shower.

These Monogrammed Wreaths from Purple Lemon Designs are stunning.

I think I'll soon be making some of this Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea from MotherLoad.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Simple Living: Part Seven

Simple Living... I continue to mull over this idea in my head. What in life really matters? What is Simple Living?

This point was illustrated perfectly in our home tonight.

We had planned on having company over this evening. The plan was to have potluck dinner with our family, our housemate, and two other couples. However, mid-afternoon, our housemate called from work saying that he was miserably sick and his coworkers weren't feeling too well either. After having spent several days at home and not planning to make a complete dinner last minute, I was at a loss for how to feel my family. What do you do when it's 4 pm, the kids are nearing the end of their naps, and you don't have a plan?

We made dinner real simple and easy... spaghetti, quick sauteed zucchini, and cheesy bread. It was so kid-friendly, relatively healthy, and amazingly simple. It took no time to put together and our family enjoyed it together. Dinner was all ready when Daddy got home with the bread and we quickly threw it into the oven.

While I was making dinner, Big Boy was coloring a menu for Daddy so he would know what we were having for dinner. He'd ask me what I was cooking, color his version, and pretend to write the words next to it. It was a quick activity for us to talk about nutrition and for Big Boy to practice his literary "skills." Great developmental activity.

Dinner was just relaxing. Simple, quick. It just reminded me that although I love experimenting in the kitchen, although I love trying new flavors, when times short, it doesn't take much to bless my family. Just some quick thinking and a willingness to roll with the punches.

What are you doing to pursue Simple Living in your life?

Will you "Conspire" with us this holiday season?

Frugal Fun

I was thinking about Frugal Friday this morning and really feeling like I was drawing a blank. We had spent the majority of the week at my mom's and I'd too much fun to be "bothered" with thinking frugally. We were too busy doing all the "Grandma" activities that come with being at home. That's when it hit me. We'd just lived a week full of frugal fun. Here's what it looked like:

When we arrived on Sunday, it was a great day to be outside and come to find out, the electricity was out. This was a great excuse to spend the majority of our day outside and keep my 3 year old active. We walked down in Grandma's front yard to feed the birds, then up the hill to haul wood. Simple mundane tasks that you would think wouldn't entertain anyone. But Big Boy loved it. After hauling wood, we gathered the fallen apples and hauled them over to my uncle's house to feed the cow. What 3 year old doesn't love animals? And what a great teachable moment.

Coming back from my uncle's, Big Boy and I walked as he's suddenly become afraid of the tractor. But I walked reveling in the chance to get some exercise all while spending some quality time with my little one. We talked about the animals we saw and the plants growing by the side of the road. We stopped to pick up rocks and throw sticks in the creek bed. We talked about all the plans he had for visiting Grandma that week.

The electricity was off for the rest of the day and into the night. We spent our time playing with flashlights and toys that my mom has there for the kids. Time spent doing somersaults in the living room and playing with building blocks.

The rest of the week was rainy, but it was spent doing art projects with Grandma, making a "noise shaker" (what was Mommy thinking), and playing toys and flashlights. Big Boy even climbed up to the table and I let him use one of my scrapbook cuts to cut up my scraps.

Our last day was sunny again and we walked to my aunt's to visit one of Big Boy's cousins. The boys played for awhile and our walk time again was filled with meaningful conversation. We talked about the coming holidays and the items on his "wish list." And we talked about how we could bless others the holiday season as well. How there are people without anything and how Jesus would have us spent some of our time and resources to bless them.

Reflecting back on the week, I realize how little it took to have fun with the kids. Breaking out of our routine of going to the gym, scheduling play dates, and having company reminded me of how simple life is. Investing in my kids and my relationships.

To see how others are living frugally, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

I'm at my mom's for a few days and it's so nice to have an extra set of eyes, ears and hands. It's freed me up to get a few things done and enjoy some time scrapbooking before the holidays hit in full force. So that's what I'm doing today:

1. Ordering a few photos
2. Looking into Christmas cards
3. And Scrapbooking

I have months and months of photos to catch up on in our family album and just as many months to catch up on in Baby Girl's 1st year album. Although I'm sure I wouldn't be able to get completely up to date, it's nice to have the time to make a dent in it.

Find what others are tackling today at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Menu Monday

Yeah, I'm at my mom's. So it's a quick and easy abbreviated menu for us this week.

Cereal and milk
Scrambled Eggs

Peanut Butter and Jelly
Turkey Salad Sandwiches

Monday-Wednesday: at my mom's
Thursday: Vegetarian Quesadillas, salad
Friday: Pizza Roll, salad
Saturday: Pumpkin Pancakes
Sunday: Potato Soup

To see what others are cooking up, check out Organizing Junkie.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kate Gosselin on the 700 Club

While the Gosselin Family remains controversial, I continue to be blessed by their testimony and the way in which they always point toward God.  This interview especially reminded me of how faithful and true our God is.  Enjoy!

Frugal Friday

I hate to make a profit off of someone else's misfortune, but I'm definately keeping an eye out for what's happening with Mervyn's.  For those of you who don't know, Mervyn's is a department store (at least on the West Coast) that recently declared bankruptcy and will be closing it's doors. I've always loved their kid's clothing as it's well made, durable, classic and moderately priced. We received lots of items from there for our wedding and our kids regularly receive a few items from there on birthdays and holidays.  It's just a classic little department store that we all really enjoy. So we're sad to see it go.  However, they generally have great sales on their shoes and kids outgrow shoes so quickly.  This weekend, I'm hoping to take some time to search through shoe racks and stock up on bigger shoes that the kids can grow in to.  Right now they are doing great with what they have, however, with close out sales, it's never too early to start planning.  I'm hoping to find some good deals as Mervyn's sadly closes it's doors.  

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Canning Homemade Applesauce

Picking apples is one of my favorite fall memories and I'm amazed at how easy they are to can. My mom was always canning as I was growing up and encouraging me to get involved.  But I was young and too busy.  However as I've gown, I've gotten more and more excited about learning new things in the kitchen, learning new ways to improve on the old ways of getting by, and that has extended into canning. Now that I've done it a few times on my own, I'm beginning to feel better and better about my capabilities.  As I canned applesauce these past couple of weeks, I started considering how much money I've been able to save with 2 children in the house and how nutritious this applesauce really is.  So what I've learned from my mother, I pass on to you.  And may you build sweet memories with these tips as well.

Gather your tools:
6-8 apples per batch
1/2 c. apple cider (you may substitute water seasoned with cinnamon and sugar)
kitchen towel
measuring cup for scooping into jars
peeling tools (I used my Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer)
large pot
canning jars, flats, and rings

Start by peeling, coring and possibly slicing your apples.  Although the slicing is not entirely necessary, it will help them cook down faster, thus saving you some time.  If you are unable to get all the peel, don't worry.  This can be solved by pushing your applesauce through a sieve at the end, or small bits can be left in as they will not interfere with the taste.  I used my Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer.  It made my job of dealing with these apples so much easier.  I was able to work a lot quicker and get it on the stove while the kids were napping.

Place 6-8 apples in a large pot and add 1/2 cup of apple cider and allow to cook down.  If you have a HOT pot and burner this will take approximately 45 min.  If this is your first batch of the day, it will take closer to 1 hr.

As your apples cook down, continue to taste them and season as desired.  Add more sugar, cider or cinnamon.  Because of the cider that we chose, I didn't have to add anything, but you may season to your taste.  The apples will be ready when they have cooked down enough to mash them.

You can blend your applesauce in several ways depending on the type of texture you prefer.  I chose to simply mash mine with a potato masher.  Other ways of blending your applesauce include: an immersible blender, a traditional blender, or pushing it through a sieve. Each level of blending will provide you with a smoother texture and the sieve will remove smaller bits of peeling.
As your apples are cooking, you can begin to prepare your jars.  I chose pint jars although if you have several small children, you may choose quart jars as applesauce may be eaten in larger batches  Fill your sink with hot water, filling each jar as well and sitting them in the hot water bath.  Toss the jar flats as well, but the rings do not need to be heated.  Jars and flats will need to sit in this hot water bath for at least 10 minutes.

When your apples are ready to be poured into jars, a few tools will make this process easier.  Gather a funnel, measuring cup to scoop the sauce, and a clean kitchen towel.  Keep your jars, flats, and rings handy as well.  Place the funnel on top of the jar and funnel in the sauce dipping with the measuring cup.  Push the sauce down into the jar to make sure you get a full jar.

Leave approximately 1 inch of space at the top of the jar.  I measure this by where the rings start at the top of the jar.  Wipe the top of the jar with your dish towel, removing bits of sauce and water from the sink.  Place the flat on the jar and tighten down the ring.  Be careful not to over tighten the ring or tighten it down after the jar has sealed.  This may break your seal.

After filling the jar, place it back into the hot water bath to seal.  You will hear a high pitched "ping" as each jar seals.  You can test your jars later by pushing down in the center of the flat.  If the flat stays down, it is sealed.  If it pops back up the jar didn't seal and you must refrigerate and use that jar first.

Finally, sit your jars out on the counter for all to admire and your husband to ooh and aahh over how you've slaved all day.  Applesauce should keep for quite some time in your pantry.

This specific batch came out very light in color.  I attributed that to the fact that I got the apples cooking so quickly on the stove.  However, as you're peeling apples, they will often brown when exposed to the air.  Most homemade applesauce comes out darker in color and you will find that often recipes tell you to cook your apples till they are dark.  This is usually my experience, but this batch just came out lighter.  Just make sure the apples are thoroughly cooked before canning.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Favorite Toys for 0-3 Year Olds

So Shannon, at Rocks in My Dryer, challenged us to list some of our favorite toys for our kids.  I'm happy to rise to the challenge 'cause, frankly, I was drawing a blank on topics this week.  So here you have it, a list of tried and true items from our household (children 0-3 years):

With a fun song and reinforcement of the letter and sound, kids can't help but get into learning their letters.  The initial set includes all upper case letters, but lower case letters are available and the next set up focuses on 3 letter words.  This is used daily in our home.

Highly durable, we have a set that is used over and over again.  Big Boy received his for his first birthday and now over two years later, they are in perfect condition and being passed on to his sister.  The older ones are just now his speed (3 years) and with stand a lot of wear and tear.

We have a couple of sets: the school bus, the dump truck, and the fire truck.  We've also bought the airplane for a friend who loves it.  Also highly durable, these toys provide hours of imaginative play.  Big Boy also received this one around age 1 and the original batteries are still in all three pieces.  We've gotten a lot of miles out of them.

 Purchased at age 2, this gift was perfect for my train obsessed son.  The Thomas Train finds the track easily and the track can still change every time.  Again, a toy that encourages lots of imaginative play.

We have this particular design that is used almost exclusively in the car.  Although I make sure it gets in for long car rides (it was one of the toys that went to Disneyland with us), it is still fun enough to be used in the car daily.  It practically resides there.  The shapes magnetize on to the board for easy storage.  

Magnet Sets
I could find an example of this one, but we have a Lightning McQueen set.  So the tin is shaped like a book with a hinge.  All the characters are magnets and "race" around an imaginary scene.  There are also additional scenes provided to change.  Our set came with dozens of characters and keep Big Boy quite busy for large periods of time.

What baby wouldn't like these large, colorful beads to play with?  They are durable enough to withstand a young child and imaginative enough to entertain an older one.  Great for developing eye/hand coordination.

A few others to look into:
Baby Swing for Swing Set
Canvas Tunnel to Crawl In

Let your voice be heard... let their voices be heard...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

I love Tackle it Tuesday.  It gets me motivated and gets things done in our house.  Otherwise, who knows what would happen around here.  I have a list this week.  Don't I always have a list going somewhere?  Or two, or three... or a dozen lists?  Anyways... this is what I'm hoping to get done today:

  1. Make a dentist appointment for Big boy

  2. Work on Mom's Christmas present (no, I'm not telling you mom)
  3. Make a new nursery schedule
  4. Start working on the Christmas newsletter
Can you believe Christmas is coming up already?  I'm so excited.  We've moved toward doing more homemade items in the last couple of years and I really enjoy it.  Can't wait. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Menu Monday 11/3-11/9

Wow... our vacation in Disneyland was a whirlwind.  Once I have a few days to reflect I'd like to post some photos and give my readers some great tips for hitting the park with little ones.  We had a wonderful time.  We spent a lot of time with family and my kids had a great experience.  We saw new sides of them that we didn't know where there before.  It was really a lot of fun.

However, since I haven't cooked in so long (between family visiting, Big Boy's birthday, our vacation), I'm having a hard time putting together a menu this week.  I almost feel tapped out for ideas.  So I'm going back to some basics.  Trying to remember some tried and true recipes that my family loves while still staying relatively healthy at the same time.  It doesn't hurt that I've had a turkey in the freezer that I'm excited to cook now that it's getting cooler.  So here's what we've got cooking up for the week:

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Leftover tomato soup, banana cream pudding
Dinner: Turkey, Potatoes and Gravy, Rolls, maybe some homemade cranberry applesauce

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: PB&J Sammies, Salad, carrots and dip
Dinner: Potluck: Turkey Rice a Roni Casserole

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Baked Potatoes 
Dinner: Turkey Pesto Sammies, Cabbage Salad

Breakfast: Granola or cereal and milk
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Lentil Tacos, carrots and dip

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Tomato soup, steamed veggies
Dinner: Turkey enchiladas, Salad

Breakfast: Gingerbread Waffles
Lunch: Vegetarian Quesadillas
Dinner: Turkey Noodle soup

Breakfast: Leftover Waffles
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Potluck: Pizza Roll


Oh, I wanted to spotlight this great recipe we tried a few weeks ago: Crockpot Moroccan Lentil Soup.  It wasn't quite what I had expected.  I thought the lentils would take a more central role in the soup; instead they blended nicely with the garbanzos.  And garbanzos... I've been sort of burnt out on them for awhile, but they didn't overpower this meal like I thought they might.  Instead, they enhanced the meatiness of the soup.  The seasoning was a bit powerful so we served it with sour cream and shredded cheese.  Actually I used used the sour cream and it was perfect.  We'll definately be revisiting this recipe in the future.

To see what others are cooking up this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Good Things to Come

Wow... it's been a long 2 weeks.  We've been all over the place.  Traveling, Disneyland, being with family... but good things are to come.  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday--CLR style

For this week's tackle I participated in the CLR challenge at 5 Minutes for Mom.  As part of the challenge, CLR provided full size bottles of their product to participants to be used in the kitchens and/or bathrooms.  Since the past several weeks have seen us running from one activity to another, our master bathroom has become quite neglected and in need of a thorough cleaning.  So while the kids played this morning, I whipped out my bottle of CLR and got to work.

(I'm having some technical difficulties, so pictures to come soon)

Our bathroom needed a cleaning from top to bottom.  The floor needed to be swept and mopped, the counter wiped down, the mirror cleaned, and general clutter needed to be put away.  So I started by picking up so that I could spray down the countertop.  The counter and faucet got some cleaner as did the toilet.  

Now before you say anything, no that is not pee in our toilet.  It's the water.  The house that we're renting has nasty water in the toilet.  It always looks like that and dirties the bowl rather quickly.  In a perfect world, I would need to clean it daily to keep it at bay, but we don't live in a perfect world.  So what you see is what you get.

After the clutter, counters were wiped down, toilet bowl and floor cleaned as well.  Finally finishing with the mirror.  I had just enough cleaner so I looked up a natural cleaning web site, naming vinegar as a great mirror cleaner for next time. 

I liked the CLR on my toilet.  It's a not easy to find something that makes my toilet look so sparkly pretty.  It didn't have a harsh smell which is always a concern with two little ones in tow.  It worked well.  Next time, I'd like to try it on the shower doors.  I didn't have time to use it this time, but that's always another challenge spot in our bathroom.  Stay tuned;  you may see that post soon.

To see what others are tackling this week, including the CLR challenge, check out 5 minutes for mom and Tackle it Tuesday.

Sample Menu

This is just a quick sample menu of a few of the meals we love in our home.  There are some super easy ideas and some more complicated, but all are great and things that we do over and over again.  Hope you gather a few ideas to incorporate into your own home.

Vegetarian Quesadillas
Grilled Cheese and tomato soup
Homemade Pizza

To see what others are planning this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Menu Monday 10/20-10/26

I'm posting both this week's menu and a sample menu for next week.  Because why?  


We leave Saturday morning.  I'm so excited.  Ten hours in a car with a 3 year old and a 10 month old, but excited nonetheless.    I had planned on defrosting a turkey and eating off it for the week, but it didn't get defrosted today.  Dang.  So this week, we're relying on old standbys... things that we have a few items in the pantry.  And as always, sticking with the fall flavors that I'm so enjoying...

Blueberry Muffins
Cereal and Milk
Yogurt and fruit

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Carrots and dip
Tomato Soup
Fruited Jello and Pudding

Monday: Potato Soup

Tuesday: Potluck: Pea soup and homemade bread

Friday: Out with Family

Saturday:  In Anaheim


To see what others are planning this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Super Easy Bean Dip

We had company over for dinner tonight and at the last minute, I thought, "Hey it would be nice to have something to snack on when they get here."  So I looked up this super easy Bean Dip from Martha Stewart.

The basic recipe is this:
1 can of cannellini beans
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Puree together.

To this basic recipe, I added:
Italian seasoning and garlic powder to taste

Next time I'd like to experiment with fresh minced garlic.  I think this would really add to the flavor.  Just adding the garlic powder made a huge difference.  We served it with tortilla chips, but it would go equally well with pita chips, cheese crackers, or wheat thins.  Super easy, super tasty!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Menu Monday 10/13-10/19

Hum... Fall is here.  And with it a crazy schedule.  We are hardly at home all this month, hence my spotty blogging.  Sorry.  Nonetheless, we do still have to eat and there are some wonderful flavors that I am anxious to try out.  The flavors of fall: pumpkin, ginger, chai, soups and stews. A warm bowl of stew after a morning out or stacking wood.  

I think meal planning for me is such a joy because my kids are good eaters.  After making homemade chicken noodle soup last week, I discovered that my 9 month old's favorite part was the broth.  We piled noodles and veggies on her tray, but she kept clamoring for my husband and I to feed her broth.  We are so lucky.

So while both of the kids want soup, the men (my husband and our roommate) want hardy.  The balance is finding something hardy and tasty that doesn't require a lot of meat and is still healthy.  Our roommate also commented that he didn't think he'd ever like beans.  But with the variety that I've built into our meal planning, he's coming to appreciate them.  I guess it's that or starve as our menu last week included: Lentil Tacos, Chili and the hope of making Pea Soup, although I didn't get to it.

Let's hope this week's menu goes over as well.
Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Blueberry Muffins
Cereal and Fruit

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Fruited Jello
Steamed Veggies

Monday:  Mom's here... Pumpkin Patch... hum???  In N Out???
Tuesday: No Potluck this week:  Hum... Crockpot Moroccan Lentil Soup
Wednesday: Lentil Tacos
Friday: Baby Girl and I at a Women's Retreat
              Daddy and Big Boy at a wedding
Saturday:  Baby Girl and I at a Women's Retreat
                   Daddy and Big Boy will have Pancakes... Daddy's specialty
Sunday: Vietnam Fried Rice, steamed veggies

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Simple Living: Part Six

Today Simple Living for me will be both easy and hard.  Today we're having a third birthday party for my son.  So this my challenge...

Simple Living will be easy, in theory.  All I have to do is sit back and enjoy the fact that we've been able to spend 3 wonderful years with Big Boy.  It will be a day filled with friends and family who love and cherish him.  And it will be a day of playing and enjoying fellowship.

But applying Simple Living will also be a challenge.  It will be a challenge not to let the expectations of entertaining others crowd my mind.  The realization that we are in charge of a party.  Not to be occupied with the endless to do list that is constantly on my mind.

My goal today is simply to breath.  To savor the moment.  To embrace the support system that is around us, that has helped us raise this wonderful young man.  To celebrate the last three years that God has given us together.  To cherish this time with family.  And to thank God for this special gift.

After this post, the computer will be turned off for the day.  The TV will remain off.  Dirty dishes will be left undone.  And Simple Living will begin.

To see how others are embracing Simple Living, check out Keeper of the Home.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frugal Friday

I was wandering through Target a few days ago, looking for a good deal on jeans.  I haven't bought a pair of jeans in ages.  So long so that I was completely shocked by the price tag.  But that's a bunny trail...

Upon entering the store, I parked near the garden section and wandered through.  It's always a quieter way to enter and just a favorite part of the store for me.  As I checked out the summer items on clearance, this thought occurred to me...

Patio and garden items are so hard to find in the winter.  I often go looking for a gift for my grandma or an exchange gift for my family and those searches find me in the garden section with nothing for Christmas.  Planters and decorative items have been replace by seasonal items and fake Christmas trees.  At a loss, I end up going to a specialty nursery looking for that perfect outdoors item.  And paying upwards of 3-4 times the amount I would have paid in Sept.  

So keep your eyes peeled.  Wander through the garden section next time you're out and about.  Remember that garden and patio items make lovely gifts and often highly functional.  And they are a fraction of the cost at this time of year.  

And don't discount those specialty locations.  This is prime time to score deep discounts there as well.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Dreaded Car Clean

Hum... what to do on this long "To-Do List?"

Oh, you would not believe the state of my car.  It's miserable.  I don't know how it happened.  I was doing a really good job keeping it all picked up and pretty.  But some how the Garbage Bug seems to have moved in.  He brought along his friends, the Pack Rat and Gary Clutter.  My car has become a mobile home, carrying extra clothes for the kids, bags from Walmart to be unloaded, and half drank sippy cups.  

Oh, it's miserable.  I shutter just thinking about it.  So I'm heading out to the garage.  If I don't return by dinner, send out search and rescue.  I'll try to post photos later.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Simple Datebook

October 6, 2008
For today...

Outside my window... the sun is shining and the wind is rustling the leaves... the sky is a pretty blue and unfortunately... wood is still waiting to be stacked...

I am thinking... I have too much to do this week

From the learning rooms... Big Boy and I will be starting the letter A this week... alligator anyone?

I am thankful for... a stocked pantry

From the kitchen... big plans for chicken noodle soup later this week...

I am wearing... my favorite blue jeans and my softball shirt from the rec league in Sacramento

I am reading... Church, Why Bother?  Should get another chapter down today...

I am hoping ... to get everything done before this weekend...

I am creating... altered puzzles still... another project that I need to make some progress on this weekend...

I am hearing... the clip of the keys and creeks of the house...

Around the house...little finger prints on the walls and windows...

One of my favorite things...  fall...

A few plans for the rest of the week... wrapping presents... planning a third birthday party... hosting family... attending my MOPS group...working on puzzles and presents...

For more datebooks, check out The Simple Woman

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Menu Monday 10/6-10/12

Yeah, I think I'm finally getting into a planning grove again.  Fall is here and that means adding soups and stews and warm foods back into our menus.  I'm so excited about the fall flavors that are to come in the months ahead.  We had some warmer meals last week and I even picked up a can of pumpkin at the grocery store.  I'm anxious to make those Pumpkin Swirl Brownies that were on our menu last week.  They sound so luxurious.  As for the rest of the week, here's what we have planned:

Cereal and Milk

Steamed veggies
Fruited Jello
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Egg Salad Sandwiches

Monday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Tuesday: Potluck: ????
Wednesday: Tamale Pie
Thursday: Pea Soup, homemade bread
Friday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Saturday: Big Boy's Birthday and Family in Town
Sunday: Family in Town

Blueberry Muffins

I need help with a potluck dish for Tuesday night.  We have Bible Study that night and I need a good main dish to feed several people.  Any ideas?

To see what others are making this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Link Love

Wow!  I have to try this Skillet Cookie Recipe from A Tad Bit Prudish.

This is a great tutorial on Repurposing an Old Book by It's All in the Details.

And finally, I'd better watch out for this Pumpkin Spice Latte.  If I learn to make a good one, it could become a staple in our house (by Baking and Books).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Children's Advent Book

Thanks to Free to Be Frugal, I just ordered a free Children's Advent Book for Big Boy and I to follow this holiday season.  As he gets older, I'm excited about finding new ways to deepen and grow his faith in the Lord.  From what I've been able to see, this looks like a great resource and a wonderful way to take a deeper look into the true meaning of the season.

Simple Living: Part Five

Simple Living this week has focused on us as a family.  With my husband working long hours, apples to can, and wood to stack, the kids and I have found ourselves at home a lot this week.  And as much work as it's been, it's also been refreshing.  It's given me a lot of time to reflect on how happy I am to have them in my life.  

Upon canning applesauce this week, Big Boy (who's almost 3 years old.  Wow!) wanted to be intimately involved in the whole process.  At first I was hesitant to have him in the kitchen with me, but it soon became a joy to have him by my side.  We waited until Baby Girl was down for her morning nap and went to work.  Although he didn't make it through the whole process, it reminded me to slow down and include him in new and unique ways.  Such as counting the apples as we peeled them.  Or talking about how nutritious they are.  Or reminding ourselves what a blessing it is to have been given several pounds of apples.

We opened up new conversation, talking about his favorite part of the week, the family in his life, and the imaginative world that is growing inside his head every day.  And I was reminded of what a unique and special creature he is.  There's no one else in the world like Big Boy; God created him special to be a part of our family.

Baby Girl would get up and join us.  And we were blessed to see that she too is growing in ways that we hadn't realized before.  This week, she started to wave at us.  It's so cute.  She's petite for her age and this little wrist just pops out and starts waving back and forth.  Big Boy and I were hauling and stacking wood while she sat in her exersaucer and waved us on.  While mentally grumbling about all the wood that needed to be taken care of, I stepped back to reflect on what was really happening.  My son, daughter, and I were all spending time together, being outdoors, not spending a dime, and preparing the blessing that God had given us for the winter.  
I also realized what a blessing it was to physically show my children the value of hard work.  That although it was a lot of work to stack the wood for the winter, it was necessary and something that was worth working for.  Although I suspect it will never be something that will consistently be an enjoyable chore, it is one that will be a valuable life lesson for my children.

Our evenings were spent staying up late, waiting for Daddy to come home.  I loosened up on bed time this week, sensing that Big Boy just needed to see Daddy at the end of the day.  It became more about what my children needed than what I needed, which was often an earlier bedtime rather than a later one.  More books were read, more cuddle time was had, and in general, we found greater patience with one another.

I learned a lot this week.  I learned that prayer can be spontaneous and immediate.  I learned that patience can only come from the Lord.  And I learned that some soft worship music in the background of life can go a long way to smoothing over cooped up frustrations.  Simple Living this week just meant being family.  Rediscovering what's going on with each other.  Like the fact that Big Boy really does empathize with his sister.  That Baby Girl loves to be held and gaze into someone else's eyes.  And that I am learning more and more to juggle the two of them.

Although full, this week was simple.  It was about working together as a family to make our family work.  And that was a true blessing.

To learn how others are pursuing simplicity, check out Keeper of the Home and Simple Saturday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Frugal Friday...

Just a few frugal tidbits...

Needing batteries?  Be sure to check out your local $.99 store.  They often have various sizes of batteries in packs from 2-6 for, you guessed it, $.99.  They're name brand and work just as well as those that you spend twice as much on.

If you're in California, keep your eyes open for end of the summer produce.  At Raley's this week, strawberries at on sale 2 lbs for $4.  Not a fantastic price, but doable for October.

Don't forget to check your local craigslist for Halloween costumes.  I've seen a couple of cute ones lately and they are definitely cheaper than shopping the stores.  And great quality.  There are also local children's thrift stores advertising about the costumes that they have in stock right now.

Finally check out this post by Free to Be Frugal.  She's got some great sample links for those aches and pains, and cold weather.
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