Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Apple Peeler Corer Slicer

This is my best friend... well, during harvest season anyways...

It's the Apple Peeler Corer Slicer.  I just finished up canning applesauce, cranberry applesauce, and apple butter and did it in a fraction of the time because of this little handy gadget.  

Although it's uses are limited (often time to apples and potatoes), if you're a canner, this tool is for you.  It peels, slices and cores your apples all at the same time.  You just attach the tool to a table and push the apple onto the center bar.  Then crank the handle and it does all the work for you.  You can adjust the thickness of the slices as well with an additional attachment.

I love this thing.  Although I only use it for a few things, it was definately worth the money.  My mom and I have both used it for several years and it's still in excellent shape.

Breakfast Ideas?

Ok, so I have a question for ya this week:

Big Boy is 3 years old and Baby Girl is 9 months old. While I'm really good at planning dinners, we don't have much of a plan for lunches. It usually falls back on peanut butter and jelly or egg salad sandwiches. Both are great and frugal for Big Boy and I, but I'm not sure what to do for Baby Girl. She's eating table food, but that sure doesn't include sandwiches, let alone peanut butter.

So I'm looking for a few quick and simple ideas, either for Baby Girl or for all of us. Right now the munchkin is lovin' her Gingerbread Waffle, but later... well... what's mama to do?

What Works for You?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

Wow!  This tackle should be fun.  I have a ton of apples in our garage.  When we were home awhile back, we had some neighbors offer to let us pick apples.  Within a half hour, my mom, Big Boy and I picked nearly 100 lbs of apples.  They were everywhere.

As time has passed, I keep looking at that pile of apples and knowing I need to do something with them.  I've slowly worked my way through.  There is new jars of cranberry applesauce and apple butter in my pantry.  And I tested out a new applesauce in the crockpot recipe yesterday.  It was delicious.

So my plan is to finish up those apples today.  I've got to get through them before they go bad.  When Big Boy was little I canned homemade applesauce and he loved it.  It saved us a bundle and it was so healthy.  So I'm committing my day to putting away several jars of applesauce today.  Possibly doing some baking, but definitely canning apples.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Monday 9/29-10/4

For better or worse,... here it is...

Cereal and milk
Cottage Cheese and fruit

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (not for me)
Fruited Jello
Carrots and Dip


Monday: Spinach Calazone
Tuesday: Potluck: Peanut Butter Cookies
Wednesday:Lentil Tacos
Thursday:White Turkey Chili
Friday: BBQ for roommate's birthday: Mom's Baked Beans
Saturday: Pizza Loaf, Green Salad, Cookies
Sunday: Taco Soup

For more meal ideas, check out Organizing Junkie.

Link Love

Looking for a decadent Halloween treat?  Try these Pumpkin Swirl Brownies from Martha Stewart.  I know we'll be trying them soon.

It's never too early to start thinking about Frugal Christmas Gifts for Adults brought to you by The Homemaker's Resource.

Have you ever thought that babies are expensive?  Find out how Babies can Make you More Frugal.

And don't forget to check out this fantastic post about Simplifying Extravagantly.  It's something I need to read every day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Simple Living: Part Four

Praise the Lord!  We had a much better week.

It never ceases to amaze me how Christianity has such diverse seasons.  And for the season of life that I've been in, spending time with the Lord has proven to be quite a challenge.  Not only has my time been limited by caring for two children, but I've struggled with want to do it all.  Being Super Mom.  Combine those two and it's easy for quiet time to quickly fall on the back burner.  

In spending time in the Bible, I've been reading Psalms.  Nothing earth shaking in there.  Or is there?  I've daily been confronted with how often the author states, "I will put my trust in you." To hear it repeated over and over, I've come to realize my trust often lies so far away from the Lord.  What would it take for me to really trust in Him?  And do I want to know what He would do to make me that desperate for Him?

My prayer time has flourished.  I've made a conscious effort to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17).  And I've noticed how my relationship with my kids has improved.  Our days run smoother.  Our conversations are deeper.  And our interactions are gentler.  My time with them is more enjoyable.  

Additionally, I find myself turning to God more in prayer than trying to come up with a solution on my own.  When a problem arises, my quick "breath" prayers are my first reaction.  And when it's been awhile since I've said one in my day, I miss those quick moments of interaction with the Lord.

As far as living a lifestyle of worship, I still have a lot to learn.  Taking every thought captive is much easier said than done.  At this point, it take such conscious effort to think through every action and reaction.  But I can already see little changes.

There were a couple of times this week that I stepped back from the situation and thought, "If not for a growing relationship with Christ, I could be very frustrated in this moment.  But instead here I am enjoying the antics of my kids."  Allowing God to change my attitude and my perception of the situation, to see the joy, was truly a blessing.

Although we still had things to do this evening, I would characterize our time tonight as "simple."  I was making dinner with the kids while I was waiting for my husband to arrive home.  Baby Girl was cranky and wanted to be held while Big Boy was jealous and wanted the same thing.  But instead of brushing them off to find activities out of the kitchen, we simply embraced the moment and sang and talked about letters and shared our day.

After dinner, we all went to the grocery store to pick up a few groceries and items for canning.  There was no clock telling us to hurry home and no one was rushing before work.  Instead, there was an attitude of carefreeness that accompanied us as we enjoyed our time together.  It was simply living in the moment.  Forgetting the to do list and embracing the relationships around us.

Sometimes I think that must be the real key to simple living: focusing on discipleship rather than everything else that vies for our time.  This even includes the good things, such a frugal living, homemaking, and ministries in the church.  If we're not investing in people, then what's the point?

As this next week approaches, I'm keeping my eye on meeting with the Lord on a consistent basis, but also on the other relationships in my life: my husband, my kids, and those I'm discipling.  As I pursue Simple Living, it continue to realize that it's a struggle not only against the things that vie for our attention, but also a struggle against ourselves.  That inner urge to be in control and not allow the Lord to mold our desire and directions.

To see how others are pursuing Simple Living, check out Passionate Homemaking and Simple Living Saturday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Frugal Friday

Is it ever too early to start thinking about Christmas?  

I'm thinking Christmas cards.  In the past I've shortened up my card list and made my own.  This year I've gotten the wild idea that I want to send them to anyone and everyone.  While I'm not sure that I'll follow through with that, I won't be able to make that many if I do.

So I'm putting on my thinking cap and coming up with my best Christmas card bargains:
  • Check out the dollar store--often times they have a great selection and good quantities in the packages.  I was in there the other day and while I didn't have time to look, I noticed that there was already a huge display of cards out, and quite a selection it looked like.
  • The Dollar Spot at Michael's--after making mine last year, I saw some really cute photo cards in the dollar spot.  They came in packages of 10, making them $.10 a piece.  Sure you're adding the photo, but can you really beat that?  I'm headed over there this week to see if they're out yet.
  • Postcards--looking for a way to recycle those old Christmas cards that you can't bear to throw away?  Cut off the front cover, add a dividing line, and write out your greeting.  Not only will you be recycling what you have, but they're also cheaper to mail.
What about you?  Do you have any great ideas for bargain Christmas cards?

To see how others are being frugal, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall To Do List

Hey having that Summer To Do List was a great idea for us.  It kept us focused on the couple of things that we really wanted to involved in over the past few months.

These are just a few things that we are looking forward to over the next couple of months:
  • canning applesauce and apple butter
  • seeing Big Boy turn 3
  • our annual Women's Retreat
  • our trip to Disneyland
  • taking a trip to the pumpkin patch
  • visiting the farmer's market  
  • trick or treating
  • making homemade Christmas presents for 90% plus of the family
  • spending Thanksgiving with family
  • hosting a women's luncheon
  • baking and baking all the wonderful holiday treats
What's on your list of things to look forward to? 

Enter Martha's World

I love Martha Stewart!  I've watched her shows for years and currently love the show on in the mornings.  From cooking, to crafting, to the gardening world, and everything in between, ... I'd love to dabble more in the things she talks about each day.  I've gotten some fantastic recipes and crafts from watching her show.

Martha is currently running a contest on her blog for other blog writers.  Bloggers can submit their blogs for review and Martha will highlight a few of her favorites.  

To submit your blog for review, check out the entry form and her tips for bloggers.  There are also links to several celebrity bloggers offering a wide range or topics.  This is a page with a wealth of information and not to be missed by any blogger, amateur or pro.  

So check it out.  Who knows?  You might just have the hook she's looking for.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday--Buddies

Aztec Chicken

I got this great recipe from a friend of mine a couple of years ago so I'm not sure of the original source.  But it's fantastic.  We use it a lot, especially in the cooler months.  I made it Sunday for the first time in awhile and am so excited to put it back into my menu rotation.


4 chicken breasts
2 cans black beans
2 cans corn
2 cloves garlic (I add extra)
2/3 tsp. cumin
1 pkg cream cheese
1 c. salsa

Dump it all into your crockpot and cook on high for 4-6 hrs.
Serve over rice.

This is so yummy and creamy.  We love the sloppy sauce on rice.
The original recipe calls for 2 pkg of cream cheese, but it was too rich for me.
Also I only put in 2 chicken breasts and shred them when it's done.  That's plenty for us with lots of leftovers.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

After a few fun filled days of spending time with my mom and grandma, the kids and I are back to finding a routine. But that's still in the adjustment period as well as my husband is starting a new position at his job this week.

So I have a few things to catch up on before they catch up with me:
  1. call a couple of gals from home group
  2. call nursery workers for next week
  3. look for volunteers for women's retreat weekend
  4. call Larissa
  5. work on annual staff questions
  6. pay bills online
oh, oops. Am I making an apple crisp today? hum... think I'd better work on that one too.

That should keep me busy most of the afternoon. Not necessarily all fun and games, but it has to be done. So give me some encouragment and motivation. I have to get some of this done.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menu Monday 9/22-9/28

Organizing Junkie is challenging us to post our family favorites this week. Big Boy will be so excited. And since we hit the Kashi deal at Target a couple of weeks ago, I'm pushing cereal for breakfast as much as I can. And I really have to make those peanut butter cookies early and hopefully take them with me on Tues. It's nice to have a few, but the extras have to go to our small group or we'll just keep eating them all.

Yogurt and fruit
Gingerbread waffles
Cereal and fruit

Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches
Fruited Jello
Wheat Thin crackers
Salami and cheese
Potato Soup (It's finally turning cooler here)
Carrots and Dip

Monday: Leftovers


Wednesday: Taco Ring and green salad

Thursday: Potato Bar with broccoli and cheese, or fiesta (salsa, olives and sour cream)

Friday: Homemade Veggie Pizza or Veggie Quesadillas

Snacks and baking:

Link Love

These clothespin dolls would make cute gifts (from plumpudding).

I love this scarf made from thrifted goodies.  I might have to try my hand at one (from Wise Craft).

These are some cute bookmark ideas for a friend (from Skip to My Lou).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Summer's Coming to an End

As the last day of summer, I thought I'd do a check-up on my Summer To Do List.  This was what I posted earlier in the summer:

  1. Swimming lessons--Big Boy did awesome.  They thought he should have been in a couple of classes higher.  I'm so proud of him.  Watch out Michael Phelps.
  2. Camping with my family--Postponed till Labor Day weekend, but we had a great time.  I had so much fun.
  3. Camping on the coast--This was great.  We got to see my sister and she finally got to meet both of the kids.  Our small group bonded and it was a great break from the 110 degree summer temps.
  4. Spending time with Grandma--We spent a week with her in Aug and the kids got to experience real country life.  It was great.
  5. Picking blackberries--We made tons of jam, syrup, and still had lots to freeze for later.  That's the real taste of summer for me.
  6. Visiting the farmer's market--We didn't make it as often as I would have liked, but the few trips were fun nonetheless.  Hoping to visit a few more times before they close for the season.
  7. Checking out the water feature at the local park--This closed sooner than I thought so we only made it there twice, but both the kids loved it.  I can't wait to utilize that resource more next summer.
  8. Go to the pool a lot--We used it 4-5 times a week.  Big Boy was swimming across the width of the pool without a life jacket by the end of the summer.
  9. Visit Turtle Bay-- We did go there quite a bit, but not as much as I hoped.  It was just too hot and the indoor exhibit wasn't child appropriate this summer.  I'm ready for the new exhibits to start at the end of the month.
  10. Go Kayaking at Wiskeytown-- Didn't make it again this summer.  We really do have to make this a date night next summer.  I really want to do this.
So how did your summer go?  What did you accomplish?  Did you have fun?  Have any reviews?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Simple Living: Part Three

On my last post, I boiled Simple Living down to 4 things:
  1. My relationship with God
  2. My relationship with my husband
  3. My relationship with my kids
  4. Discipling others
I was shocked by how simple it could all become.  And I vowed to take the next week to focus on my relationship with God.  To live a life of Scripture, prayer, and worship.  To take every thought captive as it applied to this relationship.

Guess what?

I failed miserably.  I realized that my life doesn't revolve around the one thing that I would say it should.  I've treated my relationship with God as an add on.  Something I'll get around to at the end of the day if I have enough time and energy.  Something that's disposable.

Wow!  Not that it came as a complete shock, but it's still hard to swallow when you're confronted with such black and white truth.  How can something so simple be... not so simple?  

So I pick myself up and try again.  Isn't that what a Christian walk is all about?  Trying again?  That and discipline.  So discipline, discipline, discipline.  That's the mantra that's running through my head this week.

I'm rededicating myself to pursuing that relationship:
  • Taking time each day to spend with the Lord-- Even 5 minutes a day, spending time in the word,.. that's such a wonderful place to meet with the Lord.  And by meeting with him each day, I am a better wife, a better mother, and a better woman.
  • Praying throughout the day-- Remembering to pray as I go about my day, praying about how I handle time outs, or how I show my relationship to God in practical ways to my children
  • Living a life of worship-- Taking every thought captive till my life is a reflection of worshipping the Lord.  How do I treat others throughout the day?  Is my attitude and lifestyle conducive to worshipping the Lord?
So here we go again.  My prayer is that this week, again, my life will be redirected down a simpler path.  One that is glorifying to the Lord.  What better place to start a simple life.

To see how others are simplifying their lives, check out Passionate Homemaking.

Quick and Frugal Workouts

Our lives are full of excuses.  Including the endless excuses for not working out.  On the top of the list are lack of time and lack of money.  But really, are these excuses valid?

Here are 5 quick and easy ideas for working out in  your everday life:

  1. The good old standbys-  What ever happened to pushups and squats?  Add to that some crunches and planks, lunges and wall squats, and you've got a great workout with no equipment that you can still do during nap time.  
  2. Jump rope- Pick up a jump rope at the dollar store and you have an instant workout.  Try challenging your kids to see who can jump the longest, do the fanciest footwork, or come up with the silliest rhymes.  It builds into a great cardio workout.
  3. Walking and running- Just invest in a good pair of running shoes and you're set to go.  As an added bonus, walking the neighborhood sets a great example for your children and gives you a chance to spend time with your neighbors.  Make the route and time similar, and your kids will start to look forward to it.
  4. Playground equipment- Sure the money bars are a little short, but just tuck your feet under and you've got a great upper body workout.  Chase your kids, see who can pump their feet higher in the air, or skip the longest around the equipment.  You may not look like a kid again, but you'll feel like one.
  5. Yoga or pilates video- I am a huge pilates advocate and own a couple of videos myself.  But when I was pregnant, I discovered a huge variety available at my local library.  And if yoga or pilates isn't your thing, look into the other workout videos while you're there.  It's a great way to try out a new workout without stumbling through a class or investing in a private collection of videos.  And because there's such a great selection, your workout can constantly change, keeping your muscles guessing and challenged.
So what's your excuse again?  
Check out these other great Frugal Friday ideas at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Top Five Date Movies

Who doesn't love dinner and a movie?  Even if you're not up for a night on the town, here are a few rentals that are guaranteed to keep you AND your husband happy and ensure some cuddle time on the couch:

photo from Amazon

#5 Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
  When a widower and mother of 10 marries a window and father of 8, will they be able to cope with the challenges of a blended family of 20?  This light-hearted movie will keep you laughing, put your life into perspective, and make you want to say "AAAHHH" when you see the truly enduring relationship between husband and wife.

photo from ImDb
#4 Chocolat
 When Vivianne and her daughter move into a rigidly moral French community, their are met with much skepticism.  Especially when their chocolate show starts keep Sunday hours.    Add to the fact that it's Lent, and the community is ready to run her out of town.  But her warm personality and sweet filled shop, soon win them over.  This fantastic film will draw you in and keep you going the whole way through.

photo from Wikipedia

#3 Cutting Edge
  Doug is a blind sided hockey star who can't give up the dream and Kate is a talented figure skater who can't keep a partner.  Can the two over come their differences and their pasts to capture an Olympic medal?  Sparks fly in this romantic comedy about becoming a better you to accomplish the impossible. 

photo from Wikipedia

#4 Return to Me
  When Bob's wife dies, her heart lives on... in Grace's body.  Determined to appreciate her second chance at life, Grace embraces ever chance... including dating.  When she meets Bob, there's an instant connection.  Little do either of them realize how deep that connection runs.  Join this romantic comedy as the two of them learn they have more in common than they thought.

photo from Wikipedia

#1 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Tula's family has given up on her ever getting married.  Until Mr. Perfect walks into the picture.  But is he good enough for her if he's not Greek?  Join this crazy comedy of family intervention as Tula finds a way to win over her parents and make it to the alter.  Light hearted and full of great performances, this is great for a first date or a romantic evening with your husband.

Honorable Mentions:
One Fine Day
No Reservations
You've Got Mail

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

100 Days Till Christmas

Dang!  That was fast.  Wasn't it Easter last week?  It's not even 100 days...
Have you seen this website?

I just discovered it today.  And although I've been keeping a lookout for things all year, I still feel last a lot of Christmas may come down to the last minute this year.  That really messes with my type-A personality.

So I'll be exploring it and this one as well...

Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Teaching Tuesday

Big Boy and I have found the best cartoon on PBS: Sid, the Science Kid.  Each day there's a lesson on some type of science.  For example, the two episodes we've caught this week have been about estimation and measurement.  There's songs, experiments, definitions and extension lessons.  We've even recreated some of the experiments at home.  They're super easy and still teach something.  The lessons are geared toward preschool, but my pre-3 year old is learning something from them already.

Additionally, the PBS website has a brief overview of each episode and how to recreate the lessons at home.  So we're watching the show and then choosing our favorite experiments to do in our kitchen.  

I can't tell you how much fun it has been to hear my boy using words like observation, experiment, and investigation.  Check it out.  It's absolutely worth it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Monday 9/15-9/21

My in-laws were here this past weekend and now my mom and grandma are coming this weekend. I love having a home that is so comfortable for people to visit. We're also hoping to have lots of friends over this week and who can forget the premier of Survivor on Thursday? I'm so excited. Here's our menu for the week:

Toast & Jelly
Egg Salad sandwiches, fruit jello
Lentil Tacos, green salad

Yogurt & granola
Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches, carrots and dip

Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Grilled Cheese sandwiches, fruit jello
Potato Bar, green salad

Oatmeal and fruit
Egg Salad sandwiches, veggies and dip
Homemade pizza, green salad

Toast and yogurt
Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, fruit
Mom in town

Blueberry Muffins
Out to lunch

Leftover Muffins

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

Link Love

Need some school lunch ideas?  Check out Little Home's post entitled PB & J Anyone? for some ideas.

I think I'm going to have to try my hand at these Dryer Balls at Homespun Heart.  They would make excellent gifts, and something I'd keep handy at home.

I love the Pioneer Woman.  She has two recent posts that I've really enjoyed recently: What the Heck Do I Do with Plain Yogurt? and the winning recipe in a recent contest, Black Bean Chowder.

And on a political note (I try to avoid politics), I found an article entitled Sarah Palin from an Inside View on Scribbit.  Very interesting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Simple Living: Part Two

What is Simple Living?

As I contemplated this question this week, I was struck by how "complex" the question actually is.  In order for simple living to be genuine, it must encompass all of life.  And life is complex.  Truly living a simple life means taking a complete inventory of one's values and goals, dreams and ambitions, thoughts and words.  And not only taking an inventory of them, but taking every thought captive.  Determining whether each thought, each dream, each "duty" will contribute to the simple life we say we desire.

For me, this means starting with evaluating my values.  What is important to me?  Why do I seek a simple life?  How will I know if I'm living a deeply simple life?

So what's important to me?
  • My relationship with God- so how is my devotional life?
  • My relationship with my husband- so what do I allow to interfere with our time together?
  • My relationship with my kids- so what is the quality of the time I spend with them?
  • Discipling others- who am I inviting into my life?
And somehow that's where my list ended.  Could I really boil my life down to these four things? I'm not saying that because there's only four things, that it's SOOOO easy.  Rather on the contrary, it still remains quite complex.  However, this gives me a jumping off point to begin in evaluating the choices I make every day, down to how much time I spend cleaning vs how much time I spend with my kids.  

I'm not saying that this list couldn't be longer.  Or that there's not other things to include that wouldn't be absolutely valid.  But for now this is my list.  Every decision I make should be made on the basis of whether or not it will enhance on of these areas of my life.

So for this week, I'm focusing on the quality of relationship with God.  How am I making time to enhance the most important relationship of my life?  Even this comes down to some very simple issues:
  • Praying throughout the day, whether doing housework, playing with the kids, or making a meal
  • Living a life of worship, whether in my conversations with others, in worshiping in song, or memorizing Scripture
  • Taking time each day, even 5 minutes, to meet with the Lord in Scripture, hearing his words as they are still applicable today
To see how others are simplifying their lives, check out Keeper of the Home.

Line Drying Clothing

So I have a question for all you creative gals out there:

How do you keep your clothing from being stiff when you line dry it?  I love the simplicity of hanging my clothes out to dry in the sun, even as our summer is coming to an end.  However, when I remove them from the line, they are often stiff and "crunchy." 

Eventually t-shirts and baby clothes soften up, but jeans are a real challenge and it makes me not want to wear them.

Any ideas?

For more money saving ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Attn Bargain Shoppers

Be sure to look for those off season specials.  Right now summer merchandise is clearancing out quickly.  For example:

We buy new swim suits for our little ones each year to go in their Easter baskets.  Right now Target is clearancing their swim diapers and suits for infants and toddlers.  While the swim pieces are regularly $5.99 a piece, I paid $1.74 a piece for Baby Girls suit for next summer.  While it's a bit of a gamble finding the right size for then, it's well worth a try to save that kind of money.

Be sure to also look for seasonal toys such as outdoor activities.  Check out the swim section and sporting goods, camping goods and shorts.  Now's the time to be thinking about summer birthdays or even possibly fall birthdays of this year.

See how others are saving money at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Outside my window: I can hear the sound of crickets.

I am thinking: I'm excited about all the things coming up.

From the learning rooms: We are learning the letter K.  It's amazing how quickly Noah is picking up things.

I am thankful for: My babies, my hubby, and some time out today.

From the kitchen: We are working on making peanut butter cookies.  Yum!

I am wearing: My favorite lime green shirt and jean shorts.

I am creating: invitations for Big Boy's birthday coming up.

I am reading: All magazines that I can get my hands on.

I am hoping: that I'm not too tired in the morning.  We have stuff to do in the morning and hoping to go swimming in the afternoon.

Around the house: We've been slowly unpacking boxes.  And I really need to have someone over for dinner soon.

One of my favorite things: is volunteering at the Y with good friends.

A few plans for the week:  I'm attending my first MOPS meeting of the year in the morning and my in-laws will probably be visiting this weekend.

For more Daybooks, go to The Simple Woman.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

I just finished writing a series of posts on birthdays that you can find here, here, here, and here. What brought about that series of posts was the impending birthday of my (soon to be 3 year old) son. His birthday is coming quickly and I'm amazed by how time has flown. When did I start sounding like my mom? (hi, mom!)

Anyways... my tackle today is birthday related. While there are lots of things that I could be doing around the house, I'm choosing to do something fun. Party planning! I have a stack of homemade frog invitations to work on and an order to make through Oriental Trading Company, which by the way is my primary party supplier. I love there selection and could spend hours pouring over their catalogues of trinkets and novelties. By I'm on a bunny trail...

Invitations are my primary objective and shopping only if I have time. I have to meet with some gals at the church for a little while this morning, but I know I'll be wishing away the time. There's nothing better than a little creative time in the middle of the day, even better the middle of the week. I can't wait.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Menu Monday 9/8-9/14

Moving into a new place and returning from the business of the summer. The fall can't come soon enough although I'm sure it will become busy in no time as well. I'm loving the extra time to swim and still having lots of time outside, but I'm ready for some cooler weather and the flavors of fall: cider, pumpkin cake, and warm soup. My menu may still appear summery, but fall is coming soon.

Breakfast: Yogurt and toast
Lunch: Egg Salad sandwiches, fruit jello
Dinner: Rosemary Potato Pizetta, green salad

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, veggies and dip
Dinner: Potluck: Asian Noodle Salad

Breakfast: Toast and jelly
Lunch: Egg Salad sandwiches, green salad, crackers
Dinner: Grilled Cheese sandwiches, tomato soup

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, toast
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, fruit, jello
Dinner: Quesadillas, beans and rice

Breakfast: Yogurt and granola
Lunch: Egg Salad or PB &J, cheese cubes, veggies
Dinner: Chinese take out with Sister in law and boyfriend

Saturday- Sunday:
My in-laws will be in town so it's all up in the air, but these are a few ideas that I have tossing around in my head:
Deli Sandwiches

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

Link Love

From Mom Advice... One day, soon, I need to try these Best Birthday Cupcakes In The World.  They look fantastic.

Michelle, at Scribbit, shows us a great idea for keeping our kids occupied and productive with a fun Craft Binder for Kids.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Simple Living: Part One

Simple Living... is it possible in today's world?

It seems like everywhere I turn these days, people are talking about simple living, reducing possessions, focusing on "what's important."  I, too, must admit that this is something that's weighed on my mind lately.  I waver between my seeking simplicity and weighing my Type-A tendencies.  What is valid and what needs to go?

Before I begin this journey, I think it would be helpful to examine where I've been.  Our family is very blessed.  Although we've had our share of dead end jobs, crazy moves, and the occasional bad emotional investments, we've sought frugality and learned new ways to penny pinch.  We've kept an eye on our finances and, for the most part, made wise decisions.  

The area of our lives that is not so simple is our time.  Now I'm not talking about an expanse of time, but rather a structuring of time.  Many of the things that we believe in are going to require more time than we're ever likely to have.  Serving on the church staff will always require our attention 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.  Being a mom will always require our attention 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.  Being a wife, a daughter, a friend will always require our attention 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.  But what does all of that really mean?

This is hitting me more and more lately as I want health for my children.  Actually I want a lot for my children.  I want them to have a great education.  I want them to be socially well-adjusted.  I want them to know Christ as their softest place to fall.  I want them to have every opportunity to pursue every challenge that intrigues them.  But if I don't find balance and help them understand balance, what will they have learned?

So join me in this journey toward "Simplicity."  Perhaps somewhere along the way we'll begin to understand what it actually is and how to make it a part of our lives.  If it's even possible to make it a part of our lives.  Where do we begin?  What are we reaching to achieve?  

To read how others are pursuing simplicity, be sure to read some of the posts at Keeper of the Home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Lord's Blessing

When my husband switched jobs in January, he took a position that did not offer health insurance.  Although I supported his decision, I was frustrated with the fact that we would have to find new doctors, new dentists, and a new pediatrician.  I had a great relationship with my doctor and dentist, and we loved our pediatrician.  But the job was something that God was leading my husband toward so we took the leap of faith.

Since then, we've enrolled the kids in Medi-cal, my husband has been more careful with his glasses, and I have looked into Family Planning.  Everyone has been getting their check-ups and staying healthy.  The only bump in the room has still been to find a dentist, but we know it will work out.

All was running along smoothly until I returned from a family reunion earlier this week.  I hadn't been home 24 hours when I developed Mastitis.  That's a fun little condition.  If you've never had it, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  Very uncomfortable and very hard to recover from with two little ones in the house.  Rather than pack the kids up for a trip to the walk-in clinic, I decided to bit the bullet and pay out of pocket for a visit to my regular doctor.

  A friend offered to watch the kids so I wouldn't have to pay a babysitter and we were on our way.  When I arrived at the doctor's office that morning, I explained my situation to the receptionist and told her that I would be writing her a check.  She had me fill out the paperwork and kept telling me it would just be a bit longer as the doctor was out delivering a baby.

In the end, I saw the Nurse Practitioner who confirmed my diagnosis and promised to write me a prescription.  As I was walking up to the receptionist at the end of my visit, she handed me the prescription and explained that there would be no charge for the visit.  I was shocked.  I'm sure my jaw dropped to the floor.  

I know that the Lord's hand was working in this situation.  I tried to not worry about the Lord's provision in the situation and just do what I knew my body needed.  And through the morning, He showed his faithfulness both in providing a wonderful babysitter and a free doctor's visit.  It's times like these that I wonder how I've ever questioned His faithfulness.  What a blessing this experience was and what a blessing of encouragement it will be as I share it with others.
My doctor, Baby Girl, and Me

See what other's are blogging about this Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.


In honor of Labor Day, Shannon, at Rocks in my Dryer, posted a blog about, what else?, Labor.  Although I'm too late to link, I thought I'd share my story with you.

How long were your labors?
Big Boy- steady for about a good 12 hours, two of which involved pushing
Baby Girl- scheduled C-section

How did you know you were in labor?
Big Boy- steady contractions
Baby Girl- scheduled C-section

Where did you deliver?
Big Boy- Mercy Medical Center, Redding, Ca-- the only place to deliver for 45 minutes
Baby Girl- Mercy Medical Center

Big Boy- Yes, when I got to the hospital, I was almost an 8 cm and almost past the point of being able to get one.  Made my spinal easier for the C-section
Baby Girl- Spinal

Big Boy- His labor was really fast, but pushing was slow.  He was face up and wedged in.
Baby Girl- My hospital doesn't do VBACs

Who delivered?
Big Boy- my great doctor from living here before
Baby Girl- same doctor

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Disneyland trip planning help

Shannon, at Rocks in my Dryer, is hosting a special edition of Works for Me this week where we ask for help on issues that are stumping us lately.  Here are two questions that I would like help on this week:

Our family is planning a trip to Disneyland in October.  There will be about 12 of us making the trip, with the possibility of hooking up with my sisters or husband's brother while we are there.  I've been to Disneyland several times, but this will be the first time with kids.  Big Boy will be 3 and Baby Girl will be 10 months.  What should be pack, see, eat?  Rides that we have to ride?  Attractions that we should avoid?  Any helpful websites you've found for planning a Disney vacation?

My other question is do you make a lot of your own Christmas presents?  A few years ago, I started making homemade, simple Christmas presents for our families and have really enjoyed it.  With the exception of a few things that I know the recipient might really enjoy, I've exclusively made our gifts.  I've started a few things for this year, but I'm always on the look out for great ideas.  What are some of the things you've made or given away in the past that were well received?

Reading by Glowstick

I was thinking back to Shannon's Works For Me post from last week.  She was talking about having glow sticks on hand when other kids come to visit.  This is something that we've discovered this summer as well.  Earlier in the summer, we took a camping trip to the coast and I grabbed a couple packages from the dollar store.  The kids loved them.

A couple of days ago, we discovered another use for them.  Big Boy has developed a habit of stacking books in his bed at bedtime and looking at pictures until he falls asleep.  However, between his taking apart the flashlights in the house and Mommy forgetting a little on at the camp site this weekend, he didn't have any light to read by come Monday night.  That's when my husband remembered that there was still a package leftover from earlier in the summer.  So for the past two nights, he's happily been going to bed with a glow stick to read books.

Now I just have to make it to the store today for a new flashlight.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teaching Tuesday--driving edition

Where's the dead space in your day?  What about in the car?
As you're driving to and fro, picking up groceries, dropping kids off at swim lessons, what are you teaching your children in that space of time?
These are just a few ideas of what you can be reviewing in that dead time?

  • Colors: stop lights, signs, objects in the car
  • Numbers: signs, counting objects on the road
  • Letters: playing the alphabet game, singing the ABCs
  • Presidents: reciting presidents in order
  • Scripture: recite them with hand motions (stop lights only please)
  • Planets: order from the sun
  • Days of the Week
  • Learning First and Last Name as well as Parent's Name, Address, and Phone Number
For more ideas, check out this article from Handprints on the Wall: Lesson Time On the Go

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tagging on a Tackle it Tuesday Item

I have one more item to tag on to my tackle today. Awhile back, I started an account through Artscow.com and have been receiving my free prints faithfully. The quality is fantastic and I love the service. It's very high quality.
So today I need to download my photos from the camera to the computer and up to artscow's site. My free prints will be expiring very soon so I'd better get going.
If you'd like to try their services, let me know and I'll give you a referral code. They really are great.

What are you tackling today?

Tackle it Tuesday

Camping was so much fun this weekend. Big Boy loved what he called his "camping spot." We played on the water, rolled down the hill, ate tons of great food, and enjoyed our time with family. It was wonderful.
So now the real work begins.
  1. Unpack the car
  2. Put away the camping equipment
  3. Unpack the suitcases
  4. Do the laundry
  5. Wash sleeping bags
  6. Make hardboiled eggs into egg salad
That's my tackle for today. It's hard to put it all away when we're still on a high from the weekend. But oh, I need to get it done. We have too much stuff in the back of the car. Who knew that such a simple activity as camping could require so much "stuff?" Wish me luck!

Menu Monday 9/1-9/7

wow! Who can possibly believe it's September? All our big summer plans have come and gone. Cooler fall weather is hopefully on its way. Harvest produce is so to be available and the kids are growing all too fast.

Our big family reunion was this past weekend and we had such a great time. All in all, there was 7 cousins, all the aunts and uncles, and tons of 2nd cousins, besides us, my mom, and grandma. Since getting married, it's become harder and harder to connect with my cousins. Holidays are split between families and time passes all too quickly. It was a joy to see Big Boy having a chance to play with all the cousins that are so special to us. As he told me a few days ago, "I only have two grandmas, but I have LOTS of cousins."

But now, although still on a weekend high, we are trying to fall into a better routine after being so busy. So without further ado, here's our weekly menu:

Reunion: Leftover breakfast: cantalope, muffins, eggs
Lunch: snacks and leftovers
Dinner: Leftover potato salad, green salad, and baked beans

Breakfast: Toast and Jelly
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, veggies and dip, crackers
Dinner: Potluck: Leftover cupcakes

Breakfast: Yogurt and granola
Lunch: Egg Salad sandwiches, green salad, crackers
Dinner: Quesadillas, potato salad, baked beans

Breakfast: Toast and Jelly, Hard Boiled Egg
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrots and dip
Dinner: Lentil Tacos, green salad

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Egg Salad sandwiches, crackers,
Dinner: Pesto Pasta with Chicken, green salad

Lunch: Leftovers, crackers

Breakfast: Leftover waffles
Lunch: Leftovers, crackers
Dinner: Hubby: Staff Meeting
Me and the Kids: Garliky Bean Enchiladas

Cheese cubes
Granola bars
Molasses cookies
Cottage Cheese

Check out what others are planning at Organizing Junkie.
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