Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Firsts for Our Family

I had intended to post this yesterday but my to do list was a mile long and my family and home-keeping comes first. So this may seem like old news but our Easter was made up with a lot of firsts for our family and thought I would share them with you.


It was our first Easter living in Kansas away from all our family. It was also our first Easter at a new church.



It was the first Easter where I was responsible for the ENTIRE meal. I was a little intimidated having the weight of an expensive piece of meat on my shoulders but I guess with ham, unless you overcook it and dry it out, you really can't mess it up.


It was the first time I attempted making a pie crust. I wanted my Grandma's recipe but I couldn't get a hold of her in time. I used this recipe instead from AllRecipes.com. If you have a great pie recipe you use feel free to send it to me. It turned out okay for my first try but I made it a little thick. I know to roll it more for next time!

We also started something new with the egg hunt. I added scripture verses into the eggs that were about Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Eian put them in the order they happened. Since he's 10 I had to come up with something challenging for him. He seemed to like it and it helped me by writing out all the verses and bringing the Scriptures closer to my heart. I would have typed them but the computer was acting up and processing slowly. I appreciate writing them now though. :)

Although I missed being near extended family, it was nice spending some much needed family time with my three guys. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!


This post is linked to Titus 2sday

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Last Minute Easter Activity for Kids

It's easy to become busy during Easter with the holiday meal planning, shopping and cooking, church activities and services, egg hunts, buying goodies for the kids, etc.





So it's understandable that if or when you have time to slow down you forget something. Unfortunately, it's easy to forget the main reason we even celebrate Easter...the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.



Here are two easy and quick activities to do with the kiddos to help remember Christ this Easter.




Resurrection Rolls


We've made this a tradition the past few years in our house but as I share this with friends I find there are many variations. This recipe is simple and works for us though.


You Will Need:

1 can of crescent rolls

8 regular marshmallows

cinnamon



Just unroll the dough and separate following the perforation marks. Sprinkle cinnamon on it to represent Christ's body being prepared with spices for burial. Place the marshmallow on top, which is Jesus' body and then roll the dough around the marshmallow just as the stone was rolled in front of his tomb. Make sure you seal all edges to prevent any oozing.



Bake the rolls according to the instructions on the package.



Eat and enjoy and notice that just as Jesus' tomb, they are EMPTY!




Some of the marshmallows ooze out sometimes despite your sealing efforts but if you bake on a Silpat sheet (any silicone baking sheet is okay) or parchment paper you should be fine.



Plant Seeds








Planting is always a good way to tie in your faith and show that just as God creates new life from that seed, we are also a new creation in Christ. It was a rather warm day when we did this Friday so the kids enjoyed getting outside and of course getting dirty. Yep, they're all boy!


I hope everyone has a blessed Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Consume and Be Consumed

I normally would be typing a money saving post to link up to Frugal Friday's over at Life As Mom. However, instead of sharing what I'm learning about saving money I want to share how I am already rich!
Thanks to Jessica at Life as Mom for setting the "tone" with her great post here.


It's Good Friday and I was reading this morning about the Lord's Last Supper in Mt 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-25 and Luke 22:17-20. They are verses I've heard numerous times, especially at communion, but it wasn't until this morning that the Lord really allowed me to see the fullness of the dinner's symbollism.

In verse 26 Jesus broke the bread (just as I'm sure physically His bones were broken during His beating* after I posted this I remembered from John 19:26 that not one of Christ's bones were actually broken-sorry for the mistake*) and He gave thanks for it and gave it to His disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."





26:27-29 Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, "Drink from it,all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

Again, these are familiar verses but what really choked me up was Christ's words, "Take and eat." "Drink from it, all of you."


What is it we do when we eat, when we drink? We consume.


God wants us to accept the freedom the Gospel truth offers and consume it. He will in turn consume us, our very souls, and lead us to victory over sin.


Will you consume the truth of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection this Easter and let the Lord consume you?



Become rich with the greatest treasure this life has to offer, a relationship with God.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Opening My Eyes to Freedom

As Easter approaches I've been trying to spend extra time in my devotions reflecting on the gospel.






I was reading today from Mark 10:46-52 about the blind man Bartimaeus. He was a blind man sitting by the roadside as Jesus, His disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho to head to Jerusalem.



Bartimeus heard it was Jesus passing and he shouted, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" When others following Jesus heard him, they began to rebuke him and told him to be quiet.



It shows they weren't fully understanding Jesus' purpose. Many who followed Jesus, including His disciples, believed He was the son of God but thought His going to Jerusalem was to deliver the Jews from the Roman government.



I try to put myself there and imagine how the crowd was pumped up thinking of Jesus more as a political figure. They may have been hoping Jesus would overthrow the Romans and rule Israel. The closer they got to Jerusalem the closer they were to freedom. Then out of nowhere, this blind beggar shouts for Jesus. How dare he? How dare he divert Jesus' attention away from His real mission?



How many times have I misunderstood God's mission for my own life?



But oh how I love Christ's response in Mark 10:49, "Call him."



It says in 10:50 Throwing His cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.



Jesus then asks him in 10:51 "What do you want me to do for you?"



Then Bartimaeus said, "Rabbi, I want to see."



I find it fascinating that just as this blind man excitedly jumped to his feet and threw off his cloak, the Lord longs for us to come to Him with excitement, letting go of anything weighing us down.



Just like this blind man, our hearts should be crying out to the Lord desiring to see and to be brought out of the darkness.



As we think about Easter and what Christ has done for us on the cross, I pray that I will continuously have a heart that shouts, "Lord have mercy on me! Help me, I want to see this life, my life and those around me, the way you do!"





And oh we're not done with the story, here's verse 10:52 "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he (Bartimaeus) received sight and followed Jesus along the road.



This blind man was following Jesus along the road, the road to freedom. Little did he or those following Jesus, that this would mean eternal freedom not political freedom.



I also find it interesting that this is the last recorded miracle Jesus performed before entering the Holy City. This speaks volumes to me as to where God's heart is. The last miracle He performed before dieing on the cross was to give a poor, blind beggar sight! I am and was, before giving my life to Christ, that poor and blind beggar.



He wants us to cry out to Him and to be desperate in our need to see!



So as we reflect on the gift of Christ's death, burial and resurrection let's ask God for sight to see and to be free!



Have a joy filled day!





Monday, April 18, 2011

Developing a Personal Mission Statement


It's Monday again and I have been trying to make it a habit to partake in Multitude Mondays at A Holy Experience. Multitude Mondays encourages us, as women and children of the King, to thank God for all the gifts He gives us.


I also like to partake in Project Mondays over At the Well and they are challenging their readers to create a personal mission statement.


So as I was contemplating today's post, I thought about how these two blog link ups are intertwined.


I thank God for the roles He has given me as David's wife and companion, as Eian and Elias' mom, keeper of this household, keeper of this one physical body I have, my roles as daughter, sister, friend, etc.


If I believe God is ALL powerful, ALL knowing, ALL loving, and ALWAYS in control then I must believe that the people in my life are put here for a reason. They are here for a purpose and for an opportunity to let the light of Christ shine through me and into them.


My ultimate goal and purpose for this site is to walk along side all of you reading and encourage you to fill YOUR roles more passionately and intentionally and allow this desire to truly SIMPLIFY your life.


When we focus on what God has designed us to do, and purpose ourselves by aligning our desires appropriately, then that's when we find real fulfillment. This has been my experience anyway.


Believe me though, I am by no means saying I have it all together or that I have even had a day recently where I have really felt completely fulfilled. And we may not really ever feel this until the day the Lord calls us home but I do know that feeling like I've missed the mark on impacting the lives of those I love in a positive way, on a regular basis is NOT what God wants.


I am simply admitting I recognize this truth. So how can this knowledge be implemented? How can I give thanks to God for these roles? How can He be ultimately glorified?


God has been slowly revealing to me (or maybe I've just been slow to catch on) that all these desires to fill my roles more purposefully need to be outlined somehow to keep me on track. I think we all suffer from mild cases of ADHD, or at least I do, and it's so easy for me to get distracted.


I was ecstatic to see that the Project over At the Well was developing a personal mission statement.


I honestly had just asked David last night what he felt were some important tasks needing finished. God bless him but he wasn't much help! He couldn't really think of anything other than working with Eian to finish his diorama for school. I was looking for guidance and direction because I have really been feeling like my wheels are spinning lately.


It dawned on me, as I was washing dishes last night (my daydreaming time) that while I think it's important to include your spouse, the best way to find guidance in prioritizing and finding purpose is asking God. I admit I do not do this nearly as often as I should. So with my arms wrist deep in dish water, I did just that.


Today seems a little more clear thanks to the Lord and I do not think it was just a "coincidence" that today's At the Well project is Developing a Personal Misson Statement.

I will be prayerfully contemplating, organizing, and implementing mine. Won't you join me? What areas of your life are you feeling unproductive in? What are some practical ways you can fulfill your roles more effectively?


Is it making yourself removed from that never ending to do list and purposefully spend a chunk of time with your kids, is it purposefully planning to spend an hour alone with your husband tonight by getting the kiddos to bed early and staying OFF the computer, is it purposefully getting to bed on time so you can rise before the kids and make time for God, is it purposefully planning to make healthier food choices...? So I guess you can see these are a few of mine but I want to hear from YOU!

What can you do in your life NOW to give thanks to God by living more purposefully in the roles He has given YOU?


Friday, April 15, 2011

10 Tips to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons


  • I am a huge supporter of coupons and could not and would not shop without them. However, as I strive for a simple, well-balanced, full life I have to wonder if my couponing has become more of a hindrance than a help. Anyone else with me?

  • I think it's great that many are jumping in on the coupon thing but the truth is the more people who use coupons means the harder it is to get that deal. It could just be my area but it's kinda 50/50 as to if that item will be in the store or not. Gas is just too high to go shopping for things that may be gone already.

  • While I don't intend to make this a deal finding blog (because there are so many good ones already like Motherhood on aDime or Money Saving Mom or Common Sense with Money) I do think money and the saving of it and being frugal does come in to play while striving for a simple life.

  • It's difficult to fully enjoy life when you have a bunch of debt hanging over your head and you have to cut debt down by being frugal. My husband and I have finally begun to figure that out and are starting our path to being debt-free! Coupons are an excellent way to do that but let's face it.... they take time and energy and more than I have to spend most days! I still love coupons but I don't beat myself up over not having clipped them and organized them for a month like I used to!

So what's a gal to do if she wants to cut her grocery costs without all the coupon stress?



  • I have compiled a list of tricks and just plain ole common sense I've learned throughout my grocery shopping years and want to share them with you. Now some of them you all might say "Psh, that's nothing new. I've been doing that for years." Believe it or not though there are some gals out there who have been blessed up until now where they have not had to think about how they grocery shop. Until now they go to the store when they need something whether it's on sale or not. I on the other hand have not had that luxury since kids came along and don't think I could shop like that even if I was able :)

  • But those women are still out there and I know because I am friends with some of them. A few have recently been asking me how I spend only $200-$250 a month on groceries for our family of 4. (I'm sure there are some major deal divas out there that spend MUCH less than this) So here are some of my money saving ideas without using coupons:



  • 1. Make a list of prices. -Now I must be honest I am just not diligent enough to keep a master list of ALL the prices at every store but some, my sister included, swear by it.

-The purpose is so you know what the rock bottom price on an item is. If you pay attention, over time you will get an idea for what the best price is for something.


-If anything, either write down or memorize at least the items you purchase often. For example,I will never pay more than $1 for a box of cereal, 17 cents per diaper or more than the equivalent of $1 per 4 roll pckg of toilet paper.



  • 2. Find out your stores' cycle for marking down meats and veggies.

  • -Oh how I love those Manger Special stickers!


  • -This will vary from store to store but typically they will mark down these items on Thursday (making room for weekend business) and then on Sunday or Monday (whatever doesn't sell over the weekend).

  • -Be smart, just because it's marked down doesn't mean it's a good deal. If the original price was high to begin with then you're probably paying normal price for near Add Imageexpiration meat or veggies. This is where being knowledgeable on prices is important.

  • 3. Make a Menu Plan according to the stores weekly specials

- Again this is old news for some of you but if you're going to do anything from this list this would probably be the most important!


-Search recipe sites using the ingredients that you see the best deal for. A few I like are Just a Pinch Recipe Club, All Recipes, Kraft Foods


-Here are also some great resources for menu planning and recipes: I'm an Organizing Junkie and The Happy Housewife



  • 4. Freeze Meals

- Freezing meals or pre-cooked meats (make sure you use fresh meat and not meat that's been previously frozen and thawed) are handy to pop in the oven on a busy day and help you avoid the drive-thru!


- I have strayed a bit from this myself but it was a life saver when I was working 40+ hours a week away from home several months ago. I would cook large batches of maybe 3-5 of my families' favorite meals/ breakfasts/snacks and freeze them. I just did this every other weekend or when it was the most convenient for me so we could have an on going supply of something that was easy to pop in the oven or microwave.


-Another great web resource is Jessica's site Life As Mom or her dedicated recipe site Good Cheap Eats . She's actually in the process of writing a cookbook featuring freezer meals (or it may be ON freezer meals, not sure).



  • 5. Grocery Shop Alone

-I always go over budget when my 10 yr old or husband go with me. More eyes and more stomachs make for more money dished out at checkout! It's just a fact.



  • 6.Don't Shop Hungry

-Kind of a no brainer but we all need the reminder! I like to have a granola bar or other snack in the car handy in case I need it before shopping.



  • 7. Stock up on meats when they're at the rock bottom price and watch store sale ad cycles.

-Stock up on expensive items like meat when they're at the lowest price point.


-Most stores have a 3 month ad cycle. So if ground chuck is at it's lowest of $1.77lb now (it's usually the lowest in our area anyway) then buy enough if you can for 2-3 months worth and freeze it.Again,this is where having a general idea of pricing comes in handy.



  • 8. Cook more Meat-Free Dishes

-Have one or two nights where you have things like a baked potato bar or a soup night so that it's not so obvious you're missing meat.


-You should have seen the look on my husband's face when I told him awhile back I wanted to have at least one night without meat in our dinner! I don;t think he minds it now :)



  • 9. Eat More Produce Without Going Broke-Shop @ Discount Food Stores

-I used to shy away from discount food stores like Aldi's or Save-A-Lot because sometimes the quality didn't seem as good. But if you watch what you're buying you can get some GREAT produce deals!


-If these stores have door buster deals like 39 cents for avocados or 29 cents for bananas but they don't look the best then use them in something like guacamole or use the bananas for banana bread.



  • 10. Use Cheap Ingredients for Fillers

-Use ingredients that make meals go a long way like rice, pasta, potatoes and beans. These are generally inexpensive but really extend your meat source. We eat a lot of rice and pasta around here with these hungry boys!



So I hope this helps Simplify your grocery shopping without having to kill yourself racing to the store to snag that great coupon deal before anyone else, or stay up until 3 am clipping (not that I've ever done that, hee hee). Coupons are great but with a little planning and creativity you can SAVE without all the coupon hassle!


So what do you do to help cut your grocery costs? I would love to hear them! I'm learning like the rest of you and could use some more tips :)


This post was linked to Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Goodbye Numbness-I am Alive!

So many of you have already heard me go on and on about my new favorite book One Thousand Gifts by my new favorite author, Ann Voskamp. But I really cannot say enough about how God is using this book to help put everything into focus for me.

When I say everything I mean, my relationship with my husband, my role in our home, my relationship with my kids, and even this blog but it's all more clear because I have a deeper understanding of my most important relationship in Christ.


Sure, I'm a Christian of five years and sure I know how I should love and treat my family and how I should act. Let's face it though ladies, people (especially those we live with) are not always so lovable (and often times neither are we). And sure we're taught as Christians to love one another as Christ loves us (John 13:34), not to return evil for evil (Romans 12:17), and God has a good purpose for all things (Romans 8:28) but how do we practically apply all that knowledge of scripture?


Ann goes into great detail how God taught her the art of giving thanks. He led her to a place where she now gives thanks for 1000 daily gifts, big and small, from how the sun glistens on a soap bubble in the sink to the smile of a child.


Since reading the book I started pondering what is it I want, long for, yearn for, what is it I feel I'm missing? On a rare occasion when I was alone, driving to the grocery store on an emergency milk expedition, God revealed this to me... Numbness. I don't want to feel numb.


One of my greatest fears is to wake up one morning feeling as if I never took it all in, this life that is, and with it all the experiences and gifts that God gives. I don't want to waste this life God's blessed me with by focusing on what I don't have but instead giving Him thanks for what I do have.


I want to use this life to glorify Him more, to bring joy and love into the lives of my husband, my kids, and all who God places in my path. I want to take time to just sit and watch how a toddler marvels at a butterfly, or how a ten year old burrows his eyebrows low and sticks his tongue out during an intense Wii battle, or how my husband's face lights up when he comes into the room and sees me and the kids playing together.


The bottom line here, and point to my ramblings, is I don't want to miss God's gifts, His good and perfect gifts in ALL this life offers. All means just that...even when my husband shows his irritation AGAIN, or when my son forgets to make his bed AGAIN, or when the baby torments the cat AGAIN, or when I lose my cool towards the kids AGAIN... I can make the choice to give thanks even in those circumstances! And yes girls, it IS a choice. A choice that God backs you up on if you're willing to trust Him and to wait on Him. (Dt 31:8)


Psalm 33:20

We WAIT in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.


So far in giving thanks, I have learned it takes my focus off the negative and instead the light of all the positive shines through. I can take even life's frustrations and stop and say "Thank you Lord. Although this situation is hard, I know it is here for a reason and you are allowing it in my life to strengthen my faith in you. What will you have me to learn from it? How can I glorify you through it it Lord?" Wow, what a difference this has made in my attitude towards my husband and kids! It allows me to set that peaceful tone in our home that I keep saying I want more of. Finally, I am learning it all starts with giving thanks to the Lord.


Will YOU thank the the Lord and start today by making a list of ALL the good gifts He's blessed you with today? As we approach Easter and ponder Christ's death, burial and Resurrection, I think we can safely say He is trustworthy, He loves us and He is faithful!



Have a blessed day everyone and start counting! :)


Visit Women Living Well Wednesdays, Ann Voskamp's site for Walk With Him Wednesdays and Internet Cafe Devotions for Word Filled Wednesdays

Monday, April 11, 2011

Journaling: Private Love Letters

As I caught a glimpse of the last few empty pages in my journal I started reflecting on the art of journaling and why I started it in the first place. I don't know about you but as a new Christian (5 years ago that is) I had heard several times from well meaning ladies, the importance of journaling. Whether it was to document your prayers in written form or keep a list of things your grateful for... journal, journal, journal, you MUST journal! Oh how I tried, attempted for a few days, a few weeks, and failed,attempted again and failed...again. So I was a little ecstatic to see only two fresh, untouched pages left in my journal today! It made me ponder why. Why did I finally, after many failed attempts, keep at it? So I thumbed back to my very first entry which I am now going to be transparent and share with you. In this I think we'll find our answer.


Monday, July 26, 2010 I planned on starting this journal back in January as a way to document my findings as I read through the Bible chronologically. Well, here it is the end of July and I'm finally putting pen to paper! Nonetheless, I know I need an outlet in which to get my rambling thoughts out in hopes of sorting through and making sense of them. Being apart form David has been difficult but God is using my loneliness to do a great work in me. This journal may be a great way of documenting His work! Well I guess that wasn't so bad after all, not too terribly revealing :) I look back to that day, that period of my life and it was no joke, it was really HARD! My family was separated while David was working a new job in Florida with the Air Force. The babies and I stayed behind waiting, wondering if this would be a permanent thing and if we would move soon. There were just so many unknowns and fears coming at me that I needed, ached, and longed for the Lord. Journaling became my escape and more importantly the words in it became my personal love letters to God. Just as our prayers should allow us to be open, humbled before Him, so was my journaling. This is why I kept it up because it was just another medium in which to communicate to my Heavenly Father and I found fulfillment through Him in that medium just as in prayer. It was no longer a thing I thought I had to do if I wanted to be on the Good Christian list. It was my personal thoughts, feelings, struggles on paper. The best part is I can go back through and now see where God has brought me. I can see those heartfelt cries on that paper weren't for nought. I see because in some things He has brought me to the promised land and in some His answers are still unknown completely. Thank you Lord for the gift of communicating with you whether through words spoken or in print, thank you! P.S. Sorry for the hard to read format. Blogger is messing with my spacing once I post and frankly I have lost my patience and time to try and fix it! :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Feeling Homesick

For those of you who know me are probably wondering why I'm including an Ohio photo under the post title of feeling homesick.

I'm joining Jenn at Country Girl's Ramblings for Simply Saturday's and as I was going through my photo archives that reminded me of home, this one from a few years ago pulled at my heart strings. This Ohio sign, while we lived in Indiana, had become a familiar landmark for us as we made 3-4 trips a year to visit David's mom in Columbus. I miss her :(


It also got me thinking about how I just love pictures of roads, paths, streams,etc. They always make me wonder where they lead. That's why I chose the one I did for my blog header. Do you like it? I took this last year before we left Indiana. I drove this route almost everyday and that barn always made me smile, not sure why. I guess it's because it seemed clean, crisp, new among bland fields of corn and soybeans. Every time I look at that photo is takes me back to HOME.


The best part of this photo was something I actually intended to crop out...my rear view side mirror. I decided to leave it in because I began finding myself looking into it down that road. However, unlike most photos I like of paths and roads, I know where this one leads...HOME.


Yep, I'm officially experiencing the homesick blues! What makes you think of home?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

5 Tips for Leaving the House on Time



Is the front door your enemy like it is mine? Okay well not the front door but the task of getting OUT of it?


I've really been enjoying my time at home and having the sole position of SAHM. I have days where, other than taking Eian to and picking up from school, I don't go anywhere. I never thought I would become a homebody but it's true I could probably be a hermit if I was allowed!


There's at least one day a week though that I have to go out to get groceries, run other errands and such. Those days prove tough for me when I have to constantly pick up toys, spills, change diapers, do the coupon thing and check my websites, get out the door before naptime hits, ooh let me check my email one more time and the list goes on!


I am finally fed up with not getting out the door until late afternoon and then having to rush to get Eian picked up from school. You all know I'm a major list maker so I've made a check list and thought I would share with you. ! Yay! Oh come on you know you're excited :)


1. Make a time line list of all the things I know I have to do BEFORE I LEAVE.

This really helps me because I am a chronic under estimator of time. The more I have the more I try to get done and then I'm frazzled trying to leave.


Making a list of even the mundane, routine things like breakfast is helpful for me. I have also had to learn I can't do everything in one day. Making pancakes and eggs probably wouldn't be the best when I want to leave the house by eight!


2. Maximize time away from home-Plan your trip

Okay so I know this isn't like revolutionary but it really does help to have a list of places I need to visit. I also put a number next to each one in the order I will go there. This not only maximizes your time by not back-tracking but it also saves in gas.


3. Do any prep for my errands/groceries the night before.

I'm now thinking through my days' errands the night before which really helps. I now plan my grocery trip by going through the sale ads and clipping the coupons before I go to bed.


I have also been putting little snack bags together and a small cooler if I know Elias and I will be out long or around lunch time. This really helps me stick to my weekly spending money and can't use the excuse, "I was in a rush to leave and didn't have time to grab something." This also makes for a happy little guy!


4. Leave first thing in the morning.

I know this may not be for everyone but since I take Eian to school anyway, running my errands immediately after dropping him off is best for us.


I find that the more we stay in the house before leaving the more messes we make and that leaves me in a constant state of running circles. So my new motto is Get Out While I can and FAST!


5. Pack the vehicle while kids are eating.

This is my most dreaded part of leaving. I never look forward to taking my purse (or some may call it a suitcase), my coupon organizer box, my bag of store ad inserts, a diaper bag, a lunch cooler if approriate...oh and the kids, out to the car and usually haivng to make multiple trips! Doing this with a toddler who follows me EVERYWHERE proves very trying. He has also discovered the playground across the street and can run a lot faster than me!


I am much more motivated to leave when I can set Eian and Elias up for breakfast and I can "sneak" out while they are occupied.


Well there you have it and now I have it for all the world to see and so I can stay on task! I know actually making a list for this seems trivial but it has really helped me.


So what do you do to make getting out the door a little easier?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Snapshot of Life's Sweet Moments

Jenn at a Country Girl's Ramblings is hosting Simply Saturday's . It's where you share pictures that remind you of a simple life and of home.


Do you ever have those moments in life where you could embed into your memory forever like, well a photo? Well here's mine from yesterday.
Enjoy Saturday, simply! Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Having a Little April Fool's Fun

Add ImageI'm not usually known as a prankster and probably take life way too seriously sometimes. April Fool's Day brings out...well the FOOL in me though! :)

There's something about having a day you can plot, plan and follow through with a goofy prank on an unsuspecting family member or friend that's a little thrilling.



So who's my "victim" this year you ask? Well that would be these guy here!



My son is at the age where he loves practical jokes and is always trying to pull one on me and his dad.


So I thought I would put my old scrapbooking supplies (from before days of children) to good use. These little sticky guys are great on the under side of a breakfat plate!


Yep when Eian went to put his empty plate in the kitchen he was delivered quite a surprise!

Now I know many of you mischevious moms probably have more clever ideas than this one but not bad for a last minute thing huh? The whole point was to have fun with Eian and get him smiling before school and I think I succeeded! Happy Foolin' Day!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Simple Recipe: Chicken Florentine w/ Penne Pasta


It's been awhile since I shared a recipe and Keli at Feeding Four on $25 a Week is hosting What's Cooking Thursday's and thought I would join in!

I wish I had this phenomenal, one-of-a-kind recipe to share but I don't. It is a really tasty one though and easy too. It's Chicken Florentine w/ Penne Pasta. The secret is Kraft's Philly cooking cream, regular flavor. I'm sure I could come up with my own "cooking cream" but the prepared cream really did make it easy. Now I must confess that there was a recipe on the container similar to this but I put my own twist on it.



Ingredients

3 lg chicken breasts-diced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 container Kraft cooking cream, regular flavor

1/2 cup of milk

1 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp Italian seasoning blend

1 small pckg of frozen spinach, thawed

1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved

3 cups cooked penne pasta

Shredded Mozzarella or Grated Parmesan (optional)


Directions

In large skillet saute' the chicken in the heated oil over medium high heat until browned. Drain spinach and press firmly in paper towel to release any excess water. Add spinach, cooking cream, milk, garlic, and seasoning blend to chicken until mixture bubbles. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional minute. Serve over prepared pasta. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

This was sooo delicious. I can see myself making this one again for sure. I've been trying to incorporate more veggies into our diets. Italian food is always an tasty way to sneak those in and have the kids still eat it. I thought this would be a home run and then I look over to see a pile of green on Eian's plate! He was picking out the spinach. Oh well I guess I'll have to step up my game and hide it a little better next time!


Make sure to go visit Keli's blog for more great recipes!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Simplify: Be Content in Circumstances

What is Contentment?

Here's the definition according to Webster's


Contentment-

1) Mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are

2) Assenting to or willing to accept circumstances, a proposed course of action, etc.


I have to be honest here, I almost titled this post as Simple Mom Confessions. The reason I am blogging on contentment is because I really needed to practice it yesterday and I wasn't...at all!! As I continue to pray for God's guidance and purpose for this blog, as I am praying for guidance in all areas of my life right now, these thoughts, concepts, and words kept coming to mind.


Live Contently, Simply, & Fully


After the rough day I had yesterday (they were mostly self inflicted rough spots) I really wanted to seek God first this morning. Contentment is what He put on my heart and truly what I believe He wants me to share with you today.


I am finding the key to a simple life is fine tuning the art of contentment. If I seek contentment in all areas of my life then I stop spending money on things I want and don't really need, and I get off the hamster wheel of never having enough time in the day to accomplish all I want to and I learn to see my trials as a tool to help me be even more content.

I had to stop and access what areas of my life I needed to apply contentment. So I decided that over the course of the next few days I will share what I'm finding and what the Lord is showing me. The first area I know I need to practice contentment in is:


Stress (Circumstances)

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. Phillipians 4:11-12


Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2


Now if Paul, who was imprisoned when he wrote this, can find contentment in all things then that's what I should strive for with God's help. This is where I struggle. I find it easier (this is me personally)to be content with money/material things and my time than I do in this area.









It's those little moments of the lost shoe when you're running late, the twentieth time of putting my toddler in time out, or the meal plans gone bad (see homemade tortilla photo). In those moments whatever is happening right then and there seems magnified and I even justify my exploding temper and outburst of frustration.


The Lord is slowly revealing to me that when I allow my anger to get the best of me I'm saying that I don't deserve this, this is unfair,etc. However, God is opening my eyes to if I believe His promises like Joshua 1:5, 1 Corinthians 10:13& Romans 8:28 then these trials, no matter how big or small, are for my betterment.


My betterment? I certainly wasn't thinking that after 5 months of moving from Indiana (where I call home, grew up there, family is there) to Florida, then getting settled in there and getting used to the beach life to be told "Guess what Honey? I've been offered a job in Kansas!" was for my betterment. But after being here for 3 weeks I can honestly say that I am better for it.

My faith has grown beyond anything I thought possible. My appreciation for my husband and my family as a whole is deeper. My prayers in other areas have been answered as a result to the move. The bottom line here is that I am on the road to contentment (which ultimately leads to simplifying) through circumstances I never would have asked to happen if it were up to me!

C.S. Lewis said "If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think this world as a place of training and correction and it's not so bad."


*Disclaimer: Please read this post with discretion. I am in no way suggesting you stay in a volatile situation where yourself or someone else is in harm's way. The trials I am speaking of here are the everyday, minor annoyances I allow to be much bigger than they should. If you are struggling with a more serious trial that is ongoing, harmful or desturctive, please pray and seek the help and advice of a pastor, counselor, family member, etc.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simplify Life in the Kitchen- Menu Planning


I recently began participating in Menu Planning Mondays at I'm an Organizing Junkie. I've been informally menu planning for years. It was crucial when I was a full-time working away from home momma. I had grand ideas when I dreamed of staying home that I would be able to concoct these fancy gourmet meals and I would have hours to prepare tasty, interesting meals!

Well, here's a reality check for me, the more you're home the more messes you make and thus the less time you really do have! Yeah, never thought about that in my daydreams! So I have found that menu planning is just as important when you stay home as it was 6 months ago when I worked away from home. I know a lot of you have been menu planning for along time, but for others, the concept may be brand new.

What is a Menu Plan?


  • Seems like a goofy question but really I have had friends ask me, "A menu plan? What do you mean by that?"

  • A menu plan, simply put (no pun intended) is having a plan for several days worth of meals.

  • How do I start a menu plan? There are lots of techniques: like having a month's worth of family favorite recipes and just rotating the same things, or making meal plans by using what you have on hand, or making a plan using what's on sale for the week at the grocery store. There's no wrong or right way to make a plan. Do what you find works best for you!

  • A menu plan can look different for each one of us, let me explain. A menu plan to one woman could be buying for and organizing 3 meals a day for a week. Others, may just have a menu plan for dinner and plan for a month (this is what I try to do).

Want to start? Here are some great meal planning resources:



  • I'm an Organzing Junkie-I know I included her link above but she really is the best place to start. She spells the menu planning process out in an easy-to-understand way.

  • Money Saving Mom- This is probably my favorite blog because of all the great tips and tools she has on her site. The best part is she's real and doesn't pretend to have "it" all together. Make sure to also check out her video series on meal planning.

  • Life As Mom- Jessica's speciality is freezer cooking and has lots of great tips and good recipes that make it easy. She's also in the process of writing a cookbook and she knows what she's talking about!

  • The Happy Housewife-She's a mom of 7 kids where meal planning is a must! Need I say more?

  • Just a Pinch Recipe Club- My new favorite recipe site. I've used All Recipes for while and still like it but this one is much more user friendly in my opinion.
Happy Planning! Oh and I did originally post by menu plan in here but I removed it because of some blogger formatting issues. I can't figure it out right now so I removed it for the moment, sorry!

Project: Kiss Your Husband!


Sounds like a fun project huh? I recently took up reading the At the Well blog again and I'm so glad I make the effort read posts from there time to time. It's a really encouraging blog and offers applicable ways to be a Titus 2 woman.


Every week they have a project or a challenge to try in your home that will help you live out the Titus 2:4-5. This week is Project: Kiss Your Husband. The idea is to take just 6 seconds to slow down and take the time to really focus on kissing your husband passionately (this need not be something inappropriate while kids are around, hee hee). This is to let him know that while he's away at work you will miss him deeply. What man wouldn't feel loved if instead of a quick peck while you're rushing around you actually let the world stop for 6 seconds and put his face in your hands and really kiss him like you mean it?


So I can't wait for my husband to leave for work so I can plant a big one on him! Have fun this week and go show your husband that he's important to you, you miss him when he's gone, and most importantly...HE IS LOVED!


Happy smooching!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Day Fit for a King

Yesterday was a day fit for a king or a ten year old one that is. Yep, I would say Eian had a pretty good birthday. We only got him one gift and all we did was free or pretty close but he didn't care. I think he just liked being the center of attention all day!

The day started off with me letting him sleep in and and then making him blue pancakes with candles.
After that we were off to every kids paradise, what I jokingly call the germ factory, but it was free and he loves going. I guess I have their birthday club and free tokens to thank for that!




He also wanted to check out the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame. If you're a sports fan, like he is, it's great and FREE! He was in boy heaven with all the sports memorabilia everywhere. I try to act enthused but I am not a natural sports fan. I guess with having all boys I need to get with it huh?












We had a few other stops, like picking up a DS game from Best Buy that my sister in Florida got him, thanks Aunt Carol!
We finished the day with his choice of dinner. First he wanted me to make
London broil, mashed potatoes and Wal-Mart corn.
Yes, Wal-Mart brand corn is the only one we'll eat
other than fresh! He changed his mind the other
day though to a hot dog bar. He cracks me up!




His big 1-0 wouldn't be complete without cake and ice cream. Last year I did the rite of passage for moms of boys and made the erupting volcano cake .
But this year he wanted something simple (thank goodness) and he went with plain ole chocolate.






Here's some pics of him and his dad being goofy.


All in all we had a great day and I am in awe of how fast 10 years flew by! sniff, sniff

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Baby Turns 10

It's hard to believe it's been ten years since I cradled my first born in my arms. Ten years ago today I discovered that although I was great with other peoples' kids, I wasn't quite sure at first what to do with my own. Ten years ago today God brought this smart, compassionate, witty, sensitive, reflective, and handsome boy into our lives and I am so grateful!
He's still sleeping and so his birthday hasn't officially started but I will have pics up later today of all our happenings. But in the meant time, I thought it appropriate, since he's in the double digits, to totally embarrass him with a pic from 5 years ago. Unfortunately, my scanner isn't set up yet and this was the oldest one I could find.

I just love his toothless grin!





Happy Birthday Buddy!







Thursday, March 24, 2011

Steps for a Cheap & Fun Spring Break


It's no surprise that many families will not be going away this year for Spring Break. The increasing price of gas and groceries have left many unable to afford a vacation this year. We have not had a vacation for some time now and we are very familiar to the term Staycation.
Earlier this week we spent the day exploring the local attractions and only spent $3.11! What made ours cheap was sleeping in way later than normal and eating a late breakfast. We took some snacks and drinks and made it back in time for an early dinner, no lunch for us but we were all good. The $3.11 was spent on all 4 of us treating ourselves to Baskin Robbins ice cream. We had 2 get a scoop free coupons, yay!

I know staycation's have become popular for others as well since the economy plunged a few years ago but many still fall into the trap of spending way too much even for a staycation. I know this from firsthand experience and here are my tips on a successful and inexpensive Staycation during your Spring Break.

1. Lose the guilt!
Let me see if you all can relate. Here is my thought processes from Spring Break and Summer's past:

"I feel so bad that we can't take a REAL vacation. It's ok, it's ok I can still make this fun and memorable without spending as much as we would on a big vacation. Let's see, there's the indoor waterpark. He would looove that. It is $45 for all of us BUT it is cheaper than a regular vacation. Oh and Putt, Putt's open now so we should do that oh and we can go to Chuck E Cheese as long as we don't buy food and use coupons on the tokens. Well we do have to eat somewhere so Chili's has Kids eat Free, that sounds like a good idea and...."

Can you all see where this is going? This thought process ends with us taking the kids to do all these fun local things but come to discover we've spent over $300 for one day's worth of fun and we stayed in town, yikes!

I'm certainly not saying that any of these things are bad to do but for me our purchases and activities were motivated by guilt and that always just leads to more guilt when you add up the receipts.

2. Set Limits
Why are you having a staycation?

Is it because you're saving for something else? Is it because the money simply isn't there, at all? Or is it because, you're trying to whittle your way out of debt and that money has to come out of another area?

Well, whatever the reason, make sure you and your family discuss this before you even start the planning process. Including the kids when they're school age (some preschoolers may even be able to comprehend) is a great way to show financial responsibility. It's easier to stay on track when everyone is on the same page.

3. Plan & Prepare
Planning ahead before you head out the door is key to making your staycation fun, low stress, and affordable.

Activities:
-Check out your local visitor's center a week or so before. You can either visit their website or actually go there and grab all the brochures that look interesting (kids looove this part).

Ask to be put on their mailing list if they offer it. Sometimes you'll receive some great discounts on local dining and attractions.

-Take advantage of free admissions and kids activities. Many nature centers, musuems, etc have kids stuff going on during spring break that are free. Some musuems have Kids Get in Free days. Be sure to take advantage and plan accordingly.

- Be in the know. Check your local newspaper for local events, or become involved on local online Mom's forums, or simply ask around. Sometimes school office workers are more in the know than anyone.

-Make a list of all possible things and places to see and let your family pick. Depending on how many kids you have, and how long your staycation will be, letting each person pick one activity each is a great way to make everyone feel involved.

-Map your route. Making an organized list of where to go first, second, etc, based on their operation times and location is a crucial step if you want to save time and gas!Text Color

Food
Food can be the easiest way to blow your budget if you don't have a plan in place. When tummy's are hungry we act irrationally and don't think of the cost... until LATER!

- Plan your staycation between 8-5 so if you do eat out then your getting lunch prices instead of paying the higher dinner prices.

-Picnic and take a stocked cooler. Kids love to eat outside so if the weather's nice why not find a park along your route? It will save you a TON of money and will let the kiddos get out some energy.



-Pack drinks and snacks. Can't do the picnic thing because of bad weather? Then at least consider packing drinks for the car ride or to have drinks with your lunch from a fast food place. Drinks are the biggest rip off at restaurants in my opinion.

- Sign up for customer clubs, and email lists of restaurants along your route. Again, planning is needed and is best to do this a week or so ahead of time. Some restaurants don't send out coupons or specials for a few days after you sign up. I personally make a habit of signing up for anything I can at all the restaurants in our area. When we do want to splurge we rarely, if ever, pay full price.

4. Have Fun- Don't Be Too Rigid
It's easy for us money saving momma's to go overboard and be the checkbook drill sargeant. This makes you crabby and irritable and then no one has fun! This is where setting the limits in step 2 is important.

Anticipate the "Mommy, pleeeease can I have it" scenario. You know it's bound to happen even though you set limits you're kids will try it!

A way to avoid this may be giving the kids a small amount of spending money or letting them take their allowance. It doesn't have to be a lot, a buck or two with small kids seems to work. The bigger kids are a little harder to please but they usually are a little better at understanding the why behind your set limits. So the older ones don't feel left out, allowing them to do extra chores for spending money, in additon to the buck or two you give the little kids, is great way to let them feel in control.

5. Record your memories
Just because it's a staycation doesn't mean it can't be as treausred a memory as let's say Disney. Take lots of pictures and remind your kids to pick up momentos for the family scrapbook later. Making it feel special will help them to appreciate the family time even more.

HAPPY STAYCATIONING!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Like many parts of the country, temperatures here in Kansas have risen. I've been absent from blogging for a few days because of the 70 degree weather! We all forgot how accustomed we had become to that mild Florida weather until spring popped up, finally!

So we've doing a lot of playing outside, hitting the local parks, taking walks, etc. Who needs a formal excercise routine when you can just go outside and play with your kids? I know mine keep me on my toes and out of breath.
I have lots of good, thought provoking, and hopefully helpful, posts brewing but simply have not had the time to put my fingers to the keyboard. So until then, I wanted to share some pics of what we've been up to.


Doesn't he look like he's up to something? lol




Eian loved the new park we found.

So you can see we're enjoying the outdoors and don't have much time for blogging but I hope to get that post up on cheap spring break ideas soon! I have lots of people asking how we only spent $3.11!








Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Saving Saturday

Crystal over at MoneySavingMom hosts a Super Savings Saturday Link Up and thought I would participate. I've really been getting into the money saving groove and gotten some great deals this week. I let our cupboards and fridge get really low on just about everything so I was cringing making this week's list.

I really lucked out at Dillon's though with the awesome specials they had! Here's a pick of what I purchased. I realized though, AFTER I took this picture and uploaded it, that I had put away 3 bags of Birdseye Steamfresh veggies and 2 bags of Gorton's frozen fish. I had also forgotten about the 10 lb bag of potatoes.

The price I paid may still seem like a lot to those of you who rarely spend more than $40-$50 bucks a week. However, if you look close you'll see I got two 3lb rolls of ground chuck, 2 family size packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts (enough for 4 meals), a corned beef brisket, a 1lb bag of honey ham lunch meat (we use for brkfast sandwhiches as well as for lunches), and a value pack of chicken thighs!


I got all this for $86.36 and saved $84.32!

You may be wondering where some other essentials, like milk, are. Well I stocked up and purchased 4 gallons at $2.88 each on Tuesday before the sale switched. So that should last us a week! lol No, they might last a week and a half!

I was so excited when I left Dillon's and started breaking down all the meat into freezer bags. With all I purchased, and a few little things I still had in the freezer, we have enough meals for at least 20 days, and that's not including days we'll do leftovers!

I could list all my deals but instead here's the link I used to snag up most of these deals you see in the pic. Visit MotherhoodOnaDime for this weeks Dillon's specials with coupon match ups.

Happy Shopping!




Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Bargain Buy- A 50 cent Purse!

I've shared in recent posts about my increasing furgality and that means I've also had to cut down on my impulse buys. Everyone has their own definition I think on what an impulse buy is. For me, an impulse buy is anything I don't HAVE to have and can live without.


Since David and I are determined to get out of debt and pay off all our credit cards,my must haves are essential items that we use everyday. It's amazing what you learn to do without when you have no other choice.

David and I did determine last week that if we want to be in this Get Out of Debt Plan for the long haul we must give ourselves some play money. My husband especially is one that it makes him feel good to have a few bucks in his pocket and to take that away is way too restrictive for him. So after 6 years of marriage and many arguments later I understand this about him and respect his need for a little wiggle room.


There's a funny thing my husband says about me, "If you had it your way, we'd live barefoot, in a hut, eating ramen noodles and canned beans by candlelight!" Oh I love my man for pegging me even if he did go to extremes! He's right in that I'm a minimalist. The name of my blog isn't just a name, it's me...simple, simple, simple! Less is more has always been my motto.


However, I have been wanting a purse for sometime now. All the ones I have either have holes in the lining or stains that will not come out. Still, for me this is a WANT not a must HAVE so I've refrained from getting a new one or even a used one. Since my husband, in all his brilliancy, suggested the weekly spending money for each us, I decided to to keep my eyes out for a new one. So here's my new splurge. It may not be your style but I think she's beautiful and for only FIFTY CENTS!! She's almost brand new and I'm not sure why I'm calling it a SHE! lol





There's a little shop in town called Care and Share. It's a thrift shop run by volunteers and all proceeds go to people in our little town of 8000 who are struggling to keep their utilities on and buy groceries. I love supporting a good cause and getting a few bargains doesn't hurt either.




I snagged up a few other goodies as well. Like new backpack for Eian for $1, a bath towel that matches our colors,and two pairs of pants for Elias. My total was $5.37!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cut Laundry Cost: DIY Dryer Sheets

So anyone who knows me would probably call me frugal (but then you have not met my Mom)
but my recent SAHM status has opened my eyes to ways I'm NOT being frugal. I'm starting to see so many ways to cut costs not just on groceries but other items around the house.
I never realized how spoiled I was in the laundry department. I've almost always used BOTH fabric softener AND dryer sheets...EEEK! I don't know if any of you have seen the price of these items but even with coupons they are pricey. I know you can use vinegar in the rinse cycle for a super cheap alternative and the vinegar smell disappears. I'm still a girl who loves smelly good things though.
So I came up with a low cost way to still have my laundry smell good but be able to at least drop dryer sheets from my household supply list. Last week my husband's socks were getting stretched out and he was ready to pitch them. I decided to cut them up and use them for rags to clean the bathrooms and such. One night when I was doing laundry and we had long ran out of dryer sheets I decided to pour a small amount of liquid fabric softener to the sock and tossed it in the dryer. They work great AND you could usually use the same "sock" twice without adding more softener.
The other added bonus is you can toss the dried sock into your drawer of "delicates" when you're not doing laundry or place in your linen closet to keep the items smelling extra fresh!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Favorite Cookie Recipe

I'm really enjoying getting back into the blogging groove. The problem? I have sooo many deep thought provoking, soul sharing, enlightening (or so I think) posts but they take time in putting my thoughts into some sort of organization. Time is tight around these parts as I still continue to unpack, move things around and then move around some more, and get organized with my daily routine.

But until then I have yet another recipe to share. I posted the other day about my new/old best friend. These double chocolate cookies are the first of many recipes I tried using my "new" mixer. Actually the story behind these is it's a recipe we found in a Family Circle magazine at the doctor's office last week. David was drooling so much he asked the nurse to copy the page for us!

It was a very user friendly recipe and they are great cookies for bake sales or for gifts. You can find the full recipe at the Family Circle site hereAdd Image. Enjoy!