So glad you came to visit today! Here at my little corner of bloggy world I share a little bit about everything--family, parenting, goals, struggles, photography, recipes, n more! So curl up with a cup of hot tea {or not} and feel free to peruse around my site! Check out my sidebar for links. And come back again!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I also love...

...that our electric bill came today and it's only 1/3 of what it had been! Yay for warm weather and not having the air on!

I love...

... summer breakfasts like these! Warm pancakes topped with delicious fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream. Yumm....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Since yesterday was a holiday, I'm just now getting the menu planned....

Tuesday - glazed ham, broccoli, peaches

Wednesday - hamburgers, fruit salad, carrots

Thursday - sloppy joes, sweet potato fries (recipe, anyone???), applesauce

Friday - hot dogs, pasta salad (recipe below), apples

Saturday - fried chicken strips, green beans, oranges

Sunday - don't know

Dessert of the week: strawberries 'n cream


RECIPE: Pasta Salad

the spiral noodles that are different colors
fresh vegetables of choice (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower)
sliced black olives
Italian salad dressing to taste

Combine. Refrigerate. Eat!

Memorial Day pic

We were at conference at our church all weekend, and for Memorial Day they have all the military dress in their uniforms. So we made sure we got a family picture!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some baby love...

Just a recent picture of my little sweetie!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Go see!

It was a long time that I wasn't on my blog, and now it seems I'm making up for it! haha I came across this blog post today and just HAD to share! It's TONS of links to useful articles on how to be more frugal. Some examples being...

10 Tips for Spring Cleaning Success
25 Tips for Freezing Food
10 Tips for Using Coupons
25 Ways to Save Money With a Baby
Ways to Save Money on Diapers

And SO MUCH MORE! On everything from parenting to health to finances! So GO, check it out!

Walgreens Deals

I admit, I'm not really that great at finding the best deals. I don't get a Sunday paper so we don't get a lot of coupons and typically online coupons aren't for items I usually buy. So I try to get the most out of weekly circulars and saver cards. And today I was impressed with my deals at Walgreens!

Using this month's Easy Saver Catalog and rebates I got:
FREE Kicker's Energy Spray ($3.29)
FREE Oral-B toothbrush ($4.99)
FREE 4 pack 100W Light bulbs ($1.69)

Plus the coupons in the circular were:
$5.99 for TWO 50 oz Purex Laundry Soap
$2.79 for TWO boxes of Walgreens fabric band-aids
$0.99 for TWO 11oz cans of mandarin oranges
$0.99 92 ct paper plates (family is coming in a couple weeks!)
$1.69 bread (just cuz I needed it, I know it's cheaper at grocery store)

PLUS $5 off coupon TODAY ONLY purchases $20 or more!

SUBTOTAL: $32.19 (the coupons were B1G1 FREE)
TOTAL: $13.64 (after rebates and coupons)

How's that for a deal? =)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Total Money Makeover

I've really been wanting to share about this for several weeks now, but just haven't had time! When my friend Erin was here visiting a couple months ago she mentioned this great book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. She described a little bit what it was about, and I asked Kevin if he'd be interested in reading it with me. He was interested so we went ahead and found the book on Amazon. As soon as we got it, I plowed through the entire book in a week because everything Dave Ramsey says about money is so exciting! Finances has been a big struggle in our marriage, as it is for sooo many couples, and I've really been seeking a way for us to come to a mutual agreement about how to spend and save our hard-earned money. And finally FINALLY we're getting there!! So in a nutshell here are the main ideas of the book....

Dave's motto is this: IF YOU WILL LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE, LATER YOU CAN LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE. This means if you work really hard now, making all kinds of sacrifices in your spendings and work your way to financial freedom, then later you can live a life of peace and security that other people don't have!

Dave's approach to saving is to tackle one thing at a time. Instead of spreading your money so thin among several different things and just gradually paying off expenses, use focused intensity to become debt free, including your house! He lays out 7 Baby Steps to follow, in order, to achieve your own Total Money Makeover!

Baby Step One: If you've got NO savings, build yourself a mini emergency fund of $1000 FAST. Get some momentum going and do whatever you can to get this $1000! Stop buying unnecessary stuff, sell extra things you have around the house, deliver pizzas for awhile, etc.

Baby Step Two: Pay off all debts (everything except house at this point). List all your debts starting with the smallest $ and working to the biggest. You get momentum going by knocking off the small ones first and feeling like you're accomplishing something. You work with "gazelle intensity" (Dave's common phrase) to pay off those debts. It means a LOT of sacrifices in spending--could be not eating out or shutting off cable or not buying clothes, etc.

Baby Step Three: Build up your fully-funded emergency fund. (3-6 months worth of pay)

Baby Step Four: Start saving for retirement. (15% of income)

Baby Step Five: Start saving for kids' college.

Baby Step Six: Pay off your house.

Baby Step Seven: Build wealth. (with investments)

Kevin and I are both on board for this money makeover challenge! We're VERY blessed that our van was our only debt, so after reading this book we decided to shuffle our money around and pay off the van right away! So that's done already, and now we're on to Baby Step Three of building our emergency fund back up again! We're going to live on a budget. We've tried before, but since we both weren't really into the budget, we never stuck to it. But this time we have a different attitude and a different approach. Dave suggests saving for things so you can pay for it right away in cash. Tuck money away for your future car, future house repairs, future car repairs, etc. We've never been ones to put everything on credit card, but I'm not sure the money was always there either. Now we're going to try a cash budget. I found a small coupon-sized expandable organizer at Target (something like this one) that I can stick our money for different categories like hair cuts, groceries, household items, diapers, clothes, etc. and when the money's gone, the money's gone! We find a way to live without! And we don't have to keep track of every receipt! This system will help us to know exactly how much we have saved towards various things since that's so hard to keep track of in any general savings account. Sure, we won't be making interest, but at least we know it won't get spent if we already have it designated for something specific. We'll give it a try anyway! Next month will be our first month trying the cash budget, as it took several weeks to figure out a good budget, adjusting things here and there. But now we're ready, ready to start this new lifestyle as we prepare for the future!

Thankful Thursday

Wow, it's been quite awhile since I've done TT too! So here I am, I wanted to make it a priority for today and now that both kids are napping, I finally have some time to take a quiet break...

* I am thankful for my parents' visit last week. I am so glad they're able to travel as frequently as they do, so they can watch the kids grow up! That means a lot to us! And we can't wait until we live closer and the travel doesn't co$t so much!

* I am thankful for my two beautiful children. They are such a delight. It's hard sometimes (okay, a lot of times) but it's sooo worth it! They really are good kids--we've been blessed!

* I am thankful for my Hubby--for driving us through Boston (I could NOT have done it!), for riding his bike to work now to save us gas money, for spending time with me and asking how he can help with things around the house, for understanding my needs and doing what he can to help me achieve my goals.

* I am thankful for our new perspective on money and spending. (more to come on this soon!)

* I am thankful for my new "support group" of friends who are also trying to "live well" by eating right and exercising!

Alrighty, it's time for me to sign off now! Blessings to you this week! For more Thankful Thursday visit Iris!

Where have I been?

It's been forever since I've posted so I thought I'd give a quick update on what we've been up to...

* Last week my parents were visiting, and we had such a great time! While still here in town we drove out to the country for some farm fresh ice cream!

And then we went up to Boston for a couple days so my parents could see the sites before we moved from New England. Our favorite thing was the children's museum! Although there was a lot we didn't see since Eli's only 2, there were sooo many exhibits great for toddlers!
Then we got to relax back home for a day before Grandma and Grandpa headed back to Iowa...

* I've been busy trying to catch up on housework as we gradually get back into routine.

* Hannah had her 3-month weight check with the Navy home nurse last week, and she's now 13.0 lbs and 24.5 inches. Paul, where does that place her in percentiles??

* We also started NOT swaddling Hannah for sleep. Thought I'd just give it a try, and she still sleeps well just in a sleep sack, so we'll stick with that.

* Last night I put both kids in the same room for the first time! Hannah has almost outgrown her bassinet, and I'm quite anxious to have our room back so I don't have to tip-toe around at night and in the morning and so I can fold laundry in the evening. All went well until 4:15am when Hannah accidentally kicked on the music player for her mobile. I rushed in to turn it off and get Hannah since she was awake. Eli woke up too and said Hi when I walked in the room. But I just told him to go on back to sleep and then quickly left with Hannah. I fed her and just laid her back in the bassinet. Eli didn't cry at all but he did lay there awake for a good half hour. Not too bad for the first night. So lesson #1, take the music player off the crib! We'll try again tonight!

* One week left to finish our Spring Cleaning! (just my own rule, I wanted to be done by the end of May) We've gradually been checking things off the list! The biggest thing left is to clean the garage, and that's Kevin's domain!

So that's what we've been up to! Hope you all have a great week and Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blackberry Cheese Pie

This is one of Kevin's all-time FAVORITE pies! And one of my readers requested pictures so come on over and enjoy a slice of heaven! But you'd better hurry because it's going fast!

(note: I don't have proper lighting or experience to take good photos of food,
but this is the best I could get.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - May 12

Hope all you lovely ladies had a wonderful Mother's Day! It was a great day for me! Hubby got up early and made "breakfast in bed" for me. Hannah was still sleeping in our room and Eli was awake already so we went and ate in Eli's room instead. It was fun. It was BEAUTIFUL weather, yet still slightly chilly. I watched a movie with Hubby in the afternoon while the kids were napping. And after naps we went outside for some Mother's Day pictures. I always try to get good photos of Mom n kids or Dad n kids for Mother's/Father's Day. I really cherished last year's pictures I took at Father's Day, so I was hoping for some of the same this year for Mother's Day, especially since I'm rarely in any pictures being the one always behind the camera! I think Kevin did a great job and I'm happy with how they turned out! Then for dinner Kevin grilled the best steak I've had in MONTHS! Overall it was a very good day! I'll just forget the part where Hannah threw up all over the laptop right before bed. Life is indeed real...

Now for this week my parents are coming TOMORROW!! We are very excited to see them again! And while they're here we're heading up to Boston for a couple days to see the sites while we still live in New England. So it's going to be another fun-filled week, and on the menu we have...

Monday - softball game- leftovers

Tuesday - grilled Italian chicken, roasted potatoes, green beans

Wednesday - stuffed pasta shells, garlic bread, salad

Thursday - Boston

Friday - Boston

Saturday - pork chops, cooked carrots, rice, pears

Sunday - best-ever meatloaf, oranges, mashed potatoes

Dessert of the week: Blackberry Cheese Pie (yes, it's that good
that we'd have it two weeks in a row!)

Visit Laura for more great menu ideas!
Have a great week!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Pics

FINALLY! A day I get to be in the pictures, instead of behind the camera!! I think Kevin did a great job as photographer...

Ring around a rosie...

...we all fall down!

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me like down in green pastures,
he leads me beside still waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will not fear evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Living Well

I haven't blogged about it yet, but for about a month now I've been "working on" my goal to return to pre-pregnancy weight by the end of July (#2). That means losing about 8-10 pounds, and that is hard hard hard for me to do. It just is, I don't know why. I could work out every day, which I hate doing, and still not really lose anything. I don't have much of a Plan (which is why "working on" above is in quotes). I'm just watching the amount I eat and trying to exercise (walk) regularly. I'm part of a stroller class that meets three days a week to walk for 30 min and do exercises for 30 minutes. I try to do those same exercises at home on the off days. My trouble spots are my arms and my stomach (since I just had a baby), so I'm trying to focus on those areas. And I'm keeping track of my exercise in my daily planner. I'm happy to say that this past week was a good week, and while I had been pushing 150, this week it's looking to be staying around 148ish. My weight fluctuates a lot within in the day and from day to day so it's hard to say whether I've actually lost those 2lbs, but for today, I'll say that I did it! Because it's making me feel motivated to continue to LIVE WELL!

Go to Amy's to read her weekly post about dieting. And I'll check in again next week!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Little girls...

One of the best things about having a little girl: SUN HATS!! Soooo cute!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fun in the Sun

As much as we love taking Eli outside this time of year, it's kind of hard living in a townhouse and having no space of our own. Eli's constantly getting into things and there's no defined boundaries. Some grass is fine but two steps farther and then it's uh oh, no, Eli that's too far. come back. We get annoyed just listening to ourselves because there's no way we can really expect Eli to understand. So yesterday after hearing how frustrated Kevin was getting with Eli, I tried thinking of more specific activities we can have him do outside:

1. He's not into riding in his wagon anymore, but perhaps he would have fun pulling it along, collecting "treasures" as he fills the wagon with sticks, rocks, leaves, etc.
2. Bubbles. Enough said.
3. Take his push-along car outside.
4. Give him a water bottle and let him "water" plants or just have fun squirting. And that's the one we tried this morning. I wanted to let Eli get outside but Hannah was asleep on the couch so we couldn't go far. So I gave him the water bottle and we just went right out on the deck. He had a blast! Check it out...

uh oh! it squirted him in the ear!

big boy

okay... AND we're squirting the camera!

this is better

Do you have any other ideas of what we can do with Eli outside???

#85: Organize recipes.

My old system for my recipes was a recipe box filled with more than a hundred recipe cards. I liked having the cards because they were easy to pull out for cooking. But what I didn't like was that a) it was hard to dig through and a find any specific recipe I wanted, b) it was hard to search through for meal ideas unless I pulled out the entire stack, c) it was hard to maintain order for any subcategories, and d) I always had loose full-page printouts laying around cuz they didn't fit in the box.

I've been thinking about this for quite awhile on how to resolve those problems. I thought about typing them into the computer and making my own personal cookbook, but I've put a lot of effort into making the recipe cards, I like them because they're small for on the counter while I'm cooking, and I like to try new recipes and a cookbook really wouldn't allow me add any, not to mention all the time it would take to type them all up. So, I kept thinking and decided to make a recipe binder. I ordered two sets of these sheets from Pillsbury, used a regular binder I had laying around the house, and just inserted all my recipe cards in an organized fashion with entrees sorted by type of meat and desserts sorted by pies, cakes, bars, cookies, etc. And I can still include my full-sheet recipes (either I haven't tried them yet, or they're too long for a card) and use a regular page protector sheet instead of the Pillsbury ones. I still have to make my divider pages for each category but otherwise the whole project just took a couple hours in one afternoon! And I'm excited about my new system! Check it out!

And it's another thing completed on my list of 101 Goals!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - May 5

Monday - beef kabobs, oranges
Tuesday - Caesar chicken wraps, veggie chips, apples
Wednesday - Dad's spaghetti, salad, pears
Thursday - breakfast nite- breakfast burritos, fruit cocktail
Friday - black bean and rice enchiladas, oranges
Saturday - broccoli and four cheese calzones, peaches
Sunday - Mother's Day!! (I am NOT cooking!)

Dessert of the week: apple crisp

For more great menu ideas visit Laura at Organizing Junkie. Have a great week!