Friday, April 29, 2011

Sick Week

I've caught a bad cold/flu bug this week, but I'll be back to blogging soon!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend

Dying eggs.

Easter egg hunt.

Sweet babies in their Sunday best.

Easter baskets.

Ham dinner.

Bunny cake.

Hope you had a fabulous weekend!

Friday, April 22, 2011


(Photo Credit)
Today is Good Friday. We're having a church service tonight, and I'll be singing on the worship team for that. For me, there is practically nothing I love to do more than sing. But more than anything, today I am praising the Lord for His willingness to die for me. I am so thankful for Him in my life.

Tomorrow morning we'll dress the girls up and take them to an Easter egg hunt at the church. This will be their first egg hunt, so I'm excited to see their little faces. We'll also try do dye some eggs tomorrow afternoon at home.

Something else to "hooray" about is that we got our federal tax return. As a result, in the last week we have:

1) Paid off the credit card
2) Paid off the car loan
3) Put $700 into savings toward an emergency fund

Now if we can keep the debt snowball going, we should have both of our school loans paid off in about 2 years. If I begin working as a doula, it could get done much faster than that. What a great feeling!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow?

(Photo Credit)
Well, it's hit and miss so far. Some of the plants I started indoors aren't doing so well outside in their pots. As those break or wither, I am planting new seeds in hopes that they'll do better being outside from the start. A few of them are still alive, but many of them aren't/ My onions still look good, though. Also, my tomatoes, green peppers, and jalepenos are transferred to bigger containers, but are still indoors. They'll probably go outside in about a month or so depending on the weather. They're still doing good.

Over the weekend I got down to business outside. I filled and planted several pots with spinach, lettuce, green onions, and one other thing I am blanking on at the moment. I'll blame that on mommy brain. I also tended to the plants that aren't doing as well, which are my kohlrabi, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. In the back yard, I tilled some ground up and planted fava beans, beets, and kale. Now I'll just be watering and waiting for them to grow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Something About Breakfast

For me, there's just something about a nice breakfast. It's comforting and puts me in a good frame of mind for the day. The girls love breakfast foods, too, and there's nothing better than breakfast for dinner.

Friday morning we had waffles with oranges.

Saturday we went all out and had a ham, spinach, egg, cheese, and tomato scramble with mashed potato pancakes.

After our wonderful breakfast, I went to worship practice at church and then headed out with a friend to get manicures and pedicures at a local beauty school. They're much more affordable that way and I was pleased with the results. My nails have held up quite well, even after working in the garden yesterday afternoon (I'll be posting more about my efforts later this week).

It was really nice having a quiet break after a long week with my crazy, energetic kiddos.

My movie star...

my dancer...

and my solo artist!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why I Love Cloth Diapers

1.) I never have to run out and buy diapers or wipes because they're always on hand.
2.) Rashes are few and far between.
3.) Blowouts are also rare. When we've taken a break from cloth in the past, I've always been glad to get back to it because of all the poo-plosions we've had in disposables.
4.) They reduce waste in landfills.
5.) They can save a lot of money.
6.) I like knowing that my baby's skin is soft, comfy, and free of chemicals.
7.) It makes me happy to pull a load out of the dryer, fold them with the girls, and see the pretty, folded stacks of colorful diapers.
8.) Last but not least, they are just so stinkin' cute, as evidenced by William sporting one of his dipes for you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Lord Provides

It's amazing to see how our needs are met in spite of having a limited budget. In our effort to pay off debt and live within our means, we cut out our clothing and diaper budget. Well, God provides more than we need! When I was pregnant with Charlotte, I got to know a wonderful group of ladies on an online cloth diapering forum. We were all due in January 2009, and we chatted throughout our pregnancies.We connected with each other so well that we've kept in touch almost daily ever since. We do gift exchanges each Christmas and often send diapers and clothing to each other when we're done using them. Well, today we got a giant box of clothing in the mail from one of these sweet, generous friends.

Dorothy was ecstatic...

She found and tried on her new tutu right away.

Charlotte helped to unload everything, too, dancing around in excitement.

First, we pulled out an entire stash of medium and large all-in-ones that will work well for both Charlotte and William.

Next, we found everything William could wear for 18-24 months, including jammies, pants, shirts, hoodies, swim trunks, socks, shorts, and hats.

Last but not least, Dorothy got a 5T wardrobe as well, including jammies, shirt & legging sets, a couple of dresses with leggings, and some hoodies. As she pulled out the ballerina jammies, she said, "oh, mommy, wow! I wished for these!"

So, although we're not rich, we are richly blessed. I'm so thankful for God's provision, but even more thankful for the friendships I have been given... a group of women that are in the same walk of life who I can be real with on my worst days without fear of rejection. What more could I ask for? And we are more than happy to pass along our things to those who would be blessed by them, too. In fact, our newborn diapers are going out to a couple of these lovely ladies this week. We joke about the "traveling pants" that one of our group members knitted for William that are now being passed along to each new baby boy. But it's really traveling pants... diapers... shirts... dresses...

Thanks for everything!

The Recipe Post

Rather than writing a post today, I will be compiling links to all of my posted recipes into one post for easy access. I will be editing and adding each new recipe along the way from now on. So, if there was a recipe that you wanted to try, it will be much easier to find. Happy cooking :)

Sweet Corn Salsa

Black Bean Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Holy Guacamole

Spanish Rice

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Chicken and Cabbage Soup

Chewy Brownies

Crock Pot Chili


Fried Plantains

Becci's Kickin' Chicken Soup

Monday, April 11, 2011

Budget Update and Count the Value Month

(Image Credit)
Over the weekend I enjoyed my time at my women's retreat. I have to admit that I wasn't ready to come back to daily life just yet, but I never am after these retreats. They're so uplifting.

Nevertheless, today it's life as usual. I volunteered at Gleaner's this morning in the child care area and ended up taking the kids with me this time. William screamed half the time, as did Charlotte. At least my kids were the only ones in there for most of the time so they weren't really bothering anyone. I'll be heading back there this afternoon to do my shopping, as well as stopping by the bank to get this month's cash out for our envelopes.

Although I haven't turned it in yet, I finished the "Count the Value" sheet that Gleaner's handed out for the month of March. Once a year we count 4 weeks' worth of what we get at Gleaner's and calculate the value. We also add up what we spent on groceries outside of Gleaner's. It's always amazing to see how God provides for us through this program. We got about $200 worth of used clothing and boots and $395 worth of food and household items. We spent $50 out of pocket for our dues, then an additional $115.27 at the grocery store. We actually used up the surplus from the previous month as well due to buying seeds and soil for our container garden, which I'm still hoping gives us a good crop later in the summer, but since that was something other than groceries, I didn't count it in our total. So far, the plants aren't huge, but they're still alive. That's a plus!

Our budget still seems to be going well. Aside from our budgeted cash envelopes, we've only done a few dollars here and there for some dollar burgers on the run, but we've been good at sticking to our plan. The great news is that we're looking to get enough back from taxes to pay off the credit card and the car, plus put some into savings! The only remaining debt we should have are our school loans. If we're able to stick to the current plan, it shouldn't take more than 2.5 years to pay those off, and then we'll be completely debt-free. Oh, and since David and I don't have a "fun" budget, we're also getting some spending money from our tax return, so I'm hoping to get my grain mill after all. I've got a few other ideas, but that's the one I am really excited about. Not only will it be more healthy, it will also save us money on flour since bulk whole grains are much cheaper than bags of flour at the grocery store.

So, that's where we're at on our budget right now. Plugging along and feeling blessed in the process.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Preparing for Disaster

(image credit)
Natural disasters are a part of life in this world. The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan are a good reminder that life can change in an instant, and it's got me thinking (and taking some inventory).

How prepared are we in the face of something similar?

*We have some basic first aid supplies, but probably not as much as we should have.
*We only have, at most, a one month supply of all our prescription medications at any given time.
*We have quite a bit of dry goods like beans and rice, as well as some canned food, but not a lot.
*We only have one case of bottled water. Normally I don't even buy bottled water, but I picked one up just so we'd have some on hand. If our water was shut off for any reason, we would be ill-prepared.
*Likewise, how would we cook all those beans and rice if the power were out for a significant amount of time? The fact is, we couldn't. We have a little propane stove, but no more than a couple of small fuel cans for it. And we'd also need a good amount of water to cook dry goods.
*We use cloth for pretty much everything, but how in the world would we wash it? Perhaps collect rainwater? After all, we do have a lot of it around here!

So, how prepared are you? Do you have a few days' worth of food and water? A month or two? Or, like some people, even a year? What do you keep on hand? How do you store it? I'd love to hear more thoughts on this.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Crock Pot Chili

I always love using the crock pot and having dinner ready when David comes home with relatively little effort. Since I was still feeling a bit under the weather yesterday morning, I set up the crock pot and put in a batch of chili. It simmered all day, and we came home to a comforting smell in our home. We served it with grated cheese and some warm cheddar jalepeno focaccia bread.
Here is what I put in the pot:

 Crock Pot Chili
1 1/2 lbs dried red beans, sorted and rinsed
29 oz. can of tomato sauce
15 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2-1 lb ground beef, browned
1 c. frozen corn
1 lg onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Chili powder, crushed red pepper, cumin, and salt to taste
Enough water to fill the rest of the pot & allow the beans to expand
(I normally add a chopped green pepper, too, but we didn't have one)

I stirred all the ingredients together and set the pot to the 8 hr. setting. I took the lid off once to stir it later in the cooking time, but that's it. So quick and easy, and really yummy!
This post has been linked to The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Is it Wednesday already?

This week is already flying by! My uncle has been in town from the east coast since Friday afternoon. We celebrated his birthday and my Grandma's 80th birthday on Saturday afternoon as a family. On Sunday I subbed for someone on worship team and the worship, communion, and sermon were just what I needed. Monday we spent the day at my parents' house to visit some more with my uncle. By Monday evening I was pretty sure I was getting mastitis. Yesterday morning I went in to get some antibiotics and painkillers, so David stayed home from work to help out with the kids. It's been a busy few days. This weekend will be busy, too, since William and I are headed up to Washington for a women's retreat with a church I have attended on and off since my early 20's. I'm looking forward to a good time with some dear friends, as well as a time of prayer and reflection that is hard to come by as a mother of small children.

Today we'll just spend a laid back day so I can rest a bit more. We'll probably head over to my sister-in-law's house so the kids can spend some much-needed time playing with their cousins while I get some girl time in. Maybe I'll throw together some chili for the crockpot before we go. Chili and cornbread is great comfort food!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Basking in the glow of Friday.

All of us have had colds this week, so we've been trying to take it easy and hang around the house. Today I am thankful that it's Friday and that we're headed into the weekend. Other than the colds and resulting lack of sleep, this week has been generally good. David and I started our marriage coaching on Wednesday evening and I'm really hopeful that it will help us communicate better. There is going to be a lot of focus on making statements that are non-accusatory, but rather convey how each of us feels. We'll also be focusing on active listening and trying to really understand where each of us is coming from as issues arise.

As part of our homework for the marriage coaching, we're reading a book called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I'm definitely finding some of the principles to be useful. The main premise of the book is that men need respect and women need love. God commands men to love their wives as Christ loved the church as it commands women to respect their husbands. That's something we don't hear very much, so I think that, in general, it is good to keep in mind. I can easily see how important it is to use a respectful tone when I am bringing issues up to my husband, and to tell him what I appreciate about him on a regular basis. I know I don't do either of those things very well when I get in my "mommy needs to get things done" mode. It's too easy to let things slide. So, although there are things I do not like about the book (I feel that so far it's too focused on everything being the wife's fault), there are still some things I'll take from it and work on in myself. I do feel that the marriage team material has a much more balanced approach to helping both partners work towards a better relationship, so it should be really beneficial.

Are there any books you have found useful in your own relationships? I'd love to hear more.