Thursday, November 19, 2009

Check out this Giveaway!

Over at SimpleMom (one of my favorite blogs of all times!), Tsh is hosting a giveaway- and the prize is a $50.00 gift certificate to Lisa Leonard Designs!

Lisa's jewelry is just fabulous and I've been drooling over her stuff for sometime now. This Sweetheart Tree necklace is what I would buy if I won!

So go over and sign up. Good luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How NOT to do your laundry frugally

I've been trying to find ways to cut as many unnecessary purchases from our budget. Normally, this means skipping the prepared foods and making stuff from home. Sometimes this means making something you wouldn't think of making, at home. Laundry soap is one of those things.

Yes, you read right- LAUNDRY SOAP. You can make it at home, in either liquid or powdered varieties, and there are even ways to make homemade stain removers too! I was very excited! So off to Harris Teeter I went and bought the necessary ingredients, Ivory soap, 20 Mule Team Borax and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. The total cost was $12.00 and I estimated it should make enough to last us all year. What a savings!

I shredded the bar of soap, using my food processor (made for easy cleanup at the end ;)) and mixed the Borax and washing soda together with it. The next load, I threw in my scoop worth and voila! The clothes were not only clean but my hubby commented that they looked even cleaner!

Encouraged, I moved on to stain removers. Here I have to stop and profess my love for OxiClean. What amazing stuff it is! Since most of my stains are of the organic variety, it works wonders on them and gets the whole load cleans because of its very presence in the water. Am I nuts? No I just love the stuff. So when I found a recipe to make OxiClean at home, I was on top of the world!

I had all the needed ingredients on hand (water, baking soda, Borax and peroxide)so made it up in one of my old OxiClean bottles. It came together just the way the recipe said it would. A few days later my son put it to the test.

Dismal failure. The stuff was rock hard and wouldn't even come out of the bottle.

My sweetie pie husband gave me some explanation involving scientific reasons it had turned rock hard but I was in no mood to listen. I just wanted OxiClean. And to add insult to injury, after days of soaking the spraybottle, I had to throw it away.

So in conclusion, you CAN NOT make OxiClean. :(

P.S. I still make my laundry soap and it work beautifully. I encourage you to try it.

My Color Personality is...

...Sun Kissed!

I confess- I'm surprised.

While I do like all the colors suggested, they seem too dark for me. But I guess if paired with lots of white or off white, I would like them all very much. Now that I think of it, a lot of these colors do show up in my home. So maybe it's the photo that's throwing me- it seems too dark and modern so not very friendly.

Take the quiz! It's fun and they ask you unexpected questions!

Art by MeganTheilman

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

things I've learned from wearing my baby

I love wearing my baby. It's almost an addiction (I can quit anytime, really!). When I get out my sling, my son starts kicking his feet and squealing in delight, which gives me the biggest mommy high. Sometime I think he might love it as much as I do!

When I was still working, a lady came in to my store with her one week old baby snugly wrapped in this crazy, bright orange, stretchy, bedsheet, wrapped around her body*. I was absolutely fascinated. While pregnant, I knew I wanted to have baby carrier, for the occasional convenience factor, but I didn't know anything about the world of "babywearing". My first sling was a disaster. Purchased at a big box store, I thought all slings were alike. My tiny son soon let me know this was not the case.

A few weeks later, I borrowed a Baby Bjorn from a friend for an all day 4th of July event. It was awesome! I delayed giving it back for as long as I could. Unfortunately, I had to give it back right before our move, which only served to confirm how essential a carrier is.

A few weeks later, while unpacking, I unearthed a sling one of my best friends gave me at my baby shower. I noticed it was a brand I heard of through my midwifery practice's online discussion group. With a few YouTube lessons on how to use it under my belt, and a day hasn't gone by that I don't use it.

So here's what I've learned:

1) Babies are learning about their larger world while being worn.
My son is incredibly curious. He wants to be in the center of everything, looking, touching, tasting whatever he can get his hands on. This is not unusual for babies or particular to my son. But what strikes me as odd is how is often other people comment on it. Almost every time we go out, someone will say to me "What a smart baby- you can see he's really taking in his world" or something similar. Because he is completely integrated in my world, he is learning more about HIS world.

2)Babies are learning about emotions while being worn
Kids are amazingly intuitive. Body language is virtually their only way to communicate with the world. When my son is in his sling, he is constantly "checking in" to see how I am reacting to life. Because he's physically close to me for a large part of his day, he can tell if I am happy, sad, sick, or stressed by my body language. Since I am aware of this, I try very hard to make sure I demonstrate healthy way of dealing with all that life gives me.

3) Babies are learning about love while being worn
When I am wearing my son, I've noticed that I am far more loving and attentive to him. I talk to him constantly, we make eye contact, I'll scratch his back, or snuggle him in hug. He coos at me, scratches my "back" (really my arm since that's as far as he can reach!) and nuzzles his head down on my chest. The sling facilitates this so much better than when I have him in a bouncy seat or playing on the floor. He's also able to witness loving behavior between his daddy and I when in the sling and close to us. I pray that translates to a healthy marriage for him, in the future.

***One disclaimer though--I do not believe this means babies who are not worn are going to be deficient in giving or receiving love! There is much more to it than that! But in my very limited experience, it is easier for me to demonstrate healthy love while wearing a sling which as I said, I hope will allow him to have a healthy framework to start his life with.

* I later found out this was a Moby Wrap style carrier. I want one in the worst way!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sweet Sabbath

"Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because He always lives to intercede for them." Hebrews 7:24-25

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hollywood lies! (a.k.a. things I already knew but need reminded of often)

I'm pretty much like any other American women-- I wish/long/desire to be thinner but I pretend/ignore/pontificate it away. Oddly enough, I generally felt better about my figure while pregnant which, I guess, shouldn't surprise me since I took care of my body and ate consistently healthy for the first time in my life (no diet of tea and tortilla chips, like in college!) and it was finally doing exactly what it was designed to do.

What has surprised me more was the very relaxed attitude I had about my weight, post-partum. I felt so good after the birth, I automatically assumed I looked as good as I felt and generally, that was true. That made me more willing to look at my weight-loss needs prosaically. "It took 9 month to put on, it'll take 9 months to take it off." But lately that fabulous feeling has been going away and its been a big battle to get it back.

The other day I was standing in line at the grocery and saw yet another tabloid cover boasting how a Hollywood mom got her body back in six minutes by eating six calorie meals, six times a day, delivered right to her doorstep. And a black cloud of envy scurried right over me in six seconds flat. "Why does SHE look so good, so quickly and I have a shriveled, shrinking stomach? I'm breastfeeding and I'm probably only consuming 36 calories a day too, between diapers, baths, unpacking, and life in general!"

So later on, when trying to get myself out of this funk, I used one of my favorite methods to do so, which is to remind myself that Hollywood is in the business of "exaggerating" the truth. (BTW-This method rarely works when pictures are involved because as we all know a camera ADDS 10 pounds, not makes you look thinner.) But then this AMAZING thought occurred to me.

While we/I take them seriously and allow it to become personal, it's just business for all involved. Do the tabloids check in with the new mamas and ask them what they weigh, postpartum? Not likely. They take a guess, put it on the cover and sell, sell, sell. What if they got the number wrong and the girls weigh more or less than they published? Do you think the new hormonal mothers would call US Weekly and correct that mistake? I know I wouldn't! It's better for them business-wise if everyone thinks they are camera ready as soon as possible. The only people who probably know the real numbers have signed a confidentiality agreement because their business would suffer if they didn't.

Somehow this barely original thought struck a chord with me, why not approach it all like business? No one really knows what weight we are, so just let them take a guess, there's no need to correct them, it's better for your "business" of staying healthy mentally. Those who do know, should be close to you and have likely "signed" a confidentiality agreement, in the form of a trusted relationship, otherwise their "business"/relationship would suffer.

Since realizing this silly but admittedly helpful train of thought, I feel freer from my self-condemnation, which was the real problem anyway. Ready to approach it from a long term philosophy.

So here's to reaching my goal weight by Easter!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Frugal Weekend Fun!

I LOVE the autumn. There just something about the shorter days and cooler nights that makes me want to be outside as much I can. But I also just want to enjoy the cooler temperatures by snuggling up in a fleecy blanket and taking a nap. This weekend I got to do both!

Other fun inexpensive things we did:

... I finally figured out how to make bread in my Bosch mixer! I'd tried twice before but couldn't get the water temp right. This weekend it worked and I celebrated by making 2 dozen Turkey and cheese sandwich rolls and 2 loaves of Stromboli! (In case you are wondering what sandwich rolls are, think cinnamon rolls but with turkey and cheese instead.) Both of these make wonderful cold lunches and should last us 2-3 weeks.

... my husband and I decided to take up a new hobby-- metal detecting! He already had a metal detector from before we were married (he was a ghost-town hunter!) so it cost us nothing to start. We had to pay $1 for parking on the beach but eventually we plan on finding beaches that cost nothing. It was super fun and relaxing to walk the beach after dark, just moonlight, waves and our little family!

... I made blueberry scones for breakfast but in the middle of making them, I found I had run out of milk. Should I run to the store or find a way to resolve this with what I had on hand? Aha! Yogurt! I put in one container of peach yogurt in place of 2/3 cup of milk and they were delish!

What fun things did you do this weekend?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sweet Sabbath

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...
1 Peter 1:3

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sneaky ways to make your grocery budget go farther

I confess- I'm not the savviest grocery shopper. When I still lived at home, my sister and I had jobs to help the family and the house to run smoother. My older sister's was the shopping and menus, mine was helping with the little kids. We both were pretty good at our jobs but in my case, they didn't overlap very often. In college I lived in apartments and cooked my own food, so I should have figured out how to shop but instead I lived like a bachelor and just bought easy favorites over and over again. So even though I was almost 30 when I got married, I still didn't know how to make a menu or plan a grocery list.

Our first months were not pretty. We ate out far too often AND had food going bad in our refrigerator. At the same time. I was so embarrassed.

Eventually I learned how to sit down with my cookbooks and cooking magazines and plan a menu. Later I learned how to STICK to that menu! When we decided to go to law school I scoured the internet to find ways to live on as little as possible while we had to use student loans. One of the ideas that showed up often was using coupons. I was so excited by the prospect of walking out of the store with a cart full of groceries I had got for free! But the more I looked for coupons for REAL food, the more I realized I was going to need a different plan.

So over the next few days/weeks/months/years, (however long this blog lasts!) I'm going to show how we make it on our food budget, from budgeting through planning and executing a big shop to our meal preparation.

Should be very fun!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Update

This weekend I came down with a lovely cold. At first I thought it was just allergies, so I didn't stop loving on/kissing/snuggling the Baby Bug, but... when I woke up Saturday unable to breathe, I felt immediate remorse. So far he seems fine, some small symptoms, but nothing too bad. I'm just worried that if he does get sick we will have to pay out of pocket because the insurance company is taking their sweet time putting him on our policy. I have a love/hate relationship with insurance. They seem so out of tune with the real needs of the people who pay them but the alternative is SO much worse. Customer service that takes days, weeks, months or government "help" that take years? Anyway, I'll just hop off my little soap box....

So this weekend was fun. We....

.... made some money selling our moving boxes on Craigslist! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

.... had a cheap date at Sonic- we ordered off their Dollar Menu! I really like their Jr. Burgers. Just the right size for a woman trying to lose here "baby belly"!

....checked out a new grocery store called "Bottom Dollar Foods". It seems like it will be a great place for us to shave some $$$ off the grocery budget. Their prices are less than some other stores and they accept coupons. The produce was great, even better than some of the upscale stores in the area.The only drawback is that it's kind of far and not in the best area. I'll let you know how the deals pan out.

....made my own laundry detergent. So far it works better than the stuff from the store and much cheaper too!

....used RedBox for the first time!

So all in all a great weekend.

(Photo: Prevention Magazine Online)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sweet Sabbath

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Menu for the next two weeks

My desire is that I'll be able to plan my menu one month at a time and post it right around the time of my shopping trip. That didn't happen this month because I was still unpacking and setting up our new life here but everything is settling into a much better routine, so I have hope for the future!

Week One
Sunday: We ordered Little Caesars. Hmmm!Pizza! Pizza!
Monday: Baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon, and cheddar cheese
Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Pie with salad
Wednesday: Beef Stew and homemade biscuits
Thursday: Pasta with cauliflower and breadcrumbs
Friday: BBQ Chicken with potato salad and corn on the cob
Saturday: Beef Stew and homemade biscuits

Week Two
Sunday: Pork Chops with Rice
Monday: Spinach Bacon Quiche and salad
Tuesday: Sauteed Sausage and Peppers with rice
Wednesday: Thirteen Bean Soup with homemade wheat bread
Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Pie with salad
Friday: Spaghetti Carbonara
Saturday: Black beans and corn over rice

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sweet Sabbath

" Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him" Psalm 34:8

Friday, September 18, 2009

Finally Friday!

This week has been a complete blur. It seemed like everyday I was asking my husband what day it was because I just couldn't stay on top of it in my mind. I'm so thankful that whenever we don't "get it right" we are given the next day/next week to start all over again fresh!

I'm really looking forward to this weekend because I might get some rest. The Baby Bug has been going though a growth spurt (again!) so he's not been sleeping through the night. But he's getting big enough that I could take a nap and he and his daddy could have some play time! I was able to get into the very messy office and clean it up so I feel pretty good about that room and won't be thinking about it guiltily while I'm doing nothing. Today I'm going to make some delicious Strawberry Banana muffins so I won't have make breakfast in the morning, just in case I get the chance to sleep in a bit.

This weekend I plan on
...watching some TV or something from Blockbuster Online
...finding my knitting so my hands have something to do!
... taking a nap! (Maybe I can convince my husband to take us to the beach and I can take my nap there!)

What do you usually do on a lazy weekend?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thankful Thursdays

I can't believe it has been an entire week since I last sat down and wrote. I will get better at this, I promise!

What I am especially thankful for today:

... that I am healthy and with relatively no work on my part!
... a wonderful home that I feel "at home" in
... grace when it is given.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thankful Thursdays

You know what? Today I am thankful. Not that I'm not thankful on other days but I think on Thursdays I will try to be freer in expressing my thankfulness.

Today I am thankful:
...for a new friend.
...for the sounds of military jets reminding me of those who protect my country.
...for the sweet sounds of my husband telling my son a story as he put the Baby Bug to bed.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Perfectionism- the enemy of productivity

I try to keep my house pretty clean most of the time but sometimes perfectionism gets in the way. How could perfectionism possibly keep you from having a clean house? Shouldn't your house be cleaner if you're a perfectionist? Not at all.

Case in point- When we moved, we planned the boxes to go directly into the room they belonged to make our unpacking simple. But we had a few stragglers that didn't belong in specific rooms since they had come from storage. Thankfully we have a second bedroom to put them in, while going through them. This room filled up with the random stuff much quicker than I anticipated. In fact, it was so full we weren't able to close the door! So every morning I'd walk by this room and say "I can't live with all this junk! I HAVE to go through it and get rid of it all!" A good intention, right? Enter real life. I have a baby who very adorable-y asks for my attention, most minutes of the day. There are meals that have to be made. My charming husband has papers he needs me to read and cases to discuss. Needless to say, not a lot of work has gotten done on the room.

A few days ago I was thinking about my everyday household cleaning and realized I hadn't vacuumed in more than three weeks. And as I was thinking about the vacuuming, I found myself saying "I can't do that yet, I need to clean the guest room clean first". What?! I can't do basic maintenance until an out of the way upstairs room is clean and organized? Why?

Because perfectionism got in the way. I needed the perfect house that was in my head before I could maintain it. And I wanted it with the wave of a magic wand, not breaking it into bite size pieces that could be accomplished while my son is in bed.

I find myself often struggling with this problem. Whether it be losing the last few post pregnancy pounds, growing in the Lord, or maintaining a budget, perfectionism frequently gets in the way. I don't want to do the little things that maintain or move me slowly in the right direction. I don't want the kind of results that you can only see from hindsight. I want them NOW! I want them BIG! But life rarely works that way.

So after I vacuumed that day, I realized what a difference that one little thing made and like anything worth doing, we do it in hope.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Law School Widow?

I doubt it.

My husband of almost three years started law school last week. Previously we had lived in the Washington DC metro area, where I was a stay at home wife and he worked for a successful non-profit. It was a lovely easy-going life for us full of eating out, taking trips and watching movies whenever we felt like it. We had a sweet little apartment with arched doorways and beautiful parquet wood floors. Our love for antiques and unique decor fit perfectly.

Most people in DC thought we were crazy for going to Law School (People are always confused when I refer to "us" going to law school. But I will continue to say "we"because this is most definitely a joint venture.) "Why leave your good job with security and go into thousands of dollars of debt to enter a profession that's over saturated anyway?" "Don't do it. It will ruin your finances" and worse "It will ruin your marriage" was the advice we heard all too often. "Why do we want to do this crazy thing?" we asked ourselves. Because my husband has a dream. And I also have a dream.

He dreams of becoming an honest, godly lawyer and offer his services to those who genuinely need them. His hero is Atticus Finch. My dream is to have a husband who loves what he does professionally. I believe a huge portion of your family's happiness depends on a husband/dad who loves what he does. My heroes are the millions of women who stand next to their husbands, with radiant smiles, and say "when everyone else doubted, I believed in you and I knew WE could do it".

So we packed up our little apartment, our even littler 10 week old baby and moved 200 miles to begin the Law School Adventure! We now live in a bigger apartment with hilarious faded Smurf blue siding. Instead of arched doorways and parquet floors we have and an "open" floor plan and construction grade carpeting. But I love it all. There are so many blessing already. And I'm so excited to see where God takes us.

I am confident we will not only survive law school but we will flourish during law school. It will take hard work, flexibility, and sacrificial love I'm sure but, by God's grace we will do it.

That's what this blog's about.