Saturday, November 15, 2014

15 / 60

I'm a bit behind on the Christmas card making but I think it's coming along well. My cards have slightly evolved. I'm really enjoying making them even if I may be spending an absurd amount of time doing so. Every new card I make is my favorite yet. That helps keep me motivated. I have about three versions now that I really like. This is one of the three.

I'm using buttons from my Grandmother's button tin that I've had in my basement for several years now. So I've included a little note on the back of each card letting people know that my Grandmother has had a part in this year's holiday greeting.

At present I'm using old buttons, a stock pile of thread and scrap booking paper, I have at least 15 blank white cards and envelopes and I've purchased 50 more for only $9.99. Each card this Christmas should end up costing me about 70 cents and that includes the postage stamp. I think I've done quite well. I'm not factoring in the postage for the buttons that will be traveling to the UK, Sweden, and the Philippines so that might boost the average a few cents per card. Still, that's a lot cheaper than buying boxed cards at the store. Yay!

Along the same lines, I've sent out only one Thanksgiving note thus far but I'll be getting more out this week. AND I've received one Thanksgiving card this year :) It absolutely made my day and it traveled quite far to reach me, it crossed an ocean in fact and was sent by someone who doesn't even celebrate Thanksgiving. How absolutely delighted I am! Thank-you my friend :-)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving Tree

Our tree is really coming along. I think my favorite leaf up there so far is "pickles." My little guy really loves pickles (and popsicles, that's up there too).

There's so much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Our Home

A Thanksgiving Post

I'm thankful for the way the raindrops "tink" on the tin siding. When we first moved in the unfamiliar sound was a bit annoying but I've grown quite fond of it over the years. It's rather musical now; it's the music the rain makes.

I'm thankful for how the living room and dining room open into each other so that my little boy can run laps around the main living quarters at full speed without bumping into much of anything.

I'm thankful for the family history in the walls. These walls have certainly heard their fair share of yelling but they've seen plenty of good times too and all of them shared by family; at least 70 years of Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, and well over 120 birthday celebrations. I love to hear my mother in law tell the same stories over and over again about the house, "that's the window I used to talk to the neighbor boy through, him standing at his window over there and me here at mine. We weren't supposed to talk to each other. Our parents couldn't stand one another but we always talked through our bedroom windows."

We don't renovate, redecorate, or remodel... ever. But I'm thankful for the gorgeous color of the wooden window frames and sills, baseboards, and built in cabinets throughout the house (I'm in love with the burnt honey color stain that my grandpa in law chose for them), the antique glass door knobs and the skeleton key lock still at the back door.

Our home is often messy. It's filled with a mismatch of worn eclectic furniture and linens. It would never be featured in a lovely magazine but it's warm and cozy and big (for us) and it's home.

I'm thankful for our home.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


November is here!

One of the wonderful effects of a sense of gratitude is the desire to spread the joy around.
-M.J. Ryan

For years I have considered this a month of thanks.  Thanksgiving has become my very favorite holiday because of it. I've a tradition of writing thanksgiving letters, notes, little messages on facebook to as many people as I'm able throughout the month of November. It may be selfish but I think it's just a natural by product of giving thanks, I receive more joy throughout this month in letting people know how much I'm thankful for them then I ever do at Christmas opening up gifts from under the tree.

One of my favorite parts of the tradition is myself finding out as the month progresses who I desire to thank this year. I will sometimes find the most random of people, not necessarily a best friend or my sister but a co-worker that I see once a week and speak to for maybe 5 minutes as our paths cross, some one at church who I maybe talk to once a month, or an in law that might not be at the very top of my "favorite persons" list. Truth is, there are hundreds of people in our lives and I bet if you stopped to think about each one of them there is something about them that you are thankful for.

I'd like to encourage everyone, each individual who reads this post, whether you're of the part of the planet that actually celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday or not to send at least one note of thanks to someone this month of November. Sending more than one would be fabulous!

I guarantee you that you'll receive as much from this act of kindness as the recipient of your note (although that certainly isn't the point). Joy is in the crisp autumn air. The holidays are upon us. Let us give thanks!

It is better to give than to receive.
Acts 20:35

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Embrace the Pain (This post is honestly not about pregnancy)

I've been following a natural birth facebook group since the hospital near my house did away with the midwife program there. I chose a non-medicated birth for my son. I delivered at the hospital near my house with a midwife. The facebook page is encouraging to me in highlighting all these other woman who look at birth similarly to how I do. When I was pregnant the majority of moms I spoke to had delivered with an OB and had gotten an epidural.

The main thing that the soon to be moms post on the group page when they're getting closer to labor is requests for encouraging words on how to get through the pain. They worry they won't be able to do it. They worry they'll cave and ask for the epidural. I certainly had the same fears. I even had friends tell me that I would cave. But I didn't. I endured the pain. Like they always say "woman have been birthing babies since the beginning of time with no medicine." If you talk to a woman who doesn't want to get an epidural, who wants to experience natural child birth she is almost always so passionate about it. Sure there's fear but there is a determination like none other.

But what's the point? Why the passion? If you can get rid of the pain... The more time I've spent following the facebook group the more I'm coming to terms with pain in life and in bringing life forth being inevitable. Life is not easy. We as humans and animals, as living beings we try to make the pain go away as much as possible but sometimes we just need to go through the pain to get to the incredible blessing on the other side. Sure there are ways to ease the pain, to manage the pain, to deal with it but you still have to go through it. The mom's who end up with a natural uncomplicated delivery feel so empowered on the other side of it. Sure it hurt, BAD, but most of them will tell you it was the biggest accomplishment of their lives and they wouldn't change it for anything. That's my story. I'm so proud of the birth of my son, every single minute of it.

I say all of this because I've been feeling stuck with this blog, with my financial situation. And I use the analogy above because the recent midwifery services termination has been forefront on my mind for quite sometime. (and certainly not because I look down on woman who chose to deliver with an epidural... not in the least) I've lost a good deal of determination and passion as of late in dealing with the debt payoff. I've been operating sort of in the mentality of, "who needs the pain? I'll just try and mask it." I grew up in a debt laden family. I started my marriage charging everything or so it seems now. After the past few years of learning to be frugal and trying to walk a responsible fiscal path it is still hard a lot of the time to say no to little things that I really don't "need." Lately it's been down right impossible. But little things add up really fast!

Today I write all of this as a means of telling myself, "Embrace the pain. If there isn't money in the budget for that scrumptious dinner you've been craving then purchase something affordable (duh, right?). Stop trying to numb the pain. Put on your big girl pants and get back in it. There is something so beautiful and rewarding on the other side of doing the right thing, on the other side of the pain. Life isn't easy. Stop trying to convince yourself that it should be." Please don't read in between the lines here. It's not do are die. I'm just venting, blogging my thoughts and being really raw.

Well, I'm off to make some lists; lists of things I need to up my game on, do better with, and some ideas to get that determination back.

* This blog post has been updated about a million times now

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Tree Craft (Part 2)

The leaves are dried and pressed.
Today I taped a few pages of newspaper together and let my son paint them white.
After the paint dried I outlined a tree on the paper and cut it out.
Now the tree is hanging on the dining room wall.
We'll add one leaf every day until Thanksgiving with something written on it that we're thankful for.
This will probably be a Thanksgiving tradition for us for many years to come. Today we added two leaves. I asked little Abe what he was thankful for and he said, "mommy." Awe, melt my heart. I wrote his name on the second leaf because I didn't want to be up there without him.

Sparked by a fellow blogger's comment: Do you have any Thanksgiving holiday traditions?
Please comment if you do. It's a rather intriguing question since the Thanksgiving holiday can just be considered a big meal to those outside the US.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Strawberry Frost

This bucket of berries brought us such joy through out the summer.
It still continues to inspire awe.

Winter is on it's way.
What a lovely morning!

4 / 60

Four Christmas cards down, only fifty sixish left to go.

I made one yesterday that I was quite proud of. I showed it to my husband and said, "what do you think of this?" He's like "what is it?" I said, "A Christmas card." Then he said, "Oh, who sent us that?"

The man lives in a different world, I am telling you! I think a better question would be, "Who on earth sent us a Christmas card in October?" But to his credit I guess the person who starts sewing Christmas cards in October is quite alien.

Don't worry I won't be posting about Christmas cards every day from not till December.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let the Holidays Begin

I dug out a neat little tin of buttons from my Grandmother's sewing table (one of the few things I inherited from her) and started making Christmas cards today. I'm an enormous procrastinator so I'm going to attempt the slow and steady method for the holidays this year. I figure if I make one or two cards a day I should have enough made by sending them out time. I LOVE Christmas cards! I try and send a different kind each year. Last year I sent out my stock pile of old cards that gathered up over the years. Normally I try and take a neat Christmasy photo and make a card out of it. This year I'm going to attempt making these button ones. These are my first two so I'm hoping they'll get cuter as I go along.

Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts going at the same time; those books in the background are pressing the leaves we gathered yesterday. Now I'm off to work. Hooray.

*A good friend of mine just published a blog post about updating the address book now so that you'll be ready come Christmas time. Great suggestion and a big part of my inspiration to start making my cards this year.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Tree Craft (Part One)

Today we went for a walk and collected fallen leaves. It was fun noticing all the different colors and leaves that had fallen from all different types of trees.

Right now our leaves are drying in the basement. We'll press them on wax paper once they're dry. We're going to make a thanksgiving tree out of newpaper that I'll hang on the wall. Everyday leading up to thanksgiving we'll add a leaf to the tree with something we're thankful for written on it. We will read all of our leaves each day and think about the things we're thankful for. 

I'm pretty sure I have everything I need around the house to do this entire craft. Free is always the best!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Our Pie and Today's Grocery List

Average daily spending for October: $21.19

I got a little carried away with today's shopping trip. But after our dinner and dessert I'm feeling so unbelievably accomplished for the day AND full! I made chili with ground chicken instead of beef and homemade biscuits. I hadn't made the biscuits before and I LOVED the way they turned out. They were pretty rustic and I don't know that my husband loved them but they reminded me of something my Grandmother would have made. So simple and so from scratch!
Yes there is a finger poke in that pie.
The pumpkin pie turned out very brown; that was my husband's only complaint. I am very proud of it. Little Abe mostly ate the whipped cream and then mushed the pie beyond recognition but I'm pretty sure that's completely normal for most little ones and pumpkin pie. I have to laugh because I commented in my last post that my pie crusts are always... not perfect. I made a leaf border for the top of the pie crust and it was quite adorable until it sank down the edge of the pan while it baked and almost buried itself in the pie. You can't blame a woman for trying though.

I'm shooting for a $16.99 daily spending average for October.
That leaves $102.82 for the rest of the month. Yikes!

Ingredients for the chili
Tomato sauce .89
An onion .74
Kidney beans 1
Rotel tomatoes 1.07
2LBs Ground chicken 6.94
Chili powder 2.50

Ingredients for the pie
Brown sugar .99
Whipping cream 2.29
Parchment paper 2.99
Butter 3.99
Corn syrup 2.19
Cloves 4.39

Other groceries (of which only 4 items were on my shopping list)
Tuna .79
Apple juice 1.99
Ziploc bags 2.29
Eggs 3.79
Baking soda .69
Pickles 1.99
Ketchup 2.49
Crackers 2.59
Cheese 2.69
Yogurt 3
Bread 3
tax .32

Observations About Pumpkin Pie

  1. It's so much more fulfilling to make it from actual pumpkins as opposed to the canned pumpkin.

    I haven't the foggiest idea why but there was something overwhelmingly joyful about scooping the baked pumpkin from the skins after pulling them out of the hot oven. I've never done that before and I was giddy like a little kid on a pony farm as I watched the soft warm cooked pumpkin pulling away from the tiny layer of skin that had previously been the hard solid rind (or what I thought was a rind). Fascinating to say the least! Of course my two year old son was observing the process so that might have added a bit of pizzazz the whole thing.
  2. Similarly I will mix up dough and roll it out every single time I bake any sort of pie instead of getting the pre-made pie dough.

    I love getting flour everywhere and hoping that this time the crust will turn out just right (it never does/ mine is always quite "homemade" at the edges). I love using a rolling pin. I love having my kiddo help roll out the pie dough and jokingly snapping at him when he pops a broken bit of dough in his mouth.
  3. Crushing up the baked pumpkin with your hands so that it looks perfectly pureed is not the same as pureeing it.

    It looked pureed. Little Abe put all the pie ingredients into the mixing bowl with our lovely "pureed" pumpkin. Then mommy took the electric beater to the bowl and... OOOPPPSSS!!! There was most definitely pumpkin pie filling splattered all over the entire kitchen, fridge, cookbook, table, me, little Abe... everywhere! It was kind of awesome though. The little pumpkin strands that our fingers weren't able to genuinely puree whipped up in the beaters and flung bits of filling all over. Little Abe was startled. I laughed pretty hard. Then I got out the blender and had a second go at pureeing the fresh baked pumpkin.
  4. Totally from scratch, fresh baked pumpkin pie will take all morning to make!

    15 minutes to gut the pumpkins then 45 minutes of them baking at 375F. We made the pie dough while the pumpkins were cooking but the dough was supposed to chill for 20 minutes before being rolled out. Then the crust was supposed to chill for 20 minutes before being baked. Then the crust had to bake for 20 minutes before the filling went it. We made the filling while the crust was baking but there was some extra clean up time for that process, hehe. Then the pie baked for 45 minutes (my oven is a bit on the cooler side/ it should have been more like 40 minutes). The beautiful pie just came out of the oven and is cooling now.

I'll post pie photos for certain later this evening! This big helper ^ is napping now. And his mom is sitting here typing away and smelling hot pumpkin pie cooling in the kitchen. I'm pretty sure our 2 hours of hard work this morning will be well worth it. And you know I've got a carton of heavy whipping cream in the fridge to top off the pie with fresh made whipped cream when the eating time comes!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lazy NO SPEND Saturday

Average daily spending for October: $20.46

Today was a successful no spend. I made a Christmas ornament with my sister and little Abe our of flour, salt, and water. Talk about cheap! I'll report back on that if it turns out not hideous. I do not celebrate halloween. I LOVE thanksgiving but I'm actually getting really excited about Christmas already this year. I guess you never can get ready for Christmas too early... don't worry I haven't started Christmas music yet. I haven't decorated much for the past... um, long time. This year I think will be different.

I'm shooting for a $16.99 daily spending average for October.
That leaves $158.43 for the rest of the month.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Spending

Average daily spending for October: $20.46

I've had some reckless spending the past few days... Starbucks salted caramel mocha. I also bought a new pair of lounging pants and a long sleeve shirt. There were other little things. I'm kind of proud of myself for the clothing purchases though. I really never buy new clothes. I've been in desperate need of new PJ/ lounging pants and a plain long sleeve shirt. Both articles of clothing were on sale so that makes them nicer too.

As of this moment I'm shooting for a $16.99 daily spending average for October. That leaves $158.43 for the rest of the month. That's about $12.18 a day here on out. It's worth a try.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shape Learning Craft/ Activity

We work on learning a letter, shape, color, counting a little higher, and memorization each week. This week we're working on H, triangles, black, counting to 30, and Psalm 107:1. This morning we did a triangle craft that was really neat for little Abe.
I put paint splotches on two sheets of newspaper and he painted the splotches all around. Then I cut triangles out of the sheets of painted newspaper.
He glued the squares to a box I had sitting around the house (an obscene amount of boxes come and go due to work materials that my office mails here). He loves using glue sticks and sticking paper to the glue. We've only used glue a few times but it's one of his favorite crafty things to do.

I cut a triangle in the box and now he can throw balls through the triangle. I put a laundry basket behind the box to keep it stable (as opposed to putting something heavy in the bottom) and the laundry basket catches just about every ball he throws through; bonus! We are grouchy today but this activity was a ton of fun and we'll be able to play the new game for a long time. I think he might know what a triangle is by the end of the day. We've only said it a billion times already this morning. Every time he's about the throw the ball through the hole I say "see if you can throw the ball through the triangle."

Since I only used items that we had around the house for this craft, our crafting time and our new activity were completely FREE! One of my favorite things about being frugal is finding things to do with stuff that's already lying around.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunny Sunday

NO SPEND day 66 for the year here.

Hubby's manager took us to breakfast this morning. Free breakfast and my kid behaved like an absolute gentleman. Ahhh

I'm working my to-do list for today like a champ. Even got the back lawn mowed already.
Yesterday was very blah so I just sat around all day. I'm trying to keep motivated today to redeem myself. Truly, a good long list of accomplishments always cheers me up.

Been craving coffee like crazy lately; good coffee, not the darn cheap stuff I keep buying because it's cheap. Just remembered I have some Bewley's Irish breakfast stashed in my bedroom closet. Someone is going to make a nice strong cup of hot tea right now...

It's been a VERY sunny Sunday so far today. Keep shining up there please, keep on shining!

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.
-Abraham Lincoln
Average daily spending for October: $18.22
(my spending this month has been crap. I just keep buying nonsense. Que sera, sera...tomorrow is another day)

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I keep writing posts and then reverting them to draft.
Sorry. Too much on my mind I guess.
Funny how I blog so much less often when that's the case.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My house is in shambles right now, absolute chaos. And here I am not wanting to pick up a single sock or wash one dish. I actually just want to make more messes. "Lets break out the puzzles buddy!" I guess I'm officially two years old today just like my kiddo. I might just go with it. I suppose I can clean up tomorrow.