Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Budgeting Questions?

What's your grocery budget for a week... and what does that include? 

I'm looking for inclusion of household supplies, toiletries, and cleaning stuff in that and any regular pet expenses. How many people are in your household? I'm just curious. I'm pretty frugal but not a very good bargain shopper. I mean, I tend to buy things that are on sale but I'm no good at buying in bulk and I'm not very good at using coupons, although I've gotten better. I also steer away from really cheap foods, like a loaf of bread for say .50 cents that probably doesn't have any nutritional value. I wonder how much other people spend on average... although where you live/ cost of living factors into the total quite a bit. This total would also include eating out expenses. I put that into my grocery budget because as far as I'm concerned food is food.

I lost track of spending somewhere mid October this year but from what I've recorded the average weekly spending for my three person (plus three pets) household came out to $129 a week. If I randomly assign $5 a week per pet that puts me at an average of $38 a week per person in my family. That seems pretty low to me, not that I'm complaining, just thinking in print.

In keeping with the title of this blog $38 per person per week boils down to about $5.50 per person a day. So now I feel the need to point out that a large specialty coffee costs about that much. It's amazing how quickly a few pennies can become a fortune isn't it.

I was sitting in the car with little Abe on Christmas day looking at the enormous waves in Lake Michigan and watching the constant stream of wind coming off of the lake carry millions and billions of tiny grains of sand away from the lake and into the parking lot. I couldn't help but think how insignificant one grain of sand is. But when the little buggars work together they create mammoth hills, cover road ways, and make parking lots disappear.  Pennies act very much the same way. When you have just one of them it's not of much use but when "the wind" gets a hold of them they can create massive debt or huge savings in not too long a time. (Yes, I was thinking about money on Christmas day while sitting at the lake.)

Average daily spending for 2014: $18.40

Simplicity and Clarity in January

I don't know that I'll profess those "words of the year," but I'm hoping to make January all about simplicity and clarity. I'll be cutting out news radio, tv (for the most part), facebook, and I'm hoping to make no plans next month. My purchases should be kept to a minimum, purposeful purchases and I want to get rid of a lot of clutter from my home. I hope to read a good deal as well.

My plans seem to never go as planned but at least I have an outline for next month now.

I may be a dreamer, always scheming and planning and conjuring up magical moments in my mind but I crave simplicity, peace, and calm. I think a quite month will be the best way for me to start out this new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thank-you You Tube (I'm learning Irish now)

I cannot believe what I just stumbled upon. Really, they do have everything on You Tube. I've always thought it'd fun to learn the Irish Gaelic language but I never thought I'd actually do so especially since the pronunciations are so difficult but woah... I'm excited to spend a little time with these videos. Haha!

Yay! My dreams for 2015 are becoming a reality :)

Oh my goodness my husband is going to get annoyed with me...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My 2015 Goals, um, wait, I mean dreams

This is the year to grab life by the horns... what a silly saying. I imagine grabbing anything by the horns is incredibly dangerous.

My first goal is to become an Irish historian. I'll read every book ever written about Ireland, it's people, it's history and although traveling there every month or so might be an excellent educational attribute it certainly wouldn't be practical. So, I'll leave that part out (because you know that reading every book ever written about a country in a year is SO practical...)

I'll also perfect my baking skills and become a master baker. I'll work with hundreds of pies one week and then bake cake after cake after cake the next. There'll be weeks of cookies and I'll make pastries most people have never heard of as if they were toast. Over and over and over until I'm a certified professional. (notice losing weight has not been mentioned in my goals yet)

In my spare time I intend to become fluent in three languages. I'm already pretty good at English so that only leaves two to learn. I can speak and understand very broken bits of Spanish so that should be a piece of cake to pick up. Next on the list is the Irish Gaelic language. I think it'd be wonderfully fun and beyond fascinating to learn an ancient language that had practically died at one point and is now only kept alive due to the patriotism and resolve of it's people.

Lastly I'd like to take a few weeks off from the baking and reading and language learning so that I can travel across the United States, by car of course. If you're not staring at the mountains of Montana or the rock formations clinging to the road sides in Kentucky or the enormous trees in California as you drive through the land and you chose to fly overhead instead then what's the point really? You can hardly call flight "traveling across the US." I need to see the Grand Canyon and the red wood trees. I'd love to see glacier national park and the deserts of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Alaska is surely on my bucket list but I don't think I'll put that on the road trip itinerary this year.

What a fun year this will be! Let's get this party started!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Expectations: The Killer of Happiness

The first 30 or 40 minutes of this lovely Christmas morning were perfect! Then we got the call that our enormous (as in tons of food) family brunch was canceled today. You know when you've been planning a thing to go a certain way for so long and then it's abruptly altered; bum expectations. My third shifter hubby decided that since the family gathering was called off for today he'd just head to bed at about 10:30AM. Joy! Joy! Joy! I was hoping to spend Christmas alone with just my son and a few pounds of cookies... <sarcasm

After an enormous inward temper tantrum and a sugary binge I worked up enough motivation to get out of the house with the little guy. Half to get myself away from the sweets in the house and half in an attempt to calm my thoughts. I received a CD for Christmas this morning from my hubby of one of my very favorite artists, Kari Jobe. It's a worship CD. I'm very quickly brought back to my senses whenever I put any of her music on. I popped it in the car stereo and off we went. It was naptime so I knew that little Abe would sleep the entire ride.

There's nothing that some good deep breaths, a nice long ride, (with the lowest gas prices we've had in years) some excellent worship music, and sights of nature out the windows won't cure... at least crazy out of wack emotions wise. We dropped a gift by someone, stopped at my moms to deliver a few slices of Christmas cheesecake, and drove to the lake to watch some enormous beautiful waves. I parked the car and let little Abe crawl up in the front seat with me to watch the waves. We rolled down the window for a bit to listen to their magnificent sounds as well. All in all, I'd say that will be a good Christmas memory. Oh, we went out back and blew bubbles for a bit too!

I put bubbles in his stocking.
We're used to very white Christmases around here.
But hey if there's no snow to play in bubbles must be the next best thing, right :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Buttons

As human beings we tend to hold onto memories of our past and our loved ones through physical trinkets. Whether it be the antique furniture that my husband's dad collected that doesn't belong in our house as it's slowly all getting scratched and scuffed in an atrocious manner but to my husband it's a connection to his dad. Or the closet of my husband's grandpa's clothes that is still completely intact in the corner of my son's bedroom. Or for me tons of tiny little tchotchkes from my childhood that I can't let go of. It's a lot easier for me to look back and remember the bad things from my youth but all my little trinkets make me smile and feel like there were good times too. I know that people struggle with letting go of these useless things that connect them to their past, geesh there are entire television shows surrounding this issue. I'm not saying that you should keep the stuff or shouldn't just that the connection exists.

I'm at a point in life where I'd rather simplify and just get rid of every single thing we own that we don't use than hold onto all the memories in physical form. I can picture a lovely home in my head free from clutter and excess and although it would have a few things in it that are purely sentimental it wouldn't have random useless nonsense that was owned by someone sometime that's no longer with us.

So, I inherited my grandmother's sewing table (actually I took it while everyone else was going through more important things... no one else seemed interested in it). My grandmother was a very proper English woman who was fabulous at gardening and sewing. I remember her most with dirt on her gardening gloves and a pile of sewing projects in her sewing room... My grandmother had a sewing room! I don't know anyone now a days who has an entire sewing room. I admire that about her. Sadly her sewing table has been sitting in my basement for years. I sew with needle and thread but I cannot figure out how to correctly use the sewing machine. I've tried. It hates me. I obviously need a sewing class or something. I've never used one of the hundreds of patters tucked away in the drawers. I have been using some of the wonderful assortment of thread. I've hardly ever used the neat tools that I just like to look at as if they're some sort of grand antiques. More recently I discovered the most fabulous round tin. It rattles with a musical beauty when you shake it as it's filled with buttons. I can't imagine I'll ever usefully employ the buttons but the tin and it's contents are marvelous.

This Christmas (as I adore Christmas cards and mailing them) I made a plan to use the buttons for our cards. It took a few moments of deciding if I really wanted to send out my Grandmother's buttons (and really only a handful of them when all was said and done) or if I should keep them and cherish them as they were in the tin for always. In truth the majority of them will be thrown in the trash come January. I like to imagine that maybe a few of the crafters I mailed them to will remove them from the card and actually use them for something but I'm not delusional. They will mostly all be discarded. But I went ahead with the plan. I sewed one and in some cases when a snowman was involved two buttons onto each card. I spent around 30 minutes sewing every one. I enjoyed the process much more than I should have as it became much more time consuming then I'd envisioned. I wrote a note to each recipient. I stuffed the envelopes, addressed them, and each button began a journey to some corner of the world it'd never seen before. I wrote a little note on the back of each card, "this card brought to you by Grandmother Sylvia's button tin."

Maybe I'm slightly delusional but rather than sitting in my basement for all time and maybe getting a good shake once or so a year these handful of buttons have taken in my eyes a beautifully poetic last journey; one of spreading holiday cheer. My Grandmother's buttons have traveled all over the United States this Christmas, to Hawaii even, and the UK and Sweden. I didn't send a photo with my cards this year. I only spent 20 cents on each of them. Some of them were, um, the first few I made were kind of scrappy. But I loved our cards this year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Little Christmas Miracles

I'm more scattered brained than normal being Christmas is so very upon us so this post might turn out... random to say the least. Why is the Christmas season so hectic? Geesh! But still, I'm enjoying this Christmas more then ever.

A few days ago our neighbor who Abe and I brought the cookies to gave us a gift in return. The gift consisted of some homemade peppermint sugar scrub (with coconut oil) and a mason jar of peach crumb cake ingredients along with a can of peach pie filling. I made the crumb cake right away as I have a serious sugar problem. And honestly it was SOOOOOO yummy. My husband can't stand peaches so I never get to make peach crumb cake but I do love hot peaches and they're even better with yummy sugary crumble surrounding them. The hand scrub too, something I would have never thought to make for myself is the best hand scrub I've ever used. I love it! I was not expecting anything from her. It was unbelievably delightful to receive the gift. There's truthfully so much obligation surrounding Christmas that receiving an unexpected gift like that feels a little like a Christmas miracle; to me anyhow.

I recently posted a photo to a local helping hands facebook page of a large baby toy that we've had sitting in our living room for, well, about two years and that my son no longer plays with. I do hope to have more kids someday but I couldn't see letting this thing collect dust in my attic for who knows how long when someone could be playing with it right now. (it's not the farm Jessica) It's a nice large interactive toy. I met some people in the Walgreens parking lot today to drop the thing off. They were really excited about receiving the toy and just kept saying how nice it is. It was given to us as a hand me down by some friends. I had been meaning to get rid of it for a few months now. Even so I'm feeling really good that while I don't have tons of extra money, and bills are pretty much all getting paid late this month, and I wasn't able to get very nice gifts for my family still I was able to bless total strangers with a gift they really, really appreciated. It was very neat. My heart feels a little fuller.

I went to the chiropractor this morning. My wonderful insurance covered one whole visit this year. It seems that after you meet the $2600 deductible then they start picking up your visits BUT, here's the fun little catch: the insurance company only allows 24 visits to the chiropractor a year (that's what the office administrator explained to me). Guess when I hit the $2600 deductible? At my 23rd visit. That means they paid for ONE visit. I went into my appointment today trying to work up the courage to ask if I could pay for today's visit and my next visit next time. I really was not sure where I was going to come up with the money for today. I thought of canceling a few times but I figured I'd at least go in and see if they'd let me pay two weeks late. Just as I was about to ask her about the payment she said, "oh, turns out your insurance max visits is 26, not 24. This visit and the next one are covered since you paid for the last two already." It's only two more visits (as opposed to one) but it felt like a miracle to me.

I feel like there was something else I wanted to mention but... can't remember what it may have been.

I do hope you all are experiencing a wonderful Christmas season this year! I can't believe Christmas Eve is really tomorrow. My little Abe is so excited. I think he's going to be a bit disappointed however the day after Christmas when all the countdown bags are gone... just a little bit of Christmas reality I guess. Still, the Christmas cards we received this year will probably hang on the wall until March... mostly because I'm lazy but also because they just make me happy. Ooh, I did want to mention Christmas cards too. Maybe another time.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christ at Christmastime

For the past several years "the magic of Christmas" has been missing for me. I've chalked it up to being grown, to working in retail, and to not having sufficient funds. Christmas if very different once you've lost the magical Christmas mornings of your childhood. That's one of the things my mom always did very well. Christmas mornings were absolutely delightful. Working in retail reveals often times the worst in people. The madness of Christmas shopping isn't something you endure for how ever many hours you subject yourself to it but it's something you must suffer for weeks on end. And then there's money. I don't mind as much not having fabulously lavish gifts for myself as much as I mind not being able to spend copious amounts of money on everyone I care for. I'm pretty sure that giving gifts is my strongest of the five love languages and I do suffer at Christmas time with the inability to give well thought out, hopefully gleefully received gifts to everyone I love.

Things were supposed to change once I had children. It's said that the holiday glee of childhood returns once you're able to watch your kiddos experience it for themselves. This will be my son's third Christmas and last year at least was actually more frustrating for me then ever. I've celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmastime for my entire life. Santa Claus and his elves were always a fun story but my siblings and I never "believed" in Santa. Jesus was the reason for the season. Last year I noticed for possibly the first time how very removed from Christmas Jesus has become in our culture. When it comes to TV shows and Christmas marketing/ decorations, gift wraps, bags, kids books; you name it there is very little sign of Christ and the nativity left in Christmas. It was sickening to me last year and I was really sad for much of the holiday season at the revelation of what apparently Christmas is now about: giving and getting gifts. I get it that alot of people don't believe in Christ but that's what Christmas is for me.

This year has been very different, in fact this has been the best Christmastime I can remember and Christmas day itself is not even here yet. I have very little money to spend on gifts. I already know that I'll be getting some pretty small gifts myself. The holiday shoppers don't seem any less stressed or polite than years past. The television programming and marketing sure haven't changed. This year has been different thus far because I made a conscious decision to make Christmas about celebrating the birth of Jesus with my son and not about anything else. Our Christmas countdown has helped alot because we are reading scripture every single day about His birth and the Christmas story. In an effort to combat the Christmas programming that I do allow my son to watch even though it has nothing to do with why we celebrate Christmas I've been talking with him every single day about the Christmas story and Jesus. Just the other night I told him the story of Saint Nicholas before bed... which ended rather silly. I said to him, "now the simple story of Nicholas has turned into the giant story of Santa Claus." Then my two year old looks at me and says, "he was a giant? did he say fee fy fum? were the kids scared?" Uh... 

This year I've been enjoying the simplicity of the Nazarene baby born in a stable, placed in a manger, and visited by shepherds and my son has been too. The peace and joy and holiday splendor that have come from truly taking gifts out of the equation are magical. It's not that we aren't giving gifts but this is the first year that I don't feel pressure about it and that in a way it doesn't matter. For me this is the first Christmastime where Jesus is the gift, the only gift that matters or means anything and I'm really really happy. Santa Claus is fun. Giving gifts is a wonderful thing. All the decorations and music and parties are great but I'm enjoying this Christmas more than any other because none of that matters this year.

Did you know that Rudolf the red nose reindeer (almost Rollo or Reginald) was created by Montgomery Ward department store in 1939 in an attempt to sell their own coloring books as opposed to buying and selling other coloring books? The simple fact alone that Rudolf was created for marketing purposes... yep. (and I love the little guy. he's adorable but... yep)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Christmas to me/ A BRAND NEW SINK

When I was a kid our sink leaked, it leaked for a very long time. The smell under there, the rot, the mess... my mom never fixed anything so it was just another one of the broken parts of our home and it was gross. I don't remember exactly but I think it was a small leak too, probably a bad washer or something like that. Last night the pipe under our kitchen sink got a hole in it. It was very corroded so it was only a matter of time. My husband was at work and I was just about to get my son in bed and I felt like the roof collapsed on top of me. I think you have regressive flash backs in moments like this. I was imagining living without a kitchen sink for weeks, or possibly as horrid having to pay for a plumber to repair the broken pipe. It's Christmas time. I'm not entirely sure yet how I'm going to pay the mortgage this month and now this!!! I became physically nauseous and went to bed thinking positive thoughts with a knot in my stomach.

My dad gave us $50 at the family Christmas party the other day. I've honestly been dreaming about what I'm going to do with it. (I'm not supposed to "pay the bills" with Christmas money/ I've been scolded for that before) I would like to complain about the money going to fix the sink but honestly I feel more appreciative that we have the "extra" money for the sink repair as opposed to not having an extra $50 bill in my wallet right now and still having to fix it. This was a completely unavoidable problem.

I messaged a friend this morning who's really great at repairing things (I'm NOT talking down on my husband but he is absolutely not handy and is always fearful of making any situation worse if he tries to fix it (is there a term for someone who's not handy, like how you can not have a green thumb?)). My friend was glad to help but is in Chicago this week. I watched you tube videos for a good portion of this morning working up the nerve to do the fix myself. I picked up a box of sink plumbing pvc pipes and a joint wrench while I was working and this evening.... wait for it... I totally fixed the broken sink myself and there is no leakage going on down there at all!!!

I spent $25.75 on the fix and truthfully I feel like this little sink issue has repaired something inside of me. I am actually thankful right now that I had to spend $25 of my Christmas money on repairing the broken sink myself. (I will be singing another tune if the fix doesn't hold... but we'll cross that bridge IF we get to it) I feel like I've stared an old demon in the face and kicked it out of my life. I am an adult. I can take care of myself, with God's help always. I am not a helpless kid living in a home that's crumbling over my head. I am NOT! I feel completely on top of the world right at this very moment. I've bills that need paying and not a ton of money laying around to get them paid and yet I feel like a millionaire. This Christmas (for other reasons as well) has been the best Christmas I can remember ever experiencing and we're still over a week out! One happy camper right here!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Who Needs Presents When You've Got Cheesecake?

Our first Christmas party this year is in a few hours (as soon as my little one wakes up from his nap we'll be heading out). Instead of buying a gift for each of my 6 nieces and nephews (on my side) because we don't have the money for and sort of decent gifts I took $15 to the dollar store and bought 15 toys. I told my siblings ahead of time so they wouldn't be offended at our "little" gifts. I'm going to hand the 5 oldest three numbers each 1 thru 15 and they will get to choose gifts from the pile and open them one at a time in order of the numbers they get. I think it sounds like a fun game. They can trade off after it's done. I'm really amazed at some of the fun stuff dollars stores carry too.

My mom put me in charge of the desserts for the party. Very fortunately she paid for all the supplies I just had to shop and do the baking. I've got almost $9 worth of chocolate in that triple chocolate Ghirardelli cheesecake right there! I CANNOT wait to cut it up. I've also taken a second attempt at lemon meringue pie. I hope it turned out as good as the first one I made. There's some Russian tea cake cookies too because my parents LOVE them. But who doesn't love a cookie that's covered in powdered sugar?

This party should be wonderful. Mostly because I love spending time with my entire family and we really don't get together much more often than at Christmas. My kid is SUPER excited too so I'm looking forward to the event due to his excitement as well. I suppose I'd better get everything else ready and be off!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


For birthday party gifts I absolutely love to have little Abe paint the funny pages and we use the artwork for wrapping paper. 

Sometimes however you may not notice until you're on the way to the party for the one year old nephew that one of the only legible words left on the page is "BURP!" I laughed. They are called the funny pages after all. But it was NOT my intention to have that one word left sticking out like a sore thumb.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

One of Those Rare Uber Accomplished Days

Today I made a visit to the chiropractor, went into work for the day, finished making a Christmas present for my mom, and melted together some homemade peppermint bark all by 5:00. Woohoo! Oh, and my letter to the editor was printed in the local newspaper today.

I'm pretty proud of my mom's gift this year. I spent a whopping $1.50 on it (for the navy paint). Everything else for it including the piece of scrap wood I found in my basement were items I already had around the house. The handwriting could be nicer. The hand painted letters could be way less "crafty" looking. And it could contain the month of October... I'm really awful at completing any task without a major glitch. This particular glitch was not measuring the circles to make sure I could fit 12 of them under the wooden header. I had it all complete before I found out I could only fit 11 months. Oops. I guess you can't be in our family if you were born in October (Starr, that means you can't marry a guy whose birthday is in October).

My mom has 4 kids, 3 in law kids, and 7 grand kids. With this hanging on her wall she shouldn't have any problem remembering birthdays (not that she does necessarily but this will make it easier).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's the Season for Giving

The Christmas countdown is going so well. Every morning my little one opens a bag to find a single Hershey's hug, a Bible verse and a giving goal for the day. I've only done two little gifts so far, a hot wheels car that I got on sale for under 70 cents and a wooden owl Christmas ornament on sale for 65 cents that he was able to paint. Funny thing about that, if you give a two year old red, green, and white paint (that came with the ornament) for painting an owl, the owl will turn out brown in the end.

For the giving goals it's been super simple so far. We've only done two that required leaving the house. The one was when he picked out a gift from the dollar store for his fried Isaac and we brought it to his house. The other was when we baked cookies for our neighbor's Rick and Vicki and brought them next door to their house. Apparently giving is incredibly fun. This morning my little guy was running around the living saying, "I want to go to Isaac and Vicki's house again," on repeat. I think we need to bring someone else cookies in the very near future! I love that my son is having so much fun giving to other's this Christmas, even if sometimes it's just reading a story to mom or giving dad an extra big hug. It makes me so happy!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Cake

What type of cake would you think appropriate to celebrate the birth of the Christ child?

My son is so excited to celebrate Jesus' birth that he's already planning the cake and balloons. I can't say I've ever had cake on Christmas day but I fully intend to this year (and I think I'll get a balloon or two for the occasion as well). I know the little guy is going to have us sing happy birthday to Jesus as well. Even though it's not His actual birthday, we will be celebrating His birth so why not? I have it in my mind to make a nicer looking version of the chocolate cake I blogged about a few months back... you just can't go wrong with chocolate and in my opinion it certainly is heavenly but maybe something lighter, brighter... hm. Decisions, decisions. I guess it's good I still have 18 days to get these things sorted out.

Do we have extra money so that we can enjoy a lavish holiday season? No. Are finances quite possibly tighter than they've been in a very long time? Yes. (it seems to be a common December issue though) Are we having a fantastically joyous festive holiday season already none the less? Yes!
Who needs money anyway?!?!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Think It's Time for Bed

Today would have been one of two more days I was going to allow myself to work on Christmas cards before I call it quits this year. When I arrived home from work my husband was sound asleep on the couch, my son was no where to be seen, and my house looked like a category eight tornado had blown through (this is a rare thing; finding hubby asleep when little Abe is not. little Abe was sitting politely on the potty doing his business)... fast forward several hours, my house is pretty much put back together and some cookies have been baked to bring over to our next door neighbors tomorrow.

No cards have been worked on this evening.
I'll give myself two more days still and then all of this talk of Christmas cards will be left in the past with different Christmasy topics waiting to unfold.

: )

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dollar Store Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving: Today we should go to the store and buy a Christmas present for Isaac, wrap it, and bring it to his house.

Little Abe found the above written on a piece of paper in his Christmas countdown bag today. He was beyond excited as he listened to me read today's "do something nice for someone" goal. We took $2.12 out of his piggy bank (so we could pick one toy for Isaac and one for himself). We put the coins into today's bag and then we were off to the dollar store for a shopping adventure.

I'll tell you what, the toy aisle at the dollar store is like little a piece of heaven to a two year old. This is only the second time we've gone there together. I personally get as much enjoyment out of watching him ooh and ahh over all the toys he gets to choose from as he does choosing I think. He picked a large blue bouncy ball with a flashing light inside for his little friend and a sheriff's kit for himself.

His buddy LOVED the blue ball. My buddy had a wonderful time giving the special present away. These bags are proving to be very fun indeed! I'd planned to only stop for a minute or two and instead the boys ended up having a drum session together. Pretty great day for my little guy I'd say.

23 Christmas cards are currently on their way to their respective destinations.
6 are waiting to be sent, for various reasons.
13 need to still be made, written, addressed, sent... but my list is growing daily.
There are a good 20 people more I'd love to send a card to but I feel it may be best to focus my attentions else where, I mean I've been making cards since October.

Who thinks I should set a cut off date and what's done by then is where it gets left?
Maybe this Saturday?

I must be going now. I have more cards to make.
: )

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Bit of Literary Art to Start off this December

The first of December is here. Christmas is rapidly approaching and the Christmas season is upon us.

I can see no better way for me to start off the month then by sharing a wonderfully entertaining Christmas story that I read on one of my absolute favorite blogs yesterday. It is an original story that I think is exquisitely written, wonderfully creative, and the ending is beautifully profound. I highly encourage you to stop by Frugally Challenged's blog:
Trundling through life <- linked here
and to read this fabulous story "Tea Break in the Archangels' Restroom." I had to giggle several times at how very English or British (I apologize at not knowing the most proper way to describe my thought) the Archangels in this story appear. And I giggled immensely at the angels suggestion that they should get to building "a very quick twenty first century hospital. And organize parent craft classes" in first century Palestine for the Christ child's arrival.

Here's to a wonderful Christmas season for one and all, free as much as possible from the stress, obligation, and hustle and bustle that so often can creep in!!! Simple can be (and maybe always is) so much more enjoyable anyhow. Also, and this I'm working very hard at focusing on this year, may we all (who recognize Jesus as Lord) truly remember the reason for the season :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

December To-dos (Christmas Countdown)

I have quite the list of goals for next month. One of my big ones was to complete a Christmas countdown project by December 1st. I'm so excited to have checked that one off the list today.
There are twenty five bags and each will contain a Bible verse, a "do something nice for someone" goal for the day, and a piece of candy (a Hershey's hug). Some of the bags, maybe five or six will have a small toy, or Christmas craft, or stickers in them. At present the bags are empty. I'll fill one each night after little Abe falls asleep. I didn't want them to be too heavy and it will be nice for me to be able to decide on the "do something nice for someone" goal the night before.

Some of the nice goals I have thought of so far for him are: bring cookies to the neighbor, make Grammy an I love you card, give daddy a giant hug, help mommy clean something up, give piggy bank coins to the Salvation Army red bucket, invite the cousins over so aunt Amanda can have alone time, pick out a gift from the dollar store for a friend (with is piggy bank money), read a story to mommy... I'm excited!

I've checked and the bags are not getting hot from the lights but I've purposed to not having the lights on for longer than 30 minutes at a time and we won't have them on when we leave the house.

Yay, one Christmas goal done!!!

Our Tree

No we didn't put up the Christmas tree yet. But our Thanksgiving tree craft is finished. It saddens me to think of taking it down now. It was really a lot of fun and I love the way it looks too.

This year we (and that mostly means little Abe) decided that we are thankful for the following:

Along with nine leaves with names of family members,
two leaves with names of friends,
one bunch of leaves with our pet's names,
we're thankful for God,
toy cars,
giants (I told him this was not relevant but he insisted),
Peppie and Bay (the real ponies that he rides),
our home,
our jobs (this was added by me),
Mike, his horse, and castle (his favorite toys right now),
Caillou (his all time favorite television show),
our country (also added by me),
shoveling snow (he loves shoveling snow),
garbage trucks (he also loves watching the garbage trucks on garbage day),
drums and guitars.

This is really going to be a fun tradition and we are very thankful.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I'd planned several different posts this year in my head leading up to Thanksgiving, one of my very favorite holidays. I wanted to do a few posts about things I have much to be thankful for, a post about the first Thanksgiving, one about President George Washington's Thanksgiving proclamation, and one about blogs I'm thankful for... Thanksgiving 2014 has come and gone and I ended up posting a "thank-you for my home" and a few "Thanksgiving tree" posts. Needless to say I did not live up to my expectations.

Normally my little family and I will attend a Thanksgiving feast at a relative's house but I always make a traditional feast for just us as well (a few days before or after). I think our little feast is one of the reasons I love the holiday so much. I don't enjoy entertaining. There's something about the drama of it all (there are some very colorful people in the family), the expectations, and never being able to meet those expectations that makes entertaining very, um, not enjoyable for me. (I do like to think I'm "practicing" each year for someday though) But I love to cook, and I LOVE to bake, and eating is one of my absolute favorite past times. Our little feast is heavenly each year. This year I didn't make one single thing. We just didn't have the funds in the budget to get a turkey, even a small one, and all the fun baking supplies for a decadent pie or a luscious cheese cake. I very wisely accepted fact and didn't try to scramble to make my Thanksgiving meal.

I'm a tiny bit saddened by these little let downs but mostly I'm just thankful. I'll most likely make our little feast next year. We had a nice meal at my in laws (although my mom in law cannot cook... she tried) and no one tackled anyone, no cuts or bruises arose, the kids had a ton of fun together, and I didn't have to leave early due to an excessive amount of profanity being exposed to my little one's ears. This evening we'll head over to my sister's house for a second feast. I couldn't ask for more. This Thanksgiving was a total success and I have more than could ever be mentioned to be thankful for. I hope everyone who celebrates had a more than worthy Thanksgiving this year as well.

I leave you with an excerpt from President George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. For some reason every year when I read this it just makes me smile so much:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor… Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next (1789) to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
All glory to God! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Magical Powers (or lack there of)

I'm pretty sure that somewhere in my subconscious I believe I have magic powers and a fabulous magic wand that I can wave to make all of my dreams and schemes and elaborate projects I've stashed in my imagination come to life in a blink and a wink and without as much effort as they really will take.

I will not get stressed about Christmas this year, I will not get stressed about Christmas this year, I will not... meanwhile I'm almost half way through my enormous Christmas card project, there's a small child's quilt (or three, I told you I was ambitious), a fleece stuffed penguin, an alphabet picture book (which didn't seem like it would take as much time as it's taking), the rest of the Christmas cards, a hand made frame, lots of baking, an advent calendar, a family tree craft, a starfish shaped pillow with some intricate painting involved, and... oh my I can't even list everything I'm in the process of dreaming up, starting and working on. Time and especially time management are issues BUT Christmas is going to be spectacular no matter.

Fortunately I have most of the materials needed for these schemes...

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.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall To-dos/ Lawn Mowing

I was just looking over my fall to-do list and I need a suggestion for some fall fun activity to do with my hubby. Pretty much everything on my list is for me and little Abe (we spend A LOT of time together). My husband and I really don't do dates but I know that we NEED to. I need to think of a great fall to-do for just him and me... any suggestions?

Today was one of those days that make a person stop and think about life, right now; about living. I attended a funeral for a man who died much too soon and very tragically. But honestly he lived a GREAT life. He spent a ton of time with family and friends. He was truly always happy and embarking upon adventures. He loved the beach and the lake and being on his boat with loved ones. There wasn't a person who spoke at his memorial who didn't mention him and the water, boats, watching sunrises and sunsets. He didn't lose a second enjoying the time he had.

I love being outside. I'm happy out of doors. I love even more being outside with my son. We play with bugs, notice leaves and trees, listen to birds, do tons of yard work, grow things, and smell everything. If this kid doesn't acquire an ardent love of the great out doors then I will  have done something terribly wrong along the way. We recently acquired a used toy lawn mower and today I figured was better a day than any to test it out. I mowed our overgrown lawn with many freshly fallen leaves woven into the long green blades of grass and my little guy trotted along beside me mowing all the bits I missed (in theory... his is a bubble mower sans the bubbles)*. I can't remember ever being so happy. My son is such an enormous helper. He loves being outside with momma. He's always so incredibly proud of himself when he's doing big boy chores (with his toy lawn mower, hehe). Sometimes I look at him and it still feels like a dream; that he's real and part of our lives. To top it off the smells of autumn leaves and fresh cut grass are probably my very favorite of all smells. We lived today! I can proudly say that.

*He wasn't ever too close to the mower and ours has a mulch bag and no opening anywhere on the base. In other words there is not exposed blade at any spot on our mower.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

One Really Great Reason to Not Buy Toys

We do not buy much for little Abe. I bring home probably an average of two matchbox/ hotwheels cars each month. They only cost 99 cents plus tax but with my 10 percent employee discount they cost me 96 cents total. They have a lot more than just cars now too; motorcycles, planes, helicopters, and all kinds of other vehicles. He gets SOOOO excited every time I bring one home for him. I sometimes expect the excitement to wear off but it hasn't yet. I hardly buy him anything else. It's amazing what birthday's and Christmas can do for a kid's toy pile.

I also discovered a really fun activity for him about a week ago. We took $1.06 out of his piggy bank and went to the dollar store with it (I was looking to purchase a poster board for the hospital protest). I think we spent 20 minutes in the little toy aisle at the dollar store. I let him walk around and pick things up and decide what he wanted. That was incredibly neat for him because when we go grocery shopping we do not go through the toy department. He hardly knows it's in the store. At the dollar store with everything he picked up he said, "oh, wow! look at this!" I'd ask if that was the one thing he wanted and he'd reply, "oh, nah, not this one." I think he picked up everything 10 times. He decided on a plastic football (it was actually really good quality). It was so much fun for him to pick out a toy all on his own and pay for it with his piggy money.

Back to the beginning, one really great reason to not buy toys: when your husband goes through his parent's attic and finds a really old grey rocking horse (donkey) it becomes the coolest find ever. I've wanted a rocking horse for Abe since he was very little. I've thought of possibly buying him one countless times but I've always decided it was not a necessity. If I had bought one for him this old grey donkey that he now adores would pale in comparison to the new one. I cannot tell you how many times in my life that patience has delivered a miraculous treasure that otherwise would have just been, "oh, that's nice."

Today was a NO SPEND day. I'm only at 65 no spends this year but at least today was one of them.

Average daily spending for October: $19.74

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall To-do List

I absolutely love autumn! The feeling of crisp cool air on your face while you're cozied up in a few layers and a sweatshirt; apples, and cider, and pumpkin everything; the beautiful leaves changing colors day after day while all the landscape becomes more and more vibrantly painted with their fabulous farewell cloaks; bon fires with friends, roasted marshmallows and chocolate smores; autumn is awesome! I've thus decided that an autumn to-do list is very much in order so that I might try and make the most of this my favorite of seasons instead of just watching it race away.

Fabulous Fall To-dos
Go apple picking at an orchard
Drink hot apple cider while munching on donuts (CHECK)
Have a bon-fire with friends
Rake up leaves with little Abe and play in them (CHECK)
Do an autumn outdoor photo shoot (CHECK)
Bake a homemade pumpkin pie (CHECK)
Fly a homemade kite (make a homemade kite)
Dance in fall rain and jump in puddles with Abe (CHECK)
Do a fall time scavenger hunt with my nephew and little Abe
Have a candlelit tea time and then look at the stars with Abe

*I might add to the list a bit. This is all I'm able to come up with right now.
Do you have any fall must-do suggestions?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Mini Mission Accomplished

September spending got way out of control really fast. Towards the end there my only goal was to come in under $20 a day average spending for the month. I'm very happy to report: mission accomplished! Whew

Average daily spending for September: $19.78

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ponies and Tea

Yesterday was so great. I spent $40 (that I'm not including in the average daily spending budget because it was for an activity and I don't include classes (like gymnastics) or activities (like horse back riding) in the budget) but it was such a neat day. I picked up my oldest niece at noon. She played at a playground with my little guy for a long time and they had a blast.

When little Abe went down for a nap my brother dropped his two oldest girls by me so that I could take the three nieces to a pretty pony tea party. It's starting to look like I'm super into horses. I'm really not. I didn't grow up on a farm or anything like that. I wasn't super into horses as a little girl like some people are. I've never ridden a horse actually. There's just a really neat stable close by that gives lessons and throws parties for littles that a friend from High school owns.

Each girl got to ride a pony two times. We had tea (actually cider and pink lemonade), little sandwiches and too many cookies. There was a ring toss game on a fence, a hammock that was super fun (even though it wasn't really part of the tea party), a wooden horse to play on, and many different animals. The girls ended up feeding tons of hay to the ponies and horses and to the goat. They got some horse kisses in the palm of their hands (I think for the very first time in their lives). They also got to hold a rooster and chase a really friendly kitty. They ran around a ton. Somehow I had the wildest bunch of girls with me. They were truly the life and spunk of the party. I'm speculating it has something to do with these three being with their aunt and not their mommas. I think I'm way too lax with littles. They were very well behaved but so spunky! They immensely enjoyed each others company and they helped me to realize that little girls are much more crazy than I'd anticipated. Wow, they were a riot!!! I won't let you in on any of our absolutely off the wall conversations (like what if someone only ever ate carrots and they turned completely orange but they ate the stems too so their face turned green and then they could be a carrot for Halloween... oops I let one of the ideas slip). These little ladies have really big imaginations!!!

This might have been the highlight of that party for this little princess.

So proper.

There's just something about girls and horses. So very precious!!!

How absolutely adorable is that?!

It was a fantastic day. Today is another protest in town against the hospital for their choosing to stop using midwifes there; midwives that hundreds of us love and depend on. I've been keeping myself busy, this is for sure.

Average daily spending for September: $19.83

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Mailman Brought me my Very Brand New Bike!!!

Funny Story. Maybe two weeks ago the neighbors across the street put a REALLY nice little spider man bicycle at the curb for trash pick up. I saw it on my way home and ran inside to tell my husband about it. I said "We should walk over and get it because it looks like it's in perfect condition." My husband said, "No way. We are not taking the neighbor's trash... well maybe when it gets dark." I told him that it would never be there until dark. It looked in perfect condition. It was a little too big for Abe but in less than a year he'd be big enough to ride it.

First mistake, the kiddo heard the entire conversation. Second mistake, I should have just walked over as soon as I got out of the car instead of going inside to discuss it with the hubby. Not more than three minutes later, as little Abe was looking out the window at "his new bike" (at least he was under the impression it was his) a man rode past on a bicycle, turned around, stopped at the neighbors trash pile, pressed on the tires of the spiderman bike, shook it a little and then picked it up and rode off.

Little Abe screeched in horror. "That man, that man, that bad man took MY brand new bike!!!" He began to cry and repeat this sentence over and over again. It was awful. I felt like the worst mom on the planet. What kind of mom talks about getting a bike from the neighbors trash in front of her kiddo and then has to stand there and try to console her child when the trash bike gets taken away? Not my finest hour. I told him that we would go to the store and get him a brand new bike someday soonish. He's starting to understand what "some day" means so he wasn't super thrilled but he knew I was being honest. He calmed down after awhile and has been talking about his new bike ever since the incident. Right now we do not have the funds available to buy this kid a bike.

Yesterday a friend messaged me on facebook a photo of a little boys bike that he was getting rid of, "do you want this... BTW free." Uh, are you kidding me!?!?!?!? He hadn't heard the story of the trash bike either. It was just out of the blue. Needless to say I am feeling very blessed. I know a lot of people say it all the time but in truth the Lord always does provide. I cannot tell you how many times we've "needed" (I use that word loosely because I have seen poverty) something; a new couch because the old one was busted, a new fridge, a bigger car seat, a new dryer, a bicycle for our heart broken two year old and we decided to not rush out and charge it (which I totally almost did with this bike incident), waited much longer than was comfortable and then someone offered said item to us. The Lord truly does provide!

Our friend dropped the bike by sometime last night so he messaged me to say it was in the back yard this morning. I took little Abe back there this morning and said as we walked out the door, "I think there's something out here for you." He saw the bike right away and ran to it overflowing with glee. He exclaimed loudly, "Oh WOW!!! A bike, a brand new bike! The mail man brought me my very brand new bike." He bunches up his fists and does a full body shake when he's really excited so that was the next step in the excitement. It was awesome! 

Average daily spending for September: $20.59

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Working to get this month under $20 a day!!! Getting there.

Average daily spending for September: $21.13

Side note: I cannot believe how busy I've been lately.
Protesting the community hospital is hard work apparently.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Average daily spending for September: $22.48

With eight days left in the month, let the sprint begin. I think I can get that sucker down under $20 a day by the 30th. I think I can, I think I can...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sooner or Later

Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
Don't worry, I haven't been crying but I've these heavy things on my mind and they're numbing in a way. I feel like I've just been sitting and thinking for days. My mind is tired. The above quote is a good reminder to get going. Sometimes you just have to stop thinking (if that is possible) and move ahead, maybe it's not possible to move on but move ahead anyhow.

Average daily spending for September: $23.19
And I still haven't bought a new pair of lounging/ sleeping pants. Mine officially have all worn too thin to repair and the three worn pair all have holes. Gah!

Interactive Irish Surname Map from 1890 Census

I love ancestry info. I love Irish history. Ninety percent of the books I read are Irish history books. I just found this interactive map and I'm blogging about it mostly for my own reference. You can type in a surname and see all the counties where people with that name were living in 1890. My Irish relatives emigrated to the United States out of Northern Ireland; I've distant relatives living there. This map doesn't have any of our clan in the North during 1890. Our last name changed through time. My Grandmother's maiden name was Toal (Her dad and mom moved to the United States from Ireland). Through research I've seen that it was most likely O'Toole originally from the Irish O'Tuathail. The O' was likely dropped at some point and it became Toole. It would have later evolved to Toal. I half wonder in they became Toal's when they migrated to the north. These are all guesses.

I've been able to trace my English ancestry pretty far back (I'm mostly all Irish, Scottish, English blood (Maybe some Spanish too, right Sluggy)) but I can't get very far with my Irish or Scottish ancestry. I know my Scottish Grandpa's family came over through Canada. My English Grandfather's family appears to have come over at the very beginning with the colonials. I image there are probably some ancestral surprises in his line. My English Grandmother came over when she was just a baby. I really need to get my hands on the family Bible from her (it's no where near me at present).  It's sad how she lived next door to me for years and I never knew what wealth of knowledge was at my finger tips with that Bible.

Family history honestly amazes me. Knowing that all these people long gone were directly responsible for me being alive, for my son being alive... if anything had happened to a single one of them before they gave birth to the child who'd join my family tree then I wouldn't be here. History is crazy that way. It's a giant web of intricate events where if a single tiny strand of spider silk snapped thousands of people would have never lived out their lives. I love reading Irish history and imagining that my relatives were likely apart of the events I'm now reading about in books. I'm sitting here cheering them on. As they're escaping a viking raid in a currach, I'm like, "Way to go Great x1000 Grandpa! Get out of there!" I'm in awe of the past, absolutely in awe!

Here's the map for anyone that's interested in checking it out.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Well Folks, We Have a Petition Now

My local hospital just announced that they are discontinuing the use of their midwifery services. This announcement has caused quite the stir in my community as many of us LOVE the midwives that practice at our hospital. I believe that every woman should have options when it comes to such an amazing and vulnerable time in their lives. Whether you want to deliver at home, in a hospital, with a doctor, with a midwife; these options should be available. Our hospital taking away the option for us to deliver there with a midwife is unbelievably disheartening.

I personally chose to birth my son in a hospital assisted by two incredible midwives. It was the perfect decision for me. I had to be induced as I was almost two weeks late and there were signs that my baby had stopped growing but my midwife worked to induce me naturally so that I didn't have to have pitocin. I communicated early on that I did not want an epidural or medication and thankfully during my labor and delivery no one asked me if I did. I felt very respected, cared for and comforted throughout the very personal and vulnerable experience. Medical intervention statistically is much lower with midwife assisted births than with those done by doctors. For woman like me who desire more natural methods and less to no intervention midwives are a great choice.

I'm devastated that the hospital only a few blocks from my house is taking this away from me and all the other woman in my community. Our midwives are amazing. We've started a petition to let our voices be heard. Woman should have options when it comes to their health care and most especially something so life changing like pregnancy, labor, and delivery. If you would add your name to the petition letting my "community" hospital know that the community of woman in this country believe they should have options available to them concerning their health care and pregnancies. I personally appreciate your support beyond measure. I'm praying daily that this terrible decision would be reversed. (Our midwives are not gone yet. They're scheduled to be done practicing at the hospital on December 5th of this year)

The Petition is linked here ^