Monday, January 28, 2013

How hard is it?

How much do you plan your meals for the week?

Because we're on a budget, I try to plan my meals, starting first with the sale flyer from the grocery store, then by what I have in the pantry, or the freezer, and then, by our schedule for the week.

It is sometimes extremely HARD.

Sometimes we're so busy, finding time to even make a quality meal is ridiculous!  I don't want to just rely on cereal or sandwiches all the time.  Everyone gets tired of that.

This week is somewhat better as far as events go.  Only 3 nights out of the 5 we have something going.

So, I decided to share with you some things I've tried and we're having again this week, and two new things I'm going to attempt to make.

Tonight, we had Grace's sports banquet, so I made my Corn Chowder soup last night (to warm up), and these hot ham and cheese sandwiches tonight.

They were good.

Usually I just make ham and cheese sandwiches and wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven...these had a sauce to die for.  The recipe is here.

On Sunday for Superbowl Sunday, since we usually go low key on our meals (and after Grace and I get back from a baby shower...) I want to try these homemade pretzels.  I've never made homemade pretzels before, but this recipe seems quite easy.
recipe here.

We've had this honey crockpot chicken before...(recipe here) and it's delicious.
I want to try this creamy tomato tortellini soup just because it combines all the things I love...tortellini and tomato soup!  This will be on next week's menu, cause I ran out of room on this weeks.
Doesn't it look delicious?  Recipe here.

I don't know, maybe I'm making the meal planning thing too hard...maybe you have a better way.  Share with me please.

Help me out.

Thinking of new and different things all the time is wearing me out.

Sure, we have our standbys.  We usually have tacos quite often, or a roast in the crockpot, or breakfast at night, or even pizza.

I use to break up the monotony of my menu.  I'm also trying to cook in a healthful way without a bunch of preservatives.

I still need help.  I still need your knowledge and your great recipes.

Point me in the right direction.

I'm begging you.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New things...and a repeat.

I want to thank all of you for the great response I had to my Etsy shop in the last 6 months.

I didn't know how it would go, opening a shop, putting my crafts OUT THERE.

But it went surprisingly well, and January 2013 has already proved good too.

So, I added some more things this morning, in between yelling at the kids to hurry up and watch for the bus.  A two-hour delay doesn't mean we have all the time in the world!

Oh, and between reasoning with Grace that wearing shorts to the high school, without a pair of sweats over them totally defeats the purpose of our 2-hour delay based on frigid cold temperatures.  Please, do I LOOK stupid?

So, back to the new items.

I tried something new, and added a favorite.

It seems like everytime I make a framed/embellished bulletin board, it goes within the week I list it.

I'm not I added another one.
Then, I decided to use my trusty chalkboard paint, and mix it up a little, and add it to some jelly jars/turned candle holders.

They have a great star detail at the top and I added some twine as well, and painted (with removable chalk paint) numbers on the front.  They come with two candles (inside.)

I also have some other glass candle holders covered with burlap ribbon.
But my newest, and scariest addition to the

I make some of my own, and of course I wear my own, but to have someone else buy it...that makes me nervous. Will they like it as much as I do?  Will it hold up?

I think this piece is really cute, and if it doesn't sell, will become my own.

Simple, but great.

Come, take a tour of what is in the shop.  Maybe you'll find something you can't live without!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trying something new

How often do we try something new?

Something that might scare us a little...something we weren't planning on.

For me, it was a new job this year.

For Grace, it was a new sport.  One she never contemplated doing.

You know, the first year of junior high is bad enough.  New building, new kids, new teachers, harder subjects.  It's rough.

Then you throw sports into the mix.  The competition, the tryouts, the disappointment.

Up until this point, Grace has played softball, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics.

So, when Junior High volleyball tryouts came around, she just took it as second nature that she would be on the team.  I mean, she played for two years, and was on a traveling team, WHY wouldn't she make it.

Add other girls from the two other elementary's that join into our Junior High, and only a team of 13 girls, and someone is gonna be heartbroken.

Unfortunately, Grace wasn't picked.  The competition is THAT good, and our High School boasts a State competing team almost every year.

She was heartbroken, but not quite down for the count.

She missed the first round of cheerleading tryouts, due to volleyball tryouts, but made it for the winter season, boys basketball.

She tried out, and made the squad, and now it's become her favorite.

AND, she's GOOD at it.

She's made new friends, and come out of her shell a little bit.

She tried something new, and succeeded, and decided that along with track this spring, Cheer will be her sport.

I'm proud of her, and we tell her that weekly when another game comes around.

Good for you Grace!  Season well done!

Monday, January 14, 2013

15 years...

Back in September 2012 Brent and I celebrated 15 doing nothing.

Sad, but true.

We knew that the kids were BOTH going away to snow camp in January for 3 days, and we decided that would be when we would go away too.

So, this past weekend, we went to Chicago for the weekend, and the kids went up to snow camp in Michigan, where there, ironically enough, was no snow...because we had a heat wave over the weekend!


The middle of January, and it was almost 60 degrees.


It made for a good weekend for us, even though the kids were forced to be with MUD instead of SNOW.

You know, after 15 years know each other pretty well.  All your bad traits, all your good traits.

We decided to put aside all those things about ourselves that drive the other crazy.  Just for the weekend.

We had a great time.

It was our first trip away without the 15 years.

We slept in a King Bed instead of our Queen.
(We always do this on trips.)

We ate expensive meals, just paying for 2 instead of 4!

We walked all day, shopping, buying birthday gifts for our kids birthdays coming up...visiting places in Chicago we had never been to before.

It went way too quickly...the weekend.

I missed the kids.  We always share these things with them.

We'll be back.  It's our vacation EVERY YEAR...CHICAGO.  We'll have to take them to the new places we saw.

Now, onto the next 15 years...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The things that RILE me UP

Before I begin, I have to state some disclaimers.

1.  I am NOT a political follower.  (Brent leaves that up to himself to be in charge of all the listening to Rush, etc.  Then he painstakenly tells me all about what is going on.)

2.  I am trying to be compassionate.

3.  I work hard to have a family budget in place so we are Okay.

4.  I am not a person who would have a public confrontation.

Those of you who follow me, or just read me on a once-in-awhile basis, I will not be offended if you are offended about what I have to write.  I do not want my one time rant to come between us. 

That being said, are you wondering what I'm going to talk about?

GROCERIES and food stamps.

This has happened to me twice in two different grocery stores in the last month and a half.

I have been stuck behind someone paying for their cartload (and I'm talking HEAPING) of groceries with a food stamp card.

Now, let's just say, I have nothing against people buying food with food stamps, IF they are supposed to be in the system, and if they are not abusing the system.

I don't know from this day to the next if we would ever be in the situation that we needed to be on food stamps.  I can't say that, but I hope and pray that I've prepared our budget enough over the years that we would be ok. 

Anyway, the first instance occurred before Christmas.  The woman in front of me had two older high school children, two preschool/early elem. children, and one baby with her.  Her cart was OVERFLOWING.  I think there was actually two carts involved with the food gathering that she had.  She paid for her entire order with food stamps.  I know this for a fact because the cashier was asking her about it.  Almost all the food in her cart was the "real deal," no store brands involved.

Her two older children were both dressed in top to bottom Abercrombie attire and both had their cell phones out texting.

Now, I know for a fact how much those clothes cost.  My daughter begs me for them, but we only buy them at Goodwill, a resale shop, or on clearance, and STILL they are slightly overpriced.  I also know how much my cell phone bill is for just Grace and I, so I can't imagine what they might be paying.

I stood behind this lady, with my cart 1/4 of the way full, and wondering, hoping I would come in under my $100-$120/week budget for groceries, and paper products. 

I felt very unChristian for thinking the thoughts I was thinking,  I felt my blood boiling for being so upset at the Government our country has to be giving all these people SO MUCH FOOD that I HAVE TO PAY FOR MYSELF.

I couldn't help myself, and told Brent all about it when I got home.

He shook his head in resignation, knowing full well what I was feeling.

Then, two nights ago I was in a different grocery store with my kids, when I had another encounter.

The very young woman in front of me had a cart OVERFLOWING with groceries.  She was young, no kids, classy clothes, and she obviously knew the cashier because they were talking about mutual people they knew.  She didn't have a job, and said so, and she was thinking of finishing up college.

I unloaded my groceries on the belt, thinking it would be a quick transaction since the lady in front of me was almost done being checked out.

I was wrong.  I stood behind her for at least 10 or 15 minutes while she ranted and raved to the cashier when her total order came up to $5 and change.  She ranted and raved that her food stamp account had $200 in it, and she paid for her makeup, etc. with gift cards...SHE SHOULD OWE NOTHING!

They called a manager over, who went over her receipt with a fine tooth comb, and finally found that her gift cards hadn't totalled up to what she thought was on them.

She walked away with an overflowing cart for nothing.

Once again, I had a $100 budget with a 1/4 of the cart full.

I HATE feeling like we are sinking in this world who gives SO MANY people things for free.

I HATE complaining about this, but I'm running into this more and more all the time. 

THIS is what our generation is coming to.

NOT people who work to support their families, and who try to follow a budget.

It's sickening.

It's sad.

And now it's commonplace.

I know I am no better than those people with food stamps.  I'm not.

I even researched it all online this morning, but what I found the strangest was that when I searched government regulation of food stamps, I couldn't find how the government was checking on those who maybe get a job to cover their food needs, or who in other ways are abusing the system.

After venting, I'm feeling slightly better, but only a little.

Feel free to disagree.  Feel free to yell at your screen.  Feel free to not read me for awhile.

I promise not to post things like this really ever.

I will act like it's not happening in our world while I show you how to make crafts or what Pinterest boards I have.

I will struggle to cut out $15 more a week out of my budget cause that's how much my husband's check went down from higher Social Security taxes.

I will plant more in my garden this year, and put more away, although I can't imagine where I will put it.

I will still be who I am.  I will still love the Lord, and Brent and I will raise our kids with that in mind.

But I can't promise that I will go to the grocery store and come home happy about it.

What about you?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Time of our lives

We have a set of friends, Ryan and Kristin, who we LOVE to hang around with, but our busy schedules often get in the way.

It's unfortunate.

We have two kids each who are close to the same age.

We are in swine club together, and share alot of the same interests.

Last night we had what you'd call a date night...but with ALL the kids.

We went out to eat pizza, and then went bowling.

It was really fun.

It's silly, but each time we're together it takes the kids half the night till they start talking, and then they have so much fun, they forget why they were shy with each other in the first place.

ANYway, the was great.  More fun than I remembered.  When we were finished, and ready to leave, they turned off the lights and bowled in the dark with strobe lights...we're doing that the next time!

As usual, my score was the lowest, which means I lost.    Which means I also stink!  But it was fun anyway.

Grace dug the shoes...

I dug all the colorful bowling balls.

After bowling, we went back to their house to play a new game.  It was great.  We left at midnight and vowed to do it again really soon.

Or whenever we can fit it in.

We have great friends.  Thanks Ryan and Kristin!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's what we do

Flower Patch Farm Girl (my idol and blog crush) has Money Shot Mondays whenever she feels like it...

The Pleated Poppy has What I Wore Wednesdays...(link on my sidebar) and Lisa Leonard has Hello Mondays (link on my sidebar).

I don't have a certain day that I do something special on the blog.

Maybe I should.

Today, I took the kids to the Mall 45 minutes away because they had hard earned and saved up allowance money to burn, and wanted to shop.

First we had to stop at the Post Office (to send out AGAIN another Verizon Wireless phone..don't even get me started on what we've been dealing with with our cell carrier lately...), the bank, the gas station, the Library (to return things), Target (for Evan to buy his first Ipod Touch), and Game Stop (to trade in games of course.)

THEN we headed to the Mall.

Our first refuel.

At Chick-fil-A.  (The kid's pick...not necessarily mine.)
They thought it was funny to get Franklin books in their kids meals.
I remember when they used to like Franklin...

After lunch, Grace and my favorite shop...Forever 21.  You can get the BEST jewelry for so cheap, and Grace usually finds cute clothes cause she's so little.
One of my buys...a "diamond" ring that I only wish was real.
The Apple store was next.  When you have a boy and a girl and you are shopping at a mall, you have to even out the stores or someone is not happy.  This is often the case...

Mom was next.  I wanted to visit the new J Crew that wasn't open at Thanksgiving.  My dream necklace awaited me inside the door.
The rest of the prices...we're so nice to me.  So we moved on.

I think we headed to American Eagle next.  Another compromise between Grace and I.

We each scored some marked down already clearanced items.

I've wanted a plaid shirt to wear under things and I finally found one for only $14.  Score.
Grace made a killing with her buys...Evan was super pleased with his traded-in game from Game Stop, and his new Ipod Touch (last year's version).

On the way home...Meijer.  We needed groceries and that is never fun!

We have 3 more days of break before we go back to school and work.
As always, I have mixed emotions because I never seem to have enough time to get my to-do list finished.

I still have three more days though...much coffee will be drunk, and a lot of work will be accomplished.  I might just make it!