Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm not one for resolutions...

2010. Hmmm, well that means I am now 10 years out of highschool, 6 years out of college, 4 years out from my wedding day (almost 5 in August), 1 year out of my first baby being born, and almost {GASP} 28 years old. When you put it in the perspective - Praise God, what a life! I've never been one for the traditional, "New Years Resolutions" for a few reasons. 1) I hate feeling like a failure 2) Life is too unpredictable to stick with most peoples resolutions 3) I can never decide on one good enough to persue. That being said, my friend Kristi over at Watch the Earth, etc. has a GREAT goal of reading through the bible in 90 days. Check her out! Her button is on my blog. Also, she and few other blogger ladies will be going through some highly worthwhile goals for the start of 2010 in their blog posts. Take a look for yourself and jump on board! I know she would love to have you!

Ahem, sorry... I got a little too excited about all of that. Back to the no resolutions thing...

For 2010 while I don't have specific, individual, written out goals - I do have one big plan. Welcome ORGANIZATION. This has been on my mind since approximately 3 seconds after Ava was born...., "wow, I need to get organized". For years now I have been teased by my inlaws about how I am so organized. I send cards for everyones b-days ON TIME, I know dates for events and buy my travel tickets well in advance. So in that respect...yes, applaud myself, I can send cards on time. But, really, for me, its not enough. In this past year I have been put to shame with how truly UN-organized I really am. My house, my personal life, my family... I have so far to go. And honestly I've been taking the easy/lazy way out more often then not.

So, here's my plan:
1) Create cleaning schedule for daily/weekly/monthly/annual things that need done and STICK with it!
2) Create menu for the first 2 months (More about this later)
3) FINISH this house. At least the "main used" rooms
4) Be creative (more on this later, too) at least once a month, if not once a week.
5) Get my self organized in the area of spiritual disciplines.... (you guessed it, more to come)
6) Actually care about and practice good health choices, including [eeek] exercise. [gulp]

You are probably thinking, "wow, take on much?", but really its an all in one kind of deal. You see, I'm a list maker. I enjoy making "to-do" lists, grocery lists, cleaning lists, packing name it. I enjoy using my planner and keep it with me at all times, almost like a second bible. Does that sound bad?! oops. Ava already likes to make lists too. I found her just this morning making her own.

For Christmas my MIL gave me this - It's the 2010 Vera Bradley day planner. Oh, she knows what I like. :) I love Vera stuff and a planner, too! Anyway, I have already gone through the entire year and plugged in birthdays, events already planned, important dates, etc. But this planner is great for other things too. It has two pockets to hold onto things like receipts, cards, etc. It came with a divider to put in the place of where you are currently in the year, and its a binder style so I can take out or add pages as needed. NICE! Not to mention that fab new design. (btw, Vera lovers, its the new "Symphony in Hue") Here's what the inside looks like. I love that it has a big calendar and breaks into days. You can see that I've already got some things plugged in. And if you are thinking, "what a nerd, she is way to excited about this planner." That's ok. I am.

This planner will help be prepared for everything (like last years did) and will cut down on embarresing missed dates, birthdays or just things to know. I'm finding especially now in full time ministry there is so much to remember...and being on the ball is important. So, yes. There is tool #1 that will help me be organized. And, I'm starting to plug in daily, "to-do's" for housework things so they actually get done. Things that maybe won't go on my cleaning schedule.
Second, the food portion of our lives. Since Brad and I got married I've been doing the same method of meal planning. I buy (or am given) a blank wall calendar and plug meals into it month by month. I try to keep track of how much of each type we are having and break it up that way. (not having pork chops 6 times a month, etc) I have been planning our menu by using whatever magazine or cookbook I recently had. For example, for January I am using the new BHG magazine and my new 2010 Gooseberry Patch cook book. Then I just go through from front to back and plug in meals. It's quick, easy and actually pretty enjoyable. Some have asked, "well, what if you don't like what you wrote down for that day when you get to it?" and our fix for that is - I shop for 2 weeks worth at a time and just switch up the days meals if I need. But I keep the grocery list set at JUST those two weeks worth of meals. Very few extras. This helps in cutting costs, junk food laying around and pointless extras. (**side note, I try and do inventory of the whole house's needs a few times a month and keep a running "always need" list on the fridge, for things like: TP, kleenex, diapers, wipes, foil, laundry det.) I also try to block out at least 1 special night that says, "out to eat". Here's this years calender... see anything you might wanna come over and enjoy with us?!
This method - if I stick with it - is such a blessing. Not only can Brad be confident he's coming home to a warm, home cooked meal. But, I can plan guests coming over on the meals that are bigger sized, or I can say - "this is what we are having this week, what night would you like to come over?". It also saves me time, brain power and energy by already having a battle plan and scavengering around at 4:33 wondering what to make in time for the hubby's arrival. Are you getting some ideas for yourself?

Creativity. Something I lack and want so badly. Over Christmas I just purposed in my heart to try, try, try harder to be creative. Even if its finding something we already own and repurposing it to look nice in our home. I want to bless my family with creativity and beauty. While it doesn't come naturally... finding ideas does. {its always the follow through, isn't it?} I've mentioned this before but BHG (Better homes and gardens) has a delightful newsletter they put out. It's free and jam packed with great ideas! I get their decorating newsletter as well as the craft newsletter. They have ideas such as how to create things out of your old jewelry (a studded decor pillow), monogram wall hangings using scrap material and old picture frames, etc. I just LOVE their ideas. And there are a bajillion other sites out there too, I just love BHG. So, this year I am putting in my planner at least one crafty type project to do each month. January will be "Terra Cotta snow men" as I have several terra cotta pots left over from another project. Whether I keep the finished project or use them as gifts...its just something I feel burdened to do. I have free time and up to this point I haven't been using it well. Why not bless someone with something beautiful if you have the time!? I have found that empty wasted time is not only dangerous but just plain un-healthy, and we see from scripture that we will give account with how we use our days.

Lastly, but most importantly... spiritual disciplines. I'm still mulling this over as to what will be the BEST plan for me. But I do know it will include getting up earlier then my family, keeping a more consistent journal and actually using some sort of devotional or bible study book. And I dont' know about you, but just that first thing will be a hurdle to cross already! Once I've had time to establish this thought more I will try to remember to share it. If you have ideas on what helps you I would love to hear it. I'm tying physical organization into the spiritual one - because for me it has just always gone together. Getting up early will also include some exercise and good breakfast prep. I'm learning that christmas cookies and half cold coffee do not lend to the energy I need by mid morning. duh. I have so far to go....

I hope these ideas have inspired you. And, I want to hear your ideas too. How do you keep your home? How do you plan your meals? Crafts? etc. Now its time for me to tackle item #1 of the day - putting away the Fall and Christmas decor. Did I say Fall? yep....see, I'm not as organized as I'd like to be, YET. :) God bless you in 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Whose house is this?!

We flew in from balmy, wonderful, warm Florida lastnight...well, around 4. And we knew reality was back as we walked off the plane and that first whip of freezing cold wind caught our breath. Lovely.

We returned home to find our driveway completely coated in a nice ice/snow layer, and add to that the fact that we FORGOT to pull our cars into the garage prior to leaving... so two nicely coated cars, as well.

Upon entering the house it looked like a tornado had blown through... or a burglar had a great time going through EVERY drawer, cupboard and clothes pile. Then I rememberd, "Oh yea, I didn't have time to clean before we left". Hmmm. Christmas gifts are laying every where, the suitcase has now exploded open so we could find our "important items" for this morning, dishes that couldn't go in the dishwasher are lining the list could go on....literally... on and on. I stepped back this morning and said, "WHOSE HOUSE IS THIS?!".

Fortunately for me, I have come home with gusto and motivation to get my life, my house, my everything in tip-top shape. I have ideas for decorating, I have ideas for menu planning, cleaning, etc. I also have - a 1 lb. bag of Barney's, "Santa's white Christmas" coffee. :) (curious? check out... )
**better posts once I get this place in shape!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cousins at Christmas

We are still in Florida...and it's...wonderful. Lastnight I was actually "too hot" and had to uncover while we slept. ;) (don't be jealous) While it is weird to wake up with NO snow, but palm trees and a warm rain - it is wonderful to be here with Brad's family celebrating our Saviors birth.
I had to sneak in here for a minute and share just one pic and then I'm back to my "Christmas Vacation". We were able to drive up to south Georgia and visit my brother, his wife and their baby girl Kaci. Ava and Kaci hadn't seen each other since the summer and we were due for a visit. It was so fun to see them and hang out for awhile. Kaci and Ava, while they ignored each other the first night LOVED playing together the next day.
I so, so, so want them to be close cousins...the way Josh and I were with our cousins. It breaks my heart to be so far apart. But, while we were there it was so sweet. Kaci will be 2 in March and both girls are just walking around, babbling and simply adorable. :)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

And we're off...

Heading to FL this morning....
We are both really looking forward to a TRUE vacation, we've never had one in 4 years!!
Wishing you and your's a blessed, thoughtful, Christ centered Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


when the first light brightened the dark
before the breaking of the human heart
there was YOU and there was me
innocence was all I knew
all I had to know was you
we were running underneath the trees
I want to see you face to face
where being in your arms is the permanent state
I want it like it was back then, I want to be in Eden

to be naked and unashamed
in a sweet downpour of innocent rain
I want it like it was back then, I want to be in Eden

I still remember how you'd call my name
and I would meet YOU at the garden gate
how the glory of Your love would shine
I still remember when the stars were young
You breathed life into my lungs,
oh I never felt so alive
where my eyes can see the colors of glory
my hands can reach the heaven before me
oh my God I want to be there with you
where our hearts will beat with joy together
and love will reign forever and ever
oh my God I want to be there with you

Phil Wickham - "Heaven & Earth"

Friday, December 18, 2009

A brand new adventure...

This morning we had Ava's 1 year well-child (not well-baby anymore {sigh} ) checkup. She LOVES her doctor and LOVES her nurse even more... so the Dr's office is always a pleasant experience. Which I am very thankful for, as I know many don't share that joy. Even after 3 shots she still gave the nurse an ornery grin....good, good girl. Ava is a TALL lady. She's in the 96th percentile for weight, but for height she is OFF THE CHARTS. The Dr reassured me that her height, weight, head, etc are all proportionate and everything looks great. What a blessing! This put my, "am I doing anything right?" question to rest, for now. We thank the Lord for such a healthy, happy girl. It was an extra special treat that Daddy got to come with us today. We love our Friday day off family day. :) Btw... I had to share these pics of Ava wearing this huge scarf. She is just all about wearing things around her neck lately and it's hilarious. I think she looks like a mini-rabbi in these.
Tonight we decided to spend family night finishing our Christmas shopping. First stop was at the Salvation Army to pick up some UGLY SWEATERS....more on that, later. {hee, hee} Let's just say - we had GREAT success! Then we headed over to the mall in WDM - Jordan Creek, to be more specific. I just love that place... can't figure out why, totally, but I do. Usually when we go shopping like this we remember to pack up the stroller. But, guess what we forgot to bring tonight?! Yep. So... that big healthy 25 pound baby got carried all night. (I should be MORE in shape after carrying her so much) I'm not a huge fan of those kids play spaces in the middle of the mall. You see, I taught preschool for 2 years prior to mommy-hood and I KNOW what kinds of things end up on children's play things... I won't go there. So when I see those play places I almost throw up just thinking about. Tonight I was shopping in one store....Daddy introduced Ava to the play place. (stomach starting to flip) You gotta love dads. And I know this is a good thing that he was looking for some fun for our VERY heavy/slightly restless/squirmy 1 year old. But...the germs...the that are obviously TOO big to be in here, still.... So tonight I just bit my tongue and smiled as I watched Ava crawl around like a mad woman on the squishy tree trunks, mushrooms and slides. And after a few seconds I joined them in the fun and ended up just loving that time with Ave's. :) She LOVED it. She loved the big girl slide, she loved crawling through the hollowed out tree trunk. She especially LOVED the other kids - namely, the big girl who kept trying to carry Ava and take her down the slide with her. I felt all my uptightness melt away as I just sat back and realized... she's not my little tiny baby anymore. This is my...toddler. (tear, tear) I know, I need to get a grip, but I keep having this little emotional "mommy moments" that just break my heart. Being a mom is weird. Only a mom can sit back and feel so sad about not having her baby be so little, but feel so much joy at watching her play happily. So weird. Ahem...anyway... before I become a puddle of mush...

Tonight was great. The new adventure of the mall play place was great! I managed to grab a few pics while she toddled her way around the place. I think I could get the hang of playing with this new big girl I have.... maybe. ;) And...for those of you wondering... yes we did wash our hands asap following play time, with soap and water and then a little anti-bacterial just to be safe! :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A year ago...

Exactly a year ago right now, today, my baby girl came into this world. I can't believe she's is 1...I just can't fathom it. It seems unreal to me that this tiny (well, not so tiny weighing in at 8lbs, 13oz) thing to left was so... such a... baby.

She was due Dec. 9 but decided she was very content to chill with momma another week. Of which I did not mind - I loved being pregnant!

The whole experience was amazing... labor was fairly easy (minus TWO epidurals) and after 20 minutes of pushing out she was. She was perfect! She was pink and round and just like the movies... I fell in love.

This year has been life changing. I'm not the same woman I was before Ava. In many ways she has helped me to become a better person and in many ways she just magnifies my sinful self... ouch. All in all - I am so thankful for her and this new life we have with her.

Today while she and I walked around Target I just couldn't stop looking at her little face. She's SO smart. She talks and jibbers away the entire shopping trip. She points to colors and smiles at people. She screams for fun so that people will look at her. And best of all...every couple of minutes she'll learn forward in her cart to hug me. It melts me every time. I couldn't help but be emotional several times this week - thinking of this milestone in Ava's life. I can't believe my little baby is a year old. I can't believe we made it through the sleepless nights, nursing ordeals, diaper explosions, rice cereal, first colds, first teeth, first kisses... it just seems surreal. Part of me is very sad and another part is rejoicing. I'm sure this will always be this way...

Another little part of me (I have many parts) wants to go back in time and relive this day a year ago. I want to hold her for the first time. I want to breath in that newborn smell. I want to hear that tiny curling newborn cry.

I know, tho, that good things are to come. I know that happy days and adventures lie ahead.

A friend of mine once said to me, "God is so good to allow us the opportunity to have babies." And, I couldn't agree more. I didn't understand at the time... but, now that I've had a year to think about it, I just...agree.
It reminds me of James 1:17 -
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above". (I totally just quoted that, may be wrong) Ava will always be my Christmas time baby, my special gift... what a blessing today's celebration is!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog recommendation

I'm still fairly new to all of this - I mean, I've been a "blogger" since 07 but I still don't know many of the tricks that make blogs so much fun and worth reading. But I enjoy the learning and will keep on keepin' on :) Last week I came across a blog that I REALLY like. It's, and its well worth your peek! This lady has created her blog all around using her slow cookers and the recipes to go with. MY kind of lady :) Today's recipe is some kind of duck, which, I won't be making today....but, it was still neat to read through and hear her thoughts about the prep and taste. I don't know about you, but, I can use all the help I can find about healthy menu planning, recipe ideas, etc. So, if you get a chance - mosey on over to crockpot365 and see for yourself. It's worth it. :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Muse: Teenagers

I found this little prayer the other day by St. Francis. Let me share it with you...

"Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace -
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon ...
For it is in forgiving that we are forgiven,
It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life."
**St. Francis**

I am a youth pastors wife. My husband teaches, trains, interacts, loves, corrects, supports and disciplines teens :) So... I teach, train, interact, love, correct, support and discipline teens, too. It really is a team effort and something we don't recommend you do alone. When I came across this prayer the other day the very first line is what caught my attention. "Lord, make me an instrument of THY peace"... hmmm, could it be that God would use me to bring and make peace among people?! Is it my JOB to sow love, pardon and forgiveness? Short answer...yes :) And, oh the opportunity I have as a pastors wife to do these things. (btw, everyone has these opportunities, not just those of us married to ministry men!)
This past weekend I had about 15 teen girls and leaders over for a Christmas cookie baking, movie watching, cocoa sipping time @ our house. We laughed and talked and goofed off in my VERY crowded kitchen. We had pans full of melting chocolate, corn flakes on the floor.... sprinkles was a blast. A couple of times during the day I almost had to pinch myself that this was really happening. 1) We were in a ministry (that we love!) 2) We have amazing teens! 3) I have such an amazing opportunity to sow peace, love and forgiveness into these girls lives! Even in the little conversations throughout the day I tried to remember this. When we talked about siblings, or parents or boys - there's always a reason/time to speak truth without sounding "preachy". So while "Elf" played on the TV and Bing Crosby sang in the kitchen, and heaps of flour landed on my dining room (carpeted) floor... God was very present, love abounded...and peace was everywhere! So, my muse on this snowy Monday is my teenagers. My girls... the ones I look forward to watching grow up over the next few years. But for now - I am so thankful to have them here in my home, in my heart, in my life. :) Girls if you are reading this... you are precious and I am so thankful for you taking in this new youth pastors wife. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another new addition

This afternoon around 5ish my amazing sis in law gave birth to their first born! Congrats to Jon and Amy on the birth of JJ Konzelman! (Jonathan Robert) was 6.5lbs and 18in long!

I just had to brag a little bit... I mean, look at them! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

On the tree

This morning as I was playing with Ava near the Christmas tree - I got all sentimental, as I normally do, as I noticed each of the ornaments we have on our 3 ft tree. Every ornament has been a gift, something homemade, or simply something that has great value to us. Nothing has been expensive or put on there without thought and this includes the actual tree, too.

Two Christmases ago I felt like my world was falling apart. You can read about that in earlier blog posts from 2007...but to sum it all up... I had miscarried Dec. 3rd and really had no joy about Christmas or traveling to see family or anything. We had an 18 hour drive to IA coming up to see Brad's family, I was in physical and mental/spiritual pain and I just wanted this whole Christmas thing to go away. I'm sure Brad was completely bewildered with what to do with me. While he was feeling pain of our loss as well, its different for guys, obviously. My hormones and emotions felt so out of control - I cried a lot and our house def. did not have any signs of "Christmas Cheer" by way of decorations, music or anything. Looking back... I know that was okay. It was ok to mourn and grieve, and I also now know how much Brad supported ALL of that time in our lives. Love him! Anyway, that Christmas will always been very tender and dear to me. Despite our pain... Brad snuck out one night and purchased this little 3 ft plastic Christmas tree. He knew how badly I was hurting and how torn I felt about it being Christmas but balancing this pain, too. So, this tree was set up and we started to decorate it. We only had a few ornaments, mostly, "Our first Christmas" themed ones, was prelit and beautiful. I remember once we finished how I just sat there in front of it like a child and sobbed. Brad sat with me, quietly, and I just let his love for me (and Christ's) heal my soul. I would survive.

Fast forward one year later. Ava's original due date was Dec. 3rd. How WEIRD is that?! But, after another ultrasound they moved her to the 9th...and she still didn't come til the 16th anyway, but... still, cool story. That year was SO dramatically different. We had gone from extreme loss to extreme gain. I remember bringing Ava home and that little 3 ft tree just stood there shining...with our ornaments on it, and of course, I sobbed again. I think I always will. These tears were a combination of memories past and memories in the making. I held my little bundle of baby girl one night sitting in front of it - remembering and experiencing God's grace and mercy in our lives. We hung some "baby's first Christmas" ornaments up and just reveled in the glory of our JUST God. I had survived, and I would still.
All this to say - this tree, and the ornaments on it are so special to me. Many people make out trees to be a negative Christmas thing, and for some it probably is a distraction from the REAL reason for Christmas, being Christ himself. But for us, for me, this tree represents Christ in our lives. It represents all of the grace He has shown us, the bounty and even the loss we experience during our walk with Him. This morning I felt overwhelmed and bathed in the Love of my Heavenly Father. Looking at each ornament, and holding my almost 1 year old at the same time... this walk is not always easy, but it is always good. On my tree, I guess you could say, I wear my heart. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On a day like this...

The last two days we've had some snow.
Ahem... we've had lots of snow.
Ahem again... we've had a blizzard. I believe the weather man labeled it as "epic". Interesting.

This is the view from my back door. I don't go out when its like this - never mind the 45mph wind gusts! No thank you! I love to adore it from the inside. :) So, this is my poor car - all drifted in. And below is a pic of what our neighbors yards looked like...
Needless to was a day of Christmas movies, baking and spending time in the warm, cozy (candle scented) house. On a day like this... we capture some great family moments. On a day like this... we see all our reasons to be thankful. And on a much lighter note - on a day like this... we make Christmas cookies! To your left you'll see "Chess Brownies" - they are for my candle party tomorrow night. Made with yellow cake mix, cream cheese, etc. Delish! I also attempted some "Spritz" cookies...but, I guess I'm not smart enough to work the press so I just smooshed 'em down on the pan and hoped for the best. It worked fairly well. But, then I got tired of squeezing the press and refilling it over and over ( I know, patience of a saint, right?!) so I just rolled out the rest of the butter dough and used my teeny tiny cookie cutters. :) And, they turned out even better! It ended up taking much longer then I had planned and went into "play with Ava" time, so Daddy (since his office was closed today!!!) had some extra time to sit and play with Miss Ava. She now loves reading and was happy to share her Noah story with him.

I hope your day, whether it was snowy or regular was a great one!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need for God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for - but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all people, truly blessed.
~Author Unknown~

Obviously, I have no idea who wrote that little diddy up there. It's in the very back of a book I read over the summer and came to mind this morning. You see, I've been going through some personal growing pains and a lot of that poem reminds me of me lately. We won't go into a lot of detail...but, I have so far to grow.
Sunday our pastor gave a great message in our new series, "Jesus Messiah" that has stuck on my mind the last few days. And while I furiously scribbled away notes I really only remember one main thought - sometimes, during this Christmas season, rather then feeling the joy and love of the celebration of Christ...this time of the year brings people down. And one of the reasons is because we can easily worship a little baby in a manger, but we have a hard time worshipping a baby that came to DIE for our sins. We can't picture a baby that was sent to die. Although we should... another on the opposite end... we just don't get what Christmas REALLY is. We get so caught up in the gift giving (and getting), rushing for last minute sales, hours in the kitchen preparing meals, traveling long distances with whiny kids, snow, ice, bad roads... busy malls, annoying people in return lanes at stores, a list of people to buy for without the money to buy... etc. So instead of taking 25 days to solely focus on the birth of our Savior, the one who came to save us - we are distracted by everything else. Get's us down. Get's me down. I can't even tell you how many times just in the last few days that I've found myself on the verge of tears over nothing more then holiday stress. And, that's even AFTER purposing in my heart to really focus this year on TRUTH. My hubby is doing a great series with our teens, "Christmas Conspiracy", talking about the truth of how Satan is doing all he can do distract us from what Christmas really is...making it about us, about getting, about Santa and anything else he can to take away from Christ. Revelation goes into the story of the dragon and the woman in labor - the dragon representing Satan. Check out the story for a vivid picture of satan's attempts to kill our Jesus. Hint: he failed! And now makes every attempt to distract us... Good stuff. (Romans 12) Here's a link to some of the verses we covered... (

Anyway, wow, I sound like a downer. I'm really not. I'm so thankful for this time of year and for so many reasons. I'm especially thankful that the Holy Spirit can translate my unspoken prayers and knows my heart... when I'm down or longing or whatever. I am truly blessed, WE are truly blessed. Today I want to re-purpose (this really is a daily thing for me) to focus on my Jesus. The one who came in human form in humility, born in a filthy cattle stall to a teen girl named Mary. Making Himself low... in obedience to the Father for MY good.

I'm a jumble of thoughts today and my brain was working faster then my fingers...
If you are interested in hearing Pastor Nemmers message from this past Sunday you can go to and click on the link for , "Spitten Image". It's worth your time!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Survivor Month

A few years ago, probably 3, a great friend of mine, (Meredith Jackson) someone I look up to A LOT was talking to me about a concept she and her hubby had adopted involving grocery shopping. She did regular shopping, used coupons I'm sure, etc. but, once a month or every other month they did something called, "Survivor Week". Let me explain... For one week (or however long you can do this) they would not buy any groceries, but instead use up things they already had in the house to 1) save money 2) be creative with already purchased foods. In this way they did save money and the creativity flowed. :) Brad and I attempted this often the first year and usually ended up going out to eat which completely killed the point of it! But, I did always try. I just wasn't prepared.

Over the years I continued to try and incorporate this into our lifestyle. I would stock up my pantry with sale items and bust out my "Can Opener Gourmet" cookbook and then go to town, figuratively. I'd try to watch when carrots and celery went on sale so I could stock up - they seem to be the base for lots of things! So, Brad and I got a little better at this and actually quite a few GREAT meals came out of it. Not to mention money saved on using canned foods that were still plenty nutritional! (by the way, I DO recommend this book)

All this to say - Brad and I have decided to have a "Survivor Month" for the month of December. But only in regards to our main meals. I'll still be shopping for baking goods, etc. because I bake for gifts and it IS Christmas... gotta have baked goods!

So, after we finished all of the Thanksgiving leftovers (which took a week...ew, I know) I opened up the cupboards and fridge/freezer to see how I could be creative. It's kind of a challenge for me because I'm not a creative cook AT ALL and fully rely on my cookbooks. Anyway, the first night I remembered I had purchased two pork loin roasts when they were BOGO (free) @ Hyvee a few months back. So the first night we had a delicious garlic/lemon pork roast with creamed corn and rolls. Not too shabby. Which then led to shredded pork sandwiches the next day. I was feeling good about myself... I CAN do this survivor thing! Ava even loved the roast, so double score! Lastnight I had one massive bag of rice, a bag of frozen broccoli pieces, 10 bags of frozen cheese (Hyvee 10 for $10 a few weeks back), some canned cream soups and a can of bread crumbs. Voila... Cheesy broccoli casserole! And you know what? It tasted SO good! :) I don't normally brag, but, it really was great!

I'm just really encouraged and excited to save money this month, by not buying groceries and probably overspending on them. (guilty) This frees us up to give to others MORE and keeps me from additional snacking during the day. I'm eager to learn more "survivor recipes" and I'm excited to see what we come up with for the rest of the month. I'm also really thankful for Meredith and the wisdom that I gained from watching her over the years. She is an excellent woman, wife and friend. Someone I would love to model after... So, Mere's if you read this - love ya! Here she is with her hubby, Jax, we miss them both so much!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Introducing: Bakerella

Ok, so maybe its not sooo new...but, new to me. This morning as I was leafing through my new "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine I came across their "what's on our site" page and they were showing excerpts from "Bakerella". Intrigued I read on. She's kind of famous for her mini cupcakes on a stick which of course then kept me reading. Good stuff. So, after finishing the magazine I headed to the computer to check out her site... and ladies, if you are at all into baking, sweets or just cute will LOVE this site! Right now she's doing a piece about the new book, "The Farm Chicks in the kitchen" which is another thing I'm kind of interested in lately. Double score for me! I haven't read this cookbook/craft book YET so I won't recommend it...but, it looks really neat and after it goes on sale I might buy it. :) (I am THAT cheap)

But, I have looked over Bakerella's website and its adorable. She's appeared on Martha and just has a ton of really cute ideas. :)

Someday I'll learn how to do links, but for now... enjoying actually clicking on the website, or just find it your own way :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I had a heart breaking, yet EXCITING moment in child rearing (is that how you spell that) this morning...
Ava is obsessed with my plug in oil warmer things & equally obsessed with taking cans out of the recycle trash can (a smaller white can we keep by the garbage can in the kitchen). Both of which are huge "No, No's", obviously. Recently she's been adamant about going after these items and seems to look at me with a "look what I'm doing" attitude. Ugh. She even as recent as yesterday would point to me, smile very ornery-ily and then go for for the goods. A-nnoying!

Now, I love this child. And I want the very best things for her - which would include NOT being poisoned with scented oil or having her tiny fingers chopped apart by sharp empty pop cans. {sigh} So, now, when she goes towards the items she gets a stern verbal warning - to which she smiles or moves faster towards them. Once she touches the items, despite my warnings, she gets a smack on the hand and moved to a time out spot. I've been frustrated because I seem to be doing this all the time. People have said that I should just remove the temptations, but, I just don't agree - She has to learn to obey and LIVE in his house with us. And I know she's so little still...but, no better time to teach then early. :)

Anyway - yesterday was a really bad day with her getting into these things. So, I kind of felt like maybe it was time to step up this teaching/discipline thing and make it a little more serious. She now KNOWS how wrong this is. Introduce : spanking. (gasp!) I come from a long line of spankers. I'm a fan of it, if its done in love and followed up with more love. But, I am evidence that this form of discipline really does work. So, sure enough here goes Ava towards the oil warmer. I sternly say, "no" accompanied with a head shake and furrowed brow. (the whole mom look, ya know!) She keeps her eyes on me while reaching toward the warmer - and, is that a smirk I see?! So, I remove her hand look into her eyes and deliver one fairly light pat on the bumper with a "no" to boot. Her eyes widen and she lays her head on my shoulder... possibly an "I'm sorry mom?". Well, I'm not holding my breath on that. Anyway, after 2 spanks - she didn't mess with them anymore.

Then, TA-DA, today came. I headed upstairs to grab something from our room and it took a few minutes longer then planned. So, as I usually do - I talk to Ava from the top of the stairs just to make sure she's ok. No answers. Usually she babbles and talks back - nothing today. So I speak up... "Ave's, whatcha doing? Mommy's gonna come get you", etc. Nothing. So, I head down stairs and sure enough in the kitchen I see her little head by the oil warmer...but she doesn't see me. I walk into the kitchen and she freezes, looks up at me, and then... starts to cry. Ava disciplined herself today. I really do think she KNEW she was doing something naughty and got busted. She's very smart. So I sat down next to her and held her close and pointed at the warmer, "no, no... that is not a toy, not for Ava" and she just laid there watching me explain. I told her I loved her and gave her a smooch on the head - then we left the area. All the while my heart just in shreds over seeing that pouty lip and genuine sadness.

I've heard so many debates about spanking.... pro's and cons. And I'm not here to debate that at all. But, to share my experience. My 11 month old gets it. She's not abused or mistreated by any means... but she gets it! She's starting to understand more and more. And the more she understands and the more consistent I am with her - the less its needed. So my victory today was that Ava understood circumstances of touching the oil warmer! I'm praising the Lord for giving me patience enough yesterday to remain consistent instead of just letting it roll over. I found this shirt online which just made me laugh out loud... maybe you will get a kick out of it, too. The title of this shirt is: "I'm not spoiled, I am loved".