Wednesday, 21 November 2012

It's That Time of Year Again!


And with that comes all sorts of goodies but, I have to say one of my favourite things is the cards.

I just love getting real mail and getting updates on family and friends and seeing cute pictures of little kids in our lives! I also love the glitter that is almost mandatory on all Christmas cards. Just a note...I may just throw in an extra handful with ours this year because after all:


                                                          Source: via Caroline on Pinterest

(Please just ignore that nasty work in the link:P)


Tonight I was ordering our Christmas cards and got a little notice at the end that I would receive $10 off my next order if I shared with you lovely folks that read my blog. (Hubs, that means you! Yay for saving money, right?) I would say that I love saving money as much as glitter but, well, I just don't. But it is a nice little perk!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

I have to say I just love how it turned out! Check out Shutterfly for yourself!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Having Fun!

Do you ever get so concerned with the little day to day things that you forget the big picture of life?

I know I do.

I am at a point right now where I feel so overwhelmed with all these little things that I cannot bring myself to just be happy and carefree and fun with my family.

By little things I mean keeping a clean house (clean enough so that it isn't a mad scramble when we have a possible house showing), disciplining and raising my kids to be smart, respectful, God-fearing adults, being a good and attentive wife, maintaining friendships. You know, the little things that really are big things. Each and every one of the points I just listed are so incredibly important but I have let myself become so consumed with them that I can't just let them go and have fun. Add these in with financial and life events and I am in a constant state of worry and stress.

Instead of focusing on these things as a whole, I am going to try changing my thinking of them to just a little part of my day. Discipline and teaching will never be put aside. Having three kids ages 2, 4, and 6 that is just not my reality right now. Instead I am going to look at it as just a small hiccup and then move on. Too many times I have allowed things to just put a damper on my day (I'm a complainer remember? Still working on that one.) I am going to practice grace in this home. Mistakes are going to happen. But just as my God forgives me and disciplines me and teaches me, I will do the same for those around me, especially those nearest and dearest to my heart.

This is going to be tough. I asked my husband tonight to tell me what my actions spoke about me. After a moment of hesitation he replied "impatient and short-tempered" (with a slight look of "is this a trick question?"). I was convicted today about my actions when reading Titus 1:16, "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him." I think I already knew this but I needed the confirmation from the one that knows me best here on earth.

I have been on a mission this year to simplify life. I think this is what this year has been boiling down to: focusing on what really matters the most. Casting my cares onto the Lord and actually having fun with my family. At this point I could get rid of all I owned and my house could stay clean for days but if I don't stop to enjoy life at this point in time, I am going to miss out. I have been missing out. Here is my resolution: (taken from the book, "The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer")

I do solemnly resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment.

Here's to soaking up every moment and making happy memories!

God bless you today!

Linking up with Women Living Well Wednesdays. Don't forget to check out the button on the sidebar and do a little blog-hopping today!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Letting Go

"So then, any of you who does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple." -Luke 14:33

What am I holding on to that I need to let go of?

-Food/eating habits
-Material possessions
-Old habits (just the way I live life in general)

I need a change. A big change. A radical change. But how? How do I even begin to change 27 year old habits?

One at a time. Baby steps. I need to turn my life upside down and shake off all the dust that has dimmed the light inside of me.

This means no more sleeping as late as I can in the morning, but rising before the dawn to feast on the Lord before everyone else is up.

This means no more laziness and disciplining my body daily with exercise.

This means no more eating without a though but eating consciously. Being truly thankful and mindful before each bite. This also means eating more healthily.

This means no more holding onto things for that 'one day' or just in case but truly decluttering and blessing others and putting all my faith in God that He will provide and care for us. This also means letting go of the poverty mindset I have so embraced over the years.

This means no more filling the hours at the end of the day and throughout the day with TV and internet and books but filling those times with real purpose - focusing on housework, the kids, my husband, and most importantly the Lord. How will I ever know His calling on my life if I don't take the time to tune in?

Baby steps though, right?

First and foremost is my time in the morning. I believe this is a crucial aspect to my day. I desperately want more of Him and I am not going to get it unless I seek Him out.

Please pray for me if you happen to think of it. :) Be blessed today, friends!

**I typo'd that title and put Letting God instead. I think that is pretty fitting for what I just wrote about. I need to both let go and let God. If I just let go then who or what will take it's place? I must let God fill the void or I will be no better off than when I first began.

"And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first." -Luke 11:26 (AMP)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

I don't know

There is something that is just so satisfying about just not knowing sometimes.

This thought came as a shock to me today because I am the queen of NEEDING TO KNOW!! I like to be in control. I like to plan out my day. I make lists of lists to make. Seriously. (I also add things to a list that weren't previously on it but have since completed during my day just to make myself feel like I have accomplished more. That's a whole 'nother issue...). I have a love/hate relationship with texting. (Love it cause people can be tracked down and therefore I get to know what they are doing. Hate it because of said reason and also when I don't get a prompt answer.) I could go on but I'm pretty sure you probably catch my drift! (Can you say lighten up much?!)

It probably doesn't surprise you to hear that I'm also not very patient. So when I get an idea, I just want to go with it. Correction: I NEED to go with it.

God has been revealing Himself to me so much in this last year. You know that verse, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you"? So true! As I've drawn nearer to the Lord, He has revealed Himself to me in ways that I was not expecting. And that I still don't expect. I don't know about you but I have had a very narrow view of who God is and how He is supposed to act. I think He is probably purposely acting out of those ways just so my mind can be driven crazy STRETCHED!

I have had so many ideas and things I have been wanting to do for some time now. (And they are good, God ideas! Nothing wrong with them at all!) Most of them I have just gone ahead with without really seeking the Lord's direction. And they have all flopped. I ended up with nothing but frustration.

But there have been a few that I have done nothing about yet. Except pray. Probably due to fear that it would fail. But now I pray because I know that the answer isn't necessarily "No, it won't work", but "No, it's not time yet". This is what I mean about not knowing. I don't have to live my days in frustration that I can't do anything. God is shaping me to carry out His will here on earth and right now that just means "It's not time yet". The satisfaction comes from knowing that He is guiding me. Day by day. Step by step. Moment by moment. If I will just lay down my need to control and instead give it to Him to guide me, He will be faithful. God knows the desires of my heart. Today I am trusting Him with those desires. And I am thankful that He loves me and cares and wants to fulfill those desires in accordance with His good purposes for my life.

I hope this little thought acts as a bit of encouragement for those of you that are just waiting for an answer. Don't give up. Keep drawing nearer to God. Your answer will come.

Be blessed today!


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Feeling a little Green

I have been trying to adopt a cleaner lifestyle for myself and my family over the last several months. The Lord has really impressed upon me about how our bodies are His temple. This has led me in a variety of directions including weight loss and healthy eating and living. Let me tell is not as easy as I hoped it would be!

There are so many things that I am realizing we need to rethink and retrain ourselves in. It's really not as simple as just buying organic foods! (For those of you that have been living clean and green for some time - please humor me as I learn! Tips are also more than welcome!) The more I read and the more knowledge I gain, the more I realize just how many toxins we put into our bodies (both on purpose and inadvertantly). And some of the articles I have read are downright terrifying!

It is also overwhelming. Where do I even begin?

Part of me wants to abandon life as we know it, move out into the bush somewhere and live like the Wilder's on Little House on the Prairie. You know where Hubs (aka Pa) goes out and hunts for all our meals and builds everything from scratch, I (aka Ma) bake and sew and churn butter in the kitchen by the woodstove, and the kids all help out with everything and only have one toy to play with. And those toys are a ragdoll for the girl and a genuine pigskin football for the boys (no bpa/lead/toxic worries there, right?!).

And then the other part of me just loves the tv and internet and the pure convenience of everyday modern life. (Hello flushing toilets and running water!)

So I have kind of gone back and forth in my quest for green-clean because I just don't know where to begin. And you know what? I just don't know if it is truly possible to completely "convert" overnight.

So here is what I am going to do: I am going to commit to just one change a month. For now anyways. Once I get the hang of things and start remembering all this newfound knowledge I have then I will ramp that up a bit but this is where I'm at now.

So far already I have pretty well cut out all foods that I cannot pronounce (except for a few cans of Alphagetti's...lunch tomorrow!). I will continue on with this as I spring clean the fridge and pantry.

My next challenge is getting rid of the toxic cosmetic/beauty products that we use on a daily basis. This is a big one for me and will take a bit of time because of our location and the inability to replace some of these items with natural products. But stay tuned for how it's going and some recipes that I've spotted that I really want to try out.

I'm scared/excited right now!

Thanks for reading :)
(And please excuse the hurriedness of this writing...I'm sure it shows! It's the end of the day and I can hear the kiddo's out of bed and into mischief...)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Set Your Mind

I just got back from the gym. And let me just say, the class I took today TOTALLY kicked my butt!

And I kind of liked it! (Kind of because I could hardly walk down the stairs to leave the gym after but liked it because it really was a great workout!)

Anyways, this all ties into this week's No Complaining post. I'll rewind.

My dear, sweet husband offered for me to take 4 days (by myself!!) to head to the "big city" just to unwind, regroup, and simply just be by myself. I was hesitant at first because first of all we just got back from Mexico two weeks ago! Did I really need another "vacation"? I told myself yes, yes I did because Mexico wasn't really a vacation for me since we were all in the same room for an entire two weeks. There was no hiding or quiet times. Just togetherness. Now I love my family but EVERYBODY needs some time by themselves!

Second of all, this is our No Spend Year! Which means we do not have an extra jar for "Leah's Mental Health/Sanity/Vacation"! But he assured me that it was fine. So why question, right?

Lastly, (sigh) the offer came after a near meltdown from me that I just couldn't handle life at that moment. Yes, folks, I complained. HOWEVER!!! I immediately found a quiet space by myself and poured my heart out to God. I asked forgiveness for complaining so quickly and asked for Him to renew me and refresh me and guide me. And you know what? He totally did! (Why am I always amazed at answered prayer?) I felt better and rejoined life. It was later after all that that hubster offered the little vacay for me. He is truly a wonderful man. :)

So I've been living it up the last four days here in the city. I have gone shopping (just a little fyi for those of you still using film in cameras - STOP!! The prices have gone up ridiculously high - $40 for 3 disposable cameras!!), I have watched TV, I have read books, I took a day to fast and pray, I've gone to anti-gravity yoga (you know those people that do acrobatics on those long cloths? Yeah, kind of like that...except a little less intense) and, like I started out with, I ended with the butt-kicking aerobics class today. It has been a fantastic week so really not much to complain about or even think about complaining!

Here is my challenge this week:

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:2

This week I am not just going to avoid thinking negative, whiny, complain-y things. I am going to actually dwell on the things above. Things like Jesus and what He did for me on the cross. I am going to search out specific verses and meditate on them. (I am really good at reading the bible. I am not so good on the thinking on what I just read.) I am going to transform my mind.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Let me know if you'd like to join me in this challenge and I will post daily scriptures that we can meditate on and share our thoughts.

I am going to pack up and get ready to head home right away. And I am so ready to go!

If I can walk out of here.

(This post seriously took me about half an hour to type my arms are so sore! Ha ha!)

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Quit Complaining!

Well I am officially about 3 weeks into this no complaining challenge. And it is not really going so well.

I think I am improving with not vocalizing my thoughts so much but right now I am faced with just that - my thoughts.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." -2 Corinthians 10:5

Do you think Jesus whined and complained about His tasks here on earth?

"God, really, I am so tired of walking everywhere."

"Why don't these people get it? They just don't understand."

"But I don't want to wash their smelly, dirty feet."

"But I don't want to die."

"Is it really even worth it?"

We probably would not be where we are if Jesus had spent, no, wasted His time complaining like that.

I may not be vocalizing my dissatisfaction as much as before but my thoughts are definitely making themselves known. For hours, sometimes ruining entire days.

Example time!

We just got back from an incredible (almost free!) trip to Mexico and for those of you with kids you probably understand what this week looks like for us. Basically it involves retraining your children to the way the were before they spent two weeks routine-free at a hotel with a buffet! (They just don't seem to understand why they have to eat what I make them to eat!) We also all slept in one room while there. So, again, why can't we all just sleep in one room at home? (That sentence was dripping with sarcasm.)

Needless to say this week has been a sleep deprived, long one. And my thoughts have ranged from "Grr! Why don't they just get it?!" to "I just need some time by myself. I never get any time by myself."

I am thankful for my children again this week. Thankful that they give me the opportunity to grow as a mother and as a person. I don't think there is any other position I could be in that could allow such trying times and such growth at the same time. (I am sure there are. But I definitely cannot think of any right now!) God is using them to shape me into the person He wants me to be. For that, I am thankful.

I am thankful that I am not alone. There are so many people in this world that have nobody day in and day out. And yes while quiet times alone are good and I would say necessary for growth (and sanity...), being alone all the time is definitely not good.

I am writing this post very quickly and in between (surprise, surprise) more discipline! So please forgive the hurriedness and probably many grammatical errors :)

I hope you have a happy Friday and weekend everybody! We are on Spring Break next week here. Should be interesting!

Ha ha! Kidding! I am very much looking forward to a relaxed week at home.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Complaining Challenge

I am a complainer. No excuses. No way around it (no matter how hard I try to think of a way).  When things don't go exactly the way I want, I make it known through my words.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing," -Philippians 2:14

Ouch. How often to I do anything without complaining or arguing? Especially with my family. They are the ones I should be loving the most here on this earth yet they are the ones that get the brunt of my bad attitude day after day.

I love being a stay at home mom but how many times a day do I find myself complaining about the mess, the cleaning, the fighting, the cooking, etc? You would think I didn't want to be here the way I go on!

I was reading about Mandy's challenge she proposed to herself over at Biblical Homemaking and knew this was something I not only wanted but needed to do.

So, introducing Thankful Thursday's!

Every Thursday I will be listing 5 different things I am thankful for that week and I will be posting them around my house to remind me everyday that I have nothing to complain about.

1. My beautiful, healthy family. I have always been so thankful to the Lord for the health He has blessed us with. This is something I will definitely be including regularly in my praise this week. (I love this picture! It is at the end of a long Christmas day and I think everybody's faces display that quite well! I think we qualify for awkward family photos for sure! :P)

2. My Bible. First and foremost I am thankful for my bible because it is the Word of God. The riches contained within these pages are so great that nobody will ever know all there is to know. There is always more to learn and grow in relationship with our Lord and Savior. Secondly, I am thankful for the freedom to own a bible without fear of persecution. The kids have been learning about different countries in their Sunday School class and how so many of them risk death just for proclaiming they are a Christian, let alone owning a bible! This has just helped me to see just how great of a treasure this book truly is. (And as you can see Ephesians is probably one of my favorite books!)

3. Food. We have never had to know what it truly means to be starving. God has always provided us with more than enough. And although I think that we could definitely use a lesson around here in being a little more thankful for the food we are given (I'm talking to you picky eaters of the house, a.k.a. children :) we never need to worry about going hungry. In fact, we could stand to be more generous with what we have by hosting meals here or by blessing another family with a meal. (Hmm stay tuned...)

4. Ahh sunsets. Some of you may think this is silly but I think God  paints these beautiful pictures in the sky just for me. There is nothing quite like a prairie sunset where you can watch it fall completely over the horizon with nothing blocking your view. You just watch and watch until there is just a sliver of sun left and then it is just gone. Breathtaking. But I have come to discover that around here, although you can't watch it completely disappear with the different landscape, there is still a beauty about it when you watch all the colors reflecting on the lake. Gorgeous.

5. And finally, this man right here. (You don't have to tell me how handsome he looks in his hunter orange duds!) This man treats me like royalty. He provides for our family in so many ways and is such a loving husband and father. He encourages me daily and loves me through all the complaining. This relationship has truly revealed the worst parts of me and has shown me just how much I need the grace of our Savior. (By no fault of his own! This is in a good, God-revealing way! Ha ha oh dear I could get in trouble for this so I sure hope you understand what I'm trying to say here!) He makes me want to be a better woman! (Phew...good save?!)

I know this sounds like it is such a simple thing for many of you but this is really life-changing for me! Please pray for me as I learn to control my tongue this week (and from now on!) and change the attitude of my heart.

What are you thankful for? Please share...I love comments!

Have a great week!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Beer for Breakfast

Kind of makes you shudder a little, doesn't it? But you did read correctly. Today's final post on cooking with beer does indeed feature a breakfast recipe.


Yup. That would be pancakes made with beer. But don't leave yet! These were the fluffiest, moist-est (???), most delicious pancakes I have ever made before. Seriously.

The recipe: (Adapted from this recipe.)

3 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
1 can Alexander Keith's beer (I think any light beer would be fine)
2 - 2 1/2 cups milk (enough to make the batter a little bit thin)*
1/2 cup melted butter

*I found that a bit extra milk was necessary to counteract the beer. If there isn't enough there might still be that slight beer taste to the pancakes (never good...unless you like that...then don't add extra!).

Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Mix eggs, beer, milk and butter together. Add to dry ingredients and beat until smooth.

Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a hot, (greased if not a non-stick) griddle. Turn when batter rises and entire surface is dotted with holes.

Makes 18 - 24 pancakes, depending on size.

                               See how thick and fluffy these are?!
                               Seriously, at least an inch thick!
So good. I forgot to count exactly how many we got but as you can tell it was at least a plate full. Definitely enough to feed our family of five (with three little kids that can pack away at least 3 or 4 pancakes til we cut them off!)

Let me know if you give these a try and what you think of them.

Have a nice weekend everybody!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Beer for...dessert?!

Yup. You read that title correctly.

Today's featured beer recipe is a dessert.

And it is absolutely delicious!

I am talking about Beer Apple Fritters. Or Apple Beer Fritters. Or Apple Fritters with Beer. (I don't know how it sounds best because honestly, beer just doesn't seem to fit any place you put it!)
Sidenote: Check out last week's post to get the scoop as to why I am so obsessed with cooking with beer :P

I think I should just get on with the recipe rather than continuing on with my ramblings about beer...

Beer Apple Fritters (Click here for the original recipe)

12 ounces amber ale (I used Alexander Keith's and I think it turned out just fine)
1 1/2 cups white all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup peanut oil*
1/4 cup grapeseed oil*
2 cups canola oil
8 large apples**, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/3" thick rings
Icing sugar and ground cinnamon

*I used 2 1/2 cups of Sunflower oil instead and it worked just fine. 
**I cut up my apples into small pieces before reading this part of the recipe so I just mixed them into the batter instead like a real fritter is. Again, this worked just fine. I will print the recipe for the original way but just know you can do it this way also!

1. In a large bowl, whisk together ale, flour, sugar, vanilla, and melted butter. Set aside. Prepare apples.
2. Blend the oils and fill pan or deep fryer to a depth of 2 inches. Heat to 360ºF or over medium-high heat.
3. Blot apple rings on a paper towel, then dip in batter to coat evenly. (Or blot then mix into batter.) Dip and fry in small batches, turning once to cook evenly. I found about a 1/3 cup of batter made a decent size donut if you are doing it my way. Skim the oil of any pieces of batter that fall off during cooking and add more as necessary, maintaining a 350º temperature.
4. Remove fritters from oil and drain for a few minutes on a platter lined with paper towel. Dust with cinnamon and icing sugar and serve warm.

Sounds so good, right?

The only thing I found is that the temperature of the oil is important. If it is too high, the outside will look brown and ready but the inside isn't quite cooked all the way. We found this out the hard way, folks. And then it really does taste like beer. And that is no good in an apple fritter. But if they are cooked properly then they just taste like good, deep-fryed, donut shop deliciousness!

So be patient and cook longer at a lower temperature!

Finally, a picture:

I'm not even going to tell you how long these lasted in our house.

It definitely was longer than 2 hours.

Alright, it was a day. Maybe a day and a half.

But, come on, there's five of us here!

Ok, I know. Excuses, excuses! Maybe we should have invited some friends over to partake in the goodness with us...

Let me know if you give these a try! (And if you have more self-control than we did :P)

Next for breakfast. Ha ha ha it just gets better!

Have a great day!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cooking with Beer

As promised in the last post, I will be sharing recipes using up some beer we got for Christmas. (Click on the link to last week's post for more details!) Long story short, hubby received 6 cans of beer in our family Christmas draw. I wanted to just give them to somebody else that would actually drink it but I think he was just a little upset at the fact that he received beer and a glue gun and was not actually going away with something he really wanted! (You are all probably wondering what kind of Christmas we have that he would have received beer and a glue gun. We'll save that for another post, folks!)

Anyhoo...on with the recipes! (Just a quick note, these recipes are not my own, however I did adapt some of them. Original recipes can be found here.)

#1. Beer Cheese Soup (I made a double batch. Just cut in half for 4 servings.)

24 ounces beer (I used Alexander Keith's)
3 moose smokies (the original recipe calls for bacon. This is what I had on hand.)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced sweet red pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk (the original calls for half and half. Again, this is what I had on hand.)
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Open beer and let stand while dicing vegetables.
Cook whatever meat you are using and chop up into small pieces.
In a large pot, saute vegetables in 2 tbsp of olive oil or leftover bacon grease until soft. Add the chicken broth. Add 1/2 of the beer. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
Pour remaining beer into a small mixing bowl and whisk in flour. Gradually add to broth, stirring constantly, till thick. Add milk or cream, meat and cheese. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I usually don't add salt and pepper right now but set it out on the table instead for each person to do to their own liking.)

Makes about 8 servings.

This soup was so good. I recommend using cream if you are able but even without this soup still had a nice creamy base. Definitely a nice warm you up, fill you up soup at the end of a cold winter day. Pair it with some fresh bread or buns from the oven and you have one delicious comfort food meal!

I will post the others throughout the week (I have four, people!) so be sure to check back in a couple of days to see the next one. I'll give you a hint - it's a delicious dessert! Or if you aren't already a follower, please check out the side bar and get these updates sent straight to your inbox!

Thanks for reading! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Update & Happy Friday!

Well, week one of becoming more disciplined is done...and it has been great! Here's how it went:

It started off a little slow. For the first couple of days it was mostly just about doing little things around the house. This worked out nicely since we had decided that the guest/storage room needed to be torn apart and reorganized earlier this month. (I say we because it was the hubby that really kept me motivated to keep going. Normally I would have taken one look at the room and just backed away closing the door behind me so I didn't have to see the mess. Just being honest here!)

Here's a mid-way picture:


As you can see, it was LITERALLY torn apart. We had so many baby clothes to go through since as they grew out of them they were pretty much just shoved into the first available cardboard box. So that was the first thing we tackled.  Now they are nicely organized by gender and size in storage containers. We then went through everything else and either got rid of it, put it in it's appropriate place in the house, or organized it in the closet. And this is what we now have:

The large pile of things in the corner of the room is the stuff we have gathered to get rid of as part of our 730 things challenge. The plan is to save it for a garage sale this summer. (Now just to make sure the kids don't discover any of it. I already took flak last week for throwing away memories!)

We are now also ready for company! (This is a not so subtle hint for family and out of town friends...)

Next up was the laundry room. (I realize that these aren't really little things that I was tackling this week but the point was that I just did little bits each day.)

Ugh. The laundry room.

It had just become the dumping ground for anything and everything. But, no more!

It's nothing glamorous but...ta da! Now I might actually feel like tackling the piles of laundry that are not so slowly growing upstairs. Hm. We'll see.

By the end of the week in the challenge I was to narrow down something that I really wanted to form into a habit. This was tough to choose JUST ONE to work on because right off the start I had a list of SEVEN things that I would like to be more disciplined in. I ended up choosing tidying the kitchen before going to bed because it seemed simple enough for me to manage to do without getting discouraged. And it was! But I changed my mind a couple days after because I had other things that I wanted so I could see more immediate results in myself, not just my house. Now my habit is waking up at 6:00 am to exercise and spend time with the Lord. This works out perfectly because I am able to listen to a podcast or audiobook while I honor God in my body through exercise. I realize I am only a couple days into this but so far (other than some mid-day tiredness) it has been really great and I feel really good!

Next week I'll be posting some recipes! What!? (For anybody reading this that knows us knows that we do not drink. However, we received a 6-pack of beer for Christmas through a random family draw and me becoming oh so frugal decided that I'm sure I could do something with it!) If you aren't already a follower, please consider it 'cause really, you know you don't want to miss it!

Seriously though, they were delicious.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Friday, 13 January 2012

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

I just got this new e-book called 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life (hence the title...) It is by Crystal Paine, author of the website Money Saving Mom. I have barely made a dent in searching around at all the different topics she has on there but from what I've read so's a gooder, folks! And, really, who doesn't want to be a money saving mom? (Unless, of course, you are not a mom. Then maybe you just want to be a money saver...?)

When I look at my goals and resolutions for the year it pretty much all boils down to becoming more disciplined in the way I do life. (Losing weight...definitely needs more discipline, getting out of debt...probably even more discipline than losing weight, becoming more organized...yup, discipline.)

Anywho...the point of this post is to talk about what I am going to be doing over the next 21 days. So for the next little while I will update you on the challenge of the day and my progress in it all! Exciting, I know! So, today being day goes!

Day 1: Choose one small project that you have been putting off for weeks (or months) and do it within the next 24 hours.

This was a tough one for me because I have many projects that I have started and not finished and probably even more on my to-do list. However, when I sat and thought about it for a few minutes I realized that in all reality most were not small projects (ie. clean and organize laundry room - HA HA HA!) So, I settled on one that has been put off for a good 4 - 5 (ok maybe 6) months - the kids coloring and craft stuff. Seriously, we have had coloring books out the ying yang people! Here is a before picture of the giant stack of would be art:

(I should have taken a before before picture of the 2 different places they were being stored but I didn't. And really this doesn't even look as bad as it was with papers strewn everywhere, but just trust me :)

Next I sorted through the stack and threw out anything that had coloring on it. (At which point I heard, "But mom! You're throwing away my memories!" Really? Note for future: Do this when children are not in the room.) I tore out pages and cleaned things up again so that they had fresh coloring books to start with. Then I put over half of what was left in a giveaway box (most likely to go on the "Free" table at the next garage sale or maybe to a doctor's office or something). This is what I ended up with:

Waaaaayyy better than before! And now when they go to color (which they can now) it's almost like they have brand new books to choose from! I didn't get a picture but I also sorted through the crayons, markers, pens, etc. and threw out any that were broken or had run out and then sorted into big ziploc bags to put in the drawers. Now everything is neat and tidy and ready to use!

Love it!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Week 1 (aka A Huge Pain!)

Well one week of no spending down, only 51 to go.

51 weeks.

357 days.

8568 hours.

Ok, ok I'm sure you get it. This week has been a long one.

It's not like I had great urges to go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money. What I found was the real challenge was really having to pay attention to every little detail. Let me explain.

Before, if I needed something from the store I would just say to hubs, "Hey, I need ________ from the store. Is that ok?" The answer was pretty much always yes unless he deemed it not a necessity. (What do you mean that magazines are not a necessity?!?)

Now, if I need something from the store I really need to think about whether it is a necessity. Ok, here's an example. Today, I wanted to do some baking for the week and we only have one egg in the fridge. Given that it's Sunday and only the convenience stores are open here that means that I would need to pay almost $5 for a dozen eggs. However, if I can wait until tomorrow then I could buy the eggs for about $2 less than that. Normally $2 wouldn't have made me think twice. I would have bought the eggs today because today was going to be my baking day. And that's that. But now, $2 is $2! So, I will have to wait until tomorrow and have that be my baking day instead.

Really this hasn't been complicated, just challenging the way we are used to doing things.

I am so thankful right now because things that I thought were so necessary for living I am realizing really aren't that important after all. I can't wait to see what the end of this year brings about in us as individuals and as a family. I am also looking forward to sharing all the little tidbits we learn over the course of this next year.

Have a happy week!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year!

I love the new year. It is always a chance to start fresh. Whether it's by giving last year's resolutions another shot or by just deciding that resolutions are overrated anyways and not making any at all! For me, I always make some kind of resolution and generally fail at it. I think because I tend to make them too specific and I don't really care enough to follow through. I think I actually used to think of them as wishes! (I WISH to lose weight this year...really I have little intentions on doing much about it!)

This year is different somehow. I don't really know what specifically happened but I can just tell that it is different. Hubs and I have actually made a plan and I have learned a lot and grown a lot in the Lord in 2011 that I just know that this year is different. That 2012 is a fresh start and a year to really make a change in my life/our lives.

So, here are my resolutions:

1. Simplify life. Pretty vague and general, I know. But this is just what I need. This is the phrase that has been ringing in my ears for months now and it is what I am going to hear as I get through this next year.  I don't really know what it means or how to make it more specific. It will mean most likely saying no to a lot more things. It will mean getting rid of a lot of clutter in our home. It will mean getting rid of a lot of clutter in my body. It will mean a lot of things so that in the end, life will be a lot more...simple.

2. Lose 60 pounds. Actually 59 (that sounds so much better!). Weight loss has been a wish resolution of mine for many, many years now but this is the year. God has really got ahold of me and shown me so much about myself. It is time for the weight to go. December 25th is my goal date. This is going to be a tough goal that I cannot slack on or leave for a few months to start. I have approximately 50 weeks to accomplish this, which means I have to lose just over 1 pound a week. Completely do-able, but I must stay on track. To hold me accountable, my weight as of this morning was 184 pounds. My goal is about 125 pounds. (Whenever you are reading this, please ask me how I'm doing!)

3. Grow with God. Another one that is pretty vague and general. I'll go into this subject further in future blog posts but as I mentioned above, God has done a huge work on my heart this past year and I am really looking forward to what is going to happen in 2012. My desire is just to really let God into my life. I feel like I have spent a lot of time getting to know Him, but not a lot of time letting Him get to know me. (Again, more on this in the future.) I am really just excited to be in the Lord this year. :)

Hubs and I also have given ourselves as a family a challenge. We are committing 2012 as a No Spend Year. *GASP* I know! I have this weird "I'm so excited yet so very afraid" feeling about it. (But mostly excited :) Basically what this challenge entitles is just no excess spending. What have a very specific budget laid out for us that will include the necessities only. Ok. The basics only. The only excessive thing we had to cut from our budget was the Netflix. (Hey, $8 a month is still $8!) We considered the cell phones and the long distance plan on our land line to be a necessity since majority of our phone calls are long distance and the cell phones enable us to communicate when hubby's at work. The main purposes of this challenge are 1. To develop self-control in our spending, and 2. To really kick off our debt snowball. (Yup, we are reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover...and loving it!)

(I also have some goals for the year that I would like to accomplish but that will be another day :)

What are your resolutions for 2012?