Saturday, July 24, 2010

Money Spending Blues

As this post's title suggests, I have had a case of the money-spending blues. You know, the affliction where you go shopping, find all kinds of cute goodies and walk away with nothing because you're not in the mood to spend any money? I checked out a new local bargain store that sells discounted scrapbook paper packs and home decor. I think Mighty Dollar has spoiled me! Give me Amy Butler embellishments for a dollar, but I won't pay $15 for her scrapbook tote bag or basket. I couldn't even bring myself to buy some new paper (which I've been needing/wanting) because I figured I could get it cheaper on sale at Hobby Lobby. My next stop was to a quaint little country decor store where I hoped to find some Billy Jacobs paintings for my dining room, even though in the back of my mind I knew that even if I found the perfect painting, I wasn't going to spend the money to buy it. I saw dozens of cute little side tables for sale and I just wanted to go "junk" shopping and get one for next to nothing so I could fix it up myself for a few bucks instead of paying $20 or more at this country store. These blogs about thrifty decorating are getting to me! Not that I wasn't a thrifty decorator before (I LOVE finding goodies at yard sales!) but now it's taking over and not letting me spend more than a few dollars on anything! I went home having spent $4 on a Martha Stewart border punch from Tuesday Morning since that really was quite a bargain. I guess I should be happy that my bank account is in tact after such a sad shopping trip...

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Favorite Blogs

Over the past few weeks I've really been enjoying reading crafting/sewing blogs. I'm liking this more than coming up with my own blogging material (because my life and hobbies apparently are not that interesting, surprise, surprise!). I thought I'd share of few of the sites with you:

MADE - Blogger Dana creates funky clothes, has great tutorials and inspires me to learn to sew! I can't wait to buy a sewing machine! I'm practically counting down the days till I'll have enough moola saved...

All Things Thrifty - Brooke has great tutorials on refinishing furniture and reupholstering chairs (another project that I'm dying to do! Not exactly a project for a beginner seamstress, but a girl's gotta dream, right?)

I Create It - Danielle also refinishes furniture and has beautiful do-it-yourself decorating ideas. She has a few tutorials, including one for making pin-tucked pillows that I think I could tackle. Add that to my to-do list of sewing projects!

Noodleheads - Anna creates clothes and other goodies for her kids. I totally want to be the mom that creates fun stuff for her kids to wear and play with. She also designed this clutch that I can't wait to make!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Salsa Anyone?

After months of tilling, planting, weeding, growing tired of weeding and letting weeds take over, I finally harvested a few extra tomatoes from my garden to make homemade salsa. I was planning on using homegrown bell peppers, too, but it appears that my plants never flowered and there will be no peppers. But, never fear! Kroger came through for me :) My mom happened to be over when I decided to begin this endeavor and she helped me with the icky job of peeling the tomatoes. I didn't use a recipe, but chose to experiment. Alex and I love the garlic and lime salsa at Wal-Mart, so that was my inspiration. My ingredients included:

1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced with my Pampered Chef garlic press - LOVE this thing!
3/4 white onion
3 tomatoes
1/2 green bell pepper
the tip of a cayenne pepper, chopped finely (I only added a smidge because these suckers are HOT! I didn't have any japelenos.
1 1/2 tsp salt
juice from 1 lime

I used my Pampered Chef salad shears to chop up the veggies into small pieces and not big chunks. I hate chunky salsa, but didn't want puree either. These shears were great! I don't know when I'll ever use them except for salsa, so I'll have to think of some other food project for them.

In the end, there was too much cilantro and both Alex and I didn't want to eat the salsa. After letting the flavors blend overnight, Alex proclaimed that the taste had gotten worse! Well, so much for that endeavor. I'll stick with store bought.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

True Happiness

Can I just say that I am so happy when good things happen to my friends and family! Blogging has allowed me to catch up on the lives of a few college friends who are now starting families, embarking on new careers and just loving life and the bountiful blessings of God. It makes my heart sing to read about their triumphs and it's also great to feel like a part of their lives from miles away. In a world where values are being compromised for selfish gain it feels good to hear something positive, something worth rejoicing in.

In a conversation with someone at work, I found out that kids actually grab each other's shirt collars to see whether or not the genuine name-brand label is sewn inside or if it is a knock off. If you're found with an imitation, you're made fun of. Isn't this ridiculous?! It makes me thankful for six years of wearing hideous school uniforms. Since when is this type of behavior, this shallowness, acceptable? Sure, there's always been peer pressure and bullies, but where are the parents of these kids to correct this behavior? I was informed that the parents of those shallow kids are probably just as badly behaved. You know, the adults you work with that look down at you for wearing the same outfit twice. As an adult, I don't care what those people think of me and my beautiful $1 yard sale dress or my 1998 car, but shame on parents for instilling such materialistic, self-centered, shallow values in their children. True happiness isn't found in things. Self worth doesn't come from what you own. It comes from knowing who you are in Christ, that your heritage is royalty. The Creator of the entire universe knows your name, the King of all kings has a special plan for your life that is different than anyone else's. One part of this conversation that really got to me was that this parent felt that they HAD to buy name brand clothes from the name brand stores (not from consignment stores or yard sales) in order for their kids to not be made fun of. There was no other option. But in my humble opinion, that only enforces the insecurity, the materialism, the need to fit in. I know that it's not fun and it's not easy to be the kid that doesn't fit in. Been there, done that! I know times have changed since I was in middle school and high school, but Christian values haven't changed. We are called to be set apart and live to a higher standard, no matter what the cost. Lord, forgive me for my materialism and help me teach my children these values someday.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things I'm Looking Forward To

In no particular order:

1. Growing really old with Alex
2. Vacation
3. Replacing our light fixtures and kitchen counter tops
4. Being a mom (don't get too excited. I'm not expecting)
5. Less family drama
6. Built-in bookshelves
8. Seeing my "long-distance" family and friends
9. Learning to sew
10. Making salsa with veggies from my garden

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Room Makeover

Everyone always says that there is a never-ending list of things you can do to a house and boy are they right! I have a laundry list of home improvements to be made that seems to be growing faster than things are getting done. We did take advantage of the three-day weekend over the 4th of July to tackle one such project - painting the family room. The original yellow paint was tired and also marred by a painted picket fence on one wall and by my attempt to pick a new paint color. The red was just too dark for my taste.

Alex wants to turn the family room into a library/office, which is hysterical considering he hates to read, but I like the idea. Here are the results!

The next project is something that I am super excited about. My father in law is going to convert one of the two doorways into the "library" into a built-in bookcase! I love built-ins!!! This is the doorway that will soon be a bookcase:

This will hopefully solve some design dilemmas in our living room as well, since there are six doorways in the room to try an arrange furniture around. I'm thrilled to have one less decorating obstacle in that room.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blueberry Bliss

So, after another long case of writer's block (or maybe I just lead a boring life?!), I'm back to try this again. Yesterday, my mom, mother-in-law and I went blueberry picking. It brought back memories of trips to a blueberry patch in Pennsylvania with my grandmother as a kid. After two hours in the hot sun, I only managed to pick 3 pounds of berries (and I only ate one single berry in the process!), but that was enough to freeze a quart and have some left for cereal and Blueberry Boy Bait. My mom used to make this coffee-cake type recipe when I was a kid as well, and she brought along the recipe so I could make it after we were done picking berries. It's super easy:

Blueberry Boy Bait

2 tsp baking powder
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 c shortening
1 1/2 c sugar

Mix ingredients together and set 1/2 cup aside. Add 2 eggs to 1 cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well and add to flour mixture. Pour into a well-greased 9x13 pan and sprinkle 1 to 2 cups fresh blueberries on top. You can push the blueberries down into the batter if you want. Sprinkle crumbly mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. You can also use other berries or peaches instead of blueberries if you prefer. The recipe states that wheat germ or bran can be added for more nutrients, but it used to drive me crazy when my mom did that when I was a kid! She tried to sneak it into everything!

I've now had three helpings of this treat and need to burn off some calories prepping the family room for new paint. I sense another blog entry in the making...