Monday, August 30, 2010

No More Thrifty Food

I thought I would come back from my girl's weekend in Columbus with lots to tell about our 7-hour trip through hell the zoo or the amazing Italian food we ate at Brio or my 2-hour adventure through Joann's Etc where I found pretty fabric and scrapbook paper, but alas, I am going to write about my epiphany in the middle of the grocery store. Sounds riveting, I know...

While shopping in Trader Joe's (an organic grocery store), I had this realization that cost should not be an obstacle when it comes to buying healthy food for my family. If the whole wheat pasta costs a little more than the enriched white pasta, I should spend the extra to get something that is going to meet our nutritional needs instead of shoving junk into our bodies. I'm a tightwad and will choose the less expensive alternative 90% of the time even if the savings is a few pennies. Now, I know that most of the time you get what you pay for and it can pay off to spend a little extra and get better quality, but I tend to ignore this when it comes to grocery shopping. I also find myself buying unhealthy foods because I'm afraid that Alex won't like the healthier, less fat, less sodium, less sugar variety (think turkey bacon instead of pork bacon and again, whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta) even though I'm willing to try these foods. A few times he has surprised me and enjoyed turkey hotdogs and sausage, but those small victories haven't been enough to get me to commit wholly to healthy alternatives.

Here I was in this little organic grocery store, enticed by new foods I'd never heard of, grossed out by certain flavor combinations and inspired to change the way I think about what I'm putting in my body. In the long run, I don't want to be the couple that "lets themselves go" after marriage and has kids addicted to sugar and processed food. Sure, we've put on a few pounds, but I don't want that trend to continue. I thought my mother was crazy when she told me that if I ate fruit instead of processed sugar that I'd adjust and not crave sugar anymore. But, after not buying snack cakes and cookies in an effort to lower my grocery bill and be healthier, I really do not crave desserts. This is quite a feat for someone who couldn't go a single day without a cookie or processed, sugary, starchy snacks before. On this weekend getaway I also took note of how my 5 and 7-year old nieces eat pretty much whatever is put in front of them, including onions, crab legs, lobster and a wider assortment of fruit than I have ever eaten. I've always dreamed that my kids would not be picky eaters, but then I realized that I'm pickier than I thought and need to expand my horizons! How can I have kids that eat a variety of foods if I myself don't eat a good variety? And my nieces consistently choose applesauce over French fries and milk over soda every time we eat at a restaurant. I heard once that the most recognized "vegetable" for two year olds is a French fry. That's sad. I don't want my kids to only eat pizza, chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. I know kids like that. It's gross and sad. I work with a man that doesn't eat any vegetables except potatoes in the form of French fries. I believe the only fruit he will eat is apples. After this past weekend, I'm going to try new foods and stop worrying over a few extra dollars at the grocery store. I'm still going to bargain shop, but not at the expense of our nutrition. I bought a package of sweet apple chicken sausage (it had bits of apple and maple syrup in it) at Trader Joe's and Alex ate it tonight at supper. We agreed it kinda tasted like ham and ate it with whole wheat French toast.

My first step in the right direction was buying a package of brussell sprouts. I have always eaten then when my mom fixed them, but haven't eaten them in years. I'm expecting Alex to balk at the sight and or smell of them, but we need to eat more than corn and potatoes with dinner 90% of the time. If you have any advice as to how to get a grown man to eat his veggies please let me know! He prefers them raw, like in salads, but then we get burned out. I suppose that I need to look up some new recipes as part of this new lifestyle. Maybe I can share what I come across in a later post...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Long Weekend

I'm going away for a long weekend with my mom, oldest sister and two of my nieces to Columbus, OH on Thursday afternoon. Since it's halfway between our hometown and my sis in NY, it's the perfect spot to meet for such occasions. And the shopping is fan-tast-ic! (even though I've vowed to not spend money on anything except fabric for Christmas presents this trip) I was getting low on blogging material, so this mini-vacation came at just the right time. I should have some new adventures to write about soon enough! The plan is to visit the zoo, shop at Trader Joe's, find a fabric store and scrapbooking store (I may break my vow and buy some paper since I'm getting low), and maybe even visit a mall that has an Anthropologie! I gasp at the prices there, but I come home with all kinds of ideas for projects I can do myself and save a boatload of moola. Oh, and there's a huge outlet mall that we're supposed to hit on the way home so we can peruse Pottery Barn (a "sacrifice" for a friend. I'm so excited!) and Kirkland's. Why did I make a vow to not spend money on anything other than fabric? That was dumb. Anyway, see ya when I get back on Sunday, or before, if I happen to use the hotel's wi-fi. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bookcase Project

I am so excited to say that our built-in bookcase project is complete!!! Woohoo! My father-in-law is my new hero! He knocked this project out in two weeks (it would've been even shorter if I'd painted the shelves right away, but it kept raining and I didn't think the paint would dry right) by coming over after work and doing a little bit at a time. Here it is!!!

We're going to paint the rest of the trim around the windows and floor white to match the rest of the house. The "library"/family room is coming along!Improvements like this make me fall in love with my house. When my parents originally approached Alex and me about buying the house from them (they had bought another house already), I didn't feel sentimentally attached at all and we turned down their offer at first. I guess that has changed since I've been able to paint and decorate however I want through the whole house. We've made some pretty drastic changes, in my opinion. I can't wait to raise kids in this house and make happy memories together as a family!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My New Favorite Thing

I splurged recently and bought Stampin' Up's Medallion background stamp. It came in on Friday and I loved it even more in person than in the catalog. A co-worker's birthday is coming up soon and I wanted to make her a card. Here's how it turned out:

I'm in love with this medallion! Ahhh! A friend suggested I go ahead and make another duplicate card to have on hand for future use so I made this one:

I'll fill in the blank spot with whatever phrase fits the occasion when I need the card. I saw a beautiful Christmas card that used this stamp, so I think I have my inspiration for my cards this year! Happy crafting!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Backseat "Treasures"

Not 20 minutes before writing this, I tried to think of something to blog about and had nothing. Then I saw the Armor-All wipes I bought three weeks ago and decided to finally clean out my car. Now I have blogging material! Sounds so exciting so far, doesn't it? It's truly amazing that people are willing to ride with me after they see what my car looks like. This is what I found in the backseat:

1. A denim jacket that I forgot I owned
2. A bridesmaid dress
3. Broken shoes
4. Shoe box from the replacement shoes
5. Miscellaneous papers, receipts and other paper garbage
6. Perfectly usable tissue paper
7. A wad of gum stuck to the carpet on the floor board (note to self: never let children in the car when they are chewing gum! Yuck! I don't even remember giving Sky gum, and I never even buy orange gum, so where the heck did this even come from?! Ugh!)
8. The deed to my house

That last one is really embarrassing. Something that important should be filed away for safekeeping, but apparently I seriously lack organization! But now I'm excited to hop back in behind the wheel and show off my new clean interior. That's so lame... I wonder how long it will stay this way? Probably not for long.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Things I've Learned Lately

1. It's healthy to have friends of all ages, not just one's your same age.
2. It is possible to safely walk through the attic on the rafters in three-inch stilettos.
3. If you want a situation to change, then you must be willing to change.
4. Cookie dough really does taste better than the actual cookies.
5. A bargain really isn't a bargain if you don't have the money to pay for it.
6. Even two years after you get married and move out of the house, your parents still miss you and wish you lived at home (or at least would spend the night once so they can have their little girl back for a night).
7. Showering at night makes getting ready for work the next morning sooo much easier. (As I realize that it's bed time and I didn't take a shower. Dagnabit!)
8. I am definitely going to homeschool my kids someday. There's just really no other option in my mind at this point.
9. Even if you've stepped out of your comfort zone in a certain area before, it can still be difficult to do it again, but the reward is great!
10. Keep the can of mixed nuts out of the dog's reach or she'll snatch them up and eat the whole thing before you can say "cashews". And then your husband will be so disappointed that his go-to snack has disappeared, wherein you must make a special trip to the grocery store to buy another can. Oh, the things we do for love!

Thinking Outside the "Church" Box

I had dinner with a friend last night which led to some pretty interesting after dinner conversation that really got me thinking. My husband and I have not seen eye-to-eye about pretty much everything related to church since...well, forever. We have fairly frequent "discussions" regarding this subject that never seem to get resolved; however, after talking with my friend, my eyes have been opened to see a bigger picture. I think my husband would relate very well to my friend's ideas. This friend had some unique ideas. And when I say "unique" I mean that in a good way. She might say she's just crazy, but I would disagree and say that she's done her research, probably a whole heck of a lot of soul-searching and has personally lived many experiences, good and bad, that have brought her to the convictions that she currently has. I won't share her convictions here since they are personal to her and she may not want them exposed on my blog, but this is what she got me thinking about: Why do I feel guilty for missing a church service here and there when I have a personal relationship with a God that wouldn't send me to hell because I stayed home instead of going to church? Isn't there something missing when I can't tell you what the sermon was about 5 minutes after it's over (even when I put forth extra effort to pay attention)? I'm not in true fellowship with other believers when I go to a church service (where I'm supposedly going to fellowship with other believers), I don't talk to anyone and I leave as fast as my legs can get me out the door. Church doesn't benefit me or God or anyone around me when I go out of obligation, to ease a guilty conscience or when I leave unchanged, so what are my motives when I go?

My friend loaned me a book that will probably take me outside my comfort zone, outside of my "going-to-church-every-single-blessed-time-the-doors-are-open-because-that's-what-'good'-Christians-do-ness" and show me why churches in America do the things they do and whether those things are really right, whether they are even Biblical. I want to be changed. I want to stay changed and not go back to my old shallow ways. I want to desire to help the widows and orphans, to not be afraid to reach out to the outcasts, the hurting, the totally messed up in sin people that have the same fate that I had before accepting Christ. I don't want to judge people who are different, who really do have messed up lives, who other Christians avoid. That is going to take a whole heck of a lot of courage and I'm honestly not sure that I'm ready for that, but I know I need to grow and change and actually LIVE the way Jesus lived. That's so cliche, we hear it all the time, but that really is how we are supposed to live. I heard something like this on the radio last weekend: Jesus attracted people who were social outcasts or religious leaders that disagreed with him and hated him, people with no morals, poor character, messed up lives, and they listened to His teachings and followed Him. The church today claims to preach that same message as Jesus, but churches attract people with conservative values, who shun those very people that Jesus drew in by the thousands. So, if we're not attracting the same people as Jesus, then we must not be preaching the same message as Him. Ouch. But how true is that? Even in my own life. Even in the thoughts I have about my own family. I must love everyone. I must see them as Christ sees them and lead them to Him by my example, not with condemnation. I have some serious growing to do.

"G" Monogram

I saw this idea on a vinyl wall decor website a few months ago and knew that I had to make one myself. Big Lots had 12x12x1 inch canvases for $5, so I snatched one up and created this:

I had some paint left over from the living room and painted the canvas. Then I used Sure Cuts a Lot to cut the image out in vinyl on my Cricut and then mod podged over it so it wouldn't come off the canvas. Total project cost: $6. I'm totally diggin' this thrifty decor stuff! I can't stop searching for ways to save money by doing projects myself instead of spending top dollar at a store to get the same thing. This type of monogram cost $40 on one website. Now I'm making one for my in-laws to hang on their garage. I'll post pictures when it's done.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Minute on My Soapbox

Lately I've been thinking a lot more about how I want to educate my kids someday (like, when I actually have kids ;) Today confirmed, yet again, that I want to homeschool. Sky came home from his first week of kindergarten with homework. He has work every single night of the week and on weekends. And he's four years old. Did I mention that he's only in KINDERGARTEN? Why can't a kid just be a kid? And why can't a boy just come home after a long day of sitting still and paying attention and just be a boy?! Why can't he get off the school bus and run around the house playing with his dog, play outside in the dirt, eat a snack to refuel and then play some more? Why does society want kids to grow up so fast? I read an article last week about girls hitting puberty earlier than ever. That was a really scary time for me. I was extremely self conscious. I can't imagine being any younger than I was and going through that change. I was already one of the last girls in my class to go through it. I know that I can't barricade my children in the house and never let them interact with anyone else for fear they might learn something inappropriate. My fear is to have "socially awkward" kids. I just want them to have a Biblical worldview, a strong sense of self worth, strong academic skills, a well-rounded education, and the opportunity to BE A KID! Is that too much to ask for?

I feel bad for the families whose evenings are hurried trying to shove supper down their throats, cram in a few pages of busy work, and get to bed at a decent hour after working all day at the office. There is scarcely a free moment for quality time together as a family. My mother in law has been overwhelmed each evening ever since Sky started school. And he's only been going for four days! She barely has enough time to help Sky with homework, feed him supper, bathe him and then it's time for bed (the family goes to bed very early since they must get up around 3 a.m. for work). This type of schedule would wear me out as an adult, so I can't imagine what it feels like for a child.

I'm sure I'll get some grief along the way for choosing the homeschool path for my family in the future, but after seeing what the traditional school schedule does to other families, I want something better for my family. I want to spend lots of quality time together and give my kids time to just be kids. We seem to have lost that somehow as a culture, but I digress.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Day of School

Sky started Kindergarten last week. He spent the night last Sunday and then my mother in law dropped him off at our house in the wee hours of the morning Tues-Thurs so he could sleep while she worked and he could get used to waking up in time to get ready for school. Sky was awake when I got up every day and kept asking when school was going to start. He even told me he was "gonna bust some butt" at school on his first day. I advised him that he would probably get into trouble saying that and that he wouldn't make friends that way. That kid says some funny stuff!

It made me sad to think about his mom missing out on this milestone in her son's life. I hope to give her pictures of his first day sometime in the future so that she can connect to the moment with Sky, but I don't want to hurt her feelings that I got to be there with him and she didn't.

I've really enjoyed getting to be a part of Sky's life these past few months. He has grown so much. He never used to give hugs or show affection, but now he hugs me goodbye and even told me that he "loves me with his whole heart". What girl's heart wouldn't melt to hear those words? I just want to give him lots of good memories to keep in his heart for the rest of his life. I want to be Jesus to him and live a godly example before him. He might not always live so close by and he certainly won't stay so young for long, so I just want to take full advantage of the time I have with him to impact his life. It seems like just yesterday that I was holding him and meeting my sister-in-law for the first time. He was a gorgeous baby. Dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair, and pudgy little cheeks! Now he's a little boy with so much potential! I can't wait too see what the future holds for him.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Recent Projects and Bargains Galore!

I'm back! Finally! I started to write this post a week ago and have had to edit it since then. I just now got the desire to upload pictures to go with a few posts, so I'm finally finishing what a started last weekend. I went to some yard sales and found not one, but TWO amazing bargains. I got a white bookcase for the "library" or someday a kid's room, or maybe in Alex's office, who knows.

And, the piece de resistance, drum roll please......a Brother sewing machine for TEN dollars!!!!

I've been saving up for about 2 months and had barely accumulated half of what I intended to spend (because I kept spending my savings at other fantastic yard sales, Mighty Dollar and *sigh* Kroger). Yes, I had to spend a few bucks at the grocery store once or twice, but only out of dire necessity. Anyway, the machine needed a foot and shank, which I was able to get from the local sewing machine store for $8. Total investment in sewing machine: $18. Does it get any better than that?! I feel so blessed! I came home after this amazing bargain hunt and proceeded to repaint the bookcase and clean up the dusty sewing machine. My mom had also given me what she thought was the most hideous frame she'd ever seen, so I painted that while I was at it. The frame will be taking up residence in the dining room, but I can't figure out what to hang inside it. I'm thinking of hanging some small pictures on ribbons from the top of the frame or something. Who knows. I didn't manage to get a picture of the frame after it was finished.

I am really beginning to see how home projects never end. Things that I thought would be done by now (replacing all 80's light fixtures) have never even begun and new projects that I never imagined doing are now in full swing (built in bookcase in the family room). My father-in-law has begun work on the latter project and I'm so excited about how it's coming along!

Drywall is up! He should be finished in two days and I'll be ready to paint the wall and the bookcase on the other side. Woohoo! Has anyone else been doing home improvement projects lately?