Sunday, November 27, 2011

Twice is a Tradition!

Last year, we cut down our first real Christmas tree. I didn't know it then, but we were starting a tradition. We loved it. It's a shedless, allergy free tree (Leland Cypress) that makes my hyper-sweeping side happy.....and it's au'natural.......a side of life that I'm starting to like a bit more these days.

I also like seeing my cute hubs' handiwork with a saw....

Dragging our tree.....

Our Christmas Cuties....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Football Season = Sad Booth....

I hadn't paid attention to my booth all football season. With daddy gone coachin', momma didn't go junkin'. Sales creative muses were taking a seasonal nap......I was facing the decision of could I, should I, try and keep this up?

So. With the final loss of our football team Friday night (dare I place a happy face ?... : ) ....I dareth), my reinforcement came, and I went straight to Winnie & Tulula's and did my best to Christmas it up with the few items I had in storage.

I know alot more now about how football season will affect my ability to go and do for this 'bidness. Maybe I can sustain myself better next year.....

One great bit of news though - $900 has been donated so far (whether through sales or painting services) to the organizations of Amazima and Sixty Feet. That's a holiday cheer right there!

30 % off all furniture, now through the holidays!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Two-fers

I think every year I - we - struggle with the mindless spending and consumption during Christmas. Don't get me wrong - I love the holidays. I love the smells, the food, the lights, the music.....the way my girls get excited that they get to watch their Christmas movies (we put them up Jan.1 and they aren't allowed back out until Thanksgiving!).

But now, especially after Africa, and even more after truly pondering this thing we've made Christmas into.....well, you know the story. I always have this image of Jesus walking into one of the White Elephants we all have and knocking over a table with fury. Bloggerville is blowin' up with mommy's blogging about this very subject.


I thought I'd share how we plan to attack the materialism this year. We're gonna just do it.

Yes. I said "just do it". And by that, I mean, materialism with a meaning. Most of our adult gifts will be in the form of a Christmas two-fer. There's adorable, adorable tees out there that either directly support a mission we believe in or promote awareness of it. At around $25 bucks each, 1) we can't think of anyone in our family who wouldn't love to sport one of these fresh tees and 2) it's a gift with double meaning and purpose.

Here's a few examples: (If you buy one of these, you are also registered for a free mission trip like the one to Uganda that we went on this summer!)
These baseball tees are so cute and my niece already has one and loves it!

Another example of a cool guy's tee.....

and of course there's the fabulous

I wasn't able to save a shot of their tee, but you can see my post about it here.

I realize with this post I gave away ALL the element of surprise for my family....but it was worth it if means one extra tee is bought this Christmas!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top Dawg Reader....

Gotta give kudos to my Grace (the lone gal in the middle) at her 2nd grade award ceremony, she won the "Top Dawg Reader" award. 5 students were chosen out of the entire grade. I'm a proud momma.......really proud.

We're knee-deep in the middle of her first real school project - her life timeline. I must say, doing these together makes me really sad for those little ones who's parents aren't involved much. As a teacher, and seeing some of the school projects I've seen, I just have a soft spot in my heart for the kids that make it work despite their environment.

Blessed abundantly.....for sure. Great job, Gracie!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spicy Chicken Taco Soup

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe, but this one I threw together.....a literal dump in the crock pot and let 'er rip......and it turned out so yummy! Beware - it's a tad spicy...that rotel does it all the time. Pair with cheddar and chips, and you gotta cold weather meal!

1 can chicken broth

1 can beef broth
1 can mexican stewed tomatoes

1 can mild rotel

1 can pinto beans

1 can corn

1 pkg. taco seasoning

1 pkg. ranch dressing seasoning

4-5 chicken breasts ( I don't even thaw mine...I put them in frozen) for about 4 hours on high shred the chicken when cooked and return to stew.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blown Away!

I kinda am!.....Blown away, I mean. That last post about finances triggered more emails and wonderful email convos than I ever, ever would have thought. So many people were open and wonderfully honest about their situations....their habits....and were obviously excited about the steps they had already taken, and were about to take, to get back on track financially.

It IS all God's. He wants us to use any blessing He gives us (our health, our children, our very breath) to glorify Him......easy enough said, harder to be done. I tell you, that sneaky, sneaky green "money" issue is one of the hardest blessings to ever relinquish fully as His. To this very day, I like to think of it as mine. I earned it...what can I do with it that would make me "happy"? That really has been my thought process in the first two decades of my life. Thankfully, God....Africa....friends......have slowly started renewing my mind as to how can we, as a family, can use His money in a way that glorifies Him. Quit being wasteful ......start figuring out ways we can help those that are close to His heart....widows, orphans, the needy.....the least of these.

I'm not anywhere close to where I want to be in that endeavor. We're just starting down this road, and could use some guidance of our own. But getting a balanced budget, to ease minds and marriages, which frees up more room for thought on how to use His money's just a win/win.

Budget helpers!

Cheap forms of entertainment - a $30 garage sale ping pong table!
Thanks for your comments and honesty!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goin' Green - Financially

If I could say that my husband and I have an area of our marriage where we've been through the ringer and back, it would be in the area of finances. We've done it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm so open about this area now to anyone who wishes to 'talk shop' because, well, I feel like wherever you are - we've been. I wish I could tell the whole's a good one. But the gist is.....

We've had plenty. We've been lean. We've had just enough. We've had not enough. And we've survived with our marriage intact (and even a few battle scars). In the past five years, my hubs and I have "Dave Ramsey'd" ourselves debt free (except mortgage) and it felt good. Unbelievably good. Since then, we've loosened a little with extreme "budgets", but the motivation for simplicity stuck.

Then came Africa. I came back to my remodeled home and Lexus SUV.....and I just felt stupid. Then came budget cuts from our schools. We both are teachers, so take every healthcare hike and teacher salary freeze and multiply it times two - not fun. Then comes ballet lessons, food cost increasing, rising gas prices.....whew! We both realized we needed to get in "Dave" mode again before we were right back to where we used to be.

My point is......whatever you gotta do to get your budget in order - you just gotta do it. I know so many people who are struggling financially, and as someone who's 'been there' I say - swallow your pride and just do it. Whatever needs to be done, sold, taken on, etc. - just do it.

Five years ago, to get Dave Ramsey debt free, my hubs and I sold our nice (expensive) house and two nice Tahoes and bought a tiny 1200 sq.ft home and two cars that cost less than $8,ooo combined. We drove those stinkers until they nearly fell apart, but we got debt free in the process and never felt smarter. It did hurt and we were embarrassed at first.....but only for a little while. We just felt smarter the less 'out of debt' we got.

Fast forward five years..... a medium sized affordable home and two used (but paid for) larger cars. Better, but still not 'green' on the gas budget. Africa helped me let go of any attachment to my "Lex" so, a few days ago, we went to one dealership and traded in both our guzzlers for greener cars. No financing, just a sign on the line deal. Once again - we feel smart. A little snug, but smart. ; )

$35 fill ups rock.

This really isn't a 'pat us on our back' post. I hope it doesn't come off that way. What I do know, is that there are 150+ readers out there (some of who may be newly married, in financial trouble, about to have kids, etc.) and maybe, just maybe, this post might encourage some to 'go green' financially in their own way.

Marriage is hard enough. Money stress only magnifies it. If you are out there and any of this sounds familiar, email me. We have an excel file that we've crafted over the years and it really helps when it comes to planning your month.

Again - just a helpful post today. None of this is eternal anyway....

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