Friday, May 30, 2008

Frugal Friday-Frugality is a silly little thing


So last month I challenged myself. I was going to try to reduce our electric bill to be lower than our same month last year. I made a game of it and tried to beat last years bill. I told the hubs about it and he was like, ok whatever(I'm sure he was excited on the inside :). Well for the past month I've been turning out lights, line drying (as much as possible) our clothes, replacing light bulbs with fluorescents, working more outside in the garden (as opposed to watching tv) and just trying to be very mindful of our electric usage. Let me tell you when I got our bill I was AMAZED!
Last year at this time we used a daily average of 30.3 KWH and this month we used a daily average of 19.5 KWH both average temperatures for the month were exactly the same. This month was the absolute lowest month of our electric bill since we've been in the house. I'm amazed at how much our bill was reduced and excited to work on reducing it more!

If you are interested in lowering your bill here is a neat website that shows you the average cost of running some of your appliances.
In trying to find the average homes electric usage I found this:
As an electrical engineer for a power company I see on average a house that is 1600-2000 square feet and having electric appliances except for the furnace use an average of 1500Kwatts per month making 50 Kwatts per day and a total of 18,000 Kwatts per year. (from WikiAnswers). Also according to this report from the Department of Energy the average house uses 10,654KWH per year, which is a good deal lower than the above quote in red. As of last year we fell right in the middle of those two estimates. However, we do have that electric furnace so I don't know how that figures into the equation. This year I hope to see a great reduction in this, its amazing what a little competition with yourself will do to your bills.
(hee hee the months spell out the hubs name)

Once again frugality and "living green" collide.

What are you guys up to?
Join in the fun, grab the code below and post your own frugal ideas!

Don't forget to leave a comment so I know to link you up :)

I found out that Frugal Friday didn't start here-the original is at Biblical Womanhood, go check out the original!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This cracks me up

So for some reason I have a ridiculous fascination with Maria Carey. Mostly because she is an adult that shares the same facination with the color purple and butterflies as my 4 year old niece. My niece, however, is a better pitcher.

Birthday Fun

Today is Tamara's birthday. We've been friends since we were 11 or 12 and we used to live down the road from each other. Now we are all grown up and married and living about 30 minutes from each other. We don't nearly get to see each other as much as we'd like due to work schedules, her puppies and just life getting in the way. Today we are celebrating her 29th birthday by going to the Melting Pot, YUM!!! Tamara has never been, poor girl! I felt it was my duty as her friend to take her and open her eyes to the wonderful world of Fondue. Mmmmmmmmmm somewhat selfish motives cause I get to go too :)
Well anyway Happy Birthday Mara Para! Many more to come for you. Thank you for always being there for me! You're kind heart and sweet spirit inspire me to be a better person; and I will forever laugh thinking about the Tamaranable drinking monster, our trip to Ireland and the "sheep" incident. You're a great friend and I'm so thankful to have you :)

Oh, yeah, Happy Birthday to my sister Anna as well :)
BTW I owe you like $80 bucks (in quarters) and 20 letters.... Love you!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brain Alignment

When I was younger we would go as a family up to my parents house in Maine, my father's best friend, my Uncle Jim had a house next door. Uncle Jim is a funny guy and whenever we did something without thinking or said something without thinking he would say we needed a brain alignment. He would grab our head in his hand and shake it around a bit, we would crack up! Its definitely one of my favorite memories with Uncle Jim as he's also good with sound effects so he would add them in liberally through this process.

Well I think I need a little of a brain alignment now, but can't take the trip up to Maine to have my Uncle Jim do the honors. Recently I've noticed myself not focusing on the good in the people around me in friends and family members. I've been focusing on the little annoying features, which EVERYONE has, including (shocker!!) me. While life has been good, the hubs and I have been very happy and things are going well; things would be infinitely better if I focused on the positives around me. I think I'm going to start a negative jar (kind of like a swear jar) and put a quarter in anytime I find myself dwelling on the negatives in anyone. When the jar gets a little bit of cash in it, I'll buy a card and writing a nice note to one of the people that I've not been appreciating as I should. I'm also going to work on just talking about whats going on in my life, its not my business to talk about whats going on in everyone else's life; even if the things you are talking about aren't secrets. I think its easy to go from discussing and venting to just plain old gossiping and I think I've crossed the line a little more than I would like to lately.

As far as weight loss goes, I've been doing very well in the past few weeks. I've been noticing myself choosing the right things and establishing better habits. Its hard that its not coming off as fast as I would like but thats ok. I'm becoming a healthier person by just plugging away at it and working on changing my mindset towards food and its place in my life.

Yes, that sound you heard was me getting a brain alignment courtesy of my own conscience.

Wordless Wednesday-My Sweeties

Pic of Mason bustin a move taken by Dirkey on 5/23/08

Pic of Gracie rocking the t-ball taken by Dirkey on 5/25/08

Pic of Meggie moving the rocks taken by Dirkey on 5/25/08

Pic of Meggie being cute taken by Dirkey on 5/25/08

Pic of Hannah just swingin taken by Dirkey on 5/26/08

Pic of Hannah playing the hybrid basegolf taken by Dirkey on 5/26/08

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why I was up at Dawn

So both of my parents grew up down the shore and my sister ended up living down there full time. I am fortunate that when we go to visit her we can stay at some apartments my sister has right on the boardwalk. This weekend we stayed on her third floor apartment in Seaside and it was interesting to say the least. :)

The hubs and I drove down right as he got home from work on Friday night. We stopped on the way down at the Berkley Fish Market for some incredible Coconut Shrimp YUM!! and headed over to my sisters. She has a store on the boardwalk for the summer (she's a teacher) so this was a big weekend for the store. So we got there and said hi and got the keys to our apartment and brought everything we had packed up. We opened alot of the windows to clear the air as the apartment hasn't been occupied since December. The hubs and I were passing the time just talking to each other in the absence of any tv when we heard a commotion out the windows right by our head and peaked up and there were about 5 cop cars and 2 cop vans in the road next to us. We had a clear sight to see what they were doing. So we did what any nosy people would do and propped our heads up on our elbows and watched (we are huge fans of Law and Order and C.O.P.S. so it was right up our alley). Well there must have been a fight on the boardwalk or something cause they brought down like 3-4 people and cuffed and took away all but one of them right away. They started searching the one guy and took off his baseball cap and out falls these little packets of drugs! The hubs and I were like HOLY CRAP!! So then this boss cop runs over and screams "YOU JUST TRY TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY ON THIS, JUST TRY, WHO YOU GONNA GET TO DEFEND YOU??? JOHNNY COCHRAIN, OH YEAH HE'S DEAD. YOU'RE GOING TO JAIL!" The hubs and I were cracking up at this, the guy must have been practicing that in the mirror at home just waiting for an opportunity to say it to someone. So then they put the kid in the back of the van and get in the front and are just sitting there for a few minutes, all the sudden both cops jump out of the vans and get the guy out; he wriggled out of his handcuffs! So they put him in full out shackles! Sadly our cop drama ended there so we tried to go to bed.

Problem with going to bed was we had all the windows open and it was Memorial Day Weekend down the shore, IT WAS SO LOUD. Then it got cold. Then we decided we had enough sleep and lo and behold it was dawn. So we got up and walked to the beach. It was nice there weren't many people there, we took some pictures then went back to the apartment and took a couple hour nap.

I'll be updating this week with pictures of my sweeties as this auntie got to visit with three of her neices and one of her nephews this weekend. It was lovely seeing all of them as it had been awhile since we'd last seen some of them. I'll also be updating the best yard sale loot that I have ever gotten! Oh it was good.

It was a good weekend that we devoted soley to visiting with family so we missed out on some good parties friends were throwing. Hope everyone had a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New Summerish Changes Made to the Blog

The header was made this weekend on a dawn trip to the beach with the hubs, yeah, you read that right DAWN. I'll let you know that story later cause you know Dirkey's don't wake up at Dawn naturally.
The background was an edited version of a picture I took in Hawaii in 2005 while visiting family. The hubs and I are planning a trip to go out and spend some time there together (as he didn't get to go last time) in October to celebrate my 30th year on the planet.
Hope you like it I'm working on getting less busy here.
Hurumph, doesn't look like the background is working today, thats ok I like the white. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Frugality Gives

Frugality to me is doing the best that you can with your money. Making it stretch where you need, saving up to buy important things, budgeting, etc. One important part of frugality for the hubs and I is giving. We both come from the belief that if you always give you will always have. When you dig a little around there is always something you can share with someone else and something you can give. There have been so many times in my life that people have blessed me when I have been in need. There was one time in college that a friend out of the blue gave me a car and $200, another time a stranger gave me $4000 to buy a car and to buy books for school. These times that I have received had been times of great need in my life, those gifts helped me greatly. Through this and through the provision that has always been shown to me I have been shown that the principle of giving is key in our budget. Not to say that you should just go out and give your money to a stranger on the street or even to a homeless person; you do need to be careful. In giving to people I try to reach their needs and determine which needs I am capable of meeting. You could take your money and buy lunches to hand out to homeless in the city or donate (time or money or both!) to a homeless shelter. You still have to use your money wisely in giving and be a frugal giver. There are certain charities that I will not give money too because they support things that I don't want my money associated with. I try to make sure that I'm not just giving money away but hope by investing in companies and organizations that have proven themselves to be frugal and also that use their money for what they say. You have to do research on what you are giving to, many times I research with prayers asking if it is something the Lord would have us do with our money but I also research with a little friend I call Google. Sometimes though giving could just mean buying flowers for a friend thats having a hard time, writing a letter, buying coffee and listenning. You have to find out what it means to you and where you can use your money/time to help benefit the world around you.
Here are just some of the places that the hubs and I feel you can't go wrong in giving too:
Hope Alive Clinic-amazing organization started by one of my friends parents that provides medical, physical, emotional and spiritual relief to Haiti.
Compassion International-provides food, clothing, schooling, etc to over 1 million children in 24 countries.
Sheohannah's Hope whose mission is to care for orphans by engaging the church and helping Christian families reduce the financial barrier to adoption. This is the ministry was started by Steven Curtis Chapman who I spoke about in the last entry. It is his song I posted below as they are especially on my heart right now.

What are you guys up to?
Join in the fun, grab the code below and post your own frugal ideas!

Don't forget to leave a comment so I know to link you up :)

Found out that Frugal Friday didn't start here-the original is at Biblical Womanhood

Break My Heart

My heart broke a little this morning when I heard Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter Maria died in a tragic car accident on their property. If you don't know who Steven Curtis Chapman is, he is a gifted songwriter and Christian musician who I've had the pleasure of seeing numerous times. He also is a huge advocate for adoption and founded The Shaohannah’s Hope Ministry (click here to donate) after bringing home their first adopted daughter Shaohannah. They have since adopted two more beautiful little girls from China, the youngest one Maria is the one who passed away. Through their ministry to adopting families they have helped provide funding for over 1700 adoptions. He really has used his platform to help families who have a desire and a yearning to help children in need of a forever family.

Many of my daily reads are women dealing with infertility and adopting, so its become an issue close to my heart as well. Please partner with me to pray for this family for peace and comfort. Also please pray for their son who was driving the car that was involved in the accident, I can't imagine the pain he is going through right now.


I just got my first speeding ticket this morning. I was going 59 in a 45, thankfully the cop wrote that I was going 54. I'm going to talk to my brother and see if he can help me get it knocked down a little bit(he's good like that). The thing is, I usually am good about speed. I don't usually drive too fast. I always talk on the phone (illegal in NJ) but have been really trying to cut down, use speaker or hands free. It was literally a momentary lapse in judgement that I just didn't realize how fast I was going. Grrr...
So you know as soon as the cop walked away I broke out the ugly cry (shoulders heaving, tears and nose flowing) on the phone with the hubby. Stinky way to start the day, someone cheer me up :(.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday-Adored

Picture of Erika taken by Dirkey on 5-16-08

Picture of Erika and Brendan taken by Dirkey on 5/16/08
This is my good friend Anne's daughter Erika getting ready to leave for the prom.
I told him to act out how suprised he is at her beauty, the bonus is her face; I love how she just knows she looks gorgeous! Tear.. she's all grown up now...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beets Beets Good for your Heart Beets Beets they make you...

So in the past couple of weeks I've jumped in on the juicing bandwagon. I've been making juice in the mornings and its so good.
Definitely jazzes you up for your day. My favorite concoction by far is this one:
1 Large Beet
3-4 Whole Carrots
1 medium Granny Smith Apple
1 Lemon

mix together and enjoy the tartiness.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Somethings wrong with the world today, and I know what it is

Its this...

The hubs and I were watching some Sunday afternoon tv and a commercial for this came on. It really just made me sick to my stomach cause I know there are parents out there that see that and feel like they need to provide something like that for your children. The commercial was pointing out how this toy helped with socialization, developement and imagination.

Children value the time spent with them far more than any gifts they are given, you could probably have more fun with them if you played a game in the sprinkler. Toys like these suck your imagination out of your body so quick its not even funny. How can you learn to imagine far off lands, silly languages, or just spend the afternoon as a pirate on a "treasure hunt" if you believe you need to have huge expensive props to fuel your imagination. You DO NOT NEED TO TURN YOUR BACKYARD INTO A MINI SIX FLAGS FOR YOUR KIDS TO HAVE FUN. I HATE when advertisements equate loving your children, mates, friends with buying things for them; how sad for those who believe this lie. No wonder why people are having thier homes forclosed left and right; there is a false sense of need in our culture. I'm learning and becoming such an advocate for being content with what I have, I just pray that our culture learns this lesson before a whole generation of children loses their imagination.

If you're stuck for idea's on what to do to spend time with your children just start playing with them, like get down on the ground. For birthdays and holidays give your kids toys that foster imagination; toy blocks, sidewalk chalk, lacing beads, ribbons, shiny bits and fabric are great starters. These could be purchased at thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Take time to turn off the tv and just play, let your children lead once they realize that you are investing time to play with them they will help you retrieve the imagination that might have taken a break in adulthood. Play catch, shoot hoops, ride bikes, play soccer, climb trees, plant gardens, turn the hose on each other, color your sidewalk, play hopscotch, read, play I spy, take a nature walk, make food from scratch and let them help; just be there with your children. That is the best gift you can give them.

Dude it also looks really hard to clean and reminds me of the Playboy Grotto; do you really want your kids playing in a mini version of the Playboy Grotto?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by Stephanie from Adventures in Babywearing to list 10 weird or random facts or habits about myself. If you know me this is hard to narrow down, but I've got a list for you.

1.) I talk in my sleep. A Lot. I've been known to hold conversations, in high school my friend Andrea (who sometimes reads this blog, hi!) recorded me gossipping about basically every girl in our high school class. I went on a missions trip where all 30 of us slept in an auditorium together, I WAS TERRIFIED of what I would say in my sleep.

2.) I have a hard time focusing so I'll be doing one thing then start doing something else then something else; ten minutes will go by and I'll have started and stopped working on 4 things without finishing one. It takes GREAT concentration for me to actually complete things. A.D.D. much?!

3.) I sleep diagnally on the bed, much to the chagrin of my husband.

4.) I rarely ever wear any shoes, if I have any covering on my feet it is usually of the flip flop variety. When I went to Haiti for 6 weeks a woman from a nearby village asked if I would pay her for a pedicure. She proceeded to tell me that I had the feet of a peasant, yes I have the feet of someone who doesn't have shoes. I'm a little more vigilant about moisterizing now and very regularly give myself home pedicures, I'm trying to shed my third world peasant feet but still wear flip flops basically every day (I have been known to wear them in the snow).

5.) I take "short cuts" to most places, it usually takes me longer to get there than if I just went the normal way. It makes me happy though because the short cuts usually have more trees. If I drive on congested roads I tend to have road rage because of the lack of prettiness around me.

6.) I have never made "just spaghetti" for dinner. People are constantly telling me how cheap it is or whatever but for some reason I just can't bring myself to do it. I will add something to it like squash or make a bolognase or puttanesca sauce, even that has only happened maybe twice in our marriage.

7.) I get a second wind right around the time when we are going to bed, my husband does not. I spend about an hour every night trying to resist the urge to tickle torture him while he sleeps. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.

8.) Walmart creeps me out, I rarely shop there.

9.) We have had a pirate pinata in our family room for about a year now.

10.) I LOVE hot sauce and have been known to put practically half a bottle on a piece of pizza. We have a "collection" of about 12 various types in our house.

I tag:
Mama K, Berad Family Blog, Kitten Mom, Em In Stitches, Trace and Razor Family Farms!
Have fun girls! :)

Saturday-Yes this should have pictures attached to it

So yesterday I decided I wanted to go yard sales, so the hubs and I went out and checked out a few. We didn't see anything we liked but it was nice to just walk around together with hot coffee, we even ran into one of his good friends and hung out with her and her little baby for a little bit!
After our yard sales the hubs went home to play with his motorcycle to get it on the road. Hopefully he'll be able to get it on the road to save some cash this summer. While he was doing that I took his grandmom around, she is up for the summer from Florida and just cracks me up. We went galavanting together over to Target but didn't see too many deals. The hubs met up with us later and we all went to a park to see the hubs twin and his family but they weren't there yet (not good planning, I guess we should have checked to see if they were there before we went over!). The hubs, Grandmom and I walked around the park for awhile cause it was so nice out!! We left there and met up with the hubs dad at Lowes to get some stuff for our front yard (his dad works there so we were rocking the employee discount!). From there we went home and I put everyone to work.
We took out these ugly white rocks that were bordering our little walkway, put new mulch down, planted some lily's and moved some Lily of the Valley. The Lily of the Valley were all clumped up and looking dumpy now I planted them to border our walkway (instead of our fugly rocks). We also weeded and swept up. Yes, I put my FIL and my sweet GIL (grandmom in law) to work; but we did have a good time. It looked so nice when we were all done!! The hubs bbq'd up some venison that his friend from work gave him and me and the Grandmom made a salad in the kitchen. I was cleaning up the kitchen after we finished making the grub and the G'mom grabbed a broom and helped, it was so sweet!

Today I'm getting my shopping lists and coupons together; I'm going to pick up G'mom again to go shopping with me. The hubs is building my garden boxes, I want to start planting my garden soon!!!! I have all my seedlings in the window box ready to go!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Frugal Friday-Whats In My Wallet

Probably one of the best changes we have made to help us manage our money better and be more accountable is going over to a cash only system. Our system is similar to the envelope system but without the envelopes. We take out a certain amount of money every week, a portion of it is just for groceries and the other amount is split between the hubs and myself as "fun money". This "fun money" I believe is crutial to our state of mind, it allows us to budget for entertainment. I think some people when they decide they are going to be more frugal they do drastic things and don't allow for any "extra's". Even if its only $20 a month I think it really does help your state of mind to have some mad money to use to go out for coffee, to go out to yard sales or to go to a movie with your cutie.
This cash system makes it so I can't go over my grocery budget, because I only have the budgeted money with me. Before I go to the store I estimate what my bill is going to be, I write a detailed list with approximate prices. While going through the store I will update the prices so when I go to the register I have a very close idea of what my total is. This in itself has saved me a great deal of money as most of the grocery stores around here have a policy that if something rings up wrong at the register it is free. I've gotten shrimp, a case of seltzer, cuts of meat all for free just for paying attention to what I'm paying.
Another thing I'm trying to do as I save more money is to have a grocery budget surplus envelope to save up for when we have company and also for throwing parties. I would take the money that is leftover from my weekly trips and put it in this envelope. Then we wouldn't have to use any of our other money for throwing a party or having friends over. I'm still learning on this whole system but I know it has helped me focus on what I have and not go over.
We do use our credit cards for gasoline to keep up our credit rating. The hubs has about an hour and a half commute to work so it would be too difficult in our house to do a cash system for gas. Most frugal sites point far away from the credit cards but I think my time as a mortgage underwriter has shown me the importance of a good credit rating even if you don't want to use it. What I will say, if you do use a credit card have a budget for what you want to put on it. We put gifts for others and gasoline on our credit card. We have a monthly budget for both of these and pay off our two credit cards monthly. NEVER, ever leave a balance on your card; thats what starts getting you in trouble.

What are you guys up to?
Join in the fun, grab the code below and post your own frugal ideas!

Don't forget to leave a comment so I know to link you up :)

Razor Family Farms has been cleaning up! She's been making her own detergent, this is completely on my list of frugal stuff I want to do!
Trace is rocking out with multitasking and being a superhero by saving money on gas, exercising(seriously it took me 10 minutes to try to figure out how to spell that!! Dude!!) and saving the environment; all while making time to smell the flowers!
Tara is saving money and encouraging others at the same time! Gotta love those Tar-jay deals!
Em In Stitches also has an idea about the great credit card debate and saving some cash on gas. She also threw in an idea for the little ones.

Found out that Frugal Friday didn't start here-the original is at Biblical Womanhood

Perhaps, Perhaps.... Perhaps

It might have been a good idea to look outside before I dressed in shorts and a tshirt this morning.
To top it all off I paired that with high heeled flip flops.

Pic for Trace, not sure if they are technically high heeled flip flops or whatever. Thats what I choose to call em :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday Randomness

So one of my favorite books is The Tightwad Gazzette (I have all three!) by Amy Dacycyzn. Apparently Trent From The Simple Dollar was able to find Amy in the midst of her retirement and have an interview with the frugal maven.
Also this is the coolest toy ever. I think I'm going to buy it for all the kiddos this year for their birthdays. I wish they made it for adults.
Today you can get free iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts(10am-10pm)! Yum I'm sipping on mine now!
I loved Frugal Hacks list of inexpensive outdoor activities for kids. Even with having no kids of our own, I love to keep our house outfitted with stuff for kids to do while they are here. Most kids go straight for my toy basket when they come in and I wouldn't have it any other way. So I'll be happy to have some of these on hand for fun this summer!
I had some serious craft envy going on this week. I want to make these beauties that Loobylu showed on her desk. Also Janel showcased a gorgeous apron that I definitely want to go to town on.
This week I'm inspired in the kitchen by Razor Family Farms Cilantro loving and also My Good Friend Em's yummie sounding salmon.

Don't forget tomorrow is Frugal Friday, this week I'm focusing on whats in my wallet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


So if you can't tell I'm still learning this whole blog design thing. I tend to make things a bit more busy than they should be but I'm still learning so bear with me.

I redesigned this months header and blog background tonight after my parents left, tell me what you think!

Dinner was lovely! I made Cajun Shrimp Linguini.

Recipe Follows:

2lbs Shrimp (steamed and cleaned)

1/2 cup butter

Worcester sauce

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1tsp Thyme

1tsp Rosemary

3 crushed garlic cloves

salt and pepper to taste.

As I mentioned before I'm not much of a measurer. But what I do is melt the butter in a skillet and add the garlic then all the spices. Take off heat and add Worcester Sauce, I generally add about 1/4 cup at first and then to taste. Add to shrimp and let marinatewhile you cook the pasta (you could marinate longer if you like but this works just fine). Add the whole mixture into the pasta (I didn't use Linguini tonight but Cajun Shrimp Spaghetti doesn't have the same ring to me)and add some more butter if necessary. If you like it spicy be liberal with Cayenne and red pepper flakes. Yumm!!!

Here is a picture of the table setting from tonight if you are interested.

The serving dishes were both my paternal grandmothers, crystal wine glasses were a wedding gift, dishes were my maternal grandmothers, linen from my sisters wedding, napkins were a gift from my aunt as was the water pitcher, the centerpiece was the same from mothers day (a mason jar with some blooms and ribbon tied around the top. Just going to show you, it doesn't cost alot of money to make a pretty table. Alot of my favorite serving dishes were clearance or yard sale items or things people were giving away.

A Pretty Setting

I love setting my table up "fancy". The hubs often teases me about it because I am pretty finicky about how my table looks. In my eyes I'm honoring my guests with how my house is presented. I know you can take that a little too far and not invite people over for fear of your house being a mess; but I'm not referring to that. I'm talking about just making things look nice and showing your guests that you made an effort to have them over.

I find joy in having a centerpiece to place on the table even if its just a simple one it does add something special to the look of your table. Sunday we used some azalea clippings from our front yard coupled with a couple of blooms that my SIL was sweet enough to bring over for me. I matched our cloth napkins to the blooms and I was very pleased with the way it looked. Notice all the napkins don't match exactly, thats fine, I just try to make the palate pleasing by using a couple colors that I try to bring out as much as possible. On this table its green and pink, notice my homemade bread is wrapped in a green dishtowel.
I have two plastic tubs filled with kitchen and dining room linens that were mostly gifts (thanks Aunt Sara!) that I love sifting through and finding something that matches what is in my minds eye. There is a lovely green on green tablecloth that I will use for St. Patty's Day (a VERY important holiday in our house), I have a bright yellow and green one that reminds me of Margerita's that I love for summer, I have a pretty aqua one that looks lovely with my china, some nice off white linen ones from my sisters wedding (Hi Anna!), and many many more.

To go with the linens I have also been blessed with a good amount of table settings. I have my everyday plates called "Butter" from Pier One which were a gift from Kitten Mom, I also inherited my paternal grandmothers every day plates, my Aunt Sara gave me her gorgeous china, and I inherited my maternal grandmothers China. When I use these pieces its like having those people with me. For Mothers Day we had the hubs family over and I set the table with my paternal grandmothers plates. They are just a Correll plate but I've set my grandmothers table hundreds of times with them and it was a nice way to honor her this Mothers Day. Today I am having my mother and father over to celebrate Mothers Day and I will be setting the table with my maternal grandmothers china. I know my mother will appreciate this and I can honor my maternal granmothers memory as well.
To some this may seem silly and sentimental but I think it is important to incorporate beauty into our day to day routine. Its equally important to me to honor those that have gone before, the people who I grew up aspiring to cook like and act like. Even if I'm the only one who knows we're eating of Gram's plates at least I'll smile thinking of all the times I've spent drying them while my Gram washed in the kitchen after a Sunday meal. Its amazing how much joy you can find in the simple details.

"God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God's many kinds of blessings."
1 Peter 4:10
What kind of abilities do you have to bless others with? Do you have traditions that you pass down through your family that you hold special? How do you honor those who are special to you that are no longer with us?

Monday, May 12, 2008

I should still be sleeping

Today the wind is howling and the rain is falling. I'm wearing a hoodie and sweats to work (I love my job). My eyes are drooping and I'm ready to curl up next to my sweetie and watch a movie but its Monday, so its not meant to be. I'm plying myself with coffee and fruit trying to steal some energy from either of them, so far its not working. Today I want to go to CVS, Walgreens and the grocery store; then make a healthy dinner and snuggle. I always make too many plans for one day. Tomorrow my parents are coming over to celebrate Mother's Day, I'm looking forward to seeing them and cooking for them. We had the hubs family over yesterday and it was really nice, his grandmother is up for the summer from Florida. She makes me laugh even though communicating is hard as I yell into her ear for my end of the conversation. I'm planning on showing her my CVS tricks I have a feeling she'll enjoy it. It makes me wish I was able to have a grown up relationship with any of my grandparents, it would have been fun to get to know who they really were and have some adventures together but they are all gone now. I made a roast, roasted potatoes, gravy and homemade bread with homemade banana bread and ice cream for dessert. I enjoyed it, the banana bread was a little dry. I usually don't follow recipes but follow smells for some reason I didn't do that with the bread. Oh well still edible just not as tasty.
I'm making Cajun Shrimp Linguini for my parents, its one of the hubs favorites. I made it for him our first Valentines together, the night before we went to Europe with friends. Whenever I make it I remember eating it by candlelight in that little cabin and waiting to cook it till he was at the Deleware Memorial Bridge (we had a long distance relationship but saw each other every weekend, I became a pro at planning dinner by traffic patterns). We brought my parents over the leftovers as we were going away the next day and they housed them so I know they'll enjoy them. I think I'll make a chocolate cake for dessert.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Frugal Friday-Letting it all Hang Out

No I'm not saving money by becoming a nudist, I'm line drying my clothes.
I've been researching and the average load of laundry costs about .76 cents a load to dry. It doesn't seem like much but considering our family of 2 generally does about 5 loads a week it definitely adds up. I can only imagine the laundry and savings you would generate with children!!!

There is something soothing about shaking your clothes out and hanging them out to dry. It helps me to slow down and kind of take in the moment and breathe in the fresh air around me. I use it to help me unwind from my work day and my drive home and to relax. I also LOVE the smell of line dried clothing.
The act of hanging the clothing can be done by children, I know I used to hang up our families clothes at 6 or 7 years old. So it can be used to instill responsibility in your kids and to delegate some of the household chores. Or, like me, you can throw your laundry in before you leave for work and hang it up on the line when you get home.
I did grow up hanging my clothes out to dry, not because of necessity just because thats what my family did. When I lived in the cabin I wrote about earlier this week I didn't have a clothes dryer at all. Needless to say this is an easier change to me than it is for the hubs but he's all for saving the money.

What are you guys up to?
Join in the fun, grab the code below and post your own frugal ideas!

Don't forget to leave a comment so I know to link you up :)

Found out that Frugal Friday didn't start here-the original is at Biblical Womanhood


So don't forget tomorrows frugal friday, I'm letting it all air out tomorrow. So come on over and hear all my dirty little frugal secrets...

Things that I've learned through this week:
I'm realizing that when I'm making dinner I can easily make a little more for someone else. I'm realizing that probably the most important thing I can do in my day is to make a child smile. I'm taking time to be grateful for the things around because they aren't guaranteed and there is so much good surrounding me. I'm realizing that chocolate really is a balm to the soul. I am also trying to remember that you shouldn't give young children brownie batter even if its homemade cause it has chocolate and raw eggs in it (oops). I'm taking comfort in these words.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
--Revelation 21:4

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I'm very much a fly by the seat of my pants type of person, the problem is that I don't function well like that. I need structure, I need those definites in my life or I basically spiral out of control. The past few months I haven't been doing as much as I should in the house and just kind of getting by. Making one meal during the week then just having leftovers or just getting by with super quick easy things like eggs. Mama K had given me a menu planner that worked well in Vegan Month '07 that I use here and there that really helps me (she found it at the dollar store). I broke that bad boy out this week and used it in conjunction with the sales at the store and got us a menu plan. By the way I carved $20 off my grocery budget this week, thats a huge percentage of my budget so I'm impressed!! I'm totally loving this coupon thing, who knew!?! I've been really working at sticking to the meal plan and have found that it has also helped me to keep up with the housework (I can't cook in a messy kitchen then you can't eat dinner on a messy table, etc).
Here is this weeks:
Breakfasts for the whole week: Oatmeal, yougurt, cereal, fruit whichever you want

Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Mexican Bean Casserrole (layer of beans and rice, layer of sautee'd onions and peppers, layer of organic diced tomatoes, little bit of salsa, layer of chicken, layer of cheese)

Lunch: Mexican Bean Casserole
Dinner: Roasted Crock Pot Chicken (Puncture an orange or lemon several times and put it inside a raw chicken, place in crock pot and pour 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup honey on chicken, cook on low for 8 hours-TOTALLY FELL APART!! YUM)

Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken Soup with Homemade Bread-both made from leftover chicken from Tuesday

Lunch: Chicken Soup
Dinner: Souffle

Lunch: Souffle
Dinner: Homemade Pizza

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Farm

Pic taken by Dirkey at "Hitchners" 12/2005

I grew up on a 12 acre farm that was bought from an elderly woman (Mrs. Hitchner) who became part of our family. When she passed away she left my parents all of her land as well as a log cabin built in the 1700's. My parents farm now has 45-60 acres including this cabin. In my earlier twenties in that time after you move out but before you're completely independent from your parents, I asked them if I could move back in for a bit to save up money. They allowed me to live in this cabin instead. It was different from their house in that you couldn't see anything but fields and forests from the house.
I lived there while my husband and I first started dating. It was also there where he got his first "taste" of what being in the country was like when he would come visit. The calm of swinging outside on the porch, the beauty of cooking in the kitchen with the views of the fields, the sounds of the whipper wills and the frogs to carry you through the evening, looking out the windows to see deer grazing on the lawn; these are the things that he fell in love with. Although we currently live in a modest house in a subdivision our hearts yearn for a time we can purchase our own little place in the country with views of fields and forests from every window.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Homemade Goodness

So I was in need of a clothespin hanger so Sat I went to town making one. I didn't really use a pattern just took some scraps of material and went to town. It turned out decent I think, definitely does the job and for free :)

Here are some pics of some of my favorite little ones

Mama K and her little peanut in shadowy profile. I love the look on Peanut's face staring at his mom, the little guy is definitely smitten with his mommy.
Pic taken by Dirkey on 5/2/08

Profile of Kitten Mom's little Drew-man, LOVE those cheeks!
Pic taken by Dirkey on 5/5/08

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Frugal Friday-Its all in your mind

One of the things that have helped me the most with being frugal is straight up in my brain. Taking time to realize what I have really puts in perspective what I need. I've been on some missions trips to third world countries that have changed my life, they have shown me the excess that we live with in the United States. When I get caught up in the American mentality of buy buy buy I try to stop and remember what I have seen.
The first time I went to Haiti I met a little boy named Edward, he was 10 and just the sweetest little boy. Edward and I became best buds for my time down there and every time I went off of the "compound" Edward was right at my side. He brought me to meet his family, his mother and two little sisters who lived in a space that was about the size of my kitchen pantry. It had two closet sized rooms(not walk in's either); the first one had a waist high "table" that Edward and his sisters slept on, the second had some blankets on the floor where his mother slept. I gave the little gifts that I brought with me to Edward and his family as well as whatever else I had. My last day there I was walking to the bus to go to the airport and Edward ran up from behind and pressed something in my hand and ran away. I looked and it was the smoothest, most beautiful shell I have ever seen. I keep this shell with my most prized posessions and look at it often to remind me of what I have.

Usually during these periods of introspection I realize that we have plenty. That my 9 year old Ford Escort is good transportation, that our house is more than what we need, that I don't need ANOTHER pair of shoes. That shell keeps me from spending and inspires me to give more. Thats exactly the type of person I wanted to be when I was little.

Basically taking stock and being thankful for the things you have is my Frugal tip for the week.

This Weeks Participators:

EmInStitches has been brown bagging it and found that it helps more than her pocketbook
Mama K is saving her cash in the beverage dept

Join in the fun, grab the code below and post your own frugal ideas!

Found out that Frugal Friday didn't start here-the original is at Biblical Womanhood

CVS Oh Boy!

So the new circular came out for CVS's Monthly Deals Today.
I grabbed some stuff early as I knew it would run out

(3) Addidas Deodorant @4.99=14.97-(3 coupons) 4.99= FREE plus 14.97 in ECB
(3) Doctors Orapic Traveler @2.79=8.37 plus 8.37 in ECB
(3) Colgate 360 Toothbrushes @3.99=11.97-$2 in coupons=9.97 plus 11.97 in ECB

I used 18.99 in ECB plus .49 cents OOP and got 35.31 back in ECB's!!!!!!!

Those were just the early ones I grabbed.
Can't wait to go home and look through!

Tie a string on your finger!

Tomorrow is Frugal Friday!
Get your super frugal posts together, this week my frugal tip is going to be mental.
My friends (and readers) know that I know alot about mental stuff cause I'm half crazy so tune in tomorrow!
In the meantime get your Frugal posts together :)