Monday, May 19, 2008

Handmade by Grandma!

This is a little dress that E's grandmother made for her. I love it! Summer dresses are too cute, even if it isn't that warm outside. :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Week of Food; Cake

Well, it wouldn't be a week of food if I didn't post chocolate cake of some sort, right? Well, since it's L's birthday tomorrow, I made this cake per his request. It's just chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting (I'm noticing a theme this week). Yummy, yummy!! This is probably the most amazing cake we have ever had... can't wait to get a slice tonight!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Food and Frugality

As this week is devoted to all things food, the topic of eating healthful meals on the cheap is something I think a lot about. Sometimes it seems like healthy and cheap are polar opposites, especially now that we have a kiddo to think about. Over the past year or so, our eating habits have definitely changed for the better, but we still have further to go. A few years ago we spent very little on produce, and would spend much of my shopping trip in the middle aisles of the store. Now I hardly go to the middle aisles unless we're out of the staples.

We are willing to spend a little more on food if it's healthy food, but there is a line that needs to be drawn at some point, right? Here are some ways we've tried to keep food healthy on the cheap, and some ways I *wish* I could.

1. Cutting out pre-packaged foods and cooking from scratch. Now all meal, desserts, etc. are done by hand. It is more time consuming this way, but it's a relief knowing what's (and what's not) in your food.

2. Going meatless or nearly meatless as often as possible. I'm almost willing to become vegetarian just to save the cash. I'd LOVE to switch over to all natural, organic meat, but it's SO expensive. One way would be to incorporate meat sparingly. Anyway, less meat often means less cost.

3. I have been pretty lucky to find produce (strawberries, green peppers, mango, bananas, avocado) when it's marked down, almost ready to be tossed. I take the produce home and freeze it. Thank God for our little chest freezer.

4. Soup, soup and more soup. Actually we're not soup lovers (despite my last post), but I try to incorporate it every now and then. It's cheap and healthy for you. I should do it more.

5. Buying oatmeal in bulk. We're trying to cut down/out cereal (now only L eats it regularly), and oatmeal is a great alternative.

6. Buying what is on sale, as far as produce goes. Use frozen fruits/veggies whenever possible.

7. U-pick farms. I'm looking forward to picking our own fruit in bulk and freezing for the rest of the year when the fruit is more expensive and not as tasty.

8. Cooking what's in our refrigerator before it goes back. I'm still working on this one.

9. Drinking more water and less juice/soda/dairy. It's free this way.

10. Being more creative with meals - also something I'm just starting to get the hang of. Using what's on hand as a substitution as opposed to running to the store.

I feel like we're getting there, but it takes much more meal planning and list writing than before, and well, organization is not my forte. :) Thankfully as a stay at home mom, I can spend a little more time in the kitchen, preparing food for the family. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day Three: Soup and Sandwich

Wednesdays are busy around our house, as we have Bible Study at our house. Generally this means that I'm trying to get the house clean with a kiddo wanting to "help", and then the trick: keeping it clean. Dinners are generally pretty quick meals or made ahead of time.

Today we're having tomato and dill soup and grilled cheese sandwich on sprouted grain bread. I had tomato and dill soup at Jullienne Tomatoes.

It was amazing. I hadn't had tomato soup in years, and typically I never order soup in a restaurant, but this completely inspired me to make some at home. Now L isn't a huge fan of tomato-anything, but he was sweet enough to agree to having the soup tonight.

This soup is not as good as the restaurant's take on it, but it'll do. It's a little acidic for my taste, so I'll probably add a little sugar to it, and maybe a little cheese.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day Two: Simple Pleasures

I've been craving lemonade for weeks, but didn't act on the craving until yesterday. Oh, my goodness... it was SO good. This was the first time I attempted to make lemonade from lemons I squeezed myself, and boy, it's much better this way.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Week of Food: Day One

Food helps make the world go round. :) Food is a lovely thing, so I'm going to honor the tastiness with a week of different foods that make me go " yummmmm". :)

I found strawberries on an incredible sale yesterday, so I bought a couple of containers (now I wish that I had bought more). Since it was Mother's Day, we sprung for some heavy whipping cream. Oh, my goodness... the yumminess of strawberries and homemade whipped cream is just divine.
The kiddo certainly enjoyed the strawberries and cream, too. :)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Springtime Rainy Days

I much prefer sunny days to rainy ones, especially since E will stand at the door and cry to go outside even if it's pouring. Ummm... sometimes I wish we owned a rain jacket and boots, so she could splash in the puddles and sometimes I'm happy to tell her "no, we need to stay dry."

And in rainy day "fun", I was completely inspired to clean and organize. Of course this doesn't happen often for me, so I tried to keep going without taking long breaks, in fear that this urge would leave. My house looks amazing right now... well as amazing as this rental place can get. Now if only it could stay this way FOREVER.

Lately I've been feeling the urge to buy a house. Hmmm... not good, because we're completely happy with this place in our lives. I'm glad that we can make our rent payment and not have to worry about utilities, lawn maintenance, broken appliances, etc. So, in an effort to squelch this desire, I'm focusing more on our little place and making it feel like home (which it really does feel like home, even moreso than our last rental which was larger and "nicer" according to some family and friends). Next task? Painting our bedroom, I think. It's really a dreadful color right now with a terrible border. Why do people put borders on their walls?! I HATE peeling them off.

In the spirit of spring, I bought some cheap yellow tulips when I was at the grocery store. I'm in love with them, and now yellow tulips may be one of my favorite flowers. Maybe God created flowers to make us smile and feel more alive?

I'm hoping to get some flowers planted outside in the next few weeks. It seems that E should like to garden at some level given her name, right? Shouldn't be too difficult, since that's where she seems to be the happiest.

Anyway, the kiddo is walking around in circles and loving it. I think I might join in on the fun.

Monday, May 5, 2008

An Early Birthday

A couple of months ago I told Lance the words he's been wanting to hear for years.... "You can get a new camera". :) Lance has never asked for another camera (we have two already), but with our nice camera only film, it makes taking photos a little more difficult when it comes to the kiddo. I was half hearted in my suggestion, expecting Lance to say something to the extent of "That's too much money."

But he didn't. In fact, he looked like a kid in a candy store, and his demeanor changed to near giddy-ness (well, as giddy as he gets). The next few weeks (or months, don't remember) were spent researching cameras, reading up on all things digital, and looking on ebay. This is an example of how he and I are different. I say I want something, and then I buy it. Lance says he wants to buy something, and he researches... and searches... and researches... and searches some more... reads Consumer Reports, and who knows what else. It took him a year to buy sunglasses. A year.

He's an engineer. What can I say? :) Of course this is one of traits that make him who he is, and I love him for it. :) It just makes me chuckle a little.

Anyway, so he finally found a camera (a Nikon something or other), and it came in the mail a week or two back. He thanked me on Sunday for getting him the "greatest present ever" (it's his Father's Day and birthday gift). So, in honor of his birthday (which is still not for another couple of weeks), here are some pics from the weekend:

A new friend E made at the beach yesterday.
On our hike... The kiddo doesn't adhere to the trail. :)
Just because I love this picture... holding her hand while she's walking is a favorite of mine.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Watching Lost always makes me a little nostalgic (until I get frustrated with the storyline anyway). We've always been faithful viewers of the show. In fact, our dear friends, T & B, used to record the show back when we didn't have television (it was an intentional decision on our part) just so that we could watch it. They'd tell us if it was a good episode, and whenever we'd get together the conversation inevitably drifted back to the show for a little while...

So maybe that's why I'm nostalgic tonight. Isn't it strange how your senses can take you back to a different place in your life? You know, back to moments that seem like a lifetime ago? Really, it wasn't that long ago that we were living downstate, but it feels like it was forever ago. Perhaps that is because so much has changed for us since then (moving, quitting my job, having a babe, selling our house, moving again).

We're very grateful for our lives here... we don't regret the move at all. We love the simplicity of life, how much slower paced our life has become, being closer to family, meeting the lovely people here... but I guess you can still love where you are and miss where you've been.

We joined our first small group together shortly after we married. It was mostly to plug into our large church, and meet some friends. What seemed like awkward beginnings really developed in a core group of dear friends. This is a large reason why I am such a firm believer in small group - we walked through many moments together, both good and bad... each and every week... you can't help but build a bond. We broke bread together (a lot), we shared our testimonies... we cried... we laughed (a lot)... we read some amazing books... had good worship (thanks, T)... We experienced job losses and jobs found, pregnancy, births, divorce, emotional issues, death, sold houses, life transitions... Of course, after meeting for over three years, you just experience life, and it's comforting to know you have a support system behind you.

One memory that will always be vivid for me was the day our house sale fell through. It was September, and life was just happening, and we didn't see a sale happening anytime soon. We weren't even planning a move at that point, when voila, this guy wanted to buy our house. My hopes soared, and dashed within a few days. I was so crushed... I was in tears, and just wanted to stay in bed, but was supposed to meet with a couple of the ladies from our group. L told me that I needed to go, and so I did... they encouraged me above and beyond... they held up my arms, when I was too weak to do so.

They were our home away from home. God used them to help me heal, grow, and develop into who I am... They'll always be part of our family, an extension of who we are, and are a part of who we become.

So, thank you, J & J, T & B, K & C, D & H, for sweet memories along our journey. We love you guys.