Friday, July 31

first lollipop

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy Aaron's first lollipop experience. Yeah, we're major holdouts.

Wednesday, July 29

P.S. - it's coming

The big 3-0 is breathing down my neck, which can only mean one thing. You know what I'm talkin' about. And you. can't. wait. No guarantees on what we'll be doing this year (since I don't typically like even years), but come back on Sunday and find out. I don't think you'll be sorry!!

question, answered. sorta.

In the comments for my last post, Laura asked where I get my coupons. Well, that is kind of a complicated answer, and kind of not. It doesn't feel complicated now, but there was a time a couple of years ago when it sure seemed complicated!!

I used to buy a Sunday paper (Detroit) every week and clip out the coupons myself. The problem with this is that the paper price sometimes was worth the coupons, and sometimes not. I tried a Coupon Swapper group, that was a disaster. I couldn't find time to review, take out expireds, replace, and get in the mail again. And the coupons that were coming weren't really things that anyone would use.

SO I went back to just buying a paper, but there was so much waste, and when I did get a good coupon, if I wanted another one, I would have to buy another paper to get it, or bum inserts from friends (which I never did). I saw deals on Money Saving Mom that were for things I use and even need, but they often required 2 or more of the coupon.

So when two friends from church became the Qpon Queens and started a coupon clipping business, I decided to give it a try, and I am hooked. I pick out the coupons, send them an email telling them what I want of which variety, and they put them in a nice little envelope and give them to me, and I pay pennies. (well, actually I pay about $3 for a fabulous stack of coupons) I am saving money, actually, since I am not buying a paper anymore and I don't buy coupons every week. Some weeks I'd buy an entire paper and be able to use 1 coupon. And I don't have clutter from coupon inserts and the leftover Sunday paper any more. THAT ALONE is a happy reason to buy coupons. Oh, and technically, I'm not actually buying coupons - just the clipping service and the lack of clutter service. Plenty worth it, indeed.

I also print coupons from links I find at deal saving sites like Savings Diner, Spend Freely (both are written by authors I know in real life) and Money Saving Mom. Not all stores will take coupons printed from online sources, but the ones around here do so without a problem. For baby & child-related deals, Baby Cheapskate is great.

There are some places you can get coupons and samples in the mail for joining - just Monday I got a bunch of Rice Krispies coupons, including a coupon for a free box! My favorite is Vocalpoint. You can also print certain offered coupons via that website. Those $1.50 waffle coupons came from Vocalpoint, too.

There are tons more sites and places you can get coupons - some libraries offer coupon swapping boxes, there are people who get papers and don't use coupons, and there are a bunch of sites out there. Be careful as you search online for coupon sites, though. There are some sites who lure you in hoping to load malware or viruses on your computer. If you stick with reputable sites, you will eventually get referred to a bunch more, and your savings will multiply.

I'm sure some of you have suggestions for Laura, too. Feel free to leave them in the comment section!

Tuesday, July 28

oh, yeah!

Richelle was just pointing out to me the other day that I hadn't posted about any deals lately, and I replied that I hadn't gotten out lately to get any deals. And then this morning I planned a little better and got out the coupons and off we went. So of course I had to post the photo. Some of this was just stuff we needed, and some of it was *gasp* not even on sale!

However, this big ol' loot pile was still a mere $25.64. I saved $59.47, so I'll take it. The poor checkout guy was a bit perturbed at my stack of coupons, but hey, it's God's money, so I will try to use it well. I got 40 little dishwasher gelpacs for $2.18. And we just ran out this morning. Those creamers? All 6? I got paid $2 to take them home with me. So if anyone wants some yummy iced coffee, give me a call. You can come over and sip some with me while our kids run wild. Ha, ha.

Monday, July 27

Works of God Monday

God is good, all the time. He is ALIVE and AT WORK. I have been encouraged this week to remind myself of the things I know to be true about God - His unchanging character and His unbroken record of faithfulness to us. There were a few more obvious opportunities to trust Him this week, some things happened that will require decisions to be made, and I am thankful that He proves faithful. I can trust Him, all the time, to work His will for His glory and my good.

I was also encouraged that there were so many participants in Works of God Monday last week! I love reading about your blessings!

My first Pampered Chef cooking show was really fun, and not at all scary. I remembered almost everything that I was supposed to say, and that is a miracle considering the mommy brain syndrome that I suffer from. Ha ha. It was a great party, thanks for your prayers and well wishes.

I am praying that God will allow me to meet and exceed a very specific goal for this month, and I'm trying not to stress about it. It's really just a little thing, and it doesn't really matter in the scope of eternity, but it would be nice to be able to meet my goal! I've already been reassured that God has this job for me right now - and I am thankful!

I was able to attend a wedding this weekend at our church - it was a great wedding and really neat to watch the bride & groom exude happiness and love for each other. It made me happy for them and what is to come in their marriage. It also made me thankful for my own fabulous husband, with whom I grow more deeply in love every day. He is absolutely perfect for me!

So, how has God been showing Himself at work in your life? Has he shown you something in your Bible reading time? Encouraged you through a friend or co-worker? Given you an opportunity to trust Him? Share it here!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.

Thursday, July 23

Houston, there is no problem

ACK! How did it get to be Thursday already with no posts!?! Oh, yeah, I've been getting things DONE around here. We've had a very productive week at our house, with laundry and closet organization and sewing projects, and I'm praying that trend continues. Mom & Dad are having an Aaron day, with him at their house until this afternoon. I can't wait to see photos, and hear all the fun stories from their day. Fun for Aaron and a nice break for me. We'll have to see what mom & dad think at the end of the day. Hmm.

I'm getting ready to do my first ever Pampered Chef cooking show! I've got that excited/nervous feeling down in my tummy, but more excited than nervous. It's going to be a ton of fun. Pray with me that it goes well, okay?

If you don't hear from me until Monday, all is well!

Monday, July 20

Works of God Monday

Last week, the kids and I were driving back from Bay City when I heard a kind of popping/thudding sound. It honestly sounded like a bird or rock or road debris was hitting the side of the van. About 5 miles down the road, however, I realized it was a flat, and pulled over immediately. Turns out I had run over some sort of gigantic bolt.

I praise the Lord for His working in this situation - First, I did no damage to the rim or wheel of the vehicle. Second, Michael was working close by. (He is waaaay faster than AAA) :-) And third, the kids did fine, even though I was pushing naptime. It could have been an entirely different situation with me trying to change a tire on the busy highway with the kids screaming in the van. I am so grateful! Oh, and we took the tire in to Discount Tire and since it was still under warranty, the whole thing cost $25 for a replacement and new warranty! Praise the Lord for His provision!!

God has also provided several show bookings for my new business and I am thankful for that as well!

Incidentally, I've been meaning to check and see when we started Works of God Monday, and it was April 2008! So we've been praising God together on Mondays for OVER a year! Thanks for participating, and for praising God with me!!

So, how has God been at work in your family this week? Please share it with us!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.

Thursday, July 16

thursday, thursday

My children are growing. I know they are supposed to, I just am always taken by surprise when they do. Aaron was running around this morning while he was getting dressed, and I was simply amazed at the length of the child. I'm sure my amazement will grow with him until both tower over me. His imaginary play is also getting more intricate. I've started overhearing him telling stories to his stuffed animals and making up dialogue between little cars. Hilarious.

Evan is the most persistent 11 month old I have ever seen. I think we are going to have our hands full here, folks. When he's not determined to get something, he's pretty easy going and is in general a smiley, happy baby with 5 little pearly white teeth. He consumes food with much glee. We transitioned to soft cooked chunky food about 2 weeks after starting puree. It's so much easier, and since I waited so long to introduce solids, that just worked out perfectly. Last night I made broccoli for the family and forgot to get some out for Evan before I added garlic, so he smelled like a little Italian restaurant when I dropped him off at the nursery for church.

The boys are also starting to play together a little bit more, rolling the ball back and forth and at least playing with the same toy (like blocks) at the same time. They both love to swing on our backyard set. I'm sure by next summer, we will have more grass stains and park trips than we know what to do with.

I need an energy vitamin, I think.

Tuesday, July 14

I do not understand...

1. why smokers feel that littering is okay. (you know, tossing their half smoked butts out the window)

2. what makes people smoke their first cigarette in the first place (I get addiction as being why they continue, but why do they start?? Have they not heard of cancer?)

3. why our Kroger tosses out perfectly good, albeit overripe, produce instead of marking it down.

4. why there aren't more stringent interview processes for customer service representatives.

5. why my laundry seems to self-propagate.

There is much, much more that I do not understand. Things that are too amazing to understand, and things that are too wacky. But I have listed 5, so this is all for now.

Except this: grapesicles. Yum. This, I understand.

Monday, July 13

Works of God Monday

God is at work, and it is amazing to watch. He continues to confirm His faithfulness to us, and let us be involved in His work!! This week again I was studying for junior high Sunday School with Michael and the book we're using again was a huge encouragement to us! We're studying the doctrine of Election right now, which can always be a little more than controversial, so we were excited to see what this author did with his explanation and nervous that we share what the Bible teaches and nothing more. (As we are every week!) We were very happy with how the author shared God's Word in a concise and simple manner. And we pray that God guides us as we continue to cover this topic.

I was going to type an excerpt that was a particular eye opener to me, but since I can't share the entire chapter, and I don't want to start a riot (blog or otherwise) with any misinterpretations of the excerpt, so I will simply say, buy the book - or check it out of your library, or go read this chapter at your Christian book store. Come over to our house and I'll pour you some coffee while you read it, if you like. Read the whole chapter, and know that my eye opener came at the last paragraph of the "what this means" section on page 81. I had never heard this put quite this way before, and I LOVED it. (there are some copies left on ebay...)

HA! Mysterious enough for you??

I'm also thankful this week for God's protection of my dad's health. He had some problems this week with an infection and dehydration that landed him in the hospital for a 2 night stay. I'm glad the doctors were able to help him and I am confident that God arranged all the details so that Dad was in the place he needed to be, with the right people, right when he needed to be there.

God has also provided lots of work for Michael. We are so thankful that his job (construction) continues - and it looks like the jobs keep coming in! It's been a pretty consistent summer - he's even been able to work some overtime! Praise the Lord!!

And lastly, my boys who are sleep deprived from the past weeks of activity, BOTH were sleeping by 8 and have yet to rise. Michael and I were in bed by 9:20, and I feel fantastic this morning! Woo Hoo for long and uninterrupted SLEEP!

So, how has God been working in your life and family this week? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.

Saturday, July 11

And the party continues!

We had a fun time today celebrating the opening of my new business, and I would like to give you all the opportunity to participate from far away! (Or nearby, if you were unable to make it) So come on in and join the fun! There's a party goin' on!!

So, send me an email to join my mailing list (OOPS! Can't link to my site I just found out!), for one entry in the drawing. If you really want to win, you can book a show (cooking or catalogue) by emailing me for 2 entries, or place an order (I'll send you a link), which will earn you five entries.

What will you win? A large rectangle bar pan is all!

Thursday, July 9


Try to win this, okay? And then when you do, you can give it to me for my birthday. *grin* I seriously LOVE this quilt!!!! And go check out the quilts that are for sale and have free shipping here.

Wednesday, July 8

canning dried beans

We eat beans, a lot. I like the convenience of canned, but the extra cents quickly add up to be more than the cost of dried, plus some brands have preservatives and other things I would like to avoid. When calculating your cost, remember that the cost savings might not be that different pound for pound, but bean for bean it is quite different. One pound of beans around here costs a little over a dollar, which yields 5+ pints. A 15 oz can also costs around a dollar (unless you find a sale). Also, please remember that if you don't already have canning jars and a pressure cooker *YAY GARAGE SALES* then canning beans might not be as cost effective. Oh, and PLEASE read the instruction manual that came with your pressure canner. Very enlightening.

I'm not a bean-nazi, but it is nice to avoid unnatural things whenever possible. So, here's my method, for those who are curious. These taste every bit the same as canned beans, and the entire family gobbles them up.

Please note, I am a canning beginner. It is addicting. That is all I will say about that.

I've canned beans using 2 different methods. These methods work for black, navy, pinto, red, kidney, etc. Here is my favorite way, which I did not do this time, but I WILL do next time. It makes it MUCH easier, and I know they will turn out perfectly. Here's where I got my instructions.

So, to recap - for pints, it's 3/4 cup beans and 1/2 tsp salt, 10lb for 75 min or you can use 2/3 cup of beans if you like more bean juice, same processing time.

For Quarts (I found this info somewhere else) it is 1 cup of beans, 1 tsp salt (or to taste). Process in pressure cooker @ 10lb for 90 minutes.

Remember to adjust for high altitude. I have a table somewhere if you need that.

This time, I did the Quick Soak method on the beans, boiling for 2 min and soaking for 1 hour, then cooking for 30 minutes and hot packing with the bean juice I cooked them in, 1 inch head space, same processing time. I felt it took longer and was more time on my feet, and that is not always fun with children who need attention. It's easy when the jars are all packed and ready as soon as you wake up, and you can just process the next batch as soon as the pressure cooker depressurizes.

The most important thing is NOT to add salt until you are ready to pressure cook the beans. Salt inhibits the re-hydration process and your beans will be crunchy. YUCK. If you are just cooking beans at home in a pot, same thing. Your beans will take much, much longer - like maybe 17 days - if you add salt during soaking or before the beans are soft. Don't quote me on that time frame.

This ends up being a big time saver when you are cooking and the best part is that you can do this in the winter, when the weather is cold enough to open the windows and keep the place cool (also when you are emptying your canning jars of the summer's produce). We ran out, which is why I did more now.

Our produce canning season is still at least a month away. I might be doing salsa, but will probably be canning quarts of that since my pint jars are occupied, at least for now, and I have a husband who may or may not think that a pint is a serving.

Happy Canning!

If you want an easier beginning canning project that requires less expensive equipment - say, a large pot and boiling water, stay tuned this summer - I'll be trying and posting my adventures with an all-fruit spread recipe!

Tuesday, July 7

we're smelling trouble...

Evan is up on his feet - scooting around on the furniture like an old pro. And today, for the first time, he's pushing himself up from crawling to his feet and hands, in a tripod-like stance. It is looking like walking is right around the corner. He's 11 months on the fifteenth. Oh, friends. Oh, friends. Pray.For.Me.

I say this while smiling, but there is much trepidation in my heart. *grins through teeth*

ER, whoops. (Works of God Monday)

So, yes, this is Tuesday, and I have to admit that posting yesterday was one of the last things on my mind, but it did flit in and out throughout the day. Let's just say that my offline responsibilities drew my attention more, um, loudly. Literally.

God has been faithful, encouraging and strengthening me and allowing me to see Him working in others. His grace is so amazing, so awe-some, and I am floored with the outpouring of it on us this week.

We had a great week last week, and are continually seeing God at work in our family and all around us. Sunday was (finally) the day we dedicated Evan to God, and publically declared our dependence on God for wisdom in rearing him to be a godly man. What a blessed family we are to have Evan - he is a fantastic kiddo and a delight to have around, and we are SO grateful and humbled that God has chosen to give him to us. It was also very fun to share this day with a friend from way back and their newly adopted little one. Blessings abound!

Yesterday I went to a few of our neighbors' houses to hand out some flyers for my Pampered Chef Grand Opening open house, and I knew one family had recently had a baby, so I inquired about him and found out that he is very sick and in Ann Arbor! Please pray with me for K, and his family. I cannot imagine the hardship and emotional distress this family is under. I am also very glad I went around to the neighbors! Please pray for me that God would allow Pampered Chef to open doors of relationship building in our neighborhood. I would love to be able to share our family and our faith with our local mission field!

So, I know some of you have already written a post - would you still link it, even though it's Tuesday? And if you haven't posted about God's working in your life, consider it Works of God Tuesday, or Wednesday, or whatever day and link away!!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.

Friday, July 3

yummy mexican(ish) rice

I canned some dried beans this week. The weather been so cool - in the 60's! I was happy it worked out - we have been out of home canned beans for awhile, and I have such a hard time preparing dried beans - it's my forgetfulness in this stage of life!! Dried beans take awhile, even with the quick soak method.

So with a shelf full of beans, I thought I'd share one of our favorite "Mexican" recipes - for rice. This IS the best rice I've eaten with Mexican food. Tweaked from a great cookbook I bought shortly after Michael and I were married.

1-2 T olive oil
1 tsp or one clove minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup long grain rice (or whatever rice you have)
1 can or one pint petite diced tomatoes (or any tomatoes you have)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups or one can chicken broth OR 2 cups of water

In a medium saucepan, saute the first 3 ingredients for a few minutes. When the onions are transparent and the kitchen smells good enough to eat, add the rice only. Saute until golden, then add the rest of the ingredients. If you add water, also add 1 tsp salt. Chicken broth has a lot of sodium in it already, so you may wish to cut back on the salt if you use chicken broth. Stirring frequently, cook until the rice is done. You will want to stir frequently as this has a tendency to stick once the rice gets, er, sticky. This is awesome with beans, as a burrito filling, or as a side dish to pretty much any tex-mex or mexican dish.

Please note - I have only tried this recipe with white rice. And, if you have any rice and beans recipes, I would LOVE them!! I'm always looking for a twist on rice and beans!!

Thursday, July 2

Song Shopping

I'm always in the market for new songs to share and to sing and even songs to keep to myself. This one has an amazing text. I hope it is a blessing to you today!

I Have A Shelter

I have a shelter in the storm
When troubles pour upon me
Though fears are rising like a flood
My soul can rest securely
O Jesus, I will hide in You
My place of peace and solace
No trial is deeper than Your love
That comforts all my sorrows

I have a shelter in the storm
When all my sins accuse me
Though justice charges me with guilt
Your grace will not refuse me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
Who bore my condemnation
I find my refuge in Your wounds
For there I find salvation

I have a shelter in the storm
When constant winds would break me
For in my weakness, I have learned
Your strength will not forsake me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
The One who bears my burdens
With faithful hands that cannot fail
You’ll bring me home to heaven

© 2008 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP) (Admin. By Integrity’s Hosanna! Music) Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)(Admin. By Integrity’s Praise! Music) Cook/Cook/Kauflin

win it!

Spend Freely is having a giveaway - an adorable boutique style wipes case. Enter to win now!

Don't have babies? No worries! Use it as a shower gift, or if you win and you're really having a hard time getting rid of it, I know a mom with the initials J.M. who would gladly take it off your hands.


Wednesday, July 1

and a big wah hoo

Michael's had full days of work this week, despite predicted torrential downpours and thunderstorms. They are working on a roof, and the rain hasn't been bad enough to stop or slow them down. PRAISE THE LORD! Steady work is good.

That is all.