Thursday, September 30

Cute Little Cuteness

I love Etsy. LOVE it. This week I bought some salted caramel samples (made from grass-fed, organic ingredients, be still my taste buds) and a gift for a friend expecting a girl.

You've checked out Shyla's Brown Eyed Girlies shop, right? Just so happens I was over there last week to buy my friend's gift, and then again today (bought some covered hairpins for myself) and Shyla has a ton of new fun things. It's *almost* enough to make me wish I had a little girl, but I'm happy enough to have a niece to buy cute little things for! me a favor and go check this shop out, ok? If you feel that you need to purchase something, Shyla's got a deal going just for my readers - FREE SHIPPING! Woo hoo! :-) Just put "MUTH" in the message to seller and wait for the corrected invoice before you pay. What a deal, right??

As an added bonus, you'll be helping Shyla save up for her kitchen remodel, and you'll be helping me earn a discount on my next order - win/win for everyone!!

What are you still here for?? Go see the goods!!

Monday, September 27

Happy Fall Giveaway!

There are few things that give me enjoyment like a really delicious hot beverage. Especially this time of year, I'm really, really happy to drink a warm, comforting beverage. Hot tea, cider, coffee, chai, cocoa - it's all fair game to me!

Have you tried a salted caramel hot cocoa, ever? *bucks is my friend on this one. Hot cocoa, with whipped cream on top, caramel drizzle, and the best part - sea salt & raw sugar garnish. Oh, salty-sweet goodness. I have had a grand total of TWO short soy versions this fall thus far. I try to limit it to shorts due to the soy content plus, you know, it's a treat. It doesn't have to be a venti treat. :-) I suppose I could take my own raw milk for *bucks to use in the drink, but that seems to be a lot of trouble. Maybe if I visited every day. But my wallet will not allow that luxury. Nor would it be a prudent use of wallet contents, even if it DID allow.

And then of course there is a double-tall soy pumpkin spice latte, which I drank this morning. Good thing, too - I needed that extra shot of expresso to get me through the fateful trip to Dollar General for some fabric softener. DISASTER!

But I digress. This past April, I registered a *bucks gift card online. If you haven't checked out the pretty sweet rewards program, you definitely need to. I benefit from free soy milk for those occasional stops - usually it costs 50 extra cents, so it is worth it just for that - but there are other benefits too! Free drink on your birthday, and free drink every time you buy 15, etc. SOOO, I want to share!

I just got my free drink postcard in the mail and want to pass it on to one of you - all you have to do is comment on this post and let me know what you would order if you could get anything from *bucks, and what your favorite thing about fall is.

I'll go ahead and pick a winner on Friday. Unfortunately, the coupon is only valid at US stores, but it doesn't expire until December 14th, so if you will be able to use this by then and you're not in the US, feel free to enter!

Friday, September 24

Kiddo Update

We had a height/weight checkup for the kids the other day, and I was delighted to find that our boys are healthy and doing great! Praise the LORD for healthy kids. God is gracious to us - we are blessed indeed.

Evan had grown quite a bit in the last 6 months! At 2 years and a little bit, he's weighing in at 25lbs 4 oz and is 33 inches tall. He's really taking off in his speech and amazes me daily with his BUSY play, silliness and joking. I don't remember much about Aaron at this time - probably because I had a brand new baby which equaled sleep deprivation, and Aaron talked MUCH earlier so the progress wasn't as obvious at 2. Love our sweet-natured littlest boy!

Aaron weighs, at 4 years and a little bit, 36lbs 4 oz and is 41 inches tall - and is quite the kid. He cracks us up all the time with his facial expressions and "explanations" of things as well as his tall tales (we are working on making sure he remembers what he made up and what really happened!) He can count to 20 in English, and by 10's to 100 (thanks to a song tape), 10 in Spanish (with a little help) and is starting to grasp beginning reading concepts. We are looking forward to beginning K4 at our house in just a couple weeks! Aaron is really enjoying his second year of Cubbies and his 4 &5 year old class at Bible Study Fellowship.

What a privilege to have these two boys in our family. They teach me so much about myself (sinful) and my God (holy, just, loving, full of grace, ETC.). I'm so grateful!

Wednesday, September 22

a wink, a grin, and a thumbs up

Today I was driving down the road and saw a perfectly good (although a tad soggy from last night's rainstorm) pallet sitting there on the side of the road waiting for big trash pickup. NORMALLY it wouldn't even cross my radar, but since a friend introduced me to Ana White and her fantastic projects, pallets have new value and worth.

The pallet I got will have to dry out in the garage for awhile, so no project for me for awhile (whew! I can decide what to make!) but the real story was in what happened while I was loading it.

I was in traffic, so I put on my emergency flashers and opened the van hatch. An older lady (probably in her 70's) was hesitant to pull around me so she waited while other cars went whizzing by. I felt pretty bad, so I was hurrying. I grabbed that pallet and stuck it in the back of the van and turned to wave at her in thanks. She grinned, winked, and gave me a thumbs up. I imagined that she was happy that I was saving something that was worth saving - who knows if that was what she was thinking or not.

Either way, it totally made my day.

Tuesday, September 21

Before & After

I got the Facebook album done! Michael has been wanting to use our "before" pictures as a guide and take "after" photos from the same angle and position. So we did that last night after the appraiser left - probably the only time our home will be this clutter free, unfortunately. So for those of you without Facebook, here's the link to the album! Before & After

Monday, September 13


I thought I'd update on the house refinance situation. Hoping this week for an appraisal (or maybe early next week?) but all looks well on the refinancing front! We've been pre-approved pending our appraisal.

Michael and I went to the bank last week to talk to the loan officer, and it looks like we will be paying 2.2% less on our mortgage, plus losing our PMI, plus getting a new kitchen complete with new energy efficient appliances all for the same monthly payment - now, granted, we will OWE more, but our monthly costs are projected to stay the same and (hopefully) go down! I was just looking at our energy bill today and wondering how much of a difference energy efficient appliances will make.

I'm so humbled that God has led us along - we are so blessed. And when I think of how far our little house has come? WHOA. It was so sad when we bought it - and I can look around and remember how HE provided many of the materials that we've used to renovate, some from generous friends, other from jobs that Michael has been able to salvage materials from. HE has provided funds, HE has helped us to be patient in waiting for His timing. And in the past month, we've even been able to spruce up things and decorate! I am honestly moved to tears at His incredible gifts, and I couldn't wait to share with you.

I'll be uploading some way, way before pictures to Facebook soon along with the "after" pictures, but you can get an idea from this long-ago-posted slide show. I smile when I see what the "currently" in the slides looks like - four years ago! I will probably wait to do that FB album as we have a very busy week this week! Please pray for our youth group - having a special evangelistic emphasis week - pray that God would see fit to use us and the teens to reach out to others and to consider and reconsider what God's plan is for us.

BSF also starts this week - I'm so SO excited! And I have about 1/2 bushel of tomatoes and a dozen green bell peppers sitting on my dining room table waiting for me - and windows calling my name to be washed, and floors, and preparations for this week....WHEW! I've typed too long already!!

What are YOUR blessings this week?

Wednesday, September 8

Hello Kitty must have grown up Baptist

Aaron woke early this morning, and as we sat on the sofa, snuggling, he was also playing with a Hello Kitty plush key chain that I'd picked up in college at some point and unearthed in the massive decluttering going on around here. The exchange went something like this:

A, as HK, to me: "Hey, wanna watch my dance?"
J: Sure!
(A proceeds to dance HK for a few seconds)
HK, frantic and panicked: "I can't dance! Nobody gave me any rhythm!"

Somehow, I can completely and totally identify.

Happy Wednesday, everybody!!

Friday, September 3

Kiddo Art

Modern/abstract art can be tricky. On the one hand, it can look kinda (super) cool. On the other hand, sometimes you are thinking things along the lines of "Really?? Someone believed this guy was an artist???" More like I wish someone would pay me to produce art like that.

So, about 6 months ago, during one of Evan's naps, I got out my watercolors - my good ones from back when I actually made time to paint - and sat down at the table with Aaron. For the first couple of paintings, I was a mean mom and restricted him to a few colors - I had a plan - and then I let him go to town on his own once I had a few paintings I really liked.

Yesterday, I framed them in frames I found at Walm*rt for $2.50 and did a little grouping on his wall. The funniest part is that he didn't even remember painting them, but he thought they were super cool.

What's that? You wanna see them up close?? I knew it.

You know, in theory I despise Walm*rt. In nice-sounding theories, I shop only at locally owned businesses, eat only locally grown produce, and would never dream of darkening the door of any mass merchant. I love the idea of community, of cooperation, of reduction of travel-related environmental and big box economical consequences. In practice? I go there. More often than I want to admit. And I eat bananas, and pineapple, and lots of other delicious fruit and vegetables, mid winter. Not grown in Michigan, last I checked.

Really it boils down to my priorities. And right now, my priority to provide my family with a cozy place to call home and delicious food is taking over my nice-sounding theories, and that is okay for me. Honestly, I can't tell you how thrilled I am that this group of awesome paintings from a very local artist cost a grand total of $7.50, framed. Oh, BTW, I know his bed is a wreck. He is very particular about the blanket/pillow placement and I don't care enough to fix it. Posterity photos, you know.

Hopefully next week, I'll be posting pictures of our bedroom makeover, and living room spruce-up, also crafted from mass merchant goods, and costing far less than I ever could have dreamed.

When Aaron is famous, I promise to frame his art in locally crafted frames. Maybe I can even talk my resident carpenter into making them. Even better.


So yesterday, our youngest had his poop escapade. Hopefully that is enough for him for LIFE. Somehow he ended up out of his crib, surrounded by blankets and poop and a very clean dry diaper. I'm not sure if he climbed out, disrobed, fell asleep, and woke up dirty, or if he woke up, climbed out, disrobed, and relieved himself. I kinda think it was the first situation, which only makes it slightly better.

Either way, we ended up calling a friend of ours from church who cleans carpets for a suggestion on how to neutralize the problem, and he ended up cleaning the carpet for us in both boys rooms. He is a total lifesaver. Well, sanity-smell-cleanliness-home appraisal saver. It was time for a cleaning regardless - off white carpet and 2 small boys do not a clean carpet make, and it has been in for at least 2 years. And the carpet was used when we put it in.

Thankfully for YOU, I didn't get before shots. But the after?? WOW. Isn't it nice???