Monday, October 21, 2013

A lesson...somewhere

I know that in trials, I'm supposed to praise God. And a part of me is. I'm ecstatic that my family is healthy, happy, & has a wonderful home & church family. I know I'm blessed that Doug & I are healthy, both have good jobs. And that we're able to teach our children to love God.

But it's HARD to keep up that praise sometimes. In fact, right now, I just want to sit & cry & beg Him to please just make it all go away. (OK, so I AM doing that).

I know I've not been the best steward of what He gives me. I'm trying to improve on that. VERY hard! Meal planning & budgeting & coupons & taking lunches. I've worked SO hard to get caught up from previous hardships & being behind.

But it seems like just one thing after another, after another. And they're ALL things that need money to fix! Or wouldn't have happened if I'd HAD money! I HATE MONEY!!!! I hate that I need it & don't have enough of it, even as we continuously go without things & depend on the blessings of others to get by.

I know God is in control, but can I change rides? The one He's running somewhere else sounds much nicer right about now.

And even as I type this & get it out of my system. I feel a peace that wasn't there before. I know He's listening & I know He'll somehow work it out for good. I can't see the light right now, but it's there. I can feel the warmth. Thank you God, for at least that right now.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

kitchen update: spice rack, aka, Ikea, I love thee

I had almost an entire cabinet for spices. Not one of the skinny cabinets, either. It's now down to one shelf in the cabinet, thanks to Ikea. :D

Six baskets, lots of little spice jars and some printable pantry labels saved two shelves, which got the bread box off the counter, and quite a few other random kitchen bits tucked away. I wish I had put the jars in the bottom row before putting the top row in- they're about 1/16th of an inch too close together and I need to tilt the lower jars kind of awkwardly to get the out, but it's so close, I'm not going to put six new holes in the wall. It only took about 3 times of grabbing things off the bottom row to get the tilt and lift move down pat anyhow.

That same Ikea trip also netted me some cabinet door pulls, which became rails on the bathroom cabinet for hanging up wet washcloths. I don't know why, but just having them hung on the edge of the sink drove me bonkers!

Dip It, Dip it good!

I was pinning (so surprising, I know) & a recipe for salsa roll ups caught my eye. Which sounds yummy for Saturday (day after food shopping) for lunch for me & the kiddos! Then I got to thinking about what to take for our family reunion on Labor Day (also celebration of my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary...I can only hope Doug & I live long enough to celebrate that!). Now, I'm probably not taking one of my dips, but I thought, hey, it's a great recipe for sharing!! (This is why I forget so many brain likes to wander a bit!!) Let's hope I can find a picture eventually, or I may just have to make it for fun (yes, I do that, doesn't everybody?)


8oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
8 oz sour cream
1 pkg of ranch or taco seasoning (depending on dip you're making)
Shredded lettuce (buying a package at store makes this part easy)

Diced tomatoes (for "speed" pour a can of petit diced tomatoes into colander & rinse)
Bacon bits (I use the soft bacon pieces, you can always cook a lb & crumble-this is for BLT DIP ONLY)
1 pkg shredded cheese (I "taco blend"-this is for TACO DIP ONLY)

Use mixer to blend cream cheese & sour cream til smooth
Add in seasoning packet (you may want to start with half a packet & add more to taste, I buy my seasoning in shakers & don't really measure)
Spread mixture in bottom of 9X9 pan (I have a glass one I use for prettier presentation)
Spread a layer of shredded lettuce
Spread a layer of tomatoes
Spread a layer of cheese or bacon bits, depending on dip being prepared

Done! See? That's it! AWESOME when you forget you have a party/event/potluck to attend until the last minute! I can make this in less than 15 minutes (not counting softening of cream cheese, which if this IS last minute, it'll soften on the way home from the store)! Now, I'll do my best to find a picture at home & add it, if not...snack for Sat & I'll add it then!! :-D

Wreck It Ralph Halloween...on a budget!

My kiddos love Halloween. ALMOST as much as their mother, but not quite. It'll come, I'm sure. Usually, we have years where random things get thrown together to make costumes such as last year, where we had King Arthur, Glinda the Good Witch, & Ghost Rider. 

Halloween 2012
Well, that's all well & good, but THIS year, they went with a theme! Way to make it easy on mom, right? So it was off on a major mission to find all the goodies we'd need to have a Wreck-It-Ralph Halloween. Thankfully, mom can google, so I found THIS: Wreck It Ralph Costumes to make my list!

So we turned these Goodwill finds....(who knew cheap scrubs would turn out to make good overalls?)


 Into THIS!! Thank goodness for already having the hands as a Christmas gift!

I'm gonna wreck it!


Next, we started working on Fix It Felix, Jr. Thankfully, work boots, blue shirt, jeans & tool belt were already in the closet! We just had to get the hat right!

So, paper plate (I wanted the "patch" stiff, but easy to attach) & some artistic flair, combined with a hat from the box in the closet....

I'd say we have a pretty good copy goin on!!

Now, to find the toy red hammer I had stashed in order to spray paint it gold to complete the look! Along with some work gloves. Dad has them stashed...somewhere! Sorry wasn't in time for the post!

Fix It Felix--whoop, whoop!!

Now, the boys were easy. We HAD most of it, or they were simple fixes. Vanellope Von Schweetz...that took some work!

First, her mis-matched tights! All of the instructions I had found had me finding that just right shade of green tights & using a bleach pen. I took a pair of not-so-white tights we already had, and raided the sharpie box!! Cardboard tubes from paper rolls (thank goodness Grannie works for a printing company) were perfect to stretch 'em out & color! (Though I was going to go with a pool noodle if this didn't pan out).
This is rather a normal face for her!
We started out just drawing lines & coloring it in. That was taking QUITE a while!

So we started stretching & coloring a bit faster! And then of course, that color green only lasted one leg. So her right leg doesn't quite match, but hey, it's Halloween, it works!!

Next, the licorice hair tie for her pony tail! Braided yarn! Took 9 strands & made 3 small braids, which I then braided those into one large braid to tie around her ponytail. Clear elastics held the ends together. 

Now, to get the "candy" pieces for her hair.  I took advantage of an already cut up paper plate to keep the candy "stiff" & again, the sharpie box is my friend! (If you use them a lot, the packs of 24 colors is worth the buy!!)

I was leery of just "sticking" them to her hair directly, even for an hour or two, so I compromised. Tape & bobby-pins work wonders, with a few of her own brightly colored hair clips to add some color...and to control her hair.

And we have....Vanellope Von Schweetz!!

We found the jacket at Goodwill, and the skirt & boots were (again) thankfully something already in her closet!!

 I'm thinking of finding her a black "clip-in" pony tail & using some black temporary hair spray, but she IS only doesn't have to be perfect, right?

So, this was our successful less than $20 Halloween extravaganza for the year! Thanks for sticking it out with me! Three descriptions is rather wordy, huh?

End of the Year (by the old heath-dweller way of thinking) mindfullness project

 I don't know what it is, but something about the change from autumn to winter always feels like the end of the year to me. So much more so than the ACTUAL end of the (calendar) year.  Maybe it's because the days are noticeably shortened at this point, especially here in Wyoming where it has already snowed a few times, or maybe it's because I look forward to the holiday season coming up, so that feels more like a beginning than an end, I don't know. But whatever the reason, I feel like now is a good time of the year to take stock, and think out my goals for the upcoming season and year ahead.

I'd like to be spawning at this time next year. Or at least in (active) progress towards that. I'm going to be 34 here in what feels like a minute, and I'm reaching the end of the "easier" or "safer" years of potential on that front. Which means getting the married portion out of the way- not because I feel the whole "traditional family dynamics" is a must, but just for the practical reasons of financial and legal crossed T's and dotted I's.  Why do I think having a kid around October is ideal? Well, reaching the bloated whale portion of pregnancy once the torments of August have gone seems pretty important. Plus? Halloween birthday parties! Am I seriously the only one that thinks of this kind of thing?? Sure, there's no way to be certain of exactly when you're going to get a delivery, but at least being mindful of WHY a particular season would suit you for having a child doesn't hurt.

I'd like to have the trim re-painted on the house and the patio re-paved this coming spring. Those projects are mapped out in my head, but it helps to have it written down to keep it in my head, nice and front-&-center, to help me remember to save up my pennies to pay for paint and sand and concrete mix. If I can get Chris motivated on a reasonably warm(ish) day here shortly, we will be able to finish out the two fence panels that act as the end of the patio area and wind block. Once it's daylight, I will be able to add a before picture of the single panel that's up. It's not in bad shape, but it's not doing much to protect the patio, which is why that needed an upgrade. Odd jobs of the past sometimes come back to give you useful tools later, I guess. :)

(insert pic here)

I'd like to finish the new table top for the kitchen. Our kitchen is tiny. But I'd like to be able to have more than the two of us sit down to a meal or crafting in there without feeling like I'm bumping elbows with every breath. So this summer I found a cheap table where I could take the existing top off the base and create my own, sized just for the corner it needs to cozy up into. I even bought the wood to make it this summer, just have been lacking the motivation to finish. At least I got myself to finish the second bench to go along with the storage bench that Chris's mom and Sharon made for me two years ago, when they came to visit for Frontier Days. The cushions even got done this week! There really IS light at the end of this project!
Seriously, ideas are my strong point. ACTUALLY FINISHING A PROJECT? That's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Speaking of finished projects, I'd like to get my geeky motherboard clock finished, and there are some beading projects lurking, and some sewing projects... ugh, goal one for the new year: FINISH THE FREAKING PROJECT! Doesn't matter what it is, just finish it before moving on to the next.

Goal two? A serious look, with Chris, at the house layout- (or moving) should we spawn,  it is more practical for me to stay home and babysit again full time than to shell out more than I make some months (seriously, the cheapo daycare skank center costs 1300 a month!) on daycare. Which means that 3rd bedroom in the basement wither needs to be the new office or our new bedroom. Neither will be best option, but either would be better than having the kid room down there. And, If Chris is offered the 15 year retirement, he plans to take it, so we would either need to plan on living here permanently, or be looking at houses somewhere else with daycare of 1-2 in mind. (spawning under the care of Tricare also means less out-of-pocket costs too... see? I can be practical)

Reorganizing craft storage. This is just too big and important to fall under some vague goal idea. Right now, my craft supplies run amok in the office, and share sterilite drawers with my underthings. Nope, no dresser or bureau here.... which means, clothing needs to be better organized along with this project. :-P   I've purged my closet ruthlessly this summer, and still have about 3 drawers worth of purging to do if I want to share Chris's dresser, or just use my closet. I suspect this project will be lifelong.The bonus being that I'm learning WHAT my style is, and how to pick pieces that work in multiple ways rather than just for one outfit, and that buying the more expensive, but better-lasting quality pieces in classic styles will help me avoid the "I have nothing to wear" doldrums. So there's that.

And the final goal? Learning how to prevent dog-stank. Seriously, D, how the eff does one dog stink so badly??? He just has rank B.O. Naturally oily skin, coupled with too big to routinely bathe, coupled with being a digger I guess. (Dog boots, the poor bastage is going to be stuck in dog boots soon if I can't get him to stop digging up the flower beds) Also? HE FARTS. A FREAKING LOT. WHich he just did, while laying behind my chair. SO he's wrapping this up, and escaping the room :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One of those days...just got better

On those days where it all seems to be going south...I have to remember, I may not understand what's going on, or want it to be happening, but God is there. He's using me for something, even if I can't wrap my head around it. This song by Kutless brought me back to reality today when I was trying to let myself get down about being broke (again). Thank you God, for the reminder & the peace in my heart that You WILL turn this to good.

"I'm Still Yours"

If You washed away my vanity
If You took away my words
If all my world was swept away
Would You be enough for me?
Would my beating heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives and takes away

If You take it all
This life You've given
Still my heart will sing to You

When my life is not what I expected
The plans I made have failed
When there's nothing left to steal me away
Will You be enough for me?
Will my broken heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives
And takes away

If You take it all
This life You've given
Still my heart
Will sing to You

Even if You take it all away
Youll never let me go
Take it all away
But I still know

That I'm Yours
I'm still Yours

Oh, I'm Yours
I'm still Yours
I'm still Yours

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

NEVER buy appliance parts in town to save more than 50%

If you don't absolutely, positively, my-world-is-gonna-burn-down-if-I-don't have-it-today need it done at this very second, NEVER buy your appliance parts in-store, in your town. And even if you DO need it abso-friggin-lutely RIGHT NOW, odds are, you won't be able to pick it up at Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, Appliance Fixer store #362 local anyhow. There are just so many parts, that no store is going to stock more than the most common ones. And why would you be willing to part with $60 when you could have 2-3 days of patience, and spend $20 instead? Think I'm joking? Here's a screen grab, showing the wildly differing prices for a heating element for my dryer.

Yes. There's a store selling one for $61.74, and one selling for $19.53. Guess which end of the spectrum Lowes and Home Depot fall into? Yep, the 60 dollar range. Shipping INCLUDED, and I ended up spending $28 and some pennies. Saving over HALF what I would have spent by going to a local store, and THEN WAITING for them to have it shipped, call me up, and make a second trip. I've done that before too. It took over two weeks to happen. Or, I can just type the part number in Google, and like magic, I get connected to merchants that don't have the added costs of storefronts, competing for my business, and my part arrives in a week or less. (There's even overnight service, should we be in a bind, and I'd STILL save over going to a local store.)
The only additional steps you need to take are to read the company's returns policy, which are pretty industry-standard, and to make sure you look up your actual part number on the manufacturer's website.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I am not quite out of the paycheck to paycheck stage of my life yet. I'm getting better at scrimping, saving, & putting away those pennies. One at a time. I've got a retirement plan going, even if my day to day savings are rather...sparse.

Some days though, if I had a fairy godmother, I think I'd go for just a couple of months of being adopted/sponsored/taken in by somebody who was WAY better off than I am financially speaking. To just enjoy anything my heart desires, even if it's silly. But just for a little bit.

I don't know that I'd want that much money for the rest of my life though. I think about it & I want to get to the point where the bills are paid with no juggling & stretching. A breakdown or blowout can happen & it's an inconvenience rather than a major catastrophe. And I can give to this charity or cause with impunity & not worry about if it's a tax write off, because I don't want to be THAT rich that I NEED to funnel funds, but I'd like to be well off enough that I live like I do now...without the hassles.

Am I dreaming, or just impatient? A little of both I believe. I'll get there. I might be my mom's age, but I'll get there. It won't happen overnight, or over the next 5 years. (Too many fixes needed on our house...and I have kids, so really!) But it'll happen!