Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm a Spring-Cleaning MACHINE!!

Chrissy, over at Meaningful Days, is hosting a Spring Cleaning Challenge. Now, I've only lived in my house for a year, but apparently, the previous residents didn't do much spring cleaning. Or summer cleaning. Or winter cleaning. Or ANYTIME cleaning. Yes, we "cleaned" the house when we first moved in (the best we could while hanging sheetrock and bringing forth a child into the world), but nothing has been really good and deep-cleaned since then.

So, I am thankful for the motivation and inspiration provided by this blog (thank you, Chrissy!). Therefore, it is with much pomp and circumstance that I give you this MENTAL picture (because I don't any visual pictures, being that my camera is dead) of my week of cleaning:

*Cleaned off front porch
*Cleaned out van
*Mowed portion of back yard that hubby didn't get to finish on Saturday
Now, this may not seem like much, but oh if you coulda seen the sad state of our front porch. My, my, my......

*Cleaned out utility room
*Cleaned out shelves
*Soaked garbage can in bleach
*Scrubbed baseboards and walls
*Mopped floor

*Cleaned oven (inside and out) and stove
*Bleached bars
*Threw away old, decrepit, yard-sale toaster oven
*Wiped down cabinets
*Cleaned and put fresh lining in cabinet drawers
*Cleaned fridge
*Cleaned off bar (3 Wal-Mart bags of trash came off of ONE bar!!)
*Took everything out of pantry, wiped down shelves and reorganized contents thereof.
*Mopped floor

*Straightened den shelves
*wiped down/organized computer area

*We're having friends over tonight, including our pastor and his family, so I've been baking today--a Cherry Stack Cake and whole wheat, flax & oatmeal cookies (with raisins and pecans).

I am very, very pleased with my accomplishments of this week. I wish I could say that I am done, but I'm not. Next week I will tackle the closets and bedrooms. YAAEEH! I love clean!

Have you started spring cleaning yet?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Planning

I was reading over at My First Kitchen, that 70% of families are now looking for ways to save money on the grocery/food area of their budget. Apparently, people are doing this in response to the every-worsening economy. Well, we've been doing this for so long that I cannot remember when we DIDN'T do it. Probably when we were first married, full time college students living off of Roman noodles and Polynesian sauce (which we saved/stole from the Chick-fil-A at the Student Center Food Court).

Back when DH got paid every two weeks, I would sit down and make out a menu for two weeks, but now that he gets paid every week, I only do one week's worth at a time. Yes, it is time-consuming. But it saves money. You're not looking at the clock at 4:00 wondering what you're going to fix, and do you have all the ingredients. You know you spend more moo-lah when you run to Wal-Mart for that one item. You wind up with ten other items you didn't plan on buying. Which adds up fast.

Here's how I do it: I tend to lean towards quick/crock pot style meals because it just makes my day go so much easier. I have my hands full with these three munchkins. It took me a few times browsing and, but I built up a pretty good stockpile of good recipes. These I keep in the "Recipe" section of my Home Management Binder. I have about three weeks' worth of menu plans that I pull from and rotate.

So I sit down, and I use a grid that I made myself on Word, with the days of the week, and columns for Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper. I fill these out, pull out the recipes, and a stack of index cards. I label my cards Dairy, Breakfast, Baking, Meat, Canned, Bread, Frozen, Produce, and Msc. This is the order in which I "travel" the store while I shop. I always start in Dairy because it's in the back of the store and I go up the aisles towards the front of the store. You do know that they place items strategically throughout the store as a marketing ploy? So it's good to stay focused on what you are there to buy and buy ONLY that. Another good thing about index cards: if DH is with me, we split them and get it done MUCH faster. Which is smart when you have six hands reaching for sugar snacks.

Oops. Rabbit trail! Back to the point--I go through my recipes and list each ingredient on the appropriate index card until all ingredients are listed. I also have a "Master" list with those things that are a given for each weekly shopping trip. Milk, bread, yogurt, etc, are all listed here and I double check to make sure these things are really needed and then put them on their card.

If we are in a tight financially, I have found that buying a big "tube" of ground beef and using beef recipes helps stretch the dollar. DH and I have been on Weight Watchers this year and have not bought much beef, since it's higher in calories. We've been using more chicken and watch the sales papers for good deals at other stores. That's about the only thing we buy outside of Wal-Mart, mainly because it's not convenient to get three kids 4 and under out at multiple stops.

So there you have it--my frugal shopping strategy. We shoot for $100 per week to feed our family. Sometimes it's more, sometimes less. These days it's been leaning more toward the "more" since our kids are growing and eating more. Emma is tearing up some steamed veggies (mashed) and I believe I am saving $ by buying frozen veggies and steaming them for her rather than buying baby food.

I hope this post was informative and helpful for someone passing through. Please share your shopping/meal planning methods. I'm always up for something different!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This and That

Oh, how I would love to be able to show you some visuals of my little (getting bigger) darlings! For you would not believe, how BIG Elijah is now! Gone is the chubby-cheeked toddler, replaced by a tall, slender 4 year old. He is out of his carseat now, having moved on to a big-boy booster. I just cannot believe the "big boy" things he says and does. My baby is gone!! But I am ever-so proud of the little man he is becoming. He has started to take initiative and pray for his sisters when they are sick or hurt--without being asked. Talking about making a Mama's heart swell. That'll do it. Grace often runs to him when she wants sympathy (she'll take it from anyone who will give it). Just the other day she ran to him crying, "Mama said NO, Wijah!" He put his little arm around her and patted her back, saying, "Just don't worry about it, OK?" lol! And Emma just lights up when she sees him come into the room.

That Gracie, she's our little drama queen. Always finding some bo-bo for someone to kiss and pet. What am I going to do with her? Last weekend, we went to a fellowship meeting at one of our "home" churches. Gracie would ask anyone who spoke to her, "Do you like my hair? It's gettin' wong!" And then she would compliment them--"I like your hair! I like your shoes!" She's just SO cute!! While cleaning our church last week, I could hear her in the sanctuary, tickling the piano keys and singing to the top of her lungs. Could this be a glimpse of how God will use her in His kingdom?

And Emma!! Would you believe she is sitting up all by herself? And on the verge of crawling? It won't be long, maybe a week or so and she will be mobile. And I'm in t-r-o-u-b-l-e!! For she is the busiest baby I've had yet. Always reaching, moving, twisting, jumping. Doing everything as fast as she can--including growing.

Today, I had an appointment with the dermatologist. I left very frustrated. The prognosis is a lifetime of medication. He said that he "rarely sees a case as severe as mine." Rosacea. Funny I didn't even know what that was 3 years ago. And now I dread looking in the mirror because of it. BUT God still heals. He can give me skin as fresh and smooth as Emma's. Do you believe it?

Well, my husband took Elijah to the Home Depot, Grace is asleep (with a fever, unfortunately), and Emma just gave it up, as well. So all is quiet and I am left alone. Rarely do I get this kind of quiet time to blog. Blogging has been such a blessing to me. I've seen how other women struggle with the same challenges as I, and learned from how they overcame. I've been educated and inspired. I've been given a window into the days of family and friends whom the miles have separated by great distances.

I've kind of stepped back from it a little lately, and that has shown me that maybe I was putting too much time into it in the first place. Everything is good in moderation. There are so many areas in our lives where we could apply this principle and see good results arise.

I've enjoyed my time at the keyboard tonight. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Let her own works praise her in the gates....

Last week, my husband had an appointment with a lady at the bank to see about refinancing our house. While filling out paperwork, the lady asked John, "What does your wife do?" He said, "She stays at home with our three children." To which she replied, "So she doesn't do anything?"
John, being a little offended, quickly came to my defense and told her, "My wife is a teacher, a nurse, a financial analyst, a nutritionist, and a chef. She's worth a much higher salary than what you make. Nah...she doesn't do anything."

Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

Proverbs 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.