Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toilet Paper, Target, and New Shoes

I haven't been to Target in months. (Read 3-6 months probably)

I love Target. Target shoes, target clearance, target is great. However, I find myself wanting things I don't need and feeling disappointed. So I decided not to go there if possible. And I hadn't for months. Most other necessities I got at the grocery store and the rest I 'magically' did without.
Last week I had not been paying attention and we were on our last roll of toilet paper. Eeek! This desperate time crunch is exactly what the frugal shopper doesn't want. I wanted to look at ads for a few weeks and wait until the tp was on sale. Instead, I just looked at a grocery ad and Target ad and Target had the better price.

I found a few other coupons for some free trial size items to get and went off to the big red Target.

Wow. I had forgotten or never noticed how much...junk is at a store like Target, Kmart, or Walmart. Aisles of things I don't need and couldn't dream of spending money on. I looked in a few of my favorite spots like the clearance rack and realized even these items were not something I would need, at any price! I was tempted by the shoe clearance but reasoned myself away since I had just gotten an awesome pair of Puma shoes at a garage sale for fifty cents earlier in the week.

So I left paying for toilet paper, 3 free after coupon travel size items, and a new sense of pride in realizing how little I really do need to live. I know I'm not swearing off Target, and they have great deals. Yet knowing how many more productive places that money could go is a real motivating factor.

Here's the proof that the Target shoe selection lost v.s. garage sales last week:

Learning at the Hospital

I had family in the hospital for the last 10 days for some major surgery and recovery. It's been a learning experience.

1. Being surrounded with positive people is so important. One negative person sticks out and can ruin the day. In education experts say students need at least a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative talk. In the hospital one...less than encouraging...employee ups that ratio to maybe 20:1.

2. Life is more flexible than we think. With this unexpected hosptial event it was amazing how free my schedule suddenly became. The dishes, laundry, garden, shopping, reading, and cooking all have managed to wait. I didn't see my garden in day light for about 5 days and it is doing fine. It did get watered, but even missing some weeding was ok. I'm so thankful I could have so much time free, but wonder how much more free time I could have on occassion if I felt like it was really necessary.

3. Make time to let people know how your feel. This lesson is two fold. One, you never know when circumstances could change and there is no time like the present. Second, people that take the time to let you know that they care for you, your family, and that you are important to them make such a big impact every time. Five minute visits, phone calls, get well cards all are so easy to do, yet so easy to overlook. The reward for time spent letting someone know you care is worth it.

4. Real growth can hurt. Growing doesn't always have to hurt, but pruning and refining our bodies, minds, attitudes and relationships often does. Recovery in the hospital (though I've never experienced it) is painful, exhausting, and frustruating both mentally and physically. One can go from hiking and biking without any work have to fight to breathe and take steps. If nothing is hurting right now that might be a blessing. However, ask yourself, is there something that you shoud be growing in. It might hurt and it will definatly be hard work, but it is always worth it.

5. Faith reigns. It is easy to have a relaxed faith and float through our daily lives. When life throws a curve ball having a strong faith in God helps because nothing is out of His control. Those moments and hours on your knees are precious to Him. Our family got an email just before the surgery from a friend that said either way, today will be a great day. Surgery might not go as planned and a loved one might be ushered into God's presence. Surgery could go well and we'll be able to spend more time with a loved one. As sobering as those possibilities are, he was right. Both would be ok. I would dearly miss time if things hadn't gone so well, but in the eternal realm it wouldn't be goodbye, just see you later!

I know my God saved the day

I know his word never fails

I know my God made a way for me

We're going to be alright.

~Lincoln Brewster (got to love Pandora playing those perfect songs at the right time!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


My sister and her husband introduced us to the game Agricola. It is a strategy game that has lots of pieces, rules, possibilities, and fun!

We were able to borrow the game for a week from a friend of a friend and played it every chance possible.

Now the game has been added to the game cabinet. Wahoo! In combination with a birthday celebration there has been a lot of farming, herding, building, and game playing.

And cake. That was more for the birthday but was really fun to make because of the pieces that I had to figure out how to form into fences, stables, little cubes for animals, etc.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book: Prodigal Summer

Recommended by a friend. Kingsolver, author of the popular Poisonwood Bible, writes about life in a small Appalachian farming community. A farmers widow left with a family she doesn't feel welcome in, an elderly man who preferred the "good ol' days", and a Forest Ranger who lives by herself up in the mountains taking care of the mountain. These stories all interact with the environment and how farming, agriculture, natural resources, and modern "progress" can give some surprising results.
Kingsolver points out some of the debates in agriculture about using "modern" techniques like pesticides, genetic crops, and how these can create more problems whereas some of the old techniques really are more successful and productive.
Defiantly a great book to read during the summer, (or spring if you need motivation for summer gardening).
The characters are impeccably described and are deep, flawed, and very human. Their grief is real, joy authentic, and frustration visible. Great characters help to make great books.
The land is just as alive in this book as some of the characters, and I enjoyed it more than the Poisonwood Bible.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Game for Games

The whole purpose of this cabinet is to hold games. A lot of them.
Games are a great way to stretch your brain, interact with others, and a fairly inexpensive way to pass the time. I always tell students that if they want to try to work and have fun playing games is a big help. There is so much to be learned and practiced while playing games. Fairness, taking turns, basic math, budgeting, probability, word sets, word families, spelling, geometry, strategy, following rules, idioms, common phrases, figures of speech, and time with other people that are THINKING.
*Soapbox warning* So many activities that families or groups participate in are really no different than if it was done alone. Movies, video games, even some families doing athletic activities can be done silently and with little to no interaction. Games don't let that happen.
Games in the cabinet:
Chutes and Ladders
Phase 10
Canasta Caliente
Double 12 dominoes
Carcassone (this box was huge so we repackaged it)
Guess Who
Connect Four
Apples to Apples
Catch Phrase
Poker Chips
Ute (Korean Game)
Not Pictured...aka won't fit:
Full Set of Poker Chips
A few other helpful tools:
draw /discard basket
card shuffler
white boards
set of 5-10 dice
2-4 decks of cards for hundreds of additional games
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Growth in the Garden

Yea! I have one of those fabulous little pollinating creatures!


basil seeds that all fell at the same time out of the packet...

Bibb Lettuce

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

June Reading

First I was very intrigued by The Elegance of a Hedgehog, which I already posted about.
I decided to read Snow falling on Cedars second. It seemed tragic, and took place in winter so somehow that helped me decide to read it second. The imagery was great, and I really enjoyed some of the techniques Guterson used to mirror the stories between generations. The story is about a man of Japanese ancestry on trial for murder in the 1950s on a fishing island off of Seattle. He and his family had been taken to Manazar (Japanese internment camp) during the war and he had then enlisted as a US soldier. Other Caucasian men on the island had a very difficult time coming back from the war where they had fought the Japanese to an island where there were many Japanese families.
I just started Balazac and the Little Chinese Princess. Interesting topic, so I'm sure I'll finish it soon too!Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Creating Food

I've always loved to create food. The measuring, stirring, pouring, and cooking process has always brought a smile to my face. R>
Subcategorized, baking has usually been my preferred form of food preperation. I started out baking, which makes sense. No unsafe food preparation methods (except for this day I haven't had salmonella from testing the batter) so it is a safe start. Lots of measuring is usually involved which is wonderful for those math skills.

Oh...the possibities. Cupcakes with great wrappers, wonderful cake pans that slid beautifully shaped cakes out, tart pans with the fluted edges, springform pans that release the sides for a perfect edge, beautiful torte dishes, cake pedestals to hold any creating. Then the decorating with ganache, buttercream frosting, smooth cream cheese frosting, chocolate drizzle, fruit slices, and every color of sprinkles.

This girl loves to create in the kitchen. Always have.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I found a blog discussing why adults don't have to act like grown up's and how to avoid "Adultitis." In an excerpt from this blog:

"Most people have a hard time admitting that they’re be living by rules that don’t exist. At first glance, it might be hard to even think of any. But if they were that easy to spot, you probably wouldn’t be living by them in the first place. (Duh.) The trick is that they’re sneaky and subconscious. They’re baked in, and reinforced by many years of repetition and adherence, so they seem normal to us. They are often disguised as conventional wisdom."

My rules that don't have to exist:

  1. Sleeping on the same side of the bed each night.
  2. Using nicer plates, cups, and serving ware with guests - always!
  3. Saving leftovers from meals.
  4. People (co-workers, friends, even family) shouldn't know or be able to tell if I'm upset.
  5. Shirts and shoes should match.
  6. Food needs to be in small pieces for me to eat it.
  7. If something is free, I'll want to take it.
  8. Nothing will get done if I don't have a list.

Looking for Distraction

So frequently I look for tasks that I can become obsessed with to distract me from the boring mundane tasks all the way to the severely serious. This year that cycle started with reading the Harry Potter series in the span of approximately a month. Since that early spring endeavor I have finished 10-15 books (the time span on a few of those is a bit fuzzy).

Then the garden...which currently is in a serious state of weed anarchy takes up time when at all possible.

Much to my chagrin, this week a "teacher" class "Orton-Gillingham" has threatened and successfully taken over the daytime hours all DAY!

I sometimes struggle to find balance between my distraction and what I am trying to ignore, but am so thankful for those moments of distraction where it is just me and (dare I say) the leg numbing week long class.
The idea of balance is a tricky scale to balance. Life is not always in our control, yet how we react is in our control. As those scales of life and balance shift, so must we. Shift too far and we'll fall off one end, change nothing and the scale will bottom out. Lord, help!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Book: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

By Muriel Barbery

A 300+ pages of witty and thoughtful observations about life. Two protagonists, Renee the building concierge and Paloma a 12 year old tenant of one of the wealthy families give their thoughts on life, death, the meaning of both, and a record of their unlikely interconnected lives. I tend to base a lot of my preference for books based on the ending, and I enjoyed (in a literary way) the ending here so for that I am grateful.

Many of the refined thoughts revolve around intelligence and what it means.

"And on the way home I thought: pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language." - 160

I tend to want to use quotes to explain why I like or dislike something so I tried to mark pages with something interesting that I might want to be able to refer back to.

" I've had my own suspicious on the matter for a while now too. From a distance, she's a real concierge. Close up...well, close up...there's something weird going on. [ ...] As for Madame can we tell? She radiates intelligence. And yet she really makes an effort, like, you can tell she is doing everything she possibly can to act like a concierge and come across as stupid. [...] Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside, she's covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary, and terribly elegant." -143

Another tenant, Kakuro, takes an interest in Renee because of their uncanny similar interests. In one scene that is just begging to be in a movie, Renee has dressed up for the first time in her life for dinner and encounters other tenants of the building.

"They didn't recognize me," I say.
I come to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk, completely flabbergasted.
"They didn't recognize me," I repeat.
He stops in turn, my hand still on his arm.
"It is because they have never seen you," he says. " I would recognize you anywhere." - 303

Wouldn't we all love to be known in such a way by one person in life!

And those true friendships are what have the most meaning.

"All those hours drinking tea in the refined company of a great lady who has neither wealth nor palaces, only the bare skin in which she was born, - without those hours I would have remained a mere concierge, but instead it was contagious, because the aristocracy of the heart is a contagious emotion, so you made me a woman who could be a friend." - 319

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Calories: Lookin' Good

Cherry Bordeaux ice cream with melted chocolate and banana!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake = amazing!

fruit cup for brunch

Cheddar bagel with guac and tomatos (and blackberries!)

More blackberries.

My favorite fruit.

Nacho night

I love good lookin' food!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brunch Check List

I'm so excited to have a friend I don't get to see very often over for brunch tomorrow.

1. I love hosting people at our house.

2. It gives me a deadline which I usually need to get something done.

3. I get to have a glimpse of that "magazine" life when everything is tidy, neat, and put away. are the must do's, and some should do's.

  • make food.

  • put clean dishes away (this is on every list...)

  • vacuum

  • de-clutter living room, kitchen, office, uh.....everywhere

  • trash out

I should also...

  • clean the bathroom

  • clean up more sticks from yard project :)

  • water the grass

  • do my laundry

  • make my custom picnic table cover

  • be excited !!! I am!!

Being Frugal Looks Like...

For me being frugal is important to help those times when penny pinching is important. However, I think it is more of a lifestyle and can feel great even when there are more than pennies in your pocket.

With a tip of the hat to for her list / inspiration for this post.

  1. Living on a budget to help keep track of spending and limit spending to stay within our means.

  2. Cutting down on eating out (we've only paid to eat out 5 times this year, those usually paired with a coupon or special deal.)

  3. Buying groceries with a sale + coupon deal to make them rock bottom prices and buying ahead.

  4. Cooking as much from scratch as I can.

  5. Shopping at garage sales and thrift stores (this is a #1 for me as I find amazing deals in peoples front yards!)

  6. Get books and entertainment at the library...even better the mobile library that comes to a shopping center nearby so there isn't driving involved!

  7. Stay at home. Fewer vacations, camping trips, "errand trips", etc. means spending less.

  8. Keep haircuts simple, colorless, and manageable.

  9. Reusing and figuring out alternative solutions to items we want to purchase.

  10. Stay healthy. Fewer germs, fewer health problems, fewer bills.

  11. Finding new ways to stay busy (board games, reading, gardening, cooking, projects, blogging).

  12. Sewing anything that is less expensive to sew than purchase (not everything is!).

  13. Gardening for fresh delicious produce. (also see #11).

  14. Making the most of my job to make sure I don't miss any opportunities to earn more money.

  15. Enjoy the simple life of having a friend over for breakfast instead of going out for coffee

  16. Not having kids...yet.

  17. Keeping the windows open on cool summer nights and buttoned up tight during the winter to mitigate those utilities.

  18. Realize our life doesn't have to look the same as other peoples.

  19. Have faith.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Being Quiet

Sometimes those loss of words means it is just a time to reflect on Him, not on me. Other times when certain words come too quickly, is an even more important time for me to be still.

For the word of God is living and active. Hebrews 4:12
The last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what you would say....
...please let me stay and rest in your Holiness....