Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pinteresting.

So I (and pretty much the rest of the world) have become completely and wholeheartedly obsessed with Pinterest.  It certainly is getting a lot of attention these days.  If you are not already familiar with this delightful corner of the internet, let me introduce you.

"Pinterest, meet Coffee Lover.  Coffee Lover, you have now been sucked into a vortex whose habitual tendencies are second only to the power of a steamy caffeinated beverage.  Resistance.  Is.  Futile."

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board where users can create "boards" to which they "pin" the things they love from all around the web.  I have boards devoted to recipes, crafts, fashion, etc.  It's a social network of sorts where you can view what your friends are pinning and vice versa.  Pinterest literally becomes a visual "Favorites" that is much more comprehensive, interesting and well, let's face it... just plain fun.  The possibilities are endless.  Baby shower ideas, seasonal crafts, inspirational quotes.

I also use Pinterest to save money by crafting meaningful gifts at home.  (About my 75% of my most recent Christmas gifts were Pinterest inspirations!)  Another of my favorite ways to use Pinterest is to find new ways to upcycle things I would ordinarily throw away.  



Here are some of my favorites:

(Be sure to click on the links to see pics!)

Tic Tac container:  Perfect for storing bobby pins.  (No matter how hard I try, my kidlets will continually have bobby pins roaming freely all over the bathroom drawer.)

Bread Clips:  Those little plastic tabs that keep the bread bag closed (which my children routinely lose before the bread is gone) can be used as labels and clipped onto the tangles of cords plugged into any given power strip. 


Entertainment Center:  You know those old boxy things running rampant at yard sales and thrift stores that won't fit most TVs anymore?  They get new life as a play kitchen!


Pop Tab:  Incognito picture hanger.

Travel Soap Dish:  I dare you to find a better card game organizer.  It's also the perfect size for holding a box of crayons!

Cheese Grater:  Painted in a whimsical color, this former kitchen gadget is a novel earring holder.

Old Bath Towels:  Turn them into a cozy bath mat.

Cardboard Salt Container:  Cut off the top to the size of a Mason jar and use the canning ring to secure it.  Voila!  A pour-top jar.

Wooden Ladder:  Turned sideways and mounted to a wall, it becomes a bookshelf.


And that's just the beginning...

Have an overabundance of something and no idea what to do with it?  Pinterest it.  I've had bags of those popsicle craft sticks sitting in a cupboard forever.  Type "popsicle sticks" into the Pinterest search box and looky here.  Who knew, right?



Seriously, what's not to love?  Come Pinterest with me. 



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Monday, February 27, 2012

Coverings.

I have daughters.  

Three.  Pretty.  Girls.

They are my dearest treasure.  The joy of my heart.  Love made real.


They are bubbly, vivacious, and cunning.  They are 7, 5, and 2.  And did I mention they are beautiful?  

How does one guard and protect such stunning effervescence from the wiles of a wayward world?  My sweetheart continually prays that God would "shield them from the eyes of wicked men."  Could sweeter words be prayed over these precious gifts?  


So much to live for.  So much to be gained.  So much ahead.  I want nothing to hinder what goodness lies in wait for the future of my angels.  


And what should prompt such an intense line of thinking?  Today, I commenced bathing suit shopping.   

For 7.  5.  And 2.   

Label me a prude if you must, but I did not anticipate such a difficult task for... 

7.  5.  And 2.

My dear husband was specific about his standards in the most affectionately paternal way possible.  I can't imagine anything more tender than a father desiring a covering for his daughters.  In the same way that he covers them in prayer, in wisdom, and in discipline.   

In the same way my father did for me. 

I found success in our quest.  But I only expect such things to grow more difficult with each passing year.  I do not pass judgment, but simply provoke my own heart to guard, in all things, those which have been entrusted to me.

My deepest desire is that my sweet little girls remain sweet little girls for as 

Long.  As.  Possible.

Love and coffee... 


Peanut, Ladybug, & Lovey



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Friday, February 24, 2012

On winter.

It certainly has been an unusual Iowa winter.  Temps soaring well into the 50s and 60s and hardly any snow.  I have to say I am disappointed.  I kind of anticipated a rip-roaring sort of winter and my, what a let-down.  

As I write, one more insignificant snow is under way.  Probably less than two inches.  And since they are forecasting 40s and 50s for the weekend, I don't expect my little white miracle to last long.

As February is drawing quickly to a close, I will admit that I am beginning to long for spring.  We have had one fairly decent snow, pounded each other in a snowball fight, and constructed a regal blue Snow Queen.  It is somewhat hard to believe that only two years ago we were digging out from three major blizzards and a monster of an ice storm that left us without power for nearly four days. 

My sweet girls (including my then-only-months-old Lovey) were bundled head-to-toe in coats and snow pants.  Inside.  When all was said and done the temperature was down to just 41 degrees.  Inside.  The first night was the longest.  We nary slept a wink, flinching at every boom-pop-fizzle-flash of transformers blowing all over town and listening to the crick-a-crack of weighted ice-branches free-falling (and praying they were mostly landing away from the house).  

All five of us snuggled together in one of the girls' bedrooms during those nights (the one furthest from the trees.)  Still bundled up and buried under every blanket, sleeping bag, and bed comforter we could gather, we fell asleep ridiculously early, just after dark.  We told stories by candlelight and fell asleep to the battery-powered radio.

Walking to the car meant performing a carefully choreographed routine over every ice-glossed surface and going as quickly and non-haphazardly as one could to avoid any rogue branches on their way down.


That winter, we shoveled.  And shoveled.  And shoveled.  And selfishly wished for a snow blower.   And then shoveled some more.

Now that was a winter I could be proud of.  

A few memorable moments from Winter 2009-2010:


Yikes.  Poor neighbor-truck.


It's a good thing we had a shovel. 
Ice, Ice, Baby.





Down the street.

The other side of the street.

At any rate, I am ready to move on.  March is fast approaching and I am ready to see green.  

Winter, I fully expect a stronger showing next year.

"Coffee: creative lighter fluid."  ~Floyd Maxwell



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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Presidential Pause.

It's okay.  I am fully aware of my nerd status.  I love American history.  Especially presidential history.  I read about it in my spare time.  (I remain heartbroken that following the laundry room crisis, I had to dispose of several beloved presidential history volumes that have yet to be replaced.)

I home school my girls and you better believe we talk about such things whenever the opportunity presents itself (and even when it doesn't).  

Our recent President's Day this past Monday definitely presented opportunity for discussion of our fine heritage.  We did trivia and coloring sheets and watched a video about Lincoln's boyhood.  

I was in heaven until...

I heard my two oldest girls squabbling in the other room.

"Why don't you just go to Washington D.C.!" 

Alright.  Lesson over.  I think we have all had enough.  

(I suppose she could have uttered something slightly worse...)


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Check out this video.  Every president.  Face-morphed.  Just like you've always wanted.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reasoning.

If it seems that this blog has become somewhat sporadic and unpredictable, it's because it has.  Since our move in December, life has been slow to regain routine and sensibility.  And some days I am pretty sure I am losing my mind.  

Hubby and I have been praying about and anticipating some big changes in our lives.  It seems that things are moving in the right direction, yet I am reluctant to share exactly what that might be until all is said and done.  My heart is full and my mind is consumed with many details.  (Don't worry.  This has nothing to do with adding children to the household.)

I am doing my best to keep up with all things bloggy.  Keep checking in.  I am still around.  And the coffee is still flowing freely.  

Long-held dreams seem to be materializing and that is always exciting.

And if all goes according to plan, there will plenty of blogworthy moments to share...



"Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new.
   It's bursting out! Don't you see it?
There it is! I'm making a road through the desert,
   rivers in the badlands."



Isaiah 43.19 (MSG)


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Friday, February 17, 2012

Rest In Peace, My Frigid Friend.

I first suspected something was up the evening before.  I sampled a bit of cheese that did not seem quite cold enough, but I easily shrugged it off.

Dear hubby had an inkling the next morning, when the milk tasted warm, but in his haste to get to work on time chalked it up to nothing.

It wasn't until the noon hour when I realized something smelled fishy.  Like literally.  I opened the freezer to prepare lunch and caught a skin-crawling whiff of "something-seriously-died-in-here."

What the heck?

I cautiously poked a package of ground beef.  Mush.  My homemade turkey stock.  Slosh.  And the deer steaks?  Forget about it.  They were history.

I am embarrassed to say I haven't cooked much in the last week or so.  In the last seven days we have had no less than 5 parties/banquets to attend or host.  (And two more big events I am hosting/planning in the coming week!  Not sure how this all got on the calendar in such a tight span of time, but its never happening again.)  So yeah.  My life is pretty intense right now.  Who could blame me for not noticing that my faithful fridge had gone kaput?  At least the light bulb was still working.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not entirely disappointed.  Inconvenienced?  Yes.  Devastated?  Not completely.  You see, we have been waiting for this to happen.  Old Faithful's days were numbered.  We inherited her from my parents in 2005.  Prior to that, my parents received her circa 1995 from friends who rescued her from yet another previous owner.  (I am confident she is almost as old as I am.) 

When I made the disgustingly delightful discovery, I phoned my sweet hubby at work right away.  ("Houston, we have a problem.")  Of course, he was involved in a lunch meeting so after I hastily broke the news, he quickly muttered something like "I'll look into getting it repaired and call you back later."    

*sigh*   

Not exactly the response I was hoping for.  What he didn't understand was that my 2-days-ago grocery trip was entirely spoiled and I had three feisty children begging me for lunch.  (And I really, really wanted a new refrigerator.  Like something manufactured in this century.)  

This called for an impromptu trip to Subway and a quest to find something from the grocery store for dinner that wouldn't require any refrigeration.  My solution?

Soup.
Crackers.
Fruit.

Then the phone rang.  And I heard it.  "Honey, I think maybe it's time we look into getting a new refrigerator."  Sweeter words could not have been spoken in that moment.  


So I'm going refrigerator shopping.  Soon.  For the first time ever 

Suggestions?  I'd love to hear what you like.  (Or don't like.)

I don't need a Cadillac and I am definitely on a budget, but after all these years, I'm in the market for something pretty stinkin' nice.



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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love and Cheese.

Beyond measure.  Blessed.  The man I call my husband is my greatest treasure.  My best friend.  My confidante.  My life.

I love this man.

And today in celebration of love, I honor him.  My hero.  My knight.  My heart.

Traditionally, my sweetie and I take turns plotting our Valentine's Day shenanigans.  And there isn't usually much that is very traditional about it.  Sure, red roses are pretty standard, but I've always preferred yellow.  Conversation hearts are a chalky distraction and cheap chocolate will never find room in my heart.

A couple of years ago, it was my turn.  (I have found that finding a great babysitter on Valentine's Day is pretty darn near impossible so we whisk the kids off to bed a trifle early and plan a quiet evening at home together.)  That particular year, I prepared a cheese tasting for two.  By candlelight.  I like my cheese the same way I like my coffee and my chocolate.  Rich, indulgent, and flavorful.

I carefully cut and prepared several cheeses and arranged them on a silver tray.  I served a sparkling white grape juice, crackers, grapes, and of course... Ghirardelli chocolates.  The cheeses included a hearty Gruyere, an imported Irish white cheddar, and a creamy brie.  I do not exaggerate when I say the cheese that stole the evening was the Limburger.  My hubby and I had never tasted Limburger before.  In fact, the only knowledge I had of the stinky cheese was from the crazy antics I had seen from actors on various tv shows and movies. I was convinced they were exaggerating.

I.  Was.  Wrong.


I have never before tasted a rotting rat carcass, but I am pretty sure it must taste something like Limburger cheese.  My dear husband wouldn't even allow me to keep it in the refrigerator for fear of it contaminating the neighboring food.  (Of course, it was one of the more costly cheeses, but into the trash it went.)  Up until that evening, I had never met a cheese I couldn't get along with.  


(After the cheese, the evening took a delightfully bizarre turn which resulted in a Perfect Strangers marathon.  Yeah, remember those guys???  Perhaps it was the Limburger talking...)


Last year, for Lee's turn, he erred on the side of caution and surprised me with a new coffee machine, a pound of my favorite brew, and a box of good chocolate.  

Divine perfection.

This year's antics are yet to be seen... but I do believe it's my turn

Happy Valentine's Day!  I wish you love, happiness, and coffee.




Coffee and love are best when they are hot.”



My favorite Limburger cheese movie moment...

 


 Hang my locket around your neck,
   wear my ring on your finger.
Love is invincible facing danger and death.
   Passion laughs at the terrors of hell.
The fire of love stops at nothing—
   it sweeps everything before it.
Flood waters can't drown love,
   torrents of rain can't put it out.
Love can't be bought, love can't be sold—
   it's not to be found in the marketplace.

Song of Sologmon 8.6-8 (MSG)

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Snow Queen.



Isn't she beautiful? Confident?  Sassy?

She doesn't officially have a name, however the girl down the street has dubbed her "The Snow Queen."  And it has stuck.

So she is our snow queen.

She is the result of our weekend Snow Day.

It was a family affair, a first for this winter and perhaps for the entire season.  And we definitely took advantage.

I only had one food color.  Blue.  I filled two spray bottles with colored water and we went to town.  

Fuschia scarf.
Charcoal buttons.
Dead grass hair.
Carrot nose.
Coffee ground eyes.  (Yes!)

And then we came in for cocoa.  And Coffee.  And it was beautiful.



Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee.  ~Stephanie Piro


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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Easy as pie.

"If it was that easy everyone would be doing it." 

Not. Exactly. True. 

Some people genuinely don't know how to save money.  It's a skill set that is learned.  (And trust me, I have learned some hard lessons along the way.)

I find myself trapped in a culture that is continually trying to manipulate me into thinking I need everything right now.  And I can do it on credit!  Bad idea.  Very.  Bad.  Idea.

Now I love Saturday morning cartoons as much as the next girl.  (Grownups are still allowed to watch those, right???)  But the commercials!  They are so heavily marketed towards my children especially that it makes me ill.  My three sweet daughters are convinced they need a Happy Napper(I have yet to fully understand how they are much different from the plethora of Pillow Pets they already own.)  They are wishing for Stompeez (Slippers that open their eyes or mouth when you stomp.  Just what every parent needs.)  and my dear hubby and I can't live without a Forever Lazy.  (Ummm... no.)

I am always looking to save a buck for the family, but its not as hard you might think.  A few of my favorite ways to save:


1.  Watch for tricks.  Stores are always running sale and specials, but sometimes they sound too good to be true... and they are.  For example, if you have $1.00 item that is on Buy One Get One 1/2 Off sale, you would pay $1.50 for 2 of them which amounts $.75 each.  Doesn't sound too bad.  If the store were running a 30% off sale on the same $1.00 item, it would amount to $.70... a better deal!  Most people gravitate to the BOGO sales, but they are not necessarily the best deal.  Use a calculator if you have to, and be smart.

2.  Ditch the landline.  We were paying close to $50.00 a month for a basic land line phone that no one ever called except for the occasional telemarketer.  Even though hubby and I both have cell phones, I still worried about not having a home phone when we had a babysitter over or for other emergenices.  For us the answer was Magic Jack.  The initial device is about $70, then only $19.95 for a year of service.  Yes.  A whole year, including call waiting, caller id and voicemail.  The device plugs into your computer or in to an electrical outlet and uses your internet to make the service work.  We have never had a problem.  So worth it.

3.  Go partial.  I like to look good, and I am usually willing to spend a little cash to make that happen.  I used to spend close to $100 to get my hair cut and highlighted until my lovely hairdresser let me in on a little secret.  A partial highlight cost less than half of that and produced almost the same results.  A partial highlights the top layer of your hair, the part that everyone sees.  Makes total sense!  Now I can get the same look for less than $50.

4.  Cut back on cable.  How many channels do you really need?  Unfortunately, I live in a rural area where we get nothing but PBS.  We have the most basic of cable only to watch football.  (Go Packers!)  And the Olympics. In fact, we actually saved money on our cable bill by adding basic tv service to our internet service.  They love to bundle services together!  Go figure!

We also subscribe to Netflix streaming service for $7.99/month.  The movie selection isn't that great, but their TV show selection is incredible.  My girls can watch all of their favorite Nickelodeon shows, hubby gets his Discovery Channel fix, and I get to catch up on my favorite crime dramas.  And the best part?  No commercials.

5.  Eating out.  We don't eat out too often, but when we do, we're pretty smart about it.  Know which restaurants offer Kids Eat Free nights.  Usually they happen on weekdays and even in our town there is at least one restaurant for each day of the week.

Order water (drinks are the most over-priced item on the menu!) and if possible, eat out at lunch instead of dinner.  Prices are lower and portions smaller.  Better for your budget and waistline!

Split an order with another family member (depending on where you're dining, portions can be massive) especially for a picky eater.  I hate spending the money for a mediocre "Kids Meal" that is ultimately left uneaten.  Don't be afraid to ask for an extra plate and let your child share your meal.

6.  Pay cash for vehicles.  I haven't made a car payment in nearly 5 years.  Perfect?  No.  Paid for?  You betcha.  Look on Craigslist.  Search the paper.  Talk to people around town.  There are deals to be had.  And if you don't know anyone who knows anything about cars... make friends with one.  We own two vehicles.  Both paid for.  Not having a car payment has been one of the most financially liberating decisions we have ever made as a family.  The vehicles we drive are not as new as the ones we used to drive, but... they're paid for.
And that makes all the difference.


Now if I could just figure out a way to get my coffee for free... nah.  
It's worth every penny.


This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday.


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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snow Day.

You had me at "Winter Storm Warning."  

And "Travel Not Advised." 

Better late than never.  

This is the day I have wished for

(Read more here:  Bring It On. )

I have nowhere to be, except wallowing in the white with three happy kidlets.

I.  Love.  Snow.

I have steeled myself with a double dose of hot coffee and I am preparing to venture out.


When it is all said and done, the yard will be populated with all manner of snowmen and snow angels and snow forts will abound to house each one.  


And when we eventually find ourselves frosty and frozen... there will be cocoa.  

Creamy.  Steamy.  Cocoa.


It's Iowa.  It snows.   And I like it.

Oh happy day.







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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Discovery.

Fresh discovery is a wonder.  

Crisp.  
Invigorating.  
Motivating.

My fabulous hubby truly surprised me this past Christmas with a new coffee grinder.  It's entirely superb and just the thought of using it is enough to propel me out of bed in the morning.  This morning, creativity struck unusually early (before coffee... a serious marvel in itself).  I tossed a bit of cinnamon stick into the grinder along with my beloved beans. 

Perfection.

Nevermind the fact that this Iowa winter is breaking century-old weather records with 60 degree temperatures this week.  I close my eyes, warm cup in hand, and envision a winter wonderland.  The weatherman is suggesting my wish may come true this weekend, in which case, we will finally be breaking out the sleds.  (Woohoo!)

In the meantime, it is 61 degrees and I am taking the kidlets to the library... on foot.


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