Friday, August 29, 2008

I love free (& cheap!) stuff

I love coupons! They are great. It's fun to see how much money you can save by getting the best deal possible.

One thing I think some people do that messes up the whole saving-money part of using coupons is that they use coupons for products they MIGHT use. Only use coupons when you are sure you will use the product (I never let anything go to waste in our kitchen, sometimes we'll eat leftovers days in a row because I won't cook something new until we make sure we have eaten what we already have!). If you don't like cottage cheese, don't use a coupon for nearly-free cottage cheese just because you can.

I cut out or print off coupons for products that we either already use, or things I am pretty sure I would like (like Laughing Cow cheese, I got that based on a coupon & really liked it). Coupons are a fun way to try new things, but try to minimalize risk.

Josh & I drink coffee on Sunday mornings, & he will read the newspaper while I cut out coupons. It has become a fun time for us, plus I get really excited about what I find!

Also, I'm not sure about other grocery stores because we live in HEB land, but I'm sure they are doing this as well: HEB has been putting out TONS of their own coupons that have really good deals!! Make sure you check out the coupon section at your grocery store.

Here are some great links for websites you can check almost daily for new coupons:

The Mom Advice blog also puts up codes for free Redbox rentals.

If you know of any other great blogs, please let me know!

Enjoy saving money!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

why oh why??

For some reason, I have discovered that most of my nail polishes are both really old & all pink. I mean, not that you want to be painting your toe nails purple or green (or maybe you do, but I don't), but I didn't have any reds. Plus since they are old, I thought I'd buy a new one. So yesterday I bought a new red nail polish.

Just now I was painting my toe nails. Why oh why do sometimes I do a good job painting my toe nails, & sometimes it looks like I dipped my feet in red or pink paint? I don't know. But today's situation was the latter, unfortunately.

So I'm on coat two, getting nail polish all over my toes, but you know, it comes off when you bathe, or at least it seems to be gone by the next day, so I'm holding on to hope that it will look good tomorrow.

A blob drops on to our bathroom tile. Eek! So I quickly get it off with my finger, then go to wash the nail polish off my finger at the sink. It won't come off with just water, so I rub it off with two other fingers. Blast! It just spread all over. I grab the nail polish remover & pour it on my fingers & rub them together. Why oh why doesn't nail polish remover work on skin?! I tried soap, to no avail.

So now I look like I grabbed a knife by the wrong end. Here I go out into the world, to show everyone my nail polishing skillz!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chicken to tide you over

Sorry for the lack of posting! I have been really busy with work stuff. Not the kind of busy that it is affecting my normal routine (working out, laundry, cooking, etc), so it's a good kind of busy. Either way, I haven't had much time to blog!

I did mean to tell you though, we voted in book club on the books for the next several months, & there are some good ones, & you can be looking for an interesting review for the first book in a couple of weeks!

For now, here is an easy & yummy recipe (I don't know where I got it, but I don't take credit for it!):

Company Chicken

4 chicken breasts (I got three massive ones, so I cut them in half, ending up with six smaller ones - I like downsizing most servings anyways so you don't feel obligated to eat what it placed in front of you)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
4 oz sour cream (half a small container)
Bacon (I aimed for two per chicken breast)
Salt & pepper (I used garlic salt, I love garlic)
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Season chicken with salt & pepper.
Wrap each chicken breast in bacon.
Place chicken in baking dish.
Mix sour cream & soup & cover chicken with mixture.
Bake at 300 for 2 hours.
In the last 5 mins, cover in mozzarella cheese.

Josh got real excited when he realized there was bacon in there!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

good stuff

For the word of God is living & active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul & of spirit, of joints & of marrow, & discerning the thoughts & intentions of the heart.

& no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked & exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy & find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:12-16

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pickle Pants (& a discovery)

Yesterday I opened a jar of pickles & juice got all over my pants. Eww.

Did you know pickles are a super low calorie snack? They do have plenty of sodium though, so don't eat a jar for lunch or anything.

Speaking of food, I have a new yummy snack - 100 calorie packs of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen butter cookies! WAY YUM! I know some nutritionists don't like the 100 calorie packs, because they don't have many nutritional benefits, or whatever, but let's get real - sometimes you just need a sugary snack, & better to eat only 100 calories of it than more! Plus I love love love carbs, in any form (bread, crackers, cookies, cake, muffins, most sugar in general), so I got really excited when I discovered they are truly yum (& won't go straight to my hips :-) ).

I am in organize mode! I have been trying to transform our dining room-turned-study into my personal office, while also trying to clear out what we don't need/use in there & in Toby's room (aka the junk room, also our future baby room), so we can simplify & get junk up in the attic instead of around the house. It's quite the task! But I am motivated so I must run with it while that feeling exists. I hope to start painting/working on our bathroom after we get back from vacation, so I think that's my next project... it will be quite the transformation I think, so I will definitely put up pictures when it's done (but don't expect that to be too soon!).

I found a great new blog - Mom Advice (there is also a link to the left). She puts up great homemaker stuff, mom stuff, also posts where there are free giveaways (such as yesterday, a code for a free movie from Go explore!

Friday, August 15, 2008

what a stud

I have to brag.

Yesterday Josh got his second raise in 5 months!!! We were both very surprised but very thankful!! He's only been with the company a little over a year, but they have taken notice of not only his hard work, but the fact that he cares about people & of course is super friendly, & they have made it obvious that they are very impressed with him & want to invest in him because they want him to move up quickly. I'm so proud of him! He loves the Lord & his coworkers know that & I know God has HUGE plans to use Josh in his company.

I also got a raise earlier this week because lately I have taken on more responsibilities with the church. I have been encouraged & excited about my job after some recent blah-ness, so I'm thankful for what God is doing with that.

So, we are going to dinner to celebrate tonight! :-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I just ate a really good nectarine. Mmmmmm!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A couple things, & banana pudding

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I have been pretty busy, believe it or not! I went to a two-day conference last week. It was a leadership conference put on by the Willow Creek church in Chicago & we watched it here as a simulcast. It was really good.

For those of you who have been praying for my knees (thank you for asking how I'm doing!), they are doing slightly better. I can do the elliptical now for 30 minutes which is really great since it used to hurt to do it for 5. I walk on the treadmill every day, & today, I just wanted to RUN. Back in the day when I used to run 2 miles during my workout, I never would have thought that if I stopped, I would miss it. But I do. So often I wish I could just take off & run. Today I succumbed & ran a quarter of a mile, fast! It was great even though I couldn't push it more than that. I'm continuing to pray for healing!

I do have a new recipe. It is called Aunt Betty's Banana Pudding (from I made it for life group last week. It is really yummy, & pretty rich, so serve up smaller portions than you usually would.

Aunt Betty's Banana Pudding

2 (3.4 ounce) instant vanilla pudding mix (I used french vanilla)
1 cup milk
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz) container sour cream (I used fat free)
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (again, fat free, I promise it won't take away from the taste)
6 bananas, sliced (I thought that was a lot, I used 3)
1/2 (12 oz) package vanilla wafers (I used almost the whole package, everyone knows that is the best part!)


In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix and milk and stir until mix is dissolved. Refrigerate 15 minutes, until partially set.

Stir condensed milk into pudding mixture until smooth. Fold in sour cream and whipped topping. Fold in bananas.

Make a single layer of vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 9x13 inch dish. Spread pudding evenly over wafers. (I repeated this process, with about 4 layers of wafers & pudding). Crush remaining wafers and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate until serving.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soup & short bread (ohh I giggle!)

So, I tried two new recipes Monday. One for a soup, out of my Four Ingredient cookbook, & another for Irish Soda Bread (recipe from one of the blogs I visit, click here for the recipe & pictures of the bread he made). I love trying new recipes; I even love it more than redoing recipes that I know are good. So trying TWO new recipes at once?! I was having a blast in the kitchen.


To me, in the world of cooking, there is nothing more disappointing than trying a new recipe that you think will turn out great, & it doesn't.

So, two disappointments in one day stinks!

Let me start with the soup.

Essentially, the recipe in the book called for vegetable broth, roasted garlic, boiled potatoes, & parsley. I threw in some carrots & leeks. I let it simmer a good while, because I like all the flavors to mingle, & used lots of salt, pepper, & even eventually hot sauce to give it a kick. It was okay. It was bland; none of the flavors really... expressed themselves. I'm going to add ground beef to the leftovers to get some meat in there (the lack of was Josh's #1 complaint). I won't remake it.

Now for the bread. Here's the recipe for Irish Soda Bread (again, from a blog):

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 cup buttermilk

1. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and oats in a bowl.
2. Mix in the buttermilk and form a dough.
3. Shape the dough and place it on a baking sheet or in a loaf pan.
4. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40 minutes (the top should be golden brown).

I don't have a bread maker yet, so this recipe appealed to me (plus it did not involve kneading, PLUS plus the picture looked really yummy). So I made it. It smelled really good baking that is for sure! I pulled it out aaannnddd.....

It had risen a full 1 1/2 inches!!!!!

Um... alright!

It tasted good, but I had a bit of a problem with the size. After asking the good cook man owner of the blog, he suggested my baking soda may have been expired - indeed, it was to expire soon (altho it hadn't expired YET, but whatever).

I will for sure make it again, probably soon, new baking soda box in tow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Because you didn't get enough last week...

For those of you who read through my post about complaining a few days ago, I wanted to write about what our pastor talked about regarding those same verses this past Sunday.

Either later today or tomorrow I'm going to post about the two new recipes I tried, so check back for that.

You know the two points we focused on in our life group when discussing the verses Philippians 2:14-15. Our pastor mainly focused on something else that I want to follow up on. He did talk about how complaining is always our fault - we complain, sometimes to place blame on something or someone else that is just ruining our day, but it's always our fault:

James 4:1-2 - "What causes fights & quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill & you covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel & fight."

(Again, I must reiterate, it absolutely makes me sick how selfish we really are. We think SO HIGHLY of ourselves that we must complain when things don't go our way!)

But what he spent most of his time talking about is what happens when we DON'T complain (because since the Bible says not to do it; usually good things happen when we are obedient; so God has a purpose for telling us not to complain).

First, we look very very different from the world when we don't complain. Everybody complains. It can even help "bond" people, if there is nothing else to talk about - complain about something ("can you BELIEVE this heat??" "my husband did this thing again, ugh, men!", etc). So not complaining makes us stand out, which is what we're going for - not looking like the world, but looking like Jesus. Accepting situations & thanking Jesus for how good He is - IMAGINE the stares!!

A few other points... God is able to work & receive glory when we don't complain. Taking our eyes off ourselves lets God use us! I'm sure you have noticed, as I have, that when we are being selfish, we create a bit of a barrier for God to work.

I become aware of what God is doing - again, that whole taking-our-eyes-off-ourselves thing, & being aware of the conditions & needs of others shows us what God is doing or wants to do around & through you.

I will experience the presence of the Holy Spirit when I don't complain. It's hard to be selfless, & it's hard not to complain, since it's our nature to do so. But when we fight that nature & obey the call of God on our lives, we experience joy & peace & realize how good He is!

At church we all got bracelets to wear to help us not to complain . When we find ourselves complaining, we are to change the bracelet from one wrist to the next. It's a 21-day challenge. I'm hoping those three weeks will train me to become aware of when I am tempted to complain, & be able to take my selfish thoughts & throw them out the window (or my ear, that being the gateway to my head, to make that metaphor work literally... oh but metaphors aren't literal? Hm).

Note: this is in no way a "positive thinking" thing, like many worldly self-help programs. It's important to know the scripture & do what it takes to become obedient to it. & that's it.

I hope you'll try to stop complaining with me!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

go exploring!

I have added a new section to the blog layout - cooking &/or homemaker blogs. Check them out! There are lots of fun recipes to explore, as well as useful tips for the home. I will add new ones as I find ones I like. If you have any blogs or websites I need to know about, please share!

I promise I will start posting recipes soon. I will only post recipes that I have tried & think are worth sharing. Unfortunately, it is much cheaper these days to fix easy meals like rice & grilled chicken & broccoli, or even hamburger helper, so I don't try out new recipes as often as I would like. But I am busting out my four-ingredient cookbook tomorrow night so I'll let you know if it turns out well.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Would you like some cheese with your whine?

This week at Life Group we talked about complaining, based on Philippians 2:14-15:

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless & innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked & twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."

& it was one of those times when I realize what a big fat loser I am. You know those times? They are bittersweet. It is a blessing to have the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to know that you are being refined to look more like Jesus, but at the same time you realize how much "flesh" is still left in you, & you grieve over it, because you don't want to sin!

But recently God revealed something to me - one of those times when He makes a truth very real to you, & all of a sudden it makes perfect sense. I am not to make myself good for God, but instead God is making me good, over time. He does not shake his head at us & "tsk, tsk" when we sin - He says, "it's okay, get back up, we'll try again." (Please note that I speak of true believers, people that know the Lord; He forgives our sin because we are covered by the blood of Jesus. He is a just God & people who do not accept Jesus' sacrifice for us will be judged accordingly [hell].)

All that to say, all of my life I have been a rule-follower. This is not necessarily a bad thing (in my opinion, of course!). But because of my rule-following nature, I have always thought I need to just do the right thing, creating my own righteousness basically, then when I messed up I beat myself up over it. I lacked grace for others & myself. But God is revealing His grace to me. I am finally seeing His love & salvation for us as a perfect mix of grace & the law. When we love the Lord & know Him, we need to & should want to obey Him. & God is showing me how grace fits in perfectly.

It's so good when God reveals truth to you. It might not make sense in any logical kind of way, but God is so much bigger than logic.

Back to complaining. We kept coming back to two things: first, we complain because we think we have rights. We have the right to be treated in the best way by everyone, we have the right to go about our way without disturbance, we have the right for everything to be exactly how we want it. & when those things don't happen, we complain. Yuuccckk. How selfish are we. We, especially as Christians, have no rights! If only we lived life for Jesus instead of ourselves. If only we could stop thinking of ourselves as so important.

Second thing: everything comes back to the condition of your heart. Only you know why you say what you say. You know if you want to tear someone down, or if you have a genuine concern for their situation. You know the intent of your words. (Hopefully you've noticed by now that most of the time, when I say "you, " I mean everyone, the general public, including myself.) If ONLY everything I said were profitable!!

God is working in my heart in this whole complaining thing.