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Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Joys


I love Christmas. We have enjoyed starting our own family Christmas traditions while we were overseas, and it was fun to continue some of those this year. One things we decided was that we would have donuts for breakfast Christmas morning. Now I usually make them but since we are a couple blocks away from a Krispy Kreme, I decided to seize the opportunity and get the good stuff. After dinner Christmas Eve we went to look at Christmas lights, I loved doing this as a child, so it was fun taking Calvin. We went to an older prominent part of town and every house looked so quaint. We had fun picking out our favorites. Calvin even enjoyed the show. The little guy didn't fall asleep until after 9:00, that's super late for a guy who goes to be at 7:30.
I found this slide on Craig's list and was so excited to give it to Calvin. He loves to slide at the park and he certainly was excited when he saw it. He is getting to be quite the climber now and has tried his best to get up the slide part, fortunately it doesn't work well in socks. We have to watch him now due to his climbing skills. He surprisingly has very good balance, today he was standing up on his little rocking horse and letting go of his grasp. His daddy was impressed, I however was terrified.
We spent time with both sides of the family and enjoyed our time with them. Calvin was the center of attention at my parents. He's the only grandchild and the youngest great grandchild. We had lunch with my grandma at the nursing home and he received a lot of attention from all the residents.
After some time with my family we headed to Marvin's family and it was great to see everybody. Calvin had a blast playing with his cousins. I love watching him around other children and the girls love showing him what to do. For a kid who doesn't need much we sure brought a bunch of new toys home. He has been pushing his new dump truck all over the house today and I am thankful for new books (I was getting bored of reading the same ones everyday). So it was a great Christmas and great time with family. We are thankful we were close enough to enjoy it with them this year.

Christmas Projects

Since everyone has received their Christmas present from us I can safely post the things I made this year. I had a lot of fun finding some neat things to create for people this Christmas. Marvin and I both love being givers and that hope Calvin can learn how to be a cheerful giver one day.

First up are towels that I sewed a ribbon to both sides. They turned out very cute. The polka dot towels are my favorite.

Next up was a purse to hold the ponies I got for our nieces. This was inspired by something I saw that was to hold crayons. I modified it and it turned out pretty cute.

These purses open up and they can store ponies or whatever else you want inside. I'm planning on making something like this for Calvin's toys to put in our diaper bag. It's always a pain that they are at the bottom of the bag. I want something I can pull out quickly.


I saw a website on how to make your own bows out of magazine pages. They were too cute. Here's the site if your interested they are very easy:


Of course we had to make some goodies to share with friends. This year we "made" chocolate chip pancake mix & chocolate cake in a mug. We tried both and they were delicious.

I found the Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Pancake mix recipe on the Right at Home Website (Johnson Family Company). It originally was for dried fruit instead of chocolate chips but you can never go wrong when you add chocolate.
The Chocolate Cake in a Mug was on this website: http://www.5dollardinners.com/2008/12/christmas-gifts.html

Menu for the Week

Last week I plain forgot to post our menu. I was so busy working on several projects but thankfully they all turned out well, but that's for the next post.

Monday-Corn Chowder in Bread bowls with side salad

Tuesday-Sweet and Sour Turkey, cooked carrots & side salad
Wednesday: Steaks, Twice baked potatoes, steamed broccoli & homemade bread

Thursday: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Large breakfast since Marvin has the day off, YAY!!! French toast using the homemade bread from night before and fruit. Dinner: Pizza, tossed salad, peas & carrots
Friday: Shepherd's pie (I think vegetarian, but I need to find the recipe first), side salad and left over veggies
Saturday: Leftover mania!

Last week I went a bit over budget, so I'm determined this week to stay under. Last week we spent $70.32, largely due to the fact I bought Tahini, yikes I didn't know it was that pricey and we were traveling. Oh well, the hummus was yummy and I can make more now that I have Tahini.


This week was much better as I spent $41.66 but I still need to buy eggs. I hate it when I forget my list. It's crazy how much more food you can buy if you don't have those big ticket items like diapers and Tahini.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Week in Review

Saturday Calvin and I headed to Manhattan to see my little bro Graduate! After lots of years at K-State, he finally is finished. Congrats Aaron!!!!


Sunday: Marvin and I were Mary and Joseph at an event called a Night in Bethlehem. There was a great turn out and Calvin got to hang out with grandpa and grandma while we were busy in the stable. I didn't really think about the fact that I am allergic to hay and immediately I started coughing and by breathing became tighter, but I stuck it out because the show must go on. I am still having trouble with this respiratory junk. Last night I had to sleep on the couch because I couldn't stop coughing. I knew Marvin had to be up early so I thought it was silly if both of us didn't get any sleep. The next time someone asks me to be in a stable for a couple of hours I will say no, for health reasons obviously. Here are so pictures from Sunday:


My Dad enjoying the bread shop.


Weaving

Calvin even ran into his buddy at the woodworking shop.


My mom took this picture which explains why Marvin's head is cut off. You can't see from this picture but we had a little goat and a donkey in the stable too. Oh an Marvin grew a beard for his part.

Here are the goods from my grocery shopping this week. I decided to take a picture because a few blogs I follow do this and I always think that it doesn't look like very many groceries. I decided to compare mine to theirs, once I got everything out of the bags I was amazed at how 'little' there was. I did pretty good this week, the only thing not pictured is a bag of chips I bought on Friday. The grand total for this week was $37.09 for Dillons and Aldi. I am really trying to work with a $50.00/week budget these next couple of months while Marvin's work is a bit slow and he has fewer hours. We'll see how I do.

QUESTION: Does anyone go to a bread discount stores for their bread? Is bread cheaper than it is at Aldi? (I usually pay $1.69 for whole grain and then I buy Whole Grain White for $1.29.) Let me know.

The rest of the week was spent sewing. I have been working diligently during Calvin's naps to try to finish a few Christmas projects and to get my quilt finished. I finally got Calvin's zipper fixed in his heavy winter coat. It looks uglier than sin, but it now zips and I was too frustrated to rip it out for the gazillionth time. I hate ripping seams out. I finished sewing the kitchen curtains, this project is long overdue, but am happy that they are finished. I am very close to finishing my quilt, I am so excited. I have it pieced together now it's time to put the backing on. And most of my Christmas projects are almost complete. I know I like to start way too many projects, it might drive a few people crazy but it keeps me motivated and I have told myself that I will finish every single one of them. Can't wait to show you guys pictures. So that is what we were up to this week. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Busy Toddler

Calvin has kept us busy lately. He still remains a child who never stops moving, but he is a lot of fun and we love all that energy of his. (Sometimes more than others.) He started saying mama recently which has been beautiful, the whining has substantially gone down and it just is fun to hear words come out of his mouth. He is pretty good about signing more, please and all done but it's nice to hear him say a few things.

I thought I'd share a few good pictures of Calvin in action. Enjoy!

I discovered him like this yesterday while I was fixing dinner. He is very into seeing if his body fits into things right now. I am ready for the day when he remembers he can't stand up under the table. One of these days he'll remember, until then he'll continue to get extras hugs and kisses from mama.
He loves sitting in this pan. He fits perfectly.
He is quite the observer, he always has been, but now we are seeing him act out things he has learned. Yesterday morning he grabbed one of my weights and walked over the the TV and started lifting it up and down. The TV wasn't even on, it was pretty cute.
And now this is what happens when I leave something on the table within Calvin's reach. Nice!

In a funk

I am definitely a procrastinator. I always have been, and it certainly is a character flaw I try to work on, but lately I have let it get the best of me. I've been staying on top of things in the kitchen but everything else has seemed to be put off. Laundry is one of those tasks that has been something I have put off until absolutely necessary lately. I think it is partially due to the fact that it's freezing in our utility room and I hate going in there. So today I decided to get on it before it gets the best of me. I even picked up the house a bit and after this is posted I'm off to clean the bathrooms. I was thinking of what kind of set this off and I concluded it was when Marvin was on vacation. Our little routine was interrupted, in a good way of course, but I just never got back on track. So I'm hoping to spend less time piddling on the Internet and more time being productive during Calvin's nap times. Marvin's work schedule has changed quite a bit this winter. Last week he worked late several days but this week he has come home early. So my new goal is to work out and shower by noon! I know, that may seem to baffle some of you but I have been working out during Calvin's afternoon nap, therefore getting ready for the day is delayed a bit. There have been a few days that Marvin came home early and I was still in my workout clothes, which look a lot like the clothes I wore to bed. I really try to look a little more put together than that when he gets home. So those are my challenges for the next week before we head out of town for Christmas.

On a completely random note we've been watching The Biggest Loser this season and of course we have been rooting for the Black team because Heba and Vicky just drove us crazy, so we were very pleased to see Michelle win. Even though certain people drove us crazy on the show, it was so great to see how amazing they look now. I know it was a lot of work. It's funny how I was so proud and happy for these people I don't even know.

Okay off to work out and clean!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meals this week

Monday: Turkey Tetrazzini with salad, steamed veggies, & cranberry jello
Tuesday: Potato Soup with homemade rolls, pears, and salad
Wednesday: King Ranch Turkey Casserole, steamed veggies, clemintines, and salad
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Turkey Fried Rice w/ lots of veggies & fruits
Saturday: Biscuits and Gravy
Sunday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad & steamed veggies

I didn't go to the grocery store today because it's just too stinkin cold. (Marie I am impressed you actually took a walk in this stuff today.) The thought of getting Calvin out in this weather was enough to keep up at home. He isn't the easiest person to get bundled up and we usually lose a hat or mitten before he is finished getting ready. I desprately need to go tomorrow as we are running out of the basics and there are several great deals at Dillons this week that I need to take advantage of. It's times like these I wish you could just submit my order and they'd deliver my groceries to my door. Wouldn't that be beautiful.....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things on my Heart

Calvin and I headed to the zoo on Monday because the weather was perfect and we wanted to soak up being outside while the weather allowed. We pulled in and I was getting the stroller out and notice this guy yelling at this young girl and she was walking quickly away from him. He followed her yelling ugly things, things children should not be hearing. She was too far from him and heading our direction so he went to get his car. Our paths crossed just as her boyfriend drove up. She was crying and shaking and kept saying she was okay. I could feel her boyfriend burning a hole in the back of my head with his glare. We chatted for a while, but I couldn't convince her to take that scary step and walk a little bit farther away from him. She assured me she called her mother and she would be fine, so I told her I would alert security. By the looks of things I could clearly see her boyfriend was not happy. I was really torn about what to do, for one thing I was deeply concerned for this girl, no one should ever be treated as she was treated, yet I had my son with me, whom God has called me to care for. So I let security handle the situation and I started praying.

As we walked through the zoo I was very shaken by this little encounter, abuse is something that makes my blood boil. In fact it infuriates me. But as I was praying a little of my heart was revealed as well. I was struck by my somewhat double standard, how terrible it is to abuse another person and yet how I do the same thing to God. I am not proud to admit but sometimes I do neglect God. I'm too 'busy' to spend time with him, too busy to be fed by him. My heart was suddenly ashamed and convicted of my sin. Sometimes these lessons aren't always easy to learn, but I am thankful for them and thankful for a forgiving God.

Seriously..who buys these things


Oh it's that time of year again. Time to be bombarded by things others think we need to have. I was at the store the other day and was really blown away by this one. Who really needs another appliance and this one for that matter, my guess is this is for your serious hotdog lover. (I appologize if anyone actually owns this.)


Monday, December 08, 2008

Meals this week

Monday-Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots , Rice & Salad

Tuesday-Texas Cowboy Pie, fruit, Salad & Steamed Veggies
NEW RECIPE from http://grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/2008/10/stretching-your-food.html

Wednesday-NEW RECIPE Black Bean & Corn Chili, Cheese Quesadillas & Side Salad

Thursday-Date Night

Friday-Left Overs, but making fudge and cookies for The Night in Bethlehem on Saturday and Sunday

Saturday-Waffles for breakfast then off to watch my little bro graduate from college!!

Sunday-NEW RECIPE Curried Turkey Salad Sandwiches, pickles, oven fries and steamed veggies
Marvin and I are Mary and Joseph on Sunday so Dinner we'll have pizzas pre-made and then frozen along with Salad & Fruit.


Things to Do in the Kitchen this week:
  • Cook Black Beans and freeze in baggies
  • Bake Muffins for the freezer
  • Mix up some waffles for the freezer
  • Make pizzas and freeze for Sunday Dinner
Help Please
I did the math and muffins & breads are a super cheap form of quick breakfasts and snacks for Marvin's lunch box. I'm on the hunt for some healthy recipes, so if you have any let me know. Also we are hoping to have Broccoli and Cheese soup in bread bowls this Christmas Eve, so I'm looking for a good recipe, the one I have is terrible. So bring on the recipes, as you can see I'm not afraid to try something new. In fact it is one of my favorite things.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Inflatable Fun

video

Calvin always loves it when his buddy comes to play. This week was no different, they had some serious fun in the "ball pit".

Shake Your Groove Thing

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Enjoy Calvin's latest dance moves.

Why I love Walgreens


So last week Walgreens had some amazing Register Rewards. I was able to pick up a Christmas Tree for basically 15 dollars, and some other great deals. Then they sweetened the deal later in the week with more Register Rewards. So I had a ton to use this week. I paid 2 cents out of pocket for all this loot. That's right 2 cents, but I'll get $7.00 back in rebates at the end of the month. My husband was very impressed when I got home. It only took 3 transactions and lots of careful calculating, but it was well worth it!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Productivity

Whoa! Today our house was in need of some major cleaning. After traveling and getting out our Christmas decorations it was getting pretty desperate for some TLC. Here are two problem spots for me where things just seem to accumulate:


Now that's better!

After working like a crazy little bee during Calvin's nap both spaces are clutter free, for now. The table was a mess of stuff that I just kept adding to while we were decorating yesterday, so it took the bulk of my time because everything was from various parts of the house. I also got the dishes done and the recycling sorted, whew now that's getting a lot done in an hour and a half. My goal is for it to stay clutter free until I start my sewing projects next week.

Speaking of goals, I have several for this month.
  1. I'm making several Christmas gifts and one needs to be one ASAP and I hope to finish that before the weekend is over.
  2. I want to finish Calvin's baby book. It's half way finished and I don't have nearly as many pictures for the second half.
  3. I seriously want to finish the quilt I started a LONG time ago. I just need to piece the rows together and add the packing. I am making a cover for a blanket, for when we go overseas, since we already bought a blanket, it just needs a little beautifying.
  4. Make a few more burp cloths. I'd rather have that mess a bit more organized and it's amazing how much less space they take up when they are finished. Plus I figured while I have the machine out I should sew as much as possible.

So I guess I have my work cut out for me, considering we have busy weekends almost every weekend this month. How about you guys what are your problem areas of your house (I do hope I'm not the only one)? What are you planning on doing this Christmas season?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Good Eats for the Week

Here's our menu this week. Since Marvin's home for the week I hope to make a few warm lunches since he usually has sandwiches everyday, which means a bit more cooking but it's worth it.

Monday-Popcorn Chicken (from angel food) sweet potatoes, apples & raspberries
Tuesday-NEW RECIPE BBQ lentils over brown rice (I saw this on a website called 5 Dollar dinners http://www.5dollardinners.com/), steamed broccoli & fresh dinner rolls (see recipe below)
Wednesday-NEW RECIPE Pasta toss w/sausage & Peppers with a side salad, oranges and peas
Thursday-NEW RECIPE Potato Pizzas, Salad, raspberries and Steamed veggies
Friday-Homemade Chicken Nuggets, salad, home fries, pears
Saturday-Leftovers
Sunday-Speaking again so we'll be out of town for lunch and maybe we'll have some leftovers or popcorn chicken for dinner (we always get way too much of this stuff. Marvin loves it, but it's so-so in my book.)

Lunch ideas:
Mac & Cheese w/ veggies
Roasted Turkey legs with couscous & veggies
Egg Sandwiches (hey they are warm)
Chicken and Rice soup
Grilled Cheese

Without further ado here is my favorite bread recipe. Why is my favorite? Because you can put it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and it can be used for all sorts of things. I have used it for cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and it has turned out great every time. Plus my husband loves meat, but we have a lot of meatless meals around our place, but I learned early into our marriage if I make him fresh bread he's a happy camper, even if there isn't meat on his plate.

No Rise Roll Mix
1 T. yeast
1 T. sugar
½ c. Warm water

Dissolve then add to mix:
½ c. oil
1 c. buttermilk
(Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to 1 c. regular milk and let stand for 5 minutes if you don't have buttermilk)
½ c. sugar
½ t. baking soda
5 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour & 2 1/2 c. white flour (approx. and I think it takes a bit more) *Original recipe called for 5 c. all purpose flour

Keep adding more flour till it forms a ball to knead. Knead well. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Make sure you use a container that has some extra space because it will rise in the fridge. Pull off what you need and bake it. For rolls I usually bake it at 350 for about 12 minutes.

So much to be thankful for

I hope you had a great thanksgiving. We had fun spending time with family and new friends in our whirlwind trip. We had a good time on Thanksgiving and like always more people came than expected, things were close quarters but there was enough food to go around. We seriously had the best turkey I've ever had in my life. Way to go Uncle Jeff, he certainly knows what he is doing, but I guess he is a professional. That turkey is going to be hard to beat and ranks right up there with the steak we had on our honeymoon. We had our dinner in a small room at the nursing home my grandma is at, so Calvin enjoyed running up and down the halls, being tempted by all the pretty things hanging on people's doors. The dressing was his favorite dish of the day, he loves bread in any form, so it's no surprise this is what he loved.

My bro took Calvin for a little spin up and down the halls. Calvin is so fascinated with my grandma's wheelchair.

We had a good time with Marvin's family, but it felt too short. Calvin was in love with the rocking horse Marvin's parents have. Every time he climbed up on the rocking horse all by himself it reminded me of how quickly he is growing up. He certainly loved the time he had with his cousins and loved playing with his Aunt Angie, we can't wait until Christmas.

Calvin did spectacular on our trip out to Colorado, he took some great naps in route and was able to be entertained while confined to his car seat the rest of the trip. We were able to stop at a park for lunch on the way and he had so much fun running around. We were thankful to spend a good solid hour playing before we had to get back in the car and drive some more. He always surprises me at how well he does. He certainly is a trooper.

We were excited to find out the hotel we were staying at had a pool, so we walked across the street and thankfully Alco still had a some swim wear because I didn't pack any. We didn't make the reservations, so we didn't know they had a pool. Calvin was a little cautious of the water but after a little warming up he was a splashing machine. It was a good little trip but we are glad to be home. Calvin was excited this morning when he woke up, he had to walk through the house to make sure all his toys were still here. He is still a bit clingy, he always gets this way when we travel a lot, but in a few days he'll be back to his independent self.

Marvin's on vacation this week and is planning on volunteering a bit, so we hope that goes well so that we can be one step closer to going back overseas. Most of the time I feel like we are in this waiting mode, waiting to get where He has asked us to go, but it was good to be reminded that He has us where he has us right now for his purpose. I was reminded how blessed we are, our Father is an amazing provider and we have seen time and time again how he provides for our needs. This year we have especially been aware of this, due to our unique situation. I am thankful to be able to be a voice for a people very forgotten by the body, even if this means taking a long road trip with a squirmy boy. I am thankful for an amazing husband who is so very patient and forgives my often loose critical tongue. I am so thankful that the Lord choose me to be his helpmate. I am so thankful for a sweet little boy who loves to give his mama kisses and for all the memories he has given me. I am thankful for friends and for opportunities to reconnect with so many who mean so much to us. I am thankful for a great family who loves us and that we enjoy being around. Praise the Lord for everything he has placed in our lives this year, even if it looked a little different than we anticipated. Slava Boga!