Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fun Summer!

Yes, I stink at blogging! I think I need to quit saying I am going to write more, and just write when I can. :) Life just seems to get in the way. In a good way, of course!

We have had a great summer so far (minus the house problems!), and are glad that July isn't quite as busy as June. So far this summer we've already tackled:
  • two vacation Bible schools (kids)
  • soccer (Owen)
  • golf (Quinn)
  • camping (everyone!)
  • a long weekend at a friends' home (everyone!)
  • a softball (Brad)
  • a new walking class (Amy)
  • making strawberry jam (everyone)
  • (Riley hasn't been left out! She starts an art class on Friday.)
It's been fabulous!! But being home is great as well. The quiet days of playing in the sprinkler, doing laundry, and grilling out are the "lazy days of summer" and what we seem to enjoy most.

I've also been working on updating our budget (fun, fun) and following the 90-Day-Budget-Boot-Camp. The first week was a simple (for me) challenge: meal planning. Here's our meal plan for this next week - most of these recipes come from the latest issue of Taste of Home magazine . . . yum!

Wednesday: Barbecue chicken, blueberry muffins, veggies, potatoes
Thursday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, green beans, fruit
Friday: Out with my parents
Saturday: At a cookout (I'm taking Blueberry Cobbler to share!)
Sunday: At a cookout again! (This time, I'm taking Grilled Glazed Drummies)
Monday: Southern-Fried Chicken Strips, veggies, fruit
Tuesday: Pizza (busy night for us!!)
Wednesday: Marinated ribeye, corn on the cob
Thursday: Curried Chicken Shepherd's Pie, fruit
Friday: Enchilada Lasagna, french bread, veggies, fruit

I made my menu using the ingredients I already had on hand for the most part - this way I only need to buy a few remaining ingredients to make our meals complete.

Happy summer!!! :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mid-Week Money Tip - 90-Day Budget Challenge!

How cute is this logo??!? In Good Sense is doing a 90 Day Budget Boot Camp, and I've decided to participate in their budgeting challenges for the next 90 days. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons!

1.) Our budget can always use fine-tuning.

2.) We've been spending a lot on home repair and decorating lately, and need to tighten the belt a bit.

3.) We'd love to purchase a different home in the next year (or two or three!) and need to save more money in order to do so!

And 4.) I enjoy hearing (and sharing!) about personal finance, budgeting, couponing, etc.!

Let me know if you decide to join in on their Budget Boot Camp! I'd love to know if you are participating. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rough Week . . .

Just keeping it real - I'm not always HappyGoMommy! It's been a rough week here and we are eagerly looking forward to a weekend. We have been dealing with a water leak/broken pipe somewhere under our foundation, and it likely it won't be covered by our homeowners' insurance. Drilling into our slab foundation and spending thousands of dollars isn't really my idea of a good week. Hoping next week will be much, much better!! See you shortly!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

It's been an incredibly busy (and not-so-good) week, and I am looking forward to some down time this weekend, thankfully. Also to my nephew's baptism and spending lots of quality time with my family!

1. At this time, my alarm has already gone off once and I've already hit the snooze button once(!): 6:58.
2. It was the reason, of course, that the rest of my day, I was running late!
3. Scrapbooking(!) is something I no longer feel the need to do. Don't get me wrong; I still love it! Just no longer feel the need!
4. I have another errand to run, then probably even one more errand!.
5. "No, I don't know where your 'xyz' is...just go find it."
6. What were once vices are no more? I don't really have any vices, thankfully!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to playing cards with my husband and parents, tomorrow my plans include cleaning my upstairs and going to my sweet nephew's baptism and Sunday, I want to enjoy Father's Day with my family!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Parenting Potpourri - Owen-isms

At the ripe young age of three(!), Owen can completely crack us up! He is always saying funny things or doing something silly with his facial expressions. I dare you to have a staring contest with him - you'll lose!

When I leave to run errands, I usually say to him, "See you in awhile!" but I'm not quite sure he understands what that means. Because this is his reply: "See you in a pile, mommy!" I laugh every.single.time! (Which is also why he probably continues to say it this way!)

He's been at VBS this week and working on a new Bible verse each day. Monday it was, Owen-style, "I have given Your word in my heart." (Or, you know, as it says in the Bible, "I have HIDDEN your word in my heart.") Yesterday it was, Owen-style, "For God so loved the world that He gave his Son to only me." Uh, close Owen!! :)

And I'm constantly hugging on my kiddos and telling them I love them. Last week, I told Owen, "You know, I just love you to pieces!" He got a very worried look on his face and said, "You love me when I break into pieces?"

Yes, Owen, even if you break into pieces! :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mid-Week Money Tip - Budgeting

Do you have a budget? Do you USE a budget? :) We have used a budget since the first few months of our marriage and it has really helped us!

I first started using a budget because as a new, young wife handling the majority of the shopping, I had no idea how much we **should** spend at the grocery each week, on entertainment, clothing, personal expenses, etc. I needed some kind of guideline. So, I did some research and found Crown Financial Ministries.

(I was using their book at the time (which has since been republished) . . . no website in 1998!)

They had a great, sample budget that I used and modified just a bit to fit our needs. To this day, I still use their online calculators to help set initial budgets (for our family or others). They have fantastic calculators that can help you quickly set up a basic budget. My favorite is the Spending Plan Calculator which takes your income and subtracts your tithe (if you tithe), and then gives a breakdown by percentage of what you should spend for each category. Although each family is different, this will certainly help you get started and form the 'bones' for a workable budget for your family!

Beyond that? We use the envelope system, which we were also first introduced to by Crown. Dave Ramsey also recommends using envelopes for cash. You can find more info on the envelope system here and here. These are the actual envelopes we use.

It's a bit pricey to get the binder to start with (especially if you are frugal!), but you can purchase refills for it, making the binder a one-time-only purchase.

And if you like the idea of the envelope system, but do not physically want to carry the cash, envelopes, etc. - you can always use YNAB!

YNAB (You Need A Budget) is online software that does it all for you. Budgeting, tracking, fixing "leaks" in your budget, and more. I have not personally used YNAB because we like the physical envelopes (they help us spend less, too), but I have heard great reviews about YNAB. It is also a pricey initial investment, but many people feel it is worth the expense!

Do you have any budgeting tips or tricks? What works for you? What doesn't?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family Life - Lake Time!

We were active in a homeschool gym class this past year that was wonderful! Excellent leaders, teachers, and organization made this a a great experience all the way around. We finished the year with a fun field day and picnic at a nearby lake and park a few weeks ago. We were able to canoe, use a rope swing, play games, have a picnic, and enjoy a special day of fellowship with great friends!
Owen testing out the water!

Quinn enjoyed the rope swing above the lake!

Riley was much more adventuresome on her second turn and went even higher!

Little O on the smaller rope swing (NOT over the water!!) :)

Quinn canoeing with one of his buddies

It was a great day and we had the perfect weather for it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Recipe Ideas

We have a crazy week at our house this week, so I'm not even bothering with a menu plan! I'll just throw together something each of the few nights we are in this week - though I do need to plan something for Friday night when we have company again. It will be something on the grill for sure; we are really enjoying our new grill and getting lots of use out of it!

I thought I would give you some ideas for where to find new recipes if you like to try new things. We try lots of new recipes around here! Here are some of my favorite places for finding new recipes:

  • AllRecipes - This site is fabulous! You can search for recipes based on ingredients you have on hand, but title, or just browse through the categories. My favorite things about this site are all of the recipe reviews from regular cooks, the fact that you can print the recipe in any size (to fit whatever size of recipe box you have), and that the serving sizes can easily be adjusted.
  • Simple & Delicious Magazine - Great, great magazine, especially if you are looking for simple, everyday ideas. Fabulous photos, great index in the back, and lots of "tips" about cooking throughout the magazine.
  • Local cookbooks - These can be anything from cookbooks that women in a local church have put together, to cookbooks that moms' groups have designed. They are tried & true recipes that anyone can use. I have several, and often flip to them when I need that everyone will love! You can usually pick these up at craft fairs, Christmas bazaars, fundraisers, etc.
  • Quick & Healthy Cookbook Vol. 2 - This is a wonderful cookbook to have if you want to make healthy meals. They are all delicious! I received this one from my mom years ago, and could make an entire month's worth of meals using just this cookbook.
  • And last but not least, the internet! Sometimes the fastest way to find a great recipe is to just type in what you are thinking of making with your ingredients on hand (like "oven roasted potatoes"), and just see what pops up!
And if you are looking for a fun craft project, try this cute recipe box (shown above) - love, love, love it! Where do you find new recipes that you enjoy?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Homeschooling: Cute Cartoon

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

So glad for a weekend! Looking forward to lots of time with friends and family this weekend (and hoping the rain holds off!).

1. Snuggling with my kiddos feels great.

2. The solution is to pray about it.

3. Cuddled up next to my husband is how I like to fall asleep.

4. How about the Steelers this coming fall? Looking forward to a good season already!

5. "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" is something (a book) I highly recommend!

6. Imagine a world without M&Ms . . . so sad! :(

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with my best friend and her family, tomorrow my plans include making homemade strawberry jam all day and going out in the evening to celebrate my anniversary and Sunday, I want to spend time with my favorite husband as we celebrate 12 years!