7.25.2013

Today

Right now I feel content.  It's not something I feel often, so I'm just going to enjoy. 





7.20.2013

Gross Garden, Big Boy Bed, and Standing Unsupported


 I have a garden this year for the time ever.  It's been so much fun going out there and seeing the little tiny zucchini starter turn into a massive plant with leaves that take over in just a few short months.  It was so fun picking my first ripe tomato, and seeing little tiny green striped pumpkins get bigger every day.  It was so fun until today when I went out there and saw SLUGS.

SLUGS

Slugs to a garden equal death.  Slime every where.  Zucchinis that grew only a few inches long before being eaten but slugs.  Slugs ON the good zucchinis.  Slugs inside the zucchini flowers.  SLLLLUUUUUGGGGS. 


I'm learning as I go, since I've never done this before.  The tomatoes have gone from thriving, to almost dying, to being over watered and then under watered, and now FINALLY being in great condition.  I see new little green ones everyday, and get so excited to taste their sweetness.  When I first planted the lettuce, it wilted and I thought it had fried to death.  After a week of watering it well, it revived and then thrived, taking over the small bed I put it in.  We have since eaten 3 of the 4 lettuces I planted, and had to toss a bunch of it.  THERE WAS SO MUCH.  Now, I have one lettuce left.  I have lovingly named it our "lettuce tree."  It stands about 3 feet tall.  Someone told me, "eat it!" to which I replied, "we have been!  There's just so much!"  As long as it's living and still providing lettuce, I'm fine to let it grow as high as it will till it gets too heavy and falls over!  The pumpkins also started taking over the yard, with it's vines that twist along the ground as they grow (beautiful, I might add) and bright green, curly spindles that shoot off every few inches and attach themselves to the ground.  I finally had to trim it back so that there was room to walk around over there.  The pole beans, which started small, have now grown to the very top of the lattice I provided for them, and just today I saw some big, fat beans growing.  Delish!



Pretty Pumpkins


Our first ripe tomato


 But the slugs.  Oh the slugs.  And the dying zucchini.  I'm not really sure what to do about it.  I've gotten 4 squashes from the plant, and that's not enough to fulfill my expectations of the plant.  I've heard stories of the plant never dying, always producing 6 feet zucchinis, and being extremely hardy.  How can it be that I can kill the most zealous plant of them all?

After much research on the detestable, disgusting, death bringing slugs, I found that there are lots of home remedies to try to eradicate the vermin.  I'm going to try egg shells first, because they won't cost me anything.  Next, coffee grinds.  Then, sand.  We'll see how that goes.  I also discovered that I'm probably watering the plant too much.  It only needs a good soaking once or twice a week, and I've been watering it with the rest of them, every day.  I trimmed off all the dead leaves, removed all the rotting squashes, weeded, and sprinkled some egg shells all around.  I hope that will give it room for air to circulate, allow it to dry a bit better with more sunlight, and hopefully deter the wretched and vile slugs.  (although, while I was down close to the earth doing all that, I saw some other bugs that I wish didn't know existed, burrowing into a fairly large hole in the ground.  Gardening is really gross, why did I ever decide to do it????)  I'm off the store in a little bit to get some coffee grounds.  I read about a lady who put coffee and water into a watering can and used that to water her plants every day.  She claimed that it kept the slugs away and caused her plants to flourish.  We'll see.


Isaac's Big Kid Bed!


In other news, I scored a toddler bed on Craigslist for $25.  It is in near perfect condition, and fits Isaac's existing crib mattress.  He's been sleeping in it for a week now, and has done great!  The first few nights took a lot of talking to, lots of reassurance and praise, and there were a lot of midnight wake ups, but after those hiccups he's settled in nicely.  Paige is sleeping in his crib now, and got her very own fresh mattress ($35 from Ikea!)  The crib bumper is up in the attic and I didn't feel like getting it down, and I'm happy to say that we haven't needed it!  She's been able to sleep in the crib just fine, and I haven't walked in to find her legs/arms sticking out of the slats.  She's still waking up 1-2 times nightly, but that's a lot better than it used to be.



Paige pulling herself up to standing




 Paige has been pulling herself up on something and then standing unsupported for 20-30 seconds at a time.  It's fun to see, but also quite alarming.  She has a habit of just flinging herself backwards without any regard to what is behind her.  It's also a little sad to me, since God-willing she is my last baby, and it feels like she's not so much of a baby anymore.  Mostly though, it's exciting.




7.15.2013

Freedom from Facebook

The relationship I have with social media is love/hate.  I have a lot of friends that I've made over the years, and they live in different parts of the country.  Some of them live in different parts of the world.  Social media helps me connect with them, see pictures from their travels, updates of their children, know how to pray for them, etc, etc...

...but the price of all that is just too great.  So many things suffer when I'm "plugged in" to social media.


What suffers?

My household.  When I allow myself to constantly look at social media, the laundry, dishes, floors, tubs, toilets, toys, food, anything under my roof gets neglected.  I spend so much time posting pictures and then checking back every 2 minutes to see who liked them or commented on them, or looking through hilarious pictures of cats sleeping in weird places, that the things that really need to get done don't.  Or they get done in a hurry and aren't done as well as I know they can be.  Before I know it, it has been a month since I mopped the kitchen floor, and there is a pile of clean laundry at the foot of my bed that I never put away (not to mention toys in disarray, sheets that haven't been changed, and dogs that haven't been walked.)

My already over active imagination and fears.  News stories about people being killed, bombings, tragedies, kidnappings.  It's enough to make me go insane.  There is a reason I don't watch the news.  I guess I'm too sensitive to that tragic reality.  There have been times when I've been completely fine until I see something horrible on social media, and then I'm a complete wreck all day.  Because, as you can imagine, you don't just see it once, you see it over and over and over again in your news feed.  More harm than good for me.

My real relationships.  There have been times when, instead of calling someone, I'll send them an email via social media.  Instead of going to see friends, or friends coming to see me, it's so much easier just to live in the falseness of social media.  You live 3 miles from my house, but instead of coming to see you and your beautiful children, I sat down for 37 minutes and looked at all the pictures of them.  I commented on them, I liked them!  Isn't that enough to satisfy the face time that our relationship so desperately needs?  No, it's not.  To put it bluntly, it's a lazy way to have a relationship.  To me, relationships grow and thrive on real-life interaction, voice inflection, touch, community....and although I think social media was designed to promote those things, instead I think it's encouraged lazy friendships.  Say what you want, but that's my opinion.  I'm just as guilty as the next person.  Meeting with someone takes time, sacrifice, energy.  I need to practice it more.  With social media at my finger tips, I don't have to.  NOT TO MENTION the time I'm commenting on photos, reading articles, crying over terrible news stories takes away from the time I have with my little children.  Their time as little tiny ones is so short, and goes by in the blink of an eye.  Why would I want to miss that because I just HAD to see those 52 pictures of "reasons why kids are cute"?  ANNNNND my relationship with GOD, which is the most important of all.  Since limiting my time on social media, I've actually gotten through many days on my Bible in One Year plan.  Before that, there were too many things to look at!


My health!  How many hours have I spent on my butt, scrolling through my news feed?  I need to get up and move!  Actually see the world with my own eyes, and not worrying about checking in every place I go.  Where's the mystery in that?  Sometimes I like to have something to talk about with my friends, instead of starting a story and them saying, "oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook!"

All in all, I'm not saying that Facebook is the devil for most people.  I think a lot of people benefit greatly from it.  But for me...well, it's just not for me.  And since deactivated my account I feel different.  I feel free.

7.03.2013

Groceries on a Budget

Our family has been working to get out of debt for a few years now.  I'm happy to say that we've paid off many little debts, including one of the cars, and cut our overall debt in half!  That is a great feeling!  But we've still got a ways to go before we can truly say we are debt free.  Since I don't bring any money in, I've been doing what I can to cut costs at home.

A great way to save money is by eating at home instead of eating out.  In my monthly meal plan (a must!) I included eating out for dinner 3 times this month - and that's generous!  My goal is ONCE a month, but like most things, if I try to do it just once or cold turkey the first time, I'll probably fail.

This month I decided to try buying all of our groceries up front with a budget of $350 for the month. That doesn't include toiletries, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, or cat litter.  The $350 is only for food items.  I went shopping at Costco and WinCo, our 2 favorite places to go.  I spent $328 (this was the most I have ever spent on groceries, and it was a bit overwhelming and scary!)  I'm hoping that making one trip to the grocery store each month will cut down on impulse buying, and also save gas.  Some of the things I got are as follows:

Costco
2 bags frozen chicken
Block of cheese
Bacon
Eggs
Bag of avocados
Bag of sweet mandarines
Ritz Crackers
2 bags Organic Baby Carrots
Raspberries
Marinara sauce
Bread
Organic Ground Beef
Frozen Hamburger Patties
Parmesan Cheese (in green shakers)
Jasmine white Rice (yes, yes.  We eat WHITE rice.)




WinCo (just a few of the items, there really are too many to list)
Healthy Choice frozen lunches
Cans of soup
Baby Food
Sweet Corn
Tomatoes
Pizza Sauce
Tortilla Chips
Rice a Roni
Lara Bars
2 Whole frozen Chickens (for crock pot cooking, so easy!)
Whole Milk yogurt
etc
etc
etc

I actually did buy a small package of generic diapers, which was $5, so technically I only spent $323 on food items.  So, there's a glimpse into the foods I bought.  With them I'll prepare very simple meals, as I am not a chef by any meals.  We'll be eating things like meatloaf, spaghetti, chicken parm, tacos, enchiladas, chicken and rice, breakfast for dinner, chicken soup, BBQ, and the like.

The money that I have left over ($27) is for miscellaneous fruits/veggies that I'll need to buy weekly.  Isaac loves bananas and eats at least one a day, so that's something that I'll need to purchase regularly.  I have SO MUCH LETTUCE growing in my garden (another way to cut costs!), so that's not something I need to purchase (yay!).  I'm looking forward to my tomatoes, zucchinis, and pole beans being ripe, and not having to purchase those for awhile.  Other things we like to eat are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bell peppers, cabbage, brocolli, and onion.  I'm very blessed to live in a place where there are countless "u-pick" fields of berries (waiting till things are in season is another way to cut costs!)  I think I'll take Isaac blueberry picking next week.  He calls them "blue babies."  There are also fruit/veggie stands along the side of the road, where I can get local produce at a decent price.  Again, blessed.




I'm looking forward to see how long all this food will last us.  Will we have enough main courses to make it to the end of the month?  Will we have tons left over?  Will we need to spend more than we thought on fruits/veggies/random things we forgot?  We've had a food budget for quite awhile, but we hardly ever stick to it.

A few other ways we save money:
  • Wash our own cars (have a bucket, soap, sponge, and hose?)
  • Make our own baked goods (flour, sugar, butter anyone?)
  • Buy in bulk (Costco)
  • Consolidate trips to Portland by doing multiple errands in one trip
  • Buy online (Amazon Prime = free shipping!  I know that it costs money up front, but it literally pays for itself in just a few purchases.  This is great for buying detergent, bday presents, books, even almond milk!  Just make sure to shop around and don't over pay.)
  • Swap things with friends!  (need some clothes for your kids, want to use a food processor but can't buy one right now, cloth diapers?  Ask your friends to borrow them instead of buying them.  This has saved me so many times!  I have great friends!)
  • Buy used items! (I can't tell you how many times I've gotten things that were never used or gently used for a fraction of the cost of buying it brand new!  Now, I'm not talking about underwear, but other clothing, books, air conditioners....)
  • Netflix! (I. Love. Netflix.  I use it everyday.  And now there are Disney movies streaming!  Yay!)
How do you stick to your budget?  
What do you do to save money?




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