Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My First Give Away-- Total Money Makeover

All the cool mom bloggers have give-aways. Freebies they just give to people who read their blog. Of course, most of those cool mom bloggers give things away on their blogs because advertisers are giving them stuff to give away, since a ton of people read their really cool mom blogs.

I know my blog doesn't have quite the following of Ree from The Pioneer Woman, or Jen from Cake Wrecks, or Dawn from Because I Said So... but what my blog does have is you, my very own faithful readers.

Some of you I know, some of you I don't, but all of you have one thing in common. For whatever reason (and sometimes I'm still baffled by it) you read my blog.

And since you read my blog you know that our family has been impacted in a HUGE way by Dave Ramsey. We've attended Financial Peace University (and I highly recommend that you do too), but he also has a great best selling book called, "The Total Money Makeover" which provides you with much of the same great information and the inspiring stories you would hear going through FPU.

And, I have a copy to give away. I hope that all of you are in some way or another inspired by our story. The fact that we paid off $25,000 in debt in 14 months still blows me away. God faithfully provided for us in all sorts of bizarre ways. Through this He has taught us so much and drastically changed the way we think about money. It wasn't magic and we didn't win the lottery or anything. We just learned some great principles, we got on a clear financial plan, we got motivated and we determined to tackle our debt with a vengeance.

(Side note: I got distracted half-way through this post with a bowl of ice cream from my husband. As I was eating it I hopped on facebook. The Pioneer Woman posted about a mixer give away. So, I decided to enter. I now have a 1 in 9,509 (and counting) chance of winning a cool yellow mixer. Your chances of winning this book are MUCH, MUCH HIGHER!)

Anyway, I'd like to give this book to one of my readers. And whether or not you win this book, I hope you're inspired to take control of your finances.
So, here's how you win. Leave a comment and tell me why you want this book. It's that simple.

Rob and I will consider the entries and announce the winner on Friday evening at 8:00 p.m. Okay, Rob and I were just trying to figure out what the rules would be for giving away this book. We'd kind of like to do it randomly so everyone has an equal chance of winning. However, we'd also like to give one away to someone because they have a great reason for wanting the book.

So, here's the deal. We're going to do both. We'll give one away at random and one Blog Owners Choice Award. Because I'm the blog owner and that's what I want to do.

Please, leave a comment (I don't beg for comments often, but this time I am. It's for your own good!) Even if you have your finances totally under control you might have someone in mind you want to give this to... you can win it and give this book to them.

I'm totally excited to have my first give-away. For a brief moment in time I feel like a famous blogger. Unless I only get 3 comments, then I'll cry. I'm not expecting 9,500 comments or anything (let's be real, I'm not giving away a Kitchen-Aid Mixer here), but somewhere in the double-digits would be cool! So go on, comment... you know you want to!

Homemade Goodness

Last night I made homemade roasted potato wedges (think jo-jo's, only yummier!) soaked in balsamic vinaigrette. I also made some homemade chicken strips. Both of them turned out pretty fantastic if I do say so myself!

Have I mentioned lately that I love The Pioneer Woman?

This might sound silly, but before I met her I had no idea that just about everything can be boiled down to a few simple, yummy, fresh, delicious ingredients. The thought of packaged and boxed foods chalked full of nasty preservatives is less and less appealing by the day. I'm becoming a food snot.

The funniest part is that I'm preparing much yummier foods at fractions of the cost of my former dinner selections. Now I'm starting to wonder how to pair all sorts of things that I use often down to their more basic (i.e. cheaper) ingredients.

For those of you who weren't raised by a pack of wolves, this might not be as stunning to you as it is to me. But, since I was raised by a pack of wolves, I confess that I had no idea until just recently that you could make pancakes out of something other than a Krusteaz "just add water" mix. And, I recently learned how to make my own frosting. No $2 Betty Crocker can necessary.

Sunday night I made crepes. I've always looked forward to having them at my mom's house, but I've never had the right pan. Lucky me, she had a spare! So, I came home and made crepes out of stuff I have on hand all the time. Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, salt and vanilla. That's it! So, we enjoyed boat-loads of yummy crepes. Simple, yet profound.

I have no idea why I'm writing right now. I'm not quite sure what makes me think anyone wants to hear about my newfound cooking excitement. Yet, I write anyway. What does that say about me? I feel like I'm having a good ole conversation with myself when I write. Hmmm...


Our weigh in for our Biggest Loser challange is on Tuesday's. I've been doing exceptionally well in my opinion... all things considered anyway. As of last week I was down 6.5 pounds from my starting weight in mid-January.

73 cinnimon rolls and a whole lot of other yummy food that my mom cooked and I consumed later... I'm only down 3.5ish pounds from my starting weight. Bummer! I knew this was going to happen. Oh, they were so good though!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Things we do at Grammy and Grampy's

We drove over the river and through the middle of nowhere for hours on end to visit my mom and step-dad over Spring Break. It's a little hard to believe I have a child old enough to be in school which requires us to plan our adventures around school breaks. I'm not a fan... but that's a whole different post!
In no particular order, because blogger is still being irritating by not allowing me to rearrange my pictures... here are some things we did in Klamath Falls.
We got to see snow fall. Titus and Rob even went outside to feel it. That was fun because we've had a very mild winter here. Unfortunately though, we had weather just icky enough to not want to do much of anything outside of the house.

That's okay though because there was lots to do inside the house. Like play dress up in this wonderful old-fashioned dress that my mom made for Leeann!

Grampy played some baseball with Titus just after we got there. One of the few times it was actually decent weather.

They have TiVo. That was fun. We don't have t.v. at all (though we watch movies and some things in the internet), so it's always fun to watch stuff we don't usually get to see. It's hard not to get sucked in and become a zombie though! And the boys played a lot of Wii.

Leeann thoroughly enjoyed spreading the cinnamon on the cinnamon rolls. She enjoyed licking the cinnamon off her hands even more though!
(You'll notice a picture of me and my brothers when we were young on the side of the cupboard.)

I think Leeann could have baked all day. My mom did bake all day. Mmmmm, she's a good cook! She's gotta be exhausted. Titus asked, "Why does Grammy make so much food?"

My mom also let them color Easter Eggs. Later they went out for a hunt. I like someone else doing the messy things with my kiddos!

Keith hacked some old golf clubs down and put new grips on them so the kids could have golf clubs their size. It was cute to watch them golf.

Of course, after a few golf lessons with Grampy the clubs became glorified shovels... sorry about the dirt patches in your yard Keith!

And finally, we enjoyed some time in the hot tub. It was tough to muster the courage to go outside in the chilly weather, but it was delightful once we got in!
And those are the highlights of our trip to Grammy and Grampy's house.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


My step-dad took the really big hint I left on my last post and printed out the recipes for these cinnamon rolls. Leeann and my mom got to work and I immensly enjoyed the fruit of their labor. Seriously enjoyed it. In fact, I think I'm going to go enjoy another one. And my weight loss was going so well...
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Family Fun

Rob and I were racking our minds yesterday afternoon to think of something fun we could do with the kids during a free afternoon. We decided to stay home and make some sock puppets. The boys sped through their creations, and while Leeann and I were still perfecting our beautiful butterflies, the boys decided to go upstairs and bond 'boy-style'.

36 rolls of toilet paper later... they had a fort, perfect for laser tag!

I got ambushed!

But, I didn't have a laser gun, so it didn't phase me. That wasn't quite good enough for the boys. Before I knew it they were launching 'rockets' at me.

Soon, it was all out war!

Who knew toilet paper could be so much fun?

Nobody was seriously injured in the making of this post...

Though a few rolls did take a beating!

And the kids did have to clean up the mess.

But even that was fun!

Then the boys decided to try to get the penny out of Leeann's forehead. It's a game they play... don't ask me!
Then we went to Cold Stone. Yummy!

We finished up our puppets.

Then we had a puppet show, complete with song and dance.

And after a long, fun Sunday afternoon. The puppets and the kids (and soon after, the parents) all went to bed!

Speaking of a Messy Kitchen

I love this woman. My husband loves her too. Well, at least he loves what she's done to my cooking skills!

She is The Pioneer Woman. And man alive, can she cook! She gives you step-by-step instructions (hilarious banter included) and even posts pictures along with very basic steps for us knuckle-heads. Each dish has 10-20 pictures of the process attached to it. This is huge for me since I grew up with a pack of wolves whose idea of cooking included a pound of hamburger and a box of hamburger helper!

I looked for her cookbook at the local library, but they didn't have it, so they ordered one and I get to be the first to check it out! I'm going to have an extremely hard time giving this book back. I feel like she's one of my best friends. Laugh now, but spend a few minutes on her blog and you'll understand...

The other day I decided to try my hand at some home-made Macaroni and Cheese. It was quite good! The kids ate it, though they were asking for 'regular' mac-n-cheese instead. I followed her recipe, but included some caramelized onions, paprika and I topped it with french fried onions. Decadent!

I also made her simple, pan-fried pork chops. The first time I've ever made pork chops by the way. The only meat I ever make is chicken, so this was a real treat for my husband!

Every dish I've made has taken me a ridiculous amount of time. I'm a slow learner! Her dishes are all from very basic ingredients, so it takes a lot of prep work, but every dish I've tried has been an absolute delight! My kitchen always ends up looking like a war zone, but it's oh-so worth it!

*I had to go babysit for the evening just after we ate... so Rob cleaned up for me. What a good man!*

I've also enjoyed her

Baked Acorn Squash
Basic Breakfast Potatoes
Crispy Yogurt Chicken
Farfalle With Zucchini
Fresh Corn Casserole
Orange Mini-Muffins
Pot Roast
Sweet Potatoes
Zucchini Cakes
Zucchini Strings

All of the above dishes are some of the best eats that have ever come out of my kitchen! Seriously, you must check out her recipes. You must!

I'm thinking about cooking through all of her recipes Julie and Julia style. I'm also thinking about moving to her ranch and becoming her understudy. I'm not sure how she'd feel about that though. She's an unlikely city girl turned ranchers wife. I'm an unlikely pastor's wife, I think we'd have a lot in common! Have I mentioned she's hilarious, and an amazing cook?

I'm heading to my mom's house this week for a little family vacation. She's a fantastic cook too and always treats us to really yummy food. I'm really hoping for some of these world famous cinnamon rolls or one of these variations orange marmalade rolls or caramel apple sticky-buns.

(No pressure, Keith, but if you want to print out any of these recipes and drop a really big hint toward mom, you'll be SO GLAD you did. I promise! Just tell her that Leeann would have so much fun learning how to make cinnamon rolls with Grammy.)

p.s. If any of you end up with ridiculous amounts of zucchini (or any other freshly grown produce that you don't know what to do with) I'd love to take it off your hands this summer! If you have any berries or anything else growing on your property I'd be happy to come harvest some if you'd like to share. The end.

Cake Day

Rob was gone this last Friday night so I did something that I wouldn't usually do. I agreed to make a cake for someone. Don't get me wrong, I love to make cakes, but they aren't worth my time (as far as $/hour go), so I don't make a habit of special orders.

As is typical, I started the decorating process at 8 and finished right about 3 in the morning. It doesn't matter what kind of cake I'm making or how difficult it is, these seem to be the hours I end up working. *See, if you add the 1+ hour I spent preparing and baking the cake prior to 8:00 pm, and the 2 hours of clean up after ward that puts me at about 10 hours for a cake. I'd have to charge $100 for a small character cake to make $10 an hour... and my cakes aren't that good!*

But, since a friend asked, and Rob was going to be gone, and I do very much enjoy making cakes, I thought, "Hey, why not?" So I invited a few girlfriends over and we went to town. Brendel decorated her first cake for her son's 1st Birthday, so it was fun to get to walk her through the cake decorating basics!

Suzy and Melissa made tutu's :0)

Brendel and I made a mess!

I told you, we made a MESS... it's part of the gig. These pictures give you a small glimpse into why my husband is not extremely fond of my 'hobby'. He puts up with it because he knows how much it means to me to be able to do this for my kids... but I'm sure he'd rather not wake up to this! And he usually does, because who wants to clean this up after just putting tons of hours into decorating a cake? Not me! I leave it on the counters and table and pray that the ants don't invade my kitchen and carry my cake away!

I even had to take my stove top apart to clean it because I decided to mix the frosting on the stove (I don't have a lot of counter space!). That was a bad idea... it was coated in powdered sugar!
But the mess making was fun, and it resulted in another fun cake, and a night of fun with some great ladies. They retired much earlier than I did, but I got some great t.v. watching time in via Hulu. Good times had by all. Ka Chow-Ka Pow!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Laundry Woe's

I just found 3 articles of Smith's clothing in the mountain of clean laundry on my bed. He's been gone approximately one month. Has it been that long since I washed reds and jeans? Apparently so... whoops!

It's amazing my children's stay properly clothed. Laundry is my kryptonite. Okay, it's only one of many down falls, but perhaps the most notable. Don't judge, I'm making an attempt at keeping it real here! (Okay, judge, I know you're going to anyway, and I don't blame you. It is rather pathetic!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm Guilty

I slept in until 10:30 this morning. Leeann doesn't have school today and the kids played so well together this morning that I didn't roll out of bed until I had a full 12 hours of sleep. I'd say it's pathetic on one hand, but on the other hand it was oh-so lovely!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Making of a Crazy Quilt Day 1

Cast of Characters: Titus (the future quilt's owner) and an assortment of 8 different kinds of yellow, green, brown and John Deere Fabrics. Several of the pieces were inherited by the late beloved Mee Maw.
Unsure of how this quilt was going to shape up (I'm refusing to use a pattern... don't ask me why), I started by cutting a strip of each piece of fabric the width of my plastic cutter-guider thingy. Why? It seemed like the easiest thing to do at the time. And I woke up several weeks ago with this thought in mind, but couldn't find a pattern to show me how. So I improvised.

Then I laid them all out together and pondered whether or not I made good selections. The jury's still out on that one.

Then I began piecing them together in crazy quilt fasion. I started with a piece of batting that was the same width as the other fabric pieces (but as long as the quilt is going to be). Then I sewed on one piece at a time, right side down. After I made the seem I flipped it back over, ironed it in place and started on the next piece as shown above. I put the new fabric right side together with the piece sewn on (overlapping 1/4 inch) and repeated the process until I had this:

A series of randomly pieced together fabrics.

Now I have a whole strip of them and I'm not quite sure what to do next. I could repeat this proocess time and again until the quilt is finished.

Or I could do some small squares on the next strip. Then big boxes, then bigger crazy quilt scraps, then smaller ones... until I run out of ideas. That would make a truly crazy, crazy quilt!

Or I could put a big large square in the middle and applique a big ole tractor in the middle and use this for border pieces.

Or I could stare at it for the next several days contemplating what to do next. It's a likely option.
Any opinions?

Rag Curls

My friend, Brenna mentioned the other day that she had done rag curls in her daughter's hair. It inspired me to give it a try myself. Leeann's hair doesn't curl with a curling iron, but rag curls did the trick. I thought it was adorable! Or course, I think she's adorable. It's a mom thing!
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Friday, March 12, 2010

My Personal Trainer

Titus has been my personal Wii Fit instructor this morning. I gave him the Wii remote and let him choose my exericises. It was good because I ended up doing a bunch of things I don't normally do. And of course, he was loving it!

I gave him the option to play with me, but he can't play until his rooms are clean, and he'd "rather just watch" for some odd reason!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Too Much Time

Can you tell by the number of blog posts lately, I have too much time on my hands these days? The funny thing about being at home with sick kids is that I finally have all the time in the world to do those things that have been needing done (like some mending, cleaning out the garage, getting the files off of our 3... yes 3... computers that are all but worthless).

Yet, all I want to do is... hmmmm, what have I been doing for almost an entire week now? I mean, besides blogging? Let's see, I've been snuggling, resting, researching (Can you call playing on facebook researching facts about the lives of people I love? And some people I don't love but I feel obligated to have as friends because they sent a request), cleaning, snuggling, playing the Wii, watching movies, cleaning up yuck, comforting patients. Yeah, see, I've done at least a few things while they've been sick!

We're down to our last day of quarantine now. So today, I will dutifully continue to avoid all the things I should be doing. Why mess with status quo?

In other news, I have a cute kid quote for you.

Titus was on the Wii and Leeann was trying to tell him to do something specific. "Leeann, you're not the boss of me. No one's the boss of me!"

Excuse me, I said, tilting my head and giving him the stink eye.

"Well, except you and daddy, you guys are the boss of me. But no kids are!"

At least he knows his place!

Check These Out!

My sister-in-law makes trendy hair accessories. Like, super, super cute ones! You should visit her etsy shop http://www.theribboncafe.etsy.com/.

More imporantly, you should buy some. No pressure, but really. Buy something cute for a cute little girl in your life! Perfect for baby showers and birthday parties. Or just because!

*Yes, this is a shameless plug. And I'm hoping to get some cute clippies as a voluntary advertising kick-back. No pressure Suzy, no pressure.*