Monday, April 30, 2012

It Never Hurts To Ask

I like to buy chicken by the case when there's a good deal.  And, there's one grocery store about 20 minutes from our house that offers some fantastic by-the-case chicken sales from time to time.

I went today and bought a case of whole chicken breast (1.19/lb.) and drumsticks (89 cents/lb.).  After you pay for the meat you have to drive around to the back of the store to the meat department's loading dock, you ring a bell, give your receipt, & they bring the cases out to your vehicle.

Well, today when I drove around back, I noticed a couple shipping boxes sitting near the dumpster with some old pallets & about 15-20 wooden chairs.  It appeared that they were being trashed.

When the meat guy answered my ring, I asked him about the chairs.  He said they were being thrown away but he wasn't the guy to ask.  He said the maintenance man, who was working near where the chairs were, would be able to help me.

But, as it turned out the store manager happened to walk right by & we asked him.  At first he was a little reluctant.  They were the old chairs from their snack bar area & some of them were getting a bit loose.  They were tossing them because they were afraid someone might fall and get hurt.  And, he was a little nervous about someone taking them for liability reasons.

I really didn't have to say much.  I just listened to him & then said I completely understood that I'd be taking them 'as is' & would love to have a few of them.  And, he agreed!  

I only took 4.  It's all I could fit into my van.  And, I picked the ones that seemed the sturdiest.  I'm going to paint these black & use them with our dining set.  Right now we have 3 chairs, 1 bench (that's broken), & a mismatch chair (that's wobbly).  I plan to replace our bench and wobbly chair.  

The moral of the story?  It never hurts to ask.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Yard Salin', Craigslistin', & a Sneak Peek

Yard Salin'
I happened across a yard/moving sale this morning as I was running errands.  I think I got a pretty sweet deal....and I probably could have gotten a lot more.  But, I had my little two with me & it was really chilly and this yard sale was really busy.

Nothing was marked.  I had to track down the persons in charge & ask the prices.  Usually, I'll just ditch a yard sale when this is the case.  But, there were some really nice items.  I missed my chance with one piece.  There was an vintage-y, unique, wicker chair that I didn't even bother asking about because I figured it was too much.  Someone else asked though & I could have cried when I heard the woman say "Oh I don't know.  50 cents?  25 cents?  Whatever."  

But, here's what I got...not AS sweet a deal as that would have been, but still pretty good.  I got all this for $10.

 - 2 really nice, large & heavy pottery garden urns
 - 1 heavy pottery window box (I'd probably re-paint this piece)
 - 1 clear glass 9x11 baking dish
 - 1 red ceramic 9x11 baking dish
 - 1 red ceramic square baking dish with lid
 - a butterfly plate (not really my thing.  It was in the box with the baking dishes)

I think I mentioned this piece of furniture a few posts ago.  I was obsessing over this piece from the time I saw it till I was able to go pick it up.  I was so afraid he'd sell it to someone else.  I've been looking for something like this for a while.  

It's an 8 foot long seating area/ storage.  The top lifts up.  Originally I wanted something like this in my sunroom/mudroom.  Right now I have it in my dining area along the wall.  I'm not sure where I'll leave it.  In the dining area, it would be extra seating when people are over for birthdays, etc.  

I went to pick this up with my sister-in-law's help.  What a fiasco.  Me and my 8 year old son were trying to hitch the trailer to the van by ourselves.  That alone took about half an hour (whereas my husband could have done it in 5 minutes).  We stopped at my husband's work for him to check and see if we put it on right.  Good thing we did, because it was NOT on correctly.

Then it was a lot longer drive to the seller's house than I realized.  I had all my boys with me & they were WOUND up the whole time.  Plus, I was a nervous wreck (Remember, I was obsessing over this piece for some reason).  Turns out the guy selling it is someone I graduated from high school with and haven't seen in 25 years.  Go figure!

We tied it down to the trailer, but because it was so long, I couldn't have the tail piece on the trailer.  We just tried to cinch the thing down with straps.  So, the whole ride home I was afraid the straps weren't tight enough and the thing would go flying off!

Nonetheless we made it home in one piece.

A Sneak Peek

Do you remember this....
 That wooden box of drawers was something I purchased at a flea market last summer.  It was a handmade piece that some fellow used to store nails (I know this because most of the drawers still had nails in them!).  I've been working on it slowly.  I will eventually probably sell it on Craigslist.  I think it would be perfect for a crafter or sewer to store supplies.  This thing is really bigger than you can tell here...It's about 2 1/2 feet long & 7 1/2 inches deep.  

My husband still needs to help me figure out a way to get a screw into a few drawers to attach the hardware.  The way those drawers are constructed I can't get a screw in by myself.  So, I'm waiting on his help for that, but he did make a drawer for me.  There was one missing when I bought it.  And, I have one last drawer on top to Modge Podge.    Almost done! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Roadside Stand!

I just love roadside stands!  Over the summer it's where I pick up a lot of my produce.  I even buy my raw milk and pastured eggs from a nearby farm with a 'help yourself' policy.

When we had our chickens and an overabundance of eggs (no chickens right chickies coming in May!) I put a few dozen eggs out in front of our house now and then.  But, we don't have a great set-up for a roadside stand.  There's not a really convenient place for folks to pull over.

Nonetheless, I decided to give it a go.  I've got fresh rhubarb coming in (it will keep coming all summer) and my favorite bush/tree is in blossom.  I'm not really sure what it's actual name is.  I always call it a snowball bush.  I put some rhubarb and some cuttings out for $1 a bunch.

Don't you just love the painter's tape I used to hold my hand-scratched sign in place?  I could not find any other tape & it took a lot of searching just to find that!

On a side note....I consolidated all my kid's Easter candy into one location today & am putting it up and out of their (and my) reach.  To put this in perspective, these are 1 gallon containers.  That's almost 2 gallons of candy!!!

Too bad I can't sell that at my roadside stand! :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

For Those of You Who Tithe

Tithing is something that wasn't really stressed as I was growing up in the church.  Oh, every so often the pastor would have a sermon on the importance of giving...usually right around the time that the church's yearly budget needed to be balanced.  But,  I pretty much grew up with the 'give what you can when you can' mindset.

It wasn't until I married my husband that I really took a close look at the idea of tithing.  It was something that he had learned and considered very important.  As a married couple we made the decision to tithe and, as hard as it is to write that check sometimes, we have seen God's faithfulness and provision over the years.

But, this isn't a diatribe on whether or not you should tithe.  I believe it is something that each family needs to prayerfully consider and then move in the way God is guiding you.  But, I do have a question for those of you who do tithe.

My husband has always felt very strongly that the full tithe should go to your home church, the church you are a part of.  Any other giving (to missions, to charities, etc.) should be in addition to the tithe.  

I sometimes feel like, after our tithe and our bills we have very little left over for additional giving.  There was one year that we were able to give generously to a couple ministries near and dear to our hearts.  But, typically we haven't been able to do that.

I have suggested splitting our tithe half to our church and half to various ministries.  My husband isn't comfortable with this.  I know ultimately this is an issue that my husband and I need to work through with God's guidance.  Bu, I am curious about how other tithers handle this.  

So, if you are a tither and you are willing to share, could you tell me a little about what your family does?  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick Update

It's funny how when I started blogging I felt obligated to post at least 4 or 5 times a week.  Now it seems to be a struggle to write something here once or twice a week.  As summer approaches, it does get busier.  But, I still want to record some of our life here.  I hardly ever scrapbook anymore, so this seems to be my one method of documenting memories.

Speaking of scrapbooking, my mother in law & I will be going on our annual scrapbook getaway weekend this weekend.  Our Creative Memories consultant hosts a weekend about an hour and a half south of us in a small, quaint town in Maryland.  Frankly, this is the one and only time during the year that I do any scrapbooking anymore. Mostly I just enjoy getting away!   My main goal now (since I at least have small baby book for each of my boys) is to scrapbook a few of their school pictures/momentos.  I haven't even printed any pictures in who-knows-how-long.  Everything is digital now & there isn't the same rush to print.

I have updated my book recommendations tab with two books I recently read. 
I enjoyed both these books immensely and finished each in just a few days.  Take a look at my book recommendations tab to read more about them.

Also, I wanted to update you on my post about Craigslist I've considered selling things on Craigslist & I decided to give it a go.  My husband and I made a goal for me to earn a certain amount by October for our family vacation.  Well,  so far it's been disappointing indeed.  In spite of listing four different items I haven't sold anything yet.  

I had one interested person in the table and chair I talked about before.  But, when he came to look at them, he decided they weren't exactly what he was looking for.  He was very gracious & nice and he certainly wasn't unkind.  But, that evening I had a bit of a breakdown.  It was disappointment + hormones + pent up frustration + insecurity.  And, it equaled me crying to my husband for 2 1/2 hours.  Ugh.  I'm so glad he loves me enough to listen to me....even though he definitely doesn't understand how or why I work myself into such emotional states. :)

Despite my failed attempts so far to sell anything on Craigslist, it hasn't kept me from buying more.  I know.  That's not helping in the effort to save money for vacation.  But, I have had my eye out for a couple pieces for a while now.  

First, we had a space in our kitchen that has been empty for a while & we wanted a narrow, long side table/buffet to go there.  I found something that wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but I made it work....and it was only $35.

 The white table is the one I purchased.  And, I had temporarily moved another table (that I showed to the guy who came to look at other items I listed on CL) underneath it.  I actually kinda like the way they look together.  And, while this picture doesn't show it, I have more glass jars (with flour & oats) sitting on the shelf of the smaller table now.  It feels very homey to me.

Also, there is another piece that I have contacted the seller about & he said I was the first to respond.  I just need to confirm a pickup time with him.  So, I'll show you a picture of it, but I don't physically have it yet.  This is the picture the seller used on CL.

 This is an 8 foot long storage bench...and it's exactly what I've been looking for to use as extra seating/ storage in my dining room area.  I'm anxious to finalize this purchase!

So, there you have it.  Some bits and pieces from my life right now.  I'll be sure to check in again soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Your Children Want YOU!" - A Link I Had to Share

If you have a few minutes to take to read something, let me encourage you to check out this link.  A friend shared the link on Facebook this morning.  And, this blog post spoke to me...right where I am.
If you are a mom, I think it will speak to you too!
image found here
Your Children Want YOU!

"There’s this crazy phenomenon going on right now. Good, devoted mothers get on Pinterest . . . and blogs . . . and Facebook . . . and Twitter . . . and then they flip through parenting magazines and TV channels (full of advertisements and media hype) . . . and they’re convinced they’re not enough."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Next Week's Menu...As Planned By My Boys

My boys have been asking if they can help decide what we eat for our meals.  Mealtime can be rough.  I have one boy who will eat just about anything set in front of him.  But, the others are quite picky.  

                                              I know that expression very well!
image found here
The mealtime battle is one that wears me down.  And frankly, sometimes I wonder why I even bother to cook.

But, I know that getting kids involved in the process is one way to get them excited about mealtimes & hopefully to avoid some of the conflict.

So,  with some help from mom, we sat down and planned out one week's menu.  Each boy (with the exception of the two year old) got to plan 2 meals.  Here's what next week looks like....

Kid's Choice Menu

 - Cheeseburgers, French Fries, Green Beans, Mandarin Oranges, Ice Cream

 - Grilled Cheese, Cooked Carrots, Apple Slices with Peanut Butter, Swirl Cake

 - BarBQ Ribs, Mac n Cheese, Corn, Fruit Salad, Pudding

 - Chicken Corn Noodle Soup, Homemade Bread, Bananas & Pudding

 - Make Your Own Nachos, Bean Salad, Applesauce, Cupcakes

 - Make Your Own Pizza, Caesar Salad, Cantaloupe/Watermelon, Milkshakes

Sunday (Mama's Choice)
 - Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops (found on Pinterest), Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Veggies

Yes.  My kids planned a dessert for every single meal.  No.  We don't have dessert every single night.  But, they were excited about planning these meals, so I decided not to put a damper on their enthusiasm.  And, desserts every night for one week isn't the end of the world.

What would your kids choose if they could plan a week's menu?

Saturday, April 7, 2012


There's something you should know about me.  I love Craigslist.

I love to scour the furniture & household listings to see if I can find treasures at a great price.  And, I've done well in buying a few items that otherwise we never could have afforded like...

 - these bookshelves
 - this entertainment armoire

Now I've decided to try my hand at selling some things on Craigslist.  I enjoy refurbishing old furniture & making it pretty again.  It's something I thought about doing to try to resell some pieces.  But, so far it's only been something I've done for fun.  

Well, I listed my first pieces on Craigslist today....

The chair is one I re-did last fall after finding the chair along the side of the road for free.  You can read about that here.

The table I purchased a couple days ago at a little roadside stand I frequent.  I accidentally deleted my before picture.  But, I painted it an almond cream color.

Another item I listed on Craigslist this week...but haven't gotten any nibbles on yet is this carnival glass pedestal compote bowl

I'll keep you posted on how my sales go.  My goal is to save money for our family vacation in October.  I think Craigslist is how I'm going work toward that goal.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Found My Mini-Muffin Tins!

Do you remember my post where I was kicking myself for apparently getting rid of my mini-muffin tins?  They were nowhere to be found when I wanted to make my boys some cute little mini-muffins.

Well, imagine my surprise and delight when tonight I FOUND my tins!

Where?  In the most logical the playdough bin!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Husband's Trip

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband is back from a 9 day work/missions trip he took to Jamaica.  A team including members from our church and another local church went together to assist in maintenance & building projects at the YWAM base in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

When people hear Montego Bay, they usually think of beautiful resorts and tourist destinations.  This is a large part of the area & the surroundings are amazingly beautiful.  But, the people of Jamaica live in very different circumstances than the luxury of the resorts.  

The YWAM base there is concerned with meeting the needs of these people...both the physical and spiritual.  One of the shocking facts is that 90% of the children born in Jamaica are born out of wedlock with no real father figure in their formative childhood years.  The concept of family is missing.  And, one goal of YWAM is to model whole families & active, involved fatherhood to the surrounding people.

While John was there, he helped with several different projects.  Since he is mechanically minded he spent time helping to maintain/repair their machinery.  One big project was getting a portable cement mixer back in working condition.  

When he got there this machine was parked in the weeds & rusty.  He asked how much time they'd like him to take on fixing this machine.  About 4 hours was the answer.  Looking at this machine John knew there was no human way it could be functional again in that time.  But, one of the prayers of the work team while they were there was that God would multiply their work and that they would achieve more than is normally possible.

John got that machine working.  In four hours.  He's still amazed.  He said God's hand was on this entire trip in ways like that.  

John's cousin, Arlin, who is on staff at the YWAM base in Jamaica

The one picture I could find of my husband :)  He's the guy with the graying hair.

Below is a video that was created to show some of the work the team did while there.  You'll see that working cement mixer.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I've written on here before that I struggle with contentment.  It's something that I'm constantly striving for.  Sometimes I'm doing good in this area.  Then, other times the ugly old face of envy creeps up.

That's why I've had to be careful with what I feed my mind.  I love watching shows like House Hunters.  But, it often ends up making me upset.  I've recently started a Pinterest account.  And, I enjoy finding really fun & inspiring ideas.  But, again, there's a fine line between getting inspiration and longing for something you don't have.

I also get Country Living magazine.  I really, really like this magazine.  It's probably my all-time favorite.  It's got a little bit of everything:  recipes, gardening tips, info about vintage finds/collectibles,  DIY ideas.  But, my favorite part is looking at the pictures of featured homes.  Usually the homes are old farmhouses that have been restored & renovated.  The results are what I call 'farmhouse chic'.

This picture is from the kitchen of a featured home from April's issue.  I love this look.  So bright & airy, yet maintaining it's farmhouse charm.  Here is where envy starts to creep in.

The houses they feature are, of course, owned by people who have the money to spend to make them as beautiful as they are.  Even though mentions are made in the articles about 'working with a budget' or 'cost being an issue', I get the definite sense that these folks don't REALLY know what it is to have very little to work with in terms of finances.

And, then I read something that makes me downright mad.  This beautiful home set on a 20 acre property is owned by a husband and wife.  Two people.  Two!   Here's the quote that got my blood boiling...

  "Inside 2300 square feet accomodated the couple beautifully when they spent all day outdoors, but come winter, the space felt...cramped.  DiMauro had grown weary of sharing the one full bath with frequent weekend guests.  And Windley, who had followed her passion, painting full time, felt hemmed in by her tiny office."


Ok.  I know.  2300 square feet by American standards isn't considered 'large' anymore.  But, somehow our family of 6 makes do in our home that is right around 1600 square feet.  If they would like to talk about feeling cramped...try being cooped up inside over winter with 4 rambunctious little boys.

See.  It's that ugly envy face again.  

And, I have to wonder...if we didn't have television shows, internet sites, and magazines to tell us what we don't have but ought to wish we had, would we care as much as we do now?  Would we be envious or oblivious that we didn't have as much as someone else?  

And, I've said this before, and I'll say it again....even most of the poorer folks among us in the U.S.  live in luxury compared to so much of this world.  Yes.  Luxury.  Do you remember this link about Hong Kong's cage homes?

Or the slums of Calcutta?

Or the poor in Kenya?

Or war-torn Afghanistan?

Or the poor of Appalachia in our own country?

This all puts it into perspective pretty quickly.  

I pray that it doesn't take extreme loss and devastation within our own country to remind us how blessed we are.
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