Sunday, July 19, 2009

More on Thankfulness

A friend of mine gave me a beautiful owl themed journal. No occasion, just because she was thinking of me. (Friend, you know who you are! :) Thank you again) But I haven't been able to bring my self to write in it yet... not wanting to use such a thoughtful gift and such a beautiful book for writing grocery lists or something mundane like that.

This upcoming move, in addition to making me stressed out and somewhat crazy, has left me feeling contemplative. One of the things that has come out of my late night deep thoughts is that I have decided to record, at the end of each day, just a little blurb about what we did that day. So that we (the kids and I) can look back over it and see what we've done and who we've seen. It's so easy to lose track of the little things we do. I don't want to forget the little things that count so much, like spontaneous trips to the park, cool things we find along the way, or other random fun times we share. The kinds of moments I am thankful to be able to share with my kids, and that can be easily forgotten in the "dailyness" of life. This is something that has been on my heart for awhile, and I haven't acted on it yet, not having the perfect place to record these things.

Do you see where this is going?

Tonight, I'll be making my first entry about our daily happenings in my new Owl journal. I am excited and thankful and happy at the way it has all come about.

Feeling Thankful

I am feeling very thankful right now.

I have been trying hard not to give up my compacting in the face of this upcoming move. It's hard for me to feel patient or resourceful when I am feeling under so much stress.

But things have a way of working out, when you just stick to it. For example:

~We ran out of boxes yesterday. Owl Poppa wanted to run to the store and pick up some boxes. But a quick craigslist search and request on one of my parenting boards has turned up all the boxes and packing materials I could need.

~Our can opener has kicked the bucket. A friend has one to give us. And she is conveniently on the same side of town as the friend who is giving us the boxes.

~I was talking about hairstyles at a party and mentioned wanting to get some hot rollers for my hair, and a friend offered me hers. This was the one purchase I haven't even pursued because I didn't want to buy new and didn't want to buy hair products from someone I don't know. Problem solved.

~Another friend who knew I was looking for clothes gifted me with three adorable new skirts. YAY!

~We're going to need a refrigerator for the new place. I have been patiently looking for one on craigslist, and the perfect fridge (perfect style, color, and price) turned up. I need a fridge, they need to sell, and everyone is happy! I love that personal aspect of buying second hand.

I have been very very stressed and cranky lately (moving does NOT bring out the best in me), and I want to really celebrate this moment of feeling thankful and happy!

A House... Maybe

We submitted our application Friday for a new place... as of Friday afternoon everything sounded fine. But we don't get the definitive answer til Monday. Say a few prayers, keep fingers crossed, do whatever it is that you do to send some positive vibes our way! I am so tired of not knowing what our address will be at the end of the month!

Monday, July 13, 2009

temporarily on hold

We're moving at the end of the month, and as of now, we don't have a place to move in to! :( So I will be otherwise occupied for the next few weeks... finding a house, packing, moving, etc. all on top of our normal stuff. I'll try to post something (I have some great pics from my new camera that I keep meaning to post) but I can't promise anything.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Christmas in July!

My mother-in-law (who is super awesome) gave us an early Christmas present... a new camera (to replace the one that W destroyed, lol). So look forward to many more pictures on this blog! As soon as I read the instruction manual, that is :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Compacting -- Month One Update

I started my Compact at the beginning of June. Now that we are officially in July, here's a look at how June turned out.

As a recap, here are my rules:

1. Avoid Buying
2. Avoid Buying New
Exceptions: personal care items (includes shoes and underwear), food, supplies for projects or schooling (only after I have gone through step one to decide if we need it or can make due with something else), gifts for birthdays (unless I have time to make something)
If I have honestly exhausted all of the above means, and I am unable to wait it out, purchases should support local or
independently owned businesses.

3. Food Rules (since this is something we have to buy)
Minimal convenience foods
Buy local and organic where possible
Shop the farmer's markets first
Minimize packaging, buy bulk, bring my shopping bags
If we do eat out (let's be reasonable folks... this is sure to happen... I can only make so many changes at once) we'll keep it to local establishments

1. I am getting much better about sorting out wants vs. needs. This is such a valuable skill to cultivate. I like that I am slowly becoming less of a mindless consumer at the mercy of impulse buys. It's amazing to realize how much junk and clutter would have made it into my house if I hadn't been paying attention. So many little thing that caught my eye and that I otherwise might have bought that were not really practical or well-made or even necessary. It was nice to recognize that I really didn't need a pack of Tinkerbell gel pens, or a resin garden gnome... even if they were on sale :) That's not to say there weren't a few struggles.

I had a moment of weakness over some dish towels... I know, I know... they're just dish towels. But man, I really really really wanted them. I knew it was just a want. Yet, every time I was in Target for groceries I would detour past that section and look at them LOL. I actually bought them, thought better of it, and returned them to Target. :) Whew! I made it past that hurdle, just barely. And the thing was, once I brought them home, I was able to realize that 1. I didn't really need them and 2. they weren't even very well made. I can't believe how much the WANTING could cloud my judgement.

2. Shopping second hand is fun! I bought my wardrobe updates at the thrift store and scored some great deals. I made gifts for a few of the birthday parties we went to, and they turned out super cute... little Waldorf-style dolls. Not only did they turn out well, but K got to help me with picking the patterns and the fabric. I bought a few books on, bought W a much needed pair of new shoes (I did buy these brand new), and I think that's it. Oh, there were the beeswax tapers I bought at the farm market. Definitely an impulse buy, but they were useful and hand-made so I didn't feel too bad about it.

The only NEW thing besides food that I bought were holiday socks for the kids, and some fireworks for the fourth.

3. Ahhh... food! This is where I have to keep it real. I knew going into it that this area would be tough. But I'm emarassed by how poorly I managed. Our food bill for the month was ridiculous... really, it bordered on obscene. We ate way too much fast food, bought snacks and other convenience foods, and just didn't plan well at all. We did have that whole two weeks of illness to contend with... most of the fast food and poor purchases took place during that time. And so much of the healthy fresh food in the fridge went bad during that time. SIGH I realize now the need to keep a more in the way of healthy pantry stuff for tough times. Canned beans or broth aren't things we normally buy but would have been much appreciated when I was too sick to set beans to cook or make homemade stock. I'm going to address this further once we get settled from our move.

So that about sums up June on the Compacting frontier. I have some other thoughts about it that will have to wait til later. Also, I'll post my plans for July later.

Fourth of July

Hope everyone had a great day! We sure did! It's been a super-long fun-filled weekend for us.

Friday night Grandma went with us to take the kids to the circus! This has become an annual tradition now for the kids... going to the circus with Grandma. It's something they love and really look forward to. They've been asking about the circus since we finished with Easter :) And this year, W was able to really be in on the action. The look on his face while watching the show was priceless. Everyone came home tired and happy, covered in cotton candy and clutching new circus souvenirs.

After such a late night, we all slept in a little, and got up to a Happy Birthday America breakfast. I wish my camera wasn't broken, but it is (stamping foot). The table was set with our red outdoor plates on blue construction paper placemats. For a center piece there were two flags in a clear glass vase filled with layers of white and blue crepe paper. There were blue and white crepe paper twirls hung along the top of the red curtains. And a few red, white, and blue balloons... the balloons were the best part! After reading a few patriotic poems, including The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, we sang the Star Spangled Banner and talked about the birth of our nation. Then we all sat down to enjoy blueberry pancakes, bacon, and Red White and Blueberry Muffins... a Fourth of July tradition now! (recipe below)

The rest of the day was spent hanging out, running errands, playing. The kids put on a Fourth of July show in the morning (K did a dance and sang the Johnny Appleseed song "because it's about America" and J made up a song about America and marched around with his new sword), and then spent much of the day racing their scooters in the garage. We read some more Fourth of July stuff, made pinwheels out of starry paper, and just had a fairly lazy and relaxing day!

For supper, we re-set the table with the fun stuff from breakfast and served lots of yumminess... fresh strawberries, cucumber slices, muffins, fresh corn on the cob that the kids peeled themselves, hotdogs, and chips. And for dessert? Watermelon, of course! The kids thought this was the best dinner ever. At their place setting, each of them received a pair of Fourth of July socks, which were a huge hit!

After supper, it was baths and pjs (and new socks), and then we headed out to see fireworks. This was the first year in awhile we've done more than just see whatever the neighbors were doing... the city fireworks ban put a crimp in that plan. So we parked in the mall parking lot and watched the fireworks display from Six Flags! I couldn't believe how many people were doing the same thing. But the people around were all really nice. And the display was spectacular!

And what made it all worthwhile? Besides the look on their faces when they woke up to the decorations, the big sticky watermelon smiles after supper, the cute chubby feet in holiday socks, the big kids oohing and aahing at the first fireworks display they really remember? While we were sitting in the traffic, heading home, K told me, "Momma, I had a really great holiday!"

Hope you did too!

Red White and Blueberry Muffins
1/2 C butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/2 C milk
3/4 C dried cranberries
3/4 C blueberries (we use frozen, but you could use dried)
You could add half a cup of white chocolate chips... we've not tried it yet, but it sounds yummy.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in eggs one at a time, beating well. Stir in vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir in dry ingredients alternating with the milk. Fold in berries. Fill lined muffin tin cups 2/3 full. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

We used patriotic muffin cups for ours... it was a nice effect.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How awesome is this?!?!?!

Check out the new layout! Isn't this the most awesome thing you've ever seen?!? Dawn, at Dawn's Design Shop, is amazing! Go check her out! I'm off now to tinker with the sidebars... way more fun than writing content right now :)