Monday, October 27, 2014

This Week's Goals: 10/27 - 11/2/14

Goal Line

Last week's goals:

Classroom Goals
  • Work on lesson plans
  • Practice our new RTP Classroom Management expectations
  • Finalize term 2 project rubric
Household/Family/Mommy Goals
  • Continue our Total Money Makeover by following our October budget
  • Continue to organize the basement by filling my new storage shelves (ongoing - my goal is to have a pseudo living room in the basement even though the walls aren't finished by the end of winter)
  • Look up how to remove mold from wooden hope chest (advice anyone???)
  • Install patio stones (ongoing)
  • Check yard for baby grass showing signs of life (cross fingers!)
  • Continue planning holiday season events, menus, wish lists & budgets
Marriage Goals
  • Make a point to spend at least 1 solid minute cuddling with hubs each evening when he gets home
  • Write a love note to hubs <3 (This isn't going well..... I really need to work on this!)
Personal Goals
  • Exercise at least twice this week Running is going really well - I'm hoping I stick with it into the winter
  • Journal at least once this week
  • Continue listening to Kat Lee's Podcasts (How They Blog & Inspired To Action)
  • Read Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller (review post upcoming)
  • Read Money Secrets Of The Amish by Lorilee Cracker (seriously, it combines my love of Amish culture and Dave Ramsey. I'm hooked already!) 
  • Paint my nails
Blogging Goals
    This Week's Goals:

    Classroom Goals
    • Work on lesson planning for the coming week
    • Continue using our new RTP Classroom Management expectations
    • Term 1 Raffle Drawing with students
    Household/Family/Mommy Goals
    • Continue our Total Money Makeover by following our October budget
    • Continue to organize the basement by filling my new storage shelves (ongoing - my goal is to have a pseudo living room in the basement even though the walls aren't finished by the end of winter)
    • Look up how to remove mold from wooden hope chest (advice anyone???)
    • Install patio stones (ongoing)
    • Clean & set up for Halloween
    • Enter our community Halloween decoration contest (We won't be anywhere close to winning, but this is a brand new event this year and I really want to help support it!)
    • Mow & spread winterizer in our yard
    • Continue planning holiday season events, menus, wish lists & budgets
    Marriage Goals
    • Make a point to spend at least 1 solid minute cuddling with hubs each evening when he gets home
    • Write a love note to hubs <3
    Personal Goals
    Blogging Goals
    Wish me luck! What's on your schedule this week?



    Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate marketing links that compensate me for sales.

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    Our Two Week Meal Plan: 10/24-11/6/14


    Pay day is grocery shopping day at our house, and since we get paid on a bi-weekly schedule that means I do two weeks worth of meal planning and grocery shopping at a time. I've shared my meal planning process before, from budgeting to posting the menu on the wall. Meal planning saves us a LOT of money, which really helps our Debt Snowball be successful. This week I have to give a huge shout out to my next door neighbors - they helped me come up with a few new ideas while our kids soaked up some gorgeous fall sunshine last week. Here's our two week meal plan, for 3 people, at a total cost of $150, for the next 14 days.

    Friday - Fast Food
    Friday night is the annual 6th Grade Halloween Lock In at my school so its a crazy day with no time to cook - instead the whole family had a delicious, totally unhealthy, fast food dinner.

    Saturday - Homemade Chicken Pot Pie With Baked Acorn Squash
    Two great techniques to cutting your grocery budget is to 1) eat what's local & in season - for us that is Acorn Squash right now and 2) Use left overs to your benefit - in our case we had left over chicken from a meal last week. We shred, bag & freeze left over chicken for use in future recipes such as this Homemade Pot Pie from Good Cheap Eats

    Sunday - Pizza & Left Overs Day
    Sunday is family day at our house - we'll be babysitting our nieces for a few hours and as part of the fun we'll be enjoying pizza for lunch followed by a dinner of left overs. It's clean out the fridge day!

    Monday - Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans
    We are HUGE fans of meatloaf. I make it the same way my parents did - which is honestly more than likely the same way your family made meatloaf - nothing fancy, just plain old delicious. When we have fresh venison in the house we prefer to make a mix out of beef, turkey & venison burgers - it has a really good taste - but this time of year we're out of venison so it will be a combo of beef & turkey burger.

    Tuesday - Buffalo Chicken Dip with Tortilla Chips
    A very good friend of ours introduced us to this dip - it's great for parties and get-togethers - but we love it so much that sometimes we make it for dinner too! :) Check out the link for a picture and the recipe.

    Wednesday - Kielbasa with Rice & Bean Medley
    I love kielbasa - its seriously one of the yummiest quick meals! This week I'm looking forward to enjoying it as a stand alone item (tonight) AND as part of a chowder later in the meal plan. :)

    Thursday - Orange Chicken & Brown Rice
    I'm not a natural cook. I enjoy it, but I still have so much to learn. I'd love to say I'll be making this meal from scratch, but I won't be. It's going to be straight from a frozen bag to the pan around here. (But at least I'll be using my favorite Wok - that earns me some points right?!?!) LOL

    Friday - Ham & Corn Chowder
    Yum! We first tried this simple chowder recipe a few weeks ago and now we can't wait to enjoy it again. We're having a few friends over to pass out candy and drink hard cider for Halloween - this chowder with homemade bread will be the perfect addition to the night.

    Saturday - Shepard's Pie
    This is a new recipe from me - recommended by our next door neighbors. My husband is a huge fan of Shepard's pie, and I admit it sounds delicious, but I don't think I've ever had it before - wish me luck!

    Sunday - Hash Brown Casserole
    Another new recipe from our neighbor - it combines potatoes, sausage & cheese.... SOLD!

    Monday - Macaroni & Cheese with Hot Dogs
    Monday tends to be a long day since its the start of the work week, so I always look forward to easy menu items on Mondays.

    Tuesday - Kielbasa & Potato Chowder
    A crock pot recipe sure to please according to our neighbors (they really were a life saver this week) - it combines kielbasa sausage, potatoes, corn, cheese, garlic, onion and spices for cold weather perfection.

    Wednesday - Baked Potatoes Bar
    Baked potatoes with cheese, sour cream, green onions, chili and bacon. Pile them as high as you'd like and enjoy.

    Thursday - Chicken Stir Fry with Brown Rice
    Chicken, vegetables & rice... what's not to like?

    So that's our meal plan, but I can hear your question already... what about breakfast & lunch? Our breakfasts & lunches aren't as formal as our dinners. I don't plan ahead certain foods for each day for those meals, instead I just have a collection of choices we can pick from each day. Here are the choices we have for the upcoming two weeks:

    Breakfast Choices
    • Cereal
    • Oatmeal
    • Peanut Butter Toast
    • Bagels
    • Yogurt
    • Fruit
    • Leftovers (yes, I know I'm weird, but I love cold leftovers for breakfast!) 
    Lunch Choices
    • Turkey/Ham & Cheese Sandwich
    • PB & J
    • Leftovers (yep, I like them for lunch too!) - Large recipes this week are sure to create many lunches!
    • Soup
    • Random Snacks
    So that's it - our two week meal plan. I'd love to hear from you. Do you meal plan? Does your family have a favorite delicious, budget friendly meal? I can't wait to talk food with you. 



    Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate marketing links that compensate me for sales.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    'Lean On Me' by Anne Marie Miller: Book Review


    This October, I am pleased to bring you my review of Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller that I received as a complimentary review copy from BookLook Bloggers.

    Book Summary

    Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller is probably the most hope inspiring book I've ever read. I was incredibly moved by Anne's story as she walked us through her tragic divorce and the road to recovery that followed. Anne show's us the power of community and how it can truly help a person succeed, even on their darkest days. 

    My Reactions

    As I read the book, I found I could really relate to the topics of vulnerability and commitment in relationships that have plagued her. She asks powerful questions that made me reevaluate the relationships I have in my life. Am I committed AND vulnerable? How does that impact my relationships?

    In case I needed any more of a reason to love this book - Anne started talking about our ability to surrender. (In case you didn't read it, my ability to surrender has been a major marriage topic for me this year.) So many relationships in our life could be improved if we would be willing to take a step back and surrender - allowing someone else to take control of our life. 

    I would recommend this book to anyone that has experienced a 'low moment' in life. This could be anything from a difficult divorce, like what Anne faced, or just a tough week in your classroom. Her message is clear no matter what problem you're facing - life will get better & you will become stronger through quality community.

    Where To Find Lean On Me

    Can't wait to check it out? Find Lean On Me at your local library or online at Amazon. You'll be so glad you did!




    Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate marketing links that compensate me for sales.

    Monday, October 20, 2014

    This Week's Goals: 10/20-26/14

    Goal Line

    Last week's goals:

    Classroom Goals
    • Work on lesson plans
    • Practice our new RTP Classroom Management expectations
    • Attend Parent/Teacher Conferences
    • Manage to stay calm while surrounded by the chaos of Parent/Teacher Conferences
    Household/Family/Mommy Goals
    • Continue our Total Money Makeover by following our October budget
    • Continue to organize the basement by filling my new storage shelves (ongoing - my goal is to have a pseudo living room in the basement even though the walls aren't finished by the end of winter)
    • Look up how to remove mold from wooden hope chest (advice anyone???)
    • Install patio stones (ongoing)
    • Continue planning holiday season events, menus, wish lists & budgets
    Marriage Goals
    • Make a point to spend at least 1 solid minute cuddling with hubs each evening when he gets home
    • Write a love note to hubs <3 My sweetest day post counts right? 
    Personal Goals
    • Exercise at least twice this week
    • Journal at least once this week
    • Continue listening to Kat Lee's Podcasts (How They Blog & Inspired To Action)
    • Read Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller (review post upcoming)
    • Read Money Secrets Of The Amish by Lorilee Cracker (seriously, it combines my love of Amish culture and Dave Ramsey. I'm hooked already!) 
    • Paint my nails
    Blogging Goals
      This Week's Goals:

      Classroom Goals
      • Work on lesson plans
      • Practice our new RTP Classroom Management expectations
      • Finalize term 2 project rubric
      Household/Family/Mommy Goals
      • Continue our Total Money Makeover by following our October budget
      • Continue to organize the basement by filling my new storage shelves (ongoing - my goal is to have a pseudo living room in the basement even though the walls aren't finished by the end of winter)
      • Look up how to remove mold from wooden hope chest (advice anyone???)
      • Install patio stones (ongoing)
      • Check yard for baby grass showing signs of life (cross fingers!)
      • Continue planning holiday season events, menus, wish lists & budgets
      Marriage Goals
      • Make a point to spend at least 1 solid minute cuddling with hubs each evening when he gets home
      • Write a love note to hubs <3
      Personal Goals
      • Exercise at least twice this week
      • Journal at least once this week
      • Continue listening to Kat Lee's Podcasts (How They Blog & Inspired To Action)
      • Read Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller (review post upcoming)
      • Read Money Secrets Of The Amish by Lorilee Cracker (seriously, it combines my love of Amish culture and Dave Ramsey. I'm hooked already!) 
      • Paint my nails
      Blogging Goals
      Wish me luck! What's on your schedule this week?



      Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate marketing links that compensate me for sales.

      Sunday, October 19, 2014

      Mom To Mom Sales: Black Friday Shopping For Moms On A Budget

      Have you ever heard someone talk about how expensive raising children is? In our experience, the most expensive part of raising children as a family with both parents working out of the home full time is daycare. I imagine the majority of parents would follow that up by diapers, formula and the "stuff required" to raise a child. As a cloth diaper & breast feeding family those first two don't really apply to my family much. (I've shared about the money we save using cloth diapers before - check it out if you're interested!) Since the cost of daycare is (for the most part) out of our control - we focus on saving our money with the 'stuff required' category. The good news is... for frugal moms on a budget, like me, we have a fantastic alternative... buy used! 


      Ever since discovering the Duggar Family on TV in college, I've admired their quote "buy used and save the difference," but not until more recently has that quote really hit home. (Check out their first book for more frugal ideas. They were Dave Ramsey 'weird' before 'weird' was cool!) 

      We address the "stuff required" to raise children rather frugally.

      Is this stuff actually required? In my first 6 months as a mom there were only a handful of items I actually felt I "needed" (you can read my post about them here) - and looking back I'd exchange #5 for a Fisher Price Rock 'N Play Sleeper - but realistically you don't "need" much to raise a child

      Thankfully what you do "need" can be purchased second (or third) hand for the most part. There are very few things you "can't" (or shouldn't) buy used. That makes garage sales, consignment shops & mom to mom sales the best trick for mom's on a budget! 

      Instead of spending $12-$30 on a pair of toddler jeans - I spend between $1-$3 per pair. Over time that really adds up to a lot of savings. 

      Not convinced yet? Check out my major haul from a local mom to mom sale this weekend:


      My son is all set for the Michigan winter ahead of us. I was able to purchase six pair of jeans, three pair of pants, two pair of shorts, seven footed pajamas, seven sweatshirts/sweaters, five shirts, a jacket, a winter coat and snow boots from local mamas. But that's not it...


      Christmas is covered too! I got 4 puzzles, a sequencing game, a Thomas book, a race car with gas station and a Bob The Builder floor puzzle with stickers. These will be wonderful under the Christmas tree this year.

      (Side note here... we don't see the need to shower our son with tons and tons of presents this holiday season. We don't want to raise an entitled child, but more than that we already know he'll receive presents from many family members. As an added side benefit this helps with over cluttering around our house and living more simply overall.)


      Last but not least, there was a little money left over to buy a few adorable items for our niece's birthday party. (Please excuse the disgusting beautiful maize and blue headband - her daddy likes that terrible wonderful team so I had to appease both parents with our gift giving. Lets hope she gets her smarts from her mommy both of her sports loving parents! LOL)

      Ready for the grand total? All of this - all 44 items - for only $93! That's an average of $2.11 per item - sure beats the price tag for the same item at the Children's Place or Target. :)



      Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate marketing links that compensate me for sales.

      Saturday, October 18, 2014

      Congratulations to our Hallowe'en In Greenfield Village Giveaway Winner....

      Thank you everyone that entered our Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village Giveaway and Greenfield Village for sponsoring the review & giveaway. It's time to announce the lucky winner....


      Congratulations Dawn V! You're the winner of a family four pack of tickets to Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village. 

      Thanks again to everyone that entered. Check out our October eMeals October Giveaway while you're here!

      Happy Halloween!





      Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate marketing links that compensate me for sales.

      Your Marriage Is Worth Fighting For: And Other Lessons Learned From Other's Failed Marriages

      In honor of Sweetest Day... a post about the most important person in my life - my loving husband! 


      From as early as I can remember, I've always dreamed of true love. I've been a hopeless romantic since the time boys had cooties. I enjoyed sappy love stories, and fantasizing about a romantic date where the man of my dream would sweep me off my feet.

      Enter - the man of my dreams - my wonderful, loving husband, Josh. In the completely cliche stereotype, I tell people "I wasn't looking for love - it just came knocking at my door one day." But, it's true. Josh is the yin to my yang, the Antony to my Cleopatra, the Ethel to my Lucy. He walked into my life, and immediately filled a hole I didn't know I had. I'm blessed to have found a man that makes me laugh on a daily basis, but also challenges me to continue being the perfect woman that I am to grow and become a better person. (LOL - sorry I couldn't help it!) He truly is an amazing man and I don't know what I would do without him.

      But before I lose you, and you leave this blog post behind because you just can't read one more disgustingly romantic statement, its important that you know, that for all of his great qualities, there are things about him that frustrate me to no end on a regular basis. How can a person fail to get dirty clothes IN the hamper - as opposed to directly beside the hamper? Why is there an accumulation of cups in our master bedroom, when he has perfectly good feet that carry him DOWN the stairs every morning?

      Far too often we focus on the negatives. We vent to a good girl friend about how annoying our spouse is (Yes, me too! A very dear friend of mine, whose name shall not be mentioned to protect the innocent, is all too familiar with the complaints I find in my husband.), or we go straight to the root of the problem and tell our spouse every last aggravating thing about them to the point of complete blood bath within our home. But as most of us have figured out - dwelling on the negative, makes it incredibly difficult to be happy in your marriage or find peace in the not-so-perfect of real life.

      One of my all time favorite photos of us -
      at our Engagement Party!
      This week we received the very sad news that friends of ours have lost the battle to maintain their healthy marriage, and have separated. These are friends we've had for many years. We attended their wedding, and they ours. We have been to birthday and celebration parties for many milestones of their family's life. They seemed to be the perfect, crazy match for one another, and yet their marriage failed. What has happened to modern society, that when you marry in the United States you are more likely to get divorced than remain together for life? Something is wrong. Our society is riding a speeding train headed straight off a cliff, but only the brave are willing to jump off before its too late. The brave ones are less than 50% of married couples. I don't want to be in blissful denial about the state of my marriage. I want to take it by the reins and tell it where to go. I want to put in the hard work and effort a good marriage requires. We're worth it. Josh is worth it

      As with all major life moments, our wedding came along with a whole slew of well wishers AND those offering their advice - wanted or not. Five years later there is one suggestion that has always stuck with me - your marriage is worth fighting for!

      ***********************

      I remember when, I discovered the book 'The Surrendered Wife' by Laura Doyle (available for purchase on Amazon) based on the recommendation of a treasured author. I borrowed my local library's copy & began reading right away. Wow - Laura Doyle had a few terrible shocking ideas that almost made me put the book back down. "Which do I want more: to have control of every situation or to have an intimate marriage?" she asked. (Darn it Laura Doyle - I want both and I'm sick of people telling me I'm a control freak!) This probably won't shock you, but it turns out she was right. My husband is capable of making good decisions on his own while keeping the welfare of our family at the fore front of his mind. He is capable of making decisions without my input, period. It's a work in progress (honestly, I think my husband would tell you I still struggle with this regularly), but the point is I'm trying. My marriage is worth fighting for.

      A few months after having read 'The Surrendered Wife' - which I hadn't told my husband about based on the author's advice - I downloaded a free e-book recommended by a blog I enjoy, also about marriage. This habit seemed like a Marriage 'Best Practice' 101 idea: read books about marriage & absorb wisdom of those that have walked before you & in return you will see your marriage blossom. Turns out I never shared this thought with my husband, because a few weeks later when he turned on my iPad and there on the screen was a marriage advice book, he was worried. "Are you unhappy with me? Is there something wrong with our marriage?" he asked me. Lesson learned... tell husband when you've had a revelation that reading about marriage experiences from successful marriages will be a positive experience BEFORE he has minor freak out that something is wrong. My husband's peace of mind is worth the conversation. My marriage is worth fighting for.

      While distracting my mind jogging running, I've been listening to Kat Lee's podcast 'Inspired To Action,' as I try to convince myself I enjoy running. I'm new to the Inspired to Action blog & podcast - so I apologize if you're a regular listener, and you heard this like a year ago when it originally aired - but episode 18 was new to me and POWERFUL! Amanda Carroll talked about how she has struggled since her divorce, and would give just about anything to have back the things that used to drive her crazy - like her ex-husband leaving cups on the bedside table (eerie parallel to my life made here). It really drove home the idea that although there are things that drive me crazy about my husband - the ability to have someone to feel that frustration about is a gift that I need to appreciate. He is here & he is committed to this marriage - that's what matters. So I will continue my Surrendered Wife journey, because... (you guessed it!) my marriage is worth fighting for.

      When we started our Total Money Makeover journey about two years ago, we were gifted the Financial Peace University (FPU) class, after having called in to the radio show to ask a question about my student loan debt compared to our monthly budget. It was at week two, of the nine week class, that we learned a major lesson about marriage. Healthy marriages are on the same page about money. According to Dave, most failed marriages blame financial issues as a reason for their divorce. We had thought we had similar goals and ideas about money - but it turns out there had been a few major differences. The fight that resulted from that particular class was pretty monstrous. We had a lot of mixed emotions & expectations to hash out - but miraculously that experience hasn't really been repeated since. For the most part we agree on our financial plan & goals and any issues are resolved fairly quickly and painlessly. As a rule, I usually regret and feel bad about the fights we've had as soon as they're over, but in this case, I don't regret our FPU Week 2 fight. It has resulted in one of the most amazing changes to our marriage - we're on the same page about money. At this point, it goes without saying - but I'm a creature of habit, so  bear with me please - my marriage is worth fighting for. :)


      And just when I thought I'd learned enough lessons to last me awhile, my son taught me the greatest lesson about my marriage of all. View your spouse through the eyes of your child. My son looks at his daddy with the most loving eyes. From my son's perspective, my husband is the most amazing man to ever walk this planet. It doesn't matter if daddy got frustrated when he spilled his orange juice last week or if his daddy wasn't super excited to run around the house while home sick from work last week - to him, his daddy is his whole world. We should all be so lucky. I will continue to improve my role as a wife and mother. I will continue to learn from my mistakes and move forward to make better decisions. I have to. My marriage is worth fighting for.

      *************************************

      What lessons about marriage has life thrown your way? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!



      Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate marketing links that compensate me for sales.
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