Spring Break + Goals

We are in the land of Fruit Loops, Coke, Sprite, shopping trips, iPads and steak dinners. Yes, we are visiting my parents for spring break and having so much fun!

The weather has been beautiful, truly spring-like, and we have been soaking it up.

Gave Stephen another home haircut yesterday.

I had 3 personal goals at the start of this week since I'm not at home with my usual responsibilities.

This top was my Stitch Fix keeper...a creamy/tan short sleeved, sweater. 
Great for spring and will be great for fall too. I've worn it 4 times in two weeks.

1. Put a big dent in Les Mis. I've been reading Les Miserables for quite some time. Trouble is I fall asleep whenever I have time to read. So I usually only read a chapter or two. This week, I've read a couple hundred pages, and I still have more time.

2. Exercise. So far I've gone on a good walk Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And I've done a workout video twice. I loved this post...Mom's Guide to Exercise.

3. Work on photos. I have selected and ordered through June of 2011. Remember I was backed up to '09. So I have half of 2011, and all of 2012, 2013, and 2014 to go. But I've made some huge strides and I'm inspired and motivated. I'd like to get through 2012 before I make way back home this weekend.

Today is a little rainy so I'm taking Stephen and Laurie to see Cinderella.


On My Way To Photo Organization

For quite some time I have been so burdened by the fact that I don't have any of my photos printed since 2010. That's 5 years! I barely have a hard copy photo of Laurie or George.

Break a mother's heart.

The beginning of this year I said this is the year of action. I even claimed that word - action - as my word of the year. I knew it was well past time to print my pictures.

I wrote about how I was going to spend 15 minutes a day selecting photos to print. But winter and sickness and so much missed school through me off my game. 

Now I'm back on that horse. I just received  my first order of prints and I LOVED holding the photos in my hand. Warm and fuzzy feelings overfloweth. A picture paints a thousand words.

Also, my children adore looking at photos.

I went through a phase when I wanted to do photo books, the fancy hardcover kind. I especially loved the few I did using My Publisher.

However, I think it takes SO. MUCH. TIME. And I kinda become a perfectionist when doing photo books. 

And then one day I came across Soule Mama's post about how she organizes her photos. I liked the utilitarian way she used giant photo albums. No need to reinvent the wheel. Even more, I loved how she had thin, white borders on her prints. They frame the photo and really make the picture pop.

So I've taken up the same approach. I'm using We R Memory Keepers Classic 12X12 leather album in navy and these We R Memory Keeper sleeves.

I asked my Facebook friends where the best place to print photos was and I got a dozen answers. So, I decided to go with the cheapest and whoever was running the best deal, which happened to be Snapfish last week. I got 200 photos for $0.07 a piece, total about $16.00. I plan to jump around and use a few different companies. Cost is a big factor. 
(Still waiting to write on the labels - can't decide how I want to do that yet.)

Next week is Spring Break so I plan to dedicate some serious time to work on more photos.

One lesson I've already learned is that I must be more selective and truly pick the best of the best. I only need a representation of the pictures I've taken. Otherwise, I will have to rent a storage unit to house these photo albums. Ideally, I'd like to get two years worth of pictures in one album.


What about you? Do you find this task as overwhelming as I do? Are you up to date on printing out your photos? What are your best tips?


A Patch

I've developed a real appreciation for mending and patching my kids clothes. It saves money and I love that feeling of sucking all potential value out of and item.

I used wonder under to stable the patch and then secured it with a hand stitch.

It came a little loose in the washing machine, so I tried again. Seems good now.

These jeans will be too short for Stephen next year, and I was thinking I'd put them away for George. But Laurie borrowed them the other day for an outdoor activity and (husband) Stephen and I agreed that they looked so cute on her.

So, looks like sister gets to get some use out of these jeans. I have found that some clothes and especially shoes work so well interchangeably for boys and girls.

Again, this saves money and you get more mileage out of your clothes and shoes!

Also, it's about time for some more homemade haircuts at my house.


A Little Crazy In Every Week

Every week has a little (or a lot) of crazy. No matter how much I plot and plan out the week, some days just go so nuts. There was one day last week that I drove Stephen to school - back home- drove the younger kids to preschool - home again - then back to preschool - and back to Stephen's school all before 9:30 a.m. It was the perfect storm.

Stephen could not take Stephen to school as he usually does, so I took him. Then I forgot to bring George's bag with his diapers and lunch when I dropped him off at preschool. Follow that with a volunteer commitment at Stephen's school. Mix in there weird amounts of time lags between when and where we had to be. I was beat. 

All this to say, I'm keeping George home with me next year. Preschool was there for me when I needed it, but it just feels right to keep him with me for next school year. Simpler. Laurie will still go though.


Speaking of, that girl had her 4 year old well check up last week. All was well, except the two shots. Thankful. She looks so tiny in this picture.


I read Modern Mrs. Darcy's post about Stitch Fix and immediately signed up for a box. I got it Saturday. I loved one item and sent the other four back. Overall, it was a great experience, and I'm totally going to try it again. Right now I'm signed up for a monthly fix. It is more money than I'd typically spend on clothes for me. BUT I am paying someone to run the errand and best of all - narrow down my choices. So I will hopefully blog about this more.


I'm making Ina Garten's roasted chicken for dinner - minus the fennel. Can't wait!

So that's what's up with us.

P.S. I forgot to send Laurie's lunch to school today when I dropped her off, and had to make an extra trip back to the school. I was kicking myself. 


4 Go-To Frugal Breakfasts

A couple of years ago I stopped buying cereal to save money on groceries, and I think it made a large, positive impact in our grocery budget, especially as my kids were getting older and eating bigger portions. Not to mention all the milk we went through. Also, when cereal is in the house Stephen and I are tempted to eat it as a before bedtime snack.

That being said, if I know a hard week is coming up or I'm in a difficult season, Cheerios are there for me. But generally, we don't eat a lot of cereal.

So today I thought I'd share our 4 go-to frugal breakfasts and my best tips for making them extra tasty.

1. oatmeal - Butter. I add a tablespoon of butter to the pot. (My husband taught me this. He makes the best oatmeal.) And then we typically add some brown sugar and frozen blueberries.

2. grits - Chicken bullion. Season the water with a little bit of chicken bullion powder. It's salty so you barely have to add salt. Also, If you have some cream cheese on hand - delicious.

3. scrambled eggs - Cook on low heat, slowly so you don't over cook. Also, add a pat of butter while cooking.

4. cheese toast - Use good cheese. I only make cheese toast when I have leftover cheese from something else. I don't go out of my way to buy cheese for just cheese toast. And definitely no Kraft singles.

I must give an honorable mention to peanut butter toast and avocado toast. But mostly I just eat these, not the kids.

So what are your favorite breakfasts? 


P.S. This is an old article, but I like the advice....

Family Finance: How to Save Money on Groceries



In January, after the Christmas tree was thrown out, I bought a few succulents at Lowes. My friend James taught me that succulents basically thrive on neglect. And it's true! All I do is put them near a sunny window and sprinkle a little water on them when the soil is looking really parched.

If I can wipe down my kitchen counter tops with a little Mrs. Meyers and gaze upon my succulents, then all is right with the world.

I think house plants make a home seem a little more put together. Plus I love all the colors that succulents come in - greens and deep purples.

And how economical that they last for so long! Mine are going on 2 + months. They get you through those gray winter days. Also, succulents would make the perfect gift - for a teacher, sick friend, new mom, etc. 

My cleaning schedule is not so hot this week. I guess it's on hold for other projects.

P.S. This is one of my favorite decorating books - The Perfectly Imperfect Home


Spinach Recipe My Kids Love

My children love this spinach recipe. Stephen especially.

It's a Blue Apron recipe that was given to me word of mouth. So it's probably evolved a bit from the original.

-one large box or bag of fresh spinach (the more the better because spinach shrinks down to nothing once its cooked - you need at last 16 oz.)
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-a pat of butter
-1 clove minced garlic
-red pepper flakes to taste
-Parmesan cheese to taste
-salt and pepper to taste

Coat large pan with extra virgin olive oil. Cook spinach on low to medium heat until wilted down. Pour into colander and drain. Run a sharp knife over spinach, chopping it into smaller pieces. You can use a cutting board, but I don't like to dirty an extra dish.

Return pan to stove and melt a tablespoon or two of butter and add minced garlic. Return spinach to pan and re-warm thoroughly. Liberally grate Parmesan cheese and add a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.

Top with more Parmesan when serving.

serves 4


20 Bags In 20 Days

It's been a minute. Just busy with the usual things.

This has been the winter of mild, yet persistent illness and rain. So much rain! My kids have all taken their turns missing days of school. And like Jenny from Dinner a Love Story, I'm so over comfort food!

We are having enchiladas verdes for dinner tonight in an attempt to incorporate some lighter, fresher flavors. Hello, cilantro and lime.

And because it's almost spring - spring cleaning! The beginning of February, I set out to get rid of 20 bags in 20 days. But then colds, coughs, missed school days, etc.

So I just started back today. I'm on bag #10. Outgrown and worn clothes and shoes, towels, linens, and broken toys are what make up most of the piles. FREEDOM. 

I wish this weren't so true and important for me....outer order contributes to inner calm. That saying is one of Gretchin Rubin's secrets of adulthood.

My house is generally in a state of messy. But somehow if I can keep it from being totally overloaded by stuff, I can maintain some inner calm.

{{Hugs}} to all of you. Hope to be back soon.
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