Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our little house

This is our little house...

Truthfully, I really long to live somewhere like this....

But that is not the season that the Lord has us in.  And after many years, I am finally content with that.

Several years ago, we had a beautiful, big house, and a not so beautiful, big house payment.  We were broke.  Every hard-earned penny that my man made, went toward the house payment.  There was nothing left....not even a morsel.  Because we were living beyond our means, we rapidly accumulated debt.  We were sinking fast.   We fought.... a lot.  We were constantly stressed out.... a lot.  We had sleepless nights.....A LOT!  Then, one day, we finally decided to sell that money sucker and downsize.

We put that house up for sale and it sold within six weeks, an answer to prayer.   We never looked back and don't miss that big, beautiful house one bit.  We were not able to find anything suitable in our price range, so we rented a house from some friends of ours. 

When I was nine months pregnant with our fourth blessing, the house that we were renting from our friends, sold.  We had to move....and fast.  We quickly began the Herculean task of moving....again, and searching for a home.  Did I mention that I was nine months pregnant?  It's a reoccurring joke in my family that every time I'm pregnant, we move.  Well, it's true.  

When we first stepped into our current house, I was under whelmed.  In fact, I almost threw up.  It was a foreclosure, and let's just say the people that lived here before us didn't exactly hire a maid before they abandoned it.  I was having a very difficult time seeing the big picture and the potential that this little house had, but not my man.  Under the grimy, black film on the walls, the red paint poured on the carpets, the cabinet doors that were split in half, the mold growing in the toilets, the disgusting, fetid, smell of who knows what, he could see it, and he got a little twinkle in his eye...almost blinded us!   We put in a very low offer, thinking that we would have to go back and forth to reach an agreed price, but guess what? They accepted our first low offer.  (Does it surprise you that we were the only ones interested?)  I cried......a lot.  I couldn't imagine moving my family, especially my infant daughter into such filth.  What I didn't realize is that we were well on our way to financial FREEDOM!


We would soon be beginning our DEBT FREE lifestyle!

Thanks Dave Ramsey!

We moved into a tiny cabin that was on my in-laws' property for six months, until our little house was move-in ready.  My man was gone all  the time, working on the house, and the girls and I stayed on the farm in that little cabin, and once again....I cried......A LOT!  Actually, in between cries, it was really quite wonderful.  We got to spend time with Mimi and Pawpaw and made a lot of memories.  The girls will always remember that special time that we were able to spend on the farm, especially the part about having to sleep on cots each night! 

Thus began the journey to the simple life....

A life with less STUFF.......less STRIFE......and less STRESS......

God quickly revealed to us that we had been trying to keep up with the Joneses for way too long.   We were running, running, running, and never home to enjoy the house that we were paying so much for and most importantly never home long enough to enjoy family time with each other.  He was calling us to less, and it felt freeing.  We got rid of stuff.....(sigh of relief).....and more stuff.......(sigh of relief)......and even more stuff....(BIG sigh of relief!)  We moved into our little house and......

Well, maybe not that Little House, but you get the picture.

This picture hangs in my dear friend, Mama Donna's bathroom.  It is a constant reminder to live the simple life.  (See, we're not the only crazy ones who have chosen this lifestyle!)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."

- Hebrews 12:1-2

So our journey continues.  I would be lying to you if I said that it has been easy.  We are constantly reevaluating our finances, time, and stuff.  Sometimes in the midst of our chaotic lives, we look up to see that the "thorns" of this life are hiding the "simple" path and we have to clear them off to find our way once again.  Sometimes, we look up and we have gotten off of the path altogether and we have to seek with all of our hearts to find the direction and the way back.  And the gentleman that He is, our God is always faithful to gently guide us and illuminate the Way back to the path. 

And our little house?  Well, let's just say it's no longer a house, but a HOME, and this simple plaque that my sister gave me, hangs by our front door as a constant reminder to all who enter that....

"100 years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the type of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Beans, beans, the magical fruit...

Beans, beans, the magical fruit.....(I'll leave the rest up to your imagination!) We eat a ton of beans.  They're easy, cheap, and full of nutrients and fiber.  We eat them in soups, chilis, salsa, bean dips, omelets, wraps, burritos, quesidillas...and the list goes on.  Because of convenience purposes, I used to buy my beans in cans.  I would pay about 55 cents a can at Aldi.  When you're feeding a family of six, those cans add up rather quickly, not to mention that canned beans are full of sodium and create a lot of waste in land-fills.  I figured up the cost of buying dry beans, and it's about 1/5 the cost of canned beans.  Last summer, I tried my hand at canning dried beans.  This method was super easy.  I will show a how to demo at a later date.

Recently, I also tried cooking the beans (You can do this on the stove top or in a crockpot), letting them cool, and then putting them in zip-lock bags and freezing them.  LOVE this method!  Just pull them out of the freezer and thaw, or throw them into soups or the crockpot along with your other ingredients...voila!  Instant dinner!

I first started buying dried beans at the grocery store.  While still cheaper than canned beans, I quickly found that if I buy beans in bulk, the savings is much greater.  The past couple of years, I've been buying beans and other bulk food items from a local food co-op where I can buy just about any type of bean, many organic, for less than $1.00/ pound.   The last time I ordered, I got 25 lbs. for just under $25.00.  Can you say....

Beans and rice, rice and beans!

I store my beans and other bulk items in five gallon buckets in our basement, so if you're one of those crazy people that raids the grocery store when we get a light dusting of snow, please just stop by my house first.  I'd be happy to share and it will save you from having a near death experience by the trampling of the mobs.  And we can even enjoy a hot cup of coffee together.

This is one of our family's favorite bean dip recipes.  It is quick, easy, and has little to no fat.

Bean Dip

(Great with raw or lightly steamed veggies and/or toasted whole wheat pita bread)

(Recipe by Dr. Joel Fuhrman - Eat to Live)


1 15 oz. can of beans, any type (@ 1 1/2cups)

1 TBS salsa (or more or less, depending on your taste.)

1 pinch cumin

1 pinch chili powder

¼ tsp garlic powder, or two garlic cloves, crushed


Mash the beans with a fork, masher, or food processor with about half the liquid from the can. Mix in the spices. Serve with raw or lightly steamed vegetables or toasted pita bread.

Printable Recipe

Just another way to spread my manna love!

But one of the best.....ABSOLUTELY BEST uses for beans.......

Priceless memories!  You're darn tootin!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Isn't he amazing?!

Isn't he AMAZING?!  Look at the roses that my man surprised me with yesterday morning for my birthday.  They fully opened this afternoon, displaying the magnificent rich swirls of petals, intelligently tucked inside for all of us earthly creatures to enjoy.....BEAUTIFUL, simply beautiful, and the smell of them fill our home and make me oh, so ready for spring.

My man and I have been married for almost 18 years. We met at my BFF's wedding.  I was the maid of honor.  His brother was the groom. He was a groomsman.  My BFF is now my sister in law...the rest is history.  When I first met him, I wasn't interested, he was persistent, and I finally said, "yes."  I've been madly in love with him ever since.  He looks like a cross between Tom Selleck....

And the Marlboro Man, only take away the cigarette.  He's never tried one a day in his life.

He is forever faithful and loyal to his family.  More than any girl could ever ask for.  He has the heart of a warrior and always demands justice...

He is the hardest working man that I have ever met.  He goes from sunrise to sundown, non-stop, only pausing to check on his Fantasy Football stats.  He has the hands of a workin' man, constantly snagging my sweater or pantyhose, and he hasn't taken his wedding ring off since the day we were married.

He can play a mean game of "Angry Birds", and cries more than me at sad movies.  My girls' laughs are the proof that he is the best tickler ever!

The greatest gift he ever gave me..............

I still read them quite often.

Because of all he does for us, I try to find ways to bless him daily, my little manna gifts.  Remember, I am a June Cleaver wanna-be. 

I always start by making our bed each morning......check out our new quilt!

But.......I often times fail....

But he still loves me.  Remember, I am a June Cleaver wanna-be, not June cleaver herself!

As old fashioned as it sounds, I also try to have a hot meal waiting for him when he gets home, even though he would be happy with just a sandwich and chips.

The girls and I also try to have the house half way presentable by the time he arrives home in the evenings, but.....

We aren't always successful!

But he still loves us!  (Nothing an "Angry Birds" competition can't soothe!)

The most important blessing, or manna gift, that I give my husband each day is the gift of prayer.  I pray for him daily and he does the same for me.  And 18 years and four kids later.....

Did I mention that he was amazing??!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Angry Birds

41!  There....I said it.  Now it's out there for the whole world to see.  I turn 41 today.  I know it's so cliche, but really, where has the time gone?  It seems like only yesterday that I was staring at the posters on my bedroom wall of my favorite 80's band, "Duran Duran."  You remember them don't you?  They had such awesome hits like, "A View to a Kill", "The Reflex", "Hungry Like the Wolf."   I'm sure you know the words to every song, don't you?  Still can't remember them?  Here.....let me refresh your memory...

Yep, that's them.  Their bass guitar player, John Taylor, really made both mine and my BFF's hearts flutter.  Was that really 30 years ago?  Inconceivable!! 

I wonder what wonderful birthday plans my family has for me?  Maybe my man has decided to wisk me off to some secluded island for a last minute birthday surprise...


I'm thinking a day at home, trying to beat them at a game of "Angry Birds" is more like it.   Yes.   "Angry Birds."  My 7 year old asked me the other day, "Mom, are you addicted to Angry Birds?"  Well maybe I am.  There's just something theraputic about hoisting those little flying creatures and knocking stuff over.  When I see the words, "New High Score" on a certain level, I have to admit, I do a little happy dance. 

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!  Yep.  That's probably what we'll spend a big part of the evening doing.... playing my favorite game of all time next to Mrs. Pac-Mac!

As for dinner, I'm sure it will be a choice between "Texas Roadhouse" or "Cracker Barrel",  just because those are the places that we have gift certificates to.  Doesn't sound very glamorous to you?  A whole night with my family and not having to cook or clean up the dishes?  Sounds pretty amazing to me!

I'll take her over some tropical paradise any day!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting Real

I love my family.  I chose to quit my job as an elementary school teacher 12 years ago to be a wife, mother, and keeper of the home.  Crazy?  Yes....most days it is pretty much controlled chaos around these parts.  We laugh, we cry, we yell at times, we have tickle wars.  We are not perfect.  What you see is what you get.  We are the real deal and I wouldn't trade one minute of it.   Like manna from heaven, our daily blessings are abundant!