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Friday, February 28, 2014

Photography Challenge: Final Wrap-Up

Minimalist
Two of my favorite things. Simple.
 
What You Wore Today
I'm glad this category fell on a Sunday. That's usually the day I look the most put together.

Husband
He's my favorite.
 
Down Low
Laundry Day! Waiting for the dryers to stop spinning...

Black and White
Tired baby didn't want to nap.

Red
A yummy snack.  What you don't see are the pieces Jonah and Matthew took a bite of and then put back...
 
Motion
Already planning what to go grab next.
 
And so ends the month-long photography challenge.  It was kind of fun to try to find something to fit with the categories, and I got better at remembering to do it towards the end.  My goal was to take more pictures this month, and I feel like I did that.  I'm taking almost all of my pictures with my phone now, which is kind of weird for me, but yay technology?

In case you missed any:

February Goals Update


I had several goals for this month, and I am sad to say, I did not complete most of them.  For whatever reason, this month just got really busy, and while I was able to make progress on some of these, most are still not done.




Home:

  • Update family pictures in various frames on our walls. I got as far as putting post-it notes on the ones I want to update (you can see some of them in the picture above). I still need to pick new ones and print them out and put them in the frames. 
  • Create 2013 Family Photo Book on Shutterfly (and order if I have a free book code). I didn't do this yet.
Food:

  • Make more homemade baby foods.  Done! Pictured are applesauce, apple blueberry, and apple pineapple strawberry.
  • Make one of the items on my intimidating foods list. Done! I made eggplant lasagna.
Parenting:

  • Get back into the daily reading habit with the kids.  I'd say this was about 50/50.  It was more in my mind, but it didn't always happen.
  •  Start teaching the boys an Easter hymn (which one I'm not sure yet). I should have picked one and maybe that would have helped.  I do have a specific one to work on for next month though!
Personal:

  • Continue to do yoga at least 6 days a week. Done!
  • Finish the "Budgeting Finances and Time" folder of ebooks. I didn't read these.
  • Read at least 3 additional books. I didn't read any books this month.  Sad face.
So. I don't have any Pinterest to Real Life updates, or any Books I've Read This Month updates, because neither of those happened.  I kind of fell off the wagon with healthy eating (snack issues mostly, although we went out to eat several times also), so I only lost 0.2 pounds this month, which is frustrating when you are working hard every day at working out.  Those little splurges do add up though.

Here's hoping I can do better next month!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Weekly Coupon Shopping

Target
I wasn't going to do any deal shopping this week, but I found several good deals at Target, and I got a $5 gift card through my Shopkick app.
  • Pampers Wipes: $1.97. Used $1/1 (mailer) = paid $0.97.
  • 2 Starkist Tuna Pouches: $0.99 each. Used $1/2 (insert) and $1/2 Target printable = 2 free!
  • 3 Archer Farms K-Cup 3-packs: $1.49 each. Used $2/1 Target mobile and two $2/1 Target printables (all automatically came down to $1.49 off) = 3 free!
  • 3 Market Pantry Mac & Cheese: B2G1 free at $0.59 = paid $1.18/3.
  • 3 Candy: $0.69 each.
  • Saved $0.05 for using my own bag = spent $4.29, meaning I had $0.71 to spare!
Other Coupon Shopping:
  • Victoria's Secret: Used free panty coupon that came in the mail to save $12.50.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Iron Craft Challenge #4: Hearts & Flowers

I picked an easy project for this challenge, one which I have wanted to do for awhile, and which I just got the supplies for. 

Here is the box where we keep the kids' craft supplies. Paper, markers, crayons, gluesticks, and a few other bits.  And yes, it is normally this messy.  But they can still get to things and make projects, so I try not to mess with it too much.
However, the box itself is kind of an eyesore in our living room, so I wanted to cover it with some adhesive shelf liner to both make it pretty, and to make the box stronger.
It's kind of hard to tell from these pictures, but the liner I picked is a baby blue with a white flower pattern on it.
I bravely did this project while all 3 kids were awake and running around.  I gave the boys a few bits of the liner for "stickers" so they were happy to play with those. Hannah only tried to eat the paper a few times...
And here's how it turned out! I think it looks much better than it did before, and it was a very easy project, which I needed this time around.  Life has been busier than I would like lately, so I'm trying to slow down a bit.

Please ignore the mess on the floor. This is what an unstaged living room with 3 kids 4 and under looks like most days...but at least the craft box is pretty! :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cleaning Month: After Pictures

Remember way back at the beginning of January I showed you before pictures of a few areas in my house?  I never showed you the after pictures...

I confess, I did not make as much progress as I had hoped in our pantry closet, and I kept waiting to do this post, hoping I would get back in there and finish, but I think that for now, it's as good as it gets.  It is functioning as a storage space, and that is the most important part of the space.  We were also able to clear some things out, so it wasn't a complete failure.
Here's the view from the entrance.  A few things moved around on the shelves along the back wall.  Some we got rid of, and some new things from Christmas were added (most notably sleeping bag sets for the 3 kids). And a closer view of the shelves:
One project I did take care of was moving my dry beans into jars instead of old Tupperware.  I think they look nicer, and it's easier to see how much is left of each kind.
'
I did, however, have more success with the magazines.  After sorting them out by title, I spent a lot of time catching up.
Now I am down to just a few from this month, and I'm almost done with my magazine holder to put them in (another project taking way longer than expected).

The moral of the story? Sometimes things take a long time, but progress is still better than nothing. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

On What I've Lost And What I've Gained Through Yoga

As many of you know, and as I've mentioned once or twice here on the blog, I do yoga every day after dinner.  I have been doing this every day for nearly 5 months, missing only a few days when I was sick. 
 
Me on Day 1 and Day 120, which was almost a month ago now.

Starting was hard.  Doing it every day is hard.  But it's also necessary. I've always been overweight, and while I have come to terms with the why of it all, getting back to a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle is a constant work in progress.  But it's so worth it.  And now I can do things like this:
 
and this:
 
and, most recently, this:




I've lost about 25 pounds, which puts me at the weight I was during my senior year of high school.  The lowest weight I've been in my adult life.  And I'm definitely in the best shape I've ever been.  I've gone from size 18 to size 14 pants, and can fit into a size 12 dress (women's clothing is so confusing).

I've gained perspective.  Hannah knows that after dinner Mommy does yoga.  I've been doing it for the majority of her life.  And I'm glad.  She knows that fitness and activity is a part of a normal day.  Jonah and Matthew even join in sometimes, which I think is great.

I've gained a routine.  I've read that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit.  Just like teaching my kids to brush their teeth every day, I've learned that this is part of my day, and I feel like I've missed something if I don't do it.

I've lost the words "I can't".  Maybe I don't have the ability to do something right away (that bottom picture took 4 and a half months to get to), but I know that I can keep working towards something, and make progress, and eventually get there.  And that feeling is awesome.

I don't want this to be cliche, although I have a feeling it is.  I did it, and you can too!  But it's true. 

DVDs: For those interested in specifics, both Jesse and I do DDP Yoga, which was created by a former pro wrestler.  Jesse found it, but it's very accessible to women too.  The slogan is "yoga for the regular guy", which means it's not so much the "clear your mind", spiritual yoga, as it is the "let's get a good low-impact workout in" yoga. 

Gear: I use a very basic yoga mat from Target that we got years ago, or just do yoga on the carpet.  Jesse uses gloves for stability, but they're not necessary.  We run the dvds on a laptop on our dining room table, because that's where we have the space.

Jesse bought the heart rate monitor that was sold with the yoga dvds, which I now use, and he has a different one (I forget which one but I can find out if anyone is curious).  By keeping your heart rate "in the zone", you can get the most effective workout, and it's nice to have that immediate gratification that you're doing well, or a push to work a little harder.

Schedule: Normally Jesse works out in the mornings, and I take the evenings, so one of us can wrangle the kids, but we do occasionally work out together when our schedules call for it (i.e. when we have church at night, or he has Bible study in the mornings).

Food: We follow a mostly real food diet, although we occasionally go out to eat or have a pizza.  We track food and activity through My Fitness Pal, where I enter in all the recipes for what I make, and we can usually find the information for anything else we eat. 

I think that's it for specifics.  If anyone has any more questions, let me know!  Losing weight is a journey, and I am loving mine!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photography Challenge: Week 3 Wrap-Up

Week 3 is done! Does it seem like February is just flying by? It does for me.  (For the complete photo challenge list, go here.)  I missed two pictures this week, and some of these were challenging for me to come up with a good picture.

Food
How did I miss this one? It would have been easy...

Words
I always have at least one to-do list going on, if not more.  I love crossing things off!

Animal
This was actually a tricky one, because we don't have pets and it's winter, but Jonah got this cute bunny at the Lego store, so that works.  In other news, I discovered Instagram. It's fun (I'm peachykeen817 if you want to join me).

Green
Each week I air dry at least one load of laundry.  Saves money, saves the world (okay, not really, but it's a small step in the right direction).

Sleep
I remember having lots of pictures of the boys sleeping, but I don't have too many of this little girl.

Celebration
I had a hard time thinking of anything that would fit with this category.

Technology
My "home office", for paying bills, getting Swagbucks, and blogging.  And a sneak peek at upcoming posts if you squint...

For more photos, you can see my Week 1 Wrap-Up here or my Week 2 Wrap-Up here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weekly Coupon Shopping

CVS
Transaction #1:
  • Huggies Slip-On Diapers: $8.99. Used $2/1 printable and $1.50/1 CVS printable (no longer available)
  • Pull-Ups: $8.99. Used $2/1 printable and $1.50/1 CVS printable (no longer available)
  • Pampers: $8.99. Used $1.50/1 printable
  • Used $6ECBs from last time = paid $13.74, got $5 gift card for buying 3 diapers.
Transaction #2:
  • CVS Diapers: $7.99, get $3ECBs.
  • M&Ms: $0.75, get $0.75ECBs. *This didn't print, so they had to manually do it, and they can only manually print $1 or more, so I got a bonus!
  • Used $5 gift card from Transaction #1 = paid $4.64, got $4ECBs
Transaction #3:
  • 4 Valentine's Day Candy (2 pictured): $0.49 each.
  • 2 CVS Vitamin C Drops: B1G1 50% off $5.49 = $8.23 for both
  • Used $4ECBs from Transaction #2 = paid $6.65

Walmart
  • Angel Soft 24 pack: $10.97. Used $2/1 printable (no longer available) = paid $8.97
  • Thomas Bagels: $2.98. Used $5/1 from Facebook instant win giveaway = free + $2.02 money maker!
  • 2 Birdseye Steamfresh Veggies: $1.78 each. Used two free product peelies from fish filets = 2 free!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Menu Plan February 16-28

Lately I have made sure to ask Jesse and the boys if they have anything they want to eat during the next few weeks.  Jonah and Matthew especially look forward to having their favorites for lunches sometimes, like hot dogs or macaroni and cheese, and it makes them more receptive to the rest of the menu choices, which I like.

Sunday, February 16
Breakfast: Leftover Muffins and Pancakes
Lunch: Leftover Black Bean Tortilla Pizzas
Dinner: Chicken, Poblano Sweet Potatoes

Monday, February 17
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Pears
Lunch: PB&J Sandwiches/Soups from the Freezer
Dinner: Cheesy Potato Vegetable Soup with Bacon

Tuesday, February 18
Breakfast: Eggs & Toast/Bagels
Lunch: Leftover Potato Soup
Dinner: Ground Turkey and Pinto Bean Taco Salads (I'll make a big batch of taco seasoned ground turkey and pinto beans to use for 2 meals of salads and 2 meals of enchiladas)

Wednesday, February 19
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Hot Dogs
Dinner: Ground Turkey and Pinto Bean Taco Salads

Thursday, February 20
Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Muffins
Lunch: Lunch with Friends
Dinner: Ground Turkey and Pinto Bean Enchiladas with Homemade Sauce

Friday, February 21
Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Muffins
Lunch: Leftover Enchiladas
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Saturday, February 22
Breakfast: Eggs & Toast
Lunch: Ground Turkey Chili
Dinner: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Sunday, February 23
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Ground Turkey Chili
Dinner: Fish, Green Beans

Monday, February 24
Breakfast: Omelets with Mushrooms, Bacon, Spinach, and Tomatoes
Lunch: Apple Quesadillas
Dinner: Veggie Spaghetti

Tuesday, February 25
Breakfast: Yogurt, Granola, Fruit
Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti
Dinner: White Chicken Chili

Wednesday, February 26
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover White Chicken Chili
Dinner: Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

Thursday, February 27
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: PB&J Sandwiches, Soups from the Freezer
Dinner: Mini Meat Loaves, Green Beans

Friday, February 28
Breakfast: Eggs & Toast
Lunch: Leftover Mini Meat Loaves
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas, Refried Beans from the Freezer (this recipe makes a triple batch for our family size, and freezes really well)

I am linking up to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What I'm Reading...

Heart shaped pancakes with homemade strawberry syrup, our breakfast for Valentine's Day.

What I'm Reading:

When Life Gives You A Broken Oven, Bake Bread In A Slow Cooker! (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

Asking Hard Questions (Week 6 Of The Clutter Cleanse). (Minimalist Mom)

Financial Problems And The Three Ps. (The Simple Dollar)

Managing The Digital To-Read Pile. (Unclutterer)

Anxiety, Depression, Fear And Unconditional Love. (Andrea Dekker)

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life. (Money Saving Mom)

What I'm Pinning:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Intimidating Foods: Eggplant Lasagna

One of my goals for this month was to choose one of my intimidating foods and make it. I started with what is probably one of the easier ones, but which I had never tried before: eggplant lasagna.  The boys helped me pick out a good sized eggplant at the store, and we sliced it up.

And then I went crazy and came up with my own recipe.  Because I like to make things more difficult for myself.  It gets an A+ for taste, but a C for presentation, because it kind of fell apart instead of making pretty layered slices, so we ate it in bowls.  It still worked out okay, and I think I'll keep the sauce in mind for future homemade Italian foods, because that part was delicious (and I actually measured spices, which is unusual for me!).

Eggplant Lasagna
(serves 6)

Ingredients:
  • Eggplant, about 1-1/4 lbs.
  • 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 8oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 16oz. cottage cheese
  • 6-8oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F.  Slice eggplant, and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet (you'll probably need 2).  Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce and filling.  In mixing bowl, stir together crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, and spices.  Lower oven heat to 350F and put lasagna together as follows.

In 13x9 pan, layer 1/4 of the sauce, sliced eggplant, 1/2 of sliced cheese, 1/2 of cottage cheese, 1/2 of the sauce, sliced eggplant, 1/2 of sliced cheese, 1/2 of cottage cheese, remaining eggplant, and remaining sauce. You can also top with additional shredded cheese if you want.  Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes, until eggplant is tender and easily sliced.

You can follow this recipe with the caveat that it will be runny. I am not sure if adding an egg or two would help hold things together more, or if I need to do something else to the eggplant to get rid of more of the liquid that comes out as they cook.  Regardless, the taste is delicious! Even the kids liked it!

Have you ever made eggplant lasagna? What am I missing?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Photography Challenge: Week 2 Wrap-Up

Routine
Every day during nap time, I have a cup of coffee. It's part of my relaxing routine.

Shadows
Part of my Iron Craft project, sitting near the window.

Clouds
I missed this one.

Orange
Both last week and this week, Jonah has been working on sorting some of his Lego sets by colors. One of his choices this week was a pumpkin set.

Feet
Baby feet are always adorable.

Up High
While taking Hannah's 9 month pictures, I took one from above. (And yes, this is the same day as the last picture. We were sick at our house so I had to catch up.)


Kids
I'm going to cheat and use this one, which was my husband's idea, and which he actually took. It's too cute not to share!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weekly Coupon Shopping

Piggly Wiggly

I got a few deals along with my regular shopping for the week:
  • 4 Cheerios Cereals: $1.69 each when you buy 4. Used B1G1 printable (took off $2.49, no longer available) and two $0.75/1 printables = paid $2.77/4 boxes!
  • 4 Yoplait Yogurts: $0.69 each. Used $1/4 printable (no longer available) = paid $1.76/4, or $0.44 each!
Target
We didn't use any coupons on these, but we found two great backpacks for the boys on clearance for $4.78 and $5.98, and a carry-on for us (with a special laptop pocket) marked down to $35.98 from $119.99!
The zipper on our old carry-on had broken, so we were in the market for a new one. And the boys are super excited about being in charge of their own stuff in the car on trips.

On a separate trip to Target (does anyone else go there multiple times a week? I have an addiction...), I got a $20 gift card. I received a coupon in the mail to get a $20 gift card when I created a baby registry. I have no idea why, since I'm not expecting, but it was easy enough to do that. I found a pack of 140 diapers on clearance for $27.98, so I only spent $7.98 after the gift card! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Iron Craft Challege #3: Olympics

I was kind of put off by this challenge at first, I think because I was taking it too literally. Olympics...skiing? bobsled? What do I do? But then I looked up pictures of all of the participating countries and their flags (scroll about halfway down the page), and was inspired by the colors. And, since the symbol of the Olympics is the rings, I went with a wreath.

I will always have a special place in my heart for Ukraine, since I went there on a mission trip in high school. So I chose their flag colors, blue and yellow, along with white.  I was going for something like this, another project I've had saved for awhile.

I also had a bunch of pre-cut strings of yarn from my inherited collection (I have two huge Rubbermaid drawers of yarn that I got from my mom a few years ago).  Those cut pieces were annoying for other projects, but perfect for this one, so that's mostly what I used. (I grabbed all of these colors initially but put most of the balls back, except for the blue, and just used the strings.)
I used the fork method to make a bunch of little pom poms, which went pretty fast once I got in a rhythm.  I just threw them onto my Paris tray, which was a fun little game in itself.
I cut a circle out of a cardboard box that had come in the mail, and started gluing. 
 And then I ran out of glue. Sad face. 
And of course, since I'm a procrastinator, this was just last night, so even though it will take me less than 5 minutes to finish once I get some more glue, this is my second project in a row that is not done by the deadline.
After giving the pom poms a trim, I also had a bunch of little scraps, which I put in a clear glass ball ornament. Bonus project! I love filling those with all sorts of goodies. It's really hard to get a good picture of them though. So I guess I did finish one project, although it's not the one I was planning...

Update 2/12/14: Finished!
 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What I'm Reading...

The absolutely amazing skillet chocolate chunk cookie I made earlier this week (recipe here).

There were lots of goodies online this week: lots to read (and this is my small list!), and lots of yummy desserts to pin!

What I'm Reading:

Does The "$4 Per Gallon Savings Plan" Really Work? (The Simple Dollar)

Get Bored. (The Art Of Simple)

Buying Meat In Bulk: Tips And Tricks. (Little House Living)

Broken For HIS Glory. (Holy Hen House)

Children In Bulk: Are Big Families Eco-Friendly Or A Carbon Footprint Nightmare? (Green Your Way)

The Toys You Want Your Kids To Love (But They Don't). (The Minimalist Mom)

Improve Your Productivity By Reading The Manual. I learned how to take a screenshot on my phone from this post. (Unclutterer)

What I'm Pinning:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Photography Challenge: Week 1 Wrap-Up

Here is my first week of pictures from my month-long photography challenge. (You can see the full list here)

Self
I will always be bad at taking selfies.

Tree
I missed this one.

Purple
What a lucky coincidence we happened to have eggplant lasagna for dinner. I made the photography list a few weeks ago, and forgot about the order.

Close Up
Hannah, my sweet curious little girl.

Funny
Matthew, my silly little middle.

Toys
Jonah, my big kid. (Can you tell blocks are big at our house?) He loves to create The Eiffel Tower, which Mom and Dad get to go see in a few months.

Seasonal
This was not what I originally had in mind for "seasonal", but Hannah has been waking up between 3:30-4:00am for the past several days to be awake for an hour or two. I keep reminding myself this is just a season, and it will pass. She won't be this little snuggly baby for long.

It's kind of hard for me to remember to take these, even though I have my list out all the time.  Especially in the case of "tree", I forgot to look at my list until later in the day, and I was done going outside.  So. I'm going to try to make an effort to at least check to see what the picture is supposed to be right away in the morning, so I can plan accordingly.

It's also a mixture of pictures with the actual camera and my iphone, which was not what I had originally intended, but that's definitely how I live my life nowadays.  I would rather capture the moments somehow, and worry about organizing them later, than miss them altogether, although it makes my OCD side cringe when I do actually get around to putting my photo files where they're supposed to go.

More pictures next week! Are you taking the photo challenge with me?