Friday, January 31, 2014

Menu Plan 1.31.14

Okay…a new two week menu plan! I just listed the main dish. Sides for us are usually a salad or veggie, a bread or a grain.

1. Zucchini pizzas. This is a new recipe for me but looks so yummy!
2. Chicken enchiladas with salsa verde (my very favorite!)
3. Steak tacos. I smother a small roast with salsa and a dash of chili powder and cook in my dutch oven for several hours, then shred meat and use as taco filling with toppings of your choice. I eat mine over cilantro-lime rice or chopped lettuce. My kids LOVE this meal.
4. Baked potato soup
5. Nachos (Super Bowl Sunday) Tortilla chips smothered with taco meat, refried beans, cheese, jalapeƱos and whatever else I can find!
6. Cheeseburger soup
7. Buffalo chicken tacos
8. Beef stew
9. Garlic chicken farfalle. SO yummy. This is also a great meal to plan in the same rotation as my chicken tacos because it uses the other half of the bottle of Lawry's marinade.
10. Terri's chili
11. Chicken Imperial (left from last meal plan)
12. Breakfast casserole (also left from last meal plan)
13. Roast chicken (from Costco) with a salad or some sort of side dish.
14. OUT for dinner!

Monday, January 27, 2014

SMP 1.27.14 (The Weekend Edition)

SMP = Seven Minute Post

We woke up this morning to snow but no snow day which is a bummer. I'd hoped before bed that we would at least have a delayed start for school this morning. I'm a fan of three day weekends. Oh well.

Will went to his school's Snowball Dance on Saturday night and he took a date. They made a pretty cute couple if you ask me.
That girl is just as sweet as she is cute. And I want her hair!

John was in Texas for his grandmother's funeral and I had a HUGE moment of panic when I realized I was going to have to help Will tie the bow tie he'd picked out. Thank goodness we figured it out (thanks to YouTube). What did we do before we had the internet? 

Will had a great time. He has such a great group of friends and I love that he's enjoying these high school years!

Last night I had an end of season fantasy football party for my girls-only league, complete with prizes and awards. It was pretty fun and I'm not just saying that because I WON THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP (but I did! I did!) 
Since I'm the league commissioner I bought this trophy to be passed around from year to year but it just so happens it's mine to keep until next January. Hmmmm… wonder where I can display that beauty? Ha ha.
It was such a fun season! Lots of happy Broncos fans in this group!!! I'm guessing I'll be seeing a lot of orange this week. 

Happy Monday.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Six on Saturday

1. I am always so grateful when we've made it through another week. This one felt hard. John's sweet grandmother died earlier this week. I really loved her. When John and I were newly married, he was in seminary and preached on Sundays at a church close to his grandparents' home. We spent a lot of Sundays around their dinner table and I have such good memories of those afternoons spent with her. John actually saw her late last year and I'm so thankful he had that chance. Another friend of ours died this week too, right on the heels of his son's heart attack. It's just been a heavy week. Some are like that…

2. Poor Sarah has been pretty sick this week too. She missed a full day of school and a couple of half days. Bless her heart, she takes school so seriously and does not like to fall behind. She toughed it out a couple of days through her academic classes so she could stay fairly caught up. I'm glad she has the weekend to rest up. I think she's shared her germs with me though. I haven't been feeling so great myself lately. I hope this weekend I can rest up too! (I feel like I say that every weekend).

3. I am getting SOOOOOOOOO excited about my girls trip next weekend! I didn't realize until a few weeks ago that I'd be traveling home on Super Bowl Sunday. Thankfully I will be home with a few minutes to spare before kick-off. :)

4. Sarah and I tried kombucha yesterday. We ran by the health food store after school to grab a few things I missed on my grocery run last week. She saw the bottle and we decided to give it a whirl. Um, we're not fans. It's slimy and weird (and disgusting) but now we can say we've tried it…and lived to tell.

5.  Fiscal-Fast Check In: I drove up to Denver to see my friends earlier this week and spent money on lunch and parking. That was one of the things I knew was on my calendar when I started this challenge so I'd already planned to spend money that day. I also spent a little bit this week on a couple of other things. I ordered Google Chromecast for an upcoming conference I'm going to stream and watch with friends. I was going to wait and buy it in February, but I want to make sure it arrives in time to figure it out. I also got a Stitch Fix yesterday. I'll do a separate post later this week, but I ended up spending a little bit on top of my referral credit. We've eaten at home every night since we got back from Winter Park though. I think I'm up to twenty-two straight nights of cooking. Wowza.

6. Some random pics from my iPhone:
Hot Tamales--my carpool line snack one day this week. I'm certain they're not as good for me as kombucha (ha!) but they taste much, much, MUCH better.
I adore my head lamp. I strap it on every morning when I walk in the c-c-cold at o'dark-thirty. I like to think that my walking posse appears to be a formidable force on the trail with these strapped to our noggins.
It snowed here one day this week. Not a lot, but enough to cover the ground. I took this photo as I was leaving the pharmacy. The clouds were beginning to clear over the mountains and you'll have to trust that it looked prettier in person.

HAPPY Saturday!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Because this makes me laugh...

John and I were driving home one afternoon this week and as we turned the corner to our house, we saw something in the road. As we drove past I asked: Was that a fork? And without missing a beat, my witty husband said: Yes, Meredith, that was a fork in the road. A literal fork in the road. 
I asked him to turn the car around and let me go back and take a picture. And because he is a good man willing to accommodate the whims of his wife who is so easily amused, he did just that.

Still makes me giggle.
And by the way, the fork is now in my recycle bin…so as not to puncture someone's tire or litter our neighborhood streets. I'm nice like that.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Soup's On: Beef Stew

My husband has subscribed to Western Horseman magazine for as long as I can remember and every once in awhile he'll hand it over to me with a dog-eared page and ask me to make one of the recipes in the back. That's how I came upon this recipe for beef stew. It's one of his very favorites (mine too) and I make it a lot during the winter months. It goes great with a pan of my Nana's cornbread.

Beef Stew

2-3 pounds of stew meat
28 oz can stewed tomatoes, undrained
4 carrots, sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
3.5 Tbsp flour
12 oz jar brown gravy
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
10 oz package frozen corn
10 oz package frozen peas
10 oz package frozen green beans
salt and pepper to taste

Sear the stew meat in a large dutch oven or skillet over med-high heat. Add all remaining ingredients except gravy to Dutch oven or crockpot. Mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on low heat for about 4 hours (dutch oven) or 6-8 hours (crockpot), stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary to desired consistency. Remove bay leaf, stir in gravy and let cook another 20-30 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8.

My notes:
Sometimes I'm lazy and don't sear the meat; it's still delicious.
I've never made this in a dutch oven, only my crock pot and it's perfect every time.
I buy two 14oz cans stewed tomatoes for this recipe because I've yet to find a 28oz can. :)
I routinely omit the carrots and onion. The original recipe calls for mushrooms and celery. I leave those out too. Here's the original recipe if your family likes those veggies and/or you want to boost the nutrition.
I also routinely leave out the 3.5 Tbsp flour because I don't want the gluten. It doesn't get as thick when I omit it but it still works.
I can't bring myself to buy gravy in a jar (too processed) so I make my own and add to the stew at the end. I usually use cornstarch vs flour to make it gluten-free.
I also add frozen, diced hash brown potatoes or canned, cubed potatoes because I can't peel potatoes (weird allergy thing).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Clothes Experiment and Some Thoughts About My Closet

I've been doing a little experiment for the last six or seven weeks. I've been trying to wear something different from my closet each day. I was standing in my closet one day last month thinking I had "nothing" to wear when the absurdity of that thought truly hit me. Y'all, I have so much. And I'm guessing that most of you do too.

I decided to try to wear something different every day for as long as I could, eventually working through every item in my closet. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I only have fall/winter items in my closet right now since my closet isn't enormous and I switch my clothes out seasonally. I might have to try this again in the summer!

Anyway, here are a few things I've realized as a result of this:

1. Not all bargains are bargains! If you don't LOVE it and feel GREAT in it, don't buy it no matter the price tag. That $7 sweater from H&M really isn't a steal if you can't stand wearing it. Neither is the $9.99 sweater from TJMaxx that itches like crazy. I've got a nice little pile of "too-good-of-a-deal-to-pass-up" items that I now need to get rid of because I simply don't love them or they don't fit right so I've barely worn them. I'd rather spend more money on something I love and feel good in than have a lot of pieces just hanging in my closet.

2. Try new things. Get creative with the clothes you already own. This has been fun for my no-spend challenge. I've realized that I don't need more clothes, I simply need to find new ways to wear them. Try belting that sweater or mixing patterns or adding a fun scarf or necklace. I've found lots of "new" outfits by trying to think outside the box of what I normally wear.

3. If you try something on, love it and feel good in it, it's probably a good idea to think of a few things you already have in your closet you can wear it with, including shoes! I have a few pieces in my closet that sort of "stump me". Things that don't quite match anything or go with my other clothes or I don't know what shoes to wear with them. So guess what? They haven't been worn much and I'll probably end up getting rid of them. Just makes sense to think it through pre-purchase.

I've still got a couple of weeks worth of clothes to wear before my experiment will end. It's been a fun way to rediscover some things I'd forgotten while simultaneously and effortlessly cleaning out my closet!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SMP 1.21.14

SMP = Seven Minute Post

How is it already January 21? This month sure seems to be flying by. I'm not complaining. The faster it goes, the closer we get to spring break. I'm already ready for another extended school break.

Our three day weekend was lovely. I keep thinking today is Monday though. I have a feeling I'm not alone.

Yesterday I got together with two of my friends from high school. One of them visits her in-laws in Denver every January so we have a yearly "catch-up". The other friend moved to Colorado last year and so we invited her to join us! I love having friends that you can just pick up with no matter how much time has passed since you've seen them. I think it had been twenty years since I'd last seen Melissa but we didn't miss a beat. It was such a great day and I enjoyed it so much.
[Pretend I just made a witty segue from friendship to television]

I need a new television series to watch now that football is {basically} over. I blew through two seasons of Scandal on Netflix in record time and I'm considering The Black List. Other suggestions? Besides Parenthood, Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Revenge, Nashville? I already watch those. Television is how I unwind at night. And I can't stay awake long enough to watch a movie; a 25-45 minute program is more my speed. Fire away.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Two-Week Menu Plan

I shared this with my friends who are doing my No-Spend January Challenge with me and I decided to share it here as well. As a matter of fact, I think I'll start doing this all the time. [Impulsive decision maker!] I used to post my menu plans on my recipe blog and I have no idea why I quit.

A couple of things:
I plan/shop for two weeks of meals at a time, mainly because I DO NOT like to grocery shop and it's just as easy to plan/buy for two weeks as it is for one. I also do it that way because we get paid every two weeks and it helps me budget better.

I don't assign a meal to a specific night. I just know I have all the ingredients on hand for 13-14 meals and choose a meal each day based on our family activities and the time I have for prep.

We do have leftovers from this meal plan, but that is basically what John and I eat for lunch every day. I rarely have enough for a full meal later in the week. 

I try to eat gluten-free so I typically adjust my portion to accommodate my needs. Example: I will bake a plain chicken breast for myself alongside breaded chicken for my family. 

I have a whole series on Meal Planning in my archives. Here is Part I, Part II, and Part III.

The Plan!
 1. Chicken Tacos/Burritos. I cook 2lbs of chicken breasts in the crock pot with 1/2 bottle of Lawry's Mesquite marinade, then shred and use in flour tortillas. Add black beans, cilantro-lime rice, and other taco toppings. I personally skip the flour tortilla and make mine a chicken-taco-salad.
 2. Snack Night: Buffalo chicken dip, queso, veggies w/ranch. This is what we're having tonight while we watch football!
 3. Broccoli cheese soup 
 4Mexican chicken and "rice". I made this last night. It's one of our favorites. So good and super low carb. I use rotisserie chicken to save time and prep.
 5. Pot roast with mashed potatoes and a green salad or veggie.
 6. Breakfast Casserole. I love this recipe because everyone eats it without complaining. I round it out with biscuits or some sort of bread.
 7. Skillet penne with spinach, sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and feta w/ green salad
 8. Emeril's Tuna Melts
 9. Stuffed green pepper soup
10. Chicken Imperial, green beans and cheesy quinoa bites
11. Meatloaf with mashed potatoes (my husband's request). I use a recipe from an old church cookbook but I don't have it posted anywhere. Will remedy that soon!
12. Pork and black bean chili w/rice or quinoa
13.Taco salad
14. PIZZA!!! [My family will be celebrating the end of my no-spend challenge with takeout pizza. I will be away on a girls' trip so pizza is an easy dinner for my husband to manage!]

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Six on Saturday

Ahhhhhhhh, Saturday.

1. I've said this before but there is a direct correlation between my free time and my blog posts. An intuitive blog reader might look at my blog activity last week and infer that my week was quite full. And they'd be right. Despite being full it was a very good week but I'm beyond thankful for a three-day weekend with my family.

2. I've cooked dinner FIFTEEN nights in a row now. Yesterday I made my every-two-week grocery/Costco run so my fridge and pantry are stocked and I'm trying to cook and eat at home until I leave town at the end of the month. I'm a pretty goal oriented person. Once I set my mind to something, I typically "get there". So it is with this No-Spend-January challenge. Twelve more days…I am determined. 

3. This week my son asked a girl to his school's winter dance. He coordinated with a teacher who let him surprise the girl during class with an invite. It was sweet and I was really proud of him. He texted me yesterday morning to tell me she said YES. John and I really see these "dating" experiences as an opportunity for us to teach our son (and our daughters) a myriad of relational things, with respect being at the very top of that list. Our parenting job is never finished. It looks a little different now than it did ten or fifteen years ago but I truly love teenagers!

4. I've had several interesting conversations this week about social media. Here are some of my random thoughts about it. 1) I'm fascinated by how much social media has changed the social landscape of our lives over the past five or six years. 2) I also find it sad that my children will probably never remember life apart from social media. 3) I don't particularly care for any of it. It's not the platform itself that bothers me as much as the behaviors I see manifested there. 4) That being said, I'm deeply invested in many different social media platforms on a daily basis. Some of it is for work (not my choice); some is personal (definitely my choice).  5) I took a social media course for work last fall and I'm in a marketing boot camp right now and honestly, social media is an unparalleled marketing tool for businesses. There's no denying that. 6) Which all makes me all the more conflicted about it. 7) This should really be it's own post, huh? Because I've got so much more to say. 8) I think my husband's quote is brilliant: "Facebook is a brothel and we're all paying customers." -John Blase

5. ^^^ I think that paragraph above should count as #4 and #5, don't you? ^^^

6. Anyone else find selfies of your teen posted from your Instagram account? Just me? Alrighty then. Good thing he's cute.
PS: If you don't know what a "selfie" is, then you have some googling to do. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


4:07. The numbers on my clock this morning when my brain and body told me that my sleep stint was over. It wasn't too miserable since I went to bed at 8:45 last night. I love going to bed early. Betcha an early bedtime happens again tonight because 4:07 will catch up with me in about 15 hours.

11. The number of consecutive nights I've cooked dinner. Eleven! And I'm not talking sandwiches or leftovers either. It's probably not a record for me, but it IS the longest stretch we've eaten at home in a long, long time. I'll confess I'm pretty weary of this no-spend challenge right now and I've got a little more than two weeks left. I think I can, I think I can...

6. The number of pairs of shoes that were in the floor of our family room last night, none of which belonged to me. I may or may not have made a heated, "Get your stinkin' stuff OUT of here!" demand. My children seem oblivious to clutter. I don't know that I've ever had that issue. See below.

4. The number of emails I've kept my inbox to for the past few days. A near- empty inbox makes me deliriously happy. I was retrieving some info from my boss's email yesterday. Her inbox had 33,000+ messages and I seriously started twitching. Cleaning that baby up is now on my task list for a slow(er) week.

3. The number of doctors my husband has been to in the last couple of weeks. Sadly, he hasn't experienced much relief. Yesterday he finally got a prescription for pain management. My fingers are crossed that this scrip does the trick.

2. The number of calendar events we have on Sunday that have been rescheduled because of a Broncos  divisional championship game. People take their football seriously, huh? {giggle} For the record, I did not do the rescheduling. Once the folks in charge realized the time of the events overlapped with the game, they moved the event. No complaints here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Six on Saturday

1. Good news! We survived our first week of post-holiday re-entry into normal life. We are all tired but we made it. I'm grateful for a weekend without much on the calendar. Pretty sure all five of us are grateful for that. I'm banking on a mid-afternoon nap today and tomorrow.

2. Last week was actually a really good one for me. I was chatting with John after dinner one night this week (let me be clear here: I was speaking a thousand words a minute and he was patiently listening) and he looked over at me and said "Mer, I'm really glad you're happy". And that's the thing. I was happy. I am happy. I'm in a really good season of life right now.

3. Don't get me wrong. It's not always sunshine and roses around here. Yesterday morning before school was downright hard and it got pretty ugly with one of my children. I am easily pulled into a cycle of negativity and blame and I have to fight like mad to snap out of it. Or exercise. Exercise definitely helps me find my way back to joy.

4. My January No-Spend Challenge is proving to be just that--a challenge! I've goofed up a few times this week, mostly with eating out for lunch. I also wasn't counting on some out of pocket medical expenses and class fees for my high-schoolers but overall, I'd say I'm/we're spending considerably less than in December! My main purpose in doing this challenge was to pay attention to unnecessary spending and build our cash reserve back up. I'm still on track with that so I'm not beating myself up over lunches. {I can justify almost anything, anytime, anywhere. It's a gift. Ha!}

5. I'm meeting a group of friends for coffee this morning and I've been looking forward to it all week! This seems to have been a week of social catching up for me (hence the lunch expenses) and I love it. I am blessed to have some amazing friends in my life. It's a gift I don't take for granted.

6. And finally just a couple of pictures that I took this week. The first is of Abbey and Jack-the-fat-beagle after school one afternoon. She's always happy to see him at the end of her school day. The second is a random pic I snapped while driving home from my morning carpool round. I love that this is my daily view. Mountains make me happy!
Happy weekend, friends. YAY! Saturday! :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Soup's On: Poblano Chicken Chowder

This recipe came from my friend, Kirsten. Kirsten got the recipe from Paula Deen so you know it's good but maybe not very good for you. It's definitely heavy on the butter and cream, but hey, life is short and this is pure comfort on a cold, winter night. My kids love this soup and ask for it often.

Poblano Chicken Chowder
Serves 6-8

1/4 cup olive oil
3 large carrots, cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 large onion, cut in 1/2 inch dice
2 Tbsp minced garlic (I use the kind in a jar)
2-3 small poblano peppers, seeded and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper (if using black pepper, use 1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp cumin
12 cups chicken broth
1/2 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped
3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1 cup heavy cream

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot and add the carrots, onion, garlic, poblanos, salt, white pepper and cumin. Saute over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.
Add the chicken broth and the chopped cilantro and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Add the chicken and simmer a bit longer until heated through.
Shortly before the chowder is done, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes to cook the flour. Do not allow the roux (butter/flour) to brown! Ladle 1 cup of the hot liquid from the stockpot into the skillet, whisking constantly.
When the first cup of liquid is incorporated, add another two cups of liquid--one at a time. Pour the thickened skillet mixture into the stockpot, whisking to blend. Cook, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes longer or until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove the stockpot from heat. Add hot sauce, if desired. Add cream. Stir well and serve.

My notes:
The recipe above has my modifications. The original recipe post is here. 
Poblano peppers are also called pasilla peppers. They're very mild and flavorful. This is not a spicy soup.
2 Tbsp sounds like a lot of garlic…and it is…but don't skimp.
If you've never tried white pepper, promise me you will! It gives amazing flavor to this soup. I absolutely love it and use it in everything. 
I typically cut the broth down to 8-10 cups and I also cut the butter down to 1/2 stick (4Tbsp) and 1/2 cup flour for the roux.
I've made this gluten-free by thickening with cornstarch instead. Instead of browning the cornstarch in butter, I mixed it with some soup liquid and then added to soup and let cook a bit to thicken. I just eyeball it…sorry I have no exact measurements.


Thursday, January 09, 2014

SMP 1.9.14

SMP = Seven Minute Post

My husband is still really hurting with his pinched nerve. He saw a chiropractor on Tuesday and he's going back again today. You know it's bad if he's willing to see a doctor of any sort. One of our kids said at dinner the other night: I'm tired of "cripple daddy". We all laughed and it definitely lightened our mood but yeah, we're all tired of seeing him in pain. No one is more tired of it than John is though.

Speaking of "cripple daddy" (I promise, he thinks that's funny), the timing of all this could be better. He starts a new job next week. He'll still be editing, but it's a part-time job with full-time pay and benefits. How do you say no to that? The part-time nature of it will allow him to write on the side…or spend more time with me {grin}…and we're both very excited about this opportunity! He will be working from home a lot more and it just seems like a win-win situation all the way around. It's bittersweet though. He's saying goodbye this week to some GREAT folks who've been a part of his life for the past seven years. Tough stuff.

I'm still thinking about the 2014 goals I mentioned in this post. I decided the underlying theme is health. 2014 is officially going to be a year of health for me. Physical health, relational health, spiritual health, and emotional health. I've taken some intentional steps on a few of those goals this week and am excited about what lies in store!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

SMP 1.7.14

SMP = Seven Minute Post

Everyone was up very early this morning and we were quite unprepared for how hard it was going to be. Including me. And I get up early all the time.

Right now my house is very quiet. Maybe a little too quiet after eighteen days of having everyone home with me.

I have big plans today to get my house clean and my laundry caught up while I'm all alone in my quiet house. My laundry "situation" is pretty obscene right now because it's just been low, low priority over break. I did manage to get a load or two done yesterday but only because I knew everyone needed clean clothes for school today.

I posted about this on Facebook last night but it's still funny (to me) this morning. We were eating dinner last night and Abbey stopped mid-chew, made a weird face and said: "Oh my gosh. I think I just accidentally ate a vegetable." I'm 99.9% sure that her goal in life is to never eat a vegetable. I just don't get it. I have one child who loves brussel sprouts and asparagus and asks for broccoli in her lunch. I have another child who tolerates the green stuff. And then I have one child who would rather poke her eyeballs out than eat a veggie. You can imagine how fun mealtimes are at my house.

My seven minutes are up. And that mountain of laundry isn't getting any smaller so right now I'm going to show it who's boss Wish me luck!

Monday, January 06, 2014

January Currents

Current Read: I haven't made time for reading lately so I'm still trying to finish The Secret Keeper and John just finished reading a book I want to read too.

Current Playlist: I'm not lying when I tell y'all that I'm all over the place with my music. Right now I'm enjoying a mix of Lady Antebellum, One Direction, Cold Play, the Frozen soundtrack, Sugarland, and Lady Gaga. With a little Chris Tomlin thrown in. E-C-C-L-E-C-T-I-C.

Current Color(s): I'm leaning to brown and other neutrals these days, but I finally found my red wool cap so pops of red are definitely in the mix.

Current Drink: I bought a box of this herbal tea a few weeks ago…so good!

Current Food: I'm on a bit of a quinoa kick lately. Also loving spaghetti squash. Mainly I'm just trying to eat clean (no processed food) this month.

Current Favorite Favorite: I've decided I really, really like yoga. I've been to a class with my friend a few times (she even gifted me with my own yoga mat for Christmas--SO sweet) and I just really like how it makes me feel!

Current Addiction: I'm way too addicted to playing Candy Crush. I'm also addicted to the television show Scandal, which I discovered on Netflix over the weekend. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many episodes I watched in two days.

Current Wish List: I really and truly can't think of anything to write here.

Current Need: Ditto here. My spending challenge has me re-evaluating most things I think I "need" and the truth is I lack for almost nothing.

Current Triumph: I'm pretty happy about my team winning the championship in one of my Fantasy Football leagues. I came in fourth in the other but I'm happy with that too!

Current Annoyance: Our dog will scratch and whine to go out and I let him out. Then two seconds later he's on the other side of the door scratching and whining to come in. Repeat about 25 times. All day. Every day. A-N-N-O-Y-I-N-G.
Oh…one more annoyance. A homework project over Christmas break for my sixth grader. Feeling slightly annoyed with one teacher in particular right now.

Current Mood: Relaxed but focused! I have a lot of stuff to tackle today.

Current Blessing(s): I've watched my husband suffer through an injury (pinched nerve) for a week now and at this moment, I'm incredibly grateful for the blessing of a healthy, strong body!

Current Outfit: Yoga pants, Woo Pig Sooie t-shirt, ski socks, furry slippers, and a fleecy snowflake robe. Classy.

Current Excitement: I'm getting very excited about a girls' trip I have later in the month!

Current Project(s): I mentioned over the weekend about my No-Spend January project. It's already feeling challenging. I probably should have worked harder to get my family on board with me--they're not where I am and therein lies my challenge. Sigh.

Current Prayers: Praying for my husband's shoulder (I think he's going to see our chiropractor friend tomorrow), for a friend facing some really tough personal stuff right now, and for several friends still battling cancer. Also praying for a GREAT second semester for my kiddos and a smooth start for all of us tomorrow morning.

Current plans for the day: I need to find my work groove this morning after considerable time off. After that I promised the kids (they start back to school tomorrow) that we'd get out. They have gift cards they'd like to spend and I have a few errands to run. I also plan to watch the part of Downton Abbey that I slept through last night (just couldn't make it until 11pm) and make something yummy for dinner though I have no idea what that might be at the moment. :)

Current Words:  Mad Men is one of my favorite television shows and my favorite Don Draper quote of all time is this: If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation.
I've been mulling that over for a few days now. I like what that means metaphorically. It kind of goes along with that Know What You Want stuff I posted about in December. There are a few "conversations" going on in my life that I'm working towards changing…and it feels very good and very freeing right now. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Six on Saturday

1. It's snowing outside my window right now and it's so pretty. Big, thick flakes are coming down and the snow is beginning to accumulate. I wasn't aware of snow being in the forecast until I went grocery shopping yesterday (along with half of my small town) and everyone I ran into kept asking if I was ready for the snow. I actually like snow in December and January. My affection wanes considerably in March-April-May. 

2. After learning that snow was indeed in the forecast, I purposefully got out and finished all my errands last evening so that I could stay home all day today! There's something about a snowy Saturday that just makes me want to stay cozied up in my house, preferably in pjs with a book, blanket, and hot beverage.

3. Two friends and I are doing a doing a "fiscal fast" this month. It's basically a month of zero extra spending other than food, gas, bills. I have a few things on the calendar that I've made an allowance for but other than that I'm trying not to spend money. That means no more movies, no more Starbucks, no more clothes or random stuff, no more eating out (trying to eat at home this entire month), and no more spending period. It's hard but it's just for the month of January and I know I can do this. Having people to be accountable to helps. I don't know about you but it feels like the month of December is one long financial hemorrhage. Anyone want to join us? We usually check in by text or email every few days for accountability. Let me know and I'll add you to our group message thread.

4. Call me old-fashioned but I'm not ready to go completely electronic with my calendar system. I bought a wall calendar at Costco back in October and yesterday I finally opened it. I didn't get it hung up but I did get it out of the package and wrote a few things down on it. There's something about a brand new calendar that is comforting to me. So many possibilities and unknown adventures/challenges that lie ahead. I'm excited about 2014!

5. I'm feeling sad that Christmas break is coming to a close. Our kids start back on Tuesday and John goes back to work Monday. It's been nice having everyone home--I love that more than anything--but we are SO out of our routine that it will be nice to have some semblance of order restored!

6. I really don't have a sixth thing but I hate to end with only five. I should probably get up and get some laundry going and get my house straightened up a bit before I begin my snowy-day-of-sloth. Happy Saturday, friends!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Winter Park 2014

We've just returned from the mountains, which is truly one of my happy places. We met John's parents and his brother's family in Winter Park and spent a few days enjoying that winter wonderland with them.

We had planned to stay at a house that John's brother's family stayed in last December, but when we got to the rental agency, they had upgraded us to a different rental. Evidently the people staying at our original house wouldn't leave. Who does that? Our upgraded house was REALLY nice. This was the view from the front porch.
We all skied one day. Will decided he wanted to snowboard but the rest of us prefer two skis! I was proud of the girls--they did great. We decided to try the slopes at Granby Ranch instead of Winter Park this year. It's a lot smaller and a lot cheaper and it turned out to be a good choice for the day.

Somehow I managed to leave that day with ZERO pictures of Abbey. She was so excited about skiing and when she hurt her wrist right before Christmas she was so upset that she might not be able to ski. Thank goodness she's fine! She did great and was even racing me down the slope at the end of the day. :)
We also went tubing one day. John hurt his shoulder (more on that later) and Will was super sore from boarding so the girls and I joined their cousins for some tubing fun. So fun!

This particular tubing hill has a tow line that pulls you up the hill in your tube. I like it--all play, no work! The last time we tubed at this particular hill was eight years ago to the day! My kids were soooooooooo little but they still remember it.

We also did a little shopping, a lot of eating, worked a puzzle, played games, and watched some football. It was a really relaxing time!

On New Year's Eve we watched the firework show over Winter Park Ski Village from our front porch. Fireworks in January are a little different than fireworks in July--brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Equally beautiful and festive though.

John's shoulder/arm starting hurting really badly the morning after we arrived and he was in pain pretty much all week. Before we packed up to head home yesterday he agreed to let me take him to the ER. We thought it might be his rotator cuff, but the doctor seemed to think it was a pinched nerve and sent him home with a prescription. He's still pretty miserable but hopefully the meds will start to calm that nerve down soon. He's a tough guy--even skied with us though he was in pain--so it's hard to see him hurting! Not the way he'd hoped to start the new year. 

We're happy to be back home, but it sure is hard to say goodbye to the mountains. It's so peaceful and relaxing up there and we loved spending time with our family!