Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I find that the children's message (a quick 5 minute lesson during the service for children) at church is often as meaningful for the adults as the children.  This past Sunday it was about New Year's Resolutions and how people try to make big changes all at once and fail 88% of the time.  The takeaway lesson was that it is better to make small changes and build up to the big changes. 

I am not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do like to set goals.  Often my goal is to save more money.  That is a broad goal, and one that could benefit from making small changes to reach a big goal.  With that in mind my January money goals are:

*Cut grocery budget to $40 per week and use the extra $10 for stocking up on sales.  This will involve eating from the pantry/freezer some and allow me to use up some items that have been floating around in there for too long.

*Cut out frivolous spending.  If an item is not a necessity or an item I have been searching for that is a good deal, I am going to pass.  W and I both get "fun" money each week that is ours to spend so this goal is more for bigger items.  These are things that would be nice to have, but I can wait to purchase later.

*Build up the "Life Happens" accounts.  Since I am cutting back on spending I want to put the extra money into savings.  My Life Happens accounts include medical, dental, car repair, etc.  These events will happen, and it is better to have money set aside for them before rather than after.  I also set aside a bit of money for entertainment, clothing purchases, and things like that. 

I think these three small steps will be a great building block for a larger goal as the year progresses.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Crafting for Operation Christmas Child - Cross Necklaces

I set a goal of working on one crafted item each month to include in my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  For December I chose to make cross necklaces. 

Wood cross beads - $6.25/100
pony beads - $5.99/bag (lower with coupon)
hemp cord - $3.99/400 feet (sale price)
*You may find a large needle helpful as not all of the holes in the wood beads were clear.

I cut the cord to about 28 inches.  I used the needle to make sure the holes in each bead were clear.  I put a cross bead on each piece of cord and added a few beads on each side just for fun.  These are optional as the necklace is cute without it.  I then tied a knot in the cord ends.  These easily slipped over my head. 

I actually had 98 wood crosses in my bag.  I purchased the beads with a 50% off coupon and used about half the bag.  I also only used around half of the ball of cord.  That means that each necklace cost about 12 cents.  You can cut the cost to 9 cents if you leave off the pony beads. 

Maybe you do not need 100 (or 98) necklaces.  Oriental Trading offers a Cross Faith Necklace Craft Kit for $5.50 that makes 12 or 46 cents each.  These premade Cross Necklaces are $4.25 for 12 or 35 cents each.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Feathered Friday or The Tale of the Evil Rooster

Today's post is about one evil rooster.  Last month we got some new chickens (8 hens and this rooster).  W warned me that the rooster was feisty so I was careful not to turn my back on him.  Oddly enough the rooster seemed to like.  He even let me pet him.  Little did I know this was all part of his evil plan.

I had no idea chickens were familiar with the phrase "keep your friends close and your enemies closer".  I was lured in by his friendly act.  Fortunately I did not trust him enough to turn my back on him.

About three weeks after Mr. Evil came to live at our little farm, he attacked.  If you have never been spurred by a rooster I recommend you leave that little item off your bucket list.  When I finally got out of the pen, my right leg was bleeding and covered in puncture marks, whelps, and quickly after bruises. 

It has been three weeks since and the bruises are finally fading.  Mr. Evil no longer lives with us.  He was sold two weeks ago.  I do not mind a chicken who will occasionally fly up at me, but Mr. Evil went way past that line. 

Next week I will introduce you to Mr. Evil's replacement.  He is much nicer although it would be hard for him to be worse than Mr. Evil.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Espresso Meringues

Last week I made a banana cream pie for W and wanted to make meringues for myself.  Meringues are a wonderful way to use up leftover egg whites.  Several days prior I had received a recipe for chocolate-dipped espresso meringues from Real Simple.  I had all of the ingredients on hand so it was easy to mix them together. 

I opted not to dip mine in chocolate although I am sure that would be delicious.  They were good just like this.  Even my dad who is not a coffee fan said they were tasty.  Just a note: do not try to make meringues on a rainy day.  They will not turn out crispy. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 Wishing you and your family a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Garden and Greenhouse Update

This time of year I can still grow some vegetables outside.  Since there has not been a hard freeze I have lettuces growing in the raised bed and main garden.  You can also see some mustard on the right.

We have cabbage, broccoli, and turnips growing in the main garden.  These plants last throughout our winters.  We have harvested broccoli, and my mom harvested turnips a couple of times.  The cabbage is just starting to head.

Now we are off to the greenhouse.  First is a flower - a Christmas cactus - that W rescued from his parents' house. 

Here is the tomato that I picked and you can see a few others.  They are not going to be as large as a summer harvest would be, but they taste just as good.

I have a few tomato plants actually along with some pepper plants.

The pineapple plants take up a large section of the greenhouse.

I am waiting patiently for the lemon on my dwarf lemon tree to ripen.  It also has several smaller lemons, but this one will be my first.

Next week I need to arrange things better as it will be time to plant the spring tomato and pepper seeds.  I always have good intentions of placing the plants in the greenhouse neatly the first time.  When the cold weather is looming, I just rush to get everything in and arrange it all later.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I'm Back

I have no good excuses for my absence.  November was beyond busy and then I seemed to play catch up most of this month. 

Pictured here are the lettuce and tomato I picked from the garden/greenhouse last week.  BLTs in December with homegrown tomato is a real treat.  I even bought pork bacon (a rare treat) to go with them.  I figured a fresh tomato deserved it.  I think it was better than any July BLT.  I hope you will come back tomorrow for a tour of the garden and greenhouse