Sunday, September 30, 2012

Service, Soup, Sauce and Shoes

On Saturday Dominic was gone for most of the day. He participated in this deal called "Wills for Heros".  Basically it is a group that lines up volunteer attorneys who help prepare wills for local fireman and police officers for free.  He participated when it was done here in Marshall last fall and drove up to Redwood Falls yesterday to help there! Pretty cool deal...not sure if it is available in every state - but if you are a police officer or a fireman, and don't have a basic will yet, you should do a google search and see if it is something offered where you live.

In all honesty before Dominic got into Estate Planning himself, getting a will done was something that we kept putting off.  If you are like us you probably think that is something you won't need for a long time...so there is no rush.  But even Dominic's accident was a reminder that having a Health Care Directive and POA is something we all need....if things had been more serious (and thank God they weren't) it was good that I had the authority to act on his behalf etc.  

So the kids and I were at home all day and I had gotten some fresh vegetables and a roast and decided to make a homemade vegetable soup.  Although the weather wasn't really soup weather...it was so good and I can't wait to make some more!!

Here it is right after I added all of the vegetables! It was yummy good and everyone loved it!! What are your favorite soup recipes...I'd love to try something new next time!

We also made some homemade applesauce in the crock pot. Have you ever tried this? So easy and you don't have to cook it on the stove all day long.  Just peel and core 10+ apples. Some of ours were smaller so we used more than that. Add 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 - 1 cup of sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. I also added probably a Tbls. of lemon juice too.  Put the crock pot on high and let it cook!

Ours took about 4 hours on high and it looked like this.
The only bad thing is it cooks down so much. I suppose you could add more apples half way through, but we will just do another batch today.  We also took all the extra apples we had and peeled and cored them and then put them in gallon bags so that we can do some applesauce in the winter easily!

Ok switching gears here completely but I have to share a funny story.  I had a gift certificate from my employer to use at a local shoe store. Sole Mates in Marshall is amazing if you are ever looking for a good pair of shoes here in town.

So I am the type of person that buys a good quality pair of shoes and then wear them until they are almost falling apart.  The Ecco shoes I had in black I got almost 5 years ago and wore them almost everyday.  I really needed a new pair...but have trouble finding shoes that fit me.  I have a pretty narrow foot and it seems that whenever I am looking for something to fit me....it never did.

Well last week I discovered the reason. I was trying on shoes that were up to a full size too big!! Can you believe that?  I thought that I was a 9 1/2. Can't remember how long I have been wearing/buying that size...but it has been forever.

So when I was trying on a pair the owner said "well those are way too big for you"....let's try an 8 1/2 and would you believe it - they fit PERFECTLY!! And it wasn't just that brand....it was another brand and a completely different style.

You know how when you buy shoes for your child you make sure there is a  thumb-print space for growing room?? Well I had been doing that thumb-space trick on my shoes as well. But hello blondie....my feet are done growing!! Ahem.

Yes I know....I guess my mom-brain never switched off when it came to shoes for myself. No wonder I could never find a pair that fit me well. I was always shopping the wrong size!! So now I have shoes that fit and it is glorious!  And I even got a cool pair of boots from my co-worker because they were too big for her and fit me. Before I wouldn't have even tried them on...but because of my recent experience I did and they fit!!

I know that all styles run differently, and I do have a couple of pairs of sandals that are  9 1/2 that do fit...but at least I now know to try on that size range....because I might just find the perfect pair. Oh how a whole new world of possibilities has opened up to me!! :)

Well that's about it for now....I was hoping to get more done yesterday but it just didn't happen. We may be painting our main bathroom today. Found a cool color I am considering and while it wasn't from the $5 paint rack...it is on sale this week....so we will see! :) It is amazing what a gallon of paint can do to change the look of a space entirely.  If we get it done I will post some before and after....just slowly working on eliminating all the yellow!! ;)

Happy Sunday friends!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Some of my favorites....

So I am partnering with BlogFrog today to talk about some of my favorite blogs, Facebook friends/Twitter peeps.  It is possible that you haven't ever heard of these awesome women and so I wanted to give you a chance to "meet" some of the people that have a positive influence on me.

Of course I can't start a list like this without mentioning Angie Smith. Angie's was the first "blog" I ever read...when I didn't even really get what a blog was.  During that time she was writing about the pregnancy with her sweet Audrey.  He faith, her trust in God during such an amazingly difficult time inspired me to start writing myself.  Her walk encouraged me when I had a miscarriage myself.  Angie is now a Women of Faith speaker (and yes will be in St Paul - YAHOO!!)  She is also the author of 3 books and her newest "Mended" is, like the rest, God inspired. A must read!!  If you haven't ever heard of Angie...you need to click on her name above and head over to her site and be encouraged yourself!


Kate over at Kate's Life is a new friend that I have met through blogging. She is from Canada and just another reason that I need to keep my passport up-to-date...someday friend I am coming to see you!! :)  She has a beautiful family and blogs about life and faith. She and her husband have been through some very trying times recently - but she remains steadfast in her faith and continues to praise God despite their struggles. Love that! Kate can also be found on Twitter at @Katieb38. Trust me when I say this is a woman you will be encouraged by!

My dear friend Kami blogs over at My Beautiful Day.  Kami is another woman that I happened to meet through blogging - but then we got to meet in person for the first time at WOF last year!! And we are going as a group again this year. She is one of the nicest girls I know and has such a big heart for others.  I only wish we lived closer so that we could hang out more than once a year!! :)  Stop over and ckeck out Kami's blog and give her a "follow" - you will be glad that you did!
One of my favorite "pages" on Facebook is one for Sufficient Grace Ministries.  In their words..."Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women, a 501 (c ) 3 non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization, was founded in 2004 by Kelly Gerken with the purpose of reaching out to women and families to offer comfort, encouragement and hope. The Dreams of You division of this ministry was created specifically to provide comfort to women and families who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death."


It is unfortunate that an organization like this has to exist but since infant loss is so prevelant - their ministry is crucial and I am so grateful for all that Kelly Gerken does to make this a wonderful ministry to so many women. And Kelly is just a sweetheart herself...and an amazing prayer warrior. I have messaged her on FB before with an urgent prayer request and she was gracious enough to lift up the one I asked for prayer for.  Jump on over to her blog, see what they have to offer and consider donating to their cause.       These are just a couple of the wonderful women that have had an influence on me in my faith walk and my blogging journey. I am blessed by each of these women and am excited to hear about who encourages you. Jump on over to my community page at Blog Frog and join the discussion!!


As a part of the BlogFrog Influencer Circle, I have the chance to create meaningful, authentic content for brands I love.  If you’re a blogger interested in new opportunities, join BlogFrog’s Influencer Circle and check out some of the top brands already working with BlogFrog.

If you’re a brand looking to work with online influencers, learn more about BlogFrog’s Brand Solutions here. Now, I’m curious. What do you love most about blogs and blogging?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogFrog. The opinions and text are all mine.


Monday, September 24, 2012

All The Happenings...


Things have seemed a bit crazy here, days and nights running together. But we are doing good and it feels once again that I haven't posted much about what's going on.  

Elijah started Preschool a few weeks ago! I can't hardly believe it he is old enough to start.  He goes every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 8:30-11am.  He get's to come with me to my office each morning and be with me until school starts. Then I run him over to school when it's time (and "hide" according to Elijah....he thinks I hide from him while he is in school!) I am glad that he is enjoying it so much and hopefully this experience will better prepare him for kindergarten in a few years!

Here he is on his first day!
 Trying to make a quick fire before we left that morning! :)

Gabriel has found a new love for basketball. He started bringing his own basketball to school with him every day. He and a few other boys play together.  We have talked for the past year about getting a hoop but never really followed through with it.  He said that he wanted one for his birthday. But his birthday isn't until the middle of October and we wanted him to have plenty of time to use it before the snow comes.

So we found this hoop and gave it to him early!

We have had so much fun with this. The kids love it and we have even played some games of Horse and Pig.  And I may have just been the champion of the world beating dad and Gabriel!! ;) All those years in Y-ball are coming back to me!!

Gabriel is pretty good himself and I love that everyone is getting a little exercise too.

We have added a couple of new "members" to our family....we attended a church picnic in August at one of the church families farm.  They had probably 25+ kitties that all needed a home. Since we moved here Isaac has been asking for a cat. I have been reluctant just because I liked not having to clean up after an animal....but something happened at this church picnic and somehow 2 little kitties ended up in our van.

 
 The kids LOVE them. I mean just love them.  Maybe a little too much at times (I'm talking to you miss K). But they really are sweet and the two get along and play together. Now the Smith family is complete.

Poor kitty doesn't have a chance when Karlena is around!!  We still don't have names for them. The vet called them "large kitten" and "small kitten"....we need names fast before "large kitten" gets a complex! :)

Dominic's foot is coming along. He wore a shoe for the first time last week!  We put the crutches away and I think the boot is soon to follow. He has to go to physical therapy 2 times a week and they really work his foot hard. They are teaching him how to walk with a better stride so he doesn't hurt himself from limping.

We are so grateful that it has healed this well. But he remains in constant pain. I can't fully understand what it is like - but he is never comfortable. And that is hard. It is a little overwhelming at times wondering if this is a good as it will get. Fully 3 months after his accident to still be feeling constant pain is hard. Please pray for him and for his foot to continue to heal with minimal pain.

His business is booming. I mean we still at times can't believe it. God has been SO faithful in this venture.  Things happen outside of our control and we just have to believe that God's hand is in all of it. So very grateful for this.  It means working weekends and some long nights....but it is so exciting to see how things are growing and we just continue to seek God's will in all of it.

We had family pictures taken yesterday out at Camden State Park.  The colors were beautiful and while Karlena refused to smile for us...I am excited to see how they turned out! Christmas projects here I come!

I am sure there is more that I haven't updated but this post has gotten long....so I will end it here. I hope you are all having a great beginning of the week!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scarf Swap!!

I love "swaps". They give you an opportunity to "meet" someone new and get something fun in the process. So when Meredith over at The Tichenor Family blog announced that she was hosting her annual scarf swap, I knew that I had to participate!

We were paired with another blogger and given their blogs/info to contact them. I was paired with Jessica over at Just Rainbows and Butterflies.  Hop on over and give her a hello!! She is a true sweetheart and expecting her first baby very soon!!  She is so stinkin adorable and I am just a teeny bit jealous that she looks so great that far along! (I'm not sure at 36+ weeks I pulled off "adorable" that well!!)

Jessica and I had a chance to e-mail back and forth a few times and it turned out that we both really wanted to get an infinity scarf!  

 I was so excited when mine came in the mail. It is a beautiful, cream, hand-knit scarf. I took a couple of pics of myself wearing it...but let me warn you I haven't yet mastered the art of self-photography! ;)
 I love that you can wear the infinity scarves in several different ways!
I am excited to pair this scarf with several different outfits and think it is going to be a great addition to my fall wardrobe!! Great pick Jessica!
So once I knew that Jessica also wanted an infinity scarf I started looking for something cute.  I love Etsy.  It is a site where people who hand-make different goods can sell them. So I thought I would start there and see if I could find something!

I came across Janny's Girl and found a pretty deep purple scarf that I thought Jessica would love.  The shop owner was great to work with, and shipped that same day!  Jessica sent me a picture in her new scarf - I'm thinking I need one of those too! ;) I love that purple!

See...doesn't she look great?!  I wish I had that fashion sense even when I'm NOT pregnant! :)

The swap was so much fun and I am pumped that I got to meet another person from the bloggy world.  Jessica is nearing the end of her pregnancy so if you would just keep her and their babe in your prayers for a safe and easy delivery...and everything else that comes along with being a new mom!!

Thanks so much Jessica for the beautiful scarf and the fun swap. And thank you Meredith for making this all possible! I can't wait until next year! :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Alright, I Admit....

I'm jealous of my 15yr old son.

Why you might ask??

Well - this is the reason.....

 It arrived today. Well it actually arrived yesterday but we were gone and couldn't sign for it...so they re-delivered today.

Is it wrong that my teenager has a way cooler phone than his mom? 
I think yes!! ;)

But I will say this. Isaac has a little job right now cleaning the offices where I work. He does it twice a month and makes enough money to pay for the data package on the phone plan and his full month's car insurance premium! (When that time comes)

Right now Dominic and I pay for his cell phone line access...but we don't have internet/data packages on our phones and that is an extra $30-40/month. So I told him that if that was something he wanted he would have to pay for that himself.

We bought the phone together...our "part" was his early birthday present from us....and he had enough + in his savings to cover the rest!

Isaac is such a good kid. Such a great helper at home with his siblings and a great student. So while I am just a little jealous of his new purchase, and want one of my own....I am pretty proud of him that he is willing to save and work hard to afford the "fun stuff" that he wants.

And because of a kind friend, he has a possible "in" for a job at a local pharmacy here in town. She is supposed to be calling him back in a few weeks to come and shadow her some Saturday to see what he thinks. It isn't a guarantee of a job - but we are hoping that it works out. He wants to pursue pharmacy in college and experience prior to college working in a pharmacy would be a huge advantage for him! Say a little prayer it comes together!

But I would love to hear how other parents handle stuff like this. Do you pay for your kids cell phone/data packages in full? Do you pay for their car insurance etc?? My parents were very generous with us kids and helped us with many things...but they also taught us the value of having a job and paying our part for some of the things we wanted.  If I wanted the name brand jeans my mom would give me the money towards the price of the "generic" brands and then if I wanted the name brand I paid the difference.  It sure made me appreciate the nice things I got a little more when I was invested in them. 

What do you think??

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Five Dollar Bathroom Makeover!!

We love the house that we found here in Marshall. We are so blessed to be here but if there was ever something that I could change about it...it would be toning down/getting rid of all the yellow walls.

The previous owners LOVED yellow. Well I am assuming they did because that is the predominant color in the majority of this home. And while I don't hate yellow...it is a color that I would choose in moderation. Maybe 1 room in yellow - not 5. :)

But paint is expensive and hiring someone to paint is expensive too...not necessarily in the priority column of the budget right now.  But Markel, our fabulous daycare provider, told me about the clearance paint section at our local Menards!

Apparently when someone buys paint and then either changes their mind, or buys too much and it is returned (did you even know you could return pre-mixed paint??? I did not!!)...they put it on clearance for $5 a gallon!! And $15 for a 5 gallon bucket!

FIVE DOLLARS A GALLON!!

I am telling you that is a steal!! And so the other day I ran in to see if they had anything and found a gallon of Grand Distinction Premium paint and primer in one....it was a semi-gloss paint and the color was a minty green.

I wasn't sure that was a color I would normally choose but for $5.38 with tax I thought I could start with our small half-bath and see what I thought!

Here is the bathroom "before"...
It's hard to see exactly just what shade of yellow it was...bad lighting here I know...

But I was wearing a canary yellow t-shirt so you can gauge the color from that!!

So I was really anxious to get started on trying out this new green and seeing how it changed the space.  It didn't take me long at all and I was amazed at how much the new paint color transformed the space!!

 The bathroom feels so light and airy now!!

 I even think it makes the space look bigger than it did when it was so yellow!!  The green turned less "minty" and took on some blue/grey undertones...so I love it even more than I thought I would!

And I didn't have to change anything else. The brown towels and rug I have still work perfectly. The silver light fixtures and mirror compliment the green nicely and even the artwork I had in there before looks better on these fresh new walls!!

And in all honesty I only needed about 1/2 the gallon...so technically this re-do cost me $2.69!! That and a couple hours of my time and energy doing the painting!! But wow - if you ask me - it was so worth it!!

So next time you want a quick  and dramatic change in one of your rooms check out your local hardware store to see if they carry any clearance paint...you just make get a steal of a deal too!!

So has anyone out there ever done a room makeover like this for an amazingly cheap cost?? I'd love to hear what you did!! :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Family Celebrations

This weekend we went up to the Cities so that we could spend time with our family and celebrate my grandma's 85th birthday and my grandparent's 64th wedding anniversary! Isn't that amazing?!

 Aren't they so sweet together?!

 My grandpa wrote a love letter to my grandma and then read it to her at the party. So many fun memories that he shared including that he knew he was going to marry her when he first met her. :)

 They had 2 yummy cakes. We went to town on those...hardly any left once we were all done!

 Beautiful flowers....

I did not do a good job of getting pictures of everyone. I ended up sitting with/holding Karlena for most of the lunch and she was sooo tired. When she finally fell asleep I didn't dare set her down.  But Isaac got a couple of pictures for me.

 This is my sweet niece Isabel - such a beauty!!

 Gabriel with my cousins Andrew and Rachel.
 
 Gabriel and Elijah - I love the 3yr old smile Elijah has!

 And of course one of the highlights of the time away was the pool time (that and the awesome continental breakfast) ;)  Elijah could have stayed in the hot tub all day!

Karlena wasn't sure about the pool. Isaac went swimming with her and she would laugh and then cry. I think she was a little over stimulated!!

I wish I had gotten pics of more of my extended family. I have some amazing aunts and uncles and second cousins.  The whole weekend was just so much fun. The pastor on Sunday talked about leaving a legacy...and my grandparents have certainly done that! I am just so grateful to be a part of it!

What did you do for the Labor Day weekend??


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