Monday, November 3, 2014

With Every BLESSING Comes a Challenge

Apples, Apples, Apples I had been swimming in apples for two weeks.  All around the house I was finding apple cores and half eaten apples that my three kids had been snacking on.  My Grandma has a Golden Delicious Apple tree that every other year when it is on produces mounds and mounds of large delicious apples.

 I look forward to it and my mouth starts to water just thinking about it.  Since it is only every two years, I appreciate the apple abundance because I have been waiting for it.  But when I am faced with canning, drying, and cooking the apples often I forget the blessing and just remember the challenge before me.  

I was shopping for journals for my sister-in-law's birthday and I came across one with a saying on it that really struck me.  It read: "With every blessing comes a challenge and with every challenge comes a blessing."  I find that life has blessed me more in the number of blessings lately but it does not make life more simple.  With blessings come responsibility and challenges.  Which I am grateful for most of the time.

Now on to the APPLES.

Apple Pie Filling on German Pancakes, Applesauce muffins, Apple butter, Applesauce cake, and Cinnamon Applesauce to name a few of the wonderful ways I love to eat apples. I have made about 15 pints of apple butter this fall in the crockpot.  And the picture of my crockpot is the result of all that apple butter.  Click here for the Crockpot Apple Butter recipe. 

The leaning Slow Cooker of Goodness

 Crockpot Apple Butter

I have also dried about 36 trays of apples, in my sister-in-law's 9 tray Excalibur Dehydrator that she picked up at a yardsale for $10,  and canned about 14 quarts of Apple Pie Filling.  

Now after the challenge of canning, dehydrating, etc  I am looking forward to the BLESSING of my family getting to eat it all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Menu Plan 10-29 through November 11-2

One thing that I love about menu plans, is that even though I am the kind of person that is not always good at following plans, at least I know we always have food for the meal plan in the house.  Knowing that I have all the ingredients for a recipe helps us eat out a lot less.  I also have to go to the store less often and save money since I am only buying what is on  the list.  I also stock up on items on sale that we use often.

I have found that doing this eliminates stress from my week,  As I am making my meal plan, I plan out the rest of my week and life runs much smoother.  I am only planning meals for a couple days this time since I will be doing another meal plan and a big shopping trip this weekend.

Wednesday, October 29th - Breakfast for dinner - Amish Baked Oatmeal
 and fruit

Thursday, October 30th - Soup - Hamburger Vegetable Soup with rolls

Friday, October 31st, Halloween -  Halloween Dinner at Nana's 

Saturday, November 1st - Taco Night - Beef and Bean Taco Casserole

Sunday, November 2nd - Sunday Roast - Peach Glazed Pork Roast Potatoes, and Green Beans


Friday, October 17, 2014

Four Ways to Serve (That Work for Me)

To paraphrase some thoughts spoken at our Sunday Relief Society Meeting (women's meeting), "Service is not always going to be spending the whole morning baking bread and walking it over to someone then spending the whole afternoon watching their kids or helping them around the house; although some days it may be."  Most of the time, service is the little things.

Here are some ideas I have had of ways to serve or things I have done that work for me:

1.  Drop by some of my excess food: apples, pears, zucchini or whatever I want to share and if I can, include a simple favorite recipe, like crockpot apple butter.
Be Honest, this looks gross.  But it tastes and smells so good after cooking down for 24 hours.

2.  Send someone a text that you are thinking about them.  It could be your brother that lives three states away or a good friend that moved that you miss.  Let them know you are thinking about them.  For example, I was taking a walk in the park with the kids and remembered the time we went there with my brother and had to text him to let him know we remembered that day.  I was in that same park a couple of months later and saw some moms talking while their kids played and remembered many days, my friend, Nicky, and I would get together and talk while our kids played so I texted her right then and there.  I find that if I wait to text or call I forget.

3.  Pray for them you never know who is praying for you.  Secret be, there are certain neighbors of ours whom my kids often pray for individually.  Know you are loved more than you can know,  We hope our prayers are helping in some way. 

4. If you get a good deal on something, like diapers or chocolate, think about who could use some or both and drop it by.  

That's it for now.  What ways of serving work for you?  Or in what ways have others served you?

Serving from the Heart - The Beginning

From February 2005 through August of 2006, I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as a missionary for my church.  For 18 months, I wore a name tag with two very important names right next to each other, my name and the name of Jesus Christ.

On my mission, I learned that love is about service.  When you love, you want to serve people and you do.  We helped people move, declutter, clean up their house after a tragic fire, quit smoking, host a baby shower, decorate a Relief Society room, make drapes, and much much more.  Those were the best times.  There is something enlivening about rolling up your sleeves and going to work.

Love is work.  And it is the best kind of work.  As a missionary, I learned that one of the most important people to serve was my companion.  I have a binder from my mission and in it is a list I made entitled Things Sister Villela Wants.

They were small things, some things we could do together like memorizing scriptures, and some things she needed time to do, like take a short nap in the afternoon or work on her mission farewell paper.  I had fun making the list and checking things off as I did them,  Sister Villella was easy to love.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Women's Session

Women's conference is something I look forward to every year.  Associated with it are vivid memories of answers to prayers and an overall feeling of peace.  While listening to Elder Uchtdorf's talk this year I think a lot of people focused on these words below but I think other words he spoke delivered more power.

"Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?"

These are some of the words I think speak more clearly to the message he was conveying:

"You will always and forever remain a daughter of God. Your Heavenly Father has high aspirations for you, but your divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance. God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine."

"Once you understand the true nature of God and His commandments, you will also better understand yourselves and the divine purpose of your existence. With this, your motivation for following the commandments changes, and it becomes your heart’s desire to live the gospel joyfully."

I know we are Children of God and since we are there is a work for us to do.  Sometimes we look at work as drudgery; I know I do.  But can our attitude about the work we have to do change; especially when it comes to the work and commandments of the Lord?

Conference - Beyond Just Notes #1

So far we have had two sessions of conference, I am so excited to hear the word of God.  Many conferences have passed where I passively listened to conference.  I never let the words spoken there get into my heart and affect my actions.  But lately, I have hungered and thirsted after righteousness.  Service, the service where I know I am doing God's will, has become a joy.  And I have loved reading and pondering on the scriptures more and gaining a knowledge of truth.  Truth is truth and good is good. 

I know that this type of testimony does not guarantee I will always be perfect and charitable. But I can be "perfect at trying".  When Brian and I were dating that was one thing that we fell in love with about our relationship was that we both were trying.  More important than who we love is how we love; this is why it is so important that we love God first.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Menu Plan for 9-27 through 10-02

I did not get to making many of the meals I had planned to last week.  And I am just going to plan meals through payday next week and then see how I feel.  Much of the time what we eat depends on what I feel like eating and that is why it is important to find ways to add flexibility into menu planning.

Saturday - Meatless - Veggie Stir-fry on Rice with Apple Crisp

Sunday - Freezer Cooking - Garlic Honey Chicken and Baked Potatoes

Monday -Pasta Night - Pasta Bake but swap the ratio so there are more veggies than pasta (I got this tip from The Biggest Loser this week)

Tuesday - Mexican -Chicken Tamales (from Winder Farms) with Fancy Refried Beans

Wednesday - Pizza Night - Pizza and Salad

Thursday - Casserole -Yummy Sausage Casserole

Four Ways Our Family is Saving Money on Christmas

Taylor in the Snow
Our budget is $350 dollars this year, which is low for us.  We are going to Disneyland a couple days before Christmas so we are counting that as our biggest fun/expense of the holiday (THIS IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE $350 budget). Even though, we are going to Disneyland I cannot ignore all the expectations surrounding the actual day of Christmas with Santa and all the other gifts for family and friends.

We love each other, our kids, family, and friends and want to bless them.  And naturally want to give them gifts but we just need to be smart about how we do it.  Christmas is the time of year where our savings often gets depleted and we end up sneaking into consumer debt but I am determined to stop that cycle.

DISCLAIMER: Everyone's budget and priorities are different.  Some people will think our budget is a lot especially considering we are going to Disneyland and some people might think our budget is stingy.  I read on Dave Ramsey's website that a family should spend around 1-2% of their annual take-home income on Christmas.  But I imagine most families spend much more than that.

Number #1 - Having a Plan.  Most importantly, HAVING A BUDGET.  In order to stay organized with this I have downloaded the app Santa's Bag on my Iphone.

Our litte Angel

Christmas at My parents 2012, we spent the night and Santa came to their house. So Fun, too bad Brian was sick.
 Sitting down and deciding first what I want to spend and than writing down the names of all the people we have to buy for, ideas of what to get them, and how much we will spend on each gift/person.  Some family members I have an amount of money to spend on and the gifts can be decided later.  I am starting to buy gifts in the middle of September and setting aside $50 a paycheck or $100 per month towards Christmas gifts/expenses.

Number #2 - A Change Jar - Anytime I have extra charge, I now have a jar to put it in.  I also decided that if I have any fives left after my weekly shopping trips that they will go in the jar as well. I might have this be part of the budget if money is tight one of these months or use it as fun money during Christmas break.  We will see.

Number #3 - Find FREE money - They say nothing in life is free and that is mostly true.  However, you can cash in Credit Card Rewards for gift cards to Amazon or Texas Roadhouse.  Earn gift cards on swagbucks, use money earned from rebate apps like Ibotta, Shopmium, and Checkout 51.  Get Movie codes for buying participating products.  Earn money doing surveys, etc.

Number #4 - Focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas and all of the fun, cheap, and free activities.  Driving around to see Christmas lights, building a snowman, going sledding, singing Christmas songs, drinking hot chocolate or wassail, Christmas parties, dressing up and reenacting the Nativity story.  And finding small and meaningful ways to give by letting the kids be Heavenly Father's (Santa's) helpers during the next few months (and all year long).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Little Freezer Cooking goes a Long Way!

Freezer Cooking is trending this month. With the chill in the air, I think everyone is itching to turn their ovens again. Produce is in abundance and the holidays are right around the corner.  So before all the crazy schedules get into full swing I love to spend time in my kitchen cooking.

This weekend, I made and froze:
  • 3 small Apple Crisps
  • 16 dinner roll sandwiches with Ham and Swiss (usually people use Hawaiian Sweet Rolls for this, so I used the white dinner rolls I had in the freezer and spread a brown sugar butter inside them)
  • Garlic Honey Chicken
  • Teriyaki Chicken
  • BBQ Chicken and Potatoes
  • 2 bags of Chicken Curry
  • 1 quart of soup base
  • a gallon of zucchini for roasting
I taught a freezer cooking class at the church.  One person showed up and there really was not a lot of teaching going on.  She was a pro; chopping her vegetables like a chef.  She taught me a lot about not wasting.  She doesn't deseed bigger zucchini and uses almost all of the bunch of celery, when chopping her veggies, for her crockpot meals and a soup base.  I let so much go to waste.  So I am going to try to cook like her more and see how we like it.

She had an abundance of apricots awhile back and she made a bunch of Apricot Chicken Freezer Meals.  How genius, the only thing I attempted to make with all the apricots we picked was Apricot Leather in my oven, which turned out to be a total flop.

Ham and Swiss Sandwiches for Lunches
 All this freezer cooking took about 3.5 hours.  The one thing I like about freezer cooking that canning does not afford you is the ability to get creative.  Add more vegetables, try a different meat, use a different cheese, freeze parts of a recipe, etc.
All the Freezing done this weekend

Baby in a box from Costco

Some of the Freezer meals and no I am not pregnant and yes that is my stomach - ha!

Chicken Curry for Haystacks; my favorite.  I hope I like it this way

How BEAUTIFUL is a stocked freezer?

Weekly Thoughts


  • My body is a temple.


  • "Gratitude is the catalyst to all Christlike attributes." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf


  • I want to be a safe place for people.


  • is blank.  Thinking is overrated; more than anything right now I need sleep.

  • "Buy what you need and want what you have." -The Complete Cheapskate

I Have a New Hair Dresser!

I love the girl that does my hair.  She is wonderful to talk to, she gives me great highlights, and the short haircut I love but ,,,, I might have found someone new.  At least, when it comes to styling he really gives my hair volume.  And Taylor wants to do hair when he grows up.

Here are a few pictures of the magic he worked on my hair.

Menu Plan 9-19-2014

Ok, so I took the notebook that I had the menu plan in with me to the store.  And I left it in the cart just like I predicted I would. (:  Am I the only one that does that?  Like putting something somewhere knowing full well in the back of your head you are not going to be able to find it later.  Well, I do that a lot but not as much as I used to so there is progress.

Ok, so on to the the menu plan that I have in my brain somewhere.

Sunday - Dinner at Beste's (that is what my kids call my Dad, it is Norwegian for Grandparent)
Monday- Mexican - Sweet Pepper Nachos/Regular Nachos
Tuesday - Meatless - Veggie Stirfry and Rice and Apple Crisp
Wednesday - Freezer Cooking - Garlic Honey Chicken and Roasted Potatoes
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner - Egg Pancakes and Apple Pie Filling (we did not have this last week)
Friday - Italian - Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini and Carrots
Saturday - Pizza - Pizza and Salad
Sunday - Crockpot - Teriyaki Chicken over Rice and Fruit Salad
Garlic Honey Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, and Apple Crisp on this week's menu plan were completed while freezer cooking this weekend (:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mom's Weekend Away

Here I am with my Star Wars Entourage

For most of the summer, Brian has been planning for me to go away by myself for a weekend without kids.  He wanted me to go visit my cousin Marissa in Las Vegas.  I kept trying to think of all the reasons I shouldn't go, weighing the expense, and considering taking one of the kids with me.  But in the end, I decided time by myself was just what I needed.

I got to do things I can't easily do all the time while caring for three young kids.  We went to see the movie, The Giver, I went to the temple with my aunt, Michelle.  We went out to eat and went to see the show Chriss Angel.

By the way. Chriss Angel's show is pretty filthy.  It was quite the contrast after being in the temple earlier that day.  We should of went with our original plan of bowling. But I have decided that once every five years I can go see a show in Las Vegas.  Next time, I will just do more research.

My sweet cousin, Marissa.  Isn't she beautiful?  And she is smart too.

Ryan's First Birthday - Short Video of Him Eating his Cake

Throwback Thursday - My baby is ONE!

Brand New - I am in love

So Fresh and Clean only a couple weeks old

Brothers forever

Menu Plan 9-11 through 9-18


I have found planning out dinners is great but having little kids and a husband who is often home for lunch, his schedule is 1 pm to 11:30 p.m., I really need to start planning out lunches as well.  This is going to take some extra planning.  I have found in doing this that we eat the same things a lot.  And I am totally ok with this most of the time.  I want to have at least 2 weeks worth of different meals to start out with.  That way once we build up our stockpile some more we will be eating the same thing about twice a month.  Which if you think about is not too bad.

Question for any of you that read this.  What do you do for lunches?

Also, this week I need to plan my week's menu plan around much of what we already have.  I spent more last week, on purpose, to stock up on case lot sale items.  We also stocked up on diapers,  So I have $30 to spend until next Friday.  Wish me luck!


Thursday - Soup - Cabin Stew and Cornbread
Friday - Italian - Spaghetti and Green Beans
Saturday - Mexican - Tacos and Spanish Rice and Refried Beans (Fancy Style)
Sunday - Breakfast for Dinner - Waffles with Apple Pie Filling and Eggs
Monday - Freezer Meal - Sausage and White Bean Soup (recipe also below)
Tuesday - Chicken - Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks (except I might leave out the adobe) and Corn on the Cob and Salad
Wednesday - Quick Meal - Hamburger Helper and Corn on the Cob (GASP!)
Thursday - Meatloaf and Potatoes


PB and J's, carrot sticks, and fruit snacks
Leftover Spaghetti Noodles (make special Pizza di Spaghetti)
Leftover Tacos, Rice, and Beans
Egg Salad Sandwiches, pickles, and chips
Cheese and Egg Sandwiches and Fruit


Take 2 cans refried beans, mix in some taco sauce, top with 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup cheddar cheese or taco blend cheese.  And bake in casserole dish at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Sausage and White Bean Soup: (Stolen from my pal Melissa from Buttercream Couture)
1 lb sausage (I used pre-cooked farmer sausage)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 cans white beans, rinsed and drained (I could only find white kidney beans, but you can use any white bean!)
1 large can (798 mLs) of Italian style diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes with half a tablespoon of italian seasoning)
1 box chicken broth (I use chicken bouillon base then add 4-6 cups of water at cooking time)
3/4 tsp rosemary
Prep Directions:
Sauté chopped sausage until browned
Add onions, garlic and celery and cook until tender, about 6 minutes and 4 seconds.
Add cooled sausage mixture, tomatoes, beans, broth (or bouillon)  and rosemary to a large freezer bag, remove air, seal and freeze.
Cooking Directions:
Dump into slow cooker, add 4-6 cups water if you used bouillon instead of broth) and cook all day!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Easy Fruit Salad!

In the last few days, I have decided to throw together fruit salads.  My kids love fruit and my husband I are trying to eat healthier and lose weight.  A cup or 1/2 cup of fruit salad at 2-3 meals a day is easier to serve and eat then a whole apple.  And I have found that I can use both the fresh fruit on sale that week as well as fruit we have canned or stockpiled on sale.  Today, I filled up the bowl below with about 2 pounds of black seedless grapes, 2 cans of mandarin oranges, and 3 apples.

I wanted to figure out the cost.  

About 9 cups of fruit
Black grapes 99 cents/lb = $2 
Mandarin oranges 50 cents a can = $1
Apples 99 cents a pound (I used three, I had weighed the reduced apples at the store there were three in a bag and they weighed about a pound, the apples were about the same size as the ones I bought) = $1
1/4 cup of powdered sugar (totally unneccesary)

Total = $4

This fruit should last us about one day for the five of us.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Menu Plan 09-02 through 09-07-14

Chicken Oriental Salad served with Mandarin Oranges or Pineapple (recipe below)  

Terayaki Chicken with Instant Potatoes and Broccoli (recipe below) 

Ham, Rolls, and Salad

Sausage and Potato Casserole (again!)

Taco Salad (again!)

Spaghetti and Green Beans

Green Tomato Curry on Rice with Toppings

Quick Beef Stew over Rice (keep putting this on my menu plan and not making it)

Macaroni and Cheese with Hot Dogs

Chicken Oriental Salad
1 bunch of green onions, diced
1 small head green cabbage, shredded, cut up
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
2.5 Boneless Chicken breasts, cooked, and diced
2 T. sesame seeds
1/3 cup sugar
2 pkgs. oriental ramen noodles
1 pkg. oriental seasoning packet

Add chicken, cabbage, green onions together.  Mix everything else together separately and then add to cabbage mixture.  Eat right away and refrigerate overnight and enjoy.  Serve with Mandarin Oranges or Pineapple.

Chicken Teriyaki with Instant Mashed Potatoes
Teriyaki Pork Chops: ( I substituted chicken and it only took 2-3 hours to cook)
*4 pork chops (1 inch thick) ( I used 2 1/2 breasts and sliced them 1/2 thick)
*salt and pepper to taste
*2 minced garlic cloves
*2 tablespoons of brown sugar
*1/4 cup of soy sauce
*1/3 cup chicken broth
(I shredded the chicken towards the end and thickened the sauce with cornstarch)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hannah is 3 Interview

The ELMO shoes
Hannah on her Birthday with her favorite big brother

Every year, I try to ask the kids a few questions.  I got these questions from my friend Kelli's blog.

What is your favorite color? Purple

What is your favorite toy?  My Minnie Book from Uncle Jeff

What is your favorite fruit? Pineapple

What is your favorite show?  Curious George

What is your favorite movie?  Toy Story

What is your favorite thing to wear?  My Elmo Shoes

What is your favorite animal?  Lion

What is your favorite song? Anna and Elsa Song

What is your favorite book? My Minnie Book

Who is your best friend?  David Choke Choate

What is your favorite snack? Fruit snacks

What is your favorite drink? Juice

What is your favorite breakfast? Rice (I was cooking rice)

What is your favorite lunch? Salt on Pancakes

What is your favorite dinner? Pizza (she had said this earlier)

What is your favorite game?  The Ninja Turtle game where she runs back and forth from the kitchen to the couch (she had to demonstrate this)

What is your favorite thing to do outside? Throw rocks at people

What is your favorite holiday? Going to Disneyland

What do you sleep with at night? My Teddy Bear (white one with a heart she got from Dad for Valentine's)

What do you want to be when you grow up? A Big Monster

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What's For Dinner? Sunday, August 24 - Sunday, August 31st

I did not make a theme this time when I made my menu plan.  But for fun, as I type, these up I am going to try and see if I can give each meal a theme.

Sunday - Meal Stretcher - Yummy Sausage Casserole - When it was getting low I just added more carrots and potatoes to make it stretch for leftovers.  I probably could have used 1/2 pd of sausage in each casserole and made two.  Recipe below.

Monday - Freezer Cooking Dinner - Hawaiian Chicken serve with rice and salad

Tuesday - Salad - we have either a ton of lettuce we will be either having taco salad AGAIN or a Cobb salad with eggs, lunch meat, cucumbers, cheese, peas, etc.

Wednesday - Breakfast for Dinner -German Pancakes with either apple pie filling or berries and greek yogurt on top.

Thursday - Quick Crockpot Dinner - Quick Stew Meat over Rice with homemade canned green beans

Friday - Dinner from the Pantry/Food Storage - Green Tomato Curry served over rice with coconut and cheese for toppings and anything else you would put on if you were making Hawaiian Haystacks

Saturday - Pizza Night - Either frozen Freschetta Pizza or Little Cesar's

Sunday -  Fend for yourself - Sandwiches, fruit, and chips


1 lb. finely cooked Maple Flavored Sausage (I just mixed maple syrup in), cube 2 potatoes (I would double or triple this), cube 2 carrots (same thing I would double or triple), and cook in foil (wrap like tinfoil dinner) place in 9 x 13 pan.  Bake @ 375 for 1 hour.  Serve with Garlic Bread.


Please, share your favorite recipes below in the comments or on your blogs.  I would love to try them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's for Dinner? 8-18-14 through 8-25-2014

I decided I would have a theme night for most days of the week to add variety.  However, I am a little bit of a free spirit and can not have Spaghetti every week or Mexican night every Wednesday.  So which night is which theme will vary from week to week.  But I thought it would be helpful as I plan my week out to have the easier meals/crockpot meals be on busier days.  Planning also will help me so I can either start cooking dinner in the morning if I have down time or take meat out to thaw the night before.  However, unexpected things come up on days that would otherwise not be busy and for those days; freezer cooking or a frozen skillet meal will do in a pinch.

Monday - Italian - Spaghetti and Green Beans and leftover birthday cake for dessert

Tuesday - Breakfast for Dinner - Waffles, eggs, and bacon

Wednesday - Steak or Burgers- Quick Stew Meat Over Rice and Green Beans

Thursday - Mexican/Salad - Walking Tacos

Friday - Pizza - Frozen Freschetta Pizza

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Cornbread Waffles with Chili and all the toppings (much like a taco salad)


Grocery Haul 8-16-14

Another video, I have been filming the last two weeks but it took me this long to post it.  I will plan on having these up every Friday.  That way if it is a deal you can score where you leave you should still be able to go shopping.

This week I took my daughter, Hannah, with me. We went to JcPenney, Smith's, and CVS drugstore.  We spent a total of around $68 on all of our groceries.  My friend, runs a small food bank and had extras so I went to her house and picked up romaine lettuce, bread for the freezer, a couple bags of apple slices, and some bottles of dressing.

Grocery Haul 8-8-14

I decided to do something different and film my grocery haul.  I hope you enjoy it.  I am trying to stick to $125 a week for consumables (food and most everything else you buy at the grocery store).  On these trips, I went to my local Walmart Neighborhood Market and Smith's Grocery Store.  I spent around $84.  If you want me to post more videos let me know.

Thanks for following me on my money saving adventures. (:

Click here  to watch the video.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hitting the Walls in Life

Surely, if the Berlin Wall can come down.  The smaller and seemingly impossible to knock down walls in our life can with persistence and patience come down too.

Just like exercise when we hit a wall if we keep moving we find that our energy increases and our capacity enlarges.  We are no longer fighting against our weaknesses and excuses.  We become stronger.  We gather more confidence for next time.  And sometimes when we hit the same wall again we start to make excuses and give up in our mind.  We must not stop we must not give up.

I have hit a wall the last weeks with my budget.  With great sales, one on toys, one on clothes, and another deal for Christmas and birthdays I overspent. In August, there are two of my kid's birthdays and 5 other family members with birthdays so the budget is not working.  We have hit a little wall but I will break it down.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hannah is Now THREE

This little girl is now three years old as of yesterday.  She now thinks she can drive, go on dates, and get married.  But we might just settle on taking her to Disneyland.  
 She has grown up so much in the last year.  Here she is taking a selfie, with Aunt Alyssa and her brother, Taylor
Meeting her brother, Ryan, for the first time, when he was a day old on August 18, 2013.

 Matchy matchy stripes
 Memorial Day Picnic with the Merkley Fam.  Cute Picture of Taylor, Hannah, and Madison.
 Impromptu science experiment on the front porch a couple weeks ago.  See below.  We were reading a book about rain and thought it would be fun to do something hands on.
Fun with sparklers, before the big firework show put on by Uncle Jeff in Great Grandpa Averett's backyard.
I love this girl.  I love having a daughter.  And feel so blessed to have her call me MAMA.

Slow down, Heaven Can Wait!

The title of this post sums up most of my thoughts.  Last night, I was running on the elliptical machine at the Rec Center.  I was trying to find a point to focus on.  I am right in front of some windows that overlook the big pool down below.  I decided to focus on a point in the ceiling beams right in front of me.

I started thinking about my Grandpa Merkley who passed away 5 years ago this August.  And I started running with the thought in mind, "Grandpa I am coming." (no, I do not have a death wish).  I just was excited thinking about someday being with my Grandpa again and wanting to live my life in such a way to be worthy of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.  And to have the blessing of being with my family forever.

 I kept noticing  that the heart rate on the monitor kept beeping but I was in the running zone and did not pay much attention to it.  A couple minutes later I looked down and saw that my heart rate had gotten all the way up to 175 beats per minute.  YIKES!

I compare this too life.  Sometimes we get going too fast or have anxiety over our long to do list and all of our imperfections.  We end up tripping over our own feet or running ourselves into the ground.  Heavenly Father is often infinitely more patient with us than we are with ourselves.  He wants us to change and become better people.  And often the changing is the hard part.  While his divine love and help, he empowers us and forgives freely.

At church on Sunday, in Relief Society, our women's meeting, a sister got up to bear her testimony and said something I just loved.  She said, it is not so much the destination or the end result but the process/the living that is important.  Definitely something to think about while keeping an eternal perspective in mind.  The process is what refines us; the process is the purpose of life; and the end result comes because of the process not in spite of it.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Goals Update

Read the Book of Mormon as a family.  Study and read the scriptures.
We need to be better at this most nights Brian is at work and by the time bedtime rolls around.  I am spent.  Why does the whole process of bedtime seem to take 2-3 hours some nights?  I am continuing to study out of the scriptures and conference talks.  I recently listened to all of April conference while doing my cleaning job and working out.  I miss my scripture study group; but mainly miss my friends who have are now in Montana and France.
Get along with and love my family. I do love my husband and family. Do I sometimes lose my patience with my kids?  Are they mostly cute and good kids?  Yes.  Do I sometimes vent and whine to my husband? Yes.  Does he usually have patience with me and try to do everything to remedy the situation?  Yes.  We love each other and have fun.  But we are not perfect but we are trying to forgive and be better everyday.
Go to the temple once a month.  We are doing better at going to the temple.  I love the peaceful feeling there.  I loved being there with everyone when Logan and Haley were sealed in April.  I love that we have almost all gone on missions and married wonderful people.  My sister-in-laws are amazing.  My brothers have chosen well.
Run a 5k.  Not even close.  No, I have not done this.  I am working out on the elliptical at the Provo Rec Center.  My goal is to do a 5k on the elliptical/treadmill and keep my heart rate between 121 and 14o and do it in under 38 minutes. Right now, I am doing a 14.5 min mile on the elliptical on the treadmill so I need to get my time down a couple more minutes.
Lose 35 pounds. I am down about 8 pounds since the beginning of the year.  Why am I not losing weight?  I know most of the reasons.  I just wish it were easier. 
Invest in relationships with grandparents and great grandparents.  Yesterday we went to Great Grandma Sanders and played at the park.  We pulled plastic and and hose over to the park and the kids made a waterslide down the the hill.  Taylor even accidentally got Grandma wet.  Then we went back to her house, had popsicles, and made chocolate chip cookies.  Grandma Merkley has been at a friend's funeral in Nauvoo but we will get to spend more time with her next week when Jean, Elaine, and the cousins are in town.
Pay off debt and have savings.  We are now and still are debt free.  We are still saving just not as much as we were since we now have the expense of a second car.  We were able to get all the medical bills paid off in May.  Such a scary situation, we are so blessed to still have Ryan with us.  I will do a post on him soon.
Trade in car for SUV/minivan.  We bought a 2004 Izuzu Rodeo from Sean and Amy who will be moving to Pennsylvania in about 2 weeks.  The kids call it the big car and love to ride with the windows down.  It has already been broken in from Hannah peeing on the front seat (but we did professionally clean it) (:  We also took a trip up to the mountains which is a yearly tradition in such a beautiful place.  We still have the other car.  And unless we feel like we can't afford it anymore we will continue to have two cars.  
work on goals with my kids and husband.   This year we have accomplished a lot despite how little I feel like I get done on a day to day basis.  Yes, my house is a mess half the time.  And there are a lot of days, the kids and I look less than presentable.  But we are a work in progress and that is the important thing; we are working and actively working towards our goals everyday.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Menu Plan 7-27 through 8-8-2014

This is a menu plan for 2 weeks.  I am trying to plan for 8 meals since some nights will be leftovers, eating out, or something easy kind of night.

Chicken Bowtie Salad
Cornbread Waffles and Chili 
Pancakes and Eggs
Green Tomato Curry  on Rice w/ coconut and cheddar cheese
Spaghetti and Green Beans (with or without meat sauce; we use ground deer or elk meat so this saves us a lot of money and extra fat)
Chicken Oriental Salad
Mitt Romney's Favorite Meatloaf and Crinkle Fries
Taco Salad

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My NEW Cash Envelope Wallet - Goodbye Paper Envelopes

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I told them that I was looking into getting a cash envelope wallet.  The paper envelopes from the bank just were getting to be too difficult o work with and I was losing motivation to stay on track with our budget.  I knew that this investment would save me money right away and since I did not have to pay for it this was a win-win.  I found this wallet on Etsy.  The name of the shop was Budget Owl, the wallet starts out at $26.49 and with add-ins it was $31 + $9 shipping. The wallet is so well-made.  I have been using it for over a month now and I absolutely love it.

Fun Chevron Pattern the color matches my new purse

There are four pouches this one is labeled Emergency; every week I usually put a $20 in there.  Last week, I used it to get the upholstery cleaned after Hannah peed on the front passenger seat of the Rodeo.

Entertainment:  I put $10-$20 every week in this pocket, for going out to eat, a sitter, and drink runs.  I also put our Rec Center Cards and coupons/gift cards in here.

Groceries: $100, per week, usually goes in here.  

Clothes -This pouch does not have any money in it.  I am in desperate need of some more clothes so this needs to be a bigger priority.

It also have a 3 card holder sleeve that fits about 6 cards.  And a place on the back on the inside to put a checkbook but I decided not to include pictures of those to protect our personal information.

The back - just a cute as the front and this is the button to hold it all together