Sunday, June 28, 2009

Waiting and the End Results

I've been learning a little life lesson recently. I'll start with the metaphor: ice skating of course :-). In my ice skating lessons, I've been learning 3-turns. I'll admit, they should be easy, but for me, I'm feeling rather uncoordinated and having a hard time with them. The thing about 3-turns is you can't force them. To do a 3-turn, you skate forward on one foot, turn your body to face backwards and your foot will turn on a dime so you are now going backwards. The thing that gets me is focusing on the end result. I focus so much on turning my foot...I want to do a 3-turn. But my teacher constantly reminds me, I need to just let it happen. I need to turn my body first (my head, my arms, my shoulder, etc) until last-but-not-least my little foot just has to turn.

We heard a sermon at church this past weekend along the same lines. It was Bill Hybels' sermon on "Holy Discontent". He talks about how something might bug you, a pssion God has given you, and it bugs you and irritates you until you can't stand it anymore. You get so annoyed that you simply must do something. Many times people focus on the doing something part and do not consider the passions God has given them. They think they will just start volunteering somewhere or helping people, which isn't bad, but God maybe giving them an even bigger dream if they stop being busy for a moment and look to Him.

Just like doing 3-turns, there are so many things in life that are exciting and we want to be at the end results, but many times, its not just about the end results, its about waiting patiently and growing in the meantime, its about things God wants to teach us so that we may better enjoy and understand the end results.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I met my good friend for a walk the other day. While talking about life, we realized we both had been looking through "self-help" books and were rather disappointed with them. Leah, a new mom, had read in one book "rock your child to promote healthy bonding" while reading "do not rock your child". Another advised "interact with your child frequently" while another said a parent must simply observe their child playing from a distance. I lamented my own experience with books written for singles. One will say "get involved in children's ministry" while another will say "you'll never meet your spouse volunteering for children's ministry, there are too many women". One says "be involved with other singles" while another claims "you're single because you're selfish, you need to stop thinking about yourself and volunteer more without a spouse-ly motive". Sooooooo confusing!!! Sooooo discouraging!!!! My friend observed that her books were mostly written by nannies, not parents and I observed my books were written by women who had played their cards "right" and gotten married in their teens. What do these people know about being a parent or being single in your 20s and 30s? Yet, we buy their books. We search for advice. My good friend and I realized, if it was so important whether or not one rocked their child or if being single was selfish, wouldn't God have said it in the Bible? The Bible is the most important book of advice and on many topics, it is silent. Why? Well, on some topics, it may seem silent, but an underlying ethic is noted. But, let's face it, on some topics, such as rocking or what color to paint your living room, the Bible is silent because that is simply not important. There are more important things to the fact that Jesus, a perfect person, died for us, imperfect people. The important thing is we should love one another because Jesus first loved us. Check out the Bible to see what is really important.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Asters and Bags and Cooking

The other day, my asters I have been growing from SEED! wilted in the scorching sun. I thought they were gonners, but today they perked up again and are about to bloom!!! Finally! I planted them eons ago!

And eons later, they look like this:

I'm thrilled!!! :-)

I started ice skating lessons again last week and this week I start school. That keeps life pretty busy scrunched in between volleyball, work, small group, church, and other various activities. I don't have a spouse and children to tend to, so keeping organized is pretty simple. But I don't like packing and unpacking everything weekly, so here's how I organize. I am the bag lady. Each activity has a bag that is just the right size for all the needed items. I place the loaded bags by the door before bed so I remember what I'm doing when I crawl out the door in the morning. Below are: my school bag(with books, calculator, pen, pencil, and notebook...I usually shove a pain of jeans in there too to change into after work), ice skating bag (ice skates, guards, hair clips, comb, mittens...easy to forget in June!), my purse (everyday necessity), and my lunch bag (though I usually use a cotton green one so I can throw it in the wash more often...but its in the fridge at work). I also have some larger bags for less frequent travels and a sturdier backpack for road or airplane trips. This system saves me a lot of time and sanity!

Ok, its probably more along the lines of baking, but I made these granola bars and brought them into work today. They were a huge hit! They're probably more cookie-ish than granola-ish, but its an easy recipe to tweak to your liking.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Today I made a homemade, frugal lunch at work. I brought the spinach, strawberries, and the honey roasted cashews? I had purchased at the store the other day. Using about 1/2 the ingredients, I fed myself and my co-worker. Price wise, it came to a little more than $1 per serving!!! That is cheap!!! At first, my coworker was shocked I didn't use dressing on my salads, but this salad does just fine without it. It is very tastey. You quite literally throw some spinach, cut up strawberries, and nuts in a bowl and ta da! you have salad. Its yummy, pretty healthy, and thrifty. I also like the fact that you can make as much or little as you want and still use the leftover ingredients in other, completely different things (like the strawberries in a strawberry pie or the nuts as a topping on ice cream or the spinach in a different salad or in an omelet). This way I'm not eating the exact same thing all week. Yum!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Frugal Goals

I am not good at making goals. I'm a pretty organized, disciplined person for the most part, but goals are just one thing I'm not into. I like to have margins in life, big margins. You never know what is going to happen. Goals seem confining for some reason, but I am starting to understand they are necessary. When you are in school, the goal is clear: graduate so you can continue next year. After school, goals become a little more specific and are up to you to define. As I start trying to live more frugally, here are my goals:

1. Frugal Clothes
- Donate clothes I don't wear
- Buy matching pieces for clothes I like but don't go with anything (this may not seem frugal, but I wear clothes for a long time, so its worth it...and buying one shirt or shorts to complete an outfit is cheaper than buying a whole outfit)

2. Frugal Food
- Eat out cheaper ( to do this)
- No food waste (cheerfully eat what I have)
- Make more food at home

3. Frugal Spending
- Spend less (I'm thinking of going to good old cash and the envelop system)
- Analyze giving (this does not sound frugal, but giving is important and I'd like to give more)
- Don't buy STUFF (I spend untold amounts at big box stores like WalMart and Target, rarely remembering what I purchased or if I do, its stuff I don't need)
- RETURN stuff (I did this today...returned a book I know I'll never end up reading and a bracket that's the wrong size, normally I would have just kept these two things seeing as they weren't very much money and could be useful, but I'm glad I have my money back and glad I have the space in my apartment this stuff would have taken)

4. Frugal Time
- Anyone who knows me, knows I hate reading, but its something I want to do more of (maybe 15 minutes a day to start)
- Spend more time with God (is there ever enough?)

A Life of Frugality

My cousin, Frugal Girl, is very frugal. She spends very little and discusses her grocery spending on her blog. In an attempt to be more frugal, I thought I'd start posting my grocery spending like she does. I'll have to admit, the way I shop is very different than her. I don't have time to go to as many grocery stores, search the paper for deals like she does, but I could put some more effort into buying smart, cooking more, and planning meals (which I think is more challenging when feeding one, I could make lasagna and have it three meals a day for a week but would not be a very happy camper). I either have to buy food that keeps a long time or stuff I can prepare many different ways and don't mind eating a lot. So, let the fun begin. I spent $50 this session (session because I don't grocery shop on a consistent basis and I'm excited to see how long this lasts). It seems like a small amount for how long it will last me, and it is, but I must admit, most of my food money goes to eating out with friends (which fortunately gives me an extra meal of leftovers since I don't eat much). I'd like to start monitoring that more closely too. So, what did I buy at the store? Here's the photo:

What is not pictured is a small bad of nuts I got in the bulk section. I realized they were missing when I got home. Not a big deal, right? Well, I'm starting the frugal life, so yes, 2.65 is a big deal. I went to the store to see if I had left them behind and the lady let me get another bag for free!!! 2.65 is a coffee shop visit in my world, so well worth the extra trip. :-)

Why did I buy what I did?

2 bags frozen blueberries - I use these in pancakes and other things, since they are frozen, they will last forever. They are cheaper than the fresh ones and I had a coupon.
Eggs, flour, oatmeal, swirled choco chips, raisins - my cousin has a recipe for granola bars I wanted to try out and these were a few of the ingredients
Spinach - I had a coupon
Strawberries and nuts - to go with the spinach to make a yummy salad
Tilapia - a cheap fish yum! I'm excited to try making this different ways
Mac and Cheese - 5 for $4...I give them to my neighbors when they need food or make it if I am babysitting kids at my house
Hot dogs, baked beans, and carrot chips - for a picnic next weekend
Milk - to put in coffee I make at home
Pita chips - I have some hummus left over I'd like to use and these are super yummy!
Brown sugar - I was out and like to have it on hand
Frappuchinos - These are a splurge that I buy when they are on sale...unfortunately I can't brag too much because they were only .50 off.
I'm also very proud of the fact that I remembered to bring my reusable bags! They are sturdier and I don't have paper bags all over my house!

I think that's everything for now : - )

Here's my poor attempt at food planning : - ) Like my cousin, I don't plan breakfasts, they are usually oatmeal, cereal, or just coffee.

L - leftover Carbone's
D - free picnic at the park from the local church (how nice of them!)

L - left over Jimmy's
D - potatoes with paprika and chives

L - strawberry salad
D - whatever snacks I bring to the ice rink and then snacks at small group

L - probably strawberry salad again
D - probably attempt some tilapia (pasta if its cold outside)

L - strawberry salad again? maybe chicken
D - I have class this night, so probably will grab something out quick

L - out with a friend
D - sometimes I forget to eat dinner on Fridays, so probably just some snacks before volleyball

L - at my parent's
D - picnic at friends' (bringing carrot chips and hot dogs)