living life, choosing joy

Monthly Archives: August 2013

So if there’s one thing I have learned…I’m not sure this is it! But I have found one way to help keep me sane when it comes to housework.

Two words: Morning Routine.

Simple right?

When I first tried developing a routine I got super frustrated with myself because I just wasn’t getting it and the “routine” was anything but. Then I realized I was trying to do WAY too much and call it normal. So instead, I backed off and made a simple Morning Routine that was much more attainable. It all gets done before breakfast, and seriously, it sets my day up for success and gets 5 crucial items done in a matter of 15-20 minutes.

My Morning Routine:

  1. Wipe down the bathroom counter, mirror, and toilet
  2. Get Dressed (either to exercise or to go out, depending on the day)
  3. Make Bed
  4. Start 1st load of laundry
  5. Empty dish drainer from night before

That’s it.

And I am pretty much on auto-pilot in the morning. Sometimes I get all the way to emptying the dish drainer before I even realize it!

Now, full disclosure. I am NOT perfect! Some days, for one reason or another, it just doesn’t happen. But the good thing about a routine is that missing one day doesn’t make everything fall apart, because tomorrow you know right where to pick up.

So if you feel like your day is out of control, try writing down a simple “Morning Routine” that fits your life and try it out for a few days. I promise you — it will make a difference.

Do you have a Morning Routine? If not, how would your day be different if you developed one?


Sometimes I have a weekend that is just…nice. This was definitely one of them. The weather was great, we spent lots of time with friends and family, and I even scored some great deals :). Here’s a little peek into our weekend::

I visited my cousin Kaylee last Friday. She has two little girls, Mindy & Rosie…Benjamin is right in the middle of the two (age wise).

Such a sweet photo of Benjamin and Mindy holding hands and watching TV together. They also had a fun time playing together and giggling.

 Ben & Mindy - 08.09.13

We also discovered that Benjamin LOVES cooked carrots and zucchini! Yay for team veggies!!

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I also felt industrious on Saturday morning. So when Benjamin went down for a nap, I got busy cleaning the kitchen.  I cleaned under the sink (forgot to get a picture). But I was in for a surprise when I moved the washer…

Under Washer - BEFORE


But as a bonus, I did find some lids that had gone missing :).

Under the fridge was not much better…

 Under Fridge - BEFORE

But after a bit of sweeping and scrubbing, they both looked good as new.

Under Fridge - AFTER

under the fridge, after

Under Washer - AFTER

under the washer, after

Nathan and I got together with some friends for a game night on Saturday. And I made some yummy brownies to share (recipe coming later this week!).


AND I picked up some great deals at the drugstores this weekend (you can read about my trip here).

We finished off the weekend by having dinner with my family on Sunday night…Nathan made the most delicious chicken pot pies — YUM YUM YUM!!

All in all, it was just a relaxing weekend, and I feel ready to take on the week! 🙂

So now, in an attempt to keep me on task with my annual goals of reading and projects, I have decided to share a few simple goals for this week.

Next week I will update on the progress I have made. So here goes…

1.       Read the Bible everyday (get back to following my plan for this)

2.       Finish “Don’t Waste Your Life!”, by John Piper

3.       Scan all photos from Nathan’s childhood album (and return album to his mom)

4.       Make 2 reusable bags out of old t-shirts

5.       Have one play date for Benjamin

6.       Go walking 6 days (either outdoors or on the treadmill)

7.       Pull out the Christmas stocking kit for Benjamin and read the instructions

8.       Go on a date with Nathan

How was your weekend? Do you set any weekly goals??

I was able to make a quick run to Walgreens & CVS today and pick up some great deals! A great week to stock up on Huggies wipes, tuna, and M&Ms if you need them. Also, be sure to take a look at the clearance section at Walgreens — you may just find killer deals on garden supplies (like we did!). I will be adding these into this weeks budget update on Friday, but wanted to let you know what I did (and how) today, in case you wanted to do any of these deals this week too.

Walgreens Deals

Walgreens 08.11.13

Walgreens – $12.84 out of pocket

Transaction #1

2 Scope Mouthwash – $3.00 each

1 Crest Glide Floss – $3.00

Used $2.75 in manufacturers coupons (from product inserts)

Used 5,000 Balance Rewards Points (=$5.00) from last week

Total Out Of Pocket (+tax) = $1.97, got $5 Register Rewards for buying 3 select dental care items

Transaction #2

2 Huggies Simple Clean Wipes (216 ct) – $5.99 each

4 pkg M&Ms – $0.49 each

Used (2) $2.00 off Huggies Wipes (Walgreens Store Coupon)

Used (1) $0.50 off Huggies Wipes (Manufacturer’s Coupon)

Used (2) $0.50 off 2 M&Ms Singles (Manufacturer’s – recently printing at

Used $5.00 Register Rewards from Transaction #1

Total OOP (+tax)= $4.40, got $2 Register Rewards for buying 2 Huggies wipes (unadvertised, only available Sunday 8/11)

Transaction #3

1 dozen Nice! Eggs – $0.99 (not pictured…oops!)

5 Burpee Garden Seeds – $0.29 each (on clearance, down from $1.07 each!)

2 Burpee Self-Watering Greenhouse Kits – $2.79 each (on clearance, down from $10.95 each!)

Used $2.00 Register Rewards from Transaction #2

Total OOP (+tax)= $6.47

So total Out of Pocket was $12.84, while saving $53.88!

CVS Deals

CVS - 08.11.13

CVS – $26.78 out of pocket

Transaction #1

2 pkg Huggies Size 5 Little Movers Slip-ons – $8.99 each

1 pkg Huggies Size 3 Snug & Dry – $8.99

1 Huggies One & Done Wipes (184ct) – $5.99

Used (2) $2.00 off Huggies Slip-ons (Manufacturers – recent printable at

Used (1) $1.50 off Huggies Snug & Dry (Manufacturers – recent printable at

Used (1) $1.00 off Huggies Wipes (CVS coupon printing on

Used $3.50 in Extra Care Bucks from a few weeks ago

Total OOP (+tax)= $25.76, got back $10 Extra Care Bucks

Transaction #2

5 Cans Bumble Bee Tuna – $0.79 each

1 Snickers Bar – $0.99

2 Dole Fruit Cup Four Packs – $1.99 each

1 Gallon Whole Milk – $3.19

Used (1) $0.74 off Mars Candy Bar (Printing from coupon kiosk)

Used (1) $0.35 off any Real California Product (printable)

Used (1) $1.00 off when you buy 2 Dole Fruit Cups

Used $10 ECB’s from Transaction #1

Total OOP (+ tax)= $0.02 🙂 (Now that’s my kind of total!).

Have you gotten any great deals lately?

Do you have a grocery budget? I do…but I have been struggling to stick with it for the past few months. Anyone else have this problem? I believe it’s important to have a fixed amount budgeted for monthly food & house expenses. So starting this month (Friday to be exact), I will be posting my purchases and the dollar amount I am at each week to stay motivated to stick with my budget.

As a point of reference, our budget for food, toiletries and household supplies, diapers/wipes, etc. is: $230.00 per month. (The breakdown being that $30 is strictly for diapers (but not necessarily wipes) and $200 for everything else). Our budget also resets each month on the 5th, so all purchases made August 5th- September 4th count for August.

OK, so here we are at Week 1.

Target 08.05.13

Target – $13.10

Stocked up on some basics for the week…including Snickers ice cream bars (only $0.49 + a free Redbox Rental Code!). I was able to use a lot of Target mobile coupons+Cartwheel+Manufacturers coupons to get some great deals. Sometime it just feels good to save money!

Walmart - 08.05.13

Walmart – $3.73

I was already making a return at Walmart, so I decided to use up a few coupons for freebies. I do not usually like to go to Walmart for “non-essential” items, but since I was already there, I just took advantage. The crayons ended up being $0.26 and the bath poufs were free. We needed some new notebooks (back to school time is perfect for stocking up economically), and the 3 Musketeers bars came down to having coupons and a weakness for chocolate…

Ralphs - 08.05.13

Ralphs: $6.96

I really only needed eggs for this week and I had a coupon for free eggs at Ralphs. So away I went. The eggs I am planning to use for baking and for breakfast. The mozzarella cheese is for homemade pizza this weekend. Italian dressing (was free!), and I like to use it for chicken marinades. And the Ben & Jerry’s…were on sale and I like them! Actually, I bought them with my sister(s) in mind, and intend to share with them as I don’t actually need to eat all three! But the mega sale at Ralphs this week + coupon made them $1.66 each – too good a deal to pass up! (Now hopefully I don’t regret this fun purchase by the end of the month…)

Smart & Final 8.7.13

Smart & Final: $15.61

I don’t usually go to Smart & Final, but this week had some good deals matched up with coupons, so I decided to make a trip. Since we are trying to decide if renewing our Costco membership is really worth it, I’ve been doing more careful research on the “regular” store prices. S&F had 2 lbs of cheese for $5.99 (Costco usually sells it for $5.69). So I grabbed that along with cheap peanut butter (stock up), 4 yogurt cups ($0.79 total), and a few fruits and veggies that needed restocking  (Ben LOVES bananas!).

Stater Bros 8.7.13

Stater Bros: $5.47

I kind of feel like of all the trips this week, this was probably the biggest waste. Bread was $1.49 (great price for whole wheat). But I had the wrong coupon for the cereal, so even though it was on sale for $1.99 each, I felt like I overpaid. We really like Honey Bunches of Oats, but….oh well. Not a huge disappointment, just not a very exciting deal.

Rite Aid 8.8.13

Rite Aid: $3.84

I’m not usually a Rite Aid shopper (and I’m not sure if I want to be or not!). But there is one down the street from my house and since I was looking for somewhere to walk, I decided to go down and take a look. I got a few things, but nothing fantastic. I needed some storage containers for the chicken broth I made on Wednesday. The pencil pouch was for my purse (for coupon and envelope containment). The mouthwash is because I wanted to try my hand at earning some +UP rewards…we’ll see how that goes.

Michaels: $3.69

I forgot to get a picture, but I got two black photo storage boxes for drawer organization.

Total Spent so far: $52.40

All in all, I am happy with where I am at this week. I got essentials at good prices, I was able to stock up on a few items, and I got a few fun treats too. Usually at this point I have already spent half our budget “restocking”. It feels good to have spent less than 25% so far!

Do you have a budget? How are you doing so far this month??

Goals PhotoI have been remiss in my goal updates for the past few months, and I am officially blaming the heat and the pregnancy! But I figured it’s about time to get back to it and at least update on my {little} progress this past month {or three}. So here goes…

My word for the year: YES

I chose this as my word because I really want to be more open to: change, trying new things, and to what God has in store for my life as I transition from student/employee in to staying home with the Benjamin full-time. So, when I want to say NO, but I don’t really know why (Comfort? Laziness? Close-minded-ness??) then I’m going to try and say YES instead…and see what happens. I’m kinda scared…but kinda excited too…to dare that I could be something or someone else, and NOT always be who I am right now…

{July Update: No real update here…I have let myself get wrapped up in little things and self-imposed drama and stress these past few months and have been neglecting saying “yes” to anything. I can make excuses, but it’s just me being “me”-centered, instead of allowing God to do a work in me and change that tendency of self….Wow, hopefully I will have a better update for August!}.

The rest of my goals…


1. Make Reading the Bible a priority EVERYDAY { My plan for succeeding has helped me a lot…but I got put of the habit in July, so I’m not doing too great right now…}

2. Prayerfully find a cause that breaks my heart {Ongoing…}


1. Take a Sabbath once a week {After writing out my plan to observe a Sabbath, I did very well at this one…at first. The first two Sundays in May were very successful while the last two Sunday’s were rather almost observed (we went to the store both weeks). Then…I completely fell off the wagon (so to speak) and stopped observing a Sabbath all together for the past two months. <sigh>. It’s hard to do it, but so worth it for the rest…and one I have been missing these past few weeks months.}

2. Plan Monthly Date Nights Out with Nathan {We went out once in July}

3. Be more intentional about mothering {After the morning sickness/nausea/near-death finally passed (yay!), I have been much more excited to play and read with Benjamin and keep up with him a little better. He has been enjoying our story times together, which is nice for both of us}.


1. Complete 1 Project per month (from my list, found here) {Worked on more homemade cleaners, including hand soap and glass cleaner; the dining room is mid “re-decoration” (hope to share some pictures soon!); and…that’s about as far as I’ve gotten :)}

2. Start & Maintain a Blog {still doing it!}

3. Generate Additional Monthly Income {I have been working at church the past few months, and definitely in July, helping with VBS and a few other special projects, so it was a good month for my additional income contribution!}


1. Pay off our current car payment {DONE!!!!}

2. Purchase a 2nd Car with cash {DONE!!!! FINALLY!!! I am so excited about this one!!!!}

3. Pay off Nathan’s student Loan {ongoing}


1. Learn How to Can {ongoing…I did can some Applesauce a few months ago…but I was still pretty confused about what I was doing…}.

2. Read 24 Books (see list here) that will improve my life {Completed 3 books from my list!}

How have you been doing on your goals for this year??

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