Monday, April 30, 2012

Nature

Why do weekends go by so fast?  It doesn't seem fair!  Other than the severe weather that passed through, it was relaxing.


Tyler grilled hamburgers for lunch on our "apartment-sized" gas grill we got from our friends Nathan and Heather for our wedding (I think that's a reallllly long run-on sentence).  It was the first time we used it, and it worked wonderfully!






Tyler and I jaunted out early Saturday afternoon.  I had looked up where some of the Farmer's Markets were around the city, and there was one that wasn't too far from us.  While the website said to come early on Saturday morning for the best selection, we were only window shopping.


There are things you don't see everyday, like this:  




(I have no idea what it is.)


The Farmer's Market was cute!  There wasn't a whole lot offered at 2 pm, but it was still fun to look!  There was lots of fruit!




They also had lots of pretty flowers!






I absolutely LOVE butterflies!!  They've been my favorite since 5th grade.  They're so beautiful!




After we left, we went to the World Bird Sanctuary.  It was so cool!  They had all sorts of owls and birds.  We even saw 3 bald eagles!


This one I took for Leah--she loves penguins and this reminded me much of a penguin. :]


The snow owl was pretty, too!



Bald eagles.  Pretty sweet.



They had an awesome train on display, too.



They had a nature center, which I would have been all for going to check out...except they had reptiles on display there. ICK!  Tyler said it was kinda depressing that I hate snakes so much...'cause he thinks they're cool.  Uh, what?!?!  Someone, please talk some sense into him!!!!  I can't look at them.  They are scary and they freak me out.  Anytime I see one I pretty much cry.  The best kind of snake is a dead one...and I don't care if it's illegal.


Anyway, there was a park next to this Bird Sanctuary so we went.  I thought it was a "get out of the car and play" kind of park.  No.  It was called the Lone Elk Park.  It was pretty much all nature.  So we drove around a pond/lake and saw some people.  Then we see a sign that says Bison Area ahead or Park Exit left.  Tyler asked which way I wanted to go...of course I said the Bison Area.  I wanted to see some real bison!  Tyler had said they probably just named the area so people could find you in the park.  I thought that made sense...until we got to the Bison Area.


The sign said "Stay in vehicles at all times.  Bison have been known to damage vehicles."  Uh, what???  So we drive around and see a bunch of trees.  We're driving probably 5 mph.  There was another vehicle in front of us, and pretty soon they stop in the middle of the road.  So I figured they saw something we hadn't seen.  Sure enough, right down the hill were about 5 or 6 bison! Holy cow bison!


That was cool!  We kept driving and pretty soon we came across this:




No, I didn't zoom in.  Let me show you one more time:




It was WAY cool!! And this is just 5 minutes from where we live!! Awesome!  On our way out, we saw some deer.  And I was lucky to capture this shot...it looks like it was photoshopped...I promise it wasn't!




It was a wonderful weekend.  I love the weekends, because it's just my husband and me.  Spending them with each other makes me remember how blessed I am.  He's my best friend and the one I want to take on city adventures with. :]


**9 months ago, we said "I do."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If I Were a Rich Man...

You know what I love?  Talking about saving money.  Wanna know what I love even more?  Actually saving money.  :] 


Well, this is a blog about being a wife.  It's about my learning experiences.  It's about my failures.  It's about being real.  


We've been in St. Louis for 4 weeks and I've been looking for a job.  I keep applying, but I feel like I'm getting nowhere fast.  I did have one interview, and it felt like a bust.  I haven't heard back, so I keep applying.  When we were in OKC, we didn't have to pay rent or utilities, so that was a financial relief to us. We got a lot of Tyler's school paid off and we are happy about that.


Last night, we put ourselves on a budget diet.  With only one income and bills to pay, we realized that we have got to cut back in our spending.  Being on a budget isn't embarrassing.  Not to me.  It's about being smart with our finances.


Being on a budget means planning.  It means more planning than usual.  I'm fairly good at meal planning for the week, but a lot of times we spontaneously go out to eat.  So we called a "budget planning meeting" last night and talked out what we are spending our money on and what we can cut back.  Moving to a new city comes with a cost.  There are so many things we have paid for up front, so looking towards the future we want to be smart with our spending.


The first thing we did was calculate what Tyler made each month.  Then we budgeted our tithe for the month.  I think this is very important because everything we own is God's.  He gave us life, and all He asks is for us to give him 10%.  When in financial crises, I fully believe that when you tithe He will bless you in return.  We want to acknowledge Him first.


From there we made a couple of decisions:

  • We will not eat out in a restaurant for 4 weeks unless it's planned and budgeted for.
  • We will not watch movies in a theater for 4 weeks unless it's planned and budgeted for.
  • We will only pay for gas on plastic.  Nothing else.
  • We will go to the ATM on the Fridays that Tyler gets paid and will get cash for groceries and our allowance for 2 weeks.
  • I will plan meals for 7 days a week rather than 5 or 6 days a week.
  • I will work harder at getting back into couponing, and will find the best deals on food for the week.
I know that I've been handed everything I could have wanted growing up.  Things have come easy for me.  I'm not saying this to brag.  Not at all.  Please don't take it that way.  I'm saying that this may be my time to "struggle" a little.  It is really stressful because I haven't found a job.  I keep getting email replies saying that the company isn't interested in me.  It's humbling.  It's stressful paying bills:  "Hello real life."  It's not easy being married sometimes, because there are things to worry about (I'm not necessarily worried about this, just being real).

Things don't always go our way in life.  Sometimes we need to plan for the unexpected, and we are trying to do just that.  I will update you as we carry on our journey.  We will probably re-evaluate in 4 weeks to see how the first month went. :]

Honestly, budgeting doesn't seem that bad.  I'll let you know in 4 weeks!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Have a Terminal Illness

I am so thankful to have had this weekend with my husband.  We had absolutely nothing planned.  Today we went to church and had a very relaxing day at home.  It was so nice.


We visited a church this morning and I was humbled, yet again.  Yes, I am a Christian.  I try to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God.  I don't drink.  I don't smoke.  I don't do drugs.  I try to say pleasing and uplifting things.  Yes, in a way, non-Christians (and Christians) can look at my life and think it's perfect.  Wanna know something?  It's not perfect!  I mess up a lot!   I've failed tests; I yell at my family; I break things; I sometimes say hurtful things.  I'm not proud of these things at all.


In general, most people think they are good people.  The preacher talked us through the 10 Commandments and told us to keep track of the ones we haven't broken.  You can find these in Exodus 20, but if you need a refresher, here they are:


1.  Don't have any other gods before Him.
2.  Don't make any graven images (idols).
3.  Don't take the Lord's name in vain.
4.  Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5.  Honor your father and mother.
6.  Don't murder.
7.  Don't commit adultery.
8.  Don't steal.
9.  Don't lie.
10.  Don't covet.


I failed.  Miserably.  In order to get a passing grade, you must have received a 6 out of 10.  Let's just say I didn't even make a 50%.  Bob Russell states, "When we compare our lives with the straight edge of the law, we realize how sinful we are!"  So true.  I realized this in church this morning going through those commandments.


Thinking about how I've acted in my past humbles me.  I can't go back and undo any of my sin.  In fact, I have a terminal problem, and it's going to kill me.  


Romans 6:23 says,
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."


I deserve eternal damnation.  So does each and every person.  It doesn't matter how many rules we keep.  It doesn't matter how many laws we don't break.  We will not get into heaven just by doing good things!  You might be thinking, "Well, dang!  That really sucks!"  But I have good news for you!  God made it SO much easier on us to be able to spend eternity with Him, rather than having to keep a running tally of all the good things you've done.


God sent his son to earth to be perfect and to die for me and you!  Jesus lived all 30-some years on this earth completely sin free.  Then He died a slow, painful death on a cross.  He took our punishment for us.  Because of this, God gives us the gift of grace.  


Grace = God's riches at Christ's expense.  (I learned that today. :])


Grace is receiving something that you don't deserve.  Well, clearly in Romans 6:23, we don't deserve eternal life with God.  I have to be perfect to stand in the presence of God.  Only through Christ's death are we made pure and blameless.  What an amazing gift!  Do you know of anyone else who would send their son to die for you and take the blame for something you did?  I sure don't.


I owe my life to Christ.  He took my place on that cross.  I should be going to Hell because of my sin, but instead, I have received the Grace that God offers to every single person.  


I try to live my life in a way that honors God because that's the very least I can do for a man who died for me.  I no longer choose to be a slave to sin, but I choose to be a slave to Christ!  I am eternally grateful for the gift of Salvation.  I'm grateful for the gift of grace.


I'm not perfect.  But I know the One who is.  He wants more than my rule-keeping.  He wants my heart.

Friday, April 20, 2012

No Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Today is Friday again, and that means it's time for me to share a recipe with you.  I actually made these last week, but I was busy getting all the shower things ready to go that I didn't have time to stop and blog about it.  These turned out really well, and it's a good thing too.  Tyler eats granola bars almost every day.


Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats (not rolled oats)
  • 1 cup rice krispies
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp mini chocolate chips

Directions:
In a large bowl, stir the oats and the rice krispies together and set aside.


In a small pot, melt the butter, honey, and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it bubbles.  


Reduce the heat, and cook 2 minutes.  Pour in vanilla and stir.


Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all of the ingredients.



Pour into lightly greased jelly pan. (I thought it would work better in an 8x8 pan, and it worked very well.)  Press it all together, as it's supposed to be about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Pressing them down is important because it makes it all stick together.


Sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips and press them down as well.


Let the pan cool on the counter for about 2 hours (or until the chocolate chips are set). 


 Cut into bars and wrap them in plastic wrap.  (If they are falling apart as you're cutting them, put them in the refrigerator for a little bit before trying again.)


I put them in a storage container and just store them in my pantry.


The recipe made 10 bars, and they keep very well.  It was an easy recipe and an easy money saver!  Happy cooking!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Cleaning Goals

Well, last week I didn't get a whole lot of anything done because I was busy preparing for the shower.  I made all the decorations, so I was trying to play catch-up.  This week I hope to be more productive, and my goals have more of a "spring cleaning" feel to them.


Last week's goals were these:
1.  Deep clean my car!  (Honestly, I don't remember the last time I did this.)
2.  Try to make homemade granola bars!
3.  Make a cleaning schedule.
4.  Find 7 things every day to put in the giveaway pile (or just throw out).
5.  Work on the bridal shower.
6.  Find a bank!  This is a MUST!!!
7.  Keep applying for jobs.


I met most of the goals, but didn't do some that I meant to get done (like clean out my car).  I've been reading Money Saving Mom's blog again.  She has the coolest cleaning schedule.  April is focused on spring cleaning and I've been trying loosely following her schedule.  It is a fantastic idea, and you can read her blog here.  Each day she gives her readers a new task to do and she posts about her findings and results.  The biggest thing I've been trying to follow is to find 7 things each day to get rid of.  I've got quite the giveaway pile so far.


This week's goals are:
1.  Deep clean my car.
2.  Make a cleaning schedule.
3.  Find 7 things each day to give away.
4.  Keep applying for jobs.
5.  Clean and organize my craft room/dining room.
6.  Clean and organize our office.
7.  Meal plan for the next couple of weeks.
8.  Get Tyler to list several items on Craigslist or eBay.


Happy Monday, everyone and good luck on your own weekly goals!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mackenzie's Bridal Shower

Yesterday was Mackenzie's Bridal Shower and it was a wonderful time!  I hadn't seen her since December, when we parted our ways and she moved to North Carolina and I moved to Oklahoma City.  It was a fantastic reunion!


I am so excited for her as she starts the journey of being a wife.  I know that God has big plans for her and Jason, and I'm thrilled to see where He will take them. I wanted to share a few photos from the shower.


The beautiful Bride:



The buffet table:


I made chalkboards to go with her Country Chic theme:


The cake table:


Up close of the cookies (courtesy of Honey Pot Catering):


The beautiful flower centerpieces that my momma made (I made the pinwheels):


The wonderful cream cheese mints (my first attempt and they were perfect): 


The gorgeous cake (courtesy of Honey Pot Catering in Lamar):








The beverage station (flavored glass bottled pop, tea, and lemonade):



The gift table:



The Bride and I:




Pam (mother of the bride), The Bride, and Hayley (sister of the bride):




I was honored to be able to plan her shower along with my momma, and everything came together nicely.  It was a wonderful time, and I'm so glad she got to spend time with some family and friends.  It was a beautiful day with beautiful ladies, all who have a beautiful love for my dear friend.  I'm incredibly blessed to have Mackenzie in my life, and I know she will be a blessing to her new husband and family.


Mackenzie, I love you.  I wish you and Jason the best as you start your journey together. :]

Monday, April 9, 2012

Goals

This week I'm going to try to be more intentional about getting my goals met.  Last week I met most of them, but I didn't do the ones that I really need to do.  Why does that always happen?

Here's a recap of last week's goals:

1.  Start Bible Study.
2.  Job search and apply!
3.  Update my resume and cover letter.
4.  Enjoy our new couch! (It gets delivered tomorrow!)
5.  Eat healthy.
6.  Drink water (I hate water, so this is definitely a goal.)
7.  Design an amortization schedule for paying the school loan off (we're getting closer).
8.  Make next week's meal plan and grocery list.
9.  Cut my coupons and organize my coupon binder.
10.  Work on things for Mackenzie's shower!! 
11.  Find a "for-sure" bank!

This week I have only a few goals.  This is because Mackenzie's shower is on Saturday, and I'm wanting it to be perfect for her.  So I have a lot of things I need to get done for that.

1.  Deep clean my car!  (Honestly, I don't remember the last time I did this.)
2.  Try to make homemade granola bars!
3.  Make a cleaning schedule.
4.  Find 7 things every day to put in the giveaway pile (or just throw out).
5.  Work on the bridal shower.
6.  Find a bank!  This is a MUST!!!
7.  Keep applying for jobs.


Have a great week!

Happy Resurrection Day!

What a wonderful weekend!! But it went by way too fast!!  Why do weekends do that?  Tyler and I drove to Lamar on Friday night.  We stayed up late talking with the family, as everyone was home.  On Saturday, we were going to shoot, but it started raining.  So my mom and I worked on Mackenzie's bridal shower plans and the boys went out working for a bit.  That night, we had my aunt and uncle over with their girls.  It was a fun time with some good food.  It was great to catch up because we're hardly home at the same time.


Here's a photo from that night!  Uncle Mike likes to fly (in real life), and it was so funny to see him flying this Wii plane!  I think he mostly enjoyed trying to dive bomb the different things on the game. :]




Molly and Mom played the Just Dance game...quite hilarious, but a great workout!






A couple of weeks ago, Applesauce (our dog) got in a fight with a neighbor dog who's twice the size of him.  Applesauce is a very gentle dog.  He doesn't fight, and he barks at things because he's afraid of them.  Well, the dog got him pretty bad and he had to go to the vet.  He got to stay inside for a few days, and for some reason he likes to lay in my room.  So I found him on Saturday all nestled in my pillows.  You can kinda see where he had to be shaved on his front leg.  He was so cute. :]




After church on Sunday, Tyler and I finally got to shoot guns. :]  I found out that I like his gun better than my own...hate it when that happens.  But my gun is small and I like the idea of the size to conceal.  We had a little friendly competition and it was fun! I did get a blood blister as a battle wound.


We went to Granny's for lunch.  We had an Easter egg hunt that Molly and I took part in.  We also declared that we got a head start. :]




Most of the boys went fishing, and Grandpa would have been right there with them if he were here.  The girls showed up a little bit later to see what they got.  My in-laws came and shared the day with us, so of course Russel was with them fishing away! :]  






Tyler caught a really big fish right after I gave the pole back to him.  I'm glad I didn't catch it because I think it would have pulled me in the pond!




We ended the weekend by breaking up, yet another fight between Applesauce and the neighbor dog.  It really upset me because this dog had Applesauce pinned to the ground and as many times as we kicked her, she wouldn't get off of him.  I don't think people can understand the love for dogs (and the love dogs have for their owner) unless they have one.  Applesauce has been in our family for 13 years and he's like another brother to me.  I didn't want to see him hurt, and this time it wasn't near as bad.  He was just scared, and it was really hard to get him out of my car to go inside.  Hopefully he'll be alright.


I'm grateful for a weekend with family.  I'm so thankful that we all share the common bond of Jesus Christ.  We celebrate His resurrection from the grave, and rejoice that HE IS ALIVE!  One day, we will stand face to face with our Savior.  I don't know what I will say, but I don't think a "Thank you" will ever be enough.


I hope you had a "Happy Resurrection Day" with your family and loved ones!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hamburger Rotel

Back to Friday's Fabulous Foods!!  This week I'm sharing with you my favorite casserole ever!!  I always ask my mom to make it when I come home.  It's called Hamburger Rotel...I actually make it as "Chicken Rotel," but this week I didn't have chicken.  You can use either one, really.


Chicken (Hamburger) Rotel
Ingredients:
3-4 chicken breasts (or 2 big cans of canned chicken) OR 1 lb of hamburger
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese
1 can rotel
1 can milk
1 pkg. corn tortillas






Directions:
Brown the hamburger until it's done (or cook the chicken).  Drain the grease.




In a separate bowl, combine the soups, milk, and rotel.  I use the mild rotel, because Tyler and I are babies when it comes to spicy foods.  You can use whatever flavor you'd like.  Just use a can to use as a guide for the milk. :]












Then in a 9x13 baking dish, tear the corn tortillas and place them in the bottom of the dish.  If you're using chicken, I'd recommend spraying the bottom of the pan with nonstick spray.  Hamburger has the grease to help keep it from sticking (even after draining it).


This time I used 16 total corn tortillas.  We've been trying to eat healthier at our house, and I portioned the tortillas.  However you can use however many you'd like.




Then pour in half the soup mixture in the pan, and mix in the meat.






Then tear more tortillas, add the rest of the soup mixture, and top with cheese.




Bake at 350 until it's bubbly (which is anywhere from 35-40 minutes in my own oven). :]  Enjoy!!