Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Frugal Valentine

Alright...I understand that the word "frugal" doesn't typically equal "romantic". But stick with me hear! If you are like me, you want to celebrate Valentine's day with your spouse (or significant other) but maybe your budget is a little tight. How do you swing a decent Valentine celebration with little extra cash when things like a simple bouquet of flowers go up in price significantly for that day alone? 

Valentine Mantle decor from our little apartment 4 years ago.

The last few Valentine's days we have skipping the fancy restaurants and expensive meals, flowers, and gifts and opted for something a little simpler. 


Yes. We ate at a fast food restaurant on Valentine's day. But there was good reason! 
Qdoba has a special promotion on Valentine's day--

If you kiss at the register you get a buy one get one free meal!

So we have basically gotten our meals on Valentine's day the last few years for half price! How great is that? isn't the most romantic location, or the most exquisite food. But its a date that isn't expensive. 

It looks like Qdoba is offering this promotion again this Valentine's day! If you have a local Qdoba you should look into whether or not they are going to have this promotion going on. 

We typically follow up our dinner with a movie, dessert, or wandering the mall with coffee for a little while. I prefer something where we can talk because with two small children at home, talking uninterruptedly is a rarity! 

I'd love to hear how you celebrate a more frugal Valentine's day. 
You can leave your ideas in the comments! 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February Currently

February is now in full swing! The ground hog didn't see his shadow, so we are hoping for an early Spring! Today I'm linking up with Gold and Bloom to share my February "Currently"! This is always a fun post to think through, write and share with you! This month I'm sharing what I am -sending-eating-dreaming-smelling-hearting. 

sending... emojis. it seems like almost every time I send a text message I am tempted to put a little smiling emoji in it. I've been trying not to do it too often that annoying for there to be a smiley with every text? yes. I think so. 

eating... less sugary treats. more fruit. blueberries in particular are my favorite right now although they are a bit more expensive than in summer months. I splurge a little every few weeks and pick up a pint for myself. 

dreaming... about Spring. This winter has been nice--warmer with one major snow. Just how I like it. Now we can move on to warmer weather and sunshine (and baby's due date)!

smelling... my morning coffee. candles (I've been lighting more around the house lately in attempt to bring a little cheer to the dreariness of winter). fretting falling rain.

hearting... Sally Clarkson's new book The Life Giving Home that I got on my doorstep yesterday. Spotify playlist Hymns for Hipsters (check it out). 

I pray you are enjoying this first week of February and looking forward to what God has in store for you and your family this month! Don't forget...its LEAP YEAR! 
Happy February!


Monday, February 1, 2016

What I Learned in January

How is January over already? Does anyone feel like the ball just dropped and the confetti has barely been cleaned up? Yep. That's me. But amazingly enough, it is over and we are all moving on into February!

One of my favorite pictures of my littles. He wanted to dance with
his big sister. 

Before I move on, I like to take time to reflect on what I have learned over the last month. Not that I can really take any credit for. It is God who has been graciously opening my eyes, showing me areas where I need to grow and blind spots I didn't know I had.  

1. REST has been so good. You'll recall that "REST" is my word for 2016 and to be honest, I didn't know how desperately I needed rest until I took some time for it. I'm not talking about sleeping all the time or being lazy (although I have given myself more grace to nap during this season) but simply creating some white space in my schedule. I've said no to things that would drain me or leave me depleted with only leftovers to give my family. I have said yes to things that fill me up and allow me to have more to give my family. I have taken more lavender baths in the last month than in the year. We have majorly slowed down as a family. We aren't running all over town on errands or just for fun. We are staying home more in the evenings and simply being together. It has been so good. My soul is so much more full. I have actually enjoyed cooking dinner on more than one occasion (typically its a rush and I don't look forward to it at all). The snow storm last week really pushed us into rest because we were snowed in for 2 days. It was glorious. the end we all had some cabin fever, but overall we just loved a slower pace. 
Only one month in and rest has filled my soul more than I could have realized. I cannot imagine what the year will be like if I am able to keep rest in my sights and continue on this path of creating space.

2. Our baby now has a title. We debated for a while over whether or not to find out the gender of baby #3. With #1 we waited until birth to find out and it was so much fun! With #2 some friends threw us a gender reveal party just a couple months before the birth and finding out with our family and friends was also extremely fun! So with #3 we were torn. But, we decided to do something different. We found out and then we revealed to our family and friends in differing ways at different times. I'm pretty sure some of them probably still don't know. We didn't want a big announcement on social media (just yet). We have taken our time telling everyone in unique little ways. We mailed most of our family and some friends a "scratch off" ticket. Some friends found out a little early because we were staying with them while our furnace was being replaced on the day we found out--so we colored some sparkling grape juice and poured it as a celebration. 
Are you curious yet? 
Baby #3 (who will arrive in May) has the title of....

little sister. 

My E-girl has been praying for a little sister, so we are all excited, but she is ecstatic! 

3. Slow mornings are my favorite. I just really enjoy a good, slow morning. Savoring the coffee in my cup, reading, journaling, NOT having to get up and get out the door early. Just relaxing and enjoying. Most days that doesn't happen. Most days are pretty full...getting E to pre-school, heading to doctor's appointments, making sure the pantry is stocked and picking up other household essentials. But those days when I sleep past my alarm, soak up the morning sun streaming through the windows, slowly sip the coffee from my mug and maybe even make pancakes for my family (rather than cereal or oatmeal), those are mornings that make me feel at peace. Those are the mornings I look forward to! 

4. There are several new dinner options that my family really enjoys! In the last month, I have found a couple new recipes that my family really seems to enjoy. This makes me happy. It is so easy to get into a rut when it comes to meal planning and I am always happy to find a new recipe (or two) that my family will eat and enjoy! One of them is Italian Chicken and Quinoa Soup. It is extremely easy and is made in the crock pot! My kids aren't huge soup fans, but when given a sandwich or something to dip in it, they love it. San Fransisco Style Pork Chops served with mashed potatoes and green beans--HIT! Like, out-of-the-park-home-run-HIT! Hubs really loves it and the kids gobble it up! A friend made them for us and I got the recipe from her. I have made the recipe at least 2-3 times since she gave it to me because I haven't met a person who doesn't like it! 

5. Creating beautiful spaces bring me joy. I think I have known this for a while, but I am realizing its depth. I have wrestled with finding what God has created me to do, doing it, and serving others with it. While I sometimes enjoy cooking, cooking is not life-giving to me. Yes. I will serve others with food when that is necessary, but it doesn't get my heart beating rapidly. Caring for children (whether nursery at church, babysitting for friends, etc) is not life-giving to me. But both of those things are BIG ways women typically serve within a church context. That a music--I love music as well but in this season I don't have the time to invest in my piano playing to be able to do it well and truly serve others with it. So I wrestled with how God wired me. How did he create me to serve the body? What makes me come alive when I'm doing it? And how can I use it to serve others?
Since reading The Nester's book, I have seen just how much creating beautiful, peaceful spaces in my home has given life to me as well as my family and friends who come to spend time here. But I never saw it as ministry...until today. Yes. Today.

I am hosting an IF:Local gathering this weekend at our church. Its the third year we have done one, but we are actually decorating and trying to create a place of comfort and peace that allows the women coming to feel comfortable and safe....kind of like sitting in a friend's living room with a warm cup of coffee. So I have been dreaming and scheming decorating ideas for a little more than a week. Today I shopped my house and gathered some of my favorite things to decorate with. We are keeping decorating simple--candles, twinkle lights, lanterns, items from nature--but beautiful. While I was gathering my candles and lanterns and dreaming of where they would go in the welcome center of the church, it hit me...this is what I am made to do. AND I am loving and serving others by doing it! God has given me a way to use my creativity to bring beauty, joy, comfort to other ladies this weekend. When I finally saw it as a service and not just a hobby, it filled my soul! Now, I don't know what using this gift for the church looks like outside of this weekend, but I know I am supposed to because God created that love for creating beauty within me. 

6. A cup of coffee might just make me cry. I'm going to be really honest here for a minute (**note--if you don't like raw honesty you can skip this last one**). Mondays are usually hard for me, but today was beyond hard. Before we had even had lunch the day felt heavier than I could bare. Too many things going on "behind the scenes" and trials that my family is walking through. I know so much of it is a spiritual battle leading up to IF:Local this weekend. There's not a doubt in my mind that my soul's enemy is trying to shake me, distract me, and discourage me this week as I seek to gather women, pray, worship, and have our hearts challenged and freed by the work of Jesus. I felt overwhelmed. I cried half the morning (maybe some pregnancy hormones at work here too). Then I got a text from one of my "IF girls" (that's how I refer to the girls who have been with me in the IF:gathering vision since the first one) sent a text

"my shirt (along with a goodie) is on your porch. Purple table..."

I was expecting her to drop off a shirt for this weekend and I think my mind totally dismissed the "along with a goodie" part because when I opened the door I was only expected a bag with her shirt in it. Instead, there was also a little snack and cup of coffee. Yep. I definitely cried. Who knew something so simple would be so meaningful on a day like today! God knew. He prompted her. She listened. And I am so thankful. Friends like these girls are one of God's greatest answers to prayer in my life. I prayed for heart knit together like this...knowing one another deeply...walking through life with one another in the mundane little things not just the exciting or hard big things. This was one of those mundane little things in life that God used to show me he has heard my prayers for women like this in my life. He has answered. He is gracious.

I'm sure there are many more things I have learned over the last month. And I pray I continue learning lessons in my life both big and small. I hope God never stops showing me my need and his grace.

Check out all the other "What I learned" posts over at Chatting at the Sky

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