farmer's market fun

I have a new guilty pleasure.  It's our local farmer's market.  So wonderful! We recently purchased, Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution.  I knew these books were pretty amazing, but had no idea just how amazing until we bought it and I started reading it cover to cover, literally.  This book has completely changed how I will grocery shop and the specific foods that we will put on our table.  (And let me just add that you will want to buy this on Amazon....much cheaper!)

Some wake-up call bits of information I've learned:
*organic fruits to buy vs. fruits to not worry about buying organic
*specific reasons on why to buy grass-fed beef (wow! cows with stomach ulcers, intestinal issues, etc. for being fed only grain, corn, and animal buy-products....no thank you.  I won't support farmers that do that and I won't allow my family to eat that.)
*poultry with higher fat content than actual protein due to not being free-range and not being exposed to enough sunlight (yes, this is your typical chicken you purchase at the grocery store)

Back to the farmer's market.  We live in a wonderful small town.  Some people would call this the boonies.....that's fine by me.  However, with the crazy growth in this town lately...I'm thinking quite a few people have ventured out to the boondocks to settle down.  This little town booms.  And it especially booms on the weekends.  Last summer Justin and I started going to the local farmer's market that is off of our main street, nestled under the huge trees on our courthouse lawn.  I thought it was neat then.  The food looked yummy.  We enjoyed the atmosphere.  However, this summer...I'm going in with a whole new attitude! Purchasing food here not only helps our these wonderful local farmers....but it also helps out the one body that God so graciously supplied us with here on this earth.

This Saturday morning we met our dear friends, Chad and Cheri, at our local farmer's market.  What a fun way to spend a Saturday morning! Beyond the fun found in these pictures below...I also loved watching young kiddos flock to the sample table where the local farmers were cutting huge chunks of fruits and veggies for sampling.  (Oh my...so good, I might add!) I loved seeing these little sweeties running to eat things so good for them.  It just shows that if it's available and they're exposed.....they'll try it!

baskets of yummies

courthouse lawn

My plan is to buy all our veggies and fruits from the farmer's market this summer....beyond things we don't have in our own garden (we were slow going with our garden this year).  We even purchased some free-range brown eggs.  You can even buy fresh poulty frozen and ready to cook with! Can't wait to try that!

love the vibrant colors...just screams "healthy"

(If you're wondering about trying this out and how it can fit in the grocery budget...all of this cost us $17 [all organic...and the chicken is free-range]....just a few dollars more than what it would cost at the grocery story...not organic.  We felt like it was definitely worth it for the quality of the products and knowing exactly where and how these were grown.  I love knowing our money is going to the "little people".)

Oh how summer is so full of fun things like fresh fruits and veggies and Saturday morning trips to the local farmer's market.  \
Thank you Lord for the sweet gift of summer.

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miscellany monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters
One--I'm double dipping in this miscellany monday because I also just adore A Frugal Friend's Mailbox Monday.  (I've always been a multi-tasker...I hope linking up double isn't a bloggy faux pa!) Check out what I got in my mailbox the past couple weeks for FREE!

-gobs of pantene shampoo and conditioner
-lotion samples w/ spf!
-FREE coupon for mac and cheese
-Prilosec samples
(I pass these on to my grandpa...love being able to give away freebies!)
-cascade dish detergent actionpacs (LOVE these!)
-John Frieda samples
-P&G coupon booklet
-Dr. Scholl's shoe insert (ummm...but who can use just a righty?)
-my beloved TOMS I won thanks to Lindsey's fabulous giveaway!
 I ordered the olive color and they truly do go with anything.

Two--Does the annoying "on-hold" music bother anyone else as much as it does me? Oh my...that's enough to get me started on the wrong foot with the person about to pick up on the other end.  Needless to say, I was very kind to "Michelle" when she explained tonight on the phone just why our mortgage payment had mysteriously gone up....lovely little surprise.

Three--Did you know? that you can get permanent marker off a whiteboard by using a dry erase marker? Well I didn't but one of my smart 4th graders did.  One of my little sweeties (we will say) accidentally (I hope) wrote on our board with a permanent marker.  Well my smart student took a dry erase marker, traced directly over the box drawn with permanent marker, grabbed the eraser and erased the line....walla! The permanent marker mark was gone!

Four--I rearranged my kitchen counter tops this weekend.  Why do I have the crazy need to do that so often?! But it does make me happy!

Five--We are sweating like crazy in our house....our AC unit is out...the 90 degree temps sorta snuck up on us.  Thankfully a nice AC guy is coming to fix the problem soon.  Until then....we are loving box fans!

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pretty peonies

One of my sweeties brought me these gorgeous peonies from her farm.  They were so gorgeous I couldn't leave them at school.  I have been crazy over these flowers recently...I have eyed them in every yard I pass when I'm in the car.  I was so excited when she brought these to my desk! (Yes, simple things get me very excited.)  I have to plant some of these! I love their elegant, soft, full blooms.  Just gorgeous. 
Gotta love getting flowers from students....beats an apple any day for this teacher!

Fresh flowers add an instant glow to a room.  My favorite places to add some bright blooms....our kitchen table, the kitchen window, and the dresser in our master bedroom. 

Happy Friday!

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the famous question

Recently I have been getting this question from just about everyone that knows me:

"So...what are you gonna do this summer?"

And really...you can't get the tone of this question through bloggy world.  But know that this question is always asked with a tad bit of a tone...a tone that bugs me to be honest.  But I know that people just care and want to know just what an individual does when they have a couple months where they aren't "working".

Here's what I'm not going to do that so many people seem to think that teachers should do with this time off....take on another job and work because I have this "off" time.  period.

Justin and I are at an understanding that as long as God is blessing us with our jobs the way he is, we're not going to stress each other out by expecting the other one to take on a second job during their "off season."  (Justin has a lot of days off in the winter due to his career being outside.)  Of course this can always change according to God's direction and will for our lives.  But that's where we are right now.  We take this time as blessings where our home is less stressful, we can make money here and there on our little side-hobbies, and it is a gift of time to focus on our relationship and faith.

But now that I'm stepping off my soapbox, I do want to share my little list of "to-do's" or "hope-to's" for this summer...

-make homemade treats for Boone
-explore nearby shelters and non-profits for ways I can serve and places I can bless with some of these freebies and great deals I find
-start an exercise routine....daily walks/jogs with Boone and.....hello 30-day shred
-daily bible reading and studying
-read books from my reading list here
-starting a little writing project that's been on my heart
-start my etsy shop
-add curtains to our living room and bedroom
(can't wait to pass-on this thrifty, adorable idea I have found from another blogger)
-paint our office and kitchen
(the kitchen involves taking down gross wallpaper...any tips out there for me?)
-get away with Justin for a mini vacay

I'm sure I'll add more.  But that should suffice for the "down" time.  Oh my soul is longing for it right now....
8 days!

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walgreens 5 dollar challenge....game on!

Since joining the world of coupons, I have learned that Walgreens is often our best friend when it comes to getting freebies and personal care items at very cheap prices.  Alyssa at Keeping the Kingdom First features a weekly $5 Walgreens challenge on her blog.  Simple rules: You can only pay $5 or less out of pocket for your items.  With Walgreens' great register rewards deals....it's easy to get the hang of this.

Here are my purchases from this past week:

-TUF Towel
$0.49 with Walgreens' in-ad coupon

-Pantene shampoo and Pantene hairspray (both from their new line of products)
$2.50 each
Used two $1/1Pantene coupons from inserts and then I received a $2 register reward to be used toward my next trip to Walgreens
(Really it's like my two products were $1.50 each...and this deal is still on for this week!)

-20 oz. Diet Coke (to get me through my night class)

*Used a $5 register reward from previous Walgreens trip
*Paid $2.62 out of pocket including tax
*Received $2 RR (register reward) to use toward next trip

Here is my $5 challenge plan for this week:

-One Oscar Mayer Deli Creations $1.99 with in-ad coupon....
use $1/1 coupon from 5/16 SmartSource inserts making this $0.99
-Old Spice High Endurance Body wash for $4.49 (this will give you a $4.49 RR making this FREE)
-cheapo filler item at $1.50 or less (possibly candy by the register or another quick snack or drink for class)

*I will use my $2 RR from last week making this right under $5 plus I will get a $4.49 RR to use next week!


Walgreens tips:

-You can use a Walgreens coupon and a MC (manufacturer's coupon) on an item

-Walgreens coupons can come from their monthly coupon booklets (found in the store) or from their weekly ads (you can also get these in the store and they come in the Sunday paper)....they even have some online coupons

-Hand over your coupons in the following order: register rewards, manufacturer coupons, then Walgreens coupons (if not the register will beep and the cashier will probably look blankly at you and the register...no offense to them...it just seems to always play out that way)

-Have the same number of items you have coupons or more items than you have coupons (the register is a tricky little dude, huh?)

-Plan your trip ahead and make sure your coupons and Register Rewards aren't worth more than your items...I have never had luck with them changing a coupon amount or RR amount to make my total zero...that's where "filler items" come into play...cheap items to make your total atleast a few cents so that you are able to use all your coupons

-Register Rewards (RRs) are like an in-store credit.  These will print out after you check out and they can be used on your next transaction (even if you choose to do more than one transaction in the same visit).

-There is almost always at least one deal in the Walgreens ad where you will get an RR that is worth the same value of the item so that it basically makes an item free...use a coupon on the item when you buy it...and it's like you're getting it for free plus making money to use next time.
Example:  I buy body wash for $2.99 that is giving a $2.99 RR but have a $1/1 coupon...I only pay $1.99 for the body wash, but a $2.99 RR will still print out.  Yay! It's like making $1. 

-Search great blogs like Deal Finding Chik and Money Saving Mom for great Walgreens match-ups to find the best deals each week.

My final tip is to be patient if you're new to this.  I started out knowing nothing about how to shop for the best deals at Walgreens.  I really never even shopped there.  However, we live literally a minute away from one, and it is so convenient to shop their for our personal care items.  Just keep trying and keep planning your trips ahead of time.....and you'll be having money-saving success quickly!

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miscellany monday....yay!

One--We finally decided this weekend to sell my car.  I wrote a letter to it here if you're interested in the history I've had with my car and our little "spiff" right now.  The best part of this....we're not making payments and we're not going in debt for this.  I'll clue you in on all the details on how to get on track yourself to do this once we work through all the details and the new gently used, shiny, automobile is parked in our little bungalow's driveway.

Two--I'm slowly attempting to get over my like obsession of Diet Coke.  I so love the bubbly, fizzy goodness of this drink.  Boo to that nasty fake sugar i'm pumping into my body, though.  I mean really...it causes awful headaches when weaning myself from it...doesn't that say enough in itself about the crud I've been drinking for the last 7 or 8 years of my life? My alternatives....water and unsweetened tea with lemon.  I am convinced I will get my diet to the place I want it to be before trying to get pregnant in a few years...not when we're already there.

Three--My puppy is scared of me.  Seriously.  I am the "meany parent" that gives him his flea and heartworm medication each month.  For some reason now, that's all he thinks I want when I tell him to "sit".  He lowers his ears, tucks his tail between his legs, hunkers down, and fastly walks to the nearest table to get underneath and hide from me.  Used to it was just when I started to get into the cabinet where he knew his medicine was....but now....he associates the word "sit" coming out of my mouth with, "oh no...mean mommy is ready to give me that nasty medicine."  I would probably hide from my mom too if I thought she was going to put nasty oily stuff down the whole spine of my back.  Justin loves this and the fact that he now gives his daddy more loving and has recommended Boone and I take time to really bond this summer and build our relationship back up.

Four--After today, I have 9 days left of teaching this year.  I am beyond ready to let one of my kiddos tear that final link off of our summer countdown paper chain.  I jump for joy inside each afternoon when we take one more off the chain before going to the buses.  Don't get me wrong...I will probably cry like a baby on that last day of school when all of us teachers stand outside and wave to the buses as the kiddos leave us for the summer...because I'll be waving to my first group of kiddos that I have taught for two straight years in a row.  I know them so well and, in a way, I feel like I have sorta raised them during the days the past two years.  We do spend more time in the classroom than at home.  But oh my do I need a time of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Five--I love randoms! And I love that the sweet Carissa at lowercase letters by carissa graham. has opened up her "miscellany monday" to other bloggers out there in bloggy world.  Go check it out and link up too! It's always fun to be a part of a little bloggy party.

Blessings on your miscellany!

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weekend joys

We've had a great weekend! What a treat it is to get to relax and spend time with the great people in my life to get away from the stress of the week right now.

Friday night was a fun time celebrating this sweet man:

This is my Papa.  He turned 87 on Friday and we celebrated at my Mom and Dad's.  What an inspiration he is! He was a prisoner of war in WWII, tells stories on living on beans the entire time he was there, and his parents were told to assume he wouldn't return from war.  I can't even imagine.  He is one of six, grew up on a farm, and had four children with my grandma...my dad being the baby.  Papa continues to mow our farm every week, tills the fields on his tractor, and refuses to sit still for too long even when his legs are weak and you can tell he's in pain.  I used to think it was such a treat when he would come to stay with us overnight sometimes when I was little, and then when the little house my dad grew up in, that my grandpa continued to live in...one of those real life "paved paradise and put up a parking lot" situations because the "airport needed more space" and ordered Papa and all his neighbors to move...he migrated to just a few houses down from where I grew up.  I grew up with Papa one way down the road and my mom's parents right next door the other way down the road.  It is such a sweet treasure to hear his stories and his wisdom.  I only hope I am as dedicated to my family and "keeping moving" as he is when I'm 87. 

We also were treated to some of my mom's homegrown strawberries after the birthday party.  She's proud of them..and she should be! They are so yummy that I'm now motivated to start growing my own strawberries! (And this amazing woman is pondering about starting her own blog.  I'll let you know when she does, because you'll want to check it out.  My writing genes came from her.  Mom--since you'll read this--once again, I say "go for it"! Post idea already--how to grow great strawberries.)

And then on Friday night to top off the entire evening, we saw fireflies for the first time this season! I love these little bugs and God's magnificent creation that literally twinkles through them.  How amazing is our God, that he created a bug that would light up the night sky and flicker his love around us each evening in the warmer spring and summer nights.  Love that!

Little sidetrack...
This firefly jar is similar to one we had on some of our tables at our wedding reception.  It was one of those "must-haves" when our florist showed them to us.  Yes, I love these little bugs that much!

Saturday included a church yard sale that lasted from 7am to 4pm on the lawn of our church as we had a community health fair inside our sanctuary.  My mom organized it and I was the cashier all day at the yard sale.  What a fun event and neat time to meet and come in contact with so many people in the community all at the same time of great fellowship with my church family.

And today has been a lazy day.  Thank you Lord for lazy days!

 I hope your weekend has been as blessed as our's.  Blessings to you as you begin your week!

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timely tips

Our household is totally "out of whack" right now.  Between our normal daily working routines, Justin mowing some lawns with his friend after work, and me in my second week of my first masters classes that is four nights a week, we're a little busy, busy. 

Making lunches is something we do nightly.  We both take our lunches every day, and now I'm packing snacks to get me through my night class so I don't starve to death.  Okay, so maybe that won't really happen...but I feel like it at least going nonstop like I am.  I thought I would share a few simple, yet crucial steps to lunch making that is helping me keep my sanity.  Yet again, I'm thinking God is using a time like this to prep me for kiddo years because I'm sure my "busy" is nothing right now compared to what it will be at that point in life.  (Am I hearing an "amen" from you busy mommas out there?!)

Tip 1:  Pre-package chips, crackers, etc. on Sunday night for the entire week.  This way they are easy to grab each evening when you're putting lunches together.

Tip 2:  Make your own fruit cups....save money and time.  I used to buy the fruit cups already created, but now I'm buying cans of fruit and big jars of apple sauce.  I divvy out the daily servings into tupperware containers and they're ready to go.  (You pay over $2 for 4 fruit cups while you pay maybe a little over a $1 for a can of fruit that will easily make four fruit cups.)

Tip 3:  Make the lunches ready to grab in the morning.  We have a designated spot in our refrigerator where we put all of our cold items together and then a place on the counter for our non-refrigerated items.  That way, they're ready to pack in the morning.  This especially works well for Justin, because he packs a cooler with ice for his drinks and lunch since he works outside.

Nothing earth shattering...but completely helpful, time-saving, and sanity-saving for us right now.  I would love to hear your lunch prep tips! What keeps you sane in your "must do" day-to-day routines?

p.s.  happy 100th post to theblessedlife!! blessings to you sweet readers and followers.  I adore and appreciate your support and bloggy love.  My prayer is that the next 100 posts touch your heart in one way or another just as hopefully the first 100 have.

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wordless wednesday

We found these amazing creatures in the quiet inlet waters of Lovers Key, FL this past fall.  Manatees have fascinated me since I supported an endangered one in fourth grade after studying endangered species.  So cute and so breathtaking to see them in the wild.

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book store entertainment

This Saturday the hubby and I went on a "day date".  We coined the phrase this weekend.  We quickly decided that due to our hectic schedules right now, these fuddy duds weren't going to have too much fun out on a nighttime date.  We had a wonderful lunch and then went to a local book store.  I hadn't taken the time to just browse through a book store without time constraints in quite a while.  I find it so relaxing and fun to browse the aisles.  Section by section, book by book, and even page by page at times.  Justin and I love to go our separate ways, collecting a stack of books and magazines, and then find a comfy chair to sit down next to each other and enjoy the pages in front of us.  Great conversation is sparked and it's a fun date idea that is pretty thrifty.  (If you're budget allows, visit the coffee shop too while you're at it!) Here are some of the books that are now on my "must read" or "must purchase to have around" list:

by Francis Chan

(I just read his Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God and it was absolutely life-changing.  I'm sure this book will be nothing short of life-changing as well.  He is such a passionate writer.  The holy spirit is amazingly evident in his words and honesty.)

by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding

(This is amazing.  I couldn't put it down.  Justin finally told me too since I had already decided to purchase it.  So enlightening on what to purchase at the grocery store.  The perfect eating and cooking healthy survival guide)

by Gary Chapman

(Kinda like God was saying "here yah go".  Justin and I have been in such deep conversations lately about our marriage and the foundation we want our relationship to have and actually being intentional on building it that way based on Christ's love in our lives.  There are chapters on just about anything a married couple could have questions about...including that three letter word.  A great book for any place in your marriage relationship walk.)

by David Platt

(Just seemed so interesting.  This is similar to some things we have discussed lately in Sunday School.  I think there is so much truth to the idea that the worldly view of the "American Dream" has distorted our view of how Jesus calls us to live.  That's a whole other topic for a completely different post.)


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romper talk

I rarely go for a "trendy" item that I know will be old news by next year.  However, the romper idea that has come back around has caught my eye.  I so love the idea of the one piece item....so easy to wear and so comfy! Well when I was at Target this weekend, I did something I hardly ever do...and I boldly picked up this piece of clothing that intimidated me.  One because, like I said, I usually don't go for a "new idea" in my closet and two, because I just knew that my body wouldn't look okay in this (you know how those insecurities creep in and take over).  Well let me just say, I was so excited when I tried this on.  (And that's saying a lot due to the fact that I've decided Target's dressing room mirrors are pretty unforgiving.)  My petite, hip/thigh-happy body embraced the romper. 

Love the pockets, love the belted bow, love the material.  I can't wait to piece this with flip flops in the heat of the summer!

So my challenge to you...embrace an article of clothing you just know you won't like the way you look in it.  Because just maybe you'll be proven wrong like I was.  Seek out the confident gal within you and go for it!

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single sentence sunday

sarah ann's bon mot


"Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out."
Romans 12:2a (The Message)

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because I'm sometimes a follower....

I love reading funny letters that people post on their blogs to "things" that normally you would not write a letter to.  Hence the name of this post....i'm being a follower.  A follower of this idea.  So here goes...

Dear 2002 Honda Accord,

It really makes me sad that you have decided to start shifting funny.  The whole jerking when you shift from first to second thing just isn't cool and often scares me when pulling away from a stop sign or stoplight. You seem to have ignored the fact we have given you first aid for this problem and seem to insist on the fact that your transmission is nearing the end whether I like it or not.  It makes me sad because we've had about five great years together.  Five years of fun times with the windows down and music blaring.  Fun times even on road trips to visit friends.  You've saved me from jumping deer and took the blow...oh, let's say at least three times.  You've safely parked in our awfully steep driveway and haven't complained one bit.  I have taken up for you in discussions on foreign made cars and know deep down you are worth far more than some others think.  However, all of the sudden, when it's just not a great time money-wise or time-wise, you've decided to start putting on a show.  Now, back in the single days, I would have been just fine with this, but you know that I married an American-made loving guy.  A guy that adores Ford and adores anything made here in the US.  I love him for that.  He's even grown to love be okay with driving you and the fact that his name is on the registration of your hunk of metal.  I've fought for you.  I have convinced pacified him to the point of at least pretending he likes you for my sake.  Isn't that enough?

So what do you say? Would you like to put this whole mess behind us and just fix yourself? I know that's not popular in car world...but it would be oh so lovely if you could go against the norm here and go back to your smooth-shifting days.  Although your two-door characteristic causes me concern, I would look past that, and hold onto you for a few more years if you'll just cooperate.  Please take this into consideration.

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single sentence sunday

sarah ann's bon mot

I just love single sentence Sunday! Check it out...even join in if you have a moment! Sarah Ann is such a refreshing writer with such a great heart and I so enjoy taking part in this fun weekly tradition.

You're not an object to be used by this world--you're to be used by God in this world.
-my personal take on a recent message I heard

Enjoy your week ahead!  Check out Matthew 6:25-27 for encouraging words when the world seems to try to take hold of you this week.

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