miscellany monday

One-Oh my goodness.  Literally I feel like that the past two and a half weeks has been one extreme whirlwind.  I don't remember starting school throwing me for such a loop the last two years.  The crazy thing is it hasn't been stressful, just busy.  We have started a new math program and are using a new addition to our curriculum, plus we have changed how we do our planning.  All of these things have seemed to make it near impossible for me to catch my breath.  I think that maybe, just maybe after this week I will have a new method to my organization madness and things will be a bit back to normal.  My goal:  not to bring a 20 pound bag of school stuff home every night to work on.

Two-Not that I ever really got into Oprah (I have just watched her here and there)...but I think it's kinda sad this is her last season.  Kinda the end of an era.

Three-Two words:  Jersey Shore.  Justin and I stopped on that show for a few minutes the other night and watched for the first time.  Seriously the most crazy, random, ignorant show I've ever watched.  I decided that you must have to be influenced by something other than life itself to actually get into that show or understand even a glimpse of the humor.  Pure craziness.

Four-I've only shot a gun once.  It was when my dad was holding it and I sorta got to hold it with him.  We shot at a muskrat that was messing up our pond on our family farm.  (Pretty redneck moment now that I think back on it. Ha!)  But I would shoot one again if the pit bull that comes running into our backyard quite often ever went toward Boone or my hubby.  Whenever he hears us in our backyard (which is often), he runs through his fence (which his owners continue to leave unfixed), and comes straight toward Boone.  This Sunday while I was upstairs, I heard Justin slam the basement door and then heard Boone yelping and barking in a way I had never heard him do before.  Well needless to say, I looked out in the backyard and there he was--in all his pit bull glory.  I'm not trying to judge, and yes I'm probably jaded by all the stories on the news, but as Justin tried to "shoo" the dog out of our yard, it jumped at him.  Um yep, that's enough for me to consider shooting a gun for the second time in my life.

Five-I'm craving fall.  It always hits me once I go back to school.  I love, love, love summer...but I get so excited when I see fall clothes coming out and the leaves start to turn colors.  So comfy, cozy!

Six- I might, just might be slowly moving toward the Mac side.  I've always been a PC kinda gal...but after having two in a row and having my iPhone, I'm a little antsy about having a Mac instead and trying that side of the technology world.  Any advice or tips for you gals out there? PC or Mac?

Now, go join the lovely Carissa's miscellany monday and link up for yourself!

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the blessing box

It's Tuesday again...which means that it's The Blessing Box time over at Natalie's blog.  Click the button to head over and join yourself!

Blessing One:

That I married a man full of patience and love for me.  Lately I have been in a funk for some reason.  I guess it's just all the fresh pressure of starting a new school year and starting back to classes myself.  My mood has been one that is harsh and my tongue has often been quick.  Absolutely nothing I am proud of and something God is working on me with.  However, Justin is so amazingly kind and always wanting to know how he can make things better.

Blessing Two:

My church family.  This Sunday we had a "Camp Meeting" Sunday where we stayed after, ate potluck lunch together, and had some amazing Bluegrass music playing live.  I'm so blessed to have a church where it truly feels like home and a church family that is literally an extension of my own family.

Blessing Three:

Allergy medicine and kleenex.  The runny/itchy nose, watery eyes, and scratchy throat always seem to hit me this time of year.  It's not that it's really painful, it's just such a nuisance! Allergy medicine and kleenex are blessings to me during this time so I can find some relief!

Blessing Four:

Finding new music that seriously warms your heart and soul.  I love to listen to a song for the first time and take in the lyrics word by word.  I recently heard the amazing song, "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry.  (I will warn you that if you've lost a loved one recently it may strike you in a completely different way.)  I am loving this song, though, and the lyrics that just sooth my heart with contentment for where I am in life right now.  I don't think God's finished with me yet.  But if I die young...I feel like God has used me and blessed me tremendously.  Every extra day on this earth that He gives us is truly a blessing that only He is worthy of.

Blessing Five:

Our home.  I am beyond grateful that Justin and I were blessed enough to close on a house before our marriage and move into our own little bungalow when we came back from our honeymoon.  I love our home and am so thankful that we have a roof over our heads.   Every time we are working on our budget and talking about money, I am always reminded that it is an absolute blessing that we can afford to live in our home and that the issue never comes up whether or not we have a place to stay or can pay our mortgage.  It always brings us back to reality as we know there are so many in the world without a home.  It makes me want to fill our extra rooms with people that don't have homes in order to bless them with our own blessings.

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miscellany monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

 Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear theblessedlife,
Happy Birthday to you!

Today marks one year for my blog! What a fun journey it has been and I pray it continues to be! Thanks to all you sweet people that read and comment.  What a joy it is to get to know you all and read your blogs as well! What started out as just a fleeting thought a year ago, has turned into such a special place in my life where I'm able to express myself and share and reflect through a passion of mine, writing.

Two- I'm going to warn you that the only posts I may be able to muster up here for the first few weeks of school are these great link-up type posts.  Please forgive me...every ounce of creativity is being used to make some intense 4th grade content material exciting for 21 little minds.  Pulling out some creative-genius type posts (even ahead of time) is a little much for me at the moment.  Thanks for baring with me!

Three- I won't confess the fact that our Saturday night entertainment was lying on the couch together and trying to come up with every hilarious (clean) video we could think of on YouTube to watch.  This amazing one was one we may have watched at least five or six times.  How do you give birth to such cuteness?!

Four-  I will always have a love for sweet tea.  I am from the south.  Those two things go together.  But the thighs don't seem to appreciate the sweet tea as much as my tastebuds do.  Because of that, I have gotten myself back to drinking unsweetened tea (for some of you this is the only tea you may know, but for us southern gals, it's the "next best thing").  I am loving unsweetened iced tea with lemon right now.  The more ice and the more lemon, the better.

Five- This weekend I was able to catch up with a childhood friend at a friend of ours wedding.  Isn't it so awesome how you can go forever without seeing or talking to someone and still be able to enjoy each other just as much as you did when you were inseparable in elementary school? It was so wonderful to catch up and to even laugh about things that happened back in high school.  The best is when those things make you laugh as much as they did when they actually happened.

Six- Don't tell my hubby.  (Just joking, I've confessed this to him too.)  I've really never gotten into the whole "Disney World" thing.  He grew up going there and loves the place inside and out.  I grew up loving all things Disney princesses, but only went once when I was 5, and never really got into Disney that much.  But I am getting really exciting for Disney World.  I didn't think I would...but I am.  If nothing else, for the fact that my hubby and I will get to be together for six straight days without anyone else (besides the thousands of people at Disney) or anything we have to do.  Can't wait!

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It is the time that my alarm clock now hums every morning.  It's the time that my day begins and I pray to God, giving it all over to Him for the day.  It's not a time that makes this night owl/not-a-morning person gal happy, but it is a time that I choose to be happy and joyful.  It's the time that I remind myself....one day at a time.

I decided this year that I would make a conscious effort to take teaching one day at a time.  It's such a future-oriented, planning-ahead career.  I so easily get wrapped up in looking ahead and thinking of what's coming next, that I often don't truly cherish the day, or even the moment I am in.  I think this constant looking ahead has drained me in past years.  It has caused me to over-think and over analyze things way too much.  Although there is something to be said about planning and thinking ahead, it can get to a point of too much.

So this year...I'm taking it one day at a time.  One day at a time to cherish.  One day at a time to mold minds and hearts.  One day at a time to impact 21 little ones with God's love.

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dirty word

Cleaning.  Yep, I don't like it.  I really don't mind "picking up" and putting things in their correct place (well pretty much...I do get a little tired of hubby's dirty socks and I try my hardest not to pick those up and let him do that dirty work.)  And I really enjoy organizing.  It's such a great feeling to have things in their places and organized.  However, cleaning is something that really is a chore for me.  Literally.  With the busyness of starting school again, I thought I would come up with a little cleaning schedule to keep me on track.  Dorky? Maybe.  Type A tendencies? That's me! (I am a teacher after all.)  But I'm okay with dorky and being type A if it means I can break this task into small parts and make it feasible so dog hair and dust don't consume our home.  I've learned that breaking big tasks down like this into smaller tasks is a must-do in order to not get overwhelmed.  And I'm all about remaining stress-free.  Here's my schedule...now let's just hope I stick to it!

Monday:  Nothing (Mondays are bad enough)
Tuesday:  Dusting
Wednesday: Floors (vacuuming, dusting and shining hardwood floors, using Swifter on tile)
Thursday:  Bathrooms
Friday/Saturday:  Laundry

So what about you? How do you make sure to get all the cleaning completed? Are you on a schedule yourself or do you think I'm pretty crazy? Or maybe you just want to get it off your chest that you really don't do the whole cleaning thing and prefer having time over having a clean floor.  You can be honest.  I won't judge.

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the blessing box

This week is Natalie's first "Blessing Box" Tuesday over at her blog, Extraordinary Love.  I was very excited to join in!

Blessing one:

Really, my mood is a blessing right now.  With starting school tomorrow, I really wasn't sure if I would be in the "mood" to join in the blessing box this week.  However, I have been hanging onto my Savior and praying for my heart and mind to be in the right place as summer comes to an end.  Just as always, He has answered my prayers in His time and in His perfect way.

Blessing two:

The first blessing leads me to this blessing....my classroom is finally "complete" and ready for my 22 kiddos to arrive tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m.  I feel very blessed to work with wonderful people and have a job that is such a blessing.
view from the back of the room
view from our "sink room" door (it connects my classroom to the next door classroom)
view from the classroom door
Blessing three:

I feel really blessed when I get deals like this.  I feel like saving money on groceries and other necessities is a blessing from God in order to stretch our budget.

Kroger has a deal right now where if you buy $20 in school supplies (brands include: Papermate, BIC, Expo, Avery, Sharpie, Crayola, Planahead, Mead, Five Star, Carolina Pad) you get a $4 Catalina. (Coupon that prints out as money toward your next purchase.)  FYI:  The regular price is the price counted toward the $20.

Transaction 1:
Purchased 11 Crayola Crayon 24 count at $.25 each (regular price is $1.99)
Total: $2.75 and received $4 catalina

Transaction 2:
Purchased $9.98 worth of groceries
Used $4 catalina
Total: $5.98

My total spent was $8.75.  The Catalina basically made all 11 packs of crayons free and then gave me $1.25 off my groceries that I needed.  It's definitely a blessing to get paid to shop!

Blessing four:

I'm blessed to have these two in my life...they make it so joyful! They came to help me in my classroom this afternoon as I was putting finishing touches on things.  (And the McDonald's they brought was pretty nice too!)

Boone as a baby

Blessing five:

Summertime.  Need I say more?

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a sharp idea

When I did the file cabinet makeover using contact paper posted about here, a lovely reader gave me the idea of using some of the extra contact paper to make-over some office accessories.  What a sharp idea! A couple afternoons ago, I whipped up this little makeover for our pen and pencil holder.  (Mauve and green is good and all....but I just wasn't getting a good vibe from this accessory mixed with our freshly updated office.) 

So in about 5 minutes, I measured the length of the holder, cut the amount I needed, and slowly wrapped the holder while pulling the backing of the contact paper off as I went.

It's as simple as that! I still have some of this cute contact paper left.  Maybe I will cover Boone's crate in it next to match the rest of the office. ;)

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deals and steals

I had lots of blessings with my shopping trips to Kroger and Walgreens on Thursday.  It definitely took me a little bit of time to plan out my shopping trips (probably about one hour).  However, overall, I saved $19.74 in coupons.  I like to look at this as money I have made to supplement our income....if you're not spending it, you're making/saving it.  If you make $20 an hour and work a 40 hour a week job...that would be a $41,600 salary.  (Plus I get to save this money...and it's tax-free...even better!) I think that's definitely worth the one hour a week of clipping coupons, printing coupons, meal planning, and list making.  To add to that, because I had my trips completely planned out...down to a sticky note with the list for each store and coupons already pulled for each store and separated, I was finished with Kroger, Walgreens, and a bank stop all in less than an hour.

Total spent: $30.94
Total saved: $16.74
35% savings

Best deals:

*Kroger is running a summer savings special where you get $4/4 items on their designated list (which includes a lot of items...you can find the entire list in the store or part of the list in their weekly ad.) Remember that at Kroger you can use an ecoupon loaded onto your Kroger card and a MC from coupon inserts.

For this deal I purchased the following four items:

Charmin 12 pack- $6.99
-use $3/1 Kroger ecoupon
-use $.25/1 coupon that will double from 8/1 P&G
-Summer Savings bonus $1 off

Downy Fabric Softener- $4.99
-use $2/1 Kroger ecoupon
-$1/1 coupon from 8/1 P&G
-Summer Savings bonus $1 off

Two Old Spice Body Washes- $2.99 each
-use $2/2 Kroger ecoupon
-Summer Savings bonus $1 off each
$0.99 each

Other Kroger deals:

Cascadian Farms Organic French Fries- $2.49 on sale
-use $.75/1 from coupons.com

Private Selection Organic Natural black beans- on sale for $0.89

Right Guard Total Defense Deodorant- $2.49 each
-use BOGO coupon from 7/25 RP
-use $1/2 coupon from in-store coupon generator
$.75 each


Total spent: $1.67
Total saved: $3.00
64% savings

First Transaction:

Crayola crayons 24 pack- on sale for $1
Get $1 in Register Rewards
Pay $1 plus tax out of pocket

Second Transaction:

Two 10 pack Penway #2 Pencils-$0.09 each
Cottonelle Fresh Wipes 42 count-$1.99 with in-ad coupon
-use $0.50/1 coupon from July All You
 *Use $1 RR from previous transaction
Pay $0.67 plus tax out of pocket

There are many opportunities to give away school supplies right now.  My church is collecting supplies for kiddos in need of supplies, many stores allow you to purchase and leave supplies right there in the store, and you can even call your local school district and/or specific schools around you to ask for specific supply needs.  These are all great options for some of the deals and freebies you can find right now in the school supply sections.

Found any of your own great deals lately? Feel free to share them in the comment section!

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a budget buddy

As most of you know from reading my blog, we live on a budget.  And lately with grad school, it's an even more tight budget.  Thankfully, although it's tough sometimes to not be able to buy all the "extras" and things we just want...we're being so blessed during this season of our lives where we only focus on the necessities.  And as Dave Ramsey says...."Live like no one else...so later, you can live like no one else."  That's a commonly quoted statement in our home right now as we try to remain focused.

Well I'm always looking for something to help keep things "together" and organized while budgeting.  I love, love the blog Money Saving Mom.  Although I'm not a mom yet, she gives amazing advice on how her and her hubby got the point they are as frugal parents where she is able to stay/work at home.  Anywho...she offers awesome advice that really is in line with mine and Justin's money beliefs based on our Christian faith and what the bible says about being stewards of what God has give you and not to be in debt to others.

Mint.com  is a great resource I found through Money Saving Mom's blog and has become my "budget buddy".  If you're into budgeting (which I highly recommend) and enjoy organization like me (umm, yes please!), then this website is great for you.  (This isn't an endorsement...simply my own opinion for what it's worth.)  It links to your bank account (100% safely....I researched) and allows you to tag all of your transactions to fit specific sections ("envelopes" in Dave Ramsey language) in your budget.  You can set the specific budget for each section (i.e. eating out, gas, electric bill, etc.) and it shows how much over or under you are on your budget based on your transactions.  Being crazy about using cash in our envelopes to remain on track, we set an "envelope" budget and just tag that transaction where we get the money out each month as "envelopes".  The great thing is, you create the names and can even add a transaction if you need to just to remain right on track.  (For example, we recently just cashed one of Justin's checks.  I still wanted it to go through on mint, so I added the transaction to claim it as income.)  What's so great about this is that areas where we don't use cash for our envelope system, such as gas and tithing, we can keep track with how much we are spending much more easily than before.  Finally, you can even get help organizing setting aside money each month toward a "goal" such as a new car or even school payments.

If you are more interested in the "envelope system" lingo and want to check out Dave Ramsey, you can find his website here.

Questions about this? Feel free to ask! Your own ideas and thoughts on budgeting? I would love to hear them! Do share!

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a washington wednesday

One of my favorite family traditions are our family vacations.  We grew up taking a vacation every summer and it's always so much fun and something I always look forward to.  This year my family (mom, dad, my little bro Matt, Justin, and me) took a break from usually going to the beach for vacation and went to Washington D.C.  We went when I was really young, but I didn't really remember anything other than seeing my great uncle's name on the Vietnam Memorial wall and seeing the Declaration of Independence.  Funny what sticks out in early memories.  It is so amazing what all you can see at our nation's capitol.  Truly amazing.  I'm not even a history person....but the history behind what you see is fascinating.  If you've never been, no matter what part of the country you live in, it's definitely worth the car ride or plane ride.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Jefferson Memorial
perfectly stated
hanging out with Mason
on the Metro
part of the twin towers at the Smithsonian

in front of the white house
view from Lincoln Memorial
Larry Maggard--my great uncle
Vietnam Memorial
Washington Monument
changing of the guards
mis padres and the Wright Brothers' airplane
our capitol building
where the Star Spangled Banner hung
Iwo Jima memorial
my grandpa...POW in WWII

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Well I'm in my final week of summer and thought I would share my progress on my summer to-do list.  I wasn't very successful with my list last summer, so I'm excited that I did half of what was on my list for this summer. (Plus lots more that wasn't on my list.) 

-make homemade treats for Boone 
Find the recipe here.

-start an exercise routine....daily walks/jogs with Boone and.....hello 30-day shred
The shred part has gone just okay...I didn't make it all 30 days due to going out of town.  However, I have been much more active this summer, which I'm happy with.  The couch to 5k training program is next on the list! 

-daily bible reading and studying 
I have been much more adamant about reading my bible daily.  I have really enjoyed Completely Irresistible: Drawing Others to God's Extravagant Love (Loving Jesus Without Limits) by Shannon Ethridge.

-start my etsy shop
Yay! I did it.  You can check out my etsy tab at the top of this page or read about it here.

 -add curtains to our living room and bedroom  
You can read about that fun and simple makeover here.

-paint our office and kitchen 
Well I only got the office accomplished.  I decided I didn't want to take on removing wallpaper this summer.  It can wait.  But you can read about the office makeover here.

Still on my list.....

-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
I have found some outlets at church for some of my freebies and deals. 

-read books from my reading list here
I read more blogs and magazines than anything this summer. 

-starting a little writing project that's been on my heart
Still pondering this one....really, I just need to take the leap. 

-get away with Justin for a mini vacay
We decided to forgo a mini vacay to save money for a big vacay later this year to Disney World! We're so excited! My sister-in-law is a "magic maker" with a travel agency and worked so hard to find us great deals...everything is planned...even down to reservations for our meals! We can't wait to get away together.  (If you ever need a Disney travel agent, let me know...my sister-in-law is amazing and so knowledgeable about all things Disney!)

As you other teachers out there know, the end of summer is a bit sad and bittersweet.  However, I'm trying to get myself excited to go back.  It always gets better once I get into the swing of things....and I'm so thankful for such a blessing of a job.  It will be my third year teaching...and hey...third time's a charm, right?

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miscellany monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

One-No I have not abandoned my blog.  Or reading your blogs.  We just got back from a wonderful family vacation to Washington D.C.  and I have not had time to blog or really be on the internet much at all.  It was a nice break.  Pictures to come and I'm looking forward to catching up on my blog reading and posting this week!

Two-I have yet to open our crock pot after two years of marriage.  However, I'm planning on dusting off the box, bringing it out from the basement, and using it this fall and winter.  I know some people swear by their crock pots. What are your favorite (easy, yummy, and healthy) crock pot recipes? Please share!

Three-Couch to 5k begins this week.  Yikes! I'm getting so pumped, though.  And I'm hoping (and praying) this excitement rubs off on my hubby...poor thing.  He's so busy with school, work, and side jobs that I'm hoping he can squeeze in the time here and there for us to train together.  I'm so looking forward to getting my body into shape.

Four-Is it normal to think your first born might not be as sweet and well-behaved as your puppy-child? Seriously...I'm the oldest in my family.  I know how all the hardcore attention, parenting, and spoiling goes to the first child.  Well Boone gets treated pretty well for a dog...more like our baby.  We often laugh about this and wonder how in the world we will get a human baby as "well trained".

Five-I'm not trying to be political or anything.  Really...I promise.  But The View?...really President Obama? Come on.....don't you have better things to do and, shall I add in there....more important things to do.  (Needless to say, we didn't see him while we were in DC....he was too "busy".)  I just feel like it's kind of like the rule that a parent shouldn't be their child's friend, but instead their parent.  I just don't think the president should go for the popular role when he's supposed to be the leader of our nation.  That role should be beyond the control of popularity status.  Do your job....and do it well.  Beyond that, it doesn't matter what people think.  Okay, I'm stepping off the soapbox.

Six-I forgot how hilarious my 20 year old little brother is.  (I'm talking tears in my eyes...trying not to pee my pants funny.)  He really had me laughing so much over vacation.  (And then when you get him and Justin going together...that means even more stomach cramps from laughing.)  He is my little bro, and of course we still "pick" at each other here and there,  but I so enjoyed being around him this past week.  With him being away at school and me so busy with life in general, I don't get to be around him enough.  I love that I truly enjoy being around my family...what a blessing.

Seven-Our pastor shared an amazing message on Sunday morning about the importance of radical giving as a christian.  I love, love radical giving.  We're called to it as Christians and it simply makes life so much more joyful.  Have you ever paid for the car behind you in the drive-thru? Ever left a huge tip just because? Have you ever given of your time even though you were incredibly busy? If so, you've been Jesus to someone.  I just love that!

Happy Monday and Happy Miscellany to you today.  Enjoy the day. 

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