tiny tip tuesday {buy in bulk}

Light, Fluffy Ground Round

i have a relatively small family of 3.5 - for those that are curious...the ".5" is my stepson who is not with us everyday. he's 100% part of the family, but only 50% part of the grocery bill :)

so, anyway...
i do not buy much of anything "in bulk" as in -- go to Costco, buy a ton, and then figure out where you're going to store it. as part of my couponing efforts, i buy on sale, as much as i can with the deal limits and coupons i have, then figure out where i'm going to store it. ok, ok...i get that it's really not that different!

i will get to my point...
my husband doesn't eat chicken. i don't eat seafood. do the math...there are only so many edible animals left. so, we eat a ton of pig and cow in our house. a ton. and much of that is ground beef. i could probably list 15 different ways we use it (but i will save that for another post).

so, this is how i buy ground beef:
i wait until it goes on sale for $1.99 per pound. in our area, it rarely goes lower than that, but it's also not uncommon for it to hit this mark. typically when stores drop it this low, they offer it in large packages that are around 4-5 pounds each. i usually buy 2 of these, and choose packages that are as close to 5 pounds as possible. when i get home, i open them and divide them into 5 relatively equal portions (for a total of 10). then i package them separately (freezer ziploc bags, foil, saran wrap...whatever floats your boat). since most of our meals are for 3-4 people, one pound is usually enough. having them frozen this way is perfect AND the smaller packages are much easier to store in the freezer. if it takes you a while to go through meat, i'd recommend dating your packages. we eat ours so quickly, this isn't necessary for us.

do you buy meat in bulk? what's your "great price"?
do you have any good ground-beef-based recipes to share?


celebrate monday {8.30}

*celebrate monday* at simple scrapper

The idea is simple. Strip away the extras for a small moment to center yourself on what is most important in your process. Find the photo, tell the story... 

monday afternoon...only the 4th day of his middle school career....
matt is sitting in the carpool lane and sees "a mummy" walking towards him (his words, not mine)...
come to find out, spencer took a little tumble on the black top after lunch...
there were scrapes and cuts and some blood...
a trip to the nurse (who is reportedly nicer than the elementary school one)...
and an afternoon full of sympathy and good stories...
ultimately...the injuries were quite minor, but the story was a highlight!


inspired {progress update}

today, i want to talk more about how i've been doing with things related to the motivating website inspired to action. if you aren't familiar with the site and my recent motivation to follow kat's inspiration, please check out the list of links/resources at the end of this post. i will not be doing weekly updates, as i have been, so i wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings on the topic.

the benefits
it might sound a little overdramatic, but putting this plan into action has been life-altering. my execution is far from perfect and i still have goals on which i really need to work. but the things i've accomplished so far have made a noticable impact on the flow of my day, my outlook & mood, and even my energy level.

improved energy & motivation
you might think that getting up early would make you more tired, but on the mornings where i get up at 5:00 and have my quiet time before getting ready for work and heading to the office...those are the days that i feel more energized and less tired. not only do i get "me time" but i also tend to have extra time to knock out a few chores before heading to work! the mornings where i cheat a little and get up later because i'm working from home or it's the weekend...they never feel quite as good as the super early days. i tend to be more focused on providing for coleman when he's awake and i'm less able to concentrate on the aspects of my morning routine. my goal is to work towards getting up at 5:30 on those at-home mornings.

improved relationship with God
earlier in the year, i began a journey through the Bible based on a plan provided by another blog. unfortunately, the guidance at that blog has dropped off, but i'm sticking to the plan (and then some). i am currently reading at least 4 chapters per day and it feels great to start my day that way. i have implemented what i call "purposeful prayer" in the mornings, where i am able to really focus. i use two prayer calendars to pray for matt and the boys. i also developed a weekly schedule for me to follow. i really feel that these 15-20 minutes in the morning have helped strenghten my relationship with God so much.

my planning is very easy with the weekly sheet i created for myself. the checklist really helps me stay focused on small goals (like drinking 8 cups of water daily). i love having somewhere to jot down blog posts and meals for the week. i have never been a meal planner, and this has made the evenings so much easier!

write to the heart
and i love that i have designated time to journal. i love to write but was not previously making time to write for me. i have found some good writing prompts online and have truly enjoyed rediscovering this part of myself. hopefully the continued habit will improve my writing here on this blog, and i have a feeling some of my prompts will end up being blog posts as well.

get up and *move*
as i've stated many times, the biggest hurdle for me is exercise. my goal, right now, is to just do 10 minutes each morning and i have a super easy routine that fills that time perfectly. but i'm still lacking the motivation. i'm trying to take baby steps...last week i only exercised twice. so, this week, my goal is three times.

now it's your turn: if you are inspired by my story or by kat's blog (linked below), i encourage you to read her e-book and get started. take baby steps. tweak the system to fit your needs. if you follow only one blog...follow hers. at first glance, it may seem like a lot to tackle, but it's really not. break it into realistic steps and you will love the results! do i sound like an informercial???

Related Links:

Inspired to Action blog
where it all started! kat has several free downloads that are worth your time, including two prayer calendars and two e-books.

So I Married a Mennonite blog
michelle hosted a four-week challenge in august to walk folks through the *maximize your mornings* concept.

Here at the Chronicles
i jumped into this concept *gung ho* so there are several related posts here:
     free downloads - daily & weekly cards
     totally inspired
     mission statement
     morning maximization
     week 1 report card
     week 2 report card
     week 3 report card

photo credit


music monday {the college years}

a few months ago, i did a post about music that reminded me of my high school days. so, today i thought i would do something similar from my college years (1996 to 2000, if you are wondering). despite how much i love country music now, i kind of rebelled against it in college. you will notice a distinct lack of it listed below (though i did still love and appreciate garth brooks and saw him in concert while i was in college...will always be one of the best live shows i've ever seen).

Barenaked Ladies
i went through a serious phase and owned several of their CDs. one of my favorite songs was life in a nutshell.

i think i was introduced to them by a guy that i dated sophomore or junior year. this was part of my "alternative" phase. one of my favorites...

Genie in a Bottle - Christina Aguilera
this song was so much fun (still is). i remember dancing to this with my friend melissa at longbranch at 1:00 a.m. after the karoake switched over to dance music.

Cravin' Melon
this is a local band that most folks probably have never heard of. their most (locally) "famous" song is called sweet tea. i saw them perform a few times at local bars at the time. this video is from their reunion a few years ago. it's the perfect southern anthem.

Tubthumper - Chumbawumba
no cute story. just a fun song that reminds me of college.

The Freshman - Verve Pipe
i don't know any other songs by this band, but this song came out when i was...wait for it...a freshman! so, of course i loved it. a group of us went up to charlotte one night to see them play.

Ricky Martin + Enrique Iglesias + Marc Anthony
thanks to ricky's smash hit (livin' la vida loca), music with a spanish flair was very popular towards the end of my college career. i loved his ale, ale, ale! when i started dating matt, it turned out he liked this stuff too!

Swing Music
you may remember that swing music had a comeback around this time. i was all over that! i loved it! and one year (junior year, i believe), our greek week theme was "jump, jive and wail". our school even offered free swing lessons (that i couldn't take because i worked at night). and my sorority also did a rush song in the same swing theme. i'm telling you, it was everywhere for a while.

Mambo No. 5 - Lou Vega
c'mon...who can't love this song???? it's fun & cheesy. lots of late night dancing here too!

so there you have it...my college years, the musical summary.
what music did you love in college???



this week {8.23 to 8.29}

~ i dropped off a bag of clothes at the consignment store and did some shopping for coleman ~

~ i grocery shopped at harris teeter ~

~ i helped spencer reorganize his school binder ~

~ coleman and i played in the yard: slide, bubbles, balls ~

~ i shopped at rite aid ~

~ coleman turned 18 months old ~

~ the four of us ate supper at the white horse ~

~ i set up a delicious account ~

~ i took spencer to baseball practice; matt & coleman met us there with supper from five guys which we ate on a picnic table. spencer played with his friends. coleman enjoyed the playground. then i took coleman home while matt stayed with spencer for the 2nd practice ~

~ i submitted a guest post idea to another blog ~

~ i mailed a thank you note and donation to the local volunteer fire department on behalf of the HOA ~

~ i posted some HOA photos on facebook ~

~ i printed extra address pages for my home management binder ~

~ i scanned a business card and added it to the HOA website ~

~ i emailed a scrapbook store owner about getting back some layouts i had done for them a long time ago ~

~ matt and i attended a high school football fundraising lunch to hear steve spurrier speak ~

~ spencer, coleman and i went to a high school football pep rally downtown with sherry ~
this is my nephew "painted up"

~ spencer, coleman and i went out to eat with sherry, chip & teddy ~

~ coleman and i spent a large portion of the day at the ballfield with spencer for his tournament. ~

~ i watched a high school football game on espn ~

~ i took a bubble bath ~

~ we received our invitation to xander's baptism in the mail ~

~ i finished reading james patterson's the 8th confession ~

~ i hurt my wrist. ~

~ i compiled and ordered a photobook for spencer ~

~ i watched she's the one, an old Jennifer Aniston movie. i wasn't that impressed. ~

~ i watched made of honor with Patrick Dempsey. super cute. highly recommend. ~

~ i watched the wish list with Jennifer Esposito. also super cute and highly recommend. my favorite of the three (probably because the female lead is a type-a personality that makes me look like an unorganized spaz!).

~ coleman and i hung out in the yard with neighbors ~

~ i washed all of the fall clothes i've been collecting for coleman ~

{savings tracker}
spent = $133; saved = $112 (46%)
ytd savings = $3,175 (41%)
spent for family of 3.5 (4wk average) = $96 (ytd avg) = $133



photoshop friday {8.27}

i recently shared with you my excitement over the ps mobile app on my iphone. here is an example of my fiddling around with it...

original iPhone photo (of my favorite wine glass):

super cool edit:

fun, dontcha think???



paper craft {welcome gift}

not too long ago, we had some neighbors move in next door. i'd been meaning to do some type of welcoming gift. when i saw the instructions for this paper cone on the first day of the big idea festival that just wrapped up over at big picture scrapbooking, i knew it'd be perfect. i have to confess...this was SO easy.

this is the cone and matching card/envelope when i first made it.

then i made some cookies and wrapped them up using brown ribbon and coordinating tag i made.

and here's the finished product that was delivered to their front door.

we just had someone move in two doors down so i guess i should be whipping up another one of these!

do you do anything special to welcome new neighbors?



web wednesday {8.25}

it feels like it's been a while since i shared some *favorite finds* from around the web. so, here are some things that are starred in my reader right now.


{the destructive root of bitterness} @ faithful devotions
i hold a mean grudge. this was a good read for me. i starred it so i'd force myself to read it multiple times. i've also printed it for future reference. 

***digital scrapbooking***

{easy summer scrapbooking, day 2} @ write.click.scrapbook
this post includes 3 free downloads for digital templates (.psd files). i like that they are basic so they make a good starting point and then you can build from there. sometimes the super intricate templates are overwhelming for this novice!

***paper scrapbooking***

{look back week} @ write.click.scrapblook (by stacy julian)
the link is the first of a five-day series where the focus is to look back on what you've accomplished as a scrapbooker. i haven't actually done this yet (it was posted almost 2 months ago), but i think it's a fantastic idea and i'm going to leave it starred in my reader until i actually do it!


{jen mohler on playing in the backyard} guest post @ stacy julian
i love the idea of having all sorts of backyard goodies in one place! i have already taken an empty tub that we had in the garage and started collecting items. it's the perfect solution!


{i'm gonna miss this} @ mckmama
this is a really good read for anyone that's a parent. it's long, but worth it. good thoughts on truly enjoying your children & being with them, not just being around them.


{free photobook} @ southern savers
this post includes a code to get a free photobook (value up to $39.99) by picaboo. you have to pay shipping of $8.99. the deal is good until the end of the month so you still have about a week!

{write club} @ marta writes
last year, marta did 10 weeks of writing prompts for what she called the "write club". i just discovered these and i'm excited to work them into my (almost) daily journaling exercises! the link above is to the first one, which was posted on 2.23.09 and they run through july 09.

***paper crafting***

{back to school teacher gifts} @ 30-minute martha
with spencer being in middle school, teacher gifts are going to be a bit more difficult (four main teachers, plus plenty of electives!). i love this idea because it's inexpensive & easy, but also cute & personal. i can see me doing something like this for teacher appreciation or around christmas.



{coleman @ 18 months}

100728 Playing in yard 07 - Coleman

i honestly can not believe that he is 18 months old today. a year and a half old. halfway through his second year of life. sometimes i struggle to remember what it was like before he joined our family. and that's ok. here is a snapshot of our pride and joy. today.

18 months old.

100725 Coleman patting Spencer's head in car
~ yup, he still idolizes his big bubba ~

100814 Goofy Spencer 02
~ and he thinks bubba is the funniest person around. ever. ~

~ his jibber jabber sounds more like full sentences (even though it doesn't quite sound like english) ~

100726 Xander's Visit 01 - Coleman in Xander's chair
~ he gets a little jealous if one of us pays too much attention to another child, but has done surprisingly well when xander visits. ~
in the photo above, he is staking his claim on xander's seat (which used to be his...i guess he remembers!)

~ he loves to feed himself with a fork or spoon. he gets pretty annoyed if you won't let him. it's messy, but he loves it. he can occupy himself with a spoon and yogurt for a good long while. ~

100728 Playing in yard 01 - Coleman on slide
~ he loves to slide ~

100808 Picnic at Fewell Park 40
~ and he loves to swing...and just to be outdoors ~

~ he is obsessed with remote controls and anything that looks like a phone. he will take things and put them up to his head like he's "talking" but he puts them kind of high up...not near his ear. it's hilarious. ~

100730 Coleman having a meltdown
~ he can pitch one heck of a temper tantrum. and he works on improving his skills frequently. somtimes they are pretty out of control. he does not like the word "no". ~

~ he loves to mimic us. one of his favorites right now is combing or brushing his hair. ~

100731 Coleman painting 03
~ he is a budding artist ~

~ he can point to his nose on demand. when you ask him other body parts (like eyes, mouth), he still points to his nose and is very proud of himself for doing so. ~

100731 Coleman eating ribs 05
~ he loves meat. really loves meat. ~

~ when i put lotion on in the mornings, he likes to get a little bit and put it on his legs too...even if he has pants on...on top of the pants. it's pretty funny. ~

100802 Group Time at daycare
~ he thoroughly enjoys daycare and loves a.j. ~

~ he loves to climb up and down the stairs on his own (with supervision of course) ~
100807 Coleman & Giada 09
~ he hasn't quite figured out that this is his future bride and he shouldn't react this way around her!!! ~

~ if you carry him up or down the stairs, he likes to run his hand along the banister ~

100807 Boys in the Yard 07
~ he enjoys playing with the neighbor boys but hasn't quite mastered the art of sharing yet. sometimes when we go outdoors, he automatically heads next door, expecting a playmate to be waiting on him. ~

~ he has learned to shake his head yes and no ~

100807 Coleman in bath 03
~ he absolutely loves bathtime. no matter how tired or cranky he is, he enjoys it. i like that his day always ends on a positive note. his favorite activity is to put his small frog and duck toys in and out of the big plastic cup. ~

~ he still loves music. one of his favorite (non-country) songs right now is eminem & rhianna's duet ~

100808 Picnic at Fewell Park 05
~ he enjoys mcdonalds. a lot. ~

~ his favorite word is juice (regardless of what is actually in the sippy cup) ~

100812 Sick Coleman 02
~ poor little guy ran a fever for five days. he was very, very mellow. ~

~ when carrie underwood's "undo it" video comes on, he sings along by going "uhh, uhh, uhh, uhh".


tiny tip tuesday {donating *stuff*}

sunday, spencer and i spent hours gutting his room. cleaning. organizing. you know the drill. i had no idea it had gotten so out of hand. we had done a marvelous job of masking the mess it had become! we ended up with two and a half trash bags of actual garbage. PLUS two trash bags of items to be donated (along with several large items that wouldn't fit in a bag). yesterday, i made a goodwill run on my lunch hour to rid our home of the clutter. these activities inspired me to provide some tips here related to donating your stuff.

our culture encourages the collection of *stuff*. that's another whole blog post in and of itself, so let's focus on what happens when we no longer need that *stuff*. whether it's outgrown, unused, or just plain ugly...i can't throw something away unless it's 100% worthless to anyone. therefore, i donate. whether you already donate and need some help getting organized, or if you never donate a single thing, here are some pointers...

  • just do it. if you don't donate your *stuff*, you should really start. if you aren't already doing so it means one of two things. (1) you have a house full of things you should considering giving up (2) you are trashing items that could be treasures to someone else and a nice tax deduction for you.
  • write it off. though i've always donated stuff, i used to never keep track of it or do itemized deductions with our taxes. then, our accountant shared with us how much more money we'd get back with a standard amount of donating. WOW. what an eye opener. needless to say, i keep track of everything that's donated to a tax-deductible charity now!
  • pick a place. you need to make donations super easy so find ONE charity that fits these three requirements:
    1. donations to them are tax-deductible
    2. they accept a wide variety of items
    3. the drop-off location is convenient for you
  • be realistic. don't try to clean & reorganize your entire house in a weekend. tackle one room or closet per weekend, or per month...whatever works for your schedule (this is assuming that you haven't done this in a while...it may not even be necessary). regardless of how organized you are, chances are that each room in your house will need de-cluttering at least once a year.
  • pack and go. when you do a "big" purge of a whole room or closet, have three piles as you sort: keep, donate, trash. once you are done, immediately put the donate items in your vehicle. the next time you leave your house, drop them off. this is why it's so important to pick ONE donation place that is convenient to you (for instance, i go to a drive-through goodwill that is only minutes from my office).
  • keep it up. the best way to prevent clutter is to stick with the mentality of getting rid of stuff you don't need. if you run across something that you (or someone in your family) truly should discard, go ahead and set it aside for donation (see next step). you do not have to wait for a large purging day! this will save you so much time in the long run.
  • create a central location. find somewhere in your home where you can collect items for donating. you want it to be out of sight, but relatively easy to access. the container should be disposable so you can dump it at the drop location. i keep a medium-sized cardboard box in our garage marked "donation" (so my husband doesn't accidentally take it to the dump). when i find a shirt that i no longer love or a knick-knack that's not worth the dust it collects, then i place it in the box. when i notice the box is full, it goes into my car and to goodwill the next day.
  • hand it down. all of the above are geared towards donating to organizations. don't forget the beauty of handing down gently used clothes, toys, etc to friends who have children younger than yours. everything above can be applied to those situations (except for the tax deductions). try keeping a shopping bag in your child's closet to collect clothes that no longer fit. when it's full, give it to your "hand-me-down" receiver!

so...*tiny* tip tuesday was a bit more detailed today, but i hope this helps someone de-clutter, save some money and help a good cause! do you have any tips for de-cluttering & donating???


images found at goodwill.com


celebrate monday {8.23}

*celebrate monday* at simple scrapper

The idea is simple. Strip away the extras for a small moment to center yourself on what is most important in your process. Find the photo, tell the story...
i know i've already addressed the first day of school here but i wanted to capture the memory with some journaling on the real photo (as opposed to the funky edit that we actually e-mailed spencer).


inspired {report card - week 3}

luckily, coleman was on the mend after monday of last week, allowing me to return to a normally scheduled world as of tuesday. so here's how i did...

{report card - week of august 16 to 22}
  • to-do list = 6 of 10
  • woke up early = 5 of 7 days
  • stuck to the meal plan = 5 of 7
  • cleaned = 7
  • Bible & prayer = 6
  • blogged = 5
  • took photos = 4
  • water intake goal = 3
  • exercised = 2
  • worked on editing process = 2

{august challenge update}

as presented by michelle at so, i married a mennonite, here is how i did with the WEEK THREE challenge: DEVELOP AN EXERCISE PLAN

1 - Pick a Workout: done...i have a 10-minute morning plan in place
          i do sets of 12 for each of these: crunches, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks & leg kicks. i do as many as i can accomplish in about 7-8 minutes. the last 2-3 minutes i use 3lb weights for some arm exercises.

2 - Make it Fun: is she serious??? i have NO idea how to do this :)

3 - Create your Habit: What is the one thing you'll do everyday? this should be #1 above...but i don't do it everyday.

4 - Set a Goal: i would really like to lose 10 pounds by mid-October. but at this rate, it's not going to happen!

So, I did OK on the four goals above...i just haven't done well at implementing the actual exercising!


~ if you missed it last week, i shared some downloads that are perfectly matched for this week's challenge!

~ sidenote: if you feel like you need a swift kick in the butt...watch the video in this post at inspired to action

~ and remember all of this *maximize your morning* goodness was started by kat at inspired to action.


music monday {lady antebellum}

i remember when i first heard the name lady antebellum...i thought "wow, what an odd name for a group". and i thought it was even stranger that it had two men in it. then the name kind of started to grow on me and i thought "what a cool band name". then they really started to grow on me. as *lady a* has swept the country music world and has crossed over into the mainstream, they have taken over me as well. i just love, love, love their music.

the song that first stole my heart was lookin' for a good time. it's fun. it's upbeat. it has a nifty video.
you may not want your teenager to use this song as an example in life, as it basically glorifies a one-night-stand. but, if you're looking for something to make you dance around the house...this is your song!

so, if that song stole my heart, then i need you now was the engagement ring. everyone in my family (all four of us) adored this song when it came out. i mean, seriously...we listened to it all the time. and i'm pretty sure this was their first *crossover* hit.

and then most recently, there is our kind of love (which i guess is the honeymoon of my analogy). back to the super fun songs, and i love the video. i want to go there and hang out around all of that old carnival stuff!



this week {8.16 to 8.22}

~ coleman's fever finally broke ~

~ i stayed home from work to be with him monday (he went back to daycare on tuesday) ~

~ matt and i went to spencer's open house at middle school ~

~ i baked cookies and put together a welcome goodie for our new next door neighbors ~

~ i shopped at rite aid and cvs ~

~ my social committee meeting was cancelled ~

~ i did lots of last minute planning for the neighborhood *back to school bash* ~

~ i took a special photo of coleman to send to spencer ~
100818 Proud of You 04

~ i emailed family photos to spencer for a school project ~

~ matt found out about the changes coming up at work ~

~ i made some behind the scenes changes here on the blog ~

~ i shopped at the dollar tree for hoa stuff ~

~ scott, cameron, and xander came over to visit ~

~ i finished watching season three of prison break ~

~ coleman and i went to chuck e cheese with aj and the daycare kids ~
all photos can be seen here and two videos can be viewed here and here

100820 Chuck E Cheese 59

~ we successfully pulled off the neighborhood *back to school bash* ~

100821 CE Back to School Bash 22

~ scott, cameron & xander came over (again) ~

~ spencer and i thoroughly cleaned his room ~

~ i put together a bag of stuff to go to the consignment store ~

~ i sent introduction emails to spencer's teachers ~

{savings tracker}

spent = $34; saved = $51 (60%)
ytd savings = $3,063 (41%)
4wk average spent = $102