Friday, January 30, 2009

Frugal Fridays: Frugality In My Home

Today for Frugal Fridays, I thought I'd share a few ways that we've exercised frugality or resourcefulness in the past few weeks. Two of these have to do with pet care, which is an area in which we are trying to learn to save more money.

1) We've been enjoying the boxes of clementines that are in season right now. Instead of throwing away the little wooden box they come in, I repurposed it to hold vitamins and supplements. It fits right in the cabinet. I still have another one of these boxes to use. I wonder where that will be?

2) We've been wanting a pillow for our dog to lie on when he's in the house. He used to have a blanket but kept trying to rip it up. So we were not about to spend approximately $30-$50 or more for a fancy dog bed. We've haven't spent that much money on most of our own furniture! One evening I had an idea and brought out 2 old bed pillows. A few days later, I opened one side of each pillow, fluffed up the batting and added a bit more stuffing to fill out the center. I then sewed the two pillows together to make one large pillow. I used an extra fleece throw that we had around the house to sew a cover for it.I made the back with two pieces of fabric overlapping in the middle for easy washing. This took me 1 hour to finish and saved quite a bit of money. Rock loves his bed!

Here you can see what the dog bed looks like. Normally he sleeps on it curled in a ball like a normal dog. We're not sure what was up with his legs in the air! But it was funny so we took a picture.:-)

3)We bathed our dog ourselves for the first time. Rock is a short-haired dog and doesn't require a lot of maintenance when it comes to grooming,thankfully! He does, however, need a bath every so often. When we first got him, we had absolutely no idea what to do with him and bathing a very active dog certainly wasn't in our line of expertise. Last year, we had him bathed several times while he was at the kennel when we were away. They do a great job there and he always looked and smelled so nice when we picked him up. It was definitely worth the $30 for his bath and "grooming". But now that he is growing up and we're more comfortable with handling him, we decided to give it a shot ourselves. Getting him into the shower was the hardest part. We'll probably bathe him ourselves mostly from here on. Another option for a little less expensive pet bath are those"do-it-yourself" groomers where they supply everything needed for the bath and you just bring the dog and do the bathing!We have at least one of those in our areas; I think the cost is around $15.

4)I cooked a turkey last week. This provided us with 4 meals, plus a couple ziploc bags full of chopped turkey for the freezer. I threw the bones and carcass into the crockpot with some onion, carrots and celery. I filled it up with water and let that cook on low for 24 hours. I got about 10 cups of broth from those bones. The part that I hate about making broth is the straining and picking the bits of meat out that are still on the bones. It is just gross to me. I don't like to waste, though, and sometimes that means doing something that you don't really like!I spent about 30 minutes picking out the meat and was surprised to get almost 4 more cups of turkey! I measured it into one cup increments and froze it in bags to use for soups.

5)This one involved spending a bit more money. Last week when we were at our local health food store, one of the employees informed us that on the next Thursday, everything in the store would be 20% off. We immediately made plans to return on that day. Considering that most of the items that I buy there do not usually go on sale or are items that I have coupons for, 20% off was pretty good for stocking up. I wrote out a list of items that I could stock up on such as raw honey, dried beans, brown rice, maple syrup, RealSalt, etc. and purchased those things at a reduced price. Although these things were definitely not free, I'm thankful to have gotten them at a better price than I would normally pay and to have my pantry stocked with staple items! Frugality is not just about getting items for free but about knowing what is important to you and what is a good price for those things.

What frugal things have you been up to? Please share!

Thanks to Crystal for hosting Frugal Fridays!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Favorite Meals

I often chuckle when I read blogs or menu plans and the author states that she's trying to branch out from the same old week's worth of meals that she always makes. I don't smile or laugh because there is something wrong with that; it's just that I have the opposite problem. I have so many meals that we like that it's hard to get them all into a regular meal rotation. I'm sure it has a little to do with the fact that I love to cook and try new recipes and a lot to do with us loving to eat and rarely finding something that we simply don't like.

Needless to say, meal planning can be a bit overwhelming with so many choices! I asked my husband what his 5 favorite dinners were, then added mine to the list, then added 3 more to make a neat list of 13. Here's hoping for a little simpler meal planning by consulting this list for a few meals each week!

If I'm going to get in a rut, it might as well be with our favorite foods!

So here we have it, divided into neat categories of his, hers and ours:

Our 13 Favorite Meals

1)Homemade Pizza
2)Lasagna Soup
3)Stove-top Chicken and Rice
4)Ham Bundles
5)Chicken Stuffing Bake(I need to "healthify" this one!)

6)Taco Soup
7)Rotisserie-style Chicken
8)Lemon-Herb Chicken
9)Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
10)Creamed Eggs

11)Israeli Spice Chicken
12)Spinach Quiche

What are some of your family's favorite meals?

For more Thursday Thirteen lists, run on over to Happy To Be At Home!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weigh-In Wednesday

I missed last week's weigh-in due to computer issues. I'm glad to be back and catching up this week!

I've kinda fallen off the bandwagon with low-carb and am not thinking about what I'm eating as much. After trying really hard with no breads,etc., I was disappointed that I still hadn't lost any weight. It all went downhill from there!

I'm doing well with drinking 3 quarts a day most days. I try to get the first two quarts in by noon and then getting the last quart is easy to do the rest of the day.

I'm still plugging along with running. I won't say that it's really gotten that much easier but I've finally reached a place where it is doable. My breathing has improved a lot. I haven't had to use my inhaler hardly at all in the past two weeks. Even though I'm still moving really slow, my feet aren't dragging the ground nearly as much as they were at first! My speed has increased a little, too, which is good. I always feel so great after running.

Portion control and getting enough veggies each day.

Staying on track through the weekends and while eating with friends.

I'm still holding to my almost no-snacking rule. I have been having a small snack in the afternoon since I get really hungry: usually some celery and peanut butter or some fruit and a little protein of some kind.

Plans for next week:
Getting back to being mindful of what I'm eating at meals. Plan for more veggies again as well as seriously limiting the carbs once again.Resist the chocolate!

No weight loss yet, but no gain either. Hopefully, the consistent exercise will pay off in the long-term. I feel great!

**This post is part of Happy To be At Home's Weigh-in Wednesday.

Works For Me Wednesday: An Organized Bulletin Board

My kitchen bulletin board is the perfect place to keep phone lists, take-out menus, calendar, and any information that needs to be kept in a place where we'll see it often.

This wonderful bulletin board is also a clutter magnet. Papers keep getting put up on the board while outdated information doesn't get taken down. Everything is askew and we can't find anything without digging through a stack of papers.

When I took down our 2008 calendar last week and was sorting through all the stuff that was stored in this particular planning calendar's back pocket, I decided my bulletin board needed to be organized and updated!

I wasn't sure how to go about it but while thinking about how to make "pockets" for specific papers, I remembered these cute file folders-a Christmas gift from my Mom.

First, I wanted to change the background fabric. This Mary Engelbreit fabric has been there for four years. Time for a change. I've been liking the minty greens that have shown up in Target's spring displays so I searched through my fabric stash and found a nice green fabric that will look fresh but still coordinate with my kitchen. Changing the fabric was easy since I just staple it on.

I used two file folders: one for phone lists and business cards and the other for restaurant menus. A clipboard is a handy spot for keeping current store ads. Last I made a small pocket out of scrapbook paper to hold my childcare kids' contact information. As a carryover from my daycare days, I keep all their info on an index card.

Much better! I'm able to find everything I need in a second. An organized bulletin board works for me!

**This post is part of Rocks In My Dryer's Works For Me Wednesday carnival.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Another Week, Another Pot Of Soup

I've started nearly every week this winter with filling the crockpot with soup ingredients.

Soup is frugal and nourishing and having a big pot made means ready-made lunches for most of the week. It comes in handy on nights when there aren't any leftovers for lunch the next day. And soup can always be frozen in individual servings for quick lunches later, too.

Most of my crockpot soups end up being something I just make up as I go without a recipe. Here's a list of some of our most frequent soups:

--chicken(or turkey) noodle
--beef vegetable soup(recipe below)
--taco soup(recipe below)
--leftover soup using meat, beans, veggies,rice or pasta, etc. based on what I have on hand or need to use up.
--split pea soup with a ham bone if I have it, otherwise chicken broth adds a nice flavor.
--white chicken chili(I just put all ingredients except cheese in the crockpot and let it cook for 6-8 hours on low.Add cheese during the last half hour of cooking.)

Beef Vegetable Soup

1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1 jar(26-30 ounces) meatless spaghetti sauce
3 1/2 cups water
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed veggies
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 teaspoon or 1 cube beef bouillon granules(I usually leave this out.)
1 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. You can add a bit more water if it seems too thick.

Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey or beef
1 can chili beans, with liquid
1 can kidney beans, with liquid
1 can whole kernel corn, with liquid
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 package of taco seasoning mix(or make your own)
chopped onion, optional
cumin to taste, optional

Cook meat and drain. Mix all ingredients in greased crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve alone or with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

**Use any combination of your favorite beans. If you cook your own beans, as I do, use 2 cups beans for every can called for. I usually add some water with them to make up for the liquid.

Soups are easy to throw together when you use the crockpot combined with pantry and freezer staples such as homemade broths, frozen or fresh veggies, cooked beans and meats, rice and pasta. Paired with some homemade bread or a muffin, this makes a warm and filling meal during the chilly days of winter.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes every Tuesday!

Monday, January 26, 2009

I've Got A Grain Mill!

Well actually, I purchased it back in November, but am only now starting to use it.

I saved all year for this purchase so it was really special to finally buy and receive it. I eventually decided on the Nutrimill and purchased from Pleasant Hill Grain. Other than the fact that the Nutrimill has a larger storage capacity for ground flour and can be switched from fine to coarse for grinding, what really sold me on this mill in the end was that it is made by Bosch. I have a Bosch mixer and have always been pleased with it. Bosch is known for a very good heavy duty product, so I felt comfortable buying a grain mill that was made by them as well.

I ordered my wheat from Azure Standard as I couldn't find any locally. Since then, I've noticed that my health food store does carry two varieties of wheat berries. Soft white and hard red. After reading different blogs and googling about what kind of flour to use for grinding, I ordered soft white wheat(for pastries, muffins, cookies, etc.) and hard white wheat for breads. I only got a 5 pound bag of each so I could try them out and not be stuck with 50 pounds if I didn't like them!

For my next grain purchase, I'm going to check and see if I can order a large bag from the local health food store. I've known some stores to offer a ten or fifteen percent off for bulk orders. I'd like to buy locally; shipping gets very expensive!

Anyways, so far the Nutrimill works great! It took a little time to figure out how everything fit together. Several times I didn't have everything locked in and the flour came squirting out!

Fortunately, Rock was nearby to help with clean up.

A general rule is to not clean the kitchen until after grinding the grain. Even with everything together the right way, there was quite a bit of flour floating around, especially when I was cleaning the equipment off!

I made bread, breakfast cookies and banana-carrot muffins with the freshly ground flour and had good success with each one. I even soaked the flour for the bread for the first time using the above recipe link and the bread was delicious!

I'll be sharing more as I use my grain mill and learn more about soaking and using natural sweeteners. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Changing Priorities and Routines

Every so often it's helpful to step back and take a look at my schedule and routines to see what's still working and what needs to be changed.

Sometimes, I am forced to look at changing up the schedule, because I already know from my stress level and feelings of not accomplishing much during the day that something is wrong. That's how I've been feeling lately.

Two main areas that have needed change and consistency are my quiet time with God and exercise.

My first order of business was to reestablish a consistent quiet time with God each morning. What was happening was that this very important time kept getting pushed back into small time slots when I only had a few minutes and could not concentrate, let alone hear from God! What is working right now is to get up at 4:30 a.m. and have 30 plus minutes with God. The house is quiet, I have time so that I'm not rushed and I have nothing else pressing to be done at the moment. So far it's working. I told Andy that for the first time in months, I feel as though I've got my main priorities in order just by having my quiet time early and first thing in the morning!

I am an early riser by nature and our schedules at this point have me out of bed by 5 or 5:30 each day anyways. The difference has been that I don't check my email or blogs until Andy leaves for work or later. Quite a bit of lost time has been found just by disciplining myself in that area!

I've been running as soon as it's light out so that I'm back in time before the childcare kids arrive. Their arrival times fluctuate quite a bit so it's better to be back and ready for them sooner than later! On the occasion that I can't get the exercise done in the morning, I'll go running in the afternoon instead. But I much prefer exercising in the morning!

Exercising and getting my time with God early in the day keeps me going and makes me feel great all day!

Next up: Reworking my cleaning schedule so that it actually works for me.

What about you? What priorities and routines do you need to rearrange so that they work for you?How have you reworked routines in your home?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blogging Issues

We're currently experiencing some technical difficulties with our computer. One area it's affecting is not being able to paste anything after copying. All the posts I have planned with links or multiple pictures will have to wait until we get this figured out. The photos load onto the post just fine, I'm just not able to move them around to specific places throughout the post.

Hopefully, we'll get this all ironed out soon!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Roasting Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

Throughout the fall, I cooked several pumpkins. Each time, I also roasted the seeds. My husband has grown quite fond of them and they are nice on salads or as a little snack. Plus, pumpkin seeds are very good for you, too.

As I was preparing an acorn squash for dinner last night, I thought, "Why can't I roast these seeds, too?" I googled 'roasting acorn squash seeds' and sure enough, other squash seeds can be roasted, too.

I roasted them the same way I do my pumpkin seeds and they turned out wonderfully. Why didn't I think to do this sooner? Acorn squash seeds are a bit smaller and cooked a bit faster than pumpkin seeds in my oven. They are just as delicious, though!

Roasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

1) Rinse seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (This is easiest just after you've removed the seeds from the pumpkin or squash, before the pulp has dried.)

2)Place the seeds in a single layer on an oiled or greased baking sheet, stirring to coat.

3)Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.

4)Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

Not only are roasted pumpkin and squash seeds yummy and good for you, it's a great way to make sure that there's no waste!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weigh-in Wednesday

In keeping with my New Year's goals to drop a few pounds, I'm joining in with Weigh-In Wednesday over at Happy to be at Home. This will be a great motivator!

I'm not considered terribly overweight and I have a lot of people shocked at what size I wear since apparently, I don't look that big. I am a bit bigger boned, I guess. Over the past several years, I have put on about 30 extra pounds. So I really would like to get rid of that excess! My goal is not to be tiny-tiny, because well, I'm not. I just want to be a good weight for my height and build and take good care of my body so that I will be as healthy as possible. Especially as I'm now in my 30's!

Here's my progress this week:

I've cut out snacks and most carbs and am really focused on portion control. This week, I decided to not eat any breads, pastas, or rice and see if that helps any to jump-start the weight loss as the couple of weeks before, I had seriously cut back on carbs, still allowing myself to eat a few each day and no weight loss! I'm still eating lots of veggies and 1-2 pieces of fruit each day and focusing on cutting out "fast carbs" such as breads, etc. I've been eating a large salad with most lunches and dinners and keeping to only one helping of the main course. Low-carb dinners this week included: sausage, pepper and onion stir-fry; sausage, white bean and kale soup, acorn squash stuffed with chicken, apples and celery and rotisserie chicken with a salad. I'm planning day by day right now since I'm trying to be creative but still keep this cost-effective!

I'm trying to improve my water intake. I used to do really well but more recently have fallen away from drinking enough. What works best for me is to fill a quart jar with water and leave it out on the counter where I see it and am sure to drink it all and then keep refilling and drinking until I've reached my goal of 3 quarts a day.

I've been following an 8 week plan for running. On the days that I don't run, I walk, usually taking the dog along. Starting to run has not been easy at all; it's been very difficult. This is my 3rd week and I'm having a really hard time being able to run 4 straight minutes without having to stop and use my inhaler. I feel great when I'm done running, though. Time will tell if running a 5k was a realistic goal for me. I'm continuing to do my best and see what I can do.

Low-carb breakfasts. Any ideas? I've been eating plain yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs. I've had a half of a grapefruit with the above options a couple of mornings this week. Breakfast meats are an option which I don't have on hand right now.

Being able to breathe while running.

Making it from lunch to dinner without snacking. This is my hungriest time! Sometimes a bit of protein helps to keep me going.

Getting the right balance of healthy fats without overdoing.

Not craving sweets and carbs that much. Not cheating and eating a cookie. I thought this would be a lot harder for me.

Being able to stand firm and not eat snacks while feeding the boys a snack, usually crackers or something carb-y.

Plans For Next Week:
Stay on the course with running, trying to build strength and stamina.

Drink enough water!

I haven't lost any weight yet. I feel really good and have more energy, though. I'm hoping that between cutting out the carbs and exercising regularly that I will begin to see some results. I'm not sure if this was a fluke, but after running consistently for one week, I was able to zip my boots(calf-height) up all the way, which has never happened. I was excited about that!

Are you trying to eat healthier or lose some weight? Head over to Happy to be at Home to read more weekly updates and join in the fun!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Gift Of Meat!

For the past few years, Andy's grandparents have sent us a box of Omaha Steaks meat for Christmas. They usually let us know ahead of time to be expecting the package and we eagerly await it's arrival! As you can tell in the picture, even one of the boys I babysit was excited to see what was in the box.

This year's box held one box of ground beef patties as well as several boxes of different steaks. Yum!

This meat is always really good and I try to stretch it out to make it last as long as I can throughout the year. :-)

Thanks, Nan and Poppie!

Friday, January 09, 2009

More New Year's Goals: Food

Along with my other goals for the new year, I also have some plans for learning and implementing some different ways of cooking.

Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet is hosting a Nourishing Foods carnival today and has asked us to share our healthy eating and cooking goals for 2009.

I'm keeping it simple. Even though there's so much I want to learn and accomplish, I will have much better success with choosing a few key areas and working on those instead of a long list that will overwhelm me!

My desire is to continue learning about nutrition and preparing the very best foods that I can in order to promote good health for us. Our diet is already primarily whole foods and full of fresh fruits and veggies. We've made the switch to raw milk, better eggs,using good fats such as butter, olive oil and coconut oil as opposed to margarine and shortening and more recently I'm trying to purchase mostly organic or all-natural meats. There is so much more to learn! And baby steps seem to be the way to go about making these changes.

I chose four areas to focus on this year:

1)Learn to use my new grain mill.I'm eager to begin grinding my own wheat as soon as my grain order arrives!

2)Begin soaking grains.Start with bread and basic grains and beans and as I'm successful and produce a finished product that we both enjoy, branch out to include other baked items.

3)Drastically reduce our consumption of refined sugar products. I would like to eliminate them altogether but realize that may not be totally realistic right away. My husband has a major sweet tooth and we both love our chocolate! I've already reduced the amount of desserts we eat and will continue to make more healthy options available. My plan for this is to use Rapadura and honey for baking. We've been quite satisfied with the muffins and cookies I've prepared with Rapadura in the past.I just need to stick with it and make this a habit!

4)Eliminate high fructose corn syrup! This is in almost everything! Even canned beans. I make most of our foods from scratch already so where this affects us the most is with salad dressings, ketchup and barbecue sauce. I've already purchased some ketchup without HFCS and it is pretty good. More expensive, yes. But we don't eat a lot of ketchup so that shouldn't be too much of an issue. I'm going to experiment with some homemade salad dressings and barbecue sauce to find one or two that we really like!

Head over to The Nourishing Gourmet to read about more nourishing food goals or maybe join in!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Mom's Lasagna

It is a tradition in Andy's family to have lasagna for New Year's Day. I've adopted this tradition for my own household.

What better way to start the new year than with layers of pasta, meat sauce and cheese?

This is my Mom's recipe. We've all made it countless times for friends and family and always have requests for the recipe or for refills. ;-)

Mom's Lasagna

Brown: 1 pound ground beef

Add to meat:
1 garlic clove or 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
1- 6 ounce can tomato paste

Simmer uncovered about an hour.

Cook 10 ounce lasagna noodles according to package instructions.

3 cups cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Grate: 1 pound mozzarella cheese.

1) Place 1/2 noodles in greased 9 x 13 pan.
2) Spread 1/2 cottage cheese mixture over noodles.
3) Sprinkle 1/2 mozzarella cheese on top of cottage cheese mixture.
4) Spread 1/2 of meat mixture over cheese.
5) Repeat until everything is used-ending with cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly!

Serve with garlic bread and tossed green salad.

Free Pie & Ice Cream!

We had an unexpected surprise as we were heading out of our local Earth Fare store last night. The lady that had been ahead of us in line came back into the store and asked if we'd like a store coupon for a free apple pie and store brand ice cream. She had already used one and had forgotten that she had 2 coupons. They expired that day so she wanted to give the extra one to us!

Andy took the groceries to the car and I marched back into the store to redeem the coupon. I paid 11 cents tax for a half-gallon of ice cream and an 8 inch apple pie. Both are made with natural and wholesome ingredients-no artificial sweeteners or questionable preservatives. For a store-bought pie, it is really quite delicious!

What a sweet surprise!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Continue On In 2009!

Happy New Year!

While the sauce for our traditional New Year's lasagna is cooking, I'll go ahead and post my goals and theme for this year. A specific list helps to keep me motivated and I tend to remember things that I've posted on my blog. It's also fun to read through the archives and see the phases that I've gone through and what was important to me at certain times. It does change, you know.:-)

While pondering what kind of a fresh start I would be making come the beginning of 2009, I realized that many of my goals were not new but go right along with what I've been doing and learning the last year or two.

At first, I was disapointed. Does this mean that I'm not really making a fresh start? Am I not learning new things or reaching my goals so that I can go on to new and different things?

Then I read this verse:

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2: 6,7 NIV

The phrase continue to live in him stood out. I knew right away that the word continue would be my theme for 2009. Continuing with what I'm learning and God is showing me and taking the next step in these areas.

Continue: con⋅tin⋅ue
verb, -ued, -u⋅ing.

–verb (used without object)

1. to go on after suspension or interruption
2. to go on or keep on, as in some course or action; extend
3. to last or endure
4. to remain in a particular state or capacity
5. to remain in a place; abide; stay

–verb (used with object)

6. to go on with or persist in: to continue an action.
7. to carry on from the point of suspension or interruption
8. to extend from one point to another in space; prolong.
9. to say in continuation.
10. to cause to last or endure; maintain or retain, as in a position.
11. to carry over, postpone, or adjourn; keep pending, as a legal proceeding.

In this new year, I will continue...

--to work on areas that I've let go.... exercise, eliminating/drastically reducing refined sugars from our diet
--to keep on... reading and meditating on God's Word, being diligent in prayer, especially for my husband, growing in Christ through lessons and circumstances in 2008
--to persist at...losing a little weight, saving for a down payment on a house
--to live in Him!

My specific goals at this time for 2009:

--Reading and studying God's Word
Plan of action: Continue reading one chapter each day, writing down what jumps out at me and how it will change the way I live my life.

--Develop a meaningful prayer life.
Plan of action: Continue reading and praying through The Power of a Praying Wife as I seek to lift my husband up in prayer each day. Pray for people I know immediately as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind. Keep a list of ongoing prayer requests and a list of answered prayers.

--Exercise 3-4 times a week.
Plan of action: Currently, I'm getting started running by following this 8 week program. My motivation is my first 5k that I'm planning on participating in on March 7. Yikes!!!

--Losing a little weight.
Plan of action: Continue watching food portion sizes, eliminating most snacks and limiting fast carbs(breads, sweets, etc.).

Plan of action: Simplify by continuing to declutter, carefully analyzing whether or not I need an item before purchasing, use what I have.

--Continue my quest for healthier living.
Plan of action: Find natural alternatives to all cleaning supplies and air freshener. Continue to cook healthfully by implementing more whole foods into and eliminating refined sugars from our diets. (More on this next week as I participate in this carnival!)


I don't feel very comfortable divulging many specifics on this topic since I have many real life friends and family reading this blog. I love them all very much, but I do like to keep some things private!

I will say, though, that our main financial goal this year is to continue saving for a down payment on a house. Last year, our goal in this was to get a house fund started, which we did. We haven't yet established a specific goal for this year.

So that concludes my list of goals for the new year. I think it will be enough to keep me busy, don't you think?

What are your main goals as you begin a new year?