Monday, February 3, 2014
1. Being brave creatively: make and print a book of our Instagram pictures from 2013. Are you guilty of never doing anything with your photos too?
2. Being brave in the kitchen: bake a delicious gluten-free cookie. All the new flours scare me a bit...definitely a departure from my comfortable baking ways. Any tips or recipes you may have are appreciated!
3. Being brave in my giving: leave a big tip at a restaurant.
4. Month-long challenge: write down at least five things I am grateful for everyday.
5. Read one book.
6. Stay up to date in my Bible reading. This month, I am in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Psalms.
7. Do a mix of walking and jogging to complete #44milesinfebruary. I'm going to ease in slowly and see how my ankle feels.
8. Bring the boys to see a movie in theaters.
9. Print out photographs from our session this fall and frame in the living room.
10. Send one "just because" gift.
11. Go on a date with my husband.
12. Buy new oven mitts.
Friday, January 31, 2014
1. Being brave creatively: cross-stitch something difficult and turn it into a wall hanging. Did not complete. The Mother Teresa cross-stitch kit that I chose from my stash has turned out to be much more time intensive than I thought! I'm still working bit by bit, though, and I'm going to continue into February. Hopefully I'll be able to share next month.
2. Being brave in the kitchen: make a warm breakfast at least three times a week. Complete! Some days were a stretch (Eggo waffles count as a warm breakfast, right?), but most of the time, I was able to easily accomplish this before school. We had lots of eggs and bacon, quiche, and pancakes.
3. Being brave in my giving: donate items to our church's Refugee Services. While we did not actually donate our items to Refugee Services, I still consider this one complete. We read in our church bulletin about a local organization that receives donations to give to community members in need. Any extras go into their thrift store, where the proceeds also go to the community. Win/win and all for a great cause.
4. Read two books. Done! This month, I read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption and Stepping Heavenward. Both were very good.
5. Launch the Big White Farmhouse shop! We launched on Monday the 13th and had such a positive response. I am so humbled by the excitement and support I have received.
6. Stay up to date in my Bible reading. I wasn't sure if I would be able to pull this off, but I squeezed in the last chapters right under the wire!
7. Walk #40milesinjanuary. Complete! Walking all month was a huge adjustment for me, but I ended up loving it! Grand total of mileage: exactly 40 miles.
8. Make my handwriting a font. Didn't happen in January, but I'm hoping to download the app soon.
9. Finally install the art wall in the master bedroom. Complete! Projects like these make me wonder what took me so long. I hung the frames on a rainy Saturday morning and knocked it out in no time. I love how it turned out!
10. Embrace the camera and get at least one picture with the entire family in it. Partial success. I took a few pictures of myself with the kids, but we didn't get one of the entire family. We need to remedy that in February.
11. Catch up on all correspondence. Close, but not complete. I did write all of my thank yous, but didn't finish my penpal letters (seven to go!). I also did not write to my Compassion kids this month, which is a habit I really want to change.
12. Monthly challenge: No Sugar January. I would consider this a partial success. While I did splurge on a few occasions, the new habits I gained made the whole experiment worth it. More lessons below.
Honorable mention: I checked off eight items on my "100 Little Things" list.
Bonus: I wrote on the blog more than once a week all month and even popped over to write on the shop blog a few times.
Lessons from the No Sugar Challenge:
I needed this challenge to lose a few bad habits and get back on track to balanced eating. I fell off the clean eating wagon a few times, but it served as a good reminder: when your diet is full of nutritious things, you just don't desire the other stuff as much. That's not to say that I'll never indulge in a piece of cheesecake again, but I definitely have regained a better sense of moderation.
Other Lessons from the Month:
While I love a challenge, most of the goals here required quite a bit of time to accomplish. As a mamma to four, with a house to maintain and a new business to run, sometimes something just has to give. And that's okay. The monthly goals are a good way for me to stay intentional, but I don't feel like a failure if I don't complete everything. I'm choosing to celebrate all I did do instead.
See you in February!
Monday, January 27, 2014
Today is the beginning of a new series here on the blog, a peek behind the scenes of Big White Farmhouse! I hope to pop in every so often to share about all the aspects of small business ownership, especially as I venture out into uncharted territory. I know I have lots to learn along the way and maybe my experience will be helpful to someone too. (Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas for the series!)
For the first installment, I thought I'd start with my favorite part of Big White Farmhouse: packaging up new orders!
When you buy from Big White Farmhouse, we want you to feel like you've become a part of the family. Each item purchased from us is wrapped in our signature kraft paper and red twine. A handwritten thank you note is also included in every order. Eventually, we may add a secret bonus in the envelope too...still thinking about that one! The look is simple, but we hope it conveys to our customers that they are special. Andrea and I think the little details are as important as the big ones.
Only a few more days to save 15% site-wide at our Grand Opening Sale!
Ending Friday, January 31.
Friday, January 24, 2014
We had such a good week! Everyone was home on Monday because of the holiday. We stayed in our pajamas, watched movies and relaxed after a weekend of entertaining. Then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were snow days! I know M is ready to get back to school and his friends.
Have you been over to Bonnie's blog to vote for the 2014 Sheenazing Blogger Awards yet? I was so surprised to see that I have been nominated for Best Lifestyle blog! I'm in the running with a lot of better blogs than mine, but the nomination made my whole week. (Thank you, whoever you are, for nominating me!)
#40milesinjanuary update: I'm getting close! As of this writing, I am at 37 miles. This is the first time ever that I have met (and hopefully surpassed) one of these Instagram challenges. I am so excited for next month.
I am reading Stepping Heavenward, a gift from a penpal, and loving it! Have you read it?
As you can see from the picture above, I made the mistake of leaving my cross-stitch project on the table and J's little hands couldn't resist trying it out. Fortunately, the destruction wasn't terrible and I'm actually a little impressed! :)
I wrote a little post on the shop blog about my Gram and her passion for education. That little pocket dictionary is one of my most prized possessions. And one more shop note: We have one more week for our Grand Opening Sale over at Big White Farmhouse! 15% off site-wide until January 31st.
Have a wonderful weekend, friends! Stay warm!
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
My husband and I have big goals in the financial realm for 2014. As you may have seen in my 100 Little Things post, we are hoping to pay off our van, credit card and student loan. It's daunting, but we can't wait to be debt-free and have that weight gone!
One of the easy ways to trim the budget a bit is through our groceries. I am embarrassed to admit that we were previously so wasteful with our money: eating out way too much, throwing away too much expired and rotten food...it was bad. With the new year came a new commitment and so far, so good! Getting rid of the bad habits is a good, good thing.
Today, I thought I'd share three apps I use on my phone that have helped me save some money in the grocery department. At first, it doesn't seem like much, but every little bit helps and it does add up!
1. Cartwheel: We have a Super Target nearby and I'm there at least once a week. The Cartwheel App is so great! There are tons of offers for 5-10% (sometimes more!) off different products and they update regularly.
There are two features that I find especially helpful:
A. When I prepare beforehand: The search bar is so helpful when I am making a grocery list at home. I type in the items I plan to buy and see if there are any corresponding offers to put in my Cartwheel "cart".
B. At the store: If I don't have a chance to prepare before I get to the store, I use the UPC scanning option to check each item that goes in my cart.
When you get to checkout, you simply show your cashier the barcode, they scan it and done! So easy! I've been using the app for a few months now and I've already saved about $70. Every little bit adds up!
2. Ibotta: This is a fairly new one for me, but I like it! Basically, it is an app where you can earn cash back for purchasing participating products. This video from the Krazy Coupon Lady is really helpful and explains it better than I can. I often don't purchase a lot of the items they offer, but I keep checking back just in case. I also like that when you reach a certain amount ($5, I think?), you can cash out right to your Paypal account.
3. emeals: Oh man, has this one changed my life! Back in December, I purchased a year-long membership to emeals to help me with meal planning. It has been worth every penny. We have eaten delicious, healthy meals every night since! The mobile app that accompanies the plan is amazing. My favorite part is the grocery list. I follow along as I run through the store and I love how you can check each item off as you put it in your cart. Makes grocery shopping so easy! I also like that it keeps me on track. If it's not on the list, it doesn't go in my cart. It's a great reminder to stick to the plan and avoid the impulse buys.
What tips do you use to save money on your groceries? Do you coupon? I'd love to know your secrets!