The Blessed Life

The Blessed Life

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saving Money on Baby food

I am not totally sure that I haven't mentioned this before, so if I have, I apologize. 

Making your own baby food is a GREAT way to save money.  It is as simple as that.  Making your own baby food is a TREMENDOUS way to save money if you are a crazy organic person like I try to be when it comes to baby food.  Because, in case you aren't aware, organic baby food is more expensive than your regular ol' baby food.

I can hear your objections starting now.  "It takes too long."  "It is too hard."  "I don't have everything I need to make my own baby food."  "I don't have babies."

Only one of those is a valid excuse to not make your own baby food and I am sure it is obvious which one it is!

The truth is, making baby food is remarkably simple, requires only a few kitchen tools, and doesn't take that much time.

For starters you will need either a steamer, microwave, oven or stove.  I am pretty sure if you didn't have a steamer you could cook your foods a different way, but I prefer a steamer to preserve as much nutrients as possible.  You will also need a blender, food mill or food processor.  Lastly, some ice cube trays and freezer bags for storage.  It is that simple.  No fancy kitchen utensils required.

I will not go into details on how to make baby food, but I will recommend the book Super Baby Food, which is a great resource on how to make puree's and other baby foods.    I will tell you that with only a little planning, making baby food takes little time.  And it is super cost effective.

Example: one jar of organic sweet potatoes is about $.79.  You can buy a whole sweet potato for $1.  That one sweet potato when steamed and turned into a puree the correct consistency for a baby will get you about 5 jars of sweet potatoes.  Pretty good deal.  The same is true of almost all fruits and vegetables.  The exceptions I have found so far are fruits like peaches, mangoes, and nectarines.  Vegetables are usually where you will get the most savings.

I encourage you to try making your own baby food.  It is healthier, easy, less expensive and in my case, makes me feel like a good mom.  I know that is weird, but something about putting effort into what my kids are eating helps me feel like I am doing a good job.  Happy pureeing!

Monday, September 27, 2010


In case I become a famous blogger someday, I am considering using fake names for the girls in my posts.  I have not decided if I will make the same change on f/b, but maybe the blog.  So...what do you think?  Be prepared in case some weirdo is reading my blog and wants to steal the girls' identity, or keep my blog just for family?  I love to blog, but changing the girls' names would make it a little weird in the future if they wanted to read what I have written.

Since I figure I will never be Pioneer Woman famous unless I am prepared to be, I am leaning more towards yes, but I would love your input!  My oldest daughter would be Emma and the youngest would be Claire (decided I would use my other favorite girl names since I don't have two more girls!).  If I change, I would be updating previous posts as time allows.  Hope this doesn't confuse all the relatives, or make people think I am crazy.  Just want to make sure that when my blog is being read by people from all over that I maintain a little privacy!

A girl can dream, right?  Let me know what you think.  Change or no?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hotel Savings

Another Wednesday is here already?  How did that happen?  Seems like this week is flying by.  And, for the record, I am thrilled by that.  I have seen the seven day forecast and fall is on it's way and I could not be happier.  There is actually a day in the 7 day forecast where the high is in the 70's and the low is in the 50's.  That is my PERFECT weather forecast. 

However, Wednesday is not a day for talking about the is a day for saving money!!!  WHOO HOO! 

Today's great money saving idea is about hotels.  Rarely do we need to save money on hotels these days as we have not traveled much since having Isabelle, but now that I know this great tip, I can be sure I will be able to get a great deal if we get away.

Everyone has heard of  But did you know about their unpublished rates?  That of course is where you can find the best savings. 

Example:  My father in law and his wife came for a visit over labor day.  She was searching for hotels in Tulsa and saw a line that mentioned unpublished rates.  To make a very long story short, she clicked on the link and was able to specify the area she wanted to stay and the star level she preferred and they showed the price.  You do not see the hotel you are choosing, just an area and a star level with a price when you decide to book.  She booked a three and a half star hotel near Jenks for $39.99 a night.  The hotel?  The Hilton at Southern Hills.  They stayed in a king suite where the regular cost for a night is $239 (according to the website).  Quite the deal.  A savings of $800 since they stayed four nights.  Now I realize most people are smart enough not to pay the full $239 by using a site like Expedia (which shows the average night stay here to be $84), but even using the $84, they still saved $176 by using the unpublished rate.

So next time you need to travel and are looking for ways to save money, try out Expedia.  Don't like Expedia?  Try Hotwire or Priceline or or some other website designed to save money on hotels.  I have heard good reviews from all of them! 

Monday, September 20, 2010


There is something indescribable that happens to a person when they become a parent.  You feel a love you never knew, gain a patience you didn't know you could have, and you develop a tolerance for smells that would kill normal people.  Seriously though, becoming a parent is pretty life changing.  And when Jason and I had Isabelle, life as we knew it was over.  One look at her and we were both totally and completely in love.

When I got pregnant for the second time lots of people talked to me about the awesomeness of love and a parent's ability to love a second child just as much as your first.  I said multiple times that I was not worried about that at all.  Sure, I was worried I would not think Molly was as cute, but I was not worried about love.  And I don't think I was, but I certainly wasn't prepared for how amazing the love for your second child could be.

Lately I have been struck over and over with the miracle that is my love for Molly.  Parents of only one child do not understand the amazing gift that is baby #2.  The overwhelming love and tenderness you felt for the first baby is not simply multiplied by two, but seems to be multiplied by 100.  Looking at Molly I can't believe that the love I felt for Isabelle could be so easily duplicated (and yet totally different and wonderful) with another child.  And don't get me started on what happens to my heart when those two are together.  Seeing Isabelle give Molly a hug and kiss or seeing Molly smile while Isabelle runs circles around her is too precious.

Isabelle is such a great daughter.  When I look at her, I melt.  Sometimes she drives me crazy and sometimes there are days I dream of a nice long vacation, but she is still my punky girl.  Molly is amazing also.  There is something so unique and so different from Isabelle about her.  Molly has taken my heart to places I didn't know it could go.  Somewhere I can only imagine you can relate to if you have had more than one child.  Just to realize that God has given us such a great capacity to love and then to realize how poor our love is compared to His. 

I am so blessed with my two daughters.  I am blessed to stay home and blessed to have my husband support our family.  Becoming a mom is the greatest thing I have ever done and I think one of these days I might find out if the same holds true for #3.  (NOT NOW, just one day!!!!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cell Phones, Broken Fingers and Sick Kids

Sadly I again did not meet my self imposed deadline of posting on Friday.  It was a crazy day and thankfully it is over.  We are a mess.

Thankfully my mother in law, Debi, was here yesterday watching the girls.  I was originally supposed to have three Mary Kay appointments which turned into one Mary Kay appointment!  Normally I would have used that extra time to make customer phone calls or do data entry or something else job related, but instead I got to spend well over 2 hours dealing with my broken cell phone.  I am currently not receiving phone calls, voice mails or text messages, making life a little challenging when a large part of my business is being on the phone!  Also, I like to talk to my sister during the day and I am pretty sure I missed at least two good opportunities to chat with her yesterday!

As for the broken finger issue....well, that is Jason and not me.  Last Sunday at football, Jason injured his pinkie finger on his right hand.  He maintained all week long that even if it was broken, there was nothing to be done about it anyway, so why go to the doctor.  I urged him to go, but had no luck. Jason decides perhaps he should go have it looked at and of course it is broken and not just a little, but majorly broken and now he has to go see a specialist on Monday to find out if he needs a screw to fix it!

Lastly, yesterday Molly started getting a little runny nose.  It has progressed to where I am pretty sure she feels miserable.  She is not sleeping because she can't breathe, not eating because she can't breath and therefore is one tired, hungry, cranky kiddo.  When she was just a little baby she spent many nights sleeping in the swing because of congestion.  I think she has had enough, because even though it keeps her propped up and breathing, she wants no part of the swing today.  I personally think my girls have allergies, but according to the medical community, kids that are as young as Isabelle and Molly can't have allergies so who knows. 

A day late, but I got it done!  Probably not the exciting, funny, inspiring blog I had hoped for, but done nonetheless!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Today's blog is great if you are one of those compulsive coupon types who loves to plan your dinners around what coupons you have and enjoy the thrill of getting $100 of groceries for $0.80.  I am not one of those people.  I do however use coupons when I go to the store and I do make a point to find what coupons I can that will help me save a few dollars here and there when I go to the store.

My grandma was a couponer (if that is a word).  She would get her grocery store fliers, her coupons and her list and go crazy.  She was great with money and always had plenty of it because of smart decision making and smart spending habits.  I am pretty sure I saw her, on more than one occasion, go back to a store to get what amounted to less than a dollar back because the store overcharged her for something that was on sale!  Now, I simply don't have time to do that, but I do have time to look online and in the Sunday paper for coupons and you might also!  And so I bring you a few handy websites to help fulfill your couponing goals/obsession no matter how big or small.  this is a great website for printing coupons.  I can usually find several dollars of savings.  I only print coupons for items that are already on my list and are going to be used pretty much right away.  If you are a coupon fanatic you can print all of them, look for items already on sale and then use the coupon on sale items and save a bundle.  This requires that you either have the energy to hunt down bargains or that you are willing to plan your meals around your coupons. is another great website for online coupons.  Very similar to the site above.  This is really the motherload.  I have saved the best for last.  I went to high school with the Money Saving Queen, Sarah Roe.  She is a crazy woman when it comes to coupons.  On her site you can find matchups (where they tell you what is on sale that matches a recent coupon) to multiple stores including CVS, Walgreens, Reasors, Walmart and Target.  She also posts coupons, and offers for free or bogo offers on her website and on her facebook page.  I have recently scored coupons for $5 off 5 Kraft items, bogo coupons to Jamba Juice, Horizon milk coupons and learned about a way to get free chips and queso from Chili's.  This is a great website and I encourage you to check her out or 'like' her on facebook. 

Using coupons isn't going to revolutionize my spending, but it might change yours.  Some people enjoy the thrill of extreme couponing.  Everyone should enjoy saving money.  Even if you have tons of money that you know you will never spend in your lifetime, you can always save money and give it away, right? 

Monday, September 13, 2010


Because it is Monday, because Mondays are my day to discuss the kiddos and our crazy life, and because I haven't done an update in a while, here it update on our crazy life!

Isabelle is showing obvious signs of getting ready to turn two.  If you saw us out in public you would for sure recognize her as a two year old complete with a vocabulary dominated by the word NO.  She likes that word.  

Me:  "Isabelle, would you like to eat some breakfast?"

Isabelle:  "No."

Me:  "Isabelle would you like to play toys?"

Isabelle:  "No."

Me:  "Isabelle, stop riding your sister."

Isabelle:  "No."

It is never ending.  She says no even when it is obvious she wants to say yes.  I have tried to stop saying words like no and mine so that she will not repeat them as much.  Who knows if that will work, but I am going to try it.

She is also very close to potty training.  She can tell you after she has gone and can sit on the potty with the best of them, but she will not GO on the potty.  The fact that I just typed the word potty three times is astonishing to me.  What has my life come to that I have this much to say on the topic of potty.  And the truth is, I could probably type three paragraphs about our adventures in potty training.  AHHH..there it is again.  Needless to say, her mother is most likely the issue at this point.  I have no idea how to go about getting a two year old out of diapers.  But rest assured, I have checked out 10 books from the library and am confident one of them can help.  I am hoping it is the one titled, Potty Training in a Day or something like that.  I like the idea of one day.  Can that even be true?

Molly is still the adorable, easy going child I brought home.  Pretty sure she is in the middle of a growing spurt as she has started waking up once at night to eat.  Hopefully that will end soon!  She is getting more of a personality and is making a lot of noise when she is awake laughing and squealing.  Still no crawling, but sooooo close.  We have made no more progress on the rice cereal.  Watching her eat you would think I am feeding her actual crap.  WOW...potty and then crap.  Perhaps I should wrap it up.

Jason and I are...well, sleep deprived.  Jason has been working long hours and had a big presentation last week that went very well.  He is so talented it makes me sick.  Mary Kay is great.  Glad I worked the JBF sale and will probably do it again.  As with everything, you get out what you put in and now that I am actually working again things are looking up! 

We had family in town most of the last week.  Jason's dad was here Saturday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday and my dad stayed this past Friday through yesterday.  We had great visits with both.  Isabelle is still not sure where PawPaw, Elaine and Poppy are, but I am sure she will recover. 

So all that to say, we are doing great.  Dealing with potty, sleep deprived and busy beyond what we would have ever imagined, but great.  Wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Friday, September 10, 2010


I think I have issues.  I am in love with lists.  All day long I have been thinking of ideas for today's blog and what I came up with was a list.  But Wednesday was a list of sorts, and well, who wants to read a blog full of lists?  Not me! 

Not only do I love lists, but really any and all things that are associated with organization.  Labels...LOVE THEM.  It is a good thing I don't own a label maker.  I would label everything.  Dividers for notebooks, file cabinets, labeled files, folders, small dividers in my drawers, I could go on forever!  I get excited just talking about them.  One day in Dallas, Jason came home with new labels for our file cabinet printed out on gorgeous new labels.  It was the greatest day ever.  I also love post its and all post it related products.  Each year when my mom does our taxes (she is a CPA) she gives them back to me and has little sticky notes to indicate where we should sign.  I know where to sign, I just love the sticky notes. 

Like I said, I have issues.

But I am not the only one.  I won't name any names, but a certain 30 year old, handsome man that I live with and is the father of my children has the same disease I do.  Love of organization and orderliness is what we call it.  OCD is what everyone else calls it.  This man I am not naming has a closet that is organized by color and type of clothing.  He also has a very specific system for socks, t-shirts and underwear I won't get into in order to respect his privacy.  He has also been known to spend an entire day re-organizing the kitchen cabinets because he thought of a more efficient way for the plates to be stacked, or a more logical way to store my millions of bowls (another obsession for another day).

The examples of our craziness could go on for days and days.  I could make a list, but that would just put me right back where I started....a compulsive list maker.  So I will avoid lists for today, and by avoid lists I mean avoid writing about lists, sort of. 

ps. I am now going to cross off  #5 (write blog) of my list of things to do today!  Go me!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Money Saving Wednesday

I don't think I am alone in that recently, finding ways to save money has gotten a little tricky.  My bills continue to go up (I am on the phone trying to figure out why my car insurance went up as I type) and our income remains the same.  So in getting ready for this post I considered all the small ways that Jason and I work to save money.  Nothing incredible, nothing any average person couldn't do, but things that I don't believe everyone does.  I love reading lists on the internet of ways to save money.  Occasionally I pick up an idea I hadn't thought of before.  So here is my list of small ways we save money in our household.

1. BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET.  I can't stress the importance of having a working family budget.  Knowing how much you have coming in, how much is going out and where it is going is key.  Planning where each and every last dollar of your income will go will ensure you don't end the month wondering where all the money went.  There are multiple sources around to help you put together a good budget.  We like Dave Ramsey.  We have been able to radically change our spending habits, pay off two car loans, all credit card debt and save for an emergency fund thanks to Dave Ramsey, but the most important thing he gave us was a budget.

2. Compare prices.  Yes, this does require a little delayed gratification and yes, it is work, but you can save money.  Whatever the item may be, find out if you can purchase it somewhere else for less.  We are currently doing this in our hunt to find Isabelle a swing set.  Look around.  The internet has made this incredibly easy, you just have to be willing to work and wait.

3.  Along the same lines as willing to wait for a sale.  One thing I NEVER buy full price is scrapbooking supplies.  I know if I wait long enough I can find what I am looking for at Hobby Lobby for 1/2 price.  They always have sales and as long as I am willing to wait I can find what I am looking for at 1/2 price.  Most groceries will go on sale, clothes go on sale, shoes go on sale, you just need to be patient.

4.  Buy used when possible.  This rule only applies in so many areas!  The first thing we will only buy used is our cars.  I get that some people like new cars, but the savings are so worth having a gently used vehicle.  Another area I try to buy used is kids clothes.  I recently scored big time at the Just Between Friends sale in Tulsa on name brand clothes for the girls like Gap, Gymboree, Hannah Anderson, Childrens Place and Tommy Hilfiger.

my last money saving tip of the day.......(I saved the best for last)

5. Tithe.  That's right, I said tithe.  To save money, give 10% of your income to your church.  To some this idea is going to sound downright ridiculous.  You will say, "How can giving money away help you save money, dummy?"  And you may think you are right, but you are wrong.  Tithing works.  It is a biblical principal.  Which means I can't explain it except to say this....nothing belongs to me anyway.  It is God's.  He provides us with an income.  It is His.  He gives it to us and asks for a small tenth back.  With that He promises to bless our finances, and He does.  I have never doubted this and never will.  It works.  In fact the bible almost dares you to try.   Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

So that's it...five easy ways our household saves money!  Questions?  I would be happy to answer!  Leave a comment and I promise I'll get back to you.  I am also willing to share our budget and how it works with anyone interested.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dear Molly

Dear Molly,

I am so thankful for you and what a wonderful and sweet girl you are.  You are truly a blessing and I treasure each day I get to spend being your mom.  I thank God every day that he has trusted me to raise you and your sister.  I hope I am doing a good enough job so that one day you will grow up and love Jesus and make wise decisions and be a happy, normal individual who loves her life.

I wanted to write you a letter to tell you all about your life so far and make sure you knew how blessed we have been to have you around. 

Most days you are the happiest, most easy going, playful baby around.  You like to spend time on the floor attempting to crawl, but you are also happy to be held.  You get lots of good hugs and kisses from Isabelle during the day and sometimes (like today) she even tries to just lay on top of you to see you closer.  You are still nursing every 3 1/2 to four hours during the day, but go 10 hours at night without eating.  During the day you also take at least three naps ranging from 1/2 an hour to three hours.  You tried rice cereal for the first time recently and hated it, so we haven't really started on solid food yet.  I am going to try bananas and avocado next.  Overall, you just go with the flow.  I know I am lucky and I try not to brag, but you have been this easy since the day we brought you home from the hospital.  As soon as the doctor told me you were big enough, I stopped waking you up to feed you and let you sleep!  You slept through the night before you were even two months old!  You hardly ever cry, don't have near the amount of blow out diapers your sister had, and laugh all the time.  Your laugh is the cutest thing EVER, and sometimes I keep tickling you over and over just to keep hearing you laugh.

Our days home together are pretty ordinary.  We spend time with sister, watch a little Yo Gabba Gabba, play outside, go for walks, take our naps, dance and sing lots of songs.  I try and keep the house clean, while you and your sister try to mess it up and we are all happy when Dad gets home and we can all spend some time together.  Already you love it when Dad gets home and you flash him a BIG smile when he comes in the door.  We run errands sometimes and you almost always fall asleep in your car seat while Isabelle screams in hers.  I hope you don't pick up that bad habit.

I sometimes think back to that first week in the hospital and how scared I was at first when you were having so much trouble.  I think about how that was probably the first time in my life that I had to really trust God.  Like really trust Him.  I have always trusted God to take care of our family, but in a pretty general sense.  When you were in the hospital there was nothing I could do to make you better and that was a pretty rare and horrible feeling.  Not having any control is not the easiest thing for me and in that situation I definitely had no control.  I  know how blessed we were to have only spent a week in the NICU and to bring you home healthy and without any lingering side effects.  I know there were babies much more sick than you and I know some babies stayed for months and I still pray for their mommies and daddies because I can't imagine how hard it must be.

You are a pretty great five month old baby!  I love you more than words could ever say.  I love the way you smell, the way you smile, the way you are just you.  I am excited to watch you grow up and see how your personality develops.  I am pretty confident you will be more relaxed than your sister, but who knows.  I hope the two of you are best friends forever like I am with Aunt Buh-Buh.  More than anything I want you to love Jesus, love your family and love your life.

 I love you, Molly.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Labor Day is here!

Today is an exciting day for Isabelle (and the rest of the family also!).  Today, Isabelle gets to see PawPaw (Jason's dad) and Grandma Elaine.  They are coming in from Seattle for the long weekend and Isabelle couldn't be more excited.

Now, last time PawPaw was here was when Molly was born and it took Isabelle a couple of days to warm up to him.  She was in the middle of the 'stranger anxiety' phase and since she doesn't get to see him very often (with the exception of Skype), she wasn't quite sure what to think.  This time will be different.

You see, Isabelle has developed a love for photos lately and since I cannot hold her up to look at the pictures on the wall all day long, my sister suggested we give her some snapshots of her own to look at.  Great idea!!!  So we gave Isabelle a few pictures and she has been carrying them around looking at them for over a week.  One of the photos was PawPaw with Molly and it might be Isabelle's favorite.  I am convinced that now when he gets here, she will actually recognize him and not run away in terror as she has been known to do when she doesn't know someone. 

This has proven to be such a great idea that I will do it when anyone is getting ready to come into town.  I know that Isabelle loves her grandmas' and grandpas' very much, but when she isn't able to see them all the time, it is likely she will forget who they are.  Now while I realize everyone knows this and isn't mad at Isabelle, I know that grandparents do not respond well to their grandchildren running for mom and dad each time they come over...SO the pictures just might help alleviate this problem. 

Another great idea that came from the love of photos was to make Isabelle a photo book (from shutterfly) that has pictures of the family.  My sister suggested this one also and I cannot wait to give Isabelle her family photo album for her birthday in November!  Thanks for the great ideas sis!