Monday, August 26, 2013

Lemonade Stand Time

Sometimes my mind goes crazy and starts spitting out ideas.  I think my entrepreneurial father left just a tiny bit of his imprint on me.  I received an email from our condo association about a community yard sale in five weeks.  And BOOM my mind decided I should:
  • invite friends to join me to have a more appealing table 
  • go through the bags for Goodwill and pull things out 
  • go to WalMart and buy that folding table I saw last night 
  •  this will be perfect to promote my home business in my new local area
  • AND I should definitely make make lemonade and cookies to sell (now to pick the perfect flavor...)

I'd LOVE to know how you have used your entrepreneurial and/or hospitable skills to create the BEST yard sale EVER! And if you enjoy visiting yard sale in NoVa, how to do you find them?  Craigslist, WaPo, neighborhood signs?
Please, all suggestions welcome.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Magnificent Obsession

As I reach the end of my second week of married life, I thought you might want a peek into my wedding day. It was wonderful! As I was returning to my work day commute the last couple mornings, I was listening again to the song that was played during our ceremony while we took communion. Our good friend Josh gave of his time and talent to play Magnificent Obsession by Steven Curtis Chapman. One of my favorite worship songs by SCC, I wanted to share with you what it means to me and our marriage.
Lord, You know how much
I want to know so much
In the way of answers and explanations
I have cried and prayed
And still I seem to stay
In the middle of life’s complications
All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I’m chasing down the wind
But now it’s brought me back to You
And I can see again

This is everything I want
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You, Jesus
Be my magnificent obsession
These lyrics mirror the season of life I had been in prior to my first date with The Husband. God had brought me. God's grace is to always draw us back to Himself. For the wedding day, I had Josh skip this first verse and start in with the part of the song that was my hearts cry of the day.
So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I’ve never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross
And let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love
That You’ve shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground
Until this one remains

You are everything I want
You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You
I want it all to be for You

You are everything I want
And You are everything I need
Lord, You are all my heart desires
You are everything to me
Wedding days and marriages overall are a mirror of our relationship with Christ. They are meant to teach us more about how He feels towards us, how He cares for us, how He gave His life for His beloved. With the lyrics above my heart was crying out that He would take us both as His. That our main focus would be Him even as we enter a very exciting new relationship and season of life. I am fully in love with my husband. But my magnificent obsession is Jesus. And I am beyond thrilled that He has appointed this time of my life to enter into this earthly covenant to mirror how He loves us. 
I want it all to be for You

ALSO!!!  My wonderful photographer posted a sneak peek of our wedding photos!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bubbles or lack thereof

In the last two and a half years, I think I've had two baths. Not that I've been filthy all this time. I promise I have showered! We're taking about bathtubs here. There was that one retreat and that one hotel... I think that was it for the baths since 2010.

I've written about my journey towards being debt free before. One of the major things I did to turn myself around financially was to give up my pricey one bedroom in exchange for a studio apartment. In many ways, the studio was BETTER than my old place. It was so much closer to work and I really enjoyed the quiet neighborhood. But I gave up a few things. A full kitchen and a bathtub mainly. Some people wouldn't miss these things from their lifestyle, but I really have. But you know what? It was so worth it!! That extra cash in my account each month allowed me to aggressively deal with my debt. 

Now that I'm getting married next month (!!!) I'm getting ready to move back into an apartment that includes multiple rooms, a full kitchen and a bathtub. Yes, it will cost more, but I'll have a husband to help with that.  And together we are going to finish kicking my debt to the curb. We were also smart when we were shopping for a place to live. We did our research and found a great deal that met our needs, but did not excessively exceed them. Now I fully expect to spend the next few months baking and soaking in the tub!

I'd encourage you to make big cuts if you need to save money. You really can do it if you remind yourself it's for a time and a season. The blessings will far outweigh the sacrifice. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Fiance

I tried to keep the last post at least a tiny bit on topic with this blog. And I really do love homemaking!  But this post is the gushy post. So look away if you must!   I'm in love over here!

From our first date, I knew The Fiance was special. I was so comfortable with him! For a while now I've known he was The One. I wanted to run around and tell everyone he was THE Prince Charming! MINE!  But it wasn't time yet. It was time to grow together and allow our relationship to solidify a bit.

While we still have LOTS of growing and solidifying to do, now it is time! World, this man is MINE! He loves me and cherishes me and we are going to be together forever. I am so proud of him. This is the man who I want to have a family with before long. The one who will be a father to my little tan children. This is the man with whom I want to grow old. This is the man I will marry.

We are planning a summer wedding and we can't wait. So soon yet so far away. We want to celebrate this time! To look forward without wishing away today. Because before you know it, we'll be standing there before our closest friends and family. Before you know it I'll be changing that W in my name up there to an E.  (why did I include my list initial in my blog url???)

I'm looking forward to updating this blog with the recipes I try, the parties we'll throw and the things we learn along the way. Because all of these thing will be beautiful. I am so blessed.

I love you baby!

(And Readers, I promise to keep the ooey gooey gushing to a minimum!)

Friday, March 1, 2013


My last post was about health. To update, cutting diet coke has curbed my afternoon carb cravings, so that's a plus! I'll still drink one now and and again, like when I'm at a party. But if I drink one at work I feel all gross and bloated, so that's not all that appealing. Haven't bought a Lean Cuisine again...but haven't been making amazing lunches either. Gotta work on that. But to be honest, I was all motivated to get in shape because I was anticipating 2013 being a year when there are a LOT of photos taken of myself. Why???

We're getting married!!!

On Sunday afternoon, February 3rd, the love of my life asked me to marry him. With tears in our eyes, I said yes!  It was a sweet, intimate proposal with the Lord's presence upon it. We were able to enjoy the moment, find time to call family, and then go celebrate with friends at Super Bowl parties. A perfect day.

Through our relationship and especially now, I've seen my love of homemaking shine. When I make him a meal and he enjoys it, it makes my heart happy. When I use my couponing to restock his toiletries for a what he would have spent on a tube of toothpaste, it makes my heart happy. When he leaves his gym bag behind by accident (we have have been hitting the gym a LOT) and I toss his laundry in with mine, it makes my heart happy. And we're talking laundry here, that never makes me happy!

I've spent the last two years in a lovely apartment that is lacking a few full blown amenities. It's a studio, so some things are mini. I am so looking forward to making our new home in a place with a standard size fridge, oven and dishwasher. Because baking and buying produce at CostCo (and not doing ALL the dishes) makes my heart happy. I've written before about entertaining with a small space, but I'm looking forward to entertaining MORE! To having space for my friends kids to play. For more than 4 people to be able to watch a movie.

I've gotten excited about building our gift registries and finding items to organize and entertain. Items to make a home. Our home. A home where we can retreat and relax. A home where we can invite others in to retreat and relax. A home where we can celebrate milestones together and with our friends. I might be in an office 40 ours a week, but I am a homemaker through and through. It makes my heart happy. The Fiance makes my heart happy. This is going to be a good year.

Okay, I wanna know. Did ANYONE read the paragraph above the first photo?  ;-)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Leanest, meanest, maddest, baddest body

It's that time of year. Not only am I getting my groceries and my home in order, I'm getting my body in order! This of course means the normal attempts at running, weightlifting and generally healthy eating.  But I'm doing two things differently this time that I've always said I'd do ONE DAY.

My last bottle......
First, I'm giving up the Diet Coke.  :::moment of silence:::  I've been drinking Diet Coke for years. Maybe ten? At once point a couple years ago I got up to 5 cans a day. What a drain on my budget! I've been better the last year or so about only drinking one, maybe two a day, and sometimes even skipping a day. But it's junk. Pure junk. Tasty, calorie free junk. But JUNK! I'm not trying to give up caffeine, but I am giving up the chemicals and the artificial sweetener.  I've been reading about how Diet Coke can mess up your metabolism, and while none of it is totally proven, I think it's worth steering away from.

I had run out of my stash of 12-packs this week and been buying individual bottles from the machine at work and finally decided, this is the time. I drank my last one yesterday. Today I had a nice cup of tea (with actual sugar) in the morning and then some spa water with my lunch and through the afternoon. Now, that spa water might not have the magical metabolism boosting properties it claims to have, but it's tasty and I know it's not bad for me.  Sounds like a win/win to me!  Next week I'm making the mango ginger water

Second, I'm going to break the Lean Cuisine habit. Pretty much the same story. Been eating them for ten years, but lots of sodium and junk. I missed out on the MAJOR stock up I planned to do the first couple weeks of January when they were on sale for $2. I bought some, but not the freezer full I planned.  So again, I've decided, this is the time. I need to make my own lunches. I can have that boxed meal for $2 or I can have an entire pound of lean chicken breast for the same price. Split that up over the week with some sides and salad and VOILA!  Healthier and cheaper.  The hardest part is going to be getting in the routine of pre-making lunches.  I'm hoping (I know) I can find some freezer recipes that I can divide up and still have the convince of the Lean Cuisine.  I know I do better eating a hot lunch, so this is going to be my goal.

Now, what about YOU?  What are you doing to CLEAN your body?  How are you working towards your leanest, meanest, maddest, baddest body?  How do you feed yourself at the office all day without getting bored and hitting the vending machines and convince store?  I'd love to hear it all!  Comment and let's get some dialog going!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pass my crown please!

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who loved busy work. I remember spending time each week clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper for my mom.  Loved it. Did it very neatly. I'm weird.

Fast forward to adulthood and grocery coupons never made it into my housekeeping.  I mean, how impressed was I supposed to be at saving 40 cents off my toothpaste?  Zip up another ten years (oy vey how did ten years of adulthood pass???) and now I'm a little bit in love with coupons. I have a hard and fast grocery budget for the first time EVER and I was shocked how much I spent just to feed myself and occasionally the boyfriend.  $250-300?? No thank you. Plus I was cheating on my numbers and not putting things like toothpaste and toilet paper in that budget. Now I can stay under $175 and all those non-food things are included! (and I feed the boyfriend a lot more too)
Took all of this home for free!

Yesterday I played the grocery store coupon game and finally hit the jackpot. $35 of groceries for free! You may now call me the Coupon Queen!  I'll break the details down at the end, but for now I just want to hit the highlights so YOU can save more money on your grocery budget too.

To save a LOT on your budget, you need two main things: coupons and a sales match-up listing.

I get most of my coupons from the Sunday paper ( to find CHEAP delivery) and from

A sales match-up list will show you what is on sale THAT week that will match up with the coupons that are out there. So you don't just use a coupon to buy Cheerios or just buy them on sale. You do BOTH and save the most. I have two major stores to choose from near my home and I've settled into shopping at Harris Teeter because there are GREAT match-ups online and almost none for the Giant stores. I mainly visit and the forums at  Those links are for the sections on Harris Teeter, but you can explore the sites to see if YOUR grocery store is included! (plus you’ll find all kinds of educational info for couponers on those sites)

It really helps too that my store doubles coupons, with special coupon events about 10 times a year. They double coupons up to 99 cents every day, but during a coupon event they’ll double coupons up to $2! That’s part of the way I got everything in the pic for free.

I told a little lie up there. I said you need two main things. You need a third. You need to throw out your fear of stockpiling.  I’m not an “extreme couponer” or a hoarder. But after the sale this past week, I do have enough pasta sauce for 3-4 months. It was 16 cents a jar when all was said and done! Buying more now, allows me to avoid buying it when I need it and paying $2 a jar. Sales come and go in cycles and you start to see that when you watch the ads for a while. I freaked out the boyfriend a little when I started because 5 boxes of cereal looked crazy to him. But I’m keeping it all in check and he’s happy that he hasn’t had to buy soup (his go-to bachelor food) in a long time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my coupon adventures!  Feel free to close this post now unless you want the DETAILS of my $35 jackpot deal.


Here we go! To start, I got everything in the pic at Harris Teeter during last week’s coupon event. The chicken, rolls, veggies and V8 were part of a “meal deal” sale where if you buy all of them, they take $9.98 off your total. That brought the total for those items down to $6.29. I had a $1 coupon each for the rolls and the chicken plus a .50 cent coupon for the veggies. Double those, take them off the total and now those items cost me $1.29! Moving onto the soup. The cans were on sale for $2 each. I bought 4, totaling $8. I had two coupons for a $1 off two, plus a store coupon saved on my loyalty card for $1*. So I spent $3 for all 4 cans. The microwave cups were on sale for $3 each and I bought 2. I had two coupons for $1 off. So I spent $2 for two cups. Looks like I owe the store $6.29 plus tax!  I also had two of those coupons that print at the register** from my last trip. One was for $2 off my order and the other for $1 off my order. The $2 coupon doubled! (they double at random and the policy doesn’t say if they should or shouldn’t, so you go with the flow) So now I’ve saved another $5!  It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that the manager who came to approve my coupons scanned one of them twice***, saving me an extra $2. That brought my final total with tax to negative .44 cents!  Since the store doesn’t know what to do with a negative total, I grabbed a single serve bag of M&Ms and added them to my order. I now had to pay 57 cents for what would have cost me $36 and change if I had paid full price for all of it!  As an extra bonus, I got another one of those register coupons for $1 off the NEXT time I go shopping.

*At Harris Teeter the loyalty card is called a VIC card (very important customer) and when you register it online, you get extra bonuses. The e-VIC coupons are referred to as ZVRs (pronounced like savers, but with a z). You can also link your card to for more saving that won't show up until later in your Saving Star account.

**these are actually called Catalina coupons, because the company that makes the printers and runs the promos is named Catalina. Mostly the machine prints coupons both at random and based on what you bought. But sometimes they run specific promos like buy 3 Classico pasta sauce and get a Catalina for $2 off your next trip. 

***Ethical dilemma time. Do I go back to the store and return those two dollars? I say no because I didn't notice the error at the time, I in no way tried to work the system, and I also extend grace when the store makes errors that lower my savings and don't demand the change I think I'm due. If I had noticed at the register, I would have had them fix it. After the fact, it all comes out in the wash. 
**** And LAST, if you have a smart phone you should get the new ibotta app. You choose deals, buy them, scan the UPC and take a pic of your receipt and you get the cash in your PayPal account which you can send to your checking account, so it's all secure.  You should of course use my referral link, and if you do it by Friday 3pm you get a $5 credit once you use it the first time.