It’s a God thing…

I love it when God shows us His presence in our everyday lives. Just little things that He does to let us know that He loves us. It is the same that any loving parent does for their children – just a small token to say that you matter to me. John and I show the kids we love them in little ways – take them for a suprise ice cream cone, including a joke in their lunchbox or giving them a little toy that we picked up along the way. I think it is the little things that show our kids that someone who loves you was thinking of you and wanted to make you smile. My Heavenly Father does the same thing for me – giving me a prime parking spot in a crowded parking lot or prompting a friend to call when He knows I need it. He did it for me this weekend too.

I had gone yard sailing with a friend on Friday and saw a fire pit that I liked for $15 and almost bought it. I was unsure of whether to spend the money on it since it was not a necessary purchase and realized that we would probably only use it a few times a year. I passed on it but kept thinking about it off and on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning John and I took the kids yard sailing and went to the same neighborhood. It was early and one of the only people who had started their sale was the guy with the fire pit. He still had it and I still wanted it. John took a look at it and tried to talk the guy down to $10. He wouldn’t budge off the $15 price. We walked away from it but it didn’t stop me from wanting it. Later that evening I was still thinking of the fire pit and asked John about it. He offered to drive over there and ask the guy if he still had it and if so, he would buy it. So, we all drove over at 7pm Saturday night and John rang the guy’s doorbell. He was nice but he said that the fire pit had sold. I was a little disappointed but just told myself that it wasn’t meant to be.

Sunday rolls around and I had all but forgotten about the fire pit. John had a hike with the cub scouts in the afternoon and he left to go do that. He came home 2 hours later and told me that one of our scout parents had offered him a free terra cotta chimenea. I couldn’t believe it. It was completely unexpected but it was like God was telling me that He did care that I was disappointed in not getting the fire pit. He wanted to make me smile and so He prompted our friend to give us the chimenea.

The meaning behind this one event is deeper than if I had gotten the fire pit. Now when I look outside and see the chimenea sitting there, I think of my Father and how He sent me a gift. I also think of my husband and how he sacrificially drove over to a stranger’s house to try to get me what I wanted just because he loves me. The amount of love in these two things is awe inspiring. I know for sure that this episode in my life was a God thing.

Key Lime Dessert…

Brittany has a Betty Crocker calendar in her room and each month there is a different recipe on it. This month’s recipe was for a Key Lime Dessert and she wanted to make it for us the other night. It would have been very delicious but in my multi-tasking efficiency, I accidentally doubled the amount of lime juice that went into the recipe. The effect was too tart but I can imagine that if it had been a little less tart, it would have been very yummy. Since I love Key Lime Pie I will for sure try this again but I will be more careful next time.

Key Lime Dessert

1 pouch Oatmeal Cookie Mix
1/2 cup firm buter or margarine
2 cans (14 ozs each) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup Key lime juice or lime juice
2 containers (8 ozs each) frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 containers (8 ozs each) Key lime pie yogurt
Few drops of green food coloring
Berries for garnish

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom and sides of a 13″x9″ pan with cooking spray.
2. Place cookie mix in large bowl. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and coarse. Lightly press crumbs in bottom of pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.
3. In large bowl, beat condensed milk and lime juice with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and thickened. Remove 1 cup of the whipped topping; set aside. Fold remaining whipped topping, yogurt and food color into milk mixture. Spoon into cooled crust. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until set.
4. To serve, cut into 5 rows by 4 rows. Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped topping and berries, if desired. Cover and refrigerate remaining dessert.

Tiffany’s Notes: First, I was too cheap to buy the oatmeal cookie mix or a prepared pie crust ($3/each!!) so I just whipped up a graham cracker crust from some that I had on hand. I also halved the recipe because I knew we didn’t need a big 9×13 pan of it, which is how I ended up with double the lime juice (I forgot to cut it in half!!).

That was close…

1974 Gremlin, a sweet ride

 

Let me tell you about the mistake we almost made.

We went yard sailing this weekend. We found some dirt bike gear, organizational items and a car. There in front of me was my dream car just sitting in someone’s driveway with a “For Sale” sign on it. I didn’t even bother looking at it since I knew we only had a few hundred dollars saved in the car fund. It was when John joked that we might have found another car for me that my interest was sparked. When the owner told John the price, we both looked at each other. We could afford that. The problem was that it was not put aside for the car, it was part of our emergency fund. We talked to the guy a little longer and decided to take a test drive. It was awesome ride – fast, sporty, and not very “motherly”. We told the guy we were interested and that we would come back on Monday.

It felt like a long weekend. John was feeling uncomfortable with spending a large chunk of the money in our emergency account so he didn’t get any sleep this weekend. There was also a hitch in my spirit telling me that this was not the right thing to do, making me feel uneasy. But neither of us wanted to pray about it, since we both knew what God would tell us – to not buy the car. Instead we wanted to selfishly fulfill our own desires, not listen to God tell us that we couldn’t have something we wanted. We behaved like children and refused to ask the question because we didn’t want to hear the answer.  So, Monday came and we met the guy to drive the car again, hoping that if we saw it again we would feel better about it. But even though it was still a beautiful car, we did not have any peace with the decision. Still refusing to listen to the Holy Spirit, we told the owner that we wanted it checked out by our mechanic. It was at this point that John and I finally broke down and really prayed about it, asking God for guidance. We wanted His will to be done, not our own will, and we wanted peace about the situation. It was a few hours later that we got the call from the mechanic telling us that the car had some mechanical problems and had been in a bad rear end accident. The mechanic advised us to pass on the car. We took this as divine providence and finally submitted to God’s strong prompting to not buy the car.

John and I both breathed a sigh of relief afterward but would have avoided a lot of anguish if we had started the process by praying to know God’s will. We should have obeyed the small still voice inside of our spirit that said this was not a good idea. Thank God that we stopped and listened to Him before we made a huge mistake. That was close.

 

Easter on a budget…

Ok, I know this is a little late but I wrote this post before Easter and then in getting Easter put together, I forgot to post it. So, maybe this will help you out next year. It is never too early to start, especially as all Easter should be clearanced out right now. Tip: Chocolate freezes really well. Oh, and as you can see we are very formal at Easter. Josh in his new tuxedo t-shirt and Brittany in her oriental dress she bought at a yard sale for $1. That is how we roll…

As the Easter Bunny comes hoping down the bunny trail, the budget often goes following after him. How do you give you kids a great Easter without breaking the budget? Get creative!

The first thing I do is decide on a theme for their Easter basket. In the past I have done a beach theme, movie theme, game theme and art theme. There are elements involved with each theme that basically stay the same each time. Each theme has a holder/basket, filler and candy.

Holder/Basket

With each theme, I try to first think of an inexpensive holder that will work in place of a traditional “basket”.  I don’t typically use a traditional Easter basket but something that the kids can use in conjunction with their gift. When I do a beach theme, I use a sand pail. When doing a movie theme, I might use a popcorn bowl. For the art theme, I used an empty paint bucket (found at home improvement stores) or an art caddy. To a special touch, I use a colored permanent marker (metallic or glittery works well) to write the kid’s name on the outside.

Filler

The filler is the most fun part of the Easter basket. This is where you need to be creative in order to not break the bank. I normally hit the dollar sections at large department stores (Walmart, Target and Michaels) or the dollar stores. I look for items that won’t just fill the area but be something the kids can really use. For a beach theme, you can use sunscreen, sunglasses, swim goggles, sand toys and a beach towel (I had a friend monogram a $1 beach towel one year for free and when she was done it looked just like a towel from Pottery Barn Kids). For a game theme, fill the basket with simple games like checkers or Uno. For a movie theme, buy a DVD as your “centerpiece” and fill in the remainder with fun drinking straws or popcorn flavoring. For the art theme, incorporate paint, paintbrushes, markers and pencils.

Candy

No Easter basket is complete with a chocolate bunny. Whether you go with big and hollow or small and solid, it doesn’t feel like Easter without a chocolate bunny. And even though no one really likes Peeps in our house, we always include them in the Easter basket as a tradition. We actually use them for experiments in our house – like putting them in the microwave until they swell to gigantic proportions.  This is also a great time to use coupons to reduce the cost of your Easter basket. I recently bought two bags of Easter candy on sale for $2.88/bag. I had a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon that totaled $3. That reduced the cost of my bags of candy to $1.38/bag for brand name candy. And it gave me enough to fill all their Easter eggs. I also incorporate other food into Easter baskets. For a movie theme, this is a great time to throw in some popcorn or movie size boxed candy. I will also throw in a bottle of flavored soda bought on sale because it is not something they get very often. The options are endless when you really start to think about it.

Use your imagination and see what you can put together. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and it helps to follow a theme. Happy Easter!