Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Try It Tuesday: Freezer Jam

For over a year I have been interested in learning how to can! I've read bunches of books and watched plenty of Youtube videos!

I found this video about making Freezer Jam. It seemed pretty easy to me! 

I purchased two packages of 8oz. jar. Each package has five jars. Love the purple lids!
Here is the pectin that I used. It is especially for making freezer jam. 
Three containers of starwberries
Crushing them with a potato masher was especially fun!

All three containers of berries mushed up!

Sugar and Pectin

 The berries mixed in with the sugar and pectin.

 Three containers of strawberries made seven 8oz. containers of jam.
Freezer jam is delicious. It was super easy to make and tastes wonderful on whole wheat toast. This is a good and safe first step into food preservation.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Memory Monday: Memorial Day Week

Michael and I took a little trip to Pennsylvania during Memorial Day week! We had such a great time! It was so relaxing! The weather couldn't have been better! Here are a few pics of our trip!

Our niece Nat watching her brother's soccer game.

 Mr. I after his soccer game
Swimming and Ice Pops! What could be better?
Our niece, the adorable water baby!

 Ms. G, Mr. I, and Uncle Michael

 Mr. I at the beach!

 Michael and I at the Jersey Shore

My sister-in-law Michelle! She is lovely!

My other sister-in law Jill. We had a great chat!

My brother-in-law and our nephew Mr. M. !

What a great trip! Wish we lived closer!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Hobby:Strategic Shopping Part 2


Here are a few more saving tips!

6.  Look at Package to Determine Best Deal
Bigger is not always better. Check the packages out! For example, yesterday I purchased two 5lbs. bags of flour for $1.67 each. Most people if they wanted 10 lbs. of flour they would just get the 10lbs. bag. That was not the best deal! The 10 lbs. bag of flour cost $4.50. By purchasing two 5lbs. bags of flour instead of the 10lbs. bags I saved $1.16.

7. Carefully read the sales tags!
Here is a secret that the supermarkets don't want you to know, you don't always have to buy the suggested number of items to get the discounted price.  This week at my grocery store, 1/2 gallons of milk were on sale for 4 for $5.00 or for $1.25 each. I looked at the sales tag and there was no mention of having to actually by four 1/2 gallons of milk. I don't need two gallons of milk. So I purchased two 1/2 gallons of milk which cost me $2.50.  So why didn't I buy a 1 gallon jug of milk? The price of a 1 gallon jug of milk was $2.99. By purchasing two 1/2 gallon jugs instead of a 1 gallon jug of milk, I saved $.49.

8. Shop Early!
I am not a fan of large crowds. That is a personal preference. A year ago I would go grocery shopping at 2:30pm on a Sunday afternoon. This is possibly one of the worst times to go grocery shopping. The aisles are full and the shelves are not fully stocked. Shopping at a busy store was very aggravating for me. There were back ups in the aisles and at the check out. Someone always seemed to be blocking the items that I needed to get. I always felt rushed by other customers if I wanted to get out my calculator and compare prices. It was not a pleasant experience.

Now I shop at 8:00am on Saturday morning. At the stores that I shop at this has turned out to be the best time for me. The stores are pretty empty and the shelves are stocked or in the process of being stocked. I don't feel the pressure to keep going and mindlessly throw things in my cart. I can take the time to make sure I am getting the best deal on each item that I am purchasing. Another bonus, the check out lines are usually really short or empty. Getting to the store early does require that I wake up early on a Saturday, for some this might be a huge sacrifice. For me, I willingly sacrifice a little sleep to have a major weekend task taken care of by 9:00am. I get to cross something off the to-do list. I start that weekend off feeling accomplished.

9. Shop Alone.
 I don't go grocery shopping with my husband. I go alone. When we first got married, we would tackle this chore together. We would go up and down each aisles and throw in the cart whatever we wanted. Our average grocery bill was about $115 a week. The bad thing is that we were not actually buying items for meals, we were just buying what looked good.We would have to come back later in the week to purchased items that we needed. That is a waste of time and money.

Now I go shopping alone with my little list. I have taken the time to plan our meals. I know what ingredients I already have on hand and what items I need to purchase. Only one impulse purchase finds the way into my cart each week. I allow myself only one item per week that is not on my list. Going alone means that there is not someone else there to pressure you into buying more stuff that you don't need.  My total each week comes out to an average of $60 per week. That is a $55 savings!

I hope this post has been helpful! Be sure to check back for other money saving tips and recipes!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Hobby: Strategic Shopping Part 1


I already have plenty of hobbies. There is scrapbooking, photography, reading, travel, baking, and crafting. I added another hobby to the list, Strategic Shopping.

You may have seen the show "Extreme Couponing." In that show,people buy hundreds of dollars of groceries for under $10.  That is not me. I do like to save money. I have reached between 25% to 50% savings on my grocery bill. Unlike those "Extreme Couponng" people, I am not filling my cart with hundreds of rolls of toilet paper or tons of mustard, just because it is a good deal. I don't have a huge stockpile of items. I am not hording stuff. I have about five cans of pasta sauce, three bottles of body wash, and two bottles of laundry detergent. Just enough on hand to replace the items that we use on a regular basis. 

A few people have asked me for some of my savings tips. So here are a few tips I use to save!

1. Read Your Store Flyers
 Get a hold of your local areas grocery store flyers. I shop pretty consistently at Kroger, but I do also look at flyers for ALDI and Remke. Don't forget to look at flyers for KMart, Walmart, and Target. Good deals can be found there as well. Most grocery stores and discount stores offer their  weekly flyers online at their website. Get on their e-mail list and they will send their sale ads directly to you. 

2.Join Store Loyalty Club
I know it can be a pain to fill out all those information cards at the store. Those three minutes it takes to fill out the card can translate to lots of savings. In my local area Kroger and Remke offer discounts on gas for shopping in their stores. Bonus savings! Yahoo! Kroger also sends personalized coupons to me in the mail based on the products that I buy. Some stores even have electronic coupons that you can add directly onto your loyalty club card. When you purchase the items and scan your card, the savings come off directly at the register. 

3. Plan your Meal
Each week I plan my meals. I look through my cupboards, fridge, and freezer to see what items I have on hand. I compiled a list of meals that my husband and I enjoy eating. A few times a month I try a new recipe and add it to the list if we enjoyed it. 

Each week,I look on our schedule to see what events we have coming up and plan meals accordingly. On Tuesdays my husband works the late shift. Usually a crock pot meal is planned for that day. I can pop it in before I leave for work and it is ready before my husband  leaves for work! On Wednesday we have small group at church, I plan a simple dinner of sandwiches or salad on that night. 

Planning meals is very helpful. You don't have to think about what to serve for dinner, the decisions have already been made. This will cut down on extra trips to the grocery store or through the fast food line.

4. Combine Sales and Coupons for Savings
Combing sales and coupons can mean big savings for you.For example, a few week ago a name brand laundry detergent was on sale at CVS for $1.98. That is a HUGE deal to begin with. Then I also had a $1.00 off coupon for the same laundry detergent. That means I got a full size, name brand laundry detergent for $.98 plus a little tax! That is a great deal. 

You might be saying, "I don't have time to look through all my coupons and all the flyers to do the match ups!" You don't have to! There are plenty of websites that do that work for you. 

                 Coupon Mom: She offers a coupon deal site divided by state and 
                store. So you can search your local store. She also offers the 
                coupon/sale matchups for national chains such as Walmart,
                Target, CVS, and Walgreens. 

                Cincinnati Coupons: This site offers local store matchups. She
                also posts online deals and freebies! 

                Money Saving Mom: This site offers coupon matchups, recipes, 
                money saving tips, and fun ideas.

5. Don't Clip Coupons
Coupons are a big part of my savings plan, but I don't clip them all and try to organize them. I just don't have the time to do that. So each Sunday when I get the the paper, I take out the coupon inserts, write the date on top and put them in my coupon drawer. That is it!

Each week I go to the coupon match up sites to see what items I might want to purchase. For example the website will look something like this:
              Old Spice
              $1.00 off/1 item (PG 5/1/11)

So if I want to purchase Old Spice, I will look in my P &  G coupon inserts for May 1st, 2011 for that coupon. Easy! Easy! Easy! That way I am not spending hours clipping and organizing coupons. Just clip what I need.

There are three main coupon inserts. There is Red Plum, Smart Source, and P&G.  Most of the websites will use the following abbreviations for the coupons: RP(Red Plumb) SS(Smart Source) and PG (Proctor and Gamble). 

That is the end of part 1. Be on the lookout for part 2!

:D Emily

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April Update

Happy April!

Michael has taken up a new hobby, kitchen hockey!
I have been pretty busy making post-it note holders.
Here are a couple video tutorials!

My parents came for a little visit!
We took then to Findlay Market, our favorite spot for brunch!

Michael enjoying a ham and cheese crepe!
My Dad trying Jambalaya!
The most delicious waffles in Cincinnati!

We went to the kite festival! The weather was amazing! It was 85 degrees with a breeze!

Michael made a kite again this year. It was super windy during the kite festival. It was just too much for Michael's poor little kite!

Have a happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My favorite show in high school and college was "The Real World." I was completely obsessed with the show! The photos are actual photos I took on my pilgrimage to see the Boston house. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1000 Gifts: 1-12

My 1000 Gifts!

1. Raspberries-Ripe and Juicy
2. The feel of a hardcover book in your hands
3. A comfortable chair that feels like a hug
4. The faint gray marks of a pencil
5. When Michael plays with my hair
6. Waiting in line to donate items to charity
7. Chubby Toddler Hands
8. The flavor of mint
9. The sound of laughing children while I'm reading them a good book
10. That the timing belt didn't break while I was driving
11.Watching guys buy flowers
12. Hot fudge

Waking up early and the wonders of felt!

Here is my latest Digi layout. The picture was taken and edited using an iPod. Yay technology!

Tweet Mini Book
 The letter thickers are arranged on piece of printed transparency that I picked up at Hobby Lobby.Had to add felt! I am obsessed with it !! I love using it.

A place to keep my favorite iPod photos and Twitter updates.

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Flashback: Glamour Shots

 Me: 1995

I was a Freshman in High School. My choir was earning money for a trip to a national choir competition in Washington DC. One of the many fabulous items we hocked sold were Entertainment Books! There was  a coupon for 50% off a glamor photoshoot. Just what every fifteen year old needs is a dash of feathers and a string of pearls! Ha!

Growing up in a very rural area, we didn't have a large shopping mall. We most certainly did not have the actual Glamour Shots store. No, what we had was a sketchy guy and his wife who set up in a shabby local motel room that smelled of stale cigarette smoke. Not the glamorous setting that I had envisioned. Thankfully my mother came along to supervise.

I was so proud of this photograph. Not only did I look far older than my fifteen years, but I also looked sophisticated. 
Sixteen years later, this photo makes me smile! I can laugh at the horrible feathers, pearls, and fan. There is more to it. I can see my deep inner desire to be seen as pretty. A struggle most girls and woman go through. It wasn't until 4 years later that I really began to cultivate my inner beauty and see beyond my exterior. A continuous process of looking past my physical flaws and working towards a gentle and quiet spirit. 

Thanks 15 year old Emily for reminding me to seek beauty outside of my looks!

1 Peter 3:3-4 (New International Version) 

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Psalm 139:14 (New International Version) 

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reading Now: One Thousand Gifts

by Ann Voskamp 

A few weeks ago, out in blogland there was a huge buzz about this book. I had to read it. In fact, I purchased it the day it was released in stores. That night I mowed through the first seventy-five pages. I found it all lovely. Yet, I couldn't help notice that I was rushing through it. This is not a book to rush through. 

Ann has a very unique writing style that takes a bit to get used to. I took the time to go back and reread the chapters that I had so hastily plowed through. So glad I did. This is not a light, fluffy, and easy book. It is challenging. It will have you squirming on the inside. You will connect with the stories. You will nod your head in agreement. Have a pen or pencil ready to underline those passages that will jump at you.

The (in)courage blog is hosting an online bookclub of this book! Check out the video book discussions featuring Ann Voskamp.

Get ready to have your faith walk challenged!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In a rut

I am in a rut.

I feel as creative as bologna.

I feel stuck.

I need a change.

I need a spark.

I need a fire to get me going again.

I feel drained...and dull...and boring.

Facebook doesn't cure it.

Food doesn't satisfy it

Music can't drown it out.

The tiny voice inside that tells me this is not it. This is not right!

You have bit your tongue too many times!

You have stuffed down the possibilities and the ideas for too long!

You have settled for the dull and boring for far too long just because it is easier. Rocking the boat is too frightening.

Stepping out and up is unknown. There are no guarantees.

What if I try to fly and crash into the depths. Isn't it easier to stay where you can see? Even if your heart and soul cries out to be set free!

There is more!

I am grasping for it!

I am gasping for it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Candy mailbox

Candy mailboxes

I have been having a great time whipping up these little mailboxes! The hardest part is stopping myself from eating the chocolate! *sigh*

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What to do with those Christmas cards you love!

Each year I struggle with what to do with all those Christmas cards we receive. I have an especially difficult time throwing out the photocards. I love photocards! So I collected my favorites from this year and made this mini album!



The back cover is an old printed transparency that I have been hoarding for a couple of years. I finally used it. Trying to go through my stash and actually use stuff that I have. I don't care that its not the latest and greatest products! It's fun and solves a problem! So there!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just a Wife and Mom? Just put down the pitchfork!


The New Year is always a good time for a little self evaluation. A fresh start! I have really been thinking and praying about God's direction in my life. Am I doing what I was made to do?

To be honest, my deepest desire and longing is to be a wife and a mother. I think that is a pretty bold statement. My generation was told that you can be anything you want to be! Hearing that over and over has really caused me a lot of confusion. The idea of picking just one career was just so overwhelming. What if I want to be just a wife and a mother? Is that O.K?

Lately, there has been a firestorm  of debate over the Stay-at-home Mom vs. Working Out of the Home Mom. This has been a issue for a very long time. Yet, it seems to be getting quite a bit of press lately. It is a decision that each family has to make. The two extreme sides of the debate seem to get most of the press. It can at times become a nasty debate.

Right now I am in a season of my life where I must work outside of the home. I have been extremely blessed to have a wonderful job! I really find a great deal of joy in what I do. I am very thankful for my job! I am blessed!

Michael and I do not have children at this time. While we both deeply want to be parents, it is just not what God has for us right now. That is a mighty hard pill to swallow sometimes, I have faith. I have faith that someday we will be parents. It could be from natural birth, adoption, foster care or by some other means.

Back to the debate! Each family has to make the decision on what works best for their families. I don't think it is fair for either side to look down at the other. We have all been called to do different things. Some have been called to be doctors. Some have been called to be teachers or writers. Some are called to stay at home. Isn't it wonderful that each of us is called to a different purpose?! 

In our church small group I have been learning a pretty important lesson. Each of us has a story. You never know what another person's story is.  Yesterday, I heard some pretty powerful testimonies. I never would have thought that these amazing people have gone through such struggles.
You don't know what paths their lives have taken.
So lets put down our pitch forks and agree to encourage one another. Let's agree to lift each other up. Let's agree to seek out the plan for our lives, whatever path that may be.

Scripture References:
The Lord will guide you continually …” (Isaiah 58:11)
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)
"Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass … Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” 
(Psalm 37:4,7)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting Crafty

One of my resolutions for 2011 is to get crafty! To go along with my word of the year, I really want to make things for my family and friends! Isn't that little owl adorable!

The smaller one is attached to a hairpin.

A simple Christmas digi layout!