Happy Birthday Hubby!

Today is my husband Dan’s birthday. Not only is he my sweetheart and best friend, he’s also the rock on which I lean daily. I can’t imagine life without him, and am thankful for every day we have together.

Among other things, I wrote the following in his card today…

“I don’t deserve you, but I’m sure glad you’re mine!”

That really sums it up. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found someone who is so very good to me. He’s a fabulous husband and a wonderful Daddy to our Little Guy. He isn’t the flowers and candy type, but he shows how much he cares every day.
I hope he has a really great birthday today, and that he isn’t too embarrassed by this blog post.

I love you Dan!! Happy Birthday to YOU!


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment...via a single photo - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...


Saving for a "Rainy Day"

Remember the old fable of the grasshopper and the ant? The fun-loving grasshopper lived for today and never worried about what might be coming around the corner. The clever little ant, on the other hand, worked himself ragged, preparing for a “rainy day”.

When times got tough, and the cold of winter forced the grasshopper to see the error in his ways…he was forced to beg the ant for help. The moral of the story (of course) is to be prepared (the Boy Scouts of America have embraced this as their motto, though I doubt that decision had anything to do with this old tale).

It’s an old story, but it is one that resonates today.

These days, amidst a fluctuating economy and uncertainty in the workplace, we are all forced (even if only subconsciously) to pick a side. Do we turn a blind eye to the “what if’s” that the future may hold, roll the dice, hold our breath, and do whatever makes us happy with no regard to the consequences? Or do we hunker down, and figure out how we can trim our budgets, save some emergency cash, and maybe stock up that pantry?

What are you? A grasshopper or an ant?

I’d say that I fall somewhere in the middle, though heavily leaning toward the ant hill of it all. You won’t see me out buying the latest fashions or charging anything. We don’t use credit cards, and if I shop for clothing at all it tends to be thrift stores or garage sales. We do spend some money on things that aren’t necessary (NetFlix and the Internet are admittedly guilty pleasures in which we indulge). Largely though, we are careful with our money. We have goals which we hope to meet and exceed. Could we get there faster without those few indulgences we splurge on? Sure. But we’ve figured out what works best for us, and I think that every family has to make that decision for themselves.

Yes, we have room to improve, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. We are working to pay off debt and save money. I garden a bit, and enjoy canning. Along the way we’ve also been stocking up on store-bought groceries. Well, the stocking up part is really more me than Hubby. He doesn’t have a problem with it, but I can tell he sometimes wonders what in the world we need with a flat of canned peas, a case of mac & cheese or a jumbo box of biscuit mix when we have plenty of food in our cupboard?

I blame my folks. Growing up, we always had a modest stash of non-perishable foods on hand. Though both of my parents were born in 1950, they had heard stories of the Great Depression from their own families. My parents grew up in an environment where saving for a rainy day wasn’t even really an option. It’s just the way it was. And they, in turn, have passed that lifestyle down to my brother and I.

I don’t copy everything my parents do, but I’ve followed their pattern when it comes to stocking my pantry. I don’t go crazy with things we know we won’t eat, and I try to only buy extra when there is a good sale. I carefully watch expiration dates, and rotate my stash – using up the oldest stuff as I replace it with new. It’s nice to know that if an unexpected medical bill comes up, or if one of us were to lose our job, we would have a modest cushion which hopefully would get us through for a short period of time. My little ‘food collection’ has also come in handy on a day-to-day basis. If I’m baking a cake and realize I’m out of flour, for example, I don’t panic. I just go to my pantry and there (if I’ve played my cards right) will be the flour I need. I then jot down that I need more to replace what I’ve removed from the pantry. It’s cyclical, but fairly easy to maintain with a little effort.

I’m no pro. There are a lot of blogs and websites out there that you should check out if you really want some clever stocking-up advice. One of my favorites is Coffee, Tea, Books & Me. Brenda writes about a lot of topics, but she has a whole section of her blog devoted to keeping a pantry full, in preparation for that “rainy day”.

Whether you are a grasshopper or an ant is obviously a personal decision, and I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. A friend of mine stocks up throughout the year so that in December she can use her usual grocery budget for Christmas shopping. There are many ways it can be done, and the key is finding one that works for you. You should do only what you feel comfortable with and only what works within your budget.

I’d also like to point out that in the original fable, the ant (when asked for food by the starving grasshopper) gave him nothing. Instead, he rebuked the grasshopper for not planning ahead. That isn’t really the part of the story which I’d aspire to follow. After all, I think most of us are taught to be charitable to those in need. However, if you come to my house in your brand new car, carrying your designer purse and asking for food – I might hesitate just a moment before I give you that jumbo box of biscuit mix which I’ve stashed away. In the end, I’d probably give you what you came for – but you might have to leave the car with me.

Note: Image from Amazon. To buy the book, go here.


Winter Slow-Down (and some news)

Earlier this week, my Dad told me that something was evidently wrong with his computer as he had not been able to read my recent posts on this blog. There was then an expectant pause as he waited for me to realize that he was taking me on a little guilt trip for not posting more often in this fine new year.

Point taken, Dad. This one (such as it is) is for you!

January has been a great month so far, and we have much to be thankful for. We are all healthy (hurrah!). The weather hasn’t been unbearable (thank God it’s been much milder than last winter – knock on wood). I’ve been keeping busy (an afghan and twin size quilt both in progress). I’ve also been catching up on reading books for fun, which I had sadly neglected for some time. And because it is my nature to hunker under warm blankets and shy away from the chill of this season… I’ve been spending my evenings (after Little Guy is tucked in) hanging out in the main floor of our home reading, crafting and watching tv instead of shivering in the basement where our family computer resides. So the effort usually put toward my blog has been redirected of late. Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten you all. I’ve just been taking a little “Me” break, I guess. Never fear! I’ll be getting my very own laptop in the next couple of months. I promise to be back full strength when that happens!

I didn’t make any resolutions this year. I thought about making some, and then made a conscious effort to avoid that particular tradition. The thing is…everything is going so well. As some smart person once said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I do have much to look forward to in 2011. Our fourth(!) wedding anniversary, Little Guy’s Third birthday, a vacation to see my Sweet Grandma in Kentucky, and a brand new baby to add to our happy little family this summer (yes, we’re expecting #2, and I might add we’re ecstatic about it)!

So far, I’ve felt okay. I was nauseous for most of the first trimester, which was no fun (and much, much different than my first pregnancy where I never felt sick once). Now that I’ve discovered spices of any kind are the culprit, things have settled down. Though not super exciting, I don’t mind eating plain-Jane food if it keeps away the constant feeling of “ugh”.

That laptop is still weeks away, so between now and then I’ll brave the cold to make a point to get more posting done. The basement may be chilly, but we do have a space heater and lots of blankets. I’m sure it will be fine (assuming I can pry myself off of the cozy sofa – I’ll try my best).

I hope you are also enjoying your January, staying warm and keeping busy. A belated (but very sincere) happy New Year to you!



Not Me, but not far off.  See photo note at bottom of post
 I Love Books

I love the feel of pages worn from multiple readings. I love the smell of old bookstores and brand new paperbacks. I love re-reading old favorites and making notes in the margins. I love running my fingers along the spines of the books in my collection. These books are my friends. They have kept me entertained, distracted and motivated. They’ve taught me new skills and exposed me to intriguing ideas.

This growing fascination with electronic reading gadgets (yes, Kindle, I’m talking about you) has me stumped. I just don’t get it. If you are a fan of this format, please don’t take offense. It’s just that I can’t imagine replacing my old books with a cold tablet.

I first fell in love with books as a child. From early picture books to the Little House series and Anne of Green Gables, they opened a new world for me. The content of each book was of course the crux of the appeal, but I was also always intrigued by the way it felt to hold a book in my hands. I loved to imagine the others who had held that same tome before me. I remember reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time. It was an old copy (1940) that my Great Aunt Mary had given me. She had been a librarian herself, and wanted to share this old favorite with a new generation. The book still holds an honored place on my shelf. I was fourteen when I finished it the first time. I know this because I wrote my name and the date in the front cover when I was finished. Over the years, I’ve kept up this habit. It helps me to keep track of how long its been since I read a favorite. That book is one I’ll always cherish, but it’s not where it all began.

We didn’t have a television for many years in my childhood and during that time trips to the Library were precious. Our local library allowed six books at a time, and those could be checked out for two weeks. So, every two weeks our little family trooped off to the Library for new reading material. In addition to those wonderful library books, I also had a small collection of picture books and chapter books. Over the years, they got lost or damaged. About ten years ago I decided to attempt to recreate my childhood collection.

And so began a quest which opened me to a whole new (exciting) world….the world of children’s book collecting. Even in the beginning, I knew that I could probably find them all on eBay, but that seemed like cheating somehow. So, I began to scour garage sales and flea markets for titles that I remembered. Whenever I found an old favorite, it was like being reunited with a childhood friend, long forgotten.

Early findings included Just for You by Mercer Meyer, Where Did the Baby Go by Eloise Wilkin, and Disney’s classic illustrated Bambi. As the stack of picture books remembered from my childhood grew, I began to branch out even more. I began to search for the chapter books (Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and as many of the Happy Hollister mysteries as I could find) that brought such warm memories. Later I started looking for some of the young adult fiction I had also enjoyed as well. Favorites by S.E. Hinton and M.E. Kerr joined the ranks of Judy Blume.

There came a point when I honestly couldn’t think of a book I’d read in childhood that I hadn’t tracked down. So I started buying different children’s books that appealed to me, new and old.

By the time Little Guy was born, I owned well over a thousand children’s books. Almost three hundred are Little Golden Books alone. So to say our little fellow will have plenty of reading material handy is an understatement. Of course, like most book lovers my complete book collection doesn’t end with just one genre. I have many bookcases full to bursting with all of my favorite grown-up books too (my guilty pleasures are mysteries and chick lit, but honestly I'll read just about anything).

Lately, Little Guy has been choosing his own books to read at bedtime, and I just can’t really express how excited I’ve been to see his choices, to know that these are the books he’ll hopefully remember fondly when he’s an adult – it makes me smile. Lately he’s been picking a lot of Mercer Meyer’s Little Critter books, and his favorite (without any prompting from me) is also “Just For You”. Every time I read him that book, I can vividly remember my Mom reading it to me. It makes my heart sing. It makes me very glad I decided to track down that childhood collection, and it makes me happy that he’s picking real books off shelves instead of choosing some file from a cold computer screen.

Call me old fashioned. I don’t care. I love my books!

Photo Note: I found this pic on Bing Images.  Originally posted on the Marian Wright Edelman Library home page.  Site


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