Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hallway Gallery Wall

My new gallery wall, looking into the living room.

I am so happy this project is finally complete!

For the past few months, I've been keeping an eye out for the perfect picture frames (pun intended) to create a gallery wall in my hallway. In attempts to be frugal (Frames are pricey! Especially cute ones!) I ventured down into our basement to go through a box of pictures I had hanging in our apartment but didn't put up here. Jackpot! After my little basement trip, I didn't have to buy one frame.

Since I have been very unhappy with digital prints done at Target and Walmart, Reed suggested I try Snapfish for this project. After about a week my prints arrived, and they look much better than the store prints. Has anyone else had a good experience with store photo centers? Where do you get your digital prints made?

In addition to the pictures, I hung cute little words made from baby blocks. I just hot glued the blocks together, and hung them with Command strips. I love those things, and use them all over my house. (the Command Strips, not baby blocks :)

I am really pleased with how the blocks came out! Love them!

That sign says LOVE in red, and has verses from 1 John about love written across the whole thing.

Here's a closeup:

I'm so happy with this wall! And even happier that it just cost me the price of the pictures, since I had everything else :)

The little block words are so fun, and so easy! This one makes me smile every time I see it, but not just because of the cuteness.

It has an unintended secret message for me every time I walk down the hall.....

You can take the girl out of P.G. County, but you can't take the P.G. County out of the girl :) LOL

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Last Week's Happenings, and 'When I Don't Desire God'

It seems that when I blink, and a week or two fly by. How does that happen? My mom always told me that when you have kids, the clock speeds up. Since this past year has been the fastest of my life, I'm guessing that she's right!

On Monday, I took Abel and Chase to the Valentine's Day party for the home/pre schoolers at my church. The boys enjoyed the snacks and crafts, and we had fun passing out and collecting Valentine's cards. Activities like that make me even more aware of how blessed we are to live across the parking lot from our church; if we didn't, I'd have missed out on the fellowship and the boys on the fun.

Reed and I celebrated Valentine's Day with a quiet evening at home. It's nights like that I'm very appreciative that the baby goes to bed so early (truth be told, the baby goes to bed so early so we can enjoy quiet evenings at home!) Why spend a ton of money on food I can make cheaper (and better!) here? And after Reed has a long day at work, the last thing he wants to do is go back out. I personally don't care where we are, as long as we're together. So, we celebrated the night by watching Fireproof and eating a fun dinner at home (roasted garlic green beans, balsamic fingerling potatoes, fillet mignon). And my sweet husband Reed totally surprised me with a new cookbook. Yay!

On Tuesday Abel woke up with a fever, and by Friday Reed and I were sick, too. Pretty sure we had the flu. Thankfully, he had the day off of work on Saturday, so we've spent the weekend relaxing and enjoying each other's company. We've also spent much of Abel's nap times reading.

While one of my goals for this year was to read much more than I had last year, I'm finding that I'm much busier than I thought. If I'm not mistaken, this is week 7 of 2011. Instead of the 7 books I was hoping to have finished by now, I am nearly done book 3. That's discouraging to me, but I am glad that I'm accomplishing my goal of reading significantly more than last year. And I sure do cherish the activities that are keeping me so busy.

The first book I read this year was 'When I Don't Desire God' by John Piper. I really like subtitles (I think they're very informative) and the one for this book is 'How to Fight for Joy.' If you're familiar with Piper, you know that he loves to talk about finding our ultimate joy and satisfaction in Christ. This book is his answer to the question, "What if I don't desire God the way I should? What if I'm not satisfied in Him?" Because if we're honest, aren't there times when we all lack joy and contentment in Christ? There is so much more I could say about this book, but I'm going to let Piper speak for himself by sharing some of my favorite quotes from the book.

Chapter 9 The Focus of Prayer in the Fight for Joy
"...prayer is the revealer of the heart. What a person prays for shows the spiritual condition of the heart. If we do not pray for spiritual things (like the glory of Christ, the hallowing of God's name, the salvation of sinners, and the holiness of our hearts, and the advancement of the gospel, and contrition for sin, and the fullness of the Spirit and the coming of the kingdom, and the joy of knowing Christ), then probably it is because we do not desire those things. Which is a devastating indictment of our hearts.....How we pray reveals the desires of our hearts. And the desires of our hearts reveal what our treasure is. And if our treasure is not Christ, we will perish. 'Whoever loves father or mother more than me,' Jesus said, ' is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me' (Matt. 10:37)."

Chapter 11 How to Wield the World in the Fight for Joy
"The dominant link in the Bible between our gratitude and God is that God is good.... This link between our thanks and God's goodness is repeated over and over...What is most significant about this link is that our gratitude is ultimately rooted in what God is, not in what he gives.... The good gifts, like sex and food, are occasions for the gladness of gratitude. But they are not the ultimate focus of our joy. The sensation of pleasure runs up the beam of God's generosity until it stops in the goodness of God himself. I stress this because it is very easy for us to say we are thankful for the pleasures of sex and food, but never even take God into the picture. When that happens, the joy of sex and food is not joy in God, and is not spiritual, and is not an honor to God for his goodness. Enjoying God's gifts without a consciousness of God is not tribute to God himself. Unbelievers do this all the time. Therefore what Paul is teaching us here is that the proper use of physical pleasures in sex and food is that they send out hearts Godward with the joy of gratitude that finds its firmest ground in the goodness of God himself, not in his gifts. This means that if, in the providence of God, these gifts are ever taken away- perhaps by the death of a spouse or the demand for a feeding tube- the deepest joy that we had through them will not be taken away, because God is still good."

Chapter 11, here Piper quotes G. K. Chesterton first
"'[Children] always say, "Do it again" and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all the daisies alike; it make be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.' I linger over this point- that seeing the glory of God may not require making a trip to the mountains or buying a ticket to the theater, but only opening our eyes- because I believe untold resources for mental health and spiritual joy in God lie all around us if we would but open our eyes."

Have you every read 'When I Don't Desire God'? What did you learn?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 2/7

I'm linking up over at Organizing Junkie again for Menu Plan Monday. Head over there to check out what everyone else is eating this week!

This is week 2 of my Menu for a Month idea, and it's going really well! No extra trips to the grocery store last week! This week, I will need Reed to pick up a few potatoes for Thursday, and the dough ball I use for my homemade pizza on Wednesday, but that's it! (And really, I could make the pizza crust from scratch... we'll see how the day goes ;)

On the menu this week:

Sunday: (A 19.8 lb) Lasagna for our Small Group's Super Bowl party.

Monday: Pan fried tilapia, wild rice, and sauted broccoli with onions (Edited after Monday night: we had sauted broccoli and onions with gnocchi instead)

Tuesday: Spaghetti with veggie sauce

Wednesday: Homemade pizza with leftover sauce from Tuesday

Thursday: Breakfast- cornmeal pancakes, eggs, and fried potatoes (We have only had breakfast for dinner a handful of times, but I like it so I want to do it more often. Maybe a fritatta or quiche next time?)

Friday: Dinner at our church's Valentine Dinner. I think it's catered by Olive Garden this year, and every couple brings a dessert. I'm not sure yet what I'm bringing.

Saturday: Reed's closing at work, so the baby and I will probably have leftovers or something simple :)

What are you having this week?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Menu for a Month - a Tutorial

Until recently, I had been planning out our meals weekly and then grocery shopping once a week. It was a great system, and worked really well for our family. But since my car accident a few months ago, it has become increasingly difficult to find time to head to the grocery store, even just once a week. So beginning in February, I'm trying something new to me but that I know lots of people do... monthly menu planning with one major grocery trip.

We set aside a small amount out of our grocery budget to spend on perishables every week (veggies and dairy) that Reed can pick up on his way home from work (much easier than me trying to get my hands on the car at a decent time and go out). But the bulk of the grocery budget I'll be spending in a big trip the first weekend of the month. This will also cut down on over spending due to those impulse buys that are so easy to make every time you walk into the store. I'm famous for 'Oh! Those veggies look great! Let me totally rearrange my dinner schedule to make something with THOSE!' when I have all of the ingredients for a perfectly good meal at home.

Reed and I sat down to make a master list of foods I make the most that are mostly frugal and ones that he especially likes. I'll be able to choose from this list when I plan my monthly menu.

I wanted something cuter then just a list to keep my menu on, and so I put my own spin on something that I'd seen floating around blog land- the monthly menu calender.

Have you seen these? It is a Melissa and Doug chore chart. New, they run about 20 bucks, but I found mine at Goodwill for $2.50. It was missing most of it's magnets (but I didn't need them) and it was really marked up (the picture above was after I cleaned it). But I knew it would work perfectly for me!

After I wiped it down, I cut out food related words and pictures from some of my old cooking magazines. I arranged them along the edge of the top board to cover up all of the extra sections I didn't need. I played around with the pictures until I had something like this:

I didn't stick exactly to this layout, but I knew I had enough pictures to move on to the next fun step - Mod Podge!

Using my old little foam brush, I painted a thin layer of Mod Podge where I wanted to place the pictures. I smoothed each picture into place, trying to avoid bubbles. Once that dried, I painted another thin layer of Mod Podge over all of the pictures, to seal them into place.

Next came the meal magnets. I bought a roll of magnetic tape from Wal-mart (about $3) that is magnetic on one side, and sticky on the other. It looks like this:

After typing up the meals from the list that Reed helped me make, I cut each one out and stuck it to the sticky side of the magnet tape, trimming to fit. By the way, it's projects like this that make it obvious that I cannot cut straight!

You can see the little stack of complete magnets on the right side, and the strips of paper with meals on them to the left.

Once those were all done, it was time to arrange them in their little squares for February!

I love this board, because I have room to write my grocery list in dry-erase on the bottom. Since the whole thing is magnetic, I keep extra meals that didn't make it on that month's menu on the bottom next to the grocery list. Since the top is dry erase also, I can write things in the squares that I don't have magnets for! I'm remembering more and more meals that still need magnets, and so those meals can be written in right in the little squares. So far for this month, I know we have a Valentine's dinner at the church on the 11th, so I wrote that in dry-erase.

I love this system, because I can move the meals around if I want. Say I need a quicker dinner then I had planned one night, I just move my magnets around and shift the meals. After my big shopping trip, I know I have everything in my pantry to make all of the meals listed, so no last minute stops to the store! I've also been flipping the magnet upside down as we eat a meal, to help me keep track of days (I can never remember what day it is!)

This sure was a fun and practical craft! I hope you like it, too!

Hung on the kitchen wall, next to our kiddie-art hanging line.