Saturday, March 18, 2017

Living on the Excess

LAs part of my forementioned Financial Inititative, I decided to 'live on my excess'. 

So many of us Americans have been so blessed, we don't even realize how excessively we tend to live. But, when I started thinking about ways to cut back on spending - food being one of the highest categories for me - I stopped and thought about how much food was in my fridge and freezer. So I determined to eat all of that before buying any more (with the exception of some of the essential expendables like butter, eggs, some fresh produce...) 

I had 3 packages of turkey breasts in the freezer. I threw those all in a crockpot and that's gotten me through almost 2 weeks worth of lunches. I had a package of top sirloin steaks that had darkened from being frozen, so I very well may have assumed they had gone bad and thrown them away before. But, I thawed them and had them for dinner one night this week - they were every bit as delicious as they would've been the day I bought them! I also thawed a pound of ground beef, but I didn't want plain burgers. I could've gone for some chili, but knew that meant going to buy more stuff to add to it. So, I looked in my cabinet and saw a single can of pizza sauce, from who knows when. So, I found a recipe for Paleo pizza crust online, whipped up a simple crust from the almond flour I had on hand, cooked up the ground beef with a bunch of yummy Italian seasonings, threw it on the cooked crust, topped it with a bunch of Swiss and cheddar and it was really good and  got me 3 more meals! 


I also had a freezer full of frozen veggies, many of which had become rather freezer-dried, but determined to make the best of those, too and not replace until eaten. (Hence the need for more butter.)  :)  
Also had some ice cream in there, too, which I happily dispensed of, but have not yet replaced!  ;)

And it's not just food.
I deep cleaned my bathroom last weekend and decided to see how long I could go without buying any more toiletries by using what I've got stored in there. Every time I go on a trip, I tend to buy the little travel sized items that never get fully used. And often tend to come home with any complimentary items.  :)  So, I've put all of those in a little basket to have at the ready, to actually use up and be able to throw away once used. Two birds, one stone! Cleaning up and saving money! 
And all that excess bubble bath... what better reward after a day of cleaning than a nice long bubble bath!
I also have a couple extra shower curtains and I hadn't changed that out in over a year, so I threw one of those up and boom - just like new!

Almost out of Febreze spray. But, thought of all the candles I have that I never use! So, burning those down before buying any more spray! And hey, burn enough of them at once, you can save on power! {Haha} Or use those essential oils in the medicine cabinet in that nice diffuser you got for Christmas!

I hadn't painted my fingernails in probably 15 years or more. But, I came across a bag full of nail polish and threw any that had dried up, away and decided to use the others. Why not! So, that's been fun and 'new' and didn't cost a dime!

And the list goes on and on...

But, all of this has just made me so much more aware. Of how much excess I really have in my life. And appreciative. Of the value of all that excess. And I can't help but think how more appreciative I'll be of FRESH veggies and how much mindful I'll be not to BUY more than I need going foward.


Finance Initiative

I'm blessed to work for a company that strives to keep their employees' best interest in mind.
In an effort to promote wellness, they have a Wellness Program, encouraging employees to exercise more and eat better.
In an effort to encourage community involvement, they offer 2 paid Volunteer Work Days a year.
And this year, they've offered us the chance to participate in a Financial Wellness class. 

Seeing as I already eat healthier than anyone I know and I do volunteer at the church with the youth program (not that I couldn't do more)... the financial wellness is where I've needed the biggest nudge. And this program has been just the nudge I've needed.

I admit, for some time now, I've tended to live with more of a spirit of resignation that one of intention. And I want to change that. This year, I've determined to live more intentionally. With goals and a purpose. With hope. And renewed resolve.

So, this financial program came just at the right time. 

I must say, money has never been much of a driving force for me. I'm glad to have a decent job and grateful for the income it provides. But, as long as my bills are paid and I have a little left over to 'play with'... I'm good. I believe the more you have, the more you spend and the more you have to spend, the less the stuff you spend it on means (to some degree). 

And I hate math. I can do it. I just don't enjoy looking at numbers. Let alone crunching them. 
But, look ~ bubbles! I can do bubbles.  :)


This is my budget, in bubbles. The program they've set us up on takes any of your bank accounts, credit card accounts and so forth and it pulls them together to show how you're spending your money. They have other formats, but I like the bubbles. All I had to do was go in and set specific monthly budget costs for each category and it shows what I've spent and tracks when I come close to the budgeted amount. Or, in some cases, gone over (hence the red bubbles). 

We took the introduction class on March 7th - just over 10 days ago. And I have been ridiculously good so far. I think, for me, just the awareness and accountabilty was the kick in the pants that I needed. Seeing all that red in February was incentive enough to see how March could shape up. And seeing as I spend mostly through my credit card, my changes won't really reflect until April... but I think I'm on the right track! (Shopping in still red just because I haven't set a budget for that, because it's so vague. Starting wtih tracking the others first before I decide what would be reasonable for that category.)

Thankfully, I don't have any outstanding debt (which is a lot more than most folks my age can say). I just need to be better about saving instead of squandering. After all, our instructor reminded us that:  Saving is merely delayed spending. So, might as well stop squandering so I can spend it on something I can look forward to!  :)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February in Georgia

You're killing me, Georgia.
Killing me.


Do you even remember a little thing called Winter?
What's supposed to come before Spring?
The thing that gets me through the rest of your sweltering year?

I would enjoy these beautfiul days more if they weren't in February... and didn't make me dread what must lie ahead in the upcoming months.

Ah, well. Enjoying this cooler rainy Saturday.

78 though?.... Really??
Ugh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sweet Surprises Bring Sweet Reminders

I received the sweetest surprise this morning.

My friend / former manager stopped by to hand deliver a pot of tulips and to tell me that she loves me. 


And as I looked at them throughout the day, I kept thinking. Back to my years at Blue Willow and how He had blessed me there. And where I am now and how He blesses me still. 

Regardless of my marital status, I am loved. Not only by my friend of over 13 years, but by the One who knitted me together and who continues to knit my life together.

Thank You, Lord. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mekdelawit

This is Mekdelawit.
She lives in Ethiopia.
She is a precious student of a brand new school in the Shiro Meda area of Addis Ababa.
I began sponsoring her last August and so love getting updates on her! Don't you just love that smile? So sweet.


A friend of mine (Jen, from a couple of posts ago) learned of an Atlanta couple, Tymm and Laura Hoffman, several years ago, who had founded a charity called 'Brighton Their World'. 
Wonderful couple. 
In 2008, they were expectantly preparing to receive their first adopted baby from Ethiopia. His name was Brighton. Sadly, Brighton passed away from malnutrition before Tymm and Laura could get him. So, they turned their pain into purpose and now use their charity to raise both awareness and supplies for the children of that area.
Their main mission has been to get formula (and diapers) into those sweet babies' hands.
But, recently, they've been able to expand their mission! They now have a school there and are heading up a program that will ensure both nutrition as well as schooling for the children! So awesome! 
I love being a part of such an amazing effort!
And who knows... maybe, one day, I'll join Jen and Missy and go meet sweet Mekdelawit for myself.  :)

Check out Brigthon Their World at:  www.brightontheirworld.org .

To sponsor a student at Brighton Academy, the cost is $28 / month. This includes the schooling, meals at school and clean water for their family.
To be a nutritional sponsor, all it takes is $12 / month to provide them with meals and clean water.

If nothing else, add them to your prayer list. No telling what other ways God wants to use their willing hearts!



Sunday, February 5, 2017

Back To Life

This guy's music ministers to my soul like no other these days.
So grateful for him! He literally gets me through each and every day at work.
And I am so glad that he just released his new album 'Back to Life' this past Friday!

I cannot get enough of "See You Again". Powerful anthem that invokes such hope and resolve. Love it! Check it out!  https://youtu.be/fChUxSW9-bk  (I dare you to listen to that and not come away charged up for the Lord and what He can do!)  :)


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Home is Where the Trestle Is

An old friend of mine (we went all through elementary school together) does photography. 
I've admired her work for some time now, thanks to Facebook.
So, I finally asked her one day if she would mind doing me a favor.

I remember my Mom saying years ago that she wished she'd had a good picture of the train trestle that ran by our house in Illinois. And I had kind of wished we'd had one, too. 

So, my friend Becki obliged and took this beautiful shot of 'home'.


So many great memories. Our property jutted out into the water just there to the right. At one time, Dad even had a picnic bench set out down there for all the canoeing folks. It's where we would look for branches shaped like a 'Y' because those made the best pole rests.  :)

And I loved the trains that would travel those tracks. I remember whenever I'd hear them coming, I would run over to the tracks and anxiously wait for them to pass by so I could wave to the engineer. To this day, it warms my heart to hear a train whistle in the distance or watch one chug past a crossing. 

Thank you for this gift, Becki. 
I love it.

Jes' Because...

So, apparently, there's kind of a big game this weekend.

But, it's football. So, I really couldn't care less. (An average of 17 min's actual playing time over the course of 4 hours game time? How am I the only one bored by this?)

So, when all your co-workers are losing their minds and 'rising up'... and you just happen to have the opposing team's apparel... you just gotta...  ;)
 

In all honesty, I probably would want the home team to win, just because they're due. 
But, by this point, it was fun just to ruffle some Falcons' feathers.
And that shirt is super soft. 
And blue is just prettier than red.
Oh. And Boston is pretty wicked awesome.


January

I can't believe we've crossed off a whole month in the new year already. Like... January, 2017...gone. Crazy.

So, in an effort to capture some highlights... this month in pictures...

Of course, January was when we had our hopes for any sizable snow dashed.
Emery texted me throughout the morning, imploring me to come to their house to be good and ready for when it fell. My gut was telling me that we would end up with a good layer of ice instead, so I finished out the work day and hunkered down at home. Thankfully, my gut was wrong about the ice, but was sorry to be right about not much snow. We didn't get anything more than a cold rain in Covington (I even got up in the wee hours to check). They got a dusting at my sister's house. Sorry, Em. Maybe next time. 

I've attended about 4 women's events now at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. It's a wonderful host church; always warm and inviting. And they have awesome speakers / musical guests. This year, Angie Smith spoke and her husband Todd, along with the rest of the Selah group sang. Selah had performed before and they are - a~mazing live. So, it was good to hear them once again. And though I'd read several books of Angie's, I had never heard her speak. She was phenomenal. We laughed. And we cried. For 2 days straight. Thanks to my sieve-like brain these days, I couldn't begin to recount what was spoken, but suffice it to say... it was a nourishing weekend. (Although I went with my friend, Sally, we happened to cross paths with my friend, Jen and her old roommate as well. That's Jen with Angie in the pic above.)  :)

And Casino Night didn't bring any tears (thankfully) but did bring plenty of laughs. 
This was our third annual Casino Night through our company and I was glad to be able to go this year. (I went 2 years ago and had a great time until my cohort puked his guts out in my car the entire ride home. And last year I was too sick to feel comfortable going.) Kristie and I tagged along with Kevin W and his lovely wife Julie (my first time really meeting her) and one of our new developers rode with us as well. Though Kevin was the only one from our group to win any raffle items, a good time was had by all. (What I wouldn't have given to have had one of those 'Donuts Went Down to Georgia'. Yum.)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

In the Lane, Snow is Glistenin’

... Memory Lane, that is!

  Jodi and me on our sleds 12/78

With the recent 'threat' of a snow storm in Georgia this weekend (which gravely disappointed), I've been taken back to our snow days as kids, once again. Such sweet memories. Big flat flakes falling from a wide open sky. Catching them on the tongue. Snow angels, sledding, snowmen, more sledding... hot chocolate breaks while drying off beside a wood burning stove. It never got old to me.

  Me taking Fluffy for a ride-along 1/1/85

In Illinois, snow wasn’t received quite the same way it is in Georgia. It took a whole lot more of the white stuff to shut us down and get an actual snow day out of it, but when we did... oh, man. It was as exciting as Christmas morning!

Jodi would come running in to wake me up and get me going, we’d get all bundled up (not quite to the extreme of the little boy in “Christmas Story”, though it did feel like it) and we would go – all – day! 

  Me with my prize-worthy snowman 12/80

Could not get enough of the stuff! And, I guess still can’t! 

But, we had a ball. 

We were fortunate enough to have the best plot of land in Illinois for sledding. For those of you who’ve been to (or more likely through) Illinois, you know it is flat. As a pancake. From end to end. 

But, we actually lived on a nice little hill that had the BEST driveway for sledding!! Not only was it just the right slope, it had just enough twists and turns... and trees, to keep it exciting. It was awesome.


  Jodi and me going out into the great land of snow 12/78

And, when we got snow… we – got – snow!

So much fun… and so many great memories from those beautiful wintry days.

  Jodi sledding down the drive successfully, as I wipe out 1/79

  and me doing much better 1/79!


If you don't enjoy the snow... then, you're not doing it right.  ;)