Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Best Show on T.V.-Downton Abbey

Watch it.  It's amazing.  Right up there with Mad Men.

I don't even know where to start about it.  It takes place in England (swoon!) immediately preceding WWI.  The show follows both the upstairs, gentry, of a great house, Downton, and the downstairs, the servants.  And all of the interactions.

This time in history was the end of the gentrification in England and the beginning of socialism.  Oh the tension!

And then there's the romance.  So refined, so controlled.  There is something so exciting about love restrained. Am I right?  It's positively scintillating.

If you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and start watching Season 1.  And then catch Season 2 on Sundays on PBS.  You will thank me.  I accept hugs, gifts and cash.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: The Money Saving Mom's Budget

I recently finished The Money Saving Mom's Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year by Crystal Paine.  In keeping with my number one goal of living debt-free I decided this would be a great resource.  I have read MoneySavingMom.com for a couple of years, but mostly for the coupon advice.  I didn't really think I could be debt free.  I didn't really think I had it in me to slash our grocery budget.

But that was before 2012.  In combination with other books I've read, and this book, I don't just believe it's possible to be debt-free, I believe it's actually possible to live frugally and then be able to save and generously give.  I've seen the light, Praise the Lord, AMEN!

Anyways, The Money Saving Mom's Budget was one of the books I thought I would read to kick off 2012 the right way.  I'm so glad I did read it.

The book covers everything from the necessity of organization to how to play the drugstore game.  The author believes that being organized is one of the most important steps to becoming financially responsible.  If you're going to buy something, then you should probably know if you already have one, or it's a waste of time and money.

I really appreciated her views on going plastic-free.  Plastic as in debit and credit cards.  I do not use my credit card, but my debit card is another story.  Often I will use my debit card to fill in the gap between my purchases and my cash.  And look at where I am!  So, I understand that it's a great thing to leave the debit card at home.  Now if I can only make myself do it.  I'm working on that one.

I also really liked the encouragement to live frugally.  For the first time I finally saw the beauty of frugality.  I had always equated frugality with cheapness.  But I understand it differently now.  It is not cheap to be able to help a neighbor out with groceries because my spending is under control.  It is not cheap to have the cash to give to someone in need.  Frugality frees up money to be able to BLESS PEOPLE!  How wonderful.  I always thought we just needed to make more money in order to be more generous.  I had it all wrong.  I need to live responsibly so that we can give more of what we have now.

Yes, most of what I read in the book I could have read on her blog.  But I think I read and retain better with a book format.  If that's you, and you need a good financial and frugal living advice book, I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Goals for 2012

I rarely publicize my goals.  And truth be told, I've had a very difficult time making goals in the last few years.  And I know you're probably very tired of my using the two-pregnancies-in-three-years excuses, so I'm not going to use that as an excuse for not making goals.

The truth is that I've been in a rut.  And it could have been the above, not mentioned reason, also sleeplessness,  or anything else.

But I've found that the things that I want to change are actually the things or behaviors that have kept me in a rut.  No more; this is MY YEAR!

First, I'm breaking up with Debt.  He's a horrible friend.  He lies all the time and totally backstabs me when I'm turned around.  He's actually like one of those horrible boyfriends who says all the right things to manipulate me and then WHAM! I'm on my face because he's knocked me around.  I'm done with Debt.  He's bad.
Declan-November 2011

We are on the cash envelop system.  I believe it is the best way to move forward financially.  I am trying to cut down my grocery budget by 30%.  And once the bad guy, Debt, is gone, we're moving to the 3-6 months of expenses stage.  I'm really excited about my financial goals.  (And yes, Erik is way on board with me!)

Secondly, it's time I lose some weight.  The baby is nearing one-year old and it's time.  I will do this by eating better and somehow will find time to exercise.  Since I've been eating healthier I've noticed significantly fewer mood swings.  Dang it!  I guess my diet does affect my moods and hormones!

Thirdly, I'm looking for work.  I stumbled upon this site, RealWaysToEarnMoneyOnline.com and I'm very enthusiastic about finding some sort of online writing work.

Fourthly, I think knitting is cool and I've been trying to teach myself to do it for a couple of years.  Well, I think this is the year for it!

Fifthly, I need to get my sewing machine fixed.  I realize this may not seem like a goal worth listing, but since I will have to save cash for it, it is.

I'm believing that with posting my goals the Lord will give me strength and perseverance.  And that if I do fail to meet all of my goals then it will be all for His Glory anyways! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meatloaf So Good You'll Want to Smack the Person Next to You

You think I'm exaggerating?  But I'm not.  (I also just spelled exaggerating correctly, first try!)

I found this little gem on Pioneer Woman's site and I'm not lying, it's AMAZING.

The meatloaf is so good that you will literally lick the bowl or plate.  Not that I would ever do that, but you might.  I mean, after all, licking our feeding dishes is the only thing that separates us from dogs.  Okay, that's an exaggeration.

The secret?  Bacon.

(Did you just hear Angels sing?  I did.)

Bacon wrapped seasoned meat with ketchup/brown sugar/mustard glaze.  This would be my Death Row meal.

Here's P-dub's picture.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Black and White Chocolate Mousse

I have just made the most amazing dessert ever.  Well, maybe not ever, but it is divine.  Give it a shot.

I call it Black and White Mousse.  It's such a clever name because I use both semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips.  Get it?  I know I astound you with my cleverness.

So, anyways, ready for the best part?  It's made in the crock-pot.  YES!

Here's the recipe.

Adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

2 cups of heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
3 Tbls sugar
1/3 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Pour ingredients into your crock pot, stir so you mix up the yolks.  Then stir in the chocolate chips.  Cook on low for two hours, or high for one hour.  You are looking for bubbles and the chocolate to start melting.

Very carefully, pour your contents into your blender and blend for a few minutes until it looks fluffier and it "grows".

Then pour into a container and chill until firm.  This usually takes at least two to three hours.

I would serve it with berries (especially raspberries) and pirouette cookies.

Oh thank you, Katie Roose for eating this with me so that I don't have any right now!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Not Over; Romney Doesn't Have It Yet

This post is for those of you who feel like Romney has already wrapped up the nomination.

He hasn't.

A candidate in the GOP needs 1,144 delegates to seal the Presidential nomination.  Romney has seven.  And since Huntsman just dropped out, his two will probably go to Romney.  Making Romney's total 9 at this point.

Let's be real.  Romney won Iowa and New Hampshire.  Not exactly population dense areas, right?

What was important about winning Iowa and then New Hampshire is that Romney is the perceived nominee and money loves a winner.  The winners are more likely to get more donations.  And then there's the East coast thing.  Who is really surprised that Romney won NH?  He's from MA!  It's like two centimeters on the map away!

Personally, I'd be watching out for the people coming in second and third.  The western states are looking for people to support other than Romney.

I just want to you know that despite what you've been seeing/hearing on the T.V. or NPR, Romney does not have this in the bag.  Sure he's enjoyed the least amount of probing from the press, and sure he's raised the most money.  And yes, he's being heralded as the heir!  But do not listen to them!  It's in the establishment's best interest to have Romney in power because he's not really a fiscal conservative and his social issues are paper thin conservatively.  The establishment thinks that a conservative candidate would lose to Obama, but they can't know that certainly.  Remember, they want to discourage you.  That way you either don't vote or you don't go against Romney.  This is a tactic of Romney's campaign!

Be encouraged to examine the candidates so that when you go to vote in your primary you're not voting "Not Romney".  This is the perfect opportunity to pick a better candidate.

This is a good article to further the discussion about delegates for the GOP.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Books I Plan to Read in 2012

I was inspired by this MoneySavingMom's post about the 24 books she plans to read this year that I have undertaken to do that myself.

I made the decision after I woefully discovered that I hadn't finished more than one book from my book club and then I realized that I had been missing out on a BUNCH of great reading by wasting time with shows like The Sopranos, and Seinfeld.  Okay, those shows are not a waste of time.  I'm kidding about that, but really, I spent 2011 watching a lot of evening television while I was either not sleeping because of a new born or just exhausted from a day of watching kids.

But I'm back on the reading horse!  I have selected 12 (mostly) non-fiction books to read alongside the books from my book club.

Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer

Living Your Strengths

Knowing Scripture by RC Sproul

Stop Acting Rich by Thomas J. Stanley

The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

A Family of Value by John Rosemond

Life After Death by Dinesh D'Souza

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Being George Washington by Glenn Beck

The Great Divorce by CS Lewis

Jacob I Loved by Ron Durham

Something More by Catherine Marshall

I'm really looking forward to this year of reading.  I will try and post reviews as I finish them.