Project: Food Budget (Week 26)

First, thank you for all of the great feedback that came in response to yesterday’s post.  I received some kind and insightful comments here on the blog, and my friends shared reactions on Facebook that were both touching and thought-provoking.  One friend mentioned that blogging did more for her than it did for her readers, and I can definitely attest to the benefits that I have personally enjoyed since starting my blog in 2009.  Another reader mentioned that she desires to do many things, but they just aren’t on “the list” yet.  I SO get that!  Emily Levenson, the host of Project: Food Budget, really made me think with her reaction.  You can see her entire comment below, but here is what really grabbed my attention: “Your experiences help others, whether you realize it or not. By sharing a part of yourself (which is what I believe blogging and social media gives us the power to do), you allow others to do the same. To make it safe to put yourself out there, to follow dreams, to live life, and to talk about your struggles.”  Thanks, Emily.

Before I get to the food post, I should clarify that the gentleman on the radio did not say that there is no place for social media in a Christian life.  He didn’t say we shouldn’t blog, shouldn’t “tweet,” or use Facebook.  No legalism that I could detect.  He simply encouraged listeners to reflect on their motivations and think about how others might perceive our online selves.  Seems like sound advice to me.  I’ll try not to let it cramp my creativity!

Halfway!  Today marks the six month point in Project: Food Budget.

The Numbers: Add $24 to last week’s total, bringing me to $110.  The additions included pizza and a quick grocery run over the weekend.  We bought juice and bread and a couple other little odds and ends.  This week I spent $86 on groceries.  I know that I’ll be adding to that amount over the weekend because we are out of cereal and juice already.

The Food:  On Monday, I made fish tacos.  Tuesday was cheeseburger pockets (that I made up myself) with spinach salad.  On Wednesday, we ate a Chiles with a gift card (yay!), and we were frugal enough to have money left on the card for another treat in the future.  Tonight we will have steak stir-fry, a family favorite.  On Friday, we might eat out to celebrate payday.  Twice in one week!  Saturday will be baked ziti, and Sunday is beef stew in the CrockPot.   

So today, at the halfway point of this challenge, allow me to share what I’ve learned so far.

1.  Rountine counts.  When I plan my menu and write my list on Sunday & do my grocery shopping Monday, I do a better job of sticking to my budget.  If I shop on Tuesday or Wednesday, I feel short on time, so I end up not getting everything I need.  I then have to go to the store later in the week, or I send hubby later.  Either choice usually results in unplanned spending and a broken budget.

2.  Anticipation is good for the tastebuds.  I think everyone gets stuck in a food rut from time to time.  I certainly do.  But when I take time to make a menu, I do a better job of being creative.  AND when I know what is coming later in the week, I find myself actually looking forward to even the most boring fare.  Even something pretty average like spaghetti sounds good when I’ve been anticipating it all week. I really get jazzed about my Sunday CrockPot meal.

3.  Accountability matters.  I don’t think I would still be doing this if I didn’t know that others would be looking for my post on Thursday.  Sometimes I fear that these food posts are way too boring, but then I heard from my mom that a friend of hers actually takes ideas from my menus as she looks for things that are easy to make while tending to her young children.  And one of my sorority sister said that she watches my blog for ideas on inexpensive meals since she is also trying to limit her food spending.  When I feel like I can’t pull together a food blog, I imagine these ladies wondering what happened to me.  Now, I just need someone to host a blog challenge for the other goals I have in my life.  Laundry challenge anyone?

The Week 26 Participating Blogs:

The Brutal Truth

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog, why I blog, and what others might think as they read Warm as Pie. I recently heard a radio program about the role of social media in a Christian life.  The guy speaking was compelling, and his message really got me thinking.  His main point was that every post we make–whether on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, whatever–is essentially an act of self-promotion.  Whether consciously or unconsciously, we are creating a “brand” for ourselves–an image that we want others to hold of us.  This is not a ground-breaking idea.  We used to talk about the same concept in terms of designer purses, name-brand jeans, and sports cars.  I remember when all the girls in seventh grade were wearing K-Swiss shoes, and I wanted desperately to show that I was a K-Swiss kinda gal, too.  Now, self-promotion happens in terms of the words we choose, the links we share, and the photographs that show us as happy, fun-loving, carefree, creative, and confident with shiny white teeth and toned upper arms.  Okay…maybe that’s just me.  Even this post is screaming “here is my obligatory I-am-so-humble-Aren’t-I-amazing post?”.  So with the self-promotion concept swirling around in my brain, every Facebook status I consider writing and every blog post I begin to imagine comes with a great, big pause.  Talk about squelching one’s creativity.  I can’t help wondering if I’m just trying to praise myself and gain praise from others.  Am I bringing God glory or putting a spotlight on myself?  How can ever know that?  For now, I’ll just say that it’s on my mind, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Blogging allows me to show you our family’s best moments.  Blogging allows me to look back over our best moments and to be reminded that we are filling our children’s lives with good things, good memories, good messages, and often good food–even when the kids are arguing, the garbage is overflowing, and the clean laundry is stacked so high on top of the dryer that it is toppling on to the floor where dog hair has collected on the ceramic tile and is now all over the once-clean laundry.

Blogging allows me to tell myself, “Yes, the house is a mess and there are no clean socks, but you are still a good mom.”  Folks, my house is–indeed–often a mess.  Too often, one child is pouting in his room because I said no to more television time, no to a chance to log on to, or no to cookies before dinnertime.  Perhaps even worse, I sometimes say yes to TV when we’ve had enough, yes to PBS because I’m tired and the baby needs to nurse, and yes to cookies because I just can’t say no one more time!

Blogging is like a family photo album.  I don’t know about you, but I throw away the picture that shows that my shorts were too tight, something was smeared on my shirt, and it looks like I might be getting a double chin.  On the blog, I’m not trying to look perfect.  I’m not perfect, and I’m certainly not trying to pull one over on you.  But I do enjoy reflecting on the positives.  I like recording the moments that reveal to me God’s love, the beauty of the world, and the magic of both marriage and childhood.  I like to share my successes here.  I like to post pictures of my children when thay are smiling or otherwise looking sweet.  I don’t take picture of then scowling, pouting, or swatting a sibling.  Would you?

But let me tell you, the normal, messy craziness of family life happens here.  Daily.

At my sister’s baby shower, a relative commented that she couldn’t believe that Kristy planned to use cloth diapers.  She made the comment with a sense of both disbelief and praise.  Sort of how you might congratulate someone who is training for a marathon while at the same time questioning her sanity.  My sweet sister answered that I (as in me, the big sister) use cloth, and I am her role model.  Well, hello there!  I was really touched and really proud that this dear, wonderful sister of mine would point to me as a role model.  Sure, I am the older sister, and I do have three kids who are turing out okay.  But I was still a little bit (okay, a lot) moved at the thought.  I am the big sister, but I always kind of wished I was more like Kristy.

As I good as I felt about the cloth diaper conversation, I am uncomfortable about it, and I keep thinking that if the kind relative and many others who were surprised by our diapering choices knew what my diaper routine looked like.  They wouldn’t be so impressed.  Cloth diapering doesn’t make me SuperMom.  It’s not that hard.  In fact, it’s easy.  Easy.  I am not being modest.  Diapering takes very little of my time, energy, or brain power.  And get this — When I grab a disposable diaper because I’m behind on laundry or just because, the cloth diaper police do not screech to a hault in our driveway and interrogate me about the state of our nation’s landfills or the chemical content of disposable nappies.  Cloth diapering has not been an unattainable standard for an ordinary family like us.  Cloth diapers are cute.  They are better for my baby’s bottom, the environment, and our budget.  But they don’t make me some sort of mothering superstar.  (I’ll save my thoughts on diapering for another post.)

I’m leaving you with these concluding thoughts:  Most of us admire the qualities of others that we don’t think we have.  We admire some of the choices that other families make, and we tell ourselves, “I could never do that.”  Sometimes we see these “super families” on blogs, or we notice the wonderful things that they share on Facebook.  I’m telling you, if [insert admirable thing] were your priority, you could do it, too.  I admire people who exercise daily, compost their food waste, clip coupons, grow their own vegetables, make their own laundry detergent, totally avoid processed foods, drink tons of water, keep beautiful journals, always print their digital photographs, read dozens of novels, always recycle their magazines, knit sweaters for their families, make double batches of lasagna for the freezer, iron their shirts, and always have a clean kitchen sink.  I am not those people.  I do some of those things some of the time.  I have different priorities, and I’m just starting to feel okay about that. I hope you will, too.

Project: Food Budget (Week 25)

Hello, food readers!  I truly apologize for missing last week’s post.  We were traveling, kiddos were sick, and given the traveling, I kind of lost track of the details of our spending.  We did well though due to our generous hosts!

We’ve almost reached the half-way point on this food budget challenge.  How quickly it has gone.  I confess that I need to get more focused.  We haven’t been overspending, but I haven’t been as mindful of my spending and food choices as I was at the beginning of the challenge.

This week we spent $63 on my first grocery run.  I spent $15 on food at Target on another day, and we spent $9 at the church dinner last night.  Total: $87

Here’s the menu:

Monday: Honey Mustard Chicken with Rice (Confession: It came from a box.  We arrived home from our spring break trip on Sunday evening, and I totally gave into convenience food temptation on a quick Wal*Mart run.)

Tuesday: Mushroom Alfredo Pasta with Spinach Salad

Wednesday: {at church}

Thursday: Picnic Food!  Hot Dogs on the grill, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, and Sliced Cucumbers

Friday: Baked Fish with Rice and Broccoli

Saturday:  Uh oh…not sure yet

Sunday:  BBQ Chicken in the Crockpot with Macaroni & Cheese and Mixed Veggies

Springtime Shift

The first day of spring was a major cause of celebration in our old northern life.  Spring meant a few warm days might slip in even if a snowfall could still happen.  Spring meant that the little heads of daffodils pushed up through the earth.  Those tiny pops of green and yellow were so welcome, and everyone hoped that a heavy frost or flurry wouldn’t leave them blighted.  Spring meant putting away snow boots, cleaning out gutters, and sweeping away the old leaves from the fall that accumulated along the sidewalks and the front steps.  These little changes were made with great hope, but we all knew that cold weather could still reign in those early spring days.  I can recall many April mornings that began with a beautiful blanket of the white stuff, so the vernal equinox brought no promises!  Even so, I loved to make a big deal of the start of the new season.

Now that we are living in a very different climate, I wasn’t sure what to do about the start of spring.  It’s been rather “springy” in these parts for…well…since it wasn’t blazing hot.  Since November perhaps?  None of the usual activities celebrating the newly blooming flowers seemed appropriate, but I didn’t want to pass by the important shift into springtime.  For the last few years, I have been organizing our children’s books seasonally.  Of course, we have many books that are year-round favorites; however, I love to pack up our books about autumn, Christmas, and winter and pull out the spring, Easter, and summer choices.  The stories feel new again.

Even though we aren’t going to experience spring in the same way, I want this season to be about new life.  I need a fresh start in several areas of my life.  I’m longing for some new recipes, some new additions to my wardrobe, new commitment to prayer and study, and most of all–a new sense of organization.  What are you hoping for this spring?

Spring Break

Hi, ladies and gentleman.  I’m back!  And waaay behind.  Wow…the last few weeks have been crazy, busy, fun, and frustrating all wrapped into one pretty great life.  We had a round of a stomach bug go through here.  I didn’t get much blogging done then between comforting my little ones, doing mountains of laundry, and trying to keep the household generally moving forward.  I have a particularly acute fear of illness, sickness of any kind but particularly the stomach variety.  Thank goodness we are usually* a very healthy family.  I was praying with all of my might that I would avoid the tummy bug, and I did!  (*remember the “usually” as you continue to read this post)

After the yucky sickies exited the homestead, we decided it was time to have our first non-family gathering in our new home.  (Don’t worry; we disinfected first!)  We busied ourselves with the usual party-prep activities, but we also set to work hanging some actual wall decor.  What a difference!  Our house looks a lot more lived-in, and we felt great to have some of our new church friends over for ice cream and brownies.  I was so blessed by the sounds of happy kids playing in the backyard and adults chatting around the diningroom table.  Joy!

Then spring break!  I had been looking forward to this trip since September.  Why September?  That’s when my little sister and her hubby announced that they are going to become parents!  Yay!  I immediately started planning the shower.  Happily, our kids’ spring break, my husband’s spring break, and my brother-in-law’s spring break would be the same week.  Perfect.  Living 1000 miles from the party site, I couldn’t do much ahead of time, but the theme and the overall “look” of the shower was coming together in my mind.  There is nothing I love more than throwing a party (well, maybe something, but party-planning is hard to top).  My mom and I really had fun with the details.  We expected to also have a great time with the shopping and setting up, but unfortunately, a new round of illness hit the family.  Everyone got some version of this flu-like bug.  A lot of the party preparations had to be delayed, leaving us a little rushed, but everything came together in the end.  I’ll share more about the shower in a later post.

The weather over our break was unseasonably warm and gorgeous.  Cory’s mom and I were able to take my children and two of their cousins to a park to enjoy the sunshine and to learn a little about the process of making maple syrup.  Good stuff!

While on our visits, Charlotte developed what I call her “hammy smile.”  She does it when someone is going to take her picture, but sometimes she breaks into these gummy grins for no particular reason.  Often, she is eating while being “hammy,” so maybe she is just happy.


A big Thank You to my mom & dad who spent time with us and met our needs even when the coughs and fevers were at their worst (for them and for us).  Thank you for meals and beds and laughter and all the ways that you make us feel at home.  It’s fun to be with you no matter what!

Thank you, too, to Cory’s parents for transportation and a fun Sunday gathering and lots of other things–big and small.


Project: Food Budget (Week 23?)

Really busy today.  Too busy.  Crazy busy.  Didn’t-plan-appropriately-busy.

Groceries: $35 (because I only needed to plan for four days)

Dinner out on Wednesday: $30

Quick lunch: $10

Total: $75 Nice!

The Week 23 Participating Blogs: