Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another hospitality opportunity

This Sunday our church will be hosting a Youth Choir who will be peforming on Sunday morning.
They were looking for host homes for some of the youth.

As I've stated before, Mr. Free and I feel we have the gift of hospitality and view our home as a place to minister to others.

We jumped at the chance to host some youth!

We found out yesterday that we are hosting 3 teenage girls. For some reason I had imagined we would host boys and so did Mr. Free. He was kind of bummed to not have XBox buddies this weekend.... : )
Girls can like XBox!
The thought of Mr. Free in a home filled with girls this weekend hadn't even occurred to me. This will be fun...

Tonight I need to scrub the house to be ready for our guests.
Mr. Free has done a wonderful job of keeping our home in order while he's been home this week. I am so thankful for that.

Here's a helpful checklist that I often use in prep for house guests.

Saturday I am planning to get some lovely Aldi flowers and get some cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Sunday. That's a treat in the Free household...

As I looked over the list of 'host homes' yesterday, I had to smile. Most of the others host homes I've been to and they are very nice and large.
Ours is a little shoebox.
It just struck my heart that whatever blessings we have been given we should in turn give it back to God.
Our home would be deemed 'too small' by many, but it is what we have been given and we will use it to bless others.

So readers, any tips on fun things to do with some teenage girls?
I was thinking M.A.S.H and a round of telephone.... : )

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Virtual Housekeeping.

It was time for me to 'clean house' on this blog a bit.
I've gone through a labeled every post into a category.
I then added a feature in the bottom right to show the different categories my blog contains.
Holy cow I didn't realize how 'all over the place' this blog is.
Oh's a perfect reflection of me then. : )
And my house at the moment.....
I hope this makes it a bit easier for you to navigate through previous posts to find topics that interest you!
Let me know any other feedback you have to make my blog more reader-friendly!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Outdoor rugs inside: Tacky or Terrific?

I would have to say terrific.

But that's just me.

Our home is all hardwoods and tile, thus area rugs are needed to create some coziness.
In the beginning we had a chocolate brown shag rug in the middle of the living room.
I LOVED the look.

However, with 2 dogs and a new cat that got it confused with grass apparently, it didn't hold up well.
We took it to the laundry mat, washed in the bathtub, beat it was just not working.

Then the idea hit me.

Why not get an indoor/outdoor rug? This way if there is a spill or a pet accident, we can just take it outside and hose it off!

I googled my fingers off looking for the right rug that didn't look like an outdoor rug.
(No palm trees or flamingos allowed.... : )

I scurried to and saw this beauty.

I have a weird love affair with houndstooth.

I love it.

So I snatched up the chocolate rug and never looked back. It has been wonderful! We don't have to worry about our pets or visiting little ones spilling.

Plus, no one even realizes its an 'outdoor' rug unless we tell them

Just a disclaimer: It is not the softest rug in the world. It is similar to a jute rug, which is quite a common material for interior rugs. Its definitely softer and cozier than hardwood floors!

Plus, the price was awesome! A 4 by 6 rug for $43! Not bad!

If the funds allow it, I'd love to order the black/brown one for under our dining table. It would be perfect for spills or whatnot under the table!

So whats your opinion on outdoor rugs....tacky or terrific?

Monday, May 24, 2010

A 'free' week ahead.

Lord willing.

I started my day today with a free iced decaf caramel macchiatto.

Tonight I will be going to the movies for free to see this:

I'm not going to lie, I have really low expectations for this movie...but I've heard good things. We will see!

A few weeks ago I won a free Happy Hour at my favorite restaurant.

Wednesday we will get to dine on sliders, fries and drinks.

For free.
My favorite word. : )

On Friday, the most imporant 'free' will happen.


Have a great week!

P.S. I promise starting next week there will be a lot more homemaking posts as I will have a lot more time at home. I'm looking forward to it! I have lots of home goals this summer that I can't wait to share!

Friday, May 21, 2010

What I'm loving right now.

Knowing Summer is just around the corner...
One week left!

Cinnamon Dolce Latte's
Being a 'green level' memeber at Starbucks.

This means that on purchases using my gift card (which I had just pre-loaded) custom syrup options are free. This means a tall cinnamon dulce latte' is the price of a reg. latte instead of a specialty one. This saves about $.70. Not too shabby!

Summer dresses

Rain while I'm sleeping.
It's been pretty rainy and dreary here. But I do love it raining at night. It is soo relaxing.

This book.

I'm on chapter 4 and it has been a very eye-opening read. I highly recommend it.

Knowing our twin neices will be here soon!

Mr. Free and I are so excited to be aunt and uncle! It's going to be so much fun to have little ones around! Especially during the holidays...I can't wait!

So ladies and gentleman, what are you currently loving right now?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Milk it for all it's worth...

Mr. Free and I have switched to local, organic meat and are trying to follow the dirty dozen list for our produce.
Lately, I've started thinking about our milk.
For the last couple of years we have gotten our milk from two different places. Our white milk: Costco.
Our fun flavored milk: Shatto.
We only go through about 1 gallon a week, so on our bi-weekly Costco visits, we would pick up 2 gallons of their store label skim milk. It says it does not contain growth-hormones. Which we appreciated.
Shatto, as I've mentioned before is a local family farm about an hour north of us. They have about 300 cows, use no growth hormones, are treated with compassion (they even have names!) and use glass bottles for their milk.
Their flavors are amazing. We are partial to their chocolate, root beer and orange dream flavors. Mmmmm.
I started doing some research into commercial milk (like Costco's) vs. organic milk (like Shatto's...though they are not certified.)
Please note that many of our local family farms produce organic milk, but are not able to afford the certification to be labeled as 'organic'. I will use the term organic, but your local farm is probably following those same practices.
Here's some things I have found:
* Organic milk has higher beneficial fatty acids
* Organic milk has higher vitamin and antioxident content than conventional milk
* Organic milk has higher levels of Omega-3
* Twelve different pesticides have been found in conventinal milk. Organic dairy cows cannot eat feed containing pesticides.
This week a study came out linking ADHD with high levels of pesticides in children. This is greatly concerning to me as a teacher, and hopefully a parent one day. Convential dairy cows are usually feed GMO corn and byproducts. This winds up in the milk you drink. Yuck.
* Buying organic milk is supporting good business practices and animal treatment.
* I feel better supporting a local farmer and his family that I have personally met, then lining the pockets of some dairy CEO. That's just me though.
** Please note: not all organic milk is created equal. There has been quite an uproar with big organic milk companies, like Horizon. They barely scrape by the USDA's standard for 'organic' and are still produced on huge factory farms. Just something to think about.
I contacted Shatto this week concerning how their cows are fed. We visited their farm a couple of weeks ago and was greatly impressed with how they run their farm, the treatment of their cows and the freshness of their product. Their website says the cows graze the fields and are also fed grain and alfalfa hay during winter months. I wanted to see if the grain and alfalfa contained any pesticides.
I was relieved to hear back that they grow their own grain and hay and no pesticides are used.
These enough convince me of the benefits of switching our milk.
The thing I'm reluctant about? The cost. Gulp.
A gallon of milk from Costco? Around $2.25/gallon. A gallon of local Shatto milk? $6. That's a pretty big difference.
Organic milk is available almost anywhere milk is available. Sometimes it is in the 'health' section of the grocery store. It is obviously readily at places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.
I think for now, we will keep a gallon of Costco milk (luckily it is they say...) for cooking or for when others come over. For our regular daily consumption...local milk.
When we have little ones....I think we will bite the bullet and *only* use local, organic milk. Their healthy development will be priority one.
Please do your own research on this. There are so many articles and research done on the benefits of organic milk and how convential milk is produced.
So Readers, are any of you already purchasing organic or local milk? Do you think it's worth the money? Do you have any cost-cutting tips in purchasing organics?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I currently have a Stay at Home Husband.
And it is awesome.
Mr. Free is a full-time student and is currently in between is Spring and Summer semesters.
This means that he is able (and willing!) to run the errands, clean the house and do laundry.
But, in a week and a half- our roles will switch.
Gotta live it up while I can!
Hope you all are having a wonderful day. It's rainy and dreary here. A perfect excuse for a hoodie and a Cinnamon Dulce latte' if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We are buying our first home.

Yes, the shoebox home we've already been living in.
My grandpa has graciously let us 'rent to own' for the past 3 years as we got settled as newlyweds. It's been such a blessing.
The time has come for us to take the plunge and make the place ours.
We are very excited to make this commitment (haha) and take this next step in 'adulthood'.

We've already done some improvements that I've chronicled before.
Like updating the kitchen.
And the bathroom.
And building a deck.
And painting the whole house.
And a new front door.
And landscaping.


We are excited to continue to make the place 'ours'. As our budget allows, of course.

So homeowners, any tips? Anything you would recommend updating to help with the homes value?
Any budgeting tips as now we have a mortage to pay each month?
We could definitely use your wisdom!

Monday, May 17, 2010

When one door closes....

I was really hoping to teach Summer School this year.
Evidently, God has other plans for me.
This means I only have 2 weeks left of work.
Then 10 weeks off.

I think this will be great time to brush up on my homemaking skills and get our home in tip-top shape.
Here's some things on my list:

Purge and organize closets

Paint our doors white and door knobs oil-rubbed bronze.

Learn some new recipes with fresh food from our farm, garden and farmers market

Get my booty to the gym, to try to lose some of my booty. : )

Catch up on some reading. Here's what's on my list:

** Sacred Influence- Gary Thomas (just started this week!)
** Practical Theology for Women- Wendy Horgor Alsup
** From Clutter to Clarity- Nancy Twigg
** In Defense of Food- Michael Pollan
** Simpler Living, Compassionate Life- Michael Schut
** The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World- John Piper

Maybe even launch an Etsy store.

Specializing in vintage finds and re-finished furniture. At an affordable price. I even have a cute name picked out for it already! It's something I've wanted to do for awhile, and now it looks like I'll have time to do it!

Anybody have some fun summer plans in the works already? It's almost here!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And I thought MY home was small...

I recently saw this clip about this apartment and it is amazing! Such a great idea!
Please check it almost makes me want to live in 300 sq. feet!



Time Management Tip

I am weirdly obessed with time management.
I'm not saying I'm always punctual...I just like scheduling things.
I'm a weirdy.

But you already knew that.
Here's how many people have something like this to keep track of family events:

This works great for many families, and Mr. Free and I tried this too when we were first married.
But here was my dilemna. When making plans and getting deadlines I often wasn't at home. So often I would forget to put it on the calendar on the fridge, and then when it was time for us to let's say, bring breakfast to Sunday School...we would forget.

So here's what I do.

I use my cell phone.

No, it's not a fancy iPhone. I wish. But it does the job.
Every cell phone should have a calendar feature.
So when someone asks you to bring breakfast for Sunday School, or you have a Family Birthday party you can plug it in on your cell!
Most people have their cell phones on them at all time, so it really is helpful!
I also do my meal planning on my cell phone, so when I look at each date I see what events are scheduled and what I'm making for dinner!
How 21st century is that?!
Does anybody else already do this or have another time management tip?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Steals and Deals

Alrighty frugalistas (and frugalistos for any male readers????)
Here's some current deals going on that you might want to be apart of!

Now through May 16th, get a customized frappuccino for half price between 3 and 5 p.m.
I did try one yesterday after I read varied reviews of the 'new formula'.
Needless to say, I went in with low expectations.
And was pleasantly surprised!
It was delicious!
I ordered a tall decaf hazelnut java chip breve frappuccino. whew.
Right now is offering an extra 15% off with this coupon code:
This is a great option for upcoming wedding or graduation gifts.
It comes out cheaper, even with shipping than going to the store.
This saves you time, gas and gift wrap!
I ordered a gift using it today!
Almost monthly offers 80% off of their already discounted gift certificates.
This month the code is

For the many wedding anniversaries coming up, this is a great option for a wonderful dinner at an even better price!

B:2 Happy Hour (K.C. only)
Ah, our favorite restaurant!
Last week they began offering Happy Hour in the bar area (which is a great size by the way...)
Here are the specials:
$2 sliders
1/2 price fries
1/2 price appetizers
can't wait to try the fried pickles!
1/2 price beers and local wells

Here's a pic from one of our visits...devouring their amazing food!
Blanc Burgers + Bottles (their sister restaurants) also have similar Happy Hours. Be sure to check those out too!
Mr. Free and I will definitely be frequenting when we have the urge to dine out!

Tomfooleries Happy Hour (K.C. only)
Tomfooleries has 2 locations, but we frequent the Plaza location ourselves.
Their Happy Hour is from 4-7 pm everyday and here is what you can get!
For only $3!!
Quarter Pound Cheeseburger and waffle fries
4 Chicken Strips and waffle fries
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries
and for $4:
Onion Rings (it is seriously a huge platter piled high!)
Individual Pizza
Grilled Thai Chicken Sticks
Pot stickers
Enchilada Dip
Spicy Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos

no drink purchase required!
They do offer some alcohol specials too if that's your thing...
When Mr. Free and I dine at the Plaza, this is our go-to as it is good and cheaper than McD's!!

Ok, so that's all I got. I didn't want to pass along any 'deals' I didn't personally have experience with.

Please let me know if you try any of these and please share any deals you know about!!!

First question!

Here's the first question:
I was wondering how you decide your budget? I noticed that you like to pinch pennies when it comes to household stuff, but you also enjoy going out to eat as well. I was just wondering how you find the balance and decide with the Mr about your monthly budget? Thank you!

I will admit we are not always 100% perfect with our budget. We do have one, and its quite detailed. But I have been known to say," Gosh darn it, I really want a date night!" And go out to dinner, even though we shouldn't.... I can be bad.

But we are really getting back on track.

With our budget, we first see the total amount we bring in each month. Then we go through and list all our fixed bills monthly (rent, insurance, utilities, etc.). Then we decided together what we thought would be adequate for flexible spending, like groceries and fun money. Our biggest priority right now is saving. We both are in school full-time, so we unfortunately had to take out some student loans. We also need a new vehicle. So savings is numero uno.

I do like eating out on occassion. We really only go out maybe 2 or 3 times a month. Usually with friends. My mom is very generous and takes us out to eat often or will induldge in my coffee obsession. This obviously greatly helps our budget. (Thank you Mom!!!)

So Mr. Free and I will maybe eat out once every couple of weeks on our own dime. This is fixed into our 'fun money' so we feel we can live life a bit, but also be saving for our future together!
We have found now that we are getting quality food for our home (farm-fresh meat, eggs, dairy and produce) we often want to eat at home! Our dinners often taste as good as any restaurant at a fraction of the cost!

When we go out to eat though, we look for ways to save $$$. We usually always order water, and we will often split an entree'. Our portions are out-of-control in the ol USA, so we save money and our waistlines by sharing! We also look into restaurants Happy Hours, where they often have very discounted specials or look for coupons. We really try not to pay full-price for anything!

Another thing that does help with sticking to your budget is the ol' envelope system. We were very strict with this when we first were married and we are bringing it back next month. This way with our different allotments (groceries, medicine, pets, fun money, etc.) we can visible see what's left and hopefully have some leftover! It really does help!

Sorry....that was wayyyy long. : )

*** Do you have a question?? Feel free to comment and I will gladly answer!***

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let's do another round....

...of Ask Me Anything!

I'm having writer's leave me a comment and ask whatever you want!
It can be about decorating, homemaking, teaching, marriage, scripture, frugality, local eating, diabetes, or just plain old me! I'm game for whatever!
Feel free to make the comment anonymous too, if you don't want me to know who's askin... : )

I'll leave it up for a couple of days and answer questions as I get them!

Here's a pretty pic from Apartment Therapy today....can't leave without a pretty picture!

Ready, Set, Go!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dreaming of a pantry...

I feel incredibly blessed to be in our home. It is perfect for the two of us.
I do however, have a long-running list of hopes and dreams in a future home.
One thing near the top?
A pantry.
Right now our food is crammed into an overhead cabinet and on top of our fridge.
Not so chic.
Here's some very inspirational pantry pics:

I love how it looks just like a china cabinet and armoire, but really, its a walk in pantry!

I love the screen door! So cute! to sit in a pantry?! Amazing.

I love these doors!

Forget just sitting in my pantry...I need a ladder!

I love these picture. The chalboard door, the milk glass, the retro clock and the glass containers. It's sooo pretty!

I like all the colors....though this kinda looks like a clothes closet converted into a pantry. I'm not one to judge...I'd take it in a heart beat!

I love the sliding glass doors and the life preserver over it! I have to keep this one in my files for whenever *hopefully* one day live at the lake!

Another screen door the pop of red!

Oh are still my favorite color!

Doesn't this just inspire you to cook?!

This is one of my favorites too. It's massive! I love all the jars holding dry ingredients and spices. I love the light fixtures too! Beautiful!


One day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Day at the Farm

Yesterday was a very pretty day, but a little chilly actually.
Seemed like a perfect day for a drive.
So Mr. Free and I loaded into our little buggy and headed north to a local dairy farm that we proudly support.

It took us about an hour, but it was so much fun to pet the cows and see where our milk is actually made!

Here's some pics from our little journey.

Their country store, where we got to sample all their milks, cheeses and butter. (The butter is uh-mazing!!!)

Mr. Free loved the babies.....they each have a name and come to you when you call them....just like a dog!

He loved 'em!

Mr. Leroy Shatto himself showed us around the place. This is his awesome milk truck that's horn is a 'Moooo!'. Pretty darn cool....
I tried to convince him to throw a few black spots on our car and we could make some milk deliveries for him.....haha
Aren't the bathrooms cool?! I love the old doors for stalls and the galvanized buckets for sinks! So cool!

So in the end we wound up with some Orange Drink for Mr. Free, some Root Beer milk (my favorite!!!) for me, some artisan cheese and some butter.
Their farm and product is truly quality at its finest. Its a good feeling to know you are getting quality dairy and supporting a local family at the same time.
If you're in the KC area...I highly recommend a day trip out there!

What's your favorite milk flavor?