Monday, January 28, 2019

Playin' Dead

We love our rescue dog.  She is funny and cracks us up on a daily basis.  She is always doing something.  Mae is very smart and catches on to new tricks fairly quickly for being a little over 2.  Just before Christmas, I started teaching her to play dead.  I didn't think she would catch on so quick and pick up the trick so fast.  She did and then we decided we should teach her to play dead on cue.  So now when we tell her "BANG," she falls over and rolls on to her back.  In order for her trick to be complete and her to get a treat, she knows she must be completely still and not wag her tail.  It cracks us up!
We hope our silly, rescue dog brings a smile to your face.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Slashing the Waste

Happy Thursday friends!!!  I know I have been absent for a little bit but we had some big things going on behind the scenes that I was B-U-S-Y helping with - a family wedding, budget crunching, and more.  Now that all that is behind me, I can come back here and focus on sharing with you again.
Do you need to slash the waste from your budget?  Come over to A Glimpse of Normal and see how I challenged myself to spend only $50 a week to feed a family of 4.
Behind the scenes, I have been working hard on our family budget.  Hubby and I set some big goals for this year.  These goals are so big that we call them our God-sized goals because we know that they are nothing that we can achieve on our own, but we know that if we are faithful, God can achieve anything.  He showed us that a few years ago when we paid off my student loans in one year and again when we moved into our dream barn.  God made each of these things happen because they were part of His plan for us.  This year we set our goals and then started praying about them because they have to be part of His plan for us to be able to achieve them.  While we look for God's leading on our goals we know that we can pitch in and do our part by getting our budget under control.  Getting our budget under control means tracking our spending and keeping it under control.  I had planned on focusing on our budget big time this year because I do want to see if we can meet our goals.  Then I was also encouraged to focus on it when I started following a challenge for the year given out by Jordan Page of Fun Cheap or Free.  Jordan is the queen of frugal and I have been learning a lot by following her blog and social media.  Basically, if I want to meet any kind of budget goals this year, I need to do some slashing.

So, I started looking at our budget and since I can't slash paying the bills...apparently if you stop paying the bills they stop supplying the services...don't worry I haven't actually tried that, I just kind of made a logical conclusion.  All jokes aside, I decided I would slash what I could.  I decided to get serious and slash the waste in our grocery budget.  In the past, we have had a pretty cushy grocery budget.  It allows for extras and in reality, now that I don't buy much meat (we bought a side of beef last fall), I don't need as big of a grocery budget.  I had lots of canned and dried goods stocked up and well-stocked freezers (we have a deep freeze and the refrigerator freezer).  I am also stocked up on other items we use (shampoo, conditioner, cleaning products, etc.) thanks to good sales at the end of last year.  So this month, I decided to slash waste in our grocery budget and see if I could get everything for our household (a family of 4, 1 dog, and 3 outside cats) for just $50 a week.  This was a challenge to myself that I wasn't even sure I could complete.  But I have and I have learned a lot.  I know that the month isn't quite over yet, but I have already spent our $50 for this week and we are good until next week.  I am pretty sure that I will only need $50 worth of groceries next week too.  We haven't had super fancy meals, but we have eaten well and no one has gone hungry.  I have even stuck to pretty close to my menu plan for the month.  We have even had dinner guests a few times this month.  I have just focused on stretching my $50 each week as far as I could and using up what is in my pantry and freezers.  Spending only $50 a week on groceries has forced me to cut out the extras that I was wasting money on, stick to my menu plan, and make sure that I use everything that I buy.  Limiting how much I spend on groceries has also reduced the waste out of my refrigerator too.  I am not buying a bunch of extra that goes to waste before we can use it.  I have been getting creative with side dishes so that I can use up the veggies we buy rather than let them go to waste.  We have been eating all the leftovers too whether they go to work for lunch for hubby or we use them for lunch the next day here at home.  It has also kept us from wasting canned goods by just continuing to stock up and not use them and from wasting freezer food by keeping it too long and letting it get freezer burned. 

Limiting the grocery budget has forced us to slash waste all the way around.  It was a challenge to me as well as the family (who until I told them what I was doing, didn't even realize I was limiting the grocery budget) because they to help me use the food I was buying wisely.  Slashing waste in the budget lead to slashing food waste which was eye-opening for me.  I didn't realize how much food we were wasting and I needed to see that.  I will continue to minimize my grocery budget so that we can save up money for our goals.  Next month I will up my weekly grocery budget a little so that I can stock up on canned goods again.  We are getting pretty close to having canned fruit soup here...that is our family joke this month as we have used up many canned beans, tomatoes, etc. throughout the month.  Then in March, I will challenge myself again.  I will say that if you have to buy all of your meat at the store, you may have to up your reduced budget some.  I only had to buy sausage and a pack of chicken since we have a freezer full of beef.  Now that I know I can slash my grocery budget waste, I will be looking for other budget areas I can slash. 
Do you need to slash the waste from your budget?  Come over to A Glimpse of Normal and see how I challenged myself to spend only $50 a week to feed a family of 4.
I challenge you to slash your grocery budget and see if you can make it.  Even if you can only slash it for a week, it will save you some money.  The money I saved this month from our normal grocery budget will go toward the goals that we are working on.  I have already moved the money to where it will be used so that way I can't spend waste it on buying extras.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Elephants and Unicorns

The end of 2018 was a whirlwind of yarn for me and I am not complaining one bit.  I was given the opportunity to put my crochet skills to use and create for people.  This is something I only dreamed of doing, but one request last year led to another and I was so blessed by each order that came in.  I ended up crocheting a total of 3 unicorn pillows, 2 elephants, and 4 teacups for others last year.  You can see the first 2 unicorns, the teacups, and an elephant in this post.  Today I thought I would share with you the other unicorn and elephant I made last year. 
This sweet unicorn pillow was crocheted for a little girl's birthday.  I can customize orders for you.  Check it out on my blog A Glimpse of Normal.
This pattern is from Yali's & Yabo's on Etsy.  I love how the unicorn changes by personalizing the colors of hair and roses.  Each one that I have worked up has been unique based on the colors chosen.  
This sweet elephant lovey is a great gift for baby showers.  See more on my blog, A Glimpse of Normal.
This sweet elephant lovey is a great gift for baby showers.  See more on my blog, A Glimpse of Normal.
I got the pattern from Tikva Patterns on Etsy.  I love how easy it is to adapt this pattern to either a boy or girl.  There are so many color combinations that you could do to make this little elephant lovey unique.  

I am blessed to have already gotten some orders for this year and I am steadily working on those.  I would love to get more orders and crochet some other items too, but for now, it is all elephants and unicorns.

If you would like to contact me about creating something for you, feel free to message me, email me, or put a comment here.  I will get back to you about it and we can work out the details.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Thrifty Thursday - Saving Dough on the Dough

It's a new year and I am ready to share some more penny pinching "secrets" with you.  I am sure that not all of my money saving tricks are secrets, but let's go ahead and pretend they are.  They are more realistically probably reminders of things you already know, but however you choose to save money is always a good thing.
It's Thrifty Thursday and that means I am sharing a money saving tip with you to ease your budget and save you cash.  Check it out on A Glimpse of Normal!
Today's Thrifty Thursday is all about saving money on bread...saving dough on things made with dough.  See what I did there.  Okay maybe I am the only one thinking I am funny, but I am totally just going to pretend you are laughing.  Anyway...  Bread and bread products (buns, English muffins, bagels, etc.) can really take up a lot of the money in your grocery budget, especially if you are like me and buy good quality bread that is not full of junk ingredients.  One place that I love to get bread from and find it super cheap is the bakery outlet.  The ones that are specifically near me are Aunt Millie's Bakery Outlets which happens to also be our favorite brand of bread so that makes it awesome.  Unfortunately, the outlet store is in a town over 30 minutes away, but when I do get over there I stock up.  I stock up for two reasons...
  1.  The bread and bread products are super affordable there.  
  2.  Bread freezes well.  Just make sure you give it plenty of time to thaw and flip it over several times while it is thawing so the bottom doesn't get soggy.
In today's Thrifty Thursday I am sharing how I save money on bread.  Check it out on A Glimpse of Normal.
I went in there the other week and bought 3 loaves of bread (including a loaf that would be $3.00 plus at the regular grocery store), 2 packages of bagels, 2 packages of English muffins, and a pack of hamburger buns for a total of $6.24.  At the regular grocery store, even at sale prices, I would not have been able to get half of these items for this price.  It is a fantastic deal.  They even give you a punch card at the bakery outlet which you can get punched for buying a certain amount of certain items and when you fill it, you get another discount.  This makes it worth the time to stop at the bakery outlet if we will be near one.  I am definitely a fan of the bakery outlet and love saving money on the brand of bread we love and use all the time.  Do you have a bread bakery outlet near you?

*This is not a sponsored post or an affiliate post, I am just sharing where I go to save some money and stretch my grocery budget.*


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

My Word(s) for 2019

Most people have already revealed their word of the year and that is okay with me.  I felt like I needed a little more time to chew on my thoughts before I put them out there for all of you.  I wanted to make sure that I could translate my thoughts into the right words not just for you, but also for me.  I don’t take the idea of a word of the year lightly and I choose a word based on where I feel like God is leading me.  Sometimes you have to take more time to dwell on where you are feeling led and that is exactly what I have been doing.  Last year God laid the word JOY on my heart and I knew it was what I should be focused on for the year.  Even though I did find joy in many things, I don’t think that God is done teaching me about joy yet.  That is why this year I am choosing to focus on not only a word for this year but my word from last year too.  Hence the title Word(s).  I feel like I have more to learn about joy while also pursuing a word for this year.
When I choose a word of the year, I choose a word that God has laid on my heart.  This year I have two words.  Check them out on my blog, A Glimpse of Normal.
Before I tell you my word for 2019, I want to explain a little bit more of why I think God still wants me to seek joy.  Going into 2018, I needed to shake off the dust and focus on the positive while looking for joy.  I knew it was missing and I knew it me that was choosing not to see the joy in all things.  God kept putting the word on my heart and kept chipping away at old wounds that were keeping me from finding joy so that I would be free to see it.  As I started into 2018 I was looking for the joy around me and I saw it here and there.  Then a couple of things happened and I didn’t quite lose sight of joy, it just took me a while to reflect back and see where the joy was in the mess.  As we got further into the year, we got crazy, hectic, busy and I will admit that too many times I was in survival mode which meant that I could not see the joy while I was present in that moment.  But when I would reflect back, I can see there was joy in each situation we encountered.  I could even see that there was joy in the really hard moments.  God was present in each situation and there was joy to be found, but I needed to look for it.  As we got further in the year, I found myself focused on the busyness instead of looking for joy.  This is why I feel like God still wants me to focus on finding joy in the little things, the tough things, and every day.  I want to seek joy and recognize it right away so I don’t miss the moments that fly by all too fast.  So while I did see more joy last year, I want to be more aware and see the joy in every day this year.

Before I go on to this year’s word, please let me remind you that I am a real human with real feelings.  I don’t always have it all together and I ask you to please be nice if you choose to comment on this.  Now…  My word for this year that I feel like God is really putting on my heart is PEACE.   Peace has a few different definitions, but I am focusing on being quiet (the verb definition of peace), freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions (thinking “I have peace in my heart”), and harmony in personal relations.  I will be the first to tell you that I am not always at peace or a peaceful person.  I am not proud to admit this and I am ashamed of myself for the times I have not been at peace.  That is not saying that there are not times to be fired up, but there is a time to pick your battle or cause and I have not chosen wisely in the past.  Left to myself I don’t exude peace and I can get myself pretty worked up over nothing.  I think that is why God has been laying the word Peace on my heart.  I need to quiet my soul and rest in Him that He is at work and fighting my battles for me.  I have been an angry person and that has gotten me nowhere so now it is time to let go of that person and let the peace seep in.  I want my heart, my life, and my home to be filled with PEACE and I know for that to happen it needs to start with me and I need to let God work in me to change me so that I have a quiet and gentle spirit.  So this year I will seek peace and let go of the past and the frantic me while I cling to calm, quiet, and joy on my journey to letting peace take over.
When I choose a word of the year, I choose a word that God has laid on my heart.  This year I have two words.  Check them out on my blog, A Glimpse of Normal.
I will do my best to give some updates this year and share my journey with you.  I know God has big things planned for me and I can’t wait for all the JOY and PEACE He will bring.  May you be blessed with joy and peace this year as well.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January 2019 Menu Plan

Happy New Year!!!  I can't believe it is 2019 already.  Last year flew by for us in a blur.  There were points we were so busy we didn't know what to do.  As we start in 2019, we are pretty determined not to repeat that part of our year.  We want to slow down, take it all in, and enjoy every day.  We hope the same is true for you.  This year I am determined to get back on track and get more organized.  Part of organization means having plans which mean I will continue on with my menu planning this year.  I hope to branch out to planning lunches and breakfasts this year, but I don't have that ready just yet.  Having a menu plan means that I have a direction for dinner every night. Here is what I planned for dinner this month:
Here is a simple menu plan that you can follow for the month of January (or any month) from A Glimpse of Normal.
  1. Vegetable Beef Stew
  2. Tacos
  3. Mac & Cheese with Sausage & Bell Peppers
  4. Chicago Style Pizza
  5. Best Beef, Bean, & Cheese Burritos
  6. Asian Style Cobb Salad
  7. Hobo Stew
  8. Taco Soup
  9. Mountain Meatballs
  10. Slow Cooker Beef & Cheese Pasta
  11. Italian Sausage Stromboli
  12. Stirfry
  13. Taco Salad
  14. Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
  15. Zuppa Toscana Soup
  16. Korean Ground Beef & Rice Bowls
  17. Pioneer Woman Baked Ziti
  18. Ooey Gooey Pepperoni Pizza Meatball Hoagies
  19. Instant Pot French Dips
  20. BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad
  21. Sheet Pan Breakfast Bake
  22. Rancher's Texas Roadhouse Chili
  23. Lentil Quinoa Bowls
  24. Trisha Yearwood's Cowboy Lasagna
  25. Upside Down Pizza Pot Pies
  26. Tex-Mex Bacon Cheeseburgers
  27. Cowboy Pasta Salad
  28. Jambalaya
  29. Italian Meatball Soup
  30. Cajun Dirty Rice
  31. Tuscan Mac & Cheese
I will be honest and tell you that once I set my menu plan for the month, I do sometimes switch around meals if something fits better for what we have on hand at the time or a day gets busier than I expected.  So if you use my menu plan and you need to swap days or meals, don't feel bad doing so.  You can find recipe ideas for these meals on my January Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  There are also extra meals on there for ideas if you need to make a swap.  So do you menu plan?  What is for dinner at your house this month?

Happy New Year 2019!!!

I have been off enjoying time with my family and celebrating Christmas, family, and New Year's.  But, I wanted to pop in and wish you all a very Happy New Year!!! 
Happy New Year from A Glimpse of Normal.  Thank you for reading my blog.  Look for great things from me this year.
I have lots of posts planned for this year and I can wait to see where this little blog will go.  I thank each and every one of you for reading my blog and coming back time and time again.  It means the world to me. 

Love,
Cassandra