Monday, February 23, 2009

New Code...

Hey guys! Y'all know how much I love dining out for TWO DOLLARS! Here's another chance- is offering $25 gift certificates to your favorite restaurants for 80% off- that's $2!! 

Click here to stock up- 

Now Save 80% Off with every order of $25 Gift Certificates. Use code DINE and pay $2 thru 2/28/09.

Most of the gift certificates require you to spend at least $35 in order to use them, but we actually liked that part when my husband and I used ours because we both got the most expensive things on the menu, plus dessert! And since I knew I was going to have a big meal, I saved half of my entree for my lunch for the next day. Really, it's a fantastic deal. Get it while you can!

Another outlet for me...

Hello my loyal beautiful and thrifty readers, so happy to have you stop by again today! I have an exciting announcement- I have started a new blog. It will remain completely separate from this one, as it is a completely different style and contains topics that are worlds away from anything beautiful or thrifty. But the more I blogged on here, the more I realized I needed an outlet for all of my less beautiful, less thrifty thoughts and ideas and general observations on life iteself. 

To be truthful, at times I just ramble.

Anyway, my new blog is called "Making It Up As I Go" and the web address is If you don't mind a bit of wackiness, peculiar humor, and completely random topics, then stop on by and check it out. :-) I actually started it about 3 weeks ago, so there are a few posts up already. 

Thanks for keeping me on the radar, and as always, I enjoy all of your comments and kind support!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spiritual Sundays: A Hardhead Humbled

Image from

Last week I was reading this post at a friend's blog, In This Small House, and I left the following comment: 

Thanks for the prayer reminder! I have really been struggling lately with feeling lousy with my pregnancy and just feeling like life is one big juggling act and in my desperate attempts to keep all the balls in the air I end up dropping them all instead! The one nagging feeling I've had is, "Duh, you aren't PRAYING, girl!" But for some reason there has just been this block for me- my brain goes a million miles an hour trying to keep track of everything I need to get done and my personal prayer and scripture study just get squeezed out by everything else. (gee, I don't suppose that could be the adversary, could it? nah...) My goal for this week is to make my personal morning devotional the priority- it will be the first thing I do once I am up and dressed. No computer until prayer and scripture study are done! It's time to put first things first!!

Thanks for the kick in the butt and the extra motivation!

So this week I stuck to my word, and do you know what? It actually worked. All those problems I mentioned- feeling lousy, not getting things done, etc.- well, it's like they were just lifted. Every morning I sat down at my desk in my office with my notebook and my scriptures, and I started with a heartfelt prayer. Then I began to read. I'm working on the New Testament- one chapter a day, and as I read I've been jotting down notes with any thoughts, insights, or questions I might have. It is truly amazing how much the words in the scriptures can help you if only you read. I had been feeling frustrated with some people in my life, and I read the words of Matthew 7:1-2:

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

Wow, God sure is smart, and He sure knows how to get His point across to me! And to remind me how important my example is to my children, and how much my scatter-brained frustration affected them, He gave me Matthew 5:19:

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

And this one pretty much addressed the struggle in the comment I made on my friend's post about trying to juggle it all- Matthew 6:24 and 33-34:

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon...But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself..."

Each day I couldn't help smiling as I read these verses that the Lord had so thoughtfully placed before me. He knows me and the daily struggles I face, and here He is telling me it's okay, don't worry. Just put first things first and everything else will fall into place.

But of course, I am a hardhead, so I needed to test that theory. My husband had to work yesterday morning, so I decided to get some much-needed extra cleaning done around the house. Somehow my personal morning devotional got pushed aside as I enjoyed the slower pace of a Saturday morning, and before I knew it, it was 11am, the kids had been fighting nonstop so I had sent them to their rooms, and I was downstairs in an angry funk madly vacuuming. That irritating little voice in my head kept saying, "Morning devotional, morning devotional, first things first, did you think to pray?" Well, I was annoyed.

Finally though, my inner light broke through my dark clouds and got the best of me. I put away the vacuum, went upstairs to check on the kids, and asked them each for 15 minutes for Mommy to do her morning devotional. When I was done, I brought the kids downstairs and we had our family morning devotional. Then we played games and read stories until Daddy got home. The change in atmosphere was remarkable.

Coincidence? I think not.

I won't say I've learned my lesson, because as we all know, the Lord usually has to teach us the same lesson over and over again- sometimes for our entire lives- before it finally clicks. But I have definitely received a boost to my testimony of the power of personal prayer and scripture study, and I know that the more I continue this good habit, the more I will be blessed by His guidance and care.

Can I give you one more quotation?

In the March Ensign, there is a reprint of a talk by President Marion G. Romney in which he states,

"Oh, for the glorious day when these things all come naturally because of the purity of our hearts. In that day there will be no need for a commandment, because we will have experienced for ourselves that we are truly happy only when we are engaged in unselfish service." (or in my case, unselfish devotion to God)

I would challenge each of you to take on this experiment for yourselves, if you haven't already. Start your day with an invitation to the Lord to have Him by your side, and I promise you- I know this from personal experience- He won't let you down.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Deal Diva Returns...

Just a few of the items I got at Kroger today: 
- Egglands Best Cage-Free Brown Eggs, on sale $1.54 - $0.35 coupon (doubled to $0.70) = $0.84/doz
- Goodys Headache Powder, on sale $1 - $1/1 coupon = free
- J & J butterfly bandages, on clearance $0.83 each - $3/2 coupon = free plus $1.44 in overage
- Hershey's bars, on sale $0.50 - B1G1 coupon = $0.25 apiece
- Reeses Whipps, on sale $0.50 - $1/2 coupon = free
Incidentally, if this was all I had bought, my total would have been $2.08. If I had bought more of the butterfly bandages I could have brought it down to $0.64!

Okay, so I'm not exactly a "Deal Diva" but it does feel good to get back in the groove with my couponing and deals shopping! I ventured out to Kroger today, and I snagged $42.95 worth of groceries for $19.78. If it had been strictly my deals, then I would have done better, but we needed some apples and bananas (we seriously go through about 7 lbs of these a week!!) and some lunch meat, so I had to spend just a little extra. 

Luckily, I stumbled upon an awesome and very easy deal while I was there- the first aid aisle had blinkies for $3/2 Johnson & Johnson First Aid products, which as any deals shopper knows is a very good coupon, as many J&J first aid products are priced around a dollar. So I tried to stand there inconspicuously as I waited for it to spit out the coupons, one at a time. I didn't want to be too greedy, so I only got 5. :-) However, as I was standing there attempting to look nonchalant, I took a quick scan of the shelves to see if there were any J&J products priced low, and wouldn't you know it! I found boxes of butterfly bandages clearance priced at $0.83 a box. Sweet! So I grabbed a couple of boxes and threw them in my cart, and enjoyed the additional $1.44 in overage at checkout. *Sigh* I just love it when that happens...

Anyway, that was a nice boost to my trip (especially after Monkey and Starlet each threw individual screaming fits and I had to drag them back to the front of the store and take away their little carts and put all our stuff into a big cart so they would quit running into people and slamming into things- quite unpleasant). It's nice to feel like I finally have the desire to get the deals again, and I'm looking forward to my CVS and Walgreens trips tomorrow! :-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Sprit of Elijah: The Greatest Story of All is Life Itself

A photo collage of my father as a boy and his mom and dad (my grandparents) in the 1950s. My dad converted all the black and white photos to color, so it's almost like they were taken yesterday! Pretty cool.

Today at church I was blessed to be able to sneak away from the children for a bit to attend the weekly women's class in Relief Society. The topic for today was the Spirit of Elijah: 

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." - Malachi 4:5-6

In the LDS Church, we typically think of the Spirit of Elijah as being connected to family history work, the idea of "the fathers" being our ancestors and us being the children. As they reach out to us, so must we give them respect and honor by reaching out to them through researching our family history and making it possible for those who have passed on before us to receive what we believe to be vital holy ordinances that are essential to their salvation.

As we discussed these ideas today, I started thinking about family history work, and in a way I often feel like there's just not much for me to do in the way of geneaology. My mother has worked tirelessly for years to research our family, and she has done a tremendous job. She has even created a beautiful book for each of her children with photos and stories of our ancestors. Then my thoughts turned to a conversation I had with my son in the car. I don't remember how the subject came up, but we started discussing my grandfather, who died when I was very young. I don't have many memories of him, but the few I do have are of a man who was kind, loving, and playful- everything a grandpa should be. I started telling my son the stories of things I remembered doing with him, and my son just kept saying, "What else, Mommy? What else do you remember about your grandpa?" Sadly, after only a few stories, I was out of memories. Here was my son, eager to hear the stories of his great-grandfather, and I had come up dry.

So I was sitting in Relief Society as many good sisters were telling these amazing stories of discovering their long-lost relatives, and I realized that sometimes we're so busy trying to assemble a family tree that we forget the stories of those just a generation or two behind us. How heartbreaking to lose the lives and stories of those we knew in the flesh! 

Also this past week I got this wonderful e-mail from my dad. It was one of those silly questionnaires about "Do You Remember When You Were in High School...?" and it listed a series of questions like, "What kind of car did you drive?" Most of these types of questionnaires get filled out by twenty-somethings like myself, for whom high school was hardly more than a decade away. But when I began to read my dad's answers (a man who is now in his mid-sixties), I couldn't help but smile as I began to learn things about him that I had never known, like a crush he had on one of his teachers, and how he went to Prom with one girl, but met another girl there whom he ended up dating instead! It just made his past so real to me, and it was absolutely a treasure to read things about him that I may never have known otherwise.

My parents are getting older. All of my grandparents have passed away, and my parents are my only link to their lives and their stories. I can't bear to think that my children might someday struggle to come up with memories of my parents- their grandparents. For me, the Spirit of Elijah means cherishing the lives of our loved ones, and recording our stories for the generations to come. It is literally turning our hearts to our fathers, and asking them to tell us the stories of our lives; it is making a record of special times and giving each person's life meaning through sharing their individual experiences. For me, it is keeping a journal so that someday my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know who I was and what I believed and how my life turned out the way it did. Family is a gift from God; it is a powerful connection, our roots, and it shapes us more than we realize. We have an opportunity to learn from one another, and to see the past not as history, but as a prologue for our own lives.

May we each catch the Spirit of Elijah and truly turn our hearts to our fathers, that they might turn their hearts, lives, and wisdom to us. May we not allow their stories to simply slip away quietly into the night, lost in a haze of forgotten memories, but rather hold up their experiences as a beacon for us and the generations to follow. May we record and cherish those memories  and live our lives in such a way that we honor the lifetimes of those who have gone before.

Friday, February 13, 2009

12th and 13th Day of Valentines: Poetry and Games!

For day twelve I used my "wordsmithing skills" and penned a twelve-line poem for my love. I will not divluge the details of that poem as it is between me and my Valentine (and really, it might make you cringe with its 4th-grade rhymes!).

For today I am playing off the idea of Friday the 13th being an unlucky day and I left my sweetie a note that read, "Some say that Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck...let's test that theory tonight with a stay-at-home date night of fun and games. And you never might even get lucky... ;-)"

Well, we've pretty much reached the end! For tomorrow I will just present my hubby with his "big" Valentines gift- a well-deserved gift card to his favorite sporting goods store. Oh, and I'm planning on making him a special breakfast of french toast (the french are very romantic, you know) using this decadent recipe

I hope you have all enjoyed these 14 days! I have been so pleased to read your kind comments about the nice things you've been doing for your sweethearts, and I hope we can all keep it up- not just during the 14 Days, but whenever our romances need a little boost. Remember,

 "Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving." -- Kahlil Gibran

For more love quotations, check out The Quote Garden. Oh, and in the past I have used quotations as one of my days of Valentines. Just so you know. ;-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

11th Day of Valentines: 11 Songs That Remind Me of You

For the 11th day, I "borrowed" my husband's iPod Touch and put a playlist on it that I entitled "11th Day." The playlist included 11 songs that remind me of him from our iTunes music library. They were songs we already had on there, I just put them into one playlist. Then I left his iPod where he could find it with a note that read:

1. Go to Music
2. Click on Playlists
3. Find the playlist called "11th Day." These are all songs that remind me of you when I hear them. I love you!

In the past I have done this by making a mix tape or cd, or even just writing down the titles of songs and quoting a few of their lyrics on a sheet of paper. Music is the language of love...

Re-Post: Frugal Fun Dates (just in time for Valentines Day!)

This post may look familiar- it was part of my end-of-summer series on dating, and I thought it would be appropriate to re-post it for Valentines Day for anyone looking for some inspiration for the big day. Enjoy!

We have reached the final part in the Friday Night Date Night series, and I certainly hope that the ideas I have posted here have been helpful and inspiring.

To share a personal story, just last Friday night I implemented one of the ideas myself, in a slightly simpler way. I hadn't planned on doing anything (I know, I'm a terrible wife), but when my DH called, sounding very worn down, he said he was going to be home late. So I made a frozen pizza for the kids, put some chicken in a marinade for us, then put the kids in the tub once they were finished eating. My husband got home shortly after and went to take care of the kids (bath time is kind of his special time with them) while I finished the preparations for our dinner. Once the kids were in bed we had our "date." It wasn't anything extravagant, just some yummy grilled sesame ginger chicken, rice, and broccoli, which we ate in the dining room (we only use the dining room for special occasions) by candlelight. Afterward, we played a card game together in the living room.

What made it special was that he was surprised (usually when he's home late we just eat without him and then he grabs his dinner from what I put away for him in the fridge and eats it in front of the tv), we had some special time together, and it showed him that I care about him and I love him. Sometimes just the simple things make the biggest difference, and if you keep it simple, then you're more likely to do it, because you won't get stressed about it.

On to this week's topic, which covers everything that the last topics didn't cover- Frugal Fun Dates for under $10- these are dates for anytime, any weather, and any budget! So here we go!

1. Secret Shopping- No, this isn't where you get paid to write reviews of stores! For this one, you and your sweetie set a budget, say $5 each, and then you go to a mall or another shopping area with a wide variety of items (Wal-Mart would work, or even the dollar store!). You split up and set a time and place to meet (usually 20 minutes to a half an hour is about right) and your job is to each buy a gift for each other. My DH and I have even done this as a family with our kids- each of us takes one child and we go buy gifts for the other two. It's fun because you get a surprise gift, it's an exciting challenge to see what you can get for your money, and it's a great way to become closer by thinking about one another. (This also usually results in both of you finding other things that you thought were cool/interesting that you want to show the other after you've exchanged gifts, so then you can go on a walk and look at all the stuff you missed!)

2. Window Shopping- This one can be especially fun if there's a home decorating project you're working on, or a particular big ticket item you're in search of. Just go to a variety of different places that have the types of things you're interested in and compare. Take notes on what you like and don't like, even take photographs and then compare them. It's a date and it's useful!

3. If I Had A Million Dollars- This one is a combination of the first two, and I named it after the Barenaked Ladies song ("If I had a million dollars, I would buy you a house..."). For this one, you pretend to be millionaires and set a fictional budget for each other (say, $20,000). Then you split up and find the things you would buy for each other if you had that kind of money. Meet up and take your honey to see their pretend present!

4. Museums/Historic Homes- If you're not a fan of shopping, museums are a very fun option, and there are many out there that have free admission. It might sound dull, but you never know what you might learn about your significant other when both of you are standing in front of a piece of art, and learning something together will be an experience that strengthens your bond.

5. Model Home Tours- Whether you are an apartment dweller or a seasoned home owner, a model home can always give you some good ideas. Look in your area for new developments or a Parade of Homes (builders and designers showcase their best work in model homes and prizes are awarded). Most of the homes you will see will probably be out of your price range, but dreaming is half the fun. And you can keep your eye out for new decorating ideas!

6. Just Dessert- I always think it's fun to go out to a great restaurant and just order dessert- I remember once going to eat at a very nice upscale restaurant and we almost didn't order dessert (we were using a gift card) until we saw how inexpensive it was! You can even just get one dessert to share. Either way, you can enjoy the swanky atmosphere and gazing across your sweets to look into the eyes of your sweet...

7. Fashion Models- I used to do this with my girlfriends in college, and it's just as fun now with my husband! (though with much less giggling) Go to a clothing store and take turns picking out things for each other to try on. My husband loved finding evening gowns for me to wear, and I enjoyed the opportunity to dress him up too! The only rule is that you have to try on whatever they pick out- no exceptions! You might even find something you'll want to take home with you...

8. Book It- If you love books like I do, go to a library or bookstore and just hang out. You could even go to a bookstore that has a small cafe and make a whole night of it- get some great books, have a snack, play some games (often there will be chess or checkers). Bookstores aren't just great places to meet guys, they're great places to appreciate the one you already have!

9. Get Lost- Get a map (or your trusty GPS), hop in the car and just start driving! Make turns you don't usually make, and see how lost you can get. Then, using your map and your navigation skills, find your way back home! I did this in college when my family moved to a new area, and I got to know the area really well. Whenever I would go somewhere new with my mom I would say, "Hey, I know this place- I got lost here once!"

10. Go Gaming- Save up your quarters and go to your local arcade. Try as many games as you dare, and see who can beat the high score!

11. And Everything Else- There are so many fun things you can do out there, and prices vary from location to location, so I wanted to include a brief list of everything else that could fall under the "under $10" category, depending on the businesses where you live. And don't forget that you can often find coupons to bring the cost down on many of these activities! Some that I thought of were:
- bowling
- roller skating/roller blading
- indoor rock climbing
- ice skating
- cheap movies/dollar theaters
- pottery classes

So there you go, you have all the inspiration you need to create some fantastic fun frugal dates, whether at home, outdoors, or anywhere else! Your assignment for this week: GO ON A DATE ALREADY! Then come back next week and tell me about it. I would love to read about your experiences and your ideas. Happy dating everybody!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Days 9 & 10: Kisses & Rubbin'!

Sorry I checked out yesterday, but for the 9th Day of Valentines I gave my husband nine kisses. In years past I have donned bright red lipstick and smooched a few onto a piece of paper that I left for him, but this year I did it the old fashioned way. Just nine strategically-placed kisses. ;-) He was pleasantly surprised.

And for the 10th Day of Valentines today he will be getting a 10-minute massage. He has started a new workout program and has been very dilligent with it, so he deserves it!

Only four more days left...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Spiritual Sundays: Nurturing the Light

Image from

"It is not a slight thing when those so fresh from God love us."
- Charles Dickens

It took me awhile to formulate my thoughts for this post, and I hope they don't come out too jumbled and confused. It's something that's kind of hard to put into words, but I'll try.

With the beginning of another pregnancy, I have taken some time to reflect on the gift of another child and what it means to be a mother. I have thought a lot about what it was like to give birth to my other two children, and on those early days of their infancy. I smile at memories of my own insecurities, and I know that I probably still have those same insecurities. But the thoughts of those days that seem to have the most power are the feelings of awe I had at the little miracles I had been blessed with.

In those early days, amidst the constant feedings, diaper changes, and screaming fits (theirs and mine!), I was always just in awe at how perfect and wonderful my children were. I am not saying this to be conceited- I truly believe all newborns are perfect and wonderful! And the reason for that is that they are coming to us straight from the presence of our Father in Heaven. I remember looking into my little ones' eyes and just wondering, "What was it like? How did it feel?" and most importantly, "How can I possibly give you a home to compare to the home you just left?"

In Spiritual Sundays: You're Getting Warmer, I discussed the "light of Christ" and described it as, "a little tracking beacon that we each have that reminds us where we came from." I believe that when babies are born, they not only have this "tracking beacon", but they are so untarnished and fresh from our Father's presence that they practically are the beacon! I remember when my son was maybe a month old, and he was fussy. He didn't want to sleep and he didn't want to eat so I decided to just take him for a little walk around the house. We have several pictures of Christ up on the walls, including one of Christ looking out over Jerusalem. I had shown little Monkey all of the family photos, given him a look at himself in the mirror, but it wasn't until we reached the picture of Christ that he showed any kind of reaction. He suddenly got very wiggly, almost like he was trying to climb up me to get to the picture. He was transfixed, and suddenly began babbling in his just-budding baby language. I remember just stopping, watching him in amazement, and dying to know what on earth (or in heaven?) he was saying to his Savior.

Now, I don't necessarily believe that Monkey actually recognized the face of our Savior- we don't know what He looks like and it would be a stretch to say that the artist of that painting depicted His image perfectly. But I do believe that that painting was created with the Spirit of the Lord, and that although babies cannot speak, the one thing they can recognize and communicate is that Spirit. I believe that is why a mother cries in joy holding her infant- because the Spirit comes through that child so strongly that she cannot help but feel it. I know that I have.

So back to my original, most pressing question for my little ones- "How can I possibly give you a home to compare to the home you just left?" Well, it would be nice if we could spend the whole day strolling around the house staring at pictures of Christ, but for most of us, that's not realistic. I could go on about giving our children a good foundation, and about making our homes places where the Spirit of God can dwell, but I pretty much covered those in Preparing and Protecting Our Children and Making Home a Sanctuary, respectively. I think that the most important thing to focus on is simply the reminder for us that our children are from God. Not a gift that He found while out shopping and stuck in box and wrapped up and gave us, but from God- of God- handmade with care by Him with all His love, goodness, and mercy, and bestowed to us lovingly and with great expectations. I firmly believe that it is up to us to remember that He has given them to us in mint condition, full of His spirit and His potential, and it is up to us to return them to Him better than we received them.

That seems like an impossible task at times, I will be the first to admit. With the day to day struggles of merely keeping them clean, safe, and moderately well-behaved, that light that they came here with naturally begins to fade. But I think that the important thing is that we help them brighten it regularly. We need to give them those opportunities to remember where they came from, and to "feel warmer" as I discussed in You're Getting Warmer. As the veil between their Heavenly home and this world starts to thicken, they need those reminders ever more often. For certain, we need to create a sanctuary for them in our homes, where their lights can shine, but we also need to have those teaching moments with them, and show them of our love for the scriptures, and help them to learn to love the scriptures. We need to ask them important questions, regardless of whether or not we think they have the answers. I remember one day in a morning devotional with my 4-year-old son, I was teaching them the principle of how we are all created in the image of God, and only half-thinking about the question, I asked him why He thought God made us to be just like Him. I didn't really know the answer, and I didn't think he did either, but then he said, "Well, I think that Heavenly Father wanted a family. And I think He loves us and wanted all of us to be a part of His family." I was so taken aback by his words that I had to stop for a moment, marvelling at the pure simplicity and truth in his answer. You never know how much they know. And neither will they unless you give them the opportunity to share it.

Again, this is a tall order for us as parents. And it will not always be easy and it will not always be what we want it to be. But I believe that if we keep making the effort to remind our children of their divine parenthood, then that Divine Parenthood will give us a hand. We must nurture the light in each of our children, that they may always remember the Father from whose presence they came that day when they were placed in our arms. I feel so privileged and so humbled that the Lord has seen fit to bless me with the two I have, and I am even more humbled to be about to receive another of His blessings in 7 more months. I pray that I can nurture their light every day, and that I can always remember the gift that they are. I pray the same for each of you.

The Eighth Day of Valentines: Easy as Pie

Image from SimplyRecipes at

My husband's favorite dessert is pumpkin pie, so each year on the eighth day of Valentines I make him a pumpkin pie that I divide up into eight slices. They say that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right? And don't you just love it when someone gives you a lot of something you really love and tells you it's yours- ALL yours? But knowing my hubby, I'm pretty sure he'll share... ;-)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Seventh Day of Valentines: 7 Reasons Why

Image from

I'll keep this one short and simple- today I let him know 7 reasons why I love him. There are lots of ways to do this- notes, whispers in the creative. ;-)

Only one week until Valentines will you celebrate?

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Sixth Day of Valentines: 6 Photos

It's the sixth day of Valentines, and I decided to make this little book for my husband with 6 photos of me and the kids. The note on the front reads, "Because you are so loved! (Even if it's only by little green people)" The reason it says that is because for some reason my printer was printing the black-and-white photos with a strange green tint- so we all look like aliens! I think he'll get a laugh out of it, though.

To make this little book, I just cut two strips of patterned paper from a 12x12 sheet and glued them together so that both sides were patterned. Then I folded it accordion-style and glued on the photos, which I just printed out in black-and-white (and green!) on white cardstock straight from my computer. I could have done color, but I like the nostalgic effect of the black and white. I tied a ribbon around it to keep it folded up. All in all, it took me less than 20 minutes to complete!

Just so you know, there is one more photo of me and my husband that's on the "back" of the book (on the other side of that last photo of my son). So that makes six photos in all. Another cool thing about this little book is that it can act as a stand-alone photo gallery for a desk or table top. It would be a great little mailable (is that a word?) Valentines gift for grandparents or other loved ones who are far away. You can also dress it up even more with additional captions, quotations, and other embellishments. But hey- I have fourteen days to do here- who has time for embellishements? ;-)

Have you started your Fourteen Days of Valentines yet? What ideas have you come up with? Leave a comment and let me know- I could always use more ideas for next year!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Fifth Day of Valentines: Five Dollars

This one didn't require a lot of imagination- I just left a five-dollar bill for my husband so that he could grab something to eat while he's at work today. He is on the road a lot of the time, travelling to and from people's homes, and he doesn't like to spend money on fast food. He also rarely packs a lunch for himself (and I've tried to pack his lunch but he changes what he wants to eat every other day so I've given up!) so he often doesn't eat until he comes home for dinner. So $5 for food on the road is a nice treat for him.

I was going to be creative and fold the bill into a heart, but I ran out of time. Instead I just included another little love note. If you want to try the heart fold, I found a cool tutorial on how to do it on YouTube. Maybe next year...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Fourth Day of Valentines: Our Love is Like...

With fourteen days, you knew it had to get cheesy at some point, right? This is one of my goofier traditions- "Our Love is Like" notes. Today I left him four notes like this one throughout the house. This one, plus one for our strange plant that keeps getting taller and taller (our love grows bigger and bigger each day), his screwdriver for work that he always leaves on the table with his wallet and keys (our love can fix anything that's broken), and one for the telephone (it keeps us connected). 

Absolutely cheesy, but it's always fun for me to think up goofy similes between our love and random household objects, and Chad thinks some of them are pretty funny. What is romance without a little silliness? 

I also wanted to include a link to Chocolate On My Cranium's printable Valentine's cards- these would be another cute idea for your sweetie for the Fourteen Days of Valentines....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Third Day of Valentines: 3 Roses

Thought I'd include this on the Lazy Organizer's Talk About Tuesday- check it out to see what others are talking about today...

Today I left him 3 roses (they're a little droopy b/c I got them as a manager's special at Kroger for $0.99 apiece, but I did some pruning and they turned out okay!) with a note that said, "3 blossoming roses for each of the 3 beautiful lives we have created together."

For the other two days of Valentines I've done so far, click here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Second Day of Valentines: Reeses Treat

One of my hubby's favorite treats is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, so today I left him some tucked into the pocket of his work shirt with a note that said, "...because the second day of Valentines is twice as nice!" 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Spiritual Sundays: Musical Rests

I will never forget one day I was sitting in choir practice at my high school and we were rehearsing the Hallelujiah Chorus. It was early in the morning, but we were giving it our all, and we had just reached the end of the song, where the constant chorus of "Hallelujiah! Hallelujiah! Hallelujiah!" builds and then suddenly comes to a stop, before one more final triumphant drawn-out "Halleeeeeh- loooooh- jiaaaaaaahhh!!!" Well, we had just reached that final dramatic pause, when suddenly a lone off-key voice was heard, belting out a half-asleep sounding, "Huuuuhhh-" The director ignored it and brought the rest of us in on cue for the final chords. However, once his arms dropped, his eyes and everyone else's turned to the corner where the awful noise had come from. Well, it was my older brother, who had been leaning against the wall half-asleep, but was now sitting up sheepishly, his face turning a few different shades of red as he realized his goof.

It was a bit embarrassing for him, but we laugh about it today, and I tell that story because I once read a quotation that I loved (and I really really tried to find it for this post but I couldn't! Grr!) that talked about our lives being like a symphony, and about how in every symphony there are musical rests. The rests are not put there on accident; they are there for a reason. Each one serves a purpose. Sometimes just a few instruments will sit out; other times, like in the Hallelujiah Chorus, there is a dramatic pause of complete silence. It is those moments of quiet that can have the greatest impact on the symphony as a whole. Yet often in our lives we see those moments as being empty and try to fill them, not liking the feeling of a void that they may bring.

The reason this has been on my mind lately has a lot to do with my pregnancy, and how sick and tired I've been. I have found myself frustrated that I have to leave so many things by the wayside, that my focus has simply been on getting through each day. I've felt out of touch with the normal "chorus" of my life, and I have missed the regular patterns and routines that make up my day-to-day symphony. My symphony has reached a point of rests, where only one or two instruments are playing, and the remainder are sitting out.

It has really helped me to recall that quotation, and to think of my life as a beautiful piece of music, with triumphant swells that decrescendo into gentle lullabies. What kind of a life would it be if every instrument played all the time, and there were no changes in volume or mood? We must learn to appreciate the rests in our lives for what they are- not a void or a mistake, but simply another contribution to the beauty and magnificence of the symphony as a whole. They may come in the form of illness, unemployment, or loss of a loved one, and they may bring a quietness that is unsettling. But with that quietness comes an awareness of the intricacies of the other instruments that you may not have heard otherwise, and of the other movements of the symphony that you may not have appreciated without the rest. Just as we could not appreciate the daylight without the nighttime, so we cannot possibly appreciate the sound of the music of our lives without the silence of the rests.

It is our Father in Heaven who is the Composer and Conductor of our symphonies. When we allow Him to artfully place the rests, then our symphonies will be complete, perfected, and truly beautiful works of art. He has said, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) There will be a time for music, and a time for rest. Let us appreciate each rest as we allow the Lord to direct our daily symphony, and may we thank Him for every movement of the music He is making for us, for I know that in His hands are our lives made beautiful.

 I thank Him for this opportunity to focus on the new life I have been given, and the chance to appreciate the blessing of having children, regardless of the trials that come along with it. I am ever grateful for my calling in this life to be a mother, and I know that this rest is a gift.

The First Day of Valentines- A Handmade Love Note

Since today is February first, I am celebrating the first of fourteen days of Valentines by giving my husband this little homemade card. On the inside I wrote a note about how I wanted to spell it out for him in black and white- I love you! 

More to come tomorrow...
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