exploring abingdon, va

Back in November, I read the book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. I was very inspired and found that her husband was an advocate of a restaurant within driving distance of my home. So, I made my plans for my mom and I to take a trip this month since both of our birthdays are in March. We ended up waiting until the very last weekend of the month since life has been so busy, but it was a good day trip. It was nice to spend quality time with my mom – it seems like we haven’t gone anywhere alone together in ages!

We ate lunch at the Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, which was splendid. Mom and I each had a cup of spinach & sweet potato soup, then we split the veggie pizza. After that, we spent a bit of time in the General Store where I finally bought some heirloom vegetable seeds! I want to have a small salad patch this summer, so I got squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and lettuce. Plus, a pack of sunflower seeds just for show. Now, I have to get some of those seeds planted so I can get them in the ground once the last frost has passed. This will be my first attempt at growing a garden (while being in my third trimester of pregnancy, too) so I’m keeping it manageable.

After that, we went on to the Heartwood in Abingdon. While the arts and crafts were admirable and beautiful, there just didn’t seem to be as much as I was expecting. I just thought it would be larger. It’s a good place to stop if you are passing through.

On the way home, we stopped at the Burkes Outlet and I got a few neat decorative items for the new house. Then, Japanese sushi for an early dinner, followed by a Starbucks after dinner coffee. I picked up the groceries I needed for my upcoming recipes this week. Here’s what’s on my agenda: Roasted Veggie PastaBlack Bean Burritos, and Back Burner Ratatouille.  I ended up buying lots of veggies, which made me feel good! This week, I ended up making a few new things which included: Shrimp Scampi Bake and Easy Tuna Casserole.  The shrimp dish was really good, but the tuna one not anything to write home to mom about. I also repeated making Chicken Casserole that I made back in February and my husband raved about it. This time, I used cream of mushroom soup and canned chicken, plus a little more sour cream and it was yummy. As you can see, I don’t cook with much meat most of the time. Looks like this week is going to be mostly vegetarian, which is fine by me!

My son was sick with a stomach bug on Wednesday and I thought we were in the clear…then my husband started getting sick about 9 pm tonight. That’s why I’m blogging at almost midnight. Needless to say, I’m going to try to get some rest and pray that this stomach bug doesn’t get me. I’m not trying to be greedy, but no one wants to be sick, especially when they are 24 weeks pregnant! I was looking forward to church tomorrow, but I think it’s going to be a day at home so we don’t contaminate folks in our congregation. Yuck!

My son in his new favorite toy - our new ottoman. He was watching "A River Runs Through It" and was intrigued.

My son in his new favorite toy – our new ottoman. He was watching “A River Runs Through It” and was intrigued.

miracle mommas

My weight loss group ladies from this winter's contest

My weight loss group ladies from this winter’s contest

I just wanted to share this photo from today. These are the ladies from my winter weight loss contest (which we won!). I’m the one on the left, then Bonnie and Katie are on the front row. Jeannie and Kelly hid in the back and our buddy Jaeron couldn’t make it. I’m so proud of all of them. They all established healthier habits during the 6 weeks we worked together and they lost almost 6% of their total body weight!

On Tuesday, I start round 2 with a new group of ladies. It makes the time fly by and it’s so neat to forge new relationships and help people meet their goals, realizing their potential along the way.

budgeting and generous giving

I told my husband the other day that I want to create a real budget since we now have a house payment (something we’ve not had in our 11 years of marriage). Sure, we’ve had other payments, but none as big as this mortgage and none that will last for such a long period of time. The past several Sunday School lessons at our church have been about work and money management, so this comes at the perfect time.

After teaching my spin class yesterday, I got into a conversation about budgeting with one of my students, who has been on a budget for quite sometime. She follows the Dave Ramsey principles which I’m somewhat familiar with (thanks to my cousin who gave me that book many years ago!). I need to pull that book back out because I only made it to the second or third step in the plan. Either way, this gal was so helpful and emailed me the neatest spreadsheet on budgeting that she uses. I plan to get into the meat of it this weekend and figure out our budget for next month and see how it goes. I don’t think our house payment will start until May which is nice so we’ll have a month to practice.

This week’s Sunday School lesson is about “Our generous giving should glorify God and reflect Christ’s giving.” My mom raised me to understand the importance of tithing (giving the first 10% back to God) and over the past several years, I’ve really practiced this. I’m a good tither, but I’m not good at “offerings”, so I plan to work that into the budget. I was proud to hear my sister say she gave a good chunk of her earnings to the church last year. I guess mom’s words DID sink in after all!

Some points from the Sunday School lesson this week (2 Corinthians 9:10-13):

  • The Lord is the One who provides our necessities of life and more
  • The reason for multiplying our material resources is to increase the harvest of our righteousness
  • God prospers us not so we can move on up and enjoy a bigger piece of the pie but to enable us to do more to bless others
  • Our generosity will result in people offering thanksgiving to God, thus bringing glory to Him
  • Generosity supplies the needs of the saints
  • Generosity expresses thanks to God
  • Generosity confesses the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone

So, I’m praying over our new budget and asking God to guide me in creating it and following it. I know it won’t be easy to change some of our habits (like eating out WAY too much), but I know we can do it. One reason we got a house is to stay here and enjoy it, so I plan to work on meal planning on the weekends and this gal is going to be grilling out a LOT more this spring and summer!

On another note, I got me some Starbucks Veranda Blend Blonde Roast at the grocery store the other day and it sure is tasty. I had been drinking my favorite Jamaican Me Crazy blend, but I was almost out and was ready to try something new. Plus this was half the price. Yes, I’m pregnant, but I don’t worry about one cuppa joe a day.

Have a blessed day!

A pretty sunset one evening this week

A pretty sunset one evening this week

st. patty’s day robins and corned beef

I made this great corned beef & cabbage in the slow cooker on Monday for St. Patrick’s Day. The recipe popped through on my email from allrecipes.com (I love those daily recipes). The grocery store was out of regular cabbage, so I got savoy cabbage and it was just as good. I could have eaten my weight in the stuff Monday night! I packed left overs for lunch today and probably will tomorrow, too. So yummy.

that's one of the pictures from allrecipes.com - I didn't get a picture of mine

that’s one of the pictures from allrecipes.com – I didn’t get a picture of mine

We also had a swarm of robins in our yard on Monday eating all our earthworms. I bet there were 100 robins bouncing around out there. It was amazing. They are so fun to watch.

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IMG_6344

count your blessings

This week has flown by and I’ve been a silent blogger. There’s been a lot going on! I wanted to share with you the blessings I’ve been bestowed this week.

There’s a song we sing in church that goes like this:

Count your blessings name them one by one
Count your blessings see what God has done
County your blessings name them one by one
Count your many blessings see what God has done

It’s a sweet little song and it really makes you think about how blessed and loved you are. So, here are my top blessings of the week…

  1. A healthy child – even though he’s had a fever, snotty nose, and sneezing since Thursday evening, he’s still a healthy kiddo in the grand scheme of things. He’s not been sick in forever and he’s such a happy boy. We went to the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC last Sunday & Monday (which we loved) and there was a girl there who obviously had Down’s syndrome. She seemed to be having a great time in the water, but it just made me realize how fortunate we are to have a healthy child with no afflictions. It was interesting because later my husband pointed out the same thing to me.

    Our son loved the wave pool at the Great Wolf Lodge

    Our son loved the wave pool at the Great Wolf Lodge

  2. A new home – we are SO close to moving in to our new home! I’ve been silent about this for a while, because it’s been hurry up and wait, but I really hope this week is our move in week. I really hope to wake up on the first day of spring (Thursday) in our new house. It has been an experience I do not wish to repeat….ever. Our new home is nothing elaborate, but sometimes I feel guilty knowing there are folks that have no place to live at all. I count it a huge blessing that we have somewhere to live that’s safe, warm, and nice.

    Our new house we hope to move into this week!

    Our new house we hope to move into this week!

  3. My weight loss team won! I had lead a group of 5 ladies for 6 weeks during this weight loss contest at work and they lost the most of all three teams. I’m so stinkin proud of them! One lady on my team lost 25 pounds in 6 weeks. Granted, normally we don’t want folks losing weight that fast, but she did it by healthy habits she can keep up after the contest ended.  I made some great new friends with these ladies and feel like they will continue on for years to come.
  4. Helpful family – I can’t say enough about how helpful our families have been during this home building/moving process. Someone is always pitching in to help us plant grass seed, build a porch, buy some materials, or whatever it may be. My younger sister told me yesterday, “I’m sorry I’m not there to help you. You helped me paint my apartment.” That was probably 8 years ago and I don’t even remember doing it. But, she was sweet to think of helping me and I plan to put her to work next week when she’s home for a short visit. He he he
    My in laws came up and helped us Monday with the new house.

    My in laws came up and helped us Monday with the new house.

    And my dad came to build our back deck with the help of my husband and his friend.

    And my dad came to build our back deck with the help of my husband and his friend.

  5. Fetal movement – I’m 22 weeks along in this pregnancy and I’m feeling that baby movement on a regular basis now. Most of the time, it’s when I’m sitting still or laying down. It’s the most amazing feeling and I remember missing it after our first son was born. I think I actually started seeing some movement on the outside of my belly yesterday, but you have to look closely.

    Holding my son with baby #2 in the oven

    Holding my son with baby #2 in the oven

  6. Loving husband – I thought this home building process would really test our marriage, and there have been some tense moments over the past few months, but my husband is a trooper. He’s stepped in there and got things done as well as put up with his pregnant, sometimes demanding wife. I’ve been very particular about colors and most of the way things are going to be in the new place and he’s been very accommodating. I wish I would have had him on my weight loss team because he’s made some healthy changes and has lost about 12 pounds! I told him that his belly is getting smaller and mine just keeps getting bigger.

    My boys getting ready to go play in the pool at Great Wolf.

    My boys getting ready to go play in the pool at Great Wolf.

  7. Spring weather – this weather has been completely crazy so far in March. One day, it will snow and be 30 degrees and the next day it will be 70 and sunny. I’ve soaked up all that warm weather I can stand and there are green things coming up now! I’ve seen little flowers popping through and my willow tree has tiny green buds on it. I feel like this winter has lasted forever for some reason, so I’m ready for the new season.
  8. Another birthday – I turned 32 last Monday and was showered with lots of cards, gifts, and love. My husband got me the best card…when you open it up, it has a lit up candle that you blow on then it plays the Happy Birthday song. It was so neat. I felt very spoiled and got to buy lots of new stuff for the house, plus some maternity workout clothes, which I desperately needed. All my shirts were turning into belly shirts and no one wants to see that from their group exercise instructor or personal trainer!

Well, I think that sums it up for now. I have so many more blessings, but I could blog for days and days and days and never cover everything. My prayer for you today is that you have a place to go and worship and get in touch with God. Thank Him for what he’s done for you.

importance of thank yous

I am a big thank you note writer, thanks to my mom. She taught me from a young age that it’s the right thing to do when someone does something nice or gives you a gift. I’m glad it’s carried over into adulthood. On the down side, it’s made me a stationery junkie and I have a stupidly large collection of colorful ink pens. But, I love them and they make writing thank yous even more fun!

Have you ever gotten a thank you note? Of course you have! They make such a difference in the gifter’s day, I think. I guess some people don’t think about getting thank you notes, but as a note writer, I guess I have come to expect a thank you note. I don’t give or do things to get a thank you, but I do hope the recipient will at least text or verbally acknowledge the gift or action.

I even write thank you notes for gifts given to my son. He’s only 2 at this point, but as soon as he’s able to draw a picture or write, he’ll learn the value of a thank you note. For his birthday gifts, I sent thank you notes of his finger paintings. Everyone seemed to enjoy those unique tokens of appreciation.

Thank you notes don’t have to be elaborate, either. Just be genuine. Simply jot something on a blank notecard or pretty piece of paper that says, “Thanks so much for the ______. It was so thoughtful and caring!” You can then add a personal note of “Congrats on your new grandchild” or “I can’t wait to see you again” or something to that nature. It will be most appreciated.

Most importantly, I’ve found it means more when you actually mail the note through the post office. I think stamps are too darn expensive, but I still think it means more when coming in the mailbox. It’s a lost art if you ask me. Oh, and the quicker you can get the note to the person, the better. Try not to wait too long.

I would love to insert a picture here of my stationery/pen collection, but I don’t have access to them right now. Maybe one day I’ll enlighten you. Until then, keep the graciousness flowing!