Archive for the ‘30 Days’ Category

30 Days- The End

We’ve done it.   We made it through 30 Days.  I’ve already been to the store.  Already rejoiced over the addition of coffee creamer back into my coffee, butter back into my fridge.   My freezer is restocked with meat.  My pantry again bulges with all sorts of nice little non-essentials like paper napkins and pancake syrup and taco chips.

While filling my cart at two different stores I was full of conflicting emotions.  Delight that this month I do not have to be accountable for every purchase.  Anxiety that I not over spend, not negate the sacrifice of last month by spending twice as much this month. 

I want the month to make a difference.

So did it?  John and I just got done deciding what to do with the month’s savings.  Our hearts, as always, are with the children.  We will be sponsoring an HIV+ orphan this next year.  I just printed out the donation form and it is sitting here next to me on the couch.

Along with that we are praying that more families will find the courage to adopt these precious kids.  It is not enough to give them medicine.  Also, desperately, they need families.

It is incredibly easy to be overwhelmed over the scale of the problem in Africa, the numbers of children in desperate need.  How can our tiny drop in the bucket even matter when the problem is so gargantuan?

But the size of the problem doesn’t give us license to ignore it.  Rather, it makes it morally imperative that we all act.  That we all do something.

Will you join us?  Will you add your ‘one drop’ of help to our one drop of help?   If you are like most Americans, you can do at least something.  You can make a difference for a child  fighting poverty or disease in this world.

If you will join me, this 30 days of nothing will accomplish so very much more than my family can accomplish alone.

AHOPE for Children HIV+ orphan sponsorship

  Compassion International child sponsorship

Adoption Advocates child sponsorship

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30 Days Of Nothing–Day 29

When we began this 30 Days Of Nothing experiment, we knew we wanted to save enough money to make a difference for someone.  Though I wasn’t willing to be an utter fanatic about it, I did want to make a good attempt at saving a fair bit of money.

 It has been amazing to me to see this month how God has blessed us and met our needs — in ways I could not have anticipated. 

The garden produced a ton this year.

We got a small inheritance.  

We’ve been the very-blessed recipients of hand-me-down clothes in huge quantities, leftover donuts after church shindigs,and several brand-new books from various kind souls.

Cheese and butter showed up when I was running low.  Hubby and I were treated to a very elegant shrimp dinner complete with wine and cheesecake.

Canning jars were graciously given by a friend who had an abundance.  My 18 year old won a messenger bag and a jump drive.

I even won a camera, for pity sakes! 

We were not desperate for these things.   At no time during the month were we in true need.   But to me it is nothing less than a message from God that He WILL supply our needs.   That we should not be afraid to make some sacrifices and commit resources to others, even from a moderate budget.

 He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  We should not fear reaching out from HIS abundance to share some of that wealth with others.

That is the message I have heard loud and clear over these 30 Days of Blessing.

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30 Days of Nothing-Day 28

Well, my hubby helped me make up my mind about my haircut.  First thing out of his mouth when he saw it was, “Wow, you look young!”

 What better thing could a 39 year old hear?  So, yeah, I like it. And him.


Breakfast was peanut butter toast and OJ.  I must have the oddest kids in the world.  They will eat all sorts of exotic foods enthusiastically, but give them peanut butter and they gripe like I’m trying to poison them.  Ah well.   I think it’s only the 2nd time I served peanut butter all month.

 Lunch was tomato/cheese melts, cucumbers and apple crisp.

Dinner was hamburger zuchini stirfry over rice, plus grapes.

Today I bought milk and eggs ($10), bringing my grocery total for the month to $318.  I decided I’m going to keep an eye on my October grocery bills too.  I won’t be giving daily updates, but I’ll let you know what my total for the month is.   I am curious to see how bad it will be, given the fact that I am running out of so many things all at once.

This evening I went to a ‘Black’ haircare seminar that I will be blogging about in the next few days over on my Ethiopia Adoption Blog.  The stylist evaluated my daughters’ hair and recommended products that might work well for their hair.  

So, yeah, I dropped some cash: $29 to be exact.  Not exactly a purchase I intended to make this month, but the salon is 45 minutes from my home, and I am really curious to see if these products will be helpful.  Anyway, for more details on that you can check my other blog over the next week or so.

Two more days– hip hip hooray!

Oh, and here’s my parting shot– my one year old holding the zuchini that hubby found in our garden today.  We ate only HALF of it at dinner tonight!

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…if you were totally incredibly bored? 
 Would it ever occur to you to whip out a scissors and whack off 4 inches of hair?  Yourself?  Then beg your 16 year old to come help you fix it. 

Then stare at yourself in the mirror for an interminable amount of time, flipping your head repeatedly and telling yourself, yeah, you really do like it.

 Yeah, I really do like it.  I think.

Guess that’ll teach me to be bored.


So, yeah, the day was boring.  No shopping.  Actually the self haircut was in response to my realization that after this month I’m NOT going to be able to stomach paying a beautician to do my hair. 

This is not terribly surprising, since I have gotten exactly two professional haircuts in my entire life (officially making me the strangest person you know.)

But before the month began, my 16 yo and I HAD been talking about splurging and getting our hair cut together, which still sounds like fun.  Except this month has gone and ruined it for me.  Darn.  In a good way.

Anyway.  Meals.

Breakfast was polenta and toast, which everyone enjoyed way more than yesterday’s millet cereal.

Lunch was homemade chicken noodle soup with cabbage and tons of ramen noodles.

Dinner will be a casserole from the freezer–chicken enchiladas, I think.  Thankfully we still have salsa, sour cream, AND a dab of cheese.  Plus spicy cucumber salad and an apple crisp from the LAST of the imperfect apples.  Hooray.

And double hooray that we’re almost done with this month. 

And triple hooray that hair grows…even though I like it…

I think.

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Day 26–Treehouse!

My hubby has spent much of his free time this month ‘working’ on a treehouse for our two 8 year old boys.  I keep teasing him– although he calls it work, we both know very well that he is just as excited about the treehouse as the little guys are.  Above left shows him in the skeleton of the treehouse a couple weeks ago.

Right above and below are pictures of the treehouse yesterday. Isn’t it just the coolest thing?   I especially love the Swiss-Family-Robinson-style rope-woven railing. 

The bottom part of the ladder has locking ‘shutters’ to cover the bottom three steps of the ladder, effectively blocking the youngest ones from climbing into the treehouse without permission. 

Hubby is also still planning on adding a bucket on a pulley, to make it easier to bring treasures up.   This morning the little guys had ALL their school done by 10:30, they were so excited to be up in their new paradise!

They have the best daddy!

Money spent:  $75 on gas for the van needed after woodcutting in the mountains last weekend.


Meals today

Breakfast:  Leftover pancakes.   (Whenever we have extra pancakes, we toss them in the freezer for an easy breakfast another day.)

Lunch was interesting today. It was called ‘aiyish’ — a hot cereal-type dish made with millet flour. We got the recipe from the “Hungry Planet” book I’ve mentioned before.  It is a food eaten 3 times a day by poor people in Darfur, Sudan.  

If you’ve ever read the book “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” you’ll understand me when I said I did a ‘Kit’ while cooking it.  (It was a leetle lumpy..)

The big kids ate it cheerily, bless their hearts.  The little kids thought it was hideous, even after we doctored it with butter and sugar.  One of my 8 year olds said, “What do little boys do in Sudan if they don’t like this stuff?”

“They DO like it because that’s all the get!” my 16 year old informed him briskly. 

And we all sat silent for a minute letting that sink in.

 Dinner, to make up for lunch, was fabulisimo, if I do say so myself.   ChickenFajitas with bell peppers, onions, sour cream, and homemade Flour Tortillas.   Mmm, mmm, good!  We all agreed that the homemade tortillas are tons better than store bought.

Actually, that is a revelation we have had often this month.  In general, homemade is way better than convenience stuff from the grocery store freezer.

Oh, and here’s one last pix of the treehouse with its most important ingredient– the kids!!

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Day 25

Had a startling realization last night:  Christmas is 3 months from today.  Straight off this 30 Days experiment, I’m moving right into the Christmas shopping season. (Usually I start early. I’ve got a lot of people to cover!)

But I’m wondering…is this experiment going to make me more mindful of my Christmas shopping.  I think so.  I hope so.  I’d like to focus more on the right gifts instead of lots of gifts for my kids.

Speaking of shopping.  Ahem.  Yeah…  My 14 year old informed me yesterday that he owns ONE pair of jeans that fit, and ONE shirt nice enough for Sunday wear. Actually he’s been gently reminding me of this fact for the last month.

This time when he reminded me, though, instead of Walmart, I thought of the thrift shop.  I used to shop at the thrift shop all the time early in our marriage, but I kinda got out of the habit.  Well, after my trip there this afternoon, I think I’m back in the habit.

Not only did I find him a nice pair of jeans and TWO button-down shirts (one short-sleeved, one long), I also found hubby a great pair of like-new jeans which he really needed.  Total spent?  $17.85. 

 I still am wondering if I should have waited til next week.  But I feel really good about what I got for the money, so I think I’ll forgive myself the timing. 

Oh, and I also bought cat food–$10.  That brings our grocery total to $308.

Breakfast- French toast with homemade bread, Fir Fir (made with leftover Ethiopian flat bread), and home-made apple juice (well-strained this time).  Yum.

Lunch-Chap Chae (Korean pasta) with veggies, and ice cream.   We have judiciously served the ice cream and still have a teeny bit left!

Dinner- I had some lentil stew AND some chili left over, but I wanted to jazz it up a little.  So I mixed them up, spread them in a casserole dish and topped it with a recipe for cheesy corn bread.  It rose hugely in the oven and turned out SO yummy.  Way more interesting than just zapping the chili in the microwave.

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Day 24

Wow, day 24.  It’s starting to feel like the month is picking up speed, now that we’re so close to the end.  I haven’t actually started writing down all the things we’re out of, but several times I’ve begun my list mentally, then stopped myself. 

Breakfast was cornflakes and apple muffins.  The cereal is almost gone.   But you know what?  We COULD live without cereal if we had to.   Since we homeschool, we have time to cook most mornings, and a cooked breakfast ‘sticks’ better than cereal anyway.

This noon we had leftovers instead of our usual tradition of after-church hamburgers and fries.   There were 4 different things to choose from, so no one felt too deprived.  But I do enjoy having the after-church meal be a no-brainer.  Rain or shine, we barbecue.  I think it is fun to create rituals like this with the kids too. So I think next Sunday we’ll be back to the regular tradition.

For dinner, since I had lots of hot dogs and no buns, I made ‘pigs in blankets’, wrapping homemade bread dough around the ‘pigs’. 

(When I told my 4 year old I was making pigs in blankets, she looked aghast, and, thinking she had misheard me, she said, “What??”

The 8 year old explained, “You know, hot dogs wrapped in bread.”

She looked relieved.  “Oh, I thought you said pigs in blankets!”)

The homemade bread is much more filling than wimpy store-bought hot dog buns.  But of course it was about a half-hour time investment. So I doubt I’ll be avoiding the bread store anytime soon.

Also with dinner we had fresh tomatoes and rice pudding, which I had never made before, but which was a great use for some leftover rice.  It turned out to be ridiculously easy and very good. That recipe is a keeper.

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Day 23/ 30 Days of Nothing

(Don’t miss the Blogging Chicks Carnival!)
 Quiet day today. Hubby and 3 of the big kids went up to the mountains to gather one last load of firewood. Funny how it can feel quiet with ‘only’ 5 around.

 No shopping today. Along with many other things, we are getting low on butter and cheese, but we still have plenty of meat, rice, flour, and pasta.  I’m feeling like we’ll make it easily now;  only a week left.

One of the things I bought the other day, after going without for 3 weeks, was scouring powder.  Oh, I am glad to have that again!!!  My porcelain kitchen sink shines once again– yeah!

For breakfast we did migas and apple muffins. 

Lunch was braided bread with cheese in the center, cookies, and apples.

 Dinner was Ethiopian cooking: injera, shiro, and lentil stew, with sour cream on the side.  Yum.  As I served dinner,  my 18 year old came downstairs, sniffing with satisfaction, and said, “Mmmm… real food!” 

Apparently her college does not offer Ethiopian food on the menu.

One of the really amazing things about the apple inundation is that we all still really like apples.  In the thick of applesauce making, we were still snacking as we sliced.  Even with all the various incarnations of apples I serve at mealtimes, the kids still grab apples for snacks in the afternoon.  What a blessing!

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Day 22- and misconceptions

(*Picture added below*)

Today was a very good day because I did not can anything. 

Hubby has concocted a plan to use the rest of the apples,  involving HIM (hooray!) filling the food dehydrator twice daily.  Thus he plans to deal with two dozen apples per day. 

We have two bushels wrapped up in a cool corner of the shop for eating in the next months, 1/2 a bushel in the fridge, and one less-than-lovely bushel on the back porch (earmarked for the dehydrator).  So it’s looking more manageable.  I haven’t yet summoned enough nerve to look in the garden to see what is left there.

Meals Today 

Breakfast:  Apple cinnamon oatmeal, OJ

Lunch: Chili, biscuits, applesauce.

Dinner:  Chicken and veggie stir fry over rice, cookies.

No shopping, no book cravings.  We actually got a good day of school done today– only our 3rd school day this week.  The beauty of homeschooling is that we can catch up later as we need to.

Weeks like this are one of the reasons I ALWAYS make sure my kids are ‘ahead’ of their grade level in math.  That way the pangs of guilt are not so fierce when real life intrudes on our schooling.

Speaking of real life, I’ve gotten lots of comments lately alluding to everyone’s perception that I am some sort of supermom.  


We are blessed.  Absolutely.  But as I’ve shared with some people privately this week, life is NOT perfect here. And the last thing I would want is for you to be distressed over your own life after reading about mine.

So here is reality.

This evening I walked into the bathroom to discover a snarl of 5 towels and 3 half-unreeled rolls of toilet paper stuffed next to a none-too-clean toilet.

My ceiling fan hosts a whole dust bunny on each fan blade. Please click on picture to enlarge if you don’t believe me.

I’ve made my bed once this week.

My kitchen floor is sticky enough to pull your flipflops right off your feet.  

On four different occasions today, two of my kids fought fiercely over rights to the ‘best’ corner of one of our couches. 

My baby woke up this morning dreamily and cheerily whispering, “Stupid…stupid.”  (A ‘bad’ word at our house and she knows it!)

 Far from perfect. But that’s just life.

I think we all have to decide what is highest priority to us, let the rest go, and not beat ourselves up too much about what we percieve other people’s lives to be.

I could go on, but the truth is Carmen at Mom to the Screaming Masses just wrote a wonderful post on this very topic.   Go read.  I couldn’t have said it better.

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As promised, here is the picture of my pantry. To get an idea of the quantities, the jars are stacked 3 deep. Each shelf holds about 33 quart jars. I stack most of my pint jars two high. Hardly looks like 30 days of nothing, does it? We are blessed.

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