In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflecting On My Year


It’s hard to believe that this year has already come to an end.  Where did the time go?  As I'm sitting here watching New Yorks Rockin' Eve with the hubs, I can't help but reflect on this past year.........

It seems like we were celebrating the arrival of 2011 just weeks ago.  The year started out in sunny Miami for me.  That's where I set sail with Matt and both of our moms on a five day Caribbean cruise.

We had a wonderful time, but we were anxious to get home and find out news about the closing date for our house.  We unexpectedly closed on our home the day we got back from our trip.  We had one week to be out of our old house, and we hadn’t even started packing nor did we have a closing date arranged for our new home.
The timing for everything worked out, and we were able to close on the new house within the one week time frame.  Due to our work schedules, we only had one day to rent a truck and move into the new house…..in a snow storm no less.  I feel very blessed to have had this home shelter us from the ever changing weather of 2011.  It's sheltered us from winter snow and ice storms, spring tornadoes and thunderstorms, extreme heat of long summer days and steady cold raindrops of late fall and early winter.  I am thankful for the home the Lord has given us.


After moving into the new home, I decided that I wanted to journal my life's journey of being married and owning a new home, so in February, I entered the world of blogging.   Although keeping up with my blog has been time consuming, it has been something that I have truly LOVED doing in my spare time.  I’ve learned a lot since I wrote my very first post, and I look forward to learning so much more as I endeavor to grow my blog in the future.
Blogging gave me the push that I needed to use my creative side more and complete several DIY projects in 2011, all of which I’ve shared with you here my in my little corner of the internet.  It has been a true joy for me to create on a budget.  I look forward to sharing many more projects on my blog in the year to come.

While I love to DIY, traveling is something that both Matt and I really enjoy.  We had to postpone some of the bigger trips we had planned for 2011,  due to some budget adjustments after buying the house in January, but we were still able to fit in several small road trips here and there, all of which I've shared with you on my blog.   Before we bought the house, we already had the January cruise, February weekend getaway to Gatlinburg and March weekend getaway to Cincinnati  paid for.  That left us with enough in our budget to go to St. Louis for Fourth of July and New Buffalo, Michigan/Chicago for Matt's August birthday.   Getting away from our ordinary routine is so important to us that we even stayed in a nice hotel right here in Indy for our anniversary weekend.  We had a great time exploring our own city without spending too much money.  Looking back, we were able to do a lot of small getaways this past year on a tight budget, and for that I am thankful.  I will always cherish the memories we share when we can getaway from the hustle and bustle of our every day life and spend quality time together.

Another thing I got to do in 2011 is catch up on some reading.  Reading for pleasure is something that I really enjoy, and as I shared with you in a post earlier this week, I spent many nights curled up in bed with a good book during 2011.  I've already started my 2012 book list and can't wait to get started.
When I wasn’t spending time with my husband, working on projects for the house, writing post for my blog or reading a good book,  my time was spent at work with the girls that I nanny for or at the library working on classes for my masters.  I only have a few more classes to complete for my masters and would like to finish up in 2012.  As far as my job goes, I feel very blessed to have a good job in this economy and even more blessed that, unlike so many, I actually like my job.  I've been able to watch the girls grow up, and like each previous year that I've been a part of their lives, I've been able to make a lot memories with them.  Even when they no longer need a nanny, I will always have those memories and will forever cherish them.

While my job has gone well this past year, I can’t say the same for Matt’s job.  He started work with a new company at the beginning of 2011 and was really excited about what seemed to be a promising future for our family and his career…..but sometimes things don’t go as we think they should.  In November, Matt unexpectedly lost his job, and while he is aggressively looking for a new job, he hasn’t found one yet.  I haven’t really talked about this on my blog.  Sometimes I think if I don’t talk about it, it will go away….but the reality is that it isn’t going away, not tonight anyway.  We will wake up tomorrow morning to a new year, and it will still be a new year where we are forced to live on one income.  There’s no doubt that these past two months have been trying for us, seeing as how we base our monthly budget off of his income, not mine, but we trust that the Lord will provide our needs.  We don’t have to understand why bad things happen, although I really wish I did understand this.  All we have to understand is that God has a plan for us, and it will unfold in his time, not ours.  So while Matt and I didn’t buy each other Christmas gifts this year or go out to dinner for New Year’s Eve, we still have each other and that’s what’s really important to us as we say goodbye to 2011 and awake to a new year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Top Ten DIY Projects of 2011



Since I started my blog in February, I’ve shared thirty-eight DIY projects with you.  According to my blog’s page views, here are the top ten projects of 2011.  You can find the other twenty-eight projects on my Project Gallery page.  Here’s to sharing many more thrifty projects in 2012!  Happy DIYing everyone!


NUMBER ONE

Craigslist Dining Room Table and Chairs Makeover 



NUMBER TWO

DIY WALL DECOR


NUMBER THREE

Oil Rubbed Bronze Door Knobs



NUMBER FOUR

Upcycled Wall Decor With Dollar Tree Decal



NUMBER FIVE

$4 Picture Frame Turned Into Dry Erase Board


NUMBER SIX

Napkins Turned Into No-Sew Pillow Cases


NUMBER SEVEN

No-Sew Felt Flower Pillow


NUMBER EIGHT

Refinished Craigslist Armoire


NUMBER NINE

Neighbor's Trash Turned Into My Treasure


NUMBER TEN

Coffee Filter Lamp Shade


Excellent Chocolate Chip Cookies



My sister made chocolate chip cookies over Thanksgiving Break that were sooo yummy.  Everyone in our family loved them!  Apparently, she got the recipe from a friend.  When I asked her for the recipe, she said that the recipe is the same as the back of the Nestle's chocolate chip bag, but with a few minor adjustments.  Believe it or not, a Crisco butter flavor baking stick is what makes these cookies taste so good.  Here's the recipe. 


2 1/4 cups of flour
 1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1  Crisco Baking Stick Butter Flavor
 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 lage eggs
2 c. (12 oz bag) chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat Crisco, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.   Add eggs and beat well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Roll into small balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 9-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Makes 5 dozen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My 2011 Book List





I pretty much always have a book in my bag or in my purse, if not two or three books.  I have yet to get a Kindle or Nook ~ there's just something about the actual book that I love!   My book list is filled with books that I read for pleasure, so I would describe most of them as easy reads.   While I try to average a book a month,  I was able to read seventeen books for pleasure this year, aside from any required reading that I had to do for school.   You can see a list of the books I’ve read in 2011, along with a brief description of each book,  on my Book List  page. 

Now.....where will the pages of a book take me in 2012?  It's time to start thinking about what books I want to read throughout the next twelve months;)  Happy reading everyone!



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santa's Late Delivery

           
          Christmas just doesn’t seem like Christmas without snow, and this year we haven’t seen a whole lot of the white stuff.  It’s actually been unseasonably warm this year, and the only thing we’ve seen is a whole lot of rain!   Six weeks of what seemed to be non-stop, weary-dreary rain made it look more like the most “depressing” time of the year rather than the most “wonderful” time of the year!  It seriously seems like the majority of November and December have been full of soggy, dreary, grey days with not even a hint of holiday frost in the air. 
            Now, don’t get me wrong, by the time January comes around I’m usually sick of the white stuff, but from Thanksgiving to New Years I really can’t get enough of it!   This year Santa disappointment me with spring-like weather on Christmas day.  I mean, I didn’t even wear a coat on Christmas day….can you believe that … there was no need for a coat!   And the neighbor kids were playing outside in there pajamas while riding their bikes!  And people were taking their morning run without a jacket….and wait for it…….they were in shorts….IN DECEMBER!!!  It was craziness I tell you! 
            Needless to say the early spring-like weather put me in a sort of “bah humbug” mood this Christmas.  Yep, I confess I’ve been a little bit of Scrooge.   I didn’t want to listen to Christmas music, I didn’t even plug in Christmas lights most nights, and I was ready to take down the Christmas tree the night of Christmas. Now I’m not gonna lie, there have been other contributors to my less than Christmas spirit, but the NO SNOW for Christmas just kind of pushed me over into the Christmas blues. 
            BUT…yes, there is a but...sometimes Santa can be late with our Christmas wishes.  Here we are, two days after Christmas, and what do you think I beheld outside my bedroom window when I woke up this morning……SNOW!  Now….it was a wet snow, because it really isn’t that cold here….and it will probably melt by tomorrow afternoon…..but it was SNOW nonetheless!  Unfortunately, it came on the day that I had to go back to work.  On the plus side, I am  a nanny afterall:)  You better believe we made time to play in the white, wet mess before it makes its disappearing act over the next few days:)
            So while Santa must have been late this year, at least he delivered:) Better late than never right:)   








Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours!


May we never forget the real reason for the season.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:  and the government shall be upon his shoulder:  and his name shall be called Wonder, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  
 Isaiah 9:6



We hope you have a blessed day celebrating the birth of our Savior.

The Asher Family







Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pineapple Cheese Ball



I tried a new cheese ball recipe for a Christmas Eve family get-together tonight.  I got this pineapple cheese ball recipe from an awesome blog that I follow called Chef in Training.  You can get the recipe here.  And while your there, check out some of the other recipes on her blog.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! 





Friday, December 23, 2011

Handmade Personalized Lockets


           Do you ever have a hard time trying to think of a thoughtful Christmas gift for the special gals in your life?  I know that I struggle with that from time to time.  As most of you know, I am a nanny for a family with two girls.   Finding the right gift for the girls and the parents can be challenging for me whenever gift giving time comes around.  The girls have a ton of toys, so I try to avoid the toy stores when I'm contemplating what gifts to get them.   For Christmas, I always try to give the girls something small that incorporates the true meaning of Christmas, Christ birth, and then I usually get them something that we can do together like craft kits or games.  Sometimes I’ll even make them something sentimental.
            Recently I made jewelry and posted about it here.  Both Mom and Daughters really liked the jewelry that I made, so I decided to personalize a few pieces for them and add it to their Christmas gifts this year. For the mom, I made a necklace with a locket of the girl’s pictures and an appropriate quote inside.  For the girls I made necklaces with lockets as well, but I tried to incorporate a small piece of my faith inside their locket.  On the inside of their locket I glued a mustard seed, and then I made a tiny scroll with the verse Matthew written on it and put it inside the locket. When the necklaces were finished I put them in festive sachets that I had leftover from previous gift giving ideas, and attached them to the top of their wrapped presents. 
            Since I already had most of the jewelry making supplies, this was a relatively inexpensive gift idea.  While inexpensive, the fact that it was handmade makes it thoughtful and specific to the person’s taste.  And by adding a locket, I was able to take it step further and personalize the gifts.  So next time you’re trying to think of a thoughtful gift for the special ladies of your life, try being creative with jewelry making;)







Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mom's Bagel Dip


This is a great appetizer for any upcoming holiday parties. My mom always makes this recipe for Christmas gatherings, and it’s a bit hit.  I recently made it for my husband, and he devoured the entire dish in one day….well, I guess I sort of helped him devour it.  What can I say, this stuff is just that good;)


INGREDIENTS:
1 1/3 c. Mayonnaise
1 1/3 c. Sour cream
4 oz. of thinly sliced deli beef or corn beef
(Mom always uses 2 packages of original Budding Beef)
2 tsp. dried dillweed
2 tbs. dried parsley
1 tsp dried minced onion
one bag of bagels

DIRECTIONS:
Cut up beef into small pieces.  Mix all ingredients together and set in fridge over night.  It is VERY important that you let it sit for several hours in order for flavors to merry, or it won't taste right.  Tear bagels into small pieces and serve with dip.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DIY Dollar Tree Christmas Decor

           
           Yesterday, I posted pictures of my Christmas decorations here.  Today I wanted to quickly show you how $2 and some extra Christmas bulbs became part of my Christmas D├ęcor.  I’m sure many of you have seen similar decorations with bulbs all over the internet.  Using epoxy glue, I simply glued together a candle holder and a hurricane vase that I purchased from the Dollar Tree, then I filled them with some extra bulbs that I had stored away.  That’s it ~ that’s how beautifully simple $2 can be;) 




I recently posted a similar project for autumn here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Home for the Holidays

        
           It’s the first Christmas in our new home, and I have to tell ya that it hasn’t felt too festive around here this year.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks, but just haven’t gotten around to it even though we decorated our home the day after Thanksgiving.  Maybe it’s that there isn’t going to be any snow for Christmas, or maybe it’s that our home still has so many unfinished projects.  Regardless of the warm weather and the never ending home projects, I did manage to get a few Christmas decorations up this year.  So without further ado, here is our home for the holidays.