Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hot chocolate and the Christmas crunch.

With Christmas being a mere 3 days away, a lot of us often lose focus of what it's supposed to be about. We're too busy trying to run around and get those last minute gifts to please someone, that we often lose our way.

Whether we realize it or not, this time of year is when Satan works his powers. He thrives on the fact that we get stressed, exhausted, and fall away from God. He revels in the fact that we get caught up in the materialistic aspect of Christmas and don't remember to slow down and read our Bible and talk with God. Do not be fooled- he is waiting for you

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour- Peter 5:8

This brings me to the next part of my "Peace on Earth December Challenge" from Courtney at Women Living Well, and this an excerpt from her challenge:

Here's this week's challenge: Christmas is just 5 days away and so much of our time is often spent helping the children to remember the "Reason for the Season". Now it's our turn. Once the kids are in bed get yourself a HOT drink (again we are warming the body as we warm the soul.) Get ALONE and turn out the lights by your Christmas tree, a lit fire, or a candle and just be alone with God. Pray, talk to him, I encourage you to sing Christmas carols or songs praising him, and just rest with Jesus.

This challenge led me to my pantry for some of this delicious stuff

And I brought it to the solace of my living room to look at this:

THAT Christmas house

Everyone has one- that one house in the neighborhood that goes all out with the lights and decorations. For my tiny town of 1,500 people, that would be the Day Family. The husband is a retired electrician, and has been doing the display for 35 years.

We all thought that was going to come to an end last year when Mr. Day announced he was very sick with lung cancer, and unable to put up the display. Several people from our town came together and put it up for him, and they came back this year as well.

This year was my fourth year seeing the display, and it warms my heart. One of the many memories I have as a child was driving around looking at Christmas lights. That was back when people had more Christmas spirit and the holiday wasn't so commercialized. It's sad that most people don't even decorate anymore. I won't be able to share those fond memories with my daughter that I had, which is why I am going all out with everything else, and will make sure to take Shayna to see this display every year.

The pics aren't the greatest. It was pretty difficult trying to get good shots when it's on a hill, and you're right on top of it in a parking lot below.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reindeer food

With Shayna being almost four now, I am so excited to see her imagination at work, and all the excitement about Christmas. This will be the first year we bake cookies together to leave out for Santa, and sprinkle reindeer food on the lawn so they can find our house. Thanks to a recipe for soft sugar cookies over at they are going to be the perfect cookies to make. I have already made them once, and they are so good, and the best thing is that I normally have all the ingredients they require on hand.

Something else we have started this year is "The Elf on the Shelf," and she has absolutely loved that. It's too bad Jack (our elf) will be making his disappearance in just a couple days, and won't be back until after Thanksgiving 2011. Shayna has loved waking up and finding him in different spots every morning.

Last but not least, we will be doing reindeer food that I saw online. It's just oats, sugar, and decorative crystals layered in a jar. I chose a baby food jar that a friend gave to me. It's not very fancy looking because I didn't have anything to cover the top of the lid.

You can also give these out to kids in your family as a gift. Attach the following poem, and have them sprinkle it on their lawn:

Sprinkle on the lawn at night

The moon will make it sparkle bright

As Santa's reindeer fly and roam

This will guide them to your home.

Egg nog and happiness

One of the greatest things about my late mother-in-law was her fantastic ability to cook and bake, and I was handed down many recipes and cook books of hers when she passed on. One thing that David had been wanting me to make was her egg nog, but unfortunately, that was a recipe she took to her grave.

A couple days ago, I was in the mood to take on this task of trying to duplicate her recipe with nothing more to go on than what David remembered her putting in it. I couldn't believe it, but it turned out great, and I can't wait to make some more. Even though it's kind of time consuming, it's way better than store bought.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taking the time to be thankful

As many of you know from prior posts, our luck has not been the greatest as of late. Actually, if it weren't for bad luck we wouldn't have any luck at all. However, I really hate being negative. I think that negativity is Satan working his powers in some odd way, as negativity has a way of bringing others down as well. Which is why I try not to be that way for very long, and mostly just on here.

We are definitely struggling, but things are slowly starting to look up. We have a nice rental car until we can find a different one, our loan officer is deferring a payment for us so we can get caught up, and maybe (just maybe) David and I will be able to buy a couple gifts for one another.

We went out to dinner at the casino's buffet tonight where David works, and we also took my uncle, his wife, and their son out with us. David gets free passes, and it's always good food. My aunt and uncle are like my parents because my mother has always had other priorities in her life, and I am not one of them.

We also have a very generous neighbor that David has known for many years, and tomorrow, the two of them are buying a couple hogs to butcher, so we have a good stock of fresh pork for a while. The guy is buying our hog and paying for the gas to get to the stockyards.

Although we have had some obvious bad luck lately, I am thankful for the good things that are going well in our life right now, and I just have to keep those few positive things in mind, rather than all the negative things.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seriously, what else will get thrown at us.

Right about now, I am confused, upset, and my faith is being tested greatly. To add to the stress of barely making ends meet and never getting out of this hole, David calls me at 6:30 this morning to inform me that he wrecked the car, and it is pretty much destroyed. He is fine, our car on the other hand, is a lost cause.

I am numb, and don't see this string of bad luck ever ending. I am drained, exhausted, and stressed the hell out. Bills can't get paid, people are calling for their money, and now we are down to one vehicle. Our Christmas budget has went from $300 to $150 and now $0 on each other. We have never once had a Christmas where we didn't have one thing to give to each other.

I know that's not what it's about, but it still hurts. We always get each other practical gifts so we don't spend money on frivolous things. We need so much stuff right now, and that just isn't going to happen.

I try greatly to be a practicing Christian in the good times and the bad times, and not to just call on God when things are bad. I read my Bible all the time, pray, and go to church, but none of that seems to matter right now. I really don't know how much more I can take.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Past the point of caring

I really just need a place to get my stress out about all this, and I don't like complaining, or being negative, but sometimes I just can't help it. It seems like we just can't catch a break anymore. I want to lock myself in the bathroom and cry. I'm on the verge of tears just typing this post, and I have to hold them back for Shayna's sake.

We were just starting to get back on track with our bills and get semi caught up. Last week, I had the called the automated line to check the account balance on our electric bill (as previously posted), and it said our last balance of $173 was paid on November 22nd and we had a $0 balance. I just called to check our new bill, and it's now saying that our last payment was on the 5th and we have a past due balance, and owe $277. I just don't understand how it mysteriously changed and is saying 2 different dates that it was paid. This has now thrown us back into a hole, and I'm so tired of trying to fight my way out of it. This will now make everything late again next month, and we won't be caught up until our taxes come in.

I need a miracle right now, and I just don't see that happening. Nothing seems to ever happen in our favor, and just when it seems like something does, BAM, here comes something else.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shayna's Christmas play.

This post is just for sheer and shameless bragging. This past weekend, my baby was in her first play. It was a Christmas program for preschool, and she did a great job, if I do say so myself. I am not biased one bit. Brace yourself for picture central because I took over 100 pics of this one event. There she is in the red and white dress, so pretty.

After the play was over, we were all invited to go see the classrooms, and things the kids had made. There's my girl at her table. She was so proud of herself for being on stage.

This is her classroom with their cute little Christmas tree.

And this is her teacher, whom she never wants to leave when the day is over, but I can understand that because she is a wonderful lady.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Got wood?

Yesterday, we went and picked up a full cord of wood for the new wood stove we got. First, we went to one house that sold it, and the guy was trying to scam us by giving us way less than a full cord for the price of 2 rics. Bascially, he was trying to cheat out of $40. It's a good thing I have a husband who knows better, and has dealt with wood stoves all his life because we got in our truck, and went on down the road, only to get a full pick up load, plus a small dump trailer load, which is in fact a TRUE cord. This is what we spent an hour and a half stacking last night:

There are two stacks that are about 12 feet long x 5 feet high. So, we had all of our wood, but still had to pick up the stove today. David went out this morning, and between Shayna's Chirstmas play at school (a whole nother post), and fighting the pipe all day, we finally got it in about 3 hours ago, and it's working great.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just another setback

It never fails- once we start working ourselves out of a bad spot, life throws us under the bus again. The wood stove we were going to get for only $150, with no money up front was dropped off a tractor this morning and busted. David's friend was trying to load it when it fell off the forks, and went tumbling down his driveway. I am not mad at his friend or anything, I mean accidents happen, but man oh man, could we just please get a small break here?

I guess the upside ( I always try to see the positive in things) is that we can still get one, but we're going to have to extend our loan which was going to be paid off at the end of this month, and that part is just a big let down to me. We were just about to get one loan paid off, and now we can't do that, although one rent check from our tenants will pay for it, which is a big consolation to me.

Another positive thing, is that we found a guy selling cheap wood- $100 for a full cord, and for those of you who don't how much a cord of wood is, it is a LOT, and they normally go for a lot more than that around here. This is not my house, but this is a full cord of wood:

That much wood will heat our house up through March, vs. three months worth of propane that would run us about $800. Hmm let's do the math here- $100.00/3= 33.333333 per month. $800/3= $267 per month. Well Skippy, I think I'll take the wood heat for just about $30 a month, lol. This is a very common thing around here, and now I see why.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A small sigh of relief

Tis the season for money to slow way down at David's job, and this year has been the worst. After going through the finances this morning, and deciding what to pay, I called the electric company to see how much we owed and we had a $0 balance. I don't have any recollection of ever having paid it for last month, but apparently we did and somehow forgot. It was like Christmas morning hearing that balance on the phone. It puts us in a little better shape for the time being.

One of our HUGE expenses is propane. We have 2 gas heat stoves that heat the entire house, and they suck it down big time, especially with these extremely low temperatures we have been experiencing already, and it's only December. We've just barely scratched the surface of this winter, and have a good 3 more months where these heaters will be running hard.

All of this brought David to the conclusion that we should get a wood stove, and put it in place of the gas heat stove in the kitchen, thus eliminating a good deal of propane being used, and I was all for the idea. The problem? Well, we don't exactly have about $700 lying around to buy the kind that we need.

Which brings me to a conversation that he had with a friend earlier today, and wouldn't you know that this friend just so happens to have 2 extra wood stoves at his house that are not being used, and one of them is the same exact one we were looking at at Tractor Supply. He is going to sell it to us for $150! Oh, and the best part? We don't have to have the money right away, and are supposed to be getting it tomorrow. I am so happy to finally be able to save some money on this propane. As they say, "It's all about the Benjamins, baby."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fun in the snow

I've been so busy blogging about other topics that I forgot to post these pics of Shayna in the snow last weekend. I'm hoping and praying for a white Christmas this year. If the weather continues to be like it has in the past week, I just may get my wish. We rarely have snow on Christmas anymore. It will snow BEFORE and AFTER just fine, but hardly ever is snow on the ground on the 25th. Over the years, the climate has warmed up because I can distinctly remember always having Christmas snow when I was a kid. So, enough with all my talk about snow. Here are the pics.

I even let our weenie dog in on the fun, which I'm not so sure she appreciated, and probably would have been happier inside by the heater, lol. My dog does NOT like cold or snow.

My hubby also joined in on the "fun." I put that in quotations because he absolutely DETESTS snow and the cold weather, but he had loads of fun hitting me with snowballs repeatedly. He quickly went inside after our snowball fight, but I give him credit because that poor man works outside in this weather on 3rd shift to support his family, so he's allowed to not like it.