Wednesday, June 27, 2012

6 Months Till Christmas!

Christmas Morning 2011

Guess what?  Christmas is less than 6 months away!  Are you ready?  No, I don't mean gifts!  Rather how you're going to pay for those presents.  When Dave implemented cash based budgeting for our family several years ago, we started setting aside a small amount of cash each month specifically for Christmas.  As simple as the concept sounds, we never considered saving for Christmas prior to reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover!  We always bought gifts on credit and stressed over the bill in January.  But now, our holidays are free of financial stress.  We get to fully enjoy the season with our family and friends without worry.  It's also a comfort knowing that if something were to happen today, like the loss of a job, we've already got Christmas covered (at least for the kids).   Just a small amount set aside each month now, will make a big difference come December!

Make it a GREEN Christmas this year.  Save and pay cash!

Budgeting resources we've found helpful:

The Total Money Makeover:  A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
by Dave Ramsey

The Money Saving Mom's Budget
by Crystal Paine (The Money Saving Mom)

Dig Out of Debt
by Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam


Monday, June 25, 2012

Crockpot Recipe - Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup

As a working mom and home keeper, it is still important to me to have a warm, healthy, homemade dinner on the table for my family each night.  It can definitely be a challenge with the rush of the evenings after work!  But, my crockpot is an invaluable tool when it comes to meal times.  That's why I was so excited when the ladies of Living On A Dime released their new e-book, Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus!

This Chicken Enchilada Soup recipe was an absolute winner and a must try!

Chicken Enchilada Soup
from Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus
by Jill Cooper

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1-15 oz. can of black beans, drained
1-14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, including juice
1-14 oz. can of chicken broth
1-10 oz. can of enchilada sauce {I made my own using the recipe from Dining On A Dime}
1-4 oz. can of diced green chiles
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. of black pepper {I omitted both}

{These following are listed as optional spices, but I added them all in!}
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
{I also added in local, organically grown zucchini and yellow squash (diced) from the farmer's market.  Add 1-2 cups additional broth if adding veggies.}

Place chicken in a slow cooker first and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on low for 6 hours {I cooked this on high for 4 hours}.  Transfer the chicken to a large plate and shred the meat with two forks.  Return the chicken to the slow cook and continue cooking for 30 minutes to 1 hour.


To serve, place in a bowl and top with crushed corn chips, tortilla chips, sour cream or cheese.  You could also add a scoop of cooked rice to the bowl first.

You'll find this and other recipes in the new e-book, Easy Crockpot Recipe and Menus.  Today is the last day to pick up a copy of the e-book for 40% off!

Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus


Thursday, June 21, 2012

My New {Old} Hat! Vintage Straw Hat with Veil

Please excuse the fuzziness of some of the photos.  My photographer is only 9!  This is the vintage blue straw hat with veil I bought a few weeks ago at SuzAnna's Antiques.  I LOVE my "new" vintage hat and can't wait to add more!  Hats, gloves and accessories seem to be an affordable way to add a little vintage to one's wardrobe.

Side view of the hat and veil

The bow on the back of the hat

I love putting on my hat and gloves and going out to do my grocery shopping or running errands with Dave and the children.  I've received a lot of compliments about the hat, particularly from older gentlemen.  Most men enjoy seeing a woman dressed in a feminine manner.  But for the older gentlemen, there seems to be a bit of nostalgia in seeing the hat, gloves and pearls.  A reminder of sweeter days gone by!

Mary Ellen

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What I Wore to Work - Heart & Soul Ruffled Pick-Up Style Dress

Dress - Heart & Soul (Kohl's)

It's been awhile since I shared any new (or new to me!) work dresses!  This dress is actually new, a recent find from the clearance racks at Kohl's.  It's a Heart & Soul dress I found in the Juniors section on sale for $11.  A deal made even sweeter when I paired it with a 40% off coupon!  The top is sleeveless with ruffles along the neckline.

The skirt is pick up style with a belt at the waist.  While this is not my usual "vintage inspired" look, I can never pass up a cute dress!  Especially one at a great price!

Mary Ellen

Linked at: The Pleated Poppy

pleated poppy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

{NEW!} Easy Crockpot Recipes & Menus E-Book

Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus

Do you find that you're often so busy that it's hard to find the time or the energy to cook? Do you end up hitting the fast food places or even more expensive restaurants more than you should? Eating out is one of the biggest causes of personal debt.  But after a busy day, who wants to come home and spend the time to cook dinner?

Living On A Dime's new Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus e-Book has been prepared especially for busy moms! It's full of easy recipes and menus that can help you save a lot of money and time preparing delicious crockpot meals in minutes so you won't have to wonder what to cook when you get home.

Simply pick one of the pre-made menus, take a couple minutes to toss some ingredients into a slow cooker and know that you're saving a lot on your food spending. Not only that, you won't have to spend the extra time it takes to drag everyone to that fast food place... and you KNOW what a chore that can be when you're tired.

When you check out the new Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus e-Book today, you can get it for $7.77, 40% off the regular price.  Don't forget - the special 40% off deal is only good until Monday! Make your meal planning easier-- check it out now!

Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus

Monday, June 18, 2012

More Berry Pickin' at Vollmer Farm

Over the weekend, we headed back out to Vollmer Farm in Bunn, NC for some more berry picking.  Nothing is better than local, organically grown berries!

The blackberries were ready

And so were the blueberries!

The strawberries were winding down.  But what we did find still on the vine, was SO SWEET!

The fruits of our labor!

On the way back from the farm, we stopped by Sonic.  A departure from our healthy eating, but a special FIRST TIME treat for all of us!  We made it just in time for half price drinks.  Daddy ordered  a round of slushies and limeades for everyone!

From farm to the table - The Pioneer Woman's Grilled Chicken Salad with Feta, Corn & {fresh picked local} Blueberries

Mary Ellen

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to the World's Best Husband & Daddy!

Love you Honey,

Mary Ellen

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekend Yard Sale Find - Vintage Fairbanks Scale

Last Saturday morning, Dave and the boys got up early and went out together on a yard sale adventure!  At a local church yard sale, Dave picked up this old Fairbanks doctors scale for $10.   

Despite its age, the sliders still work. 

The Fairbanks stamp on the foot pad.

While at the yard sale, the boys found some treasures of their own!  Clayton & Reed used their allowances to buy these Army helmets for $1 each.  Here's Clay in his camo.

And Reedy in his Captain America costume with helmet!  My cute little soldier boys!

Have A Great Weekend Y'all!

Mary Ellen

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Loving Day

Richard & Mildred Loving

Today is Loving Day, which marks the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia.  The Supreme Court decision which legalized interracial marriage in the United States.  As you may know (or at least have gathered from the family photos I've shared), my husband and I are an interracial couple (married 11 years and counting!) and raising our three biracial children.  I'm happy we live in a time much different than that of Mr. & Mrs. Loving.  While some antiquated attitudes may still exist in the hearts and minds of a few, most people understand the love shared between a man and a woman of different races is no different than that of a same race couple.

 In honor of Loving Day, I thought I'd share a little bit about our own "swirling" experience!

How We Met
Dave and I met in college my sophomore year through a mutual guy friend.  One day out of the blue, this guy told me he had a friend that thought I was cute.  I didn't realize at the time that Dave had relayed this to the guy a year earlier!  I'm not sure why the delay in getting this vital information back to me LOL!  But after being introduced and exchanging glances across the dining hall, Dave asked me out.  Our first date was to an Italian restaurant across the street from campus.  Unbeknownst to me, Dave was so nervous he wrote down topics of discussion on index cards.  He excused himself to the bathroom at one point in our date to check his cards.  Apparently we had covered all the topics in the first 30 minutes of the date!  After that, we went to see a movie on campus (Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey).

After dating exclusively for a few years, we became engaged while still in college.  And then married in September 2000.

How Did Our Families React
 There really wasn't any "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" moment with my family!  My older sisters had dated interracially, so it wasn't shocking to my parents to see their daughter bring home a white guy.  My parents were much more concerned with Dave's character than his color.  In Dave's family, his mother and siblings were very supportive.  Although his mother was worried we may be met with hostile attitudes especially here in the South.  His stepfather on the other hand, did not agree with us marrying.  But Dave's actual father and grandmother, who live out of state, were very supportive and even made the trip down for our big day.  Dave and I decided to focus on the family and friends that did support us and not the lone dissenting voice.  It didn't stop us from getting married and it hasn't stopped us from getting on about our life.  Plus, I'm not in the business of changing hearts.  I'll leave that to God!

 Do People Stare?
 Of course!  But not in the way you might think.  Most people come up to us and tell us they think we have a beautiful family or that the kids are gorgeous.  And there are stares and compliments regarding my vintage inspired dresses and hairstyles, but that's another subject!

Does Being Different Races Cause Conflict Within Our Marriage?
 No!  I can't think of one single moment where race has been an issue between us.  We were raised similarly (both from two parent Christian homes) and share like values.  Race is just not an issue for us as individuals or as a couple. I don't filter my perception of the world through my race, and neither does my husband.

What About the Children?
Well, they're beautiful, happy, healthy and growing like weeds!  But seriously, the children understand they are both white & black.  Fortunately where we live, there are plenty of families just like ours.  So, we're not unique!  Our kids understand that what is more important than skin color is what is in someone's heart.  And that we're all loved and treasured in the eyes of God.

Happy Loving Day!

Mary Ellen        

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trash to Treasure Cabinet Finished & My Next Project!

I finally finished the trash to treasure cabinet in our dining room!  Isn't she a beauty?  I didn't get a chance to take before pictures when Dave brought this piece home.  Prior to the transformation, the cabinet was dark wood with lovely detailing on the doors and sides.

Dave primed and painted the cabinet all white using Behr Hushed White.  Then, I added my touches by painting the detailing in my favorite paint color, Valspar Atlantic Gray.  I love the finished two tone look! 

There is a piece of hardware missing from the cabinet doors.  That's how it goes sometimes with trash to treasure pieces!  So, I'm on the look out for a replacement that will fit. 

Now that the cabinet in the dining room is finished, I'm onto my next project - this small wooden dresser.

Based on the sticker on bottom drawer, I have a feeling this used to reside in a boy's room LOL!

Mary Ellen

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Garden Highlights...and Lowlights!

I love going out to my little backyard garden and seeing the changes each day!  Little bundles of Roma tomatoes are now hanging from my tomato plants.  Last year, my Roma tomatoes were plagued with blossom end rot.  But this year, everything seems to be going just as it should!    

The grape tomatoes have also made an appearance

Little cucumbers have formed on the vine

And it looks like our first zucchini is also on the way!

While the tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini seem to be moving right along, my pepper plants aren't doing much.  It appears that slugs have been chewing on the leaves and even eating the tops of the stems.  That could explain why I've never been able to grow peppers!  Also, the rosemary and marigolds have pretty much died off.  I've grown rosemary in a container for several years now and never had it die so soon!  Oh, the ups and downs of gardening!

Mary Ellen

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weekend Vintage Finds - SuzAnna's Antiques

Over the weekend, Dave and I took a little excursion - sans kids - to visit SuzAnna's Antiques at The Vintage Village on Durant Road in Raleigh.  SuzAnna's is a shabby chic, vintage lover's dream!  So many beautiful treasures!  If I had the money, I would have bought the entire store LOL!  But this time, I came away with just two small vintage items.  A blue, straw hat with bow and veil and a pair of white day gloves.  Hats and gloves are on my list of vintage items I want to collect.  I can't wait to go back to see what other goodies I can find.  I spotted a vintage scale I would love to have in my kitchen.  Next time, it's coming home with me!

Mary Ellen   

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Graduate

Last week my little baby man graduated from preschool!  This coming Fall, he'll be headed off to big kid school with Ashleigh & Clayton.  We'll be entering into a new season of life as all three kids will be in school full-time and there will be no little ones at home. baby is growing up!

Here's Reed with his class

And here he is getting his diploma

Reed was especially proud of his trophy, the "Van Gogh" award for all his wonderful artwork.  And the day after graduation, he also wore his graduation cap ALL DAY.  And when I say, all day, I mean all day!  He wore it to drop off Ash & Clay at school, to my Momma's doctors appointment, to lunch out with Daddy, to afternoon pick up, for dinner that evening!  He was very proud and so are we!

Mary Ellen


Friday, June 1, 2012

Brad Paisley - Old Alabama

No work for me today!
I'm spending the day with Dave & Reed :)
Have a great weekend y'all!

Mary Ellen