Top Posts of 2012

Thanks for stopping by ūüôā

This has been my first year of dedicated writing on this blog. ¬†I made the transition from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site.. which I did all by myself!! ¬†My readership has grown, and shrunk, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. ¬†Blogging has become my hobby that helps me focus and reflect. ¬†I’ve made some blogging friends. ¬†¬†I’ve learned to be genuine in my writing.

I also made the transition from Mama-of-One to Mama-of-Two this year.  Miss Raegan has made writing a bit of an adventure.

I have lots of plans for 2013!!  I hope to see you around for some of the things I have in the works.  Subscribe and stay tuned this week for my very first GIVEAWAY!!

Until then, check out some of the top posts from this year..

#1 Most Viewed & Commented Post

Reasons I Breastfeed


Most Viewed Series:


The Husband Project


#1 Most Featured Post:


Fill Your Freezer:  Potatoes




My Favorite Post:


Even “Big Kids” Need Mommy





Menu December 31 – January 7


I still haven’t kicked this cold. ¬†We had another pot roast last week instead of the meals I planned. ¬†I’m feeling a little better again, so I’m going to¬†try to make Chris his favorite meals again this week!!!

Monday: ¬†General Tso’s Chicken

Tuesday:  Dinner with Family

Wednesday:  Pizza before church

Thursday:  Chicken Parmesan

Friday:  Movie Night to kick off our new Sunday School Class

Saturday:  Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Sunday:  Leftovers


One Word for 2013: Home


What one word describes your plan for 2013? ¬†One Word 365 encourages us to focus on just one word, rather than a long list of “to-do’s” and forgotten resolutions that will make us feel guilty.

In 2012, I focused a lot of my time, energy, and prayers on my desire to be a stay-at-home-mom. ¬†It’s just not in the cards for me right now… but someday it will be. ¬†Staying home has become my long-term goal and now I need to focus on the small things that will get me there.

My long term goal:  I can stay home when we pay off our debt.

It would be nice to strip down to a bare-bones budget and throw all our extra money at the debt… except that’s like starving yourself on a diet. ¬†If I don’t eat anything I crave, I will eventually binge. ¬†If we don’t spent any extra money, we eventually splurge. ¬†I can’t work extra hours¬†and make our food from scratch. ¬†It’s one or the other. ¬†Trying both leads to burn-out… and I can’t be a good wife or mother if I’m burnt-out.

This year, I want to keep a balance. ¬†I want to work to pay down the debt, but I want to make the most of all my time that I don’t spend at work. ¬†I’ll be writing next week about my specific goals for 2013. ¬†But, the theme of my goals is¬†Home.

Get your free “One Word” button from Melanie at Only a Breath.


time management

What’s in my Organizer (Part 1)


Awhile ago, I shared that I was looking for a new organizer. ¬†I didn’t get either of the planners I looked at… but I chose the one I got because of the inserts. ¬†I’m currently using the Day Runner Harmony Organizer.

I like using an A5 organizer. ¬†It’s not too bulky to carry in my purse. ¬†I can make my own pages much more easily than when I was using a Filofax Personal size. ¬†I have not found a hole-punch set up for these rings… but I just use a handheld punch for now.

The inside cover has four large card pockets and one full length pocket.  I try to keep organized.. but sometimes it gets crazy in here.

2012-12-26 055

So, I did a little clean-up to show you where things usually are kept.  I keep receipts in the big pocket.  I keep appointment cards and records in the bottom pocket, then membership cards above that, then bills in the two top pockets.

2012-12-26 056 001

The organizer came with dividers, but I made my own dividers with a pack of scrapbook paper that I bought at WalMart for around $5 and a set of page protectors from Avery. ¬†The page protectors are slightly wider than the pages I use, so they made good dividers. ¬†I don’t have them “labeled”, but I don’t keep a wide variety of things in my organizer.

2012-12-26 057

Behind the front divider, there are a few “to-do” pages that came with the organizer. ¬†The pages are so pretty that I try not to use them! ¬†Most often, I write my to-do list on a sticky-note and put it here for easy reference.

2012-12-26 065

On the back of the “Notes” tab that came with the organizer, I keep record of gas: ¬†prices, amount bought, miles-per-gallon. ¬†I don’t always write it down, but I like to keep track of my MPG at times.

2012-12-26 066

I keep a running list of books I’m reading and what I’ve finished. ¬†I also add books that have been recommended to me on a sticky-note. ¬†And, yes, that is my final list for 2012. ¬†I only finished 7 books. ¬†Last year the list was even shorter!!

2012-12-26 067

If I stumble upon a quote or verse that really means a lot to me, I scribble it down in the notes section of my organizer. ¬†This verse from Joel was important to me when I was on maternity leave and worrying about making ends meet. ¬†Speaking of making ends meet…

2012-12-26 069 001

This next section of my organizer houses my budget management papers. ¬†I prefer to keep track of the budget with pencil and paper, but I have not found an extremely efficient method, yet. ¬†For now, I’m tracking our major financial goal: ¬†Pay off the house in the next FIVE years. ¬†In the first page, I’ll track expected/actual income, expenses, and extra mortgage payments. ¬†My income varies every season. ¬†It’s nice to see the whole year at once so we can see where we fell behind and where we are able to catch back up.

2012-12-26 072

On the next page, I keep track of individual budget categories, by month.  I like to let budget categories roll-overРso if we only spend half the grocery budget one month, we can use the leftover next month.  But, if one category is consistently under-spent (or over-spent), then we need to reevaluate that category.  Our budget software does this on the computer, but again, I like to be able to see the whole year at once and I like to do it with pencil and paper.

2012-12-26 073

I have an address book, but I mostly only have business information for paying bills or making phone calls. ¬†I do have some addresses for friends who don’t live close by. ¬†Behind the address book, I keep a zipping pocket (that came with the organizer) with stamps and envelopes for bill-paying.

2012-12-26 074


The back cover has a notepad slot, which I also use as a pocket sometimes.  I keep a blue or black pen for writing checks and addresses, but I also use a multi-color pen for my planner (calendar) pages.

Next week, I’ll share more about my planner and how I use it to keep our busy schedules. ¬†Don‚Äôt miss a post!!¬†¬†Subscribe to Trial and Error Homemaking.


Holiday Home Tour

2012-12-21 112



Merry Christmas! ¬†We actually aren’t completely done decorating, yet. ¬†Our stockings aren’t “hung by the chimney with cheer” just quite yet. ¬†I was hoping to get Raegan’s stocking embroidered to match the stockings everyone else has. ¬†Maybe we’ll get it done, maybe we won’t. ¬†If not, I’ll have it done before next Christmas.

We use an artificial tree. ¬†This year we had to get a smaller tree because the large one we used to use won’t fit with our current furniture arrangement– and I wanted the tree to be up on a table this year since we have an almost-crawler scooting around on our floor.

We got a pre-lit 6.5-foot tree at Walmart for $40! ¬†We just decorated it with our Hallmark ornament collection. ¬†We didn’t use our red and gold ornaments this year.

2012-12-21 113 2012-12-21 114

Under the tree we have this primitive tree skirt. ¬†My grandmother gave it to me because she wasn’t using it anymore. ¬†The teddy bear under the tree reads The Night Before Christmas. ¬†Under the table we have some presents that I’ve already wrapped. ¬†The rest are still hidden —¬†shh!!

2012-12-21 119

We hang Christmas cards on the door frames. ¬†We have a large entryway between the dining room and living room that we have blocked with the couch and stereo right now. ¬†That’s where I’m hanging most of the cards. ¬†It’s getting pretty full!

2012-12-21 121



This little guy is really the only decoration in the kitchen. ¬†He was a gift from my husband’s grandmother.

2012-12-21 122

This is the top of the stereo in the dining room. ¬†I put up my silver and black tree in the dining room because it’s fancier (and pretty!!). ¬†We also have our Advent wreath on the stereo. ¬†We haven’t used it yet, but I hope we get to light it on Christmas Eve. ¬†The family Bible sits beside the Advent wreath and we read our Advent devotions at breakfast.

2012-12-21 123 2012-12-21 124

2012-12-21 125

I have a wall display of all of Landon’s pictures with Santa. ¬†If you look closely, you can see which year he finally decided he could sit on Santa’s lap, instead of hiding behind him or just standing nearby. ¬†This year’s pictures turned out pretty cute, too!


2012-12-21 126

2012-12-21 127

The banister is where the stockings are typically hung.  You can use your imagination!





2012-12-21 128

I got this window frame at a florist shop and I don’t know where to put it. ¬†I love it, and I planned to put a garland in the window box. ¬†But, again, I don’t know where to put it. ¬†I’m afraid to hang it on the wall because I don’t want it to fall down.

2012-12-21 129

This is our Christmas table. ¬†I got the table cloth at Boscov’s for $10. ¬†The penguins in the center were all gifts. ¬†I love penguins. ¬†I love penguins as much as my mom loves snowmen. ¬†But, my collection is no where near as big as hers!

2012-12-21 130


My penguin family ūüôā ¬†I got this when it was just Chris, Landon, and I. ¬†Aren’t they cute?





2012-12-21 131 2012-12-21 132

My penguin music box!  When you open it, the penguins inside skate around and it plays Christmas songs.



What is your favorite Christmas decoration? ¬†Next week I’ll document and share our Christmas traditions!! ¬†Don‚Äôt miss a post!!¬†¬†Subscribe to Trial and Error Homemaking.


time management

Busy Mama {Why I Work Two Jobs}

I have two part-time jobs (not counting being a mom, a wife, or a homemaker).  A few days each week, I work during the day, tutoring.  And a few nights each week, I work night-shift waitressing.



Tutoring is my passion and my expertise.¬† My day-job is the one that will supposedly “take me somewhere”, even though I’m not looking to go anywhere!

  • The hours are flexible.
  • I love the content.
  • I love my students.
  • I love my coworkers.

It’s the career I never knew I always wanted.

My night job is waitressing.¬† I took the job because I don’t tutor during the summer and I wanted to keep working.¬† I kept the job because it is something I thoroughly enjoy doing.

  • I meet new people every day.
  • I get a new opportunity to cheer someone up and make their day special, every time I get a new table.
  • I run around and burn extra calories.¬† It’s honestly the only “real” exercise I get.
  • I get to try new (delicious) food, which is another reason it’s good that I burn extra calories!!
  • I get spiritually refreshed. I work with some amazing Christians who inspire me daily to walk closer to Christ.

Waitressing is something I do for me.  Trust me, my husband would love for me to be home every night.  It might be selfish, but I can see a distinct change in my attitudes about everything and it started the summer I took the job waitressing.

The restaurant where I waitress is very Christ-centered. I work with a great group of supportive and inspirational people. ¬†When I’m there, I know without-a-doubt that I’m in line with God’s will. ¬†He’s doing great things there and I’m glad to be apart of it.

We could “make it” if I didn’t waitress.¬† But we don’t want to “make it”.¬† We want to be debt free.¬† I want to call Dave Ramsey on a Friday and scream it at the top of my lungs.¬† And I want it to happen soon.

We may be working at it with less-than-gazelle intensity.¬† But, we’re making some changes for 2013 that will hopefully make a bigger dent in those student loans.¬† Maybe I’ll share our debt-free progress every month… Anyone interested?

I am beyond blessed to have both opportunities, as crazy and my schedules may seem.