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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!!

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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!

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

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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.

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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!


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





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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.

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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!

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





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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.

time management

Trial and Error Routines: A Work-NIGHT Routine

I work two jobs — one during the day and one at night. ¬†I’m blessed to never have to do both on the same day. ¬†I waitress at night and it’s more of an “as-needed” position to fill in when other girls are away at college or when business is up and extra staff is needed.

This day also has the simplest routine!!  Yay for simple!

7:00 am – Wake up, feed Raegan, breakfast, pack lunches.

7:30 am – Get dressed, dress kids, feed dog, take dog out.

8:00 am – Leave for bus stop.

8:30 am – Hit the road. ¬†Sometimes I have a meeting in the morning. ¬†When I do, we leave as soon as the bus comes. ¬†Raegan and I go out to breakfast at Friendly’s. ¬†I hope that we can still do this when she is older. ¬†Then, I take her to the meeting. ¬†If I don’t have a meeting, I run errands around town in the morning.¬† If, by some miracle, we don’t have errands or meetings, we go home and clean a little.

11:30 am РVolunteer.  Once a week I tutor elementary kids at the school.  I just take the baby with me.  The kids love her and she is usually sleeping.

12:00 pm – Lunch, wash uniform, cook dinner. ¬†While lunch is cooking, I make sure my uniform is clean for work. ¬†If it’s not, I wash it. ¬†I usually let it air-dry because I end up with a lot of stains and I don’t want the dryer to set any stains that I missed. ¬†If Chris will be home, I get dinner ready so he can just reheat it when he gets home. ¬†He can make pizza or tacos but most often he eats some leftovers that need to be used up.

1:00 pm – Naptime!!

3:30 pm – Pick Landon up at the bus stop. ¬†My start-time varies but I usually have to be at work at 5:00 pm. ¬†If that’s the case, I take the kids home and I get ready. ¬†Landon starts his homework while I get dressed. ¬†I make him some hot dogs or waffles as a snack. ¬†Chris is usually home before I leave so I don’t have to worry about a sitter. ¬†If I have to be at work earlier, I take the kids to my grandparents’ or parents’ house and leave straight from there to go to work. ¬†If Chris is busy or working late, I do have to get a sitter, but that has only happened once or twice.

4:30 pm – Leave for work. ¬†I can get there in ten minutes… ten minutes exactly. ¬†But, if I try that, I risk getting a speeding ticket¬†again. ¬†Apparently getting there in ten minutes requires that I go 45 in a 35… according to the officer.

8:00 pm – Pump break. ¬†Again, pumping is so unpredictable. ¬†Some nights, if I think I’m going to be going home early, I will try to get done before I need to pump. ¬†Other nights, I feel the need to pump pretty early in the night so I take the break as soon as I can. ¬†I usually get about 3 oz, which matches what Raegan drinks while I’m gone. ¬†She usually drinks what is left from my work¬†day pumping and I freeze what I pump on a work¬†night.

10:00 pm – Go home. ¬†Again, I’m wired. ¬†No headache. ¬†Not tired. ¬†I want to tell Chris all about my day and hear about his. ¬†I don’t mind watching him play video games, but sometimes we watch a favorite show on NetFlix. ¬†He usually wants to go to bed before I do. ¬†I usually end up in bed by 11:30 pm.


Tomorrow, I’ll share a little bit more about¬†why I work such a crazy schedule. ¬†Don‚Äôt miss a post!!¬†¬†Subscribe to Trial and Error Homemaking.


Menu for December 17-23

It’s almost Christmas!! ¬†We have been doing Advent devotionals that we got for free at church in November. ¬†The kids got books with a scripture passage, a poem, and a sticker for each day. ¬†I see our poster filling up with stickers, but I’m still not convinced Christmas is really that close!


Monday:  Chicken Alfredo

Tuesday:  Tacos

Wednesday:  Pizza before church

Thursday:  Chicken Teriaki

Friday:  Pot Roast

Saturday:  {Not sure yet, I may be working} Leftovers?

Sunday:  Probably eating with family or going out to eat.

freezer cooking

Freezing Onions

Aldi had bags of onions — 3 lbs for $0.69 — so I got two.

Then, I let them sit in my fridge for a week or two because I had no idea what to do with them!!  My grandmother suggested I chop them up and freeze them.

I tried using my food processor but I thought it chopped the onion too finely.  So, I started a chopping assembly line in my kitchen.

  • Chop the ends off each onion
  • Cut each onion in half, lengthwise
  • Peel each onion half
  • Cut each onion crosswise, into small slices (like rainbows).
  • Stack slices in small piles
  • Chop stacks of slices

(I made a video, and I can’t get it to upload.¬† Boo.¬† Any ideas?)


When I was done chopping, I bagged the onions separately for freezing.  Each onion gave about 1.5 cups of chopped onion.  So, I bagged the chopped onion, one onion per bag, and flatted the bags to freeze.

You can take out a bag and break off the amount that you need if you need less than a whole onion. ¬†Just make sure if you’re using a recipe that calls for less than 1 whole onion, you write on the bag how much is left!!