Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring, spring, spring!

In the area of Texas that I live, we don’t usually have a very long spring. What most of the world would consider to be “spring weather” we normally get in February and early March. Now it is the end of March and it already feels like summer. The temperature has already reached the 80’s and most of us are ready to jump into a swimming pool.
   This is my second spring in the city. To me there isn’t much distinction between spring and summer in the city especially since we have such a short spring. The lack of wildflowers and migrating birds to mark the season is disappointing, but I'm growing used to it.
  Growing up spring was one of my most favorite times of the year. My mother encouraged a love for the outdoors and flora and fauna in me during my school years that has never gone away. I believe it was my seventh grade year when she gave me a blank journal and some field guides and  told me draw and describe what I found. I learned so much that year about plant life and the different plants local to our area.
With spring comes the itch to garden. It jumped on me last year and I tried to curb it with sacrificial potted plants. It is spring again and the itch is back. My dear husband actually has faith in me to buy me a few more plants, even though so many died at my hand last year.
I have high hopes for my plants this year. I am determined not to kill them. So far the “garden” is only some petunias and a hopeful tomato plant. When these are doing well and I’ve proved to myself (and Jacob!) that I can keep plants alive I’ll get more.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

CCM’s 1 Year Anniversary!

milkmaidI can’t believe Country Mouse Musing’s started a year ago today. Where has the time gone? I thought I was a little silly starting a blog, and was afraid I would run out of things to write about.

My life has changed a lot since I begin this little blog a year ago. It has grown sweeter and fuller. I think I have settled in to the city—my longings for the country aren’t as strong as they used to be. We still have plans and high hopes to move there, but I have learned to be happy where I am planted. The loneliness that I felt is gone and I feel established. I feel like I have put down roots.

Thank you for making the first year of this country mouse’s musings so wonderful! I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Banana Nut Bread

I am not a banana eater. I liked them when I was younger but can live without them now. My husband loves bananas but he eats them in phases. The last several times I’ve bought bananas I’ve had several go bad. I would forget to freeze them for later use in smoothies or recipes or whatever.  Yesterday I had some reach that point where they either needed to be used or frozen because it was almost over for them.
I mentioned banana bread a couple of weeks ago to Jacob and he had been after me ever since to make some and yesterday was the day. It turned out so delicious and yummy and made the apartment smell heavenly.
 I can never wait for the bread to cool completely before diving in. I love it with butter and a tall glass of milk. Hope you enjoy this quick and easy recipe!
Banana Nut Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour the bottom of a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 c. chopped pecans
Mix together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and set aside.
Stir together the following:
1/2 butter, melted
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plain yogurt (optional)
1 t vanilla extract
Add to dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour-1 hour 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and allow to cool completely on wire wrack. Yield: 1 loaf
This recipe can also be used to make muffins.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saving money on my grocery bill

photo(2) I love to save money. It almost kills me to have to pay full price for anything. Tightwad and Frugal Zealot  are titles I wear with great honor--especially after reading all of the Tightwad Gazette books while I still lived with my parents.
My mom taught me how to bargain shop and get the most for my money and soon turned the grocery shopping for the family over to me. I’m so glad that she did because it prepared me and taught me valuable lessons for when I would take over my own home.
Here are some ways that I have learned to save money on groceries:
Have a plan when you go into the store. Make a list, and stick to it. Only buy something not on your list if it is vital and completely necessary.
Never, ever, ever buy groceries when you are hungry. You will spend so much more than you planned and come out with things you really don’t need.  Especially DO NOT take a hungry husband  grocery shopping with you. I find that I spend more money when I have my husband with me, and it is even worse if he is hungry. ;) Be sure to feed yourself and whoever else is going with you before you leave. This way you can stick to your plan and not have your drooling taste buds and growling stomach controlling you.
As I have touched on before, MENU PLANNING is a great way to help save money on food costs. It makes it easier to make a list, and you can save even more money by planning your menu for the week by checking the sale papers first and making your menu from there.
Be willing to try and buy other brands and off or store brands.  Sometimes even when a national brand of sugar (for example) is on sale, the price may not be as low as the store brand.
  If you have freezer space you can catch meats on sale and freeze them for later. Something that Jacob and I have done quite a bit lately is to buy meat in bigger packages as it is usually cheaper that way, and come home and re-package them into smaller meal portions and freeze them. Also, having a hunter for a husband really helps with the meat bill. Our freezer is full of venison. ;)
My latest adventure into an unknown realm of homemaking and saving money has been coupon clipping and shopping. I’ve always used coupons off and on, but I have only really gotten serious about it in the last several months. Before I’d use them if I thought about it or if I saw one I could use—now I faithfully print coupons (more on where from later) and scour over sale papers and when I remember, buy a Sunday paper. Our Sundays are very busy so I forget most of the time to get one.
There are several websites that your obtain and print coupons from. Most of them require that you install coupon printer software, but it only takes a few minutes. Below are some that I visit frequently.   SmartSource   RedPlum
You can also visit company websites like for more coupons. Usually these coupons offer more of a discount than coupons on the other websites.
There are several websites that offer free coupon toolbars for your web browser. I really like these as it makes it much easier and faster to find coupons for what you use. I have been having so much fun printing coupons and using them. And I have been saving money too so it has been productive fun.`
A great website I like that has lots of awesome couponing tips and resources is Living Rich with Coupons . They have a free coupon toolbar that I really like.
My mom never really used coupons much. She often said that you could often get  into trouble and spend more money by using coupons than not. I didn’t really understand what she meant then, but now I can see what she was saying. I have some people buy something just because they have a coupon for it, and it isn’t something they normally buy, use or need. If something is normally $5, and you have a 50% off coupon for it, but it isn’t something you need or use, that is $2.50 you wasted. An occasional purchase like this here and there won’t hurt, but several at one time definitely add up. What seems like a good deal could be a money trap. Like I said before, make a plan and a list and stick to them.
With this in mind, I have coupon rules for myself. I do not clip/print coupons for items that I do not use.
For cleaning products, I do not have specific brands that I stick with. One month I may buy Brand A because it is on sale and the next month I may buy Brand B because I have coupon that makes it cheaper. Besides, it makes it fun to mix it up, and gives you a chance to find out which ones you really like.
Like I said in the sugar example above, just because you have a coupon for one specific brand, it may not be the best buy. Check prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
Be sure to check your store’s coupon policy and learn how to make the most of it. If you find an item for less at another store and you bring it to their attention, many stores will sell you the item at the competitor’s price. Some stores will allow you to use a manufacturer’s coupon AND a store coupon on the same item.
I hope these tips will be helpful to you, or remind you of some things you may have forgotten. It can be time-consuming, but to quote the old adage “Time is money.” It is worth it when you can consistently save money and become a better steward of what the Lord has given you.
I’d love to hear some of your tips and ways to save money—please leave a comment and share them;)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bulldozers and cinnamon rolls

Our spring break is over and life has to get back to normal. Hopefully I can get on a more regular blogging schedule again! Here are a few pictures—I didn’t take my camera out the entire time :( but thanks to my pastor’s wife I have a few.


We had a wonderful time at the deerlease—we played the whole time. Jacob got to do quite a bit of bulldozer work in a few of the fields.

One evening Sis. Melody (my pastor’s wife) and I whipped up some cinnamon rolls. They turned out soooooo delicious. Last year I didn’t make any until the last evening and almost everyone had already gone home. This year they wanted me to make them the very first evening I was there—they didn’t want to miss out again.




Mmmm going back and looking at the photos again makes me want to make another batch!

But now life is back to normal and I have a mountain laundry to conquer. It will take quite a bit of doing to get things back to how like I them. My livingroom still has luggage everywhere. It was late when we got home Saturday night and almost the whole day Sunday is spent at church so today is catch-up day. And I’ve got a lot to catch up on.

On another note, I’ve added some new items to my Etsy shop. Stop by and check them out if you have a minute.

Til later,


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sewing, blessings, and plans


Warning: This post has no particular topic and is very rambling.

It feels like every post I’ve shared for the last few weeks has begun with “Things have been so busy” or “I’ve been so busy sewing….” This has been a very full month, and quite truthfully I don’t see things slowing down anytime soon.  Sewing jobs keep pouring in. The Lord is really blessing my little sewing business and opened a door last week for me to begin designing and threadcreating a modest dress line for a clothing company based in Florida.  I’ll share more on that later ;)

I didn’t realize just how MUCH I sew until the other night and we were out with some married friends, Jathan and Nikki. Nikki was asking me about how kept from being bored the months we were in Waco and I said “Oh it wasn’t that bad, I---" Jathan finished my sentence for me, in a rather high voice “I had my sewing machine with me”. We all got a good laugh from that.

March is here. This is one of our busy birthday months with 6 family birthdays coming up. There are several birthday parties in our future and spring break is on it’s way ;) For many years now Jacob and his family and our pastor’s family and a few others from church have always gone to the deerlease for spring break and this year will be no exception.

Last weekend my sister Wendi can and stayed several nights with us.  We had such a good time with lots of giggles and BBC chick flicks. I can’t believe that she will be 13 this year. Where has time gone?

I am more thankful everyday for the ability to be a stay-at-home wife. I am so blessed. I get to stay at home and do the things I love—take care of the house and sew.  The Lord has taken care of us down to the smallest detail and we have wanted for nothing this first year of marriage.  When we first married Jacob wasn’t sure we  could make it on one income, especially with the all of  debt that he had.  A little more than a year later, after doing things according to the Word, we will be completely out of debt by the end of this year. When you do things right and in line with God’s Word, He takes care of the rest.

On another note, please keep some dear friends of ours in your prayers—they lost their home to a fire last Sunday night. Everyone was alright, with the exception of the loss of some pets. Please hold them up in prayer.