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I must start by saying, I hope I make Mrs. W proud with this post!

I never liked beans.  Green beans occationally, but anything sort of dried legume?  No thank you.  (And my husband was in the exact same boat with the same opinions 🙂 ).  However, I’m amazed at just how far our family has com in the past few years.  1.5 years ago, we lived with our friends the Windhams for a week in a moving transition.  And while I love my friend Sarah, that girl talked about beans all the time!  🙂 And we ate them several times while we were there.  I didn’t really mind.  They were housing us after all.  But I would never imaged that a year and a half later, my lunch several times a week would look like this:

Pardon the lopsided tortilla, that was my 2nd attempt in my life at making whole wheat tortillas.

Lets just say I have a ways to go before they look very nice. 🙂

Anyhow, we eat a lot of beans around here these days!  Particularly pinto/refried beans. But bring on the chili beans, lentils & black beans as well. 🙂  Once I found this recipe this fall?  We have been hooked.  Super easy, I start them cooking after dinner at night and I wake up the next morning to my house smelling amazing and lunch is ready! Like someone is cooking while I sleep… perfect! 🙂  I keep a huge bowl in the fridge to eat and freeze some as well.  I just make up about 2.5 lbs a week ago and we are nearing the end of our stash. I love that they are whole, real food.  And I especially love how budget friendly they are!  I enjoy mine with some sprinkled cheese (I left that out yesterday since I had leftover avocado to use- bonus!) and hot sauce. My kids just like them with shredded cheese, as does my husband.  You might be wondering what the rest of my family things of this lunch?  Well, let me just tell you what I hear most days:

“What is for lunch?  Bean & cheese tacos?  YEAH!!!”

“That was delicious!”

I really think the seasoning with the onions and the jalepeno help give the beans a great flavor.  Another thing I love to do (and did at the beginning to get everyone used to the texture) was serve the tacos with some rice mixed in with the beans.  Honestly, that is still my favorite way to have them. But I’m usually not thinking about making rice at 10 each days, so most days it just ends up with beans and cheese.

Gotta love all that fiber!  Did I mention that besides grapes, pinto beans are my littlest man’s favorite food!?! 🙂  Wow!

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You may remember that I’m not huge into holiday/seasonal decorations.  While every once and a while I see decorations that I like, I think the part that I don’t particularly enjoy is having to store all that stuff all year long.  Even for Christmas (which I LOVE!) we don’t do much more than a tree, nativity scene and stockings.  I think I just need to let this go & get my head around the fact that I do like some holiday decorations & that I don’t need to get all worked up when I decide to purchase something for the house.  On a side note though- in our 3 moves in a year, I did end up getting rid of my snowman mug & sign for the front entryway.  Which leaves me with my rod iron snowman candle decoration.  So since I got rid of 2 things in the last year, I have room for others, right? 😉

We were at a friend’s house a few weeks back and she had a small glass pumpkin on her table filled with pinecones.  And she had out some napkins with leaves on them & her kids had gathered leaves that they had laminated and hung on the windows.  So simple, yet elegant, festive & homey.  I commented something about how I liked her decorations.  Low & behold she showed up the next day with 2 “fall decoration” items for me from JoAnn fabrics.  I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and being a gift giver myself- I LOVED receiving them!   She mentioned that she didn’t know what my style was & that I was free to take the items back and exchange them for something else.  I thought about it for a few days & decided that I might just go look at the store & see if anything screamed “Leah! I need to be in your house!”  I took Belle along. Yep, that was a bad idea.  EVERYTHING was screaming her name. 😉  Thankfully I stumbled upon this knew that I liked the concept:

I must have a thing for rod iron decorations.  🙂  While I liked that fall pumpkin, I was not in love.  It seemed a bit empty to me & the yellow flowers seemed a bit bright for holiday decorating.  So then I decided “I’m at a craft store, maybe I can find some filler leaves & flowers & paint the yellow flowers a deeper yellow color.”   And so began my quest.   (And I was on a budget because I was really hoping to do my whole entire project with the store credit that I had from the other two items).  I ended up finding some more leaves, some deep red flowers & some darker gold paint.  Walked out of the store with all of that and paid a whopping $2.60 after my credit!  Perfect!

When I got home I was so excited to hopefully put what was in my head into play and and create itl for my table.  I started clipping leaves & flowers, trimming and filling this pumpkin in!  And I was super excited about the results- welcome to my kitchen:

Isn’t it homey & festive?   AND to top it off, I ended up not using the gold paint (as the flowers were not quite so bright with all the red that I added in)  and I was able to return some of the leaves- so all in all I think I paid like $.20!  Woo hoo!

So there you are folks- my attempt at arts and crafts.  I’m quite pleased with the results.  And it has made me start dreaming about Christmas decorations.  However, you are all free to call me out if I go as far as a giant blow up snow globe in my front yard. 🙂

Photo Credit

Actually, I think the best photo for this post is this:

Photo Credit

About a month or two ago was when I first started thinking about this post.  Wondering if people were done paying off their Christmas shopping debt.  And it made me realize how thankful I am that we save for Christmas gifts all year long.  I think that is one of the best parts about Christmas that I enjoy is the ability to buy and purchase gifts that people will love without having to stress about the money!  Another benefit to saving each month?  I get to Christmas shop all year round!  I keep my eyes and ears open to people’s hints and suggestions so if I find a deal… say in March (yes I have purchased something already for Christmas 2011 that was 60% off!) I have the funds available to make a steal of a deal and stretch our hard earned dollars just a little bit further.  Love it!  Plus, I don’t even have to think about it because we have our ING account set up so it automatically deducts a set amount each month in to our “Gifts” account.  In my opinion… it is a win-win situation. 🙂

We usually we end up a with an extra gift or two that we need to budget for in December, but let me tell you, it is much easier to work an extra $15-$30 into your month budget than several hundred.  That’s all I’m saying… really.  So how about it?  Want to start saving?  Be able to shop all year round to find great deals?  Get a jump on your shopping and enjoy the holiday season a little less stressed?

GO.

FOR.

IT!

You will be glad you did.

Ps. If you would like $25 in free money to jump start your savings- leave your email a comment below and I will send you a referral link!  You get $25 and we get $10 just for you signing up with ING!  If nothing else, you can help ad $10 to my Christmas savings account. 😉

Pss. All opinions are mine!  I love ING!

 

Sorry for all the baby talk around here… just where I am in life right now. 🙂

I’ve thought this for years- but finally decided to say something about it.  *Ahem*

WHO in their right mind decided that size newborn diapers are good until the baby is 10lbs?  For the love!

I’m on my 3rd child now so I have some experience with newborn diapers and lets just say…. I do not think a parent labeled these diapers.  But what gets me –is that all brands say that!  What is the definition of “fitting?”  That the velcro still wraps around their little bodies?  Ok, maybe.  But my definition of a diaper is that it catches, contains and holds all that comes out.  Yep, pretty sure my little guy is not yet 7lbs yet and we are already in size 1 diapers.  After a 24 hr period and him wetting through all of his layers twice and blowing up the back… well, that my friends is my sign to move on up to the next size.  Either that, or I can do laundry every day.  I decided to get some new diapers. 🙂

Have I mentioned only a handful of times have we had any leaking problems with our cloth diapers?  In 2.5 years… I’m extremely happy with them.   BTW- this is what we use.

However, since we still use disposable for Kade all the time and 1 disposable per night with Johnny, I still like to see if I can snag a deal on diapers.  Usually that just means buying the Walmart brand diapers.  Which I might add- are $.19 per diaper for size 4.  However, in the few deal finding blogs that I read, I kept hearing about Amazon Mom.  Have you heard of this?  I signed up for the free trial for a few months but did not get much use out of it.  UNTIL… my friend Rach gave me a heads up on the price of diapers!  Woot!  You should totally sign up.

Once you sign up, go ahead a do a search for Luvs size 4 diapers.  Comes up with a large box of them at $.19 per diaper.  Same price as Walmart- but I like these diapers so much better!  Go ahead and click on it and there will be a box that reads:

“Save an extra 30% with Subscribe & Save and Amazon Mom: Get the standard 15% discount when you sign up for Subscribe & Save delivery. Combine that with an additional 15% savings exclusively for Amazon Mom members on select diapers and wipes, and this item’s current price drops to $24.50 ($0.14 / count) . Not an Amazon Mom member? Join now. Subscribe & Save shipping is always free. No fees, no risks, no obligations. See details”

Did you catch that?  You can get these diapers shipped to your door for FREE at $.14 per diaper!  You better believe that I’m all over that! 🙂  The only catch (that takes about 30 seconds to do) is to make sure you cancel your subscription after your order arrives so that they do not regularly send you diapers.  Unless, of course, you want them to.   I first ordered my box of size 4 diapers in early November- we are still working through that box.  But then I got an email saying that my membership to Amazon Mom was going to expire in December so I decided to try to order another box of size 4 diapers and see if I could get the same price again.  It worked!  They arrived at my door just 2 days later!  Once I received them, I just canceled my subscription and I was good to go. On their site they say that any care givers can sign up, so once my free membership expires (my understanding is that they extend it a month for every $25 you spend) I’m planning to sign up my hubby so we can keep getting these diapers!

Just a thought- I would price out your diapers of choice first at the store.  When I went to order newborn diapers they were not any cheaper than the walmart brand- but the size 1 diapers (I’m talking about Luvs brand) were actually a better deal online.  Anyway… figure out the best deal for you before you place your order!  But we have been happily using our cheaper diapers around here.  Thanks Amazon Mom!