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It’s amazing how one tiny, wilted flower can instantly change a room.  This worn out gardenia bloom is permeating every corner of my family room right now and it’s power is amazing.  I went from tired and worn out (very much like this bloom actually!) to content and happy in the amount of time it takes me to inhale a slow, deep breath of heady scent.  It reminds me of my childhood.  It floods my tired brain with sweet memories… memories I wish sometimes I could go back and relive.  Surely a second time around I would absorb more, I would notice more and most importantly love more.

A pathetic looking bloom yes.  But one wiff makes me thankful.  The evening breeze blowing over it and carrying the scent through my hair as I do dishes makes me count my blessings.  All of a sudden I want to freeze time to make sure I absorb all the details of this evening.  I want to study the details of my children’s faces and the sound of their voices and of my husbands laugh as he listens to their funny stories about their day.

I am content.

I am happy.

I am forgiven and free.

I am been blessed beyond measure by my Savior who doesn’t see my tired, wilted petals but delights in the aroma of my thankful heart.

I’m talking financial changes today.  We’ll save those hormonal, weather, tv and other such changes for another day.

Ann Kroeker asked this morning, over on her blog, “What changes, if any, have you made as a result of this global financial upheaval?” 

I decided to answer this as it’s one I’ve intended on addressing here for awhile now.  We have made changes around the Runningamuck household.  I’ve always coupon shopped and taken advantage of great sales.  But I’ve stepped it up a notch or five. 

We finally have a chest freezer so that I can really take advantage of great grocery sales. 

I also purchased Ziploc‘s new Vacuum Freezer System.  I had held off purchasing anything like this for quite awhile because I just didn’t want to have to spend more money (for the bags) when the goal was to save money.  However, a few regular freezer bags of freezer-burned sale meat forced me to try Ziploc’s version.  It’s the cheaper than Reynold’s version (I think the pump was only $4.99 and it came with four or five quart-sized bags).  And I have to admit, I love it.  It’s relatively cheap because I stock up on the bags when they are on sale and I have coupons.  I purchased a bunch of roasts about a month ago when Ralphs had a buy one roast get one free deal and so far, they are looking MIGHTY FINE in my freezer!!  I’ve also bought a huge pork loin that I cut into 3 large roasts and they are doing just as well in my freezer.  I highly recommend the product.  It’s makes me smile every time I open my freezer to see it stocked with burn-free meat!

I am collecting large Tupperware containers to store sugar and flour.  It’s so much cheaper when you buy it in bulk.  Can’t beat 25 cents a pound for flour!  And it’s projected to get sooo much higher.

A friend of mine from Church started a food distribution thingy during the summer that I’ve taken part in almost every week.  Can you tell I’m having a hard time knowing what to call it?  What happens is a few people take their vans/trucks to three different food distribution centers, load up and bring it all back to the Church.  We unload everything and mark how much of each item people can take.  Anyone who wants to participate chips in $20 and then goes “shopping”.  I come home with about $100 of food every time.  Sometimes more depending on what they are able to find.  In a word? AWESOME!  Lots of cereal, crackers, bread, eggs, CVS brand allergy and cold meds and even cleaning supplies!  It really helps extend those grocery dollars.  It’s also a ministry as there are always some folks who don’t have the $20 to contribute but they are never turned away.  You just have to be willing to push the line on expiration dates and be ready to use the produce within the next few days after pick up.  Another nice part of this is we get a lot of Organic food items.  Apparently they don’t do as well in the grocery stores as everyone might think. =0)

I have a veggie garden!  I started one last year just for fun.  This year I had a little more purpose in mind.  The summer veggies have been a great addition and I’ve planted fall veggies for the first time.  We are eagerly awaiting bush beans, sugar-snap peas, zucchini (or summer plant had to be replaced), broccoli while still enjoying our summer bell peppers plants that are still producing and an abundance of fresh basil, thyme, sage and chives.  I’m already planning next years garden.  My goal is to not have to buy grocery store veggies next year.  Now, if only fruit trees could be planted and produce fruit all in one year.  Darn!

As a couple, Hubby and I don’t go out on dates as much.  If we do, it usually is a group date with four extra little people.  We just don’t have the money to pay for even a cheap date AND a sitter.  It’s cheaper to take advantage of those “Kids Eat Free” nights at certain restaurants where we can feed them for free and not have to pay for a sitter.  We still get out on our own maybe once a month or so which is nothing to complain about.  I try to jump on when they run their additional 60% off the purchase price.  They just had one (I’m not sure if it’s still running or not) and I purchased four $25 local restaurant gift certificates (Citrus Grill being one and Ye Auld Dubliner is the other) for only $16!  And they have no expiration date.  The only requirement is we have to purchase $35 worth of food in order to use the $25 gift certificate.  So for $35 worth of food, we only pay $14 (plus tip, DON’T forget to tip the total bill, not your discounted amount!! Pet peeve).  If you want to try out their site, the coupon code was present. See if it still works.

It hasn’t turned very cool here yet but when it does, Hubby and I have always set our thermastat at 55 degrees at night.  Well, not whenever we had a baby but when the kids are big enough to be bundled up and keep their body temps up the thermostat goes down, lol.  Last year we weren’t able to since Lil Blue was a baby but now that he’s two the temp will go back down.  It helps save on energy costs which annually seem to get higher and higher.

Even though gas prices are going back down, Hubby and I are keeping up with the practice of wise driving.  We try to save up errands until we can do a bunch at a time and make a circular route to save on gas.  We also keep our longer trips to a minimum… non-existent if possible.  So alas, there haven’t been as many trips to the zoo this year. 

There you have it.  The Runningamuck World changes.  If you’d like to chime in with your own, either post a comment here or write a post on your blog and link up with Ann’s

We can all learn from each other.

But doesn’t he look so scrumptious during the process though??!!!!  Man, I serious could eat him up with a spoon. 

He’s my newest nephew, Baby O.  He and my sister and BIL came to visit us last week.  Baby O was part of the reason behind my bloggy disappearance.  I couldn’t put him down long enough to formulate a single thought that made any kind of sense whatsoever.  I can multitask like nobody’s business, don’t get me wrong.  I just can’t do it while holding a baby.  Everything else just plain goes out the window.

Here’s another random shot…

These are some of the flowers that we planted in McKee’s memorial and I love them.  L.O.V.E. them!  The rest of them are a paler pink but these ones are just so vibrant  (I feel like Anne of Green Gables whenever I use that word. That and “bosom friend”.  Although I don’t say that one very often… like never.  My friends/sisters would seriously run screaming from the room if I said that out loud.  I just don’t tell them when I think it).   These flowers pull me outside daily.  I walk over to them and just stare.  They wow me everytime.  All the flowers are taking off and filing in the area around McKee’s rock so nicely.  I’d post a picture of the whole thing but I couldn’t pull my eyes/camera off of these particular flowers.

It’s been about 3 weeks since the last picture update and there’s been a lot of changes.  Here ya go:

One end of the garden.  It’s grown so big you can’t see the other end of the garden anymore!



 Corn (doesn’t everyone garden in pj’s and rainboots?)

 2nd half of the garden


 My chive seeds are sprouting! You have to look real close

 Bell Peppers

 Hot Peppers

Bush Beans


 Lil Blue checking out the zucchs


I almost forgot about this today…

I’ve only been thinking about it all week but somehow, yesterday and today, it got lost in my brain amongst the lists of “to do’s” for Father’s Day, my parents anniversary, my teeth bleaching (don’t ask)… =0)

But I remembered! Just in the nick of time.  I’m sorry if some the plants look a bit bedraggled in these pictures.  I had to run out and take them in the heat of today (in the 90’s) instead of the morning or evening when it would have been kinder to them.  But here they are, my spots of beauty in my very low maintenance, child friendly (meaning I don’t put anything out there for them to destroy) yard.

First up are personal favorites:  The Hydrangeas


I just l.o.v.e. these flowers.  There actually three of them but the middle plant doesn’t have any flowers yet so I left it out of the pics.  I planted them last year so they are still small but I gave them plenty of room to grow.  They are doing really well this year so I’m hoping this time next year they will be significantly bigger.  Or just alive.  Yeah, I’ll settle for alive.  I love them… have I mentioned that?  I don’t know whether to cut some of the flowers or just leave them be.   I’m so torn. But I think I’ll wait for a couple more of the blue ones to bloom and then maybe snip a couple off to bless the inside of the house with.

Next on my list of favorites:  My Mother-in-Law’s Christmas Cactus

I know they aren’t much to look at this time of year but every winter they are a mass of color.  And besides that, they are off the scale in sentimentality.  My mother-in-law (who died almost 7 years ago of a brain aneurysm, Poppett was only 4 months old) grew these babies.  The entrance to the front door at her home was filled with these cactus.  And I think of her every time I look at them.  I loved them when she was the one taking care of them and I love them still, even with her gone.  They are in some much needed re-potting.  I’ve put it off for about as long as I can.  I’m terrified I’ll ruin them and that’s why I’ve held off so long.  But even some of the pots are breaking now so this fall, when the weather cools off, I’m biting the bullet and moving them to new pots.  Oh, I almost forgot, see that smaller one?  The one whose pot is broken (knocked over by some little backyard urchin)?  That was one Poppett and I “grew” from a clipping off of one of my MIL’s.  It’s an orange colored flower, my favorite of them all.  And it’s done wonderfully.  Once the re-potting happens, I’ll be growing some more clippings.

Another sentimental garden spot, but a recent addition, is McKee’s Memorial:

The flowers still need to fill but it’s going to be beautiful.  We were going to put her name on the stone but I think it looks, oh, I don’t know the word… more subtle? More striking?  I don’t know.  I just like it this way.  That’s all I know. 

And the most recent additions.  Our barrel planter:

We used to have bamboo in this barrel but it died last year and i finally got around to putting something else in it.  Once again, it has quite a bit of filling in to do but by the end of the summer, if I can keep it alive through the heat, it should be looking mighty fine.  A nice mass of color to brighten up our backyard.  The pot to the left has basil and oregano (looking bedraggled in the mid-day heat) that I L.O.V.E. to cook with.  I put off planting herbs for so long, not sure how to “use” them since I’ve always used dried herbs.  But it’s been easy and delicious.  I now have rosemary, cilantro and chives that I’ll be adding to the garden area in the next couple days. 

I had left over plants from the barrel planting so I decided to dress up the edge of the patio:

***Wordpress isn’t loading my picture… Sorry…I’ll try again later***

I would include pictures of our veggie garden but since I just posted about it a few days ago, I’ll hold off.  But if you’d like to check back in two weeks, I’m planning on posting updates.  I’m working on an expansion currently so there’ll be more to see.

That’s it for my garden tour.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Be sure and visit The Preacher’s Wife to see some BE-YOOtiful yards.  Really… I’m quite awed, jealous and humbled by them.  Go take a gander…I’m hoping that the green from my envy will soak into my thumb and then my yards will benefit from it.  That’s what I’m hoping…

Now mind you, I’ve never taken a gardening class – do they even exist?  Well, if it does, I’m pretty sure they tell you one most important thing to do, outside of watering, is WEEDING!!!  Otherwise you end up with a garden that looks like this:

THAT garden, my friends, belongs to mea friend of mine.  She’s horrible about keeping up with the weeding.  Especially since she invested in some soaker hoses this year.  With very little hand-watering to do she tends to spend extra time on the computer instead of out becoming one with the dirt in her garden.  But when  I she finally paused outside long enough to take a good long gander at the state of her garden, she was HORRIFIED.  I, err I mean, she  was in quite a panic, thinking her poor baby veggies were soon going to be choked out by the big, bad, bully weeds at any moment. 

So that very morning, this pasty white, spend-to-much-time-inside gal spent 2 1/2 hours in the garden.  She was pulling weeds like a woman possessed, vowing the whole time to never let the weeds get that bad again (at least not this week anyway). 

Her kids even pitched in… for all of 3 minutes.  The boys were too distracted by the plethora of worms oozing out of every quadrant of the garden soil.  (I love worms! They are SOOO good for the soil. Last year there weren’t any to be found.  What a difference a year can make)  I could go into much detail about the worms since each one was closely scrutinized, inspected, and put through an agility test by the boys before being released back into it’s delicious garden soil home.  I think, “Go fourth and multiply…and poop a lot” was uttered several times.

(As you can see, this “friend” of mine has just a hard of time keeping up with her sons’ nails.  There goes not only her “Gardener of the Year” award but also her “Nail Technician of the Year” award!)

Here is the finished result:

Ahhh! That’s more like it.  You can actually see dirt around each plant now.  And I was only walking around like I was born without knees for 5 days afterwards!  I mean, SHE was.  Poor thing, totally  out of shape.

Rollie Pollies anyone??

Definition of gardening in the “A Boys’ Life Dictionary”*: “seeking out, identifying and studying the habits of each and every bug, creepy crawly and living nastiness found in any dirt area that your mother has planted precious vegetable and flower plants.  Best accomplished while your mother is on her hands and knees, grunting and recklessly attacking any and all weeds in the same vicinity.”

*Just to clarify, this is a totally fictional dictionary.  Although I think all us mothers of boys could easily combine our thoughts and publish just such a dictionary.*


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