Thursday, October 28, 2010

Picasa: I'm feeling lucky!

Photo Editing

quick photo editing for dummies.

{thats me!}

move over picnik you have met your match!

heard of picasa? 
Picasa is free photo editing software from Google that makes your pictures look great..
Once you have downloaded Picasa and have selected the picture you wish to edit click on the button titled "I'm feeling lucky" and Picasa will automatically edit your photo for you--yes, it IS just that easy!!

...this literally takes one second and you can highlight as MANY pictures as you want to.  What a quick and easy fix you can do before you post your pictures on facebook or your blog! 

Step 1:  download picasa
Step 2: hit 'I'm Feeling Lucky'


check out a few before & afters:
at the difference just one click on ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ gives me!

so simple. 
so easy.
thats my type of photo editing!

I'm Feeling Lucky


I'm really lacking blog inspiration & creativity lately so here is what I got.

a. area code: 515
b. bed size: twin.  yep, you read that right.  the hubs and I are sleeping on twin beds.  that is changing soon though!
c. chore you hate: cleaning the toilet
d. dogs name: don't have any pets.
e. essential "start of the day": a can of diet dew or strawberry crystal light.
f. favorite color: it used to be purple, but lately I've been loving turquoise
g. gold or silver: either, not picky.  too much of a tomboy to care too much. :-)
h. height: I'm short: 5'3.5 (that's right, I'm keeping that .5 on there and there's nothing you can do about it!)
i. instruments i play: piano
j. job: full time wife & mom, also part-time server
k. kids: we have one kiddo right now, but starting to get the itch to expand the family!
l. living arrangements: if you read this blog, then you know our living arrangments.
m. moms name: Marce
n. nickname:  When I was little my dad always called me "schnookie."  My husband calls me "cakes" and our little one calls me "maaaa"
p. pet peeve: feeling rushed, and overall rude people
q. quote from a movie: "as you wish"
r. righty or lefty: Right
s. siblings: 2 younger sisters, 1 brother, 1 sister-in-law & 1 brother-in-law
t. time you wake up: 6:01, but don't get out of bed til usually 6:20ish
u. underwear: I really don't know where to go with this question.
v. veggies {your favorite} carrots cooked or raw
w. ways or reasons you are late: usually Tucker. :-)
x. x- rays: Nope
y. yummy food you make: don't know if I have any favorites. i make a mean red velvet cake. :-)
z. zoo animals you like: Monkeys

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

{super easy} Bacon & Cheese Egg McMuffin Cups

this might be the easiest breakfast...ever!

the picky plate   shared this recipe.
~ which has become a HOUCK favorite!~

'cause sometimes a warm breakfast is soooo good!
{sometimes if we omit english muffins}

Bacon and Cheese Egg McMuffin Cups

3 whole english muffins, split

6 slices ready cooked bacon, not microwaved, just right out of package
1/2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 large eggs

Pinches of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Press english muffins carefully into bottom of a 6 cup Texas size muffin tin. Form a little circle with the bacon and place around inside of muffin. Sprinkle inside with cheese then top with a whole egg in each cup, keeping inside the bacon ring. Sprinkle with pinches of kosher salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until egg is cooked through, not jiggly

2. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin. Serve as is or with some of your favorite hot sauce and a side of fruit!!

6 servings


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3 Tricks to take the work out of housework!

I recently read this this article on housework from the how does she  gals.

~loved it~

She listed three trick to help with your housework...

One thought provoking idea she said was give your house an identity
 Give it a name. 

 So often we say, "when I move to a bigger house, this is only a temporary place, etc"  
I am so gulity of that. 
So after some thoughtful deliberation I wanted to name the home where we live now. 
(even though Lord willing--its temporary) 
 I named my grandparents house...

it is warm, loving and gooey in the middle. 

I was talking with a friend about this and she jokingly said ..."hmmm, can i name my house 'money pit'? "  haha.
another fun one I thought of (maybe someday) is 'leading lady' or someday I hope to have an acerage and name it  "Green Acres" 

think of the style, era, charm of your house... what does its history or future hold?

Soo....what would your house be named?!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

a whole lotta updates!

Just wanted to do a quick update on life right now on things we are loving, us, and our current favorites.  One day we want to look back and go, oh yeahhh we loved that show or season of life!

Living with B & G 
(or Boppa and Grandma as we've affectionaly dubbed them!) going great.  We could not have asked for a smoother transition.  Tucker loves the pieces out of Boppa and the feeling is mutual in return!  The other night Boppa had retured from being gone all day and they were both running towords each other with open arms & then hugged.  PRICELESS.  Our most asked question is does it work?  I cook, clean & do laudndry for all five of us.  We buy roughly 85% of the grocerys. Which is working out great.  Then, every once in awhile Boppa will  make dinner and I don't have to cook!!! AMAZING! One other great advantage we are loving right now is leaving to go see a movie or grab ice cream after Tucker goes to bed @ 7:00.   We leave the monitor with B & G. DATE NIGHT! Its also been nice having muscles around, also known as Ryan, to help lift grandma off the ground (which happens more often than not these days) :-(  We are loving this stage of life right now & getting LOTS paid off all due to their generousity. Couple of fun facts we've learned since living here:
Once a farmer, ALWAYS a farmer.  After each rain we always ask how much rain we got because that'll make Boppa's day.
Dancing with the starts.  Oh boy.  Boppa is obsessed :-)  We really believe he thinks he is friends with all of them.  On Monday & Tuesdays night we constantly hear..."OH WOW!"  "grandma, did you see that!?!" 
So funny.

 Last spring I joined the Story City chapter of MOPS.  It meets every other tuesday for 2 hours.  A fun time to get away with other moms, have a devotional, craft and the best part...time away for your kiddos! 

Ryan & I aren't big TV watchers so when we found one show we liked last winter we netflixed EVERY episode of NCIS.  We are what you call obsessed. :-)  Every Tuesday night like clockwork after we get back from small group you'll find us watching NCIS.  It is our little escape time

 About a month ago I deactivated my facebook account.  It was either facebook or the blog.  And, lets face it, I love bloging.  It is such a good de-stresser for me.  A visutal scrapbook & ideas and family posts.  A number of months ago I read an article if you say "yes" to one thing, then you are saying "no" to another.  When I started Hickory Park I decided it needed to go.  I didn't want to be caught checking facebook when I had 5 loads of laundry that needed to be done! :-) So, for now I made the choice to simplify life a little.

 HOLY Cow!  Is going great.  Ryan is roughly 15+ appraisals behind which is becoming very stressful, but we are completely in awe how God has built our business after starting it from scratch roughly 1.5 years ago. Go God, because it is SO because of HIM!  I've been helping drive alot (I'll drive while he works on his laptop) to get comp pictures or go to appointments.  And, tucker gets to come along as well.  Which means we still get some family time in there too.  Ryan is such a great worker for our little family!  There have been a few tears on my end of not getting much qt time with Ryan, so getting in a date night here and there {in the midst of this craziness} has been so beneficial to our marriage!

Hickory Park:
 is going great. Been working there about a month now and roughly working 15-22 hours a week.  The hardest part is not having any days off with Ryan, but we have been trying to sneak an hour or two of quality time in there! The hardest part is walking out the door.  By nature I am wired to be a full time Momma so I'll be glad when this season of life is over.  But, for now its been a HUGE blessing.  It has been awesome to have family right next door to help out with Tucker from time to time!

this fall we've had the opporunity to attend all the home football games courtsey of my Uncle & Aunt Rhoads.  (thanks aunt vickie!!) Its been alot of fun cheering on the cyclones!

Tuesday night we lead a small group @ church.  We really cherish all the friendhships we've made and the playdates as well through the weeks! We love our Tuesday nights to get refreshed and redirected to whats really important in life. 

and lastly...but not least TUCKER he is our never ending BALL of energy! It is SO fun to see him learn & grow with each month.  He loves to be outside, peek-a-boo, "catch", running after leaves and slides... and has a thing for paint brushes right now.  We love being parents to that kid!

okay, I'm going to stop there!  I just wanted a recap of all the things I've been meaning to post lately!  That is us in a nutshell right now, things are crazy busy, but we are loving this stage of life!

Friday, October 15, 2010

weekend plans {in pictures}

{movie night}


{Watchin' ISU Football Game}


{pumpkin patch}

then ...

What are your weekend plans?!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

new to me {fun find}

i love finding a blog that is old time traditional recipes.
no foof.
the old standards.
with ingredients everyone has.
i'm old school like that.
what can i say...i grew up on a farm! :-)

Check her out.

October: The Most Critical Month of the Year


I am a planner by nature. 
 For better or worse.
Last Saturday I budget planned all the "extra" expese we'd have this December/Christmas.

For Examples:
Christmas Cards & Postage
Extra Baking
Family Gift Budget & a few friends gift Budgets
Small Tenant Gifts & Baked Goods
Extra Eating Out
Toys for Tots
4 Family Members birthdays {including mine}
Cornerstone's Christmas Production

Then I read this article copied below.
 As I've mentioned numerous times before, we are working our tales off to become debt free and no longer be a slave to the lender.  After reading this article (by Dave Ramsey) I felt I was in the right directions. 

 Check it out. 

 Let me know what you think.

October: The Most Critical Month of the Year

Regardless of your financial standing, October is a critical month for determining how your bank account will look and affect your life over the next few months—and even next year (which, by the way, is less than 90 days away).

Marketers have realized that as we approach the last few months of the year, we tend to let our emotions influence our spending at a new level. What this really means is that they've been carefully studying our habits. They know the value of having thought-out and well-executed plans. Can the same be said of you? Are they ahead of you in their planning?

There are two options—plan or don't plan. The lack of planning in October can really set you back financially and cause stress through the holiday season. Therefore, have a reality check with your money and plan accordingly now before the temptation to overspend is here in full force ... times three. On the flip side, your diligent planning and focus will pay off and set you up for fun times with less money worries!

Even if you have already made Dave's advice work for you by writing down your goals and refocusing on your monthly budget, every month is different and requires your undivided attention once again. And when you throw a full holiday season in the mix, you better believe extra attention is vital!

Because, really, who wants to be paying for Christmas in April? No one.

So before Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the little "emergencies" in between get here, sit down tonight, write down a separate plan for your holiday money, and pinky-swear, spit-shake or whatever you must do to establish that you and your family are committed to this plan. If you've already added this part to your regular monthly budget, good for you! Keep it up and stick to your plan. Don't let your guard down now so close to game time. Stay diligent so you can reap the rewards of your hard work!

Remember, it doesn't have to be complicated. Just a simple agreement of "We are going to spend X amount of dollars for gifts, X amount for potluck-gathering food and X amount for traveling" will be sufficient. But you must take care of all the ongoing necessities first before you budget these fun things.

Don't stress out if the amount you've set aside for these celebrations isn't as high as you want it to be. Gifts are fun to give and receive, but they definitely shouldn't make or break your enjoyment. So keep this in mind as you're working through your plan: Is it worth it to buy hundreds of dollars of stuff now, pay for it later, and still be in debt?

You know what Dave would say and do. But the decision and action is up to you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

a few changes.

Look out!
we are getting real serious, about getting out of debt, completely!
about a month ago we met with a financial planner Justin Bennett, owner of Strong Tower Consulting (who also happens to be a friend of ours.)

He was exactly what we needed.  {highly recommend him btw!}

The right mix of motivation and encouragement to get our brains overtime! He went through all our financial records and took our goals and devised a plan.  

We had two options...

1.)  We could keep going like we're going and be debt free in 3.5 years.  Not too bad, BUT
{we did not like this plan for two reasons....things/expenses come up and would most likely loose our motivation}
2.) One of us find a part-time job and be debt free within 1-1.5 years. {hopefully by next Christmas}

We choose this plan #2.

As of three weeks ago I am back at Hickory Park serving 3-4 shifts a week! {roughly 15-22 hrs/wk}Since daycare was not an option we were willing to sacrifice on, this job won on so many levels.
flexible hours
 night & weekends {where Ryan can watch Tukcer}
great $$

It is amazing how God has blessed this decision SO much already!  We have been SO THANKFUL for our families helping out with Tucker from time to time as well.  WE COULD NOT DO THIS WITHOUT THEM!! 

So feeling like some bbq?
Come on in ask for Hickory Park's finest server...ASHLEY JO!


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