Monday, February 28, 2011

More With Less Monday: Internet

This one is pretty easy. 

We just buy the cheapest internet there is. (Duh!)

Seeing as how it's the cheapest, it's also the slowest internet out there as well.  It was very painful our first few weeks of having it and others hate using the internet at our house because they're not used to how slow it is.  But, after awhile, we got used to it and just make plans around the time it takes to load pictures or videos or whatever else we're watching/doing.  We can still do everything you can do on your internet (including watch TV, talk on Skype, and whatever else is out there to do).  And...it only costs us $19.99 a month.  We don't have a home phone line or cable TV to go along with it, but it is wireless and it works great.

There may be something even more affordable out there now, but we haven't been looking.  So, if any readers have more affordable recommendations, I'd love them.

Cheers!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More Pants

As I said before, I love babies in jeans.  But, I can't get jeans to fit over Rory's cloth diapers.  So, I finally made it to the store for some denim fabric, and threw these together in an evening.

 I added the ruffle in hopes that it will help to distinguish her as a girl.  I also used pink thread.
 She's really into a scrunchy-face smile these days. It's pretty irresistible.
 I also made her some khaki pants with little pockets and ruffled bottoms for good measure. 
 You can't tell from the picture, but I shortened them just above the ruffles so they can be lengthened as she gets longer.
 Kudos to my amazing husband for hand sewing on the heart buttons.
Thanks to Mady By Rae's pattern for these awesome pants!

It's a lovely day today.  I think a walk is in order!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birthday Cake

I'm not really a baker or cook but offered to make a cake for a dear friend's birthday anyway.  I did that before I thought about my crazy weekend schedule too.  Awesome.

The party was at a British themed pub, so what better to make than a Union Jack flag?

I wanted to try fondant (because it's all the cake rage these days), but didn't have time to make my own, so I bought the [gross] stuff.  Let's just get it out there that if you're buying it from the shelf of Michael's, it probably shouldn't be eaten.  We tasted it and decided it would only be used for decoration and not eating.  Because of that I didn't want to cover the whole cake in fondant.

Jonathan and I teamed up on this one as well.  I baked and frosted the cake, he rolled out and measured the fondant (because he's good at the math-y kind of stuff), and I painted the fondant red.

And here's what we ended up with.  Definitely amateur, but not terrible, eh?

Painting the fondant is much easier than I thought.  I painted brandy on first to try to create a barrier between the fondant and the water-based food coloring.  And then I painted.  Ta da!

Next time I do something like this, I'm definitely doing homemade fondant though.


On another note, I picked up some sweet chairs (sweet=cheap and sturdy) for our kitchen at Revive yesterday and can't wait to paint (possibly) and recover (definitely) them!

Monday, February 21, 2011

More With Less Monday: Cell Phones Part 2

Do you know what I want more than anything?  More than a sewing machine, more than an SLR camera, more than a house, even more than chairs to go around our kitchen table?
An iPhone.

It's bright and colorful, you can check email, make plans, get directions, talk on Skype, make phone calls (duh), and waste HOURS and HOURS of time playing games and checking Facebook.  It's the best alternate reality ever and I want one!

But...

Do I need one?  The answer is no.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that lots of people who think they need iPhones don't actually need them.  (Come on, just own up to the fact that it's awesome and that's why you have one!  Some people actually use paper calendars and MapQuest for directions and only check their email a couple of times a day.)

We have Verizon so when looking into the extra costs, it looks like their promotion is to have you pay for your original minutes and then pay another $29.99/month on top of that.  (What!?!  We don't even pay that much for internet at home!)


So...though we have the money to pay for iPhones (or Droids, or Blackberrys, or whatever), we cannot justify spending $30/month ($720 for both of us for a year...not including the minutes plan itself).  Do you remember my Inspiration post?  Just pause for 30 seconds and think of what that $30/month could help to do in the rest of the world...

Clean water. Education. Clothing. Medical care. Freedom from the sex trade.  Bibles in native languages.  Freedom from sweatshops and human slavery. A home. What else can you think of?

Now I'm not saying that we're always giving away that extra $30/month.  But, to me,  I feel better knowing that we can. When a need is presented we can give freely and joyfully with even more finances at our disposal. 

I'm also not saying I'm never going to own an iPhone.  (I'm strongly considering saving up all of my birthday and Christmas money every year to put toward the cost of a phone and the extra monthly payments.)  Maybe it's hypocritical...or maybe it's not.

 When it comes down to it, the point of this post isn't to make anyone feel bad about having an iPhone.  But, it is to encourage you to consider every decision you make and evaluate your goals in it.  Is it to make life easier for yourself, to indulge in something awesome, to love others better, to be simple, to achieve your 10 year plan, to be more like Jesus, or something else?  None of those reasons are bad in themselves...it's a matter of the heart.  As I said before, I want my life to be characterized by LOVE and LOVE ALONE.  I try (but often fail) to hold every decision I make, big and small, up to Love and Jesus. If it fits into that, I go for it.  If it doesn't, I (often sadly) don't do it. 

So...if you're reading this and like most, have a smart phone, this is not meant to offend you and I promise that I am not writing this for anyone specific. And, believe it or not, I don't really care what kind of phone you have and I don't hate you or judge you if you don't agree with my views about these things.  I'm just sharing my perspective.  (Isn't that what blogs are for, anyway?  An easy way to say offensive things without the confrontation?)  So...please don't feel judged by me or afraid to pull out your [totally awesome] phone next time you're around me.  The most you'll get from me is envy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rory at 6 Months

I can't believe she's already six months old!

And last week we finally introduced her to food.  Her first meal was an avocado and (surprise, surprise) she ate it like a champ.  Rory doesn't mess around when it comes to eating. Just ask anyone who has watched her down 8oz of milk in 2.5 minutes.  So far, she's also really into sweet potatoes and bananas.



Rory's hobbies are eating, grabbing things, eating, sitting up, eating, squealing, eating, sleeping, and eating.

Monday, February 14, 2011

More With Less Monday: Cell Phones Part 1

We love our family. In fact, this post is about family.  And along with an awesome family comes...you guessed it, family plans!

(Yes that's me using my cell phone at the Sphinx. 
Doesn't something just seem off about that?) 

Jonathan and I spent the last year on our own plan.  We had the least amount of phone minutes (700 combined) and unlimited text messaging.  Every month our bill averaged around $112.  Yes, I know.  Ridiculous!!!!

So, about a month ago we were discussing ways to cut down on our bill and it hit us.  We needed to take advantage of the $10 per extra line in family plans.  We immediately picked up the phone and called Jonathan's sister and brother in-law (from the amazing Blume Photography) to discuss options with them.  Turns out they were looking for ways to save as well.  So, an hour later, the 4 of us were on one plan and paying $30-$40 less a month for our phone plans.  Plus, we didn't have to renew our contracts (we were both in the middle of our contracts) or pay a change fee or anything.

Awesome?  I think so!!!

Coming up next week:  To iPhone or not to iPhone.  Very controversial.

Monday, February 07, 2011

More With Less Monday: Breast vs Bottle

To quote a good friend of mine, "Having a baby is like being back in high school again where the cool kids make you feel like a loser."

I can't even begin to tell you how much pressure there is to do the "right" thing as a parent.  Doing the right thing involves things like: eating organic when you're pregnant and nursing, NOT getting an epidural, nursing for at least a year (2-3 years if you're from Boulder), rejecting traditional immunization schedules, being a stay-at-home mom, making your own baby food, following the Babywise method, and probably a lot more that I haven't thought of.

Now I'm not saying I disagree with any of these peer pressures (and I actually follow a lot of them), but I do think it's a little much to make new moms feel like losers and terrible parents if they don't do all of these things.  Learning to be a mom is hard enough in itself!

Anyway, one of the ways we've found to save the most money with a new kid is through, you guessed it, breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is also about the worst thing EVER (to me...but not to most).  My first 12 weeks of nursing I cried every time I nursed and kept waiting for Jonathan to tell me that it would be okay if we just weaned her...but he never offered up that option, so I never asked for it.  Rory was tongue tied and couldn't latch on for her first week until the doctor clipped her tongue.  (I didn't watch.)  I went through two bouts of mastitis and Rory and I both got thrush.  Awesome.  Then, at 3 1/2 months, after Rory had been in daycare for about 6 weeks, she decided she preferred the bottle over the boob.  So, guess what?  She refused to nurse.  And where does that leave me?  Pumping exclusively.

So, she'll be 6 months next week and I've spent the last 2 1/2 months pumping exclusively.  I fight with keeping up my milk supply, waking up early and staying up late to pump, and finding time in the midst of a crazy work day to sit in the cold, concrete storage closet to pump.  (Sometimes I get the I.T. room to pump.)


Why do I do it?  Well, if I was really, really awesome, I'd say it was because the breast is better.  But, let's be honest, it's because I'm cheap.  I don't want to spend $100 (or whatever) on formula a week.  Plus, lots of the formula companies are super corrupt and do horrible things to African mothers.


I will say I've pushed through some major discouragement with nursing to offset some of my guilt for having Rory in daycare.  She gets sick enough when still receiving all of the antibodies in breast milk.  I can't imagine what it would be like for her to not be receiving them.


So, what's the breakdown?  Target's generic formula would cost us about $1/bottle conservatively.  Rory drinks 4 bottles a day.  That's $28/week and $112/month which equals almost $1500 spent on formula in a year!


What do I spend?  I own two electric pumps and I bought them both used (one from a friend and the other from Craigslist.).  One was $30 and the other was $75.  I also bought some pumping supplies which equals around $40.  And that's about it.


Hmmm...$150 vs $1500.

It seems to me that breastfeeding (or pumping if you're me) is the quickest (but definitely NOT the easiest) way to live more with less with a baby.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Egypt

Egypt has been on my mind a lot recently.  So, instead of making a long commentary on what is happening and what I think should happen, I thought I'd post some of my favorite pictures and Egyptian blog posts.

What do spiders taste like? Find out here.
How Egyptians like their coffee here. (P.S. The coffee was compliments of Jonathan when he was trying to win my heart.)
In case you're wondering what people do with their old cassette tapes, find out here!
What's for dinner?
Find out about becoming momma to the ugliest cat ever here.
Egypt doesn't have yellow pages or 911.
Check out things that never crossed my mind until I moved to Egypt here.
I can't believe I actually survived all those times of getting lost in Cairo!
What it's like to fall in love in Egypt.
How I got wrangled into performing in an Egyptian wedding at the biggest church in Cairo.
There is no where in the world like Egypt.  And I'm pretty sure it has my heart.