May 29, 2008


Brian and I have done it. We have lived the Dave Ramsey life. Rice and beans (and a few $1 double cheeseburgers). Our friends have made fun of us, to our face and likely behind our backs. But as of today (other than our primary mortgage), Brian and I are DEBT FREE!!! (Those who listen to Dave Ramsey's radio show know that many listeners call in just to scream these words.)
This means freedom from car loans, credit card debt, second mortgages and whatever other crap people borrow on. We officially kicked Sallie Mae to the curb and she is looking for a new home to stay in! The borrower is slave to the lender.

In 25 months, we have paid off $52,365. This includes a personal debt to my father, our second mortgage and my big fat student loan. During the past few years we were slowed down a bit by buying a house and getting hit with a few large tax bills. But that's all said and done and I feel fantastic!

Here is my balance as it stood on the Sallie Mae account tonight.

Outstanding principal balance: $0.66
Accrued interest: $0.00

Total amount outstanding: $0.66

I called them to pay off the two days of interest that accrued and they said that I didn't have to worry about paying the $0.66. How generous of them :)

I brag because I'm proud, not because I want criticism or want others to feel bad. I'm proud of our hard work. I'm proud of Brian for never acting like the student loan was my debt, but that it was "ours." I am proud that now we can change our future and the future of our children through the good habits we have learned. Now we begin the next stage of life - wealth building! And Dave always speaks about how coincidentally, when you spend your money wisely, good things will happen to you. Today, we received a financial gift that I don't want to go into details on - but it was much appreciated, and I have to believe, a little gift from God to help us continue on our journey.

If others are interested in Dave Ramsey, feel free to talk to me about it. We're so happy we found him.

May 27, 2008

Product of the Week

I have been eating the Betty Crocker Warm Delights bowls for over a year now and they are still a special treat each and every time I "bake" one. If you haven't seen these, they are a dessert mix that bakes in your microwave in just 1-2 minutes. There is a powdered mix and a drizzle for the top. You just add a few tablespoons of water.

They come in molten chocolate cake, caramel cake, chocolate chip, hot fudge brownie, cinnamon swirl, lemon swirl, and I think a chocolate/raspberry combo too. I love the molten chocolate cake most. Brian and I plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and split one. It tastes just as a molten chocolate cake in the restaurants!

May 26, 2008

Memorial Weekend

Happy Memorial Day! The weather has held up far better than we expected. We've had such a great weekend here with lots of great food and relaxation. We spent Saturday up at the family cottage. Maggie met her new second cousin, Baylie, a Westie. They were so perfect together. They rolled and played all day. Maggie is still tired two days later. Most of the boys spent the majority of the day golfing. I spent the majority of the day napping :)

Brian and I spent Sunday turning over the soil for our vegetable garden. This year we're going to pass on broccoli or peas since they really didn't turn out last year. We've re-organized the layout so our tomatoes will get a bit more sun too. So the new garden has green beans, full size cucumbers, red and yellow tomatoes, green and yellow peppers, zucchini squash, acorn squash, and several types of lettuce. I can't wait to eat my results!

Today has been another relaxed day. We've mostly been spoiling Maggie by taking her for a hike at VanRaalte farms and after that, we checked out a new(er) dog park in Saugatuck called Tails n' Trails. Maggie spent most of the time rolling into submission on her back. That makes for a very dirty dog.

I hope to post about knitting soon. I have some socks on the needles and need to finish seaming a baby sweater. I haven't been much of a "finisher" lately.

May 22, 2008

I demand a recount!

David Cook beat David Archuleta....and by 12 million votes!? I swear the voting system must have been messed up. Archuleta was incredible. In the end, I know who's album I'll buy.

May 20, 2008

Cincinnati....the best town in O-H-I-O

Sorry I have been off-line for a while. Brian and I spent an extended weekend visiting our college friend, David, in Cincinnati. We packed up Friday night, threw a very tired puppy in the back seat, and set off for a long drive. We surprised ourselves when we made it in 5.5 hours without even using major highways down Indiana.

We were expecting rain for our entire trip, but the weather stayed beautiful. We loved spending time with David and also had the opportunity to meet his friend, Matt. There were many fun parts to our trip, so I'll just pick a few photos to highlight.

Saturday we visited the Cincinnati Zoo. We saw some impressive lions, polar bears, manatees and hissing cockroaches.

But we also some not-so-impressive animals. I mean seriously, are you sure someone just didn't put their pet in this cage and call it a wild African mountain cat? I mean, he's cute and all, but really?

Apparently we couldn't experience Cincinnati without going to Skyline Chili. You can order your chili 3, 4, or 5 ways. It's no Coney Island, the chili is actually quite mild with a obvious splash of cinnamon. It was good, though. I could see myself eating there again. Surprisingly, there is a potato buried below this cheese and chili.

Saturday night we needed something fun to do, so we visited a nearby town festival, the Maifest. There were crafts, beer, and Hillary Clinton! She was rallying for the vote today and we walked up at the perfect time to see her. We were about 20 feet from her, close enough to make eye contact. I may not be one of her devoted followers, but I was still honored to see her speak.

Sunday was another beautiful day. We took David to his first Cincinnati Reds game. I knit a good portion of my sock during the game, got a little sunburn, and just enjoyed the beauty of the stadium. David even decided to learn a little knitting too. I recognized a few of the names, Encarnacion and Ken Griffey Jr., but I'm not going to act like I'm a huge sports fan. I really just like going for the atmosphere.

(We have a ton of action shots because Brian was having fun with the zoom on the camera, which is actually a darn impressive zoom.)

We said goodbye Monday morning and made for our voyage back. We took a detour to do some outlet shopping, visit a local dog park, and eat for our first time at Sonic (Mmmm). We packed a lot of fun into a little trip. Thanks so much for hosting us David!!

May 13, 2008

One tired puppy

who loves snuggling her poppa just as much as I do.

Green Thumb

Brian and I discovered the wonderland of Countryside Greenhouse in Allendale, MI. We ventured there Sunday. It was a nice get away on a rainy day. This place is like a flower emporium. They even have a snackbar with free popcorn! Being inside the greenhouse during a downpour actually sounded a bit like a relaxation tape.

We came away with herbs, vegetable starters, perennials, annuals and a hanging basket. I love all of our purchases. I have one garden to the right of our driveway that I'm trying to make into a beautiful perennial garden. I have this hope that it will attract all of the butterflies. This year I added coneflowers, daisies, a windflower and delphinium.

I planted Gerber daisies along the border in front of our house. My herb garden has rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme and cilantro. I also made a small container garden for our deck.

I hope someday soon Brian and I will find time to turn over the vegetable garden and get our seeds down. That probably won't happen until Memorial weekend, so I'll cross my fingers for good weather.

The rest of the day is going to be spent on Junior League obligations and time with Maggie. No knitting today, unfortunately.

May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

To the seasoned mothers, new mothers, and mothers-to-be:
You are outstanding women with a very hard job. You deserve much congratulations and time to relax with your favorite book or skein of yarn.

We have had a busy weekend here. My mother and sister came out this weekend for the River Bank Run. Meagan flew out from New York to run the 25K (15.5 mi) with Brian. They each did an awesome job. Brian did his own personal best at 2:19.

Looks painful, doesn't it?

Not wanting to be lazy, my mom and I did the 5K Walk. We pumped our arms and hiked it up through the streets. I jammed to New Pornographers on my iPod while she grooved to Bob Seger. It was a gorgeous day for a walk. We finished in 43 minutes, which was better than I'd hoped.

Later that night, Brian's side of the family came over for dinner. We enjoyed spinach salad, Greek kabobs with a mint-feta sauce and my very favorite strawberry pie from the Junior League cookbook.

May 8, 2008

Oh, swoon!

In case you missed it, David Archuleta was awesome this week! And I know I'm officially old, because I love him, but it's the love you'd have for a son, not a high school crush.

May 7, 2008

Everyday Food

With May came a new issue of Everyday Food and inspiration to try some fun new recipes.
Yesterday I tried Spinach-Feta turnovers. These were a fun little pocket of spinach, feta, onions and garlic sandwiched in a square of puff pastry. They were a bit of work being that the puff pasty had to be rolled out, but the bonus was that it makes plenty extra that I froze for a future meal.

Here is the stuffing:

They were folded together, using egg wash as glue, and edges crimped.

After 35 minutes at 375 degrees - wa la. The puff pastry was light and buttery. I'd love to try these again, maybe more like a Mexican empanada next time.

Tonight, Brian made chicken sausage with asparagus over grits. Very tasty!

May 6, 2008

Product of the Week

I am in love with the Dr. Scholl's for Her inserts! I bought them on a whim since I had a coupon and they were also on sale. I bought the inserts for flats and dress shoes. They are wonderfully cushioned, with a sticky bottom so they'll stay in place even with clogs. The inserts for dress shoes have a felt top, making them invisible and less likely to induce sweaty feet. I'm notorious for complaining about dress shoes (ask Brian). They always make the balls of my feet ache. I wore these inserts with 2" heels to the last wedding I attended - no sore feet that night or the next day. Love them!

May 4, 2008

Tulip Festival '08

Tulip Fest is now in full swing. Don't miss your chance to see some fantastic flowers, Dutch attire, and eat your token elephant ear. You have until May 10th!

We walked down Friday to share an elephant ear and will probably go again tonight for some corndogs. YUM!

Speaking of dogs, Maggie is enjoying her first festival. Too bad I don't have some wooden shoes for her. Here she is tip-toeing through the tulips. I think she's smiling.