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The Best Thing I've Heard All Week

     A brilliant friend of mine (Hi Amy) called her new boyfriend a 'gentleman savage' on Facebook this week, and it struck a chord ...

Friday, August 23, 2019

12 Years Ago...

12 Years ago...
     I arrived in NM after a 3 day drive with my mom, David (9), Derek (2), 2 hysterical dogs and a few tote boxes of belongings to a place I'd never been before to start a new chapter of our life away from everything and everyone we'd ever known.
      And while I miss my Illinois family like crazy even all these years later, I've never been sorry I said yes to the adventure of a lifetime, not one single time.
      Daniel Meyer, I'll follow wherever you're going for always,
because I love you to the moon and back.


PS. I should add that Dan and Patrick (7.5) had left town before the rest of us and had arrived in Mid-July. By the time we arrived, Dan was gainfully employed by the company that would employ him for the next 7 years, and Patrick had Auntie Karen wrapped around his little finger. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019


     It's the little things, am-I-right? I love celebrating little things that make me happy, or accomplished, or even just random silliness, which really should be a 'label' here on the blog because I post so often about it. 
     For today, this week really, I'm yelling "Wooty Woot Woot!" over the fact that I've gone through the last 15 months of emails lingering in my inbox. All read, all saved for some reason, just sitting there, annoying me every time I opened my email app. So, I decided it was TIME to tackle it head on. I started by updating my files options, adding a few new folders for new email types, and consolidating a few that probably should have always been combined. Then I went through and deleted like crazy, to the tune of several hundred emails. Then I started sorting into folders, trying to wade through a month at a time. Along the way, I unsubscribed to nearly 20 newsletters that I've been getting for quite some time but are either no longer applicable to our life, or I just signed up for them to enter a contest or some such. This time last week, I was getting between 50 and 75 emails every day. Today, just 13, and a few more of those will drop off in the coming week as some newsletters take up to 15 days to delete you from their email lists. So, by this time next week, I should only be getting a dozen or less emails a day, all pertinent to our lives, and I'll have waded through the rest of the backlog from 2012-2016. 
     Please feel free to join me in my email quest, or some other small task you've been putting off for too long, and then post a comment about it, so we can all congratulate each other. 

Let's do this!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Good Intentions and all that...

I intended to wax eloquent about our week here at The Man Crew House, but the morning slipped right through my fingers so now I'll leave you with this instead...

Happy Friday, Friends! May you be looking so forward to your weekend that you simply must express it through interpretive dance. 
God Bless ya! 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Pantry Challenge Update: Feb 2019

Phew! We made it! We ate our way through the January Pantry Challenge and we didn't starve, nor did we resort to eating canned cranberry sauce mixed with limp celery and outdated cake mix for dinner. *grins* Here were some of our goals for the month:

~Pantry Challenge month goals:

  1. Reduce our grocery bill by half of our usual $800-$850 by only purchasing produce and meat.
  2. Eat at home every night once our guests leave. 
  3. Pack lunches every day for work (DT and I)
  4. Bake all our bread  
Well, 3 out of 4 isn't bad. I didn't bake bread but a handful of times in January but we smashed all of our other goals. We ate at home all month long, with Community Group Night and Sister-Girl Nights being the only exception, and those were planned in advance. DT and I ate packed lunches at work all month long. And we even came in UNDER budget! I did some fancy math and by my best counts, I plated up 520 servings during the month of January, between the 6 and then 5 people that lived here, The BIGS eating out some nights, and bringing friends over some evenings. I spent $383.79 for the entire month, and that included things like laundry detergent, toilet paper, and pet foods as well as our meals. If I divide the money spent by the servings made, our amount spent for each serving was just under $.74. That's a number I can live with for sure.
AND...If I subtract the pet food and other non-food items, the cost per serving drops to a mere $.61! I'm a Pantry Challenge winner for sure. We ate homemade pizza together every week, we made enough food for people to pack lunches all month long, and while every meal wasn't our favorite, we all went to bed every night with a full tummy and lighter pantry shelves. I cleaned out the new fridge and freezer while my friend Laura was in town, we ate a good chunk of the things in the deep freeze and the pantry is looking much lighter and tidier between the Pantry Challenge and the 3 hours I spent cleaning, decluttering, and organizing it at the end of the month.
I kept an account of some of our Pantry Challenge fun on Instagram, using the hashtags #FeedingTeenagers, #PantryChallenge, and #TheManCrewHouse.

 It should be mentioned that a friend gifted us a large turkey this month and we enjoyed nearly an entire week of turkey themed meals, and another friend and I ended up at a grocery store while we were out running errands together and she sent me home with a few bags of groceries, helping us keep our numbers really low this month.

If you've never tried a Pantry Challenge, I encourage you to try one. Use up what you have, make a few new meals, be creative (the Internet is FULL of creative uses for odds and ends groceries) purchase as little as possible while still serving up nutritious meals. I tried to only purchase meat and produce this year. I normally only buy fresh produce, but a few shorter Pantry Challenges earlier in the Autumn had depleted my meat stash in the freezer, necessitating the purchase of some to get through the month. Feeding these guys requires meat. LOL!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

My Word For The Year: 2019

   Do YOU have a word for the year, or a motto, or a special verse? I have joined this movement in recent years and I like the idea of having an overall focus or goal for the year. However, choosing that word is sometimes difficult as I have too many ideas for what I want to work on in the coming year, or conversely, none at all. This year's pick took me a while to really settle on and I think it's a good one. In fact, I think the last several years worth of hard work have led me to it. From retiring my #PlateSpinner hashtag and replacing it with #NoLongerAPlateSpinner a few years back, learning to say ENOUGH (that one took a while) and last year's goal of Progress, it's been a circuitous route, but here I am, ready for something new.
    This year, I'm focusing on me: my attitude, boundaries, and personal growth...things under MY control. I've learned so well over the last few years that my attitude as a mother and a wife truly affects my people, my job, and my home. And since it is under my control, so I should make every effort to use that to bless people. I can choose to use my powers for good or evil. I want to choose good. And so I shall.

    My word for this year is CHOOSE. I will choose to work hard, love harder and bless everyone I come across, all year long. I will choose to smile when the days are long. I will choose to speak gently in love when I feel like screaming. I will choose to pray when I feel like worrying. I will choose to take time to spend with my family. I will choose to feed my people good, nutritious meals when fast food is an easy way out. I will choose to read my Bible and spend time with Jesus, so I know where He wants me to work on me, and how He wants me to share Him with others. I will choose to make time for Dan and I to be together just for us so as we face the coming years, it will be as a team, not as two individuals pulling in opposite directions. I will choose to say no to good things, so I can save my YES for the best things.

   My goals for the year are as follows:

*Personal Health*

  • Fix my foot
  • Eat veggies 2x a day
  • Drop 3 sizes
  • Hike "A" Mountain
  • Read the New Testament
  • Pray from a list
  • Read 52 books
  • Serve in our church
  • Continue with our Community Group
  • Help The BIGS move out as they are ready
  • Go on 1 family weekend-camping, Grand Canyon, Cloudcroft
  • Continue Pizza and Movies on Sundays
  • Date Night with Dan monthly
  • Finish garage
  • Repair Breakfast Nook roof
  • Reduce our Possessions by 30%
  • Save $1000
  • Stay Current on bills
  • Host/Attend a gathering once a month
  • Call a friend 1x a week
  • Send a handwritten note 1x a month
  • Finish the 2018-2019 school year well, complete our curriculum AND our 180 days with good attitudes and good grades (focus on comprehension, not completion simply for the sake of completion)
  • Enjoy our summer break filled with outdoor fun, lots of reading, and family time
  • Start the 2019-2020 school year on time, and work hard to make progress all year long
  • Visit IL to see #BabyThea soon after her birth and celebrate #BabyCaden's 2nd birthday (His hashtag will become #ToddlerCaden)
  • Send Dan to IL for Mambo's 80th birthday
  • Visit Laura Hepker in Austin
  • Visit Cindy in Phoenix
  • Start saving for a family trip to IL in 2020

 I'll try to post in once a month and update my goals. I'll try to have good news in at least one category every month. ;)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Pantry Challenge 2019: Starting Soon

It's that time again, my friends! It's time to slash our grocery budgets for the month and get back on track financially after the excess of Christmas. Time to dig through what we already have on the shelves of the pantry, fridge and freezer. I'm joining Jessica of Good Cheap Eats for Pantry Challenge 2019. I'm starting a few days late since we have guests for a few days. But it's time to get prepared, take some inventories, and start mentally meal planning for our start in a few days.
What's on your kitchen goal list for this year, starting with the Pantry Challenge? I've got several ideas for our yearly goals, and a few for th is month of Pantry Challenge meals. I'll be posting here and also on Instagram, @kristy_mamak, using the Hashtags #PantryChallenge2019 and #FeedingTeenagers. Come join the fun and savings!

Here are our goals for the Pantry Challenge month, followed by a few for the year as well.
~Pantry Challenge month goals:
  1. Reduce our grocery bill by half of our usual $800-$850 by only purchasing produce and meat.
  2. Eat at home every night once our guests leave. 
  3. Pack lunches every day for work (DT and I)
  4. Bake our bread 
~Year-Long Goals:
  1. Get back to having 4 well thought out, well prepared dinners at home each week, 1 night of leftovers, and 2 nights that are "Fend for yourself" nights. With 4 teenagers/young adults under our roof currently, this gives Mama K some time out of the kitchen instead of cooking 24/7. 
  2. Serve Veggies at EVERY lunch and dinner
  3. Use tech to streamline some of the hassle of getting dinner on the table, such as using Wal-Mart's free grocery pick up, utilize Amazon Pantry occasionally, and of course, showering my IP/Crock Pot/Kitchen Aid with daily use and affection. ;) 
  4. Have one freezer cooking day per month, rotating between breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts. 
  5. Try 2 new recipes a month
  6. Ditch aluminum foil, ziploc baggies, and plastic wrap and replace by slowly purchasing some glass baking dishes, reusable silicone ziptop bags, and replacing foil with Bees Wrap. 
  7. Reduce our monthly grocery bill by 10% by year's end. We are currently averaging $800-$850 on non-holiday months, and $900 during big holiday months. This also includes all our pet food and TP which accounts for about $80 a month.
If you decide to join the Pantry Challenge, or if you want to share your kitchen goals for the year, please share in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, December 31, 2018


WELCOME, 2019!

Did 2018 fly past or is that my imagination? Seems like it was just a few days ago that we celebrated the start of 2018 and that it is impossible that we are about to welcome a fresh new year, but my Dad always said that time moved faster as you got older, and as with most other things, he was correct.
So, are you ready for the coming year? I know I am not feeling ready to embrace a new year, but it comes whether I’m prepared or not, so it’s time to bid a fond adieu to 2018 and plan to have the best year ever. What’s on your self-improvement list for the year? Tell me in the comments.


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