Monday, August 31, 2009

Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

I found and adapted a great recipe for pumpkin pancakes. It's almost the season for pumpkin but I was impatient and couldn't wait until October.


2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups soy milk (will probably work with rice milk)
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla


1. In a large bowl, mix the soy milk, pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and vanilla until smooth.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin and stir well. Batter will be very thick; do not thin with additional milk.

4. Let the bowl sit for 5 minutes. Do not stir.

5. Spray a frying pan with olive oil and heat to medium low. Use almost 1/2 cup batter for each pancake. Spread batter on pan with a spoon, but don't spread too thin.

6. Cook both sides until brown and serve.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Moving toward financial freedom

$1,589.25 starting balance
- $26.79 sales
- $41.08 August snowball

= $1,521.38 current balance

Bankrate: It will take you 58 months to pay off your credit card.

In one week, we paid off 4.3% of our balance and advanced our scheduled payoff date by two months!

This upcoming week, I will be concentrating on working as many hours as possible. My contract job pays on a 30 day schedule so the pay period ending tomorrow will be paid out the first week of October. I wish it was more immediate but at least I should be receiving a paycheck soon for work completed at the end of July!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 15

Dost thou love life,
then do not squander time,
for that's the stuff life is made of.

Benjamin Franklin

I've spent the past week pondering today's assignment for the cleaning challenge. Do I want to set up a strict schedule for my days? Can I set up a strict schedule? How much emphasis should I place on work versus cleaning? Am I allowed to schedule personal reading time for myself?

I finally decided that our lifestyle isn't conducive to strict schedules. Hubby works from most mostly but his time at client sites is rarely scheduled in advance. My contract hours vary drastically. Today I was assigned only an hour of work but yesterday I completed three hours, and four hours the day before. Hubby had to work all day last Sunday and thus has a three day weekend starting tomorrow.

Instead of scheduling each hour of my day, I created a list of what I need/aspire to complete and how much time I will commit to each:
  • 30 min. of personal Bible study
  • 20 min. of Bible study with hubby
  • 45 min. of writing  - morning pages and blog
  • 30 min. research for National Novel Writing Month
  • 1-5 hours of contract work, depending on assignment
  • 1 hour cleaning
  • 30 min. personal reading

Now I can fit everything into whatever work schedule hubby or I might have on any given day. I know I need to complete certain tasks and will organize everything around work. The times listed above are estimates and may change in the future. I think I read more than half an hour each day and sometimes I will only write for twenty minutes. But this rough estimate makes a great starting point.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Deliver yourself like a gazelle...

What will it take to pay off my credit card?

Credit card balance: $1,589.25
Interest rate: 10.24%
Minimum payment: $33

It will take you 60 months to pay off your credit card.

"Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler" (Proverbs 6:4-5).


Hubby and I have been following Dave Ramsey's baby steps for three years but suffered from several job losses as well as a temporary lack of discipline. Sorry, Mr. Cheetah. This gazelle has woken up and taken off running!

Our goal: to pay off the entire $1,589.25 balance by the end of November.

Ambitious? Yes. Doable? Yes. With much scrimping, a ton of contract hours, and some dedication, we'll be waving goodbye to Mr. Cheetah. Sorry, but we're no longer a willing dinner!

Motivation courtesy of bankrate and Dave Ramsey.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All work, no play

Today was all about work. I completed 4.5 hours of work on my contract assignment. I'm also feeling slightly under the weather so that was all I accomplished today.

I'm going to attempt to make progress on the 31 days to clean program tomorrow. I really want to finish cleaning our house but work comes first right now. Because my contract work is either feast or famine, I have to embrace the hours when they are available.

Praise the Lord for providing my contract work!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Scottish Folds and 31 Days to Clean - Day 14

I finished reading the most delightful little book - The Cat Who Went to Paris. The author is given Norman, a Scottish Fold kitten. The pictures are adorable, the stories are hilarious, and the book is a very quick read. Thankfully, our library carries at least one more book in this true life series about an adorable and very intelligent cat!

Today was mostly about cleaning and budgets. I puttered around the house most of the day, picking up after our weekend. The day was not exciting but I was content in my activities. The only things I have left on my agenda today are half an hour of research and then Bible study.

Day 14 of the cleaning challenge is all about time management. For a few days, I've been paying attention to how I spend my time. While I rarely leave the house during the week, my days aren't all alike. I spend some days doing a lot of contract work, up to 5 hours each day. Other days are spent cleaning and organizing. And a few days here and there are spent mostly reading once my daily housework is complete. I have read a lot of books in the past month.

Last week, I spent way too much time watching television. We don't own a television but there are a multitude of (legal) shows and movies available online. When I realized how much time I was wasting watching television, I was disgusted with myself. I was watching up to the equivalent of a movie a day. While I was still being productive, completing all of my housework and devoting hours to my contract job, I felt my time could be better utilized. I made myself a promise - I will spend more time with my Bible every day than I will with television or movies. It's sad to realize that I was spending more time watching television than reading God's word. Over the last three days, I have kept my promise. Each day, I have spent more time reading the Bible than watching television.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where did it go?

The day escaped me! I was very busy with both work and housework. But it's Sabbath now! Blessed, blessed Sabbath. The day of rest.

Tomorrow we're visiting a church that we've been to before but can't seem to visit when the pastor is speaking. Maybe we'll be lucky tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I've a lot on my mind - disappointment in people's (including mine) priorities, a sense that I'm not giving God my best, and an unrealistic impatience to understand the Bible.

I'll be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 13

Today's post was about being overwhelmed. I only feel overwhelmed when the house gets trashed. If I'm behind on dishes with a dirty bathroom and a huge pile of laundry, I start feeling overwhelmed. Thankfully that doesn't happen very often! I try very hard to keep on top of things so that I don't have hours of work to do at one time.

The Day 13 Challenge is about imagining the big picture of what I want our home to be. Right now, the only thing I want is cleanliness. I would love to put up pictures, buy a new couch, and decorate somehow. But there is no money in the budget to improve our home. Our apartment is actually more sparse now than it was six months ago. We have no bookshelves and no tv now!

In order to avoid fostering discontentment, I'm going to skip this challenge. If I can keep our apartment clean, that is good enough for now. But I did make an extra effort to remain on top of our dishes today!

Car payment, be gone!

Woohoo! I just made a payment on our car that dropped our loan balance to just under $5,000. We've paid off 2/3 of the car. The end is almost in sight!

Monday, August 17, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 12

"So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins,
such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects,
that too little attention is paid to the passive sins,
such as apathy and laziness,
which in the long run can have a more devastating effect."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Today's thought is about laziness. I will admit that I can be very lazy sometimes and I will often blame it on being tired. However, I believe that by forcing myself to be active, I can overcome the feeling of being tired and instead become productive.

The challenge is this: Every time I find myself being lazy by procrastinating, I will stop and pray that God will give me a spirit of service to Him and to my husband. Then I will immediately do that task that I was putting off until later. If I fail, I will ask for forgiveness and try on. If I succeed, I will thank God for His grace in allowing me to succeed.

I spent some time today in "home maintenance." There isn't much deep cleaning that needs to be done. Instead, I worked on the laundry, washed the dishes, and picked up around the house. I'm going to try keeping our home clean instead of letting it become messy and dirty. I never want to be embarrassed by our home when someone shows up unexpectedly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 11

Dannie pointed me to a free personality test. This personality test matches up to the 31 Days to Clean personality assessment. Now I can determine ways to keep me motivated around the house.

My test results pegged me as personality type D. The results were very skewed in this direction.

The "D" Style

You are very results oriented and you like the bottom line. You're not into routine, and you want the fastest way possible to get your work done. You thrive on challenges, and you are also a great motivator. Let's use these qualities to get you moving!

Motivation: Challenge

You need to be challenged; so try giving yourself a challenge each day. Maybe it's one big challenge, or a few small ones. Either way, you will achieve real results if you meet your challenges. If, for example, you want to go to sleep in a clean bedroom each night, challenge yourself to spend 20 minutes a day straighting up your room and making your bed. Challenge yourself to do it during a particular time of the day until it becomes habit (say between 9 and 9:20am every morning). You need to see results or you will soon give up, so developing a habit for you is imperative! Heck, challenge yourself to form a new habit, just one, and give it all you've got!

Bingo! I am extremely results oriented and I love challenges. Jeff and I were just discussing how the Julie and Julia project (365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen) is the sort of thing I would tackle. I'm not sure I would enjoy that specific challenge, but I love big goals and challenges that have concrete results.

My second strongest personality type is the "C" style.

The "C" Style

You are a super detailed person, and you love structure and quality. You are a natural organizer, but you can sometimes be critical and perfectionist, which can get in the way of the big picture. You seek facts, and you want to know the most systematic way to get things done.

Motivation: Structure

Make a schedule and get yourself into a routine. You won't have much trouble with this, but what you may have trouble with is how to do everything "right" and still relax to spend time with your husband or kiddos. You need to have realistic expectations - get what you need done, but don't expect perfection. Strive for excellence, but land in the softness of grace.

The last couple personality tests I've taken have nailed my personality type. Even though I'm an overwhelmingly D personality, C type fits as well. I agree with everything these personality types have suggested - I am a perfectionist, critical, an organizer, and love challenges. Now it's time to turn this knowledge into practice as far as being a housewife is concerned!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 10

One third of the way through the 31 Days to Clean challenge! How time flies...

Today there was no cleaning challenge. Instead, I took a personality test. The link on the original post was broken and I couldn't find a free DISC exam. I appealed to my friend Google and completed the first free personality test that Google presented me with.

Some of these results are spot on!

Inclined to choose luxurious things, which are gratifying to the senses. Turned off by things which are tacky and tasteless. - True, which is interesting as we are broke, broke, broke and cannot afford anything nice. However, I refuse to compromise and will usually choose to buy nothing rather than buy something of a lower quality.

Feels empty and isolated from others and wishes to overcome this feeling. Believes life has more to offer her than what she was experienced thus far, and doesn't want to miss out on anything. - True, especially lately. I have an unsettled feeling that I'm not fulfilling God's entire will for my life but I can't quite put my finger on the problem.

Quickly becomes an expert in any field she pursues and can sometimes come off as overbearing and nosy. - True/False. I like research and try to learn as much as possible but I'm far from an expert in anything. Unfortunately, I agree that I can come across as overbearing and nosy.

Is bothered when her needs and desires are misunderstood and she feels there is no one to turn to or rely on. Her self-centered attitude can cause her to be easily offended. - True. Very, very true. I am self-centered and I am easily offended. This bothers me as 1 Corinthians 13 says that love is not easily offended. I'm afraid I don't know how to demonstrate true love because I fail to display characteristics described in the Bible as God-like love.

Seeking to broaden her horizons and believes her hopes and dreams are realistic. Worries she may not be able to do the things she wants and needs to escape to a peaceful, quiet environment in order to restore her confidence. - Also true. I believe my hopes and dreams are realistic but are out of reach right now. My biggest dream is to become a good wife and a good mother. I am able to work on being a good wife but having children is not possible due to financial choices earlier in life.

Takes on too much and is easily overwhelmed, but she wants to be successful despite the pressure she is feeling. Proud but tries to keep her attitude in check. She needs to feel a sense of recognition and security, and not take on so much. - True. When I commit to something, I take on too much responsibility. I am also proud and crave security, both emotional and physical.

Jeff agrees that the personality test pegged me pretty well but thinks that I need to stop focusing on the negatives. He says that I'm too hard on myself and I know he's right. However, I demand perfection of myself and usually fail to succeed. This is something God and I have many discussions about but I still feel like I have much to learn.

Monday, August 10, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 9

Today is day 9 of the challenge. I have very little energy today and have spent most of the time reading. The dishes are all washed and I ran a load of laundry. I also installed an operating system on my husband's work laptop for him.

The 31 Days to Clean blog post was about distractions. What are my biggest distractions?

Internet - The computer is a terrible time waster. I seem to be spending less time on the computer lately, but it still takes up a lot of my day. I need to make sure I limit my personal time on the internet.

Books - I read like crazy. I love books - historical fiction, Christian fiction, nonfiction, history, biographies, memoirs... If I'm not careful, I'll lose hours to a good book. While books are beneficial, they shouldn't be taking up my entire day.

The cleaning challenge was a continuation of the bedroom, something I don't need to work on. Instead, I just spent some time picking up our apartment after having houseguests all weekend.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday recap

I went running this morning. I can't believe it's 88 degrees that early. I ran 1.95 miles without stopping. My oh my, but that felt good. First time running in over a month.

Today has been a very productive day.

  • 2 hours of work

  • Vacuumed the entire apartment, including the spare bedroom

  • Straightened the spare bedroom

  • Washed, dried, and put away the dishes

  • Washed, dried, ironed, and put away three loads of laundry

  • Moved our clothes into our bedroom

  • Swept both patios

  • Cleaned out cat box

  • Replaced icky shower curtain in main bathroom with barely used curtain from kitty bathroom

I think that's it, but that's enough. :) Yay for it being almost Sabbath!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More work

Today was another day devoted to work. I set aside my housework, except for a bit of scrubbing on the tub, and worked for four hours. I'm finally going to get a decent paycheck!

My boss assigned me another two hours of work for tomorrow morning. For once there is actually more work than you can handle! It's a very nice change. :) I'm going to milk it for all it's worth so that we can send an extra credit card payment to the card with the lowest balance. It'll be nice to make an extra payment where none of the money goes for interest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Work, bathrooms, and other distractions

Change of plans. My goal today was to clean both showers and toilets. I've scrubbed at the window above the shower in the main bathroom and cleaned the shower walls. I started scrubbing the tub but it's going to need a lot of work. I'm really sweaty now and my arms are tired. That's what I get for not giving it a really good cleaning in ages.

I think I'm done with the cleaning aspect of today's six most important things list. I have the opportunity to put in several hours of paid work today and I'm going to jump on that chance. My paid work is sporadic and today I have the chance to get a few hours in, whereas I normally only get a few hours each week or two. We need the money so I'm going to concentrate on that today.

Hubby and I are going on a date tonight! This plan assumes he gets off work on time as he's working in the office today instead of at home. We're going to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement and Charting the Canyon exhibits. Wednesday evenings are free admission for the general public.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 8

Day 8 of the challenge! Today was all about making the bedroom a sanctuary.

Well... I don't think there's anything that can be done with our bedroom right now. There's nowhere to put plants, candles, etc. and I can't hang any pictures on the walls. I made the bed this morning and made sure everything was picked up and put away.

Instead, I worked on the bathrooms. We have two, one in the hallway and one just off our bedroom. The bathroom off our bedroom is deemed the kitty bathroom. That's where the catboxes are. Instead, we use the bathroom off the hallway because it has a full tub.

I hate cleaning bathrooms. It's my least favorite chore. Unfortunately, I procrastinate cleaning either bathroom. I get grossed out by the bathrooms even if I clean them once a week. Instead (confession time!), I only clean it about once a month. The toilet bowl gets cleaned more often than that, but the entire bathroom receives a scrub down about once every 4 weeks. Bad Cassandra!

Because the cleaning challenge spends several days working on the bedroom, I decided to spend several days working on the bathrooms. Sure, I could do them all at once but then I'd have to work in there for several hours. No thanks. Instead, I'll break it up over a couple days and then everything will be clean. Hopefully then I can get back to cleaning the bathroom once a week! So today I cleaned the mirrors and the countertops in both bathrooms. Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the toilets and the showers. On Thursday I will scrub both floors. Then both bathrooms will be all fresh and clean!

Instead of posting both before and after photos, I just have the Befores. I'll post Afters on Thursday when everything is clean.

Kitty bathroom:
Yes, the cats are messy. I can sweep and there will be cat litter on the floor within four hours... Oh, and the clothes hanging in the shower are my line drying shirts. The kitty bathroom is the only place in the house with enough room to line dry, as the apartment complex will not allow us to use a clothes line on our patio.

Main bathroom:

Posting pictures on the internet of my dirty bathroom is really embarrassing. Maybe that will motivate me to keep it clean?

Monday, August 3, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 7

Today is day 7 of the 31 Days to Clean challenge. I can't believe I've completed 7 days already! Time goes by way too quickly.

The mental aspect of today's lesson revolved around six tips in leading a self-disciplined life.

1. Commitment - Sometimes I struggle to remain committed. I don't have too many issues making a commitment; it's maintaining commitment that is difficult.

2. Set and complete goals - Again, I have little trouble setting goals. I love creating goals and steps to complete those goals. I just have trouble following through.

3. Do what you say you will do - I try but need to try harder. If I don't think I can complete something, I need to keep my mouth shut about volunteering. Which leads to number 4...

4. Learn to say "no" - Yup. Learn to say no.

5. Practice - Practice doesn't make perfect, though it certainly helps improve. Moving forward and making progress is more important than reaching perfection, especially if perfection isn't something that will likely be reached. It's still important to try!

6. Don't give up - Never quit!

Today's cleaning challenge is general bedroom clean up. As evidenced by the pictures below, our bedroom is very sparse and didn't need much cleaning. I put the clothes away, vacuumed, made the bed, and took the library books into the living room where they belonged.



We live very simply (as in, we don't have any money and therefore can't afford nicer furniture). The only things in our bedroom are the futon we sleep on and a flipped over laundry basket that serves as my nightstand. It's pretty easy to avoid clutter in the bedroom when you have nowhere to put it!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

31 Days to Clean - Day 6

Today is a continuation of Friday. My desk is very clean and today I purged my old files. I consolidated some files, threw some old paperwork into the shred pile, and reorganized the way my files are divided. Now I should be able to find what I'm looking for!

There is still the question of how I gain self-discipline to stay on top of my housework. I like these verses:

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God

(1 Corinthians 10:31).

Whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through Him to God the Father

(Colossians 3:17).

Whoever speaks,
is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God;
whoever serves
is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies;
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen

(1 Peter 4:11).

I want God to be glorified in everything that I do and say.