Neighborhood Root Beer Float Party

Apr 29, 2008

Recently I've been extremely disappointed with the fact that we don't know any of our neighbors very well. I wish I could say that we've only lived in our condo for a couple of months and are still getting settled; however, this August marks the 2 year mark for us and I still have a hard time remembering anyone's names.
In light of this we are hosting a neighborhood root beer float party. We'll pass out invitations this coming weekend and pray that people actually join us for our party. Above you'll find the invite I put together - I think it's pretty cute!! (thanks Sharla for help with the rhyme)
So - wish us well! It's sure to be quite awkward conversations but will hopefully prove to be a time to meet new friends. Anyone have any other idea's of ways we can serve our neighbors?


Worship Wars

Apr 27, 2008

As our worship team at church began playing a song of worship, my eyes were drawn to the front row, just to my right, where I found a young girl, who couldn't have been more than 12, signing right along with the words that we were singing as a congregation. With great passion she followed along in signing each word as they were displayed on the large screen above. My heart and mind were mesmerized by this simple act.
How is it that we've found ourselves in what many would call a "Worship War?" You wouldn't be surprised to hear someone say, "Well I couldn't go to that church because they have too contemporary of worship music." Or the opposite, " I want worship to be like what I hear on KLOVE not a symphony." Back and forth people's personal opinion of what worship should sound like have moved the church into this war that frankly will never end until people begin really evaluating the truth behind worship.
As I watched this girl in church today, I had to evaluate what worship really is. Isn't worship supposed to be the act of paying honor to the Almighty God? Worship for this beautiful young girl seemed to be just that, a way for her to give glory to God. Who could possibly say that because she couldn't hear the music she wasn't worshipping?
Rather than spend our time debating which type of music should be played on Sundays, its time we take a look at what I saw in this girl - a heart of worship which was certainly not dependant on whether someone was playing a guitar onstage or not.
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Steph's Pick - Be Our Guest

Apr 25, 2008

For those of you who know us well, our home has become very similar to that of a popular bed and breakfast. We love having guests stay with us and always welcome visitors any time of the year (hint, hint). Because of this we've learned that when it comes to entertaining out-of-town guests, it's important to go the extra mile in making their stay with us as warm and welcoming as possible. We all know that it can often be awkward staying in unfamiliar quarters, so making sure the guest room and bathroom are well stocked is important. Below you'll find just a few things that I have either done in the past or plan to do in the future for our visitors.

Guest Bedroom:
- Prepare the guest bed, futon or couch with lots of pillow options and soft linens. Nothing is better than slipping away into a comfortable bed with super cozy linens. This will make a huge difference in your guest's sleeping experience.
- Bedside Table Essentials - Be sure to include an alarm clock, lamp, bottles of water and some reading material. I like to keep various magazines by the guest bed for those guests who may like to read a little before closing their eyes for the night.
- Extra pillows & blankets. Everyone has different body temperatures (Alan & I have quite opposite temps). It's important to make sure your guests feel comfortable while sleeping and just by providing a couple different options you might make their night just that more comfortable.
- Make sure the window treatments keep out the morning sunshine so your guests can sleep past 6:00 am.

Guest Bathroom:
Keeping the guest bathroom well stocked is important so guests don't have to ask for any necessary items - which could be embarrassing for some. Here are a few ideas:
- Soft Towels & Wash Cloths (display in a prominent location)
- Extra Toilet Paper (I found a cute extra toilet paper roll basket at Walmart)
- Tooth Paste
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Cotton Balls
- Disposable Razor
- Tylenol
- Body Lotion
- Hand Soap
- Feminine hygiene products

These are just a few ideas of what you might want to consider doing to prepare for your next house-guests. What are your thoughts? Are there any special things that you do to make your guests feel especially welcome? Or maybe a host or hostess has done something especially wonderful for you that stands out in your mind?


Alan's Two Cents - Go Green

Apr 24, 2008

Ways to save water without spending a dime

1. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth
2. Fill a milk jug with water/sand/rocks and place it your toilet tank to displace water
3. Set a timer for your shower
4. Turn off the water while you shave
5. Fix toilet and faucet leaks immediately
6. If you want to spend some money, buy a water-saver showerhead that has a rate of 1.6 gallons per minute (gpm). (A high gpm is 2.5) It will save you money in the long run.

For some other tips go to

Other ways to save money in your house

1. Efficient use of appliances
2. Clean your lint trap in your dryer, which is the most costly household appliance, every six months
3. Replace your air filter for your A/C or heating system every 3 months
4. Turn off the lights when you leave a room
5. Unplug appliances when you are done using them like a phone charger, toaster, hair dryer etc.
6. Use a programmable thermostat
7. Replace your existing light bulbs with an energy saver bulb like florescent bulbs
8. Talk with your electric company to see if they offer a plan for peak and non-peak usage. For an example, we have a peak time of 9am - 9pm, therefore we limit our electricity use during that time frame.


we are family

Apr 22, 2008

This past weekend we were so blessed to have Alan's brother, Nick, and his wife Abby come visit. Our entire weekend was filled with tons of laughter and ended with incredible memories (and some tears :(). We love our families and rarely get to see them because we live so far away. But those times that we do spend with them are treasured dearly. We love you Nick & Abby!


Steph's Pick - Sangria

Apr 18, 2008

I'm always on the hunt for a good fruity drink - what can I say, I'm a girl. With spring nearing an end and summer right on her heels, refreshing drinks are always welcome in our home!

Sangria, a popular "wine punch" from Spain, is one of our favorites. This crowd-pleaser is typically served over ice and consists of red or white wine, fresh fruit, various juices and added spirits (brandy & triple sec) resulting in a refreshing drink loved by both wine-lovers and non-wine drinkers.

Because it is loved by so many, I especially like to make a pitcher for parties and get-togethers in the warm weather months. And because it actually tastes better when chilled overnight, it's one last thing to do the day of the gathering.

Here are just a couple recipes that I've used in the past. However, you'll find that this drink has many variations - feel free to browse the web for other recipes that may fit meet your party and taste-bud requirements.

Delicious Sangria (Red)

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
1/2 cup triple sec
1/2 cup brandy
1 orange
1 lemon
1 lime
8 maraschino cherries

Mix brandy, lemon juice, lemonade concentrate, orange juice, red wine, triple sec, and sugar in a large bowl. Float slices of lemon, orange and lime, and maraschino cherries in the mixture. For best results, refrigerate overnight to give the fruit flavors time to soak in. Enjoy!


White Wine Sangria

1 Bottle Dry White Wine
½ cup orange liqueur
1 cup Sugar
1 unpeeled lime, thinly sliced (remove seeds)
1 unpeeled lemon, thinly sliced (remove seeds)
1 unpeeled small orange, thinly sliced (remove seeds)
1½ cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 cups chilled sparkling water or club soda
Garnish: whole strawberries with hulls

Combine the wine, liqueur sugar and fruit in a large pitcher and refrigerate overnight. Pour into cocktail glasses filled with ice and top off with club soda. For the garnish, slice the strawberries partway, form the bottom up, and place one on the rim of each cocktail glass or wine goblet.

(Recipe Source: Southern Cocktails. Denise Gee)


Alan's Two Cents

Apr 16, 2008

Are you tired of being surprised at how fast your grocery bill adds up? If you are, I have some good news for you. I recently read an article in Consumer Reports (CR) that outlined some ways to slash your grocery bill. Here they are:
- Make a list. You will find that you are not buying any (or as many) extras that you don’t need anyway…in other words, follow your list! CR also mentions to not shop while you are hungry…makes sense.
- Pre packaged and pre-cut foods are going to cost more. Again…that makes sense
- Compare the unit prices of products. You might be prone to think that the larger item is less expensive; however, that is not always the case. Check the label of the product, where the unit price will be posted.
- Impulsive buys….don’t get suckered into buying the products at the checkout. Have a little self control! If you can’t resist, go to the candy aisle and buy a whole box….at least that way the unit price will be cheaper!
- Endcaps, which are the displays at the end of the aisle, are often not on sale says CR. Endcaps can also contain products that are about to expire, so make sure the product is good.

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The Race of All Races

Apr 14, 2008

One of our worship leaders at church hit on an idea just last night that I wanted to share in our blog.
As those of you who live in AZ know, come the end of April each year, AZ hosts an annual Ironman Triathalon competition. Although most of us wouldn't even consider participating in this event, we are familiar with it mostly b/c of the traffic problem it causes. Closing down highways in the large metropolitan city of Phoenix is not always the easiest thing - Imagine that.
Regardless, imagine the determination and drive it must take for an athlete to compete in this event. 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and to top it off - 26.2 miles of running!!!!! One has to be very disciplined and serious about his/her sport to even sign-up for an event such as the Ironman.
Now - what does this have to do with me you may be asking? Well - as I thought about these athletes and their commitment to excellence in participating in the Ironman, I had to think about my own personal commitment to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These athletes model for me what my own life should look like as I move towards glory. Just as they awake every day and work their schedules around training for this sporting event, I should also awake and make every effort to make my day one that brings glory to my Creator and ultimately prepares me for the one of the most significant days of my life - when I'll see my Jesus face to face.

I pray that as we walk each day in the power of the Holy Spirit, we might complete this great race of life with incredible fervor and that in the end, our God would be pleased with His servants.

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Steph's Pick - Lemi Shine

Apr 11, 2008

Do your drinking glasses look cloudy & have water spots when they come out of the dishwasher? I know ours did! Our glasses are only a couple years old but it was starting to look like we've had them for 10+ years. Not anymore! I was recently introduced to my new favorite kitchen cleaner - Lemi Shine. My aunt told me about Lemi Shine a couple months ago and from her words alone I knew I had to get some myself. I found it at our local grocery store (but have since seen at at Target). What it does is marvelous. Just by using a little Lemi Shine in each dishwasher load our glasses look brand new - no more water spots!!! And not only has it improved our glasses but all of our kitchen utensils.

So - pick yourself up a bottle of Lemi Shine - you won't regret it - I promise!

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Alan's Two Cents - Gas Prices

Apr 7, 2008

Aren’t gas prices getting out of control? Crude oil is selling at an all-time high (around $110 per barrel) and there is no telling when it is going to slow down. Prices at the pump continue to creep higher and higher, as the national average is now $3.29/gallon. There are many gas stations around my house and they all seem to have different prices. To me, gas is gas and I don’t care where I get it from.

I came across this website ( that has updated gas prices (just type in your zip code…there are other sites too like This website will give you a better understanding of what your local gas stations are charging…and where you should go! You could be paying 30 cents more and not even know it. If you have a 15 gallon tank, you are paying an extra $4.50 for the same gas you could get down the street a mile. It is not monumental savings, but every little bit helps. Take a look!
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Gift Idea's

Apr 4, 2008

Ever been invited to a party and felt clueless as to what you might bring the host or hostess for a gift? Well - look no further. Recently I stumbled upon this great new gift idea that I just had to share. Not only would it be a great host/hostess gift but a creative birthday, housewarming or just because gift for any of your friends or family. They are not only great conversation starters but they look pretty cool (if I do say so myself).
Pick up yours today at

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Alan's Two Cents - Bill Pay

Apr 1, 2008

How many bills do you pay a month? 10? 15? more? How much do you pay in postage?...most likely between $4.20 - $6.40 and possibly more. That's $50 - $78 per year. That is a lot of money going to the wonderful United States Postal Service. More than likely, you have a bill pay system via your local bank like Wells Fargo or Bank of America. The bank might charge (like $5/month) you for bill pay but if you are employed by a "preferred company" or just have a lot of money at the bank, they will waive the fee. Bill Pay takes very little time to set up, but after the initial set's a breeze. You'll save yourself numerous trips to the post office, time writing out checks, and more than $50-$78 per year. Pay your bills online and save more money - I promise, it will be worth it.

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