Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday-Keep Those Mayo Jar Lids!

I love using Mason jars for storing dry goods, leftovers and MYO mixes. But I had trouble with using the lids(top and ring) and keeping things fresh.

My solution- keep the lids off the plastic mayo jars. They fit the regular mouth jars perfectly! And they can be used again and again!

For more great Works For Me ideas, please visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Christmas Wrapping Inventory

*Blogger wouldn't let me post pictures of my organizing venture on this post for whatever reason, so you can view them below in the following post!

I tackled and organized my gift wrap box on Wednesday.It was actually a great time to do this with Christmas right around the corner. I could take inventory of my stock while I was already going through everything!

I had been keeping everything together in one gigantic Rubbermaid box, leftover from moving 2 years ago. I probably used it because it was long enough for rolls of gift wrap to lay flat. It was also big enough to keep my all-occasion and Christmas wrapping supplies together, resulting in a constant huge mess as it was very hard to keep organized. This box also takes up a lot of space!

In easy steps, here is how I went about organizing all of this.

1)Took everything out of box. This is especially fun if you have a toddler close by to help!

2)Sorted Christmas stuff into one pile and all-occasion wrappings into another.

3)One pile at a time, I sorted things by category. Such as ribbons and bows, tissue paper, gift bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper.

4) Determined I had way too much all-occasion supplies, so took a moment to declutter. I came up with a big gift bag full of gift bags and a gallon ziploc bag full of misc. bows and ribbons that I never use. What helped me to decide what I didn't need here was to think back to the types of gifts I normally give through-out the year. I realized that I mostly give container gifts, so that minimizes the use of gift wrap and gift bags.

5)Re-organized my all-occasion supplies. Wow! They all fit in one small box. What a concept!

6)Next, I tackled the Christmas pile. I know I will use most of this stuff, so I didn't declutter. I just organized! I have plenty of gift wrap, gift boxes and bags and ribbon to easily get me through this holiday season as well as the next, probably!

7)Put items I needed on my shopping list. All I need to buy is scotch tape and white tissue paper.

8)Put organized groups into containers for storage. Found a tall and narrow box for rolls of gift wrap to stand in and used a small square box for gift bags and boxes, as well as folded gift wrap and sheets of sticky tags. I took out an old Christmas bag to use for storing tissue paper and ribbons and bows. I'm going for functionality here and not aesthetics! This will work well to have out during the Christmas season.

9)Write reminder on shopping list to look at Rubbermaid gift wrap storage boxes. I've seen some tall ones that may work better than what I had been using. It would be nice at some point to have it all in containers with lids. Readers-feel free to let me know in the comments what works for you!

10)Sit back and enjoy! By doing this, I am putting myself in the mood to start wrapping my gifts. But of course, that will mess everything back up...:-)

Christmas Wrappings Organizing Pics

*Blogger wouldn't let me load these pics onto the above post, so here they are in a separate post!
Here is how I had it all "organized" before!

My big pile of stuff to sort out!

All-occasion gift wrappings all in one small box!

Christmas gift wrap supplies all organized!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Farmer And Adele

We dressed up as the Farmer and Adele(say it fast and see if you can figure it out!)for our church's fall costume party last weekend.

We were forced into creativity with our costumes as I refuse to spend big bucks on dress-up outfits. I had everything I needed for my farmer's wife costume- a denim skirt, white vintage-type blouse, vintage apron and straw hat which I decorated with a couple fall silk flowers I had around the house. I bought my husband the cowboy hat(I could not find a regular farmer's straw hat anywhere!)on clearance for $3.24 at Target. It wasn't a bad deal; it would come in handy should he decide to take up ranching.

I made a blue ribbon out of cardstock and markers that read "#1 Farmer- Outstanding in My Field" for him to wear. He came up with the whole Farmer and Adele idea. There is no end to the puns and wisecracks around this house!

I also carried a basket lined with a cloth napkin as part of my outfit. It also doubled as candy basket for the kids who played my game.

For my game, I cleaned out a pumpkin and made a couple of bean bags for a Pumpkin Bean Bag Toss. Other games and activities included decorating a bag, cookie decorating, a cake walk, What's In The Box?(a mystery sensory activity), and Eating Donuts on a String, a variation of Bobbing for Apples. We also had some fun fall treats for refreshments.

We all enjoyed the evening so much, even though it had to be moved inside because of pouring down rain. We were thankful that the host family had a very large home for the event!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Visit With My Nephew

My little nephew Knox came to visit for a few days last week. This was his first overnight trip away from his parents. He was very brave and we enjoyed having him here for several days. It is so much fun being an auntie!

Knox loves balls! He also looks so cute sitting in there!

Is it an ogre? No, it's a Knoxster wearing Shrek ears!

Auntie Mary Ann reading Knox his favorite book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.We wouldn't have survived those few days without it!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Isn't it great that God knows our needs and takes care of them?

I've been going through my winter clothes and trying to get some semblance of a fall and winter wardobe going. It's hard to know what to wear during these months down here in South Carolina. It can be long sleeve and sweater weather one day and shorts and t-shirt the next!

But I have noticed that my winter clothing isn't in the best of shape. I only have a couple of long sleeve shirts and some look pretty bad. So I knew I would have to replace them some time soon. I asked God to help me find the right clothes at the right price, since He always knows about those things better than me. I hadn't thought any more about it until a friend brought a small bag of clothes to me at church today. Some I won't be able to wear, but at the bottom of the bag were two long sleeve shirts that will be perfect for fall and winter. The great thing is that I already have a shirt of the exact same style in different colors, so I already know that they will fit right and be modest.

As for the right price...who can argue with FREE!!

God also answers prayer and works through our own stupidity. Here's an example:

Over Labor Day weekend, Eckerds had a special going along with the Pepsi Company where you could buy 4 -12 packs of select Pepsi products for $10. The ad included a rebate form to send in to receive a rebate of $10. So I would get 4 packs of drinks for free. Not bad, huh?

Well, unfortunately, Eckerds sometimes misrepresents their sale items and gets things mixed up. Their ad pictured Aquafina water bottles as part of the deal, but the fine print on the rebate form didn't mention Aquafina as one of the qualifying products.

Well, I didn't read the fine print and purchased 3 12-packs of Aquafina and 1 Sierra Mist, since we drink very little carbonated beverages and almost nothing with caffeine.

I cut off the UPC symbols and sent the rebate form in, all the while feeling like a frugal and smart little homemaker. Then I read this post and realized that I had made a mistake by not reading the fine print. I was sickened to think I had just spent $10 that I wouldn't have spent otherwise and I felt like I had wasted some money. My husband helped me to calm down and look at the situation as a learning experience and I was thankful that it was only $10 and not $20.:-)

I also prayed about it and asked God to work it out however He thought was best. Then I put it out of my mind and only thought about it as a reminder to always read the fine print!

So imagine my surprise last week when I received a $10 rebate check from the Pepsi company! I certainly wasn't expecting anything and I was taking full responsibility for the error. I am thankful that God worked it out this way and you can be sure that I will continue to read the fine print and only submit rebates for items that I am assured are the ones that the rebate is for.

Just thought I'd share two little praise stories from my life this week! Thank you, God for your faithful provision!

Friday, October 20, 2006

25 Ways I Save

I saw this over at Like Merchant's Ships. Here are some ways that I am able to save money:
25 Ways I Save
1. Cook primarily from scratch.
2. Drink water almost exclusively; very few juices or soda beverages.
3. Shop with a list. And discipline myself to stick to that list!(Sometimes harder than others.)
4. Plan menus.(This helps me to make my shopping lists.)
5. Plan my errands for one trip. This saves gas, time and money. I don't like to shop all that well anyways, and if I am doing a whole mornings worth of errands, I am more ready to get my business done and head home!
6. Stay at home a lot!
7. Use what I have to cook or create crafts.
8. Pray before, during and after I shop.
9. Cultivate a contented spirit.
10. Take time to use coupons and rebates. This way, I get a bunch of stuff for free!
11.Buy basic clothes that I can mix and match.
12. Shop at thrift stores and yard sales.
13. Have a list for thrift stores and yard sales.
14. Limit my thrift store and yard sale shopping!!! (Are you with me here?!!!?)
15. Use the envelope system for budgeting. You can see where all your money goes.
16. Pay with cash. Cash is harder to part with than money you can't see. When the cash is gone, you need to wait to make a purchase.
17. Spend less than $2 a pound for most meats by watching the sales and marked down shelves.
18. Stay in tune with my needs vs. my wants.
19. Make some of my own cleaners.
20. Limit use of disposables.
21. Budget a certain amount of money for Christmas each month. This helps me to shop all year for gifts, saving me money and time when I can think more clearly, as opposed to the hectic holiday season.
22.Use less laundry soap than called for. I haven't noticed a difference in how clean the clothes are.
23. Keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer. Sometimes, it may take a little creative thinking, but I can usually come up with an edible meal without going to the store or ordering a pizza.
24.Being willing to branch out and research new frugal ideas and not being afraid to learn new skills that will benefit my family as well as improve our quality of life and budget.
25. Looking at our frugal lifestyle as a fun, rewarding and challenging hobby rather than having a "pity me" attitude.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday-Kitchen Clean-Up Tip

Once again, it is Wednesday and time to share something that works for me! I love to cook, but the clean-up is another totally different subject.I am a really messy cook!

I especially hate cleaning up pancake and waffle batter. You know how it always drip, drip, drips on the counter and everywhere when pouring it on to the griddle or waffle iron? I used to use a regular wet rag to wash it up, but really hated how slimy, nasty and generally disgusting the rag would look and feel when I was done. So now, I just lay out a piece of wax paper under the mixing bowl of batter. When making waffles, I put out a huge piece of wax paper to put both the batter and the waffle iron on to catch all the drips. When done cooking, all I have to do is lift up the paper and toss it. This goes against my normal reluctance to use a lot of disposables, but it's so easy and definitely works for me!

Thanks again to Shannon for hosting Works For Me Wednesday!

Previous WFMW Posts:
Flu and Cold Season Preparation
Sewing tip
Have birthday cards ready
Menu Planning
Stamps in your mailbox
Stir Fry tips
Keep Aldi Bags In Your Car
Sacred Space and Bible Basket
MYO Mixes
Organize Receipts and Bills
Remember Your Tithe Check

Friday, September 29, 2006

Frugal Fridays- Cheap Toddler Toys

Thanks to Crystal at Biblical Womanhood for once again hosting Frugal Fridays!

When I first started doing some in-home childcare about a year ago, I didn't have very many toys or money to buy them.

Drawing from my experience as an Early Childhood major as well as using some common sense, I began looking around my house for items that the babies could play with. As I've been able, I've supplemented my toy basket with some nice classic toys from yard sales as well as a good selection of wonderful board books that were almost all purchased for a quarter each. (One day I sat down and figured out that buying all these books brand-new would be well over $100!) I also keep a good supply of basic art supplies handy such as crayons, used computer paper, markers, play dough, water color paints, etc.

I've found that the kids like playing with my homemade toys or the recyclables better than the store-bought toys! The basic items tend to keep their attention longer than the battery operated stuff they have at home.

I hate clutter, so I continually am cleaning out the toys and sorting to only keep one basket full of stuff in my living room. My living room is too small to have lots of toys all over! I rotate the toys in and out every month or so and that helps to keep interest up.

Here are some cheap things that I've found that the toddlers like:
~oatmeal containers
~any plastic container with a lid
~orange juice concentrate lids(I decorated these with a sticker on each and cut a slit in a coffee can for an inexpensive but fun, "Kerplunk" game. Remember it's toddlers we're talking about here!)
~laundry detergent scoops-wash these well and keep in your outdoor bag for sand and water play
~boxes- Aldi boxes work well as well as bigger boxes, especially when you have someone to push you around in your "train".:-)
~food boxes-these usually last a short while, then they get cluttery and I recycle them:-)
~wooden spoons and other non-dangerous utensils
~ tin or aluminum pie plates
~water bottles-clean and dry them then add colorful objects such as jingle bells, ribbon, shells, beads or colored water. Be sure to hot glue the lid on or only give a tightly shut one to a small child that you know is not able to open it yet. (Use your common sense with this because of the potential choking hazard and consider the age of your child.)
~measuring cups and other plastic kitchen items-I use these while cooking. It keeps them occupied as well as close by where I can see them and interact with them.
~diaper wipe boxes-fill with scarves or tie scarves together for child to reach in and keep pulling out.

Hope this gives someone some great frugal toy ideas. Let me know of any more you've used or thought of!

Children don't need expensive toys to learn or to be happy. Little ones love having a caring adult close by to sing, talk, play and include them in their daily activities.

Check out Crystal's blog for more great Frugal Friday tips!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Sweet-Smelling Home

This time of year, as the weather turns a little cooler, and thoughts turn to the coziness of fall and winter, I start to make a real effort to make sure my home smells nice and sweet. Now, I do like my home to smell good all year round, but for fall and winter there is just something nice and cozy about the home smelling as though I've been baking!

A sweet-smelling home is one where family and friends will want to be! I love being at home when my house smells nice! For some reason, it just makes me feel more domestic. Our friends have commented on the nice homey smells in the house and how comforting it is to them.

A cute little story that tells of the power of fragrance is about a little girl from our church. About a year ago, she and her father stopped by unexpectedly one afternoon to get something from my husband. It so happened that I was baking some pumpkin muffins while they were here. The following Sunday, her mom commented how her little girl said that she wanted to live at Miss Mary Ann's house because it smelled so nice, like living in a gingerbread house! I share this story with you, not because my house always smells yummy-it doesn't- but to encourage you to make your home one that has smells that draw people, especially your family, in and make them want to stay!

Here are some ideas:
~Candles- I bought a pumpkin pie scented candle at Wal-Mart this week. It smells great and was very inexpensive. There are lots of food scented and other homey scents out there to choose from.

~ Simmer a potful of cinnamon sticks, orange peel, whole cloves, even apple slices in water. Keep adding water as needed. Just remember to turn the stove off if you are leaving the house!

~Add some spices(even kitchen spices that are old) to the vacuum cleaner bag.

~Set out a bowl of potpourri.

~Bake something special for your family. This won't only make your house smell yummy, but make your loved ones feel very special as they eat a fresh-baked treat.

~Sprinkle a carpet deodorizer/powder on the carpet before vacuuming. Glade makes some very nice scents. My favorite for year-round use is Fresh Linen. The dollar stores carry these too and they don't cost much at all.

~Keep your trash emptied! This will help a lot!We all have dirty diapers, food scraps and other garbage that contributes a less than pleasant odor to our homes. Emptying the trash every day or every other day(depending on your own family) and cleaning the trashcans on a somewhat regular basis will help this problem tremendously.

What are some ways you use to make your home smell sweet and nice?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday-Sewing Tip

Here's a simple little tip for those of you who sew. I was finding that it was taking me so long to cut something out with all the pinning and such, so I looked around to see what kind of weights I could use. Big heavy magnets were the key! I put them around the edge of the fabric I'm cutting and it is quick and easy and works great! No more dealing with little pins! And they can be conveniently stored and used on my refrigerator when I'm not sewing.

Note: This doesn't work well with small items; the magnets get in the way and move around too much. So I use pins for the little things I'm cutting out. But this is a real time-saver for large pieces!

Be sure to check out Rocks in my dryer for more Works For Me Wednesday ideas!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

$1.59 Jacket

Several years ago, my mom gave my husband a brand-new jacket (uni-sex)that had been given to her and was too big. It fit him perfectly. The only problem was that her name was embroidered on it and unfortunately, mom and dear hubby don't share a name. And for some weird reaon, he didn't want to wear a coat with a woman's name on it(can't imagine why!!!).

Taking out the embroidery would have been quite time-consuming and most likely would've looked pretty bad by the time I was done. So we found an iron-on applique at the fabric store that fit over the name and I sewed it on over it.(I didn't iron it on because of potentially damaging the fabric.) It literally took me a minute to complete and Voila! he has a brand-new jacket for winter that only cost me about $1.59.

Too bad it only took me 3 years to get this simple project done.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Frugal Fridays-Yard Sale Cash

I love going to yard sales and I often find many useful items and gifts, as well as occasionally finding a few items to sell on Ebay.

As we all know, even shopping at yard sales costs money. And money is often scarce, right? But the great thing is that you can get so much for so little at yard sales. I have found that the only way to have some spending money for yard saling season is to save my change. We use the envelope system for our budgeting and at the end of each month, I carefully empty all the change into my yard sale change purses(one for quarters, one for nickels and dimes, and the heavy one is loaded with pennies-graduated size cosmetic bags that fit into each other; there is even room for dollar bills, but we don't usually have very many of those left!LOL!!!)

When we leave the house on Saturday morning to go treasure-hunting, I grab my change purse and my money is all right there. This also helps us to keep our spending in check and to choose our purchases carefully. Having a change purse helps to keep me in good favor with the sellers as I am not making a 50 cent purchase and asking them to give me change for a $20 dollar bill at 8 am. Having my change handy also immediately identifies me as an avid yard saler.:-) I have stopped using pennies for more than 10 or 25 cent purchases, much to the relief of my husband, who thinks pennies are made to be rolled, not counted out into dollar increments while he waits, embarrassed!!:-)

I will sometimes dip into another budget category to buy a bigger ticket item, such as a Christmas gift or piece of furniture that we have had on our list to buy. But otherwise, keeping my change for yard sales has really worked for us!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today! Be sure to check out Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday tips!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday-Flu And Cold Season Preparation

Now is the time of year where I start to prepare for the flu and cold season by stocking up on "sick supplies". I try to keep regular cold and flu remedies on hand throughout the year, but as the seasons change, I am reminded to take note of what I have and what I need more of. Having these items on hand will hopefully eliminate those late night and early morning emergency trips to Wal-Mart as well as making it easier to get well if I am the one who gets sick.

Here is a list of what I keep on hand throughout the winter:

In the medicine cabinet:
-Cold and Allergy meds
-extra asthma meds for me
-Vitamin C
-Vaseline(for chapped lips and peeling noses)
-working thermometer

In the kitchen:
-Ginger Ale or 7-up
-Chicken Noodle Soup (also ingredients to make my own)
-Saltine crackers
-variety of juices-Orange, Grapefruit, Cranberry
-lots of water, of course!:-)

In the house:
-extra sheets and blankets(just in case!:-)

Be sure to visit Rocks In My Dryer for more great ideas and tips!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Washing My Shower Curtain Liner

My shower curtain liner always gets all gunky and nasty with mildew and soap scum. A while back I read a WFMW tip that said to throw it in the wash machine with bleach to wash. I washed it this way last week and then hung it in the bathroom to dry and it worked great! It was so much nicer than my previous way of dragging it outside and scrubbing and hosing down, etc. (I used cold water and a gentle and shorter cycle for this.)It came out all white and shiny with no stains in sight!

I don't have any idea whose blog I saw this tip on, but it was a really good tip-one I will be using often!

I thought I would pass this along!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Frugal Fridays- More Ground Beef

This is a very simple tip, one that some of you might already know about. But for the rest of us....:-)

I buy the 5 pound rolls of ground beef at Wal-Mart. I used to always cut them into 1 pound chunks to freeze in ziploc bags. Now I cut the roll into 6 pieces instead of 5. We get at least one more meal out of the roll and when mixed into soups or casseroles, we never miss the extra meat!

Another way to stretch the meat is to add a spoonful or two of browned ground beef to a freezer container every time you cook some. After a couple of weeks, you will have enough for another recipe.

These are just little ways that I'm able to stretch our grocery dollars a little further!

Thanks to Crystal at Biblical Womanhood for graciously hosting Frugal Fridays! Be sure to check out her blog for links to more frugal tips. You are also invited to join in the fun!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Menu Planning

I really like planning my menus ahead. Not only does it save me money, it also saves time thinking about what I should cook each day. But I found that I was having trouble thinking up things to cook when I sat down to make up my menus.

It really helped me to come up with a plan for dinners for each day of the week:
Monday-Cook's Choice(Most Mondays we eat at our small group Bible study.)
Tuesday-Soup, Salad, or Sandwich
Thursday-Crockpot or something from my freezer
Friday-Cook's Choice
Saturday-Breakfast for dinner
Sunday-Snack-type "fun" foods

To get me started, I wrote down all of the foods we like in the different categories. Now when I have trouble coming up with a meal plan, I consult my list. I also get ideas from looking at what ingredients I have on hand! This isn't set in stone; a lot of weeks, I won't follow this plan exactly. After all, there is no rule stating that I can't switch things around! Since I love the creative outlet of cooking and trying new recipes, Cook's Choice is my favorite day to plan.

Other ideas are having a pasta night, pizza night or casserole night. You can plan whatever works for your family and unique situation.

Using this method to plan my menus has been a real time-saver, so it definitely works for me!

As always, many thanks to Shannon for hosting WFMW! Be sure to check out Rocks In My Dryer for many more great tips and ideas!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Keep Your Gift Box Filled!

I love to give gifts, but often my funds are quite lacking in that area. So I do what my mom and many other frugal ladies do- I keep a gift box going all year long. Many of these items are bought on sale, from the clearance rack or yard sales. The dollar store is also a great place to find little gift items. I try to keep my selections pretty generic so I can use them for more people! I thought I would share some of the items that I like to keep ready for gifts:

1) Baskets and other little containers- I often do little theme baskets so these come in handy and are found easily at thrift stores or yard sales.

2) Candles and/or potpourri

3)Books- mostly inspirational, poems or devotional types that I have found very cheap($1 or less) at a discount Christian store in a neighboring town. I also find some nice small cookbooks at yard sales that are great for a kitchen-themed basket.

4)Coffee Mugs-to fill with tea bags or drink mixes.

5)Coloring books, bubbles, notebooks, art supplies for the kids.

6)Journals, stationary and cards- I love these so I figure other people do too!LOL!!

7)Bath soaps and lotions

8)Baby items-I try to keep this for either boy or girl unless I'm buying with someone specific in mind. Murphy's Law states that if I have adorable girly outfits in my gift box, then all of my friends will have boys in the next 2 or 3 years or vice versa!!!!:-) Lately, I have been making flannel receiving blankets to give as baby gifts.

9)Christian CD's out the wazoo- Now these are not the most inexpensive items to purchase, but when you have a bunch given to you like we did, they make great gifts! My husband won a whole brick of CD's on the radio one Christmas and then a month or two later a friend gave us another different brick of CD's. We had a lot of those already, so we've taken to using them for gifts. Unless the recipients read this blog post, they will be none the wiser!!!LOL!

10)Homemade cookies or other baked goods-Now I don't keep these in my gift box, but I do give a lot of my own baked treats as gifts. I try to keep my baking center stocked well, so I can easily whip something up! So few people cook and bake from scratch these days, so these items are usually quite well received! I also give some of my own cooking and baking mixes for a thoughtful gift.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Stir Fry Tips

During the summer, I love making a yummy veggie stir fry with all the great garden produce that is so readily available. Here are some tips that I have learned to make my stir fries really good!

I learned this tip on how to make sure all the veggies are evenly cooked in a stir fry:
Get out a shallow pan, such as a pie plate. As you chop your veggies, layer them into the pie plate, starting with the shortest cooking veggies on the bottom and ending with the longest cooking veggies on the top. The veggies will be all ready for you to put in to the skillet with the longest cooking ones going in first.(You can do this the night before and keep in your fridge.) Here are lists of the different groups of veggies, with Group 1 needing the longest cooking time, Group 2 being the medium group and Group 3 veggies needing only a minute or so.

Group 1: potatoes(sliced thin), celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, winter squash, asparagus(if thick)

Group 2: mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, asparagus (if thin)

Group 3: greens(spinach, chard, escarole, etc.), scallions, bean sprouts

Heat your wok or saute pan alone, then add a little oil. Add chopped onions now if you are using them. Then add whatever Group 1 veggies you have and saute until partially done. Then add Group 2 veggies and cook until everything is almost done. Put Group 3 veggies in at the very end, since these cook pretty much on contact with the other hot veggies.

The more thinly a vegetable is sliced, the more quickly it cooks.

Good Things To Do:
1)Hover over the wok as you cook: Stir very much.
2)Have everything ready before you start and within arm's reach of the stove.
3)Keep the heat high, and keep the veggies moving in the wok. Work quickly.

These ideas are taken in part from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen and Emilie Barnes and Sue Gregg's 15 Minute Meal Planner: A Realistic Approach to a Healthy Lifestyle. I hope these tips will help you, too!

Be sure to visit Rocks In My Dryer for more Works For Me Wednesday tips!

Monday, August 14, 2006

In My Sewing Room- Flower Pincushions

Thanks to Tori for sharing the instructions on how to make these cute little pincushions!

I love finding projects that use supplies that I already have on hand. I already had fabric, buttons, stuffing and thread, so the only thing I needed to buy was felt for the backing. Taking into account that I used scraps of fabric and buttons I had on hand, my cost for each of these is about 12 cents! These take, literally, only about 15 minutes to make. I am making a bunch of these to give to all my sewing friends.

Tip: I used a small dessert/salad plate (about 6 inches in diameter) as a pattern to cut out the circles.

OOPS!!! After making these, I realized that the "flowers" don't have enough petals! Oh well, I'll make sure the next ones are done the right way! I still think they are cute though. :-)Be sure to look at Tori's pincushions to see how they are really supposed to look!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fun Bookmarks

I was playing around with magazine pictures and making bookmarks not long ago when I came across a stack of paint color cards that I had gotten when in the mood to paint everything.

Suddenly, they looked like bookmarks to me, so I glued two together, back to back and covered them with clear contact paper. I punched a hole at the top and put a ribbon through. Voila!!! Instant and almost free bookmark. :-) I am sure there are many ways I could embellish these with stickers and charms to make them even more artsy looking.

Not that I am advocating grabbing stacks and stacks of these from your local home improvement store, but they are free for the taking if you are thinking of doing any kind of painting projects. I also use these for cute scrapbooking borders.

I have given some for gifts and my friends just love these!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Stamps In Your Mailbox

Recently, I have started getting my postage stamps delivered to my mailbox. Call the post office or ask your postal carrier for a stamps-by-mail form. Just fill out the form, include a check for payment, put it with your outgoing mail(no stamp required) and you will receive your stamps in a couple of days. There is no shipping cost for ordering your stamps this way.

I love this since I have limited errand running time these days and it always seems that the post office is not on the way to any of my other stops. This really works for me!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Have Birthday Cards Ready!

I have a greeting card organizer that is very helpful for knowing where all my cards and stationary are stored. I did have to come up with a system to make sure my cards got sent out at the right time.

At the first of the year, I make sure I have enough cards for all family members and close friends. I go ahead and pick out a card for each person, write their names on the envelopes and organize them according to month. I then store them in my card box.

On the first day of each month, I have marked on my calendar to get that month's cards ready.(I also have each birthday marked on my calendar.) I then get that month's stack out, address and stamp them and put them in my little basket by the front door where I keep all outgoing mail. Each day, I see the cards and mail them if it is the right time.

This takes a little brain power to remember all this, but it has made it much easier to send cards out on time. It definitely works for me!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday--Keep Aldi Bags In Your Car

I keep my grocery bags and a quarter(for the shopping cart rental) in my car for when I shop at Aldi's.There have been far too many times that I had to break a twenty dollar bill to get a quarter for a cart! And equally as many times have I forgotten to bring bags until I am ready to check out with an overloaded grocery cart. Of course, at this time, there are no nice empty boxes to be found and there is just something about buying plastic grocery bags that doesn't sit well with me. (Especially when I have literally bags of them at home!) My assortment of Aldi bags include several canvas tote bags, some heavy duty paper bags and a pile of regualr Wal-Mart bags. I usually try to swipe a couple of the flat boxes while shopping to put my cans in. I keep the quarter in my cup holder so it's always right where I can find it! This definitely works for me.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Favorites: Activity Books For Toddlers

I recently treated myself to some new books from Among them were these toddler activity books. I remembered these as some of my very favorite resources when I was teaching little ones,but never had my own copies.

The Toddlers Busy Book by Trish Kuffner has so many great ideas in it that are very suitable for using at home, since it is written for moms by a mom! My favorite part of this book is the lists of recyclable and relatively cheap items that are recommended to keep on hand.

Wonderplay by Fretta Reitzes and Beth Teitelman is also a great find. This book starts with activities for infants and moves on up to things to do with older preschoolers. I would recommend this book to those with young, young babies and toddlers in order to get enough out of it. I like this book for the plethora of new chants and rhymes! (You'd think that after several years of toddler care-giving, I wouldn't need any more chants and rhymes, but hey, we all need new ideas occasionally!)

Even though I have lots of ideas in my head from experience with little ones, its nice to have some great resources for those brain-dead days or just to bring to mind new ideas or things you haven't thought of lately.

So if you're a mom who needs new ideas or an in-home child care provider as I am, check out these books!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Sacred Space and Bible Basket

Some time ago, I read an article in some Christian publication about designating a corner of your home as your "sacred space". Sounds cool, doesn't it?!? :-) It's a space where you can read your Bible, pray, be still before God, chill out, whatever...:-) It can be different depending on whether it is mainly for you or for several people in your family.

Up until reading this article, I had no special spot in which to land for my quiet time each morning. So I was immediately intrigued and began my search for a special chair for my sacred spot. I was hoping for something more cottage-y and charming, but this 21st Century American yard sale find was just the right price at $12, so I immediately deemed it as sacred.:-)Adding an afghan and a pretty pillow makes it seem very cozy, plus I have a floor lamp nearby that has a 3-way light switch so I can have dim light if I want it. Our CD player is close by and also a space to light a candle if I'm in the mood! This chair also comes in handy for cuddling toddlers, reading stories and is perfect for using as a certain toddler's "milk chair"(bottle time sitting against the soft pillow!). I don't have my chair in a secluded corner or anything, but then my living room is pretty secluded anyways at 5:30 a.m. when I sit down for my quiet time.:-)

Beside my chair, I keep a basket filled with my Bible, devotional book(s), various journals and blank books and at least one pen. Everything is right there and easy to find. Husband's Bible has also found its way into the basket, which makes it extremely easy to grab Bibles and get out the door on Sunday morning, since we know where everything is!

I love getting up each morning and going to sit in my special spot. Just sitting there is calming and promotes a quiet spirit before God. I encourage you to also find your own little spot in your home if you don't already have one. My "sacred space" is an idea that definitely works for me!

Be sure to check out Shannon's blog today for more great Works-For-Me-Wednesday ideas!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tips For New Stay-at-Home Wives and Moms

Here are a few tips that I have learned during the last year as a Stay-At-Home wife. Feel free to read and to leave your own thoughts in the comments box.:-)

1) Get used to living on one income as soon as possible. This is good to do as soon as you get married or before you quit your job. Avoid going into debt and start to pay off any debt that you already have as soon as possible!

2)Get up at a decent time each morning. Shower and get dressed right away just as though you are going to work. This will help to motivate you for your day's tasks!

3)Discipline yourself to stay busy and get your work done. Fight the urge to watch TV, read or sit at the computer all morning. Occasional breaks are fine, of course!:-)

4) Make a house keeping schedule. Now that you are home and out from under an employer's schedule, the week looks very long. There is so much time to get everything done so why schedule it? This is what I thought at first before realizing that days and weeks were passing without a whole lot of productive activity in my home!:-( I was doing things I enjoyed, like cooking and baking, but not a lot of cleaning.LOL!! I have had to use a lot of discipline to get the rest of my home in order! After one year, I have finally come up with a schedule that is working for me. I think we are all entitled to a lazy day occasionally and we all have tired and PMS days when we just don't get that much done. I'm not talking about that but rather slumping around week after week accomplishing nothing! (You know what stage of life you are in right now and what is feasible for you to accomplish in a day. Each person is different in that regard.)

5) Make a list of your priorities and keep them in their rightful places. I like Linda Dillow's list of priorities in her book Creative Counterpart. Mine are 1) God; 2) husband; 3) my home; 4) time for me; and 5) other (for me that means my child care business and my children's church leadership commitments. If I had children, they would be in slot #3 and my home would be moved to #4 and so on. Do I always keep my priorities in the right order? NO!! But when I return to them, my life is so much more balanced and peaceful.

6) Resist the urge to fill up your time with every volunteer opportunity and do everything. Just because you are home doesn't mean that you are lazy(I'm still trying to convince myself of that!) or have nothing to do with your time. It also doesn't mean that you should feel obligated to take on every project and volunteer opportunity that is pushed your way since "all you do is stay home." Know your boundaries and kindly, yet firmly stick to them. Again, you know yourself and how much outside activities you can take on while still able to keep up with your home-making activities.

7) Learn new skills and have fun doing it! This is the time of your life to learn new skills especially if you have no children yet. Make a list of skills you want to hone and research them on the internet, check out books from the library, take a class or learn from a friend. Cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, flower arranging, home decorating, card and gift making,etc. are all fun things to learn and also can be useful in your home. These skills will also save you lots of money in the long run!

8) Cultivate a contented and thankful spirit. Ask God to help you to be resourceful with what you already have or can get on your budget. Pray a lot!!! God is very interested in the little things, too!

9) Make your quiet time with God a priority each day. This should be the first tip!!! It is definitely the most important.:-)

10) Make time for your husband and children.Plan special activities for holidays and ordinary days. It is so much fun to start and carry on traditions that your family loves. Doing this will let your family know that they are the most important people in your life and that they are special to you.

Friday, June 30, 2006

My Story: How I Came To Be A Stay-At-Home Wife

One year ago, I quit my job as a 2 year-old teacher at an upscale child development center. The original plan was for me to take a 2 month break and then find a part-time job closer to home. Being newly married, having just made an address and job change plus being gone to work 55-60 hours per week were leaving me overwhelmed and exhausted both mentally and physically. A 40 hour work week, an hour commute each way in rush hour traffic, plus required overtime hours meant that I was rarely home! I left for work at 8 am each morning and didn't return home until around 7 pm at night. Saturdays were stressful and overcrowded as I struggled to push five days of errands,cleaning and homemaking into one.

My husband and I talked it over at length and prayed much over our decision. He simply wanted me home more! He also longed to see me more relaxed and less overwhelmed. I thought that if I just had a break and was able to get my home and life organized, then I would be fine when I went back to work.

Our financial situation kept us from making a long-term decision for me to stay at home. There was no way that we would be able to live on my husband's small salary. We had been able to save a good portion of my wages up to that point, sow e were using that as a cushion while I took some time off.

It wasn't that our spending was out of control. It wasn't. I already cooked dinner every night, had a reasonably small grocery budget and we rarely ate out. We both took our lunches of leftovers to lunch each day. Sure, I could save gas money and wear and tear on my car. But, otherwise, I couldn't see how I could trim the budget any further. We had no unnecessary frills and luxuries to cut out.

Of course, it was considered odd for me- a wife and not a mother-to quit my job and stay home. "You will be bored to tears," my coworkers said. Also overheard was the comment, "Her husband has such a good job that she doesn't have to work!" I have no idea where they got that idea!

So I came home and began to fit into my new role. At first, I felt as though I was playing house. It was so much fun! I took great care in cleaning my house, organizing each room and cooking ahead for the freezer. I loved being home , but I knew it wouldn't last so I was hesitant to get too settled in.

My husband absolutely loved having me at home and I wished I could stay at home permanently. But after six weeks at home, I knew it was time to start looking for a part-time job. We were praying about the right job for me when a friend and neighbor called me and asked if I would be interested in caring for her four month old several days a week. I started taking care of the baby and soon I had two more little ones to care for as well. The money is not a lot as all these kids are part-timers, but is enough to comfortably meet our needs while still allowing me some flexibility in being a homemaker.

In February, we became debt-free and hope to remain that way until we take on a mortgage when we buy our first home. Being debt-free has also freed up a little more cash each month.

As I said before, we couldn't live on on my husband's small salary. This was true. I was wrong, however, in thinking that I couldn't trim our budget any further. As I continually pray, learn and experiment, I am slowly finding more ways to cut costs. There is an advantage to having more time than money! My grocery budget is still the same but I have been able to stretch it more and still have more of a pantry stash at the end of each month. This is possible by cooking more from scratch, careful planning and creative use of leftovers. I also am able to make more of my gifts, I am starting to experiment with making my own cleaners and many other little things around my home that are small but add up in the long run. Maybe eventually, I will have our budget trimmed way down! :-) (Where there's a will, there's a way!)

I know that not everyone who wishes to be home full-time is able to quit their job as I was able to. I don't know if I will always stay home either. None of us knows the future. But I do know that this is definitely where God has me right now and I am so happy with it! (Sure, there are some days when it would be really nice to leave my messy home and go to work! We all have those days!:-)

So this is my story. I can't believe that a whole year has gone by already! God has been so faithful and has provided so abundantly for us, way above whatever we thought would be possible!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Memorial Day At The Lake

Here is a picture of my husband and I. :-)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Works-For-Me Wednesday: MYO Mixes

I do almost all my cooking and baking from scratch these days. One way I keep it simple and fast is to make my own mixes. So far, corn bread, baked oatmeal, pancakes, waffles and lentil-rice casserole are my favorites to keep stocked in my pantry. I simply measure the dry ingredients into a quart-size ziploc bag and then write the remaining ingredients and cooking directions on the bag with a permanent marker.

While I sometimes will take a half hour or so and mix up a few to have on hand, usually I just fill a ziploc bag or two when I am cooking that particular item for a meal. That way I have at least one extra in the pantry ready for quick mixing!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Organize Receipts and Bills

This idea may be too simple for some of you more technical people, but it works very well for the technically-challenged me.:-)
I have always had trouble keeping receipts and bills organized, so I was thrilled when I came up with this idea to keep up with them.
I use a regular binder and put a page protector in for each month. I file the bills and receipts in the correct month and everything is in its place and easy to find. This was very helpful last week when I needed to return my shoes. It also came in handy today when I needed to compare several months electric bills. I knew exactly where to find them! (Compared to last year when I stuffed all receipts in a small plastic drawer together. The idea was that I would file them at the end of each month. Well, that never happened and I could never find anything!!)
This binder also keeps all my budget info and each months income/outgo sheets. I also have a separate section where I keep track of childcare income and expenses.
Hope this idea will be of help to someone! It has really worked for me.:-)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Free Curtains!

After cleaning the office/craft room/guest room on Saturday, I felt like beautifying the room with some new curtains. When things are clean, pretty and somewhat decorated, I am more motivated to take care of it! So I went through my stash of fabric and found this plaid piece that was given to me last summer. I hadn't noticed it before but the colors go so nicely with the blue walls.

Curtains such as these are very quick and easy to make. I think it took me just under 2 hours to sew both curtains. I was very pleased to use something I already had and my husband loves the way the room looks now!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Don't Forget The Money!

I thought I'd join in the fun this week! This idea is a small one, but it really works for me!

As soon as I write my tithe check, I slip it into the front of my Bible, so it is sure to make it to church. I hardly ever forget my offering money this way! I used to put it in my purse, and found that I seemed to change purses for church and the check would always be forgotten.

Be sure to check out Shannon's blog for more Works-For-Me ideas and participants!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

More Cheap Ways

Since I have had no success in posting my next saving money post, I will just rewrite it now. These are some ways that I have been able to save significantly. I have only been married a year and a half, so I am still learning as much as I can to save even more! I thought I was frugal before I was married, but nothing compared to now.:-) And I'm sure more things will change in the years to come. I recently read a blog about a family of 6 ( four kids) who live on less than my husband and I do now. Wow! And I think that I make sacrifices! It just changes your perspective somehow. So here are my few ideas :

1. Limit the amount of disposable items. I use some cheap ziplocs and don't normally re-use them. We also use toilet paper.:-) I don't use a lot of paper towels or paper plates, cups and napkins. Cloth napkins are so much nicer and can be gotten cheap at yard sales or make your own out of scrap fabrics. Of course, there is a time and place for using disposables, I just don't do it all the time.

2. I have found that using half the recommended laundry detergent works just fine. Also, I wash most loads in cold water.

3. Keep a gift box. I pick up small items that will make nice gifts and keep them on hand. I try to select items that can be used for different occasions and people, unless I am buying for someone in particular. I find nice items at yard sales as well as the dollar store and clearance. I also buy my cards at the dollar store or make my own.

4. I stay home a lot. This saves a huge amount of gas $$. This also helps me to get my work done at home.:-) I have one day a week that I don't keep kids, so I plan all errands and appointments for that day.

5. I use the library. I was disappointed that the local library doesn't carry the selection of movies like the library where I used to live. My sister and I do trade books, movies, and magazines back and forth so we always have something new at no charge.

6. We don't go to movies or on outings really often. The trips we do take are planned for. We enjoy going on picnics, which is also a great activity that we can continue when we have children. And with our busy schedules, we just enjoy an evening at home together these days.

7. I try to make do as much as possible. This not only saves money, but helps me develop my creativity. I apply this a lot in decorating.

That's all I can think of for now! What are some things you do(or don't do) to save money?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

On Saving Money and Living Frugally

In the last week or so, there have been many blog postings regarding saving money, living frugally and living on one income. The discussions have been interesting and encouraging, so I thought that I would share some of my own ideas here. I hesitate to share too much on this sort of subject as I am younger and much less experienced than most of my readers. So as you read, keep in mind, that I am only sharing what I have learned as suggestions and ideas. This is not in any way Biblical truth other than trying to promote good stewardship of what God has given us to work with in terms of money and possessions.

I also realize that many of our family and close friends read here regularly, although many of you are "lurkers" and do not comment often or at all!:-)Please do not get the idea that we are poor and destitute. This is not intended to be Mary Ann's pity party at all. We have everything we need, in fact more than enough. I find it a great challenge to stretch our income as far as it will go.

This time I will focus on saving money on food. Later I will share some ideas for other areas.

Saving money on food:

1. I don't buy meat for over $2.00 a pound. I watch the specials and stock up and freeze plenty when the sales are good. I do pay more for fish and the occasional steaks, but still buying them when marked down.

2. We eat a lot of cooked oatmeal for breakfast which is certainly better for us than most cold cereals. I do buy a couple of boxes of cereal per month, but try to stay in the limit of $1-$2 per box.

3. We drink mostly water. Again, the health benefits are great. I keep some orange juice concentrate on hand and we always buy a big jug of cranberry juice each month.

4. I keep very little snack foods around the house. I do buy tortilla chips and a bag of pretzels every month. For snacks, we will make popcorn or eat fresh fruit which I try to keep on hand depending on the season and price.

5. I consider canned beans a convenience food. That being said, you can probably guess that I don't buy many prepared foods. I do buy boxed mac & cheese for a quick, easy meal.

6. I cook most of our meals from scratch. This saves a lot of $$!

7. I bake most of our bread, and I also buy marked down loaves at the local bread outlet for when I can't bake my own.

8. I try to keep most meals rather simple by planning menus such as soup and fresh bread, a casserole and a salad and so on. It depends on what we are having as to the amount of sides, but especially during the week, I keep it pretty simple.

9. Since there are just the two of us, I will make a whole batch of something and freeze the extras. When I make lasagna, I put it in two 8 or 9 inch square pans instead of one large pan. We can eat one that night and freeze the other for later. I often will cook double when making dinner and freeze the extras. I like this approach better than spending a whole day preparing food for the freezer, although I do that sometimes too.

10. I try not to waste food. Leftover oatmeal can go into muffins. I keep my veggie bin cleaned out by chopping up the leftovers and freezing them in small amounts for soups and casseroles. I also keep a large container in the freezer for any leftover cooked veggies, veggie broth and little bits of meat. When I get enough, I will make soup.

11. I keep my grocery budget at about $150 per month.Including paper products, cleaning supplies and personal care items, I spend $200 a month altogether. This gives me enough to stock my pantry a little at a time and we also have guests over for dinner several times a month. We eat out probably about 2-3 times per month. Otherwise, we eat at home and my husband takes a lunch to work. Our eating out money has its own category in our budget.

12. I read lots of cookbooks and am constantly finding new recipes online. I love to cook and bake and find lots of recipes that use cheap ingredients.

13. For most items, I buy the store brands. This saves quite a bit. There are a few brand name items I love, such as Kraft dressings and we have found that no matter how cheap the Food Lion mac and cheese is, we still do not like it. :-)

14. As you may have figured out, I grocery shop once a month. This works well for me. I keep a small amount of money back to use for sale items that come up through out the month. I like getting all my staples at once, then I plan my meals by looking at what I have in my pantry and freezer.

Please share your ideas for saving money on food!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

How To Pray For Your Husband

I came across this article/list as an about-to-be-married woman and continue to find it excellent and useful. This was written by Sandy Day and taken from the book The Best of the Proverbs 31 Ministry. Along this same subject, I also highly recommend the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.

How To Pray For Your Husband

Sunday: That he would become a holy man, a man of prayer, mature in the Lord, growing in his knowledge of God and daily seeking Him with all his heart. (I Thessalonians 5:23; Colossians 4:12: Ephesians 1:18-19; Ephesians 3:16-19; Psalm 119:1-2)

Monday: That he would learn to take every thought captive, to not be conformed to the world's thinking, but to think scripturally. (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5)

Tuesday: That his self-image would be a reflection of the Lord's thoughts toward him. (Ephesians 1:17-19; Romans 12:3; Psalm 139)

Wednesday: That he would become a called man, not driven, with well thought-through and prayed-through goals in life. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)

Thursday: That he would stand firm against the schemes of the devil and resist Satan in all circumstances. (Ephesians 6:10-18; James 4:7)

Friday: That the fruit of the Spirit would be exhibited more and more in his life. That he would learn to love as God commanded. (Galatians 5:22-23; I Corinthians 13:4-7; Romans 12:8-10)

Saturday: That the Lord would protect him, guarding his course. That he would learn to manage his time well. (Proverbs 2:8; Ephesians 5:15)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Control Journals and Menu Planning

I have been setting time aside this week to build my control journal the Flylady way. Hopefully, by following her steps one at a time, I will be able to do this long term!

Ever since the beginning of the year, I have come to a standstill with my weekly menu planning. I just can't seem to think of anything to cook! My pantry and freezer are well-stocked, so the problem obviously lies with me.:-) I made a master list of the foods we like in their respective categories and started doing a monthly dinner menu. Then each week, I can transfer it to a weekly menu and include side dishes and breakfast and lunch menus, which are simple to come up with in comparison! After several months, I should be able to rotate the menus, and it will help me to remember to prepare our favorites on a more consistent basis.

For the sake of simplicity, I adopted and adapted the "If it's Monday, it must be spaghetti" meal plan.(On the Flylady website.) This was helpful in preparing the monthly menu because it gave me a game plan to go by. I also left at least one day open a week for Cook's Choice, so that I can either try a new recipe or use leftovers(my friend in cooking and eating frugally.) Here is the plan I came up with, which I'm sure will be tweaked as the year moves along :-):

Monday: dinner with small group 3 weeks out of month, otherwise Cook's Choice
Tuesday: Soup and salad or sandwich
Wednesday: vegetarian night
Thursday: crockpot or something from freezer
Friday: Cook's Choice
Saturday: Breakfast foods(I like doing this in the evening when there is more time and it will be helpful when yard sale season rolls around! Heehee!!!)
Sunday: Snack-type foods

My husband's supervisor sent home some cooking magazines for me to look at yesterday. Some of them are the Kraft Food and Family magazines. I am getting lots of great ideas. A lot of these recipes call for convenience items that I don't normally keep on hand, but others use cheaper ingredients that I do have in stock. I already found a few that I want to try and some more expensive ones that would be good for a special dinner(think Valentine's Day!). If these are good recipes, I will share them with you on my cooking blog!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Weekly Specials

Even though I do the bulk of my grocery shopping on a monthly basis, I still try to save a little of my grocery money to use towards the end of the month on great deals that come up, especially meats and produce.

I have been using the Sunday Savers site to check the weekly specials for those store circulars that I don't receive in my mailbox each week. They have a ton of stores listed and you can click on whichever ones you frequent and see this weeks specials. I use it to check specials for the stores that I don't normally shop at, but are known to run really great specials on meats, like Harris Teeter. Having it all online also helps to eliminate some of the paper piles around the house.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


As I was writing the post below, I suddenly felt something scratchy beneath my neck and realized my sweater is on backwards.The stitching of the tag is quite noticeable and the funny thing is that I didn't even get dressed in the dark this morning. Oops!!!:-)

Engagement Anniversary

Today is two years since we got engaged. We don't make a habit of really celebrating these special days, but it is fun to remember them.

The day we got engaged was Martin Luther King Day and we both had the day off. I had no idea he was going to propose, but we had been discussing marriage and starting to plan our wedding. I knew he had picked out the ring and was paying for it.

Anyways, we had a very nice quiet morning talking about wedding plans when out of nowhere, he said he was working on a special song for the wedding and wanted me to hear it.(He writes songs and sings, so I wasn't suprised about it.) So he proceeds to sing this lovely song and I thought it was wonderful. When he was done, I hugged him and told him how great it was. He told me to sit back down and then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He actually put the ring on my finger and then ask me to marry him. :-) Then we called everyone to tell them that I had said "yes", and no one was really suprised but they were all very happy.

And that, my friends, is the story of our engagement. Oh, and he later sang that song to me at our wedding.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Quick Shopping and Bargains

I finally did it. I was in and out of Wal-Mart in less than 10 minutes. Sure, I only needed 3 items, well, 2 and ended up with 3, but it was also Saturday morning. So that counts for something, especially since a few minutes of that time was walking to and from our car which was parked in Outer Mongolia. My husband, who sat in the car because he hates shopping at Wal-Mart during busy times, was quite impressed.

My little impulse buy from this morning turned out to be a package of corndogs for my husband who sometimes craves food from his bachelor days. :-) This will be game food while he watches the Redskins and Seahawks play this afternoon. Go Redskins!

Since we all like to brag on our bargains from time to time, I thought I'd share my buys from this week. If you know me at all, you will know that I love Mary Engelbreit. I am thrilled that Michael's has been carrying a line of her cards and papers and such in their dollar section. I popped in the other day and they had the Mary Engelbreit Christmas cards for .30 a package so I got 40 cards for $1.50. I was pleased. I also found 2 large cans of sweet potatoes for .79 each(half-price). The only reason they were discounted was that the labels were a little torn. While I love a good deal, I think I save a lot more money by just not buying many items even if they are on sale. Just because it is cheap doesn't mean I need it. But if it is something I use anyways and will need in a reasonable amount of time, I go ahead and buy it.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thought For The Day

This quote was found on a Mary Engelbreit card:

To be happy: Don't do whatever you like; like whatever you do.

That is pretty profound and a good thought for most of us to ponder. The picture on the card shows a woman pushing a vacuum and waving a Flylady-style duster while dancing and holding a rose in her mouth. Now I don't know about the rose part, but I need to remember to be cheerful no matter what my circumstances. It is easy to generally be discontent with life because "It's not what I expected." Well, I guess that's the way life is, isn't it? This quote reminds me of a familiar Bible verse: "...And be content with what you have." Hebrews 13:5. Also in Ecclesiastes 5: 19 and 20: "...When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." I wonder what will happen in my heart and home as I cultivate a spirit of contentment and joy?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Three Year Anniversary

Today is three years since my husband and I met in person. We were introduced on eharmony in September 2002. After 4 months of communicating through the site and personal email,we decided to meet face to face.

I already felt like I knew him, so I wasn't too worried about that. I was, however, concerned that maybe he was not as healthy and independent as he had led me to believe.( My husband was born with spina bifida.) I was also highly concerned that his voice would sound funny. Evidently voices are a big deal to me! :-)

We chose to meet at a Cracker Barrel and I suggested the Cracker Barrel nearest to me. Not only would I not have to drive very far, but I also knew the area well enough if I needed to make a quick escape. (You can never be too sure about these men you meet on the internet.)

My sister and her friend went with me, because they felt the need to protect me. He came alone. I did have a moment of panic when I drove around the front of the restaurant and saw him- only it was a sixty year old man instead and I thought he had lied about his age.

Anyways, he brought me daisies, which he remembered were my favorite flower. My bodyguards were impressed. He had a very nice deep voice, was very conversational and was very much like I thought he would be. I was impressed. He paid for our meals. We all were impressed. Especially him, who used a gift card he had gotten from his boss for Christmas that year.

He passed the test and we soon found ourselves sitting alone in rockers on the front porch of the restaurant, while the bodyguards went shopping next door. We meditated in silence for several minutes and then discussed the weather. Eventually the topic changed to other things. We exchanged phone numbers. I told him that he could call me.

I could hardly wait to check my email that night to see if he was still interested. He was. He said he would call me the next Saturday around 9:30. He did, on the minute.

We laugh now, because he was obviously very interested in me right away and showed it. I still felt I needed to check him out. It takes me a while to get to know someone and feel comfortable. So the first several dates were spent with him talking and me listening. I learned so much about him in that first month or two. ( Good thing too, because now I talk and he listens!!)

After a previous rough dating experience, I said I would not date someone again if we were not friends first. Funny, I hadn't met him, but I felt that through the eharmony process we were already friends.

Somehow, in many ways it seems as though we have known each other much longer than three years. Maybe we should go sit on the rockers at Cracker Barrel and celebrate- by talking about the weather.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Study The Word of God- Acts 17:10-12

These verses stood out to me in my quiet time yesterday. We also studied them in our small group last night.

Acts 17:10-12(NIV): As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians. For they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

I really like the word eagerness there-it shows a love and a hunger for the things of God. Studying and knowing the Word of God will protect us against being deceived by Satan's clever tactics.

One of my main goals and prayers for this year is that my heart will search after God more than ever before, and that I will keep His Word as the apple of my eye! (Proverbs 7:2)

Friday, January 06, 2006

First Week of the New Year

Ahhh! A new year. It has been quite a week unwinding from the busy holidays. My husband and I have also been feeling under the weather most of the week. Whatever he had was worse than whatever I had, but we are both feeling a whole lot better now. PTL! Hopefully as the year gets rolling, I will get back into the swing of things and post more regularly again.

As the first week of the new year comes to an end, I will share what happened in my house this week, however boring it may be.:-)

Monday: My parents and brother left at 4:30 am for the Charlotte airport to fly back to Oregon. We got up to see them off and went back to bed. Actually, I started laundry before going back to bed... the piles of laundry were starting to take over the cottage! We got up a couple of hours later and rushed around to clean up the house, wash the glasses and prepare for some guests. My husband's grandparents were on their way back to New York and had time to stop by. My husband had also invited a friend from work with her husband and baby over for lunch that day, so everyone stayed and met each other and had a nice time eating potato soup, fresh French bread, sliced cheese and ham, fruit salad and Christmas cookies. In the evening I paid bills.

Tuesday: My husband and I were both coming down with something cold and flu related today. I did manage to pack up all Christmas decorations and put them away. I thanked God for being newly married and not having accumulated a houseful of decorations yet. The tree is out by the curb. We ate leftovers.

Wednesday: I worked on a grocery list for Thursday. I also worked on a Master Shopping List that I can print out and use each month, simply crossing off the items we do not need that month. I worked on Children's Ministry stuff for church. I took care of an almost 9 month old whose newest accomplishment is climbing up onto the coffee table, using my husband's shoe for a step stool. We ate leftovers again for lunch but for dinner, I made Chicken Cordon Bleu, an impulse purchase from last month's Sam's Club trip. It is tasty and less expensive than eating out, however, I need to remember to never shop hungry or with a hungry husband in tow.:-) We both have Wednesday night meetings at church every week- Worship team practice for him and Children's Ministry meeting for me.

Thursday: I did my monthly grocery shopping and was pleased to stay well under budget so that I have extra $$ for store specials that will come up during the rest of the month as well as extra fresh produce and anything I forgot to buy! I stopped at Target and found a very nice Christmas gift for next year at 75% off, staying in my Christmas budget of $5 or less per person. I also got a Mary Engelbreit Family calendar for a great price and filled in all birthdays and special days for the year. I really like this calendar because it has large spaces to write in plus stickers to draw your attention to birthdays and such. While I was at it, I went ahead and got my birthday cards ready for the year. They are not signed, but I chose a card for each person then put the card in envelope and wrote the name on the envelope. That will help me a lot! For dinner, we had burgers and Baked Potato Salad
. Then we were off to church for our weekly prayer time.

Friday: That's today! I am again doing laundry. I washed some "hand wash only" items today, cleaned up the kitchen and am in the process of taking care of my little buddy once again! I don't know what I am cooking for dinner tonight, but I have a pantry and freezer full of food to choose from!

So that's my week in a nutshell...

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year's Day

I buy a lot of diaries,
Fill them up with good intentions,
Each and every New Year's Eve,
I make myself a list.
All the things I'm gonna change,
Until January 2nd,
But this time I'm making one promise.

This will be my resolution.
Every day is New Year's Day.
This will be my resolution.
Every day is New Year's Day.

I believe it's possible.
I believe in new beginnings.
'Cause I believe in Christmas Day,
And Easter morning too.
And I'm convinced it's doable,
'Cause I believe in second chances.
Just the way that I believe in you.

This will be my resolution.
Every day is New Year's Day.
This could start a revolution.
Every day is...

One more chance to start all over.
One more chance to change and grow.
One more chance to grab ahold of grace
And never let it go.

This will be my resolution,
Every day is New Year's Day.
This will be my resolution,
Every Day is New Year's Day.

Written by Carolyn Arends
copyright 1997 running arends music
New Spring Publishing, a division of Brentwood Music Publishing