Friday, July 30, 2010

Frugal Friday: Less Drying Time

When using the dryer to dry a load of laundry, I've started consistently timing the dryer for a little less time than what I had done before.

Most of the time, it doesn't make that much difference and the load still gets dry. Other times, it may need a bit more time. 

After you do this for a while, you will start to notice  exactly how much time it really takes to dry the laundry instead of just setting it for the same time as you always have.

Sometimes, especially with towels or jeans, everything will be dry except for a few pieces. Instead of restarting the dryer for just a couple items, I'll take them out and hang them over a chair, on the shower curtain rod or on a hanger. It doesn't usually take that much time for them to dry and it saves a little electricity, too!

Even though I line dry most of our laundry, I still dry towels and the occasional load of clothes on extra busy days.  Using the dryer for less time and less loads saves me money in the long run!

**This post is part of Frugal Fridays!

** Thanks for stopping by. While you're here, be sure and enter my giveaway for a Dave Ramsey book!**

My Two Cents On Budgeting: A Giveaway!

To wrap up my budgeting series, I have a fun little giveaway planned for you today!

In case you missed it,  here's a look back at the series.

Week 1: Before The Bills Are Paid
Week 2: Tithing
Week 3: Making A Budget
Week 4: Savings
Week 5: The Envelope System
Week 6: Paying Down Debt
Week 7: Finances And Our Marriage

As my regular readers  well know, we love and recommend Dave Ramsey for financial advice and wisdom. So today, I'm happy to offer one of his books in a giveaway!

The Money Answer Book is a small book with quick answers to your everyday financial questions. Topics include: relationships and money, saving and investing, budgeting, college and student loans, insurance and more. This has been a very helpful resource and addition to our library. This also makes a great gift, in fact, it's one of our favorite wedding gifts to give!

To enter to win this book:

1) For one entry in the drawing, simply leave a comment to this post. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you, should you win.

2) For the second entry, post about my giveaway (with a link) on your blog and then come back and leave a separate comment with a link to your post. 

**Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to U.S residents only.**

**Winner will be randomly drawn next Friday, August 6th and will be notified no later than Monday, August 9th. **

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Thrifty Stock-a-holic

I am not anywhere near a shop-a-holic but I do love to stock up on good deals whenever I find them. I guess this makes me a stock-a-holic!

Back-to-school sales are now in full swing and there are many deals to be had. You do not need to have school-age children, or any children at all, for that matter, to take advantage of some of these deals!

Today I'm highlighting a few of the deals we got this week.


Paper @ $4.99 each then get $4.98 back for each via rebate = 1 cent reams of paper. (Sorry! This deal ended Wednesday 7/28!)
3 pack of Scotch tape @ $1 each with in-ad coupon.
Packing tape @ $1 each with in-ad coupon.
Really useful boxes @ 25 cent each.

I used a 15% coupon which brought my total to $12.73.
I'll receive a $9.98 rebate back for the paper which brings my total for all of the above to $2.75!

View the Staples weekly ad here. There is also an awesome backpack deal going on there this week. Backpacks are FREE after rebate! (Use the 15% coupon to sweeten the deal.) I didn't have the money to purchase the backpack up front and neither do I need any more backpacks and bags but this is a great deal if you need one or even would be a great item to donate!

**If you missed the 1 cent paper deal this week, Office Depot has a ream of paper for 95 cents after rebate! Not quite as cheap as 1 cent but still a very good deal!**


As much as I despise shopping at Wal-mart, they do occasionally have really good deals!

While there this week, I purchased:

Glue sticks @ 25 cents a pack.
Crayons @ 25 cents a pack.
Notebooks @15 cents each.

Crayons, glue sticks and the Really Useful boxes from Staples will be great items to add to our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes! I also use the crayons for the crayon rolls that I make to give and sell.


Not related to back-to-school deals but look at this super cute mirror I purchased this week at Goodwill for $1.99! It still had the tag on the front when I bought it, so either it was brand-new or the previous owner just left the tag on. :-) I love it!

Have you found any deals this week that you'd like to brag about?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- The End Of The Month Edition

It's the end of the month and I'm once again using up what we have to create yummy meals!

I'm doing a bit of cooking and baking ahead this week in preparation for my new childcare gig that I'll be starting next week. After thinking it through, my main objective is to plan easy breakfast and lunch options since this set will be here earlier in the morning and then leaving early to mid afternoon. It always helps to be prepared especially until I figure out schedules and am better able to gauge typical early morning moods.:-)

I'm also in the midst of creating a 4 week menu plan rotation complete with shopping lists. Once the tedious detailed work is done, I'm hoping this will save me time and help me to stay in budget better over the next couple of months. 

Blueberry season is upon us and I've been out picking several times. Fresh blueberries are so delicious!

Here's the menu plan for the week:

-blueberry muffins(make extra to freeze), bananas with peanut butter
-sourdough waffles (make extra to freeze), scrambled eggs (2x)
-oatmeal, blueberries
-oatmeal, green smoothies
-whatever is left at the end of the week!

-hot dogs, carrot sticks
-veggie beef soup(crockpot), bread (2x)
-pb&j sandwiches, carrot sticks (2x)

-tuna melts, steamed carrots, greens
-pork and broccoli stir-fry, brown rice
-birthday freebies (2x)
-hamburgers, homemade buns, carrot salad
-What we have and sounds good at the end of the week!

What's cooking at your house this week?

**This post is part of Menu Plan Monday, a gathering of menu plans from around the world!

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Two Cents On Budgeting: Finances And Our Marriage

Welcome to the last installment in my budgeting series!

To celebrate the end of my first blog series (and also that I made it through), I'll be doing a giveaway here on my blog. So come back next week for more details!

Today my husband and I will be sharing our unique perspectives on finances in regards to our marriage. As you have probably heard and if you are married, you most likely know first-hand, finances can be a major source of frustration in marriage.

Well, we are no different.

As can be expected, my husband and I are as different as night and day. We are complete opposites in almost every sense of the word. On the temperament scale, we are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Literally. I am almost as introverted as they come and he is very extroverted. I'm a planner and he is spontaneous. Me? I have to plan to be spontaneous."How about next Sunday at 4 o'clock?"

When it comes to money, I am the saver and he is the spender. Oh boy. This in and of itself can cause a whole host of problems and it has at times. We aren't perfect and we certainly don't have this whole marriage thing figured out yet.

But today, we're going to share a little about where we were when we first got married and where we are now and a few resources and tips that have helped us tremendously in this area.

Budgeting Then:
His: I know how much money I make. I know how much money I can spend. I don't need to write anything down in my checkbook register. It's all in my head. Besides, if I forget I can go online and look at it. Plus, that's what that overdraft protection thing is for, right? And receipts, who needs receipts? This is precisely why I was always having to start over at $0. I never kept track of expenses on paper. I always thought I could remember exactly how much money I had left. And as long as I had money left, I was good to go!

Hers: I read many books on finances and took it all to heart. I was determined to keep track of every cent we spent and save every receipt. Our budget would run like a well-oiled machine and we would be as frugal as possible. I was so worried about doing this the right way that it was extremely stressful and I would have a melt-down every time I sat down to pay the bills. I had no idea that some people (namely, my new husband!) did not record their purchases in their checkbook register regularly. I also didn't know why anyone would need overdraft protection - that was for irresponsible people, wasn't it?

Budgeting Now:
His: WOW! I never knew how much freedom there could be in actually tracking your money dollar by dollar. When we first got married it irritated me that she had to know where every dollar went. I thought she was trying to keep tabs on me. And for a free spirited person, that is a PROBLEM! Nobody, and I mean nobody was going to tell me what to do with my money. But, as we've worked together on OUR money, not my money and her money, I really have found freedom.  She does a great job of keeping track of things. And we're able to communicate clearly on what we do and don't have and what we do and don't need.  If we don't have the money, we don't have the money. And that's really OK now. Also categorizing things has made a huge difference. To me it all used to be just money in one big pot. Now we have food money, haircut money, gasoline money and my personal favorite... FUN MONEY!! The categories have helped to shape my perspective on how it all fits together.

Hers: Thankfully, I've relaxed a bit over the past few years. We love our budget/spending plan and it has been so helpful to us. However, it's a guide. Some months we go over budget a little in some areas and it's ok. I'm learning that spending money and paying bills is just a part of life and I'm not a failure when we don't have oodles leftover at the end of budget. Knowing who it all belongs to and being thankful for what He has provided has really helped me in this regard. I've also learned it's ok to budget and plan for fun. Life is serious but it's ok to cut yourself a little slack and do something fun every once in a while!

Saving Then:
His:  Saving, schmaving! Money is there to be spent, right? Why else would you have it? Retirement, PSSHHH, I'm young. I've got years to think about that.

Hers: Again, I had read many books on finances and took it all to heart. If the book said we should save x% then we were going to do that! If a friend, family member or neighbor's cousin saved x amount then I thought we should too. We had made the decision early on to live on one income and save mine, which was very helpful. 

Saving Now:
His: Again, WOW!! Not only can I live within a budget, but when something unexpected comes up, I've got something to fall back on. Car needs new tires, no problem. Forgot a Christmas gift, piece of cake. I also understand the importance of not dipping into the savings day after day. But, it is quite freeing to know it is there when you need it. Also, categories my friends, categories!!!

Hers: Saving is good and wise but should not be my sole purpose in life. We set goals and then try to fulfill them. But we have to do it in a way that works for us, not everyone else on the planet.

Giving Then: (This refers to all giving not just tithing.)
His: If I ever had money left over, it was yours! You tell me you need a tank of gas, here's a twenty! You're a little short on your impending car payment, here's a hundred. Knock yourself out! I thought everyone was like that.

Hers: We had already made the commitment to tithing regularly. I was fine with giving extra as long as it was planned for. I discover my new husband is extremely generous with everything he has... a little irritating sometimes.

Giving Now:
His: I have learned the importance of some planned giving.  If you know something is coming up in six months that you'll be able to assist with, take that six months and plan for what you can give, THEN, work on that plan until you have accumulated what is needed. A little planning never hurts, go figure.  Fortunately for me there are also those times when you have to decide instantaneously if you should give. You know, that still, small voice saying... "Here's your chance to help. Go ahead." I still love those.

Hers: Sometimes the Holy Spirit impresses on us to give and we have the choice to either obey or ignore His command. Seeing my husband's generosity and willingness to give and share with others from giving money, food and household items, or even inviting others into our home for a meal and fellowship has impacted my life and made me less stingy and self-centered. We still plan for some giving that we do at certain times each year but are still learning to be flexible so that we can follow the Spirit's leading, too. God's desires don't always coincide with our schedules and plans!

Some basic tips that we've found very helpful in our marriage:

  • Communication. Talk about finances and make decisions together.
  • Know your individual strengths. I do the bulk of the budgeting and bill paying since I'm more of a detail person. Andy keeps track of everything online which is something  that drives me nuts!
  • Togetherness. We are very much in favor of joint finances. Instead of 'his' and 'hers', it's 'ours'. Our problems, our money, our this and that. This seeps into other areas of marriage as well and helps to counteract some of the natural tendencies toward selfishness that we all have and encourages us to work together towards solutions.
Resources we recommend:
  1. Dave Ramsey. We love him! Many of the financial decisions we have made have been based on what we've read in his books or heard on his radio program. His strategies have been so helpful to our spender/saver marriage. 
  2. Crown Financial Ministries. Good financial advice from a Christian perspective. 
  3. Ron Blue. More good financial advice.
  4. Dollar Stretcher and Bank
Tune in next week for a fun giveaway! 

**This post is a part of Frugal Fridays!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not

During our recent canning adventure, we were left with quite a bit of tomato juice in the bowl we had used for the peeled tomatoes.

Naturally, I didn't want this to go to waste! We poured it into containers to use in soup later on when the weather is a bit cooler. I ended up with two containers of tomato juice to freeze.

Cutting down on waste by trying to find a use for every little bit of food is one way I'm able to reduce our food costs.

What have you done recently to reduce waste in your kitchen?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Preserving The Bounty: Tomatoes

One of my goals for preserving this summer was to can jars of tomatoes to use through the winter. I was fortunate to meet a farmer at the local market who was willing to give me a good price.

I ordered 50 pounds of ripe "canning" tomatoes from him and ended up with about 60 pounds for $25. This was less than the price he'd quoted me and when I questioned him, he told me that if I had not asked for them, he most likely  would've had to throw them away as most folks wouldn't want to buy them that ripe.

I was happy that not only was I canning local produce, but also helping to prevent waste by getting these tomatoes!

My mom helped me to work these up since I'd never canned tomatoes before. We ended up with 21 quart and 5 pint of canned tomatoes. I don't know if this amount will get us completely through the winter but it will be a very good start!

Cost:  Just under $1 a quart, a little electricity and several hours of work!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Thanks for all your prayers and kind words on this post!

My dad is feeling a whole lot better since starting the prescribed medication. The doctor said it was a "touch of pneumonia" since they caught it early, which is a very good thing.

My grandma came through her surgery just fine. The doctor removed a foot and a half of her colon. The questionable "shadows" or spots they saw earlier did turn out to be cancerous so we're glad they removed it. Please continue to pray for her recovery. For nearing 90, she is a spunky lady and is in pretty good health overall.

Scott is still hanging in there. However, he is fading fast. They moved him to a Hospice House not far from their home where they are attempting to make his last days as peaceful and comfortable as possible. He will be receiving his eternal reward very soon. It is difficult to see someone our own age going through this. Certainly a reminder that life is precious and fleeting.

Andy will be returning home tomorrow. This was not an easy trip for him as he said his good-byes to one of his best friends but he feels he has accomplished what the Lord sent him to do.

I'll be glad to have him back. I've missed him.:-)

Thanks for praying and caring!


Our Trip To IKEA

The nearest IKEA is about an hour's drive from us and we hadn't been there since it's opening a little over a year ago.

On our way home from a family reunion from Florida last weekend we stopped in to see Andy's parents in Georgia. We had my parents with us and before long Andy's mom was showing my mom the IKEA kitchen in their mother-in-law suite.

My mom has been saving up to redo her kitchen for a long time now so she was very interested in the IKEA kitchens and their space-maximizing designs.

We decided that this was our time to visit IKEA! We were all so excited to tour this wonderful store that we'd heard so much about. In proper blogger fashion, my camera accompanied me so that I could preserve the memories as well as remember the things we saw that we really liked!

In no particular order, here are some of the items that caught my eye.

A cute teapot.

I loved the colors and patterns in this quilt.

Naturally, I was drawn to this red and white section of bedspreads.

Not crazy about the headboard, but I do like this bed.

Wouldn't this make an awesome sewing table? There are drawers on both sides and the leaf folds out to double the length of the table.

One of the dining room sets we admired.

Another set of table and chairs we liked. I like the charming curved detail on the chairs.

Cute little high chair.

One of the kitchens both Mom and I really liked.

Another kitchen we liked. Mom especially was fond of the farmhouse style of the cabinet doors here. We both love white kitchens!

Our Cherished Dog may have his own dining area but we all agreed he doesn't need this fancy dog couch!

We went mainly to look but I took a little cash along just in case. :-) We were impressed by the low prices on many of the items. I ended up purchasing some inexpensive cotton bedspreads to make into curtains for most of my house and some fabric to make things to sell. 

Hope you enjoyed the highlights of our trip to IKEA!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Excuse My Extended Blog Break And Other Bits Of News

Well, I didn't expect to take all of last week off from blogging. But I did. My parents were still here visiting, some of of us were fighting allergies/colds and there were lots of things to do!

I have some posts lined up for this week that will show some of last week's activities. Lots of fun!

My husband will be away for most of this week as he heads out to minister to a friend. I mentioned this family last January. His name is Scott Adams and he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer last December. Several weeks ago, they made the decision to stop chemo as the doctors said it was doing nothing but affecting his quality of life. At that time, they gave him 6 months. The cancer is now in his liver and he has hardly been eating. Please pray for this family. They have 4 young boys ranging in age from 7 years to about 5 months old.

My grandma is having surgery today at 11:30 am Pacific time. She had a similar surgery 10 years ago and has been cancer free since. Now the doctor has seen something there again that doesn't look good so they quickly scheduled surgery for her.

My dad was taken to Urgent Care yesterday and has a touch of pneumonia. He and my mom are still in South Carolina and are currently visiting my sister.

Your prayers are appreciated for all these needs!

I will be starting a new childcare gig in 2 weeks. This is a 2 month arrangement with the possibility of becoming more long-term.  We'll see how it goes. I'll be doing some extra cooking and housekeeping tasks over the next week or so to prepare for extra busy days ahead!

We are pretty settled in our new home. I don't have very many things up on the walls yet, but am working on it little by little. I'll take pictures and post them one of these days.

I hope to get my sewing stuff out this week and work on some fun projects while my husband is gone. Hopefully, it will make the time go faster! My sewing and craft items are pretty much the only boxes that haven't been unpacked. I'm still not sure where I want to set everything up for the long haul.

What's going on at your house?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Doggie Diner

It started so innocently.

Cherished Dog's dish sat on the floor in our kitchen.

I set it up on a stool so he wouldn't have to bend his neck so far to eat.

Next, I thought his "table" needed a tablecloth.

And wouldn't  a mirror or artwork be nice on the wall above it?

I have two friends who motivated and inspired me to create this little space for the dog. I still think a mirror and a Hard Rock Cafe sign would be awfully cute!

But for now, I present:

The Doggie Diner

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The No 'Poo Hair-Do Challenge

I decided this past weekend to ditch the regular shampoo and give the 'no poo' method a try.

It's life on the wild side!

I was really nervous about trying this since if I don't wash my hair every day it gets really greasy gross and my ponytail holder will continually slide out. What finally motivated me to just dive in and try it was that a friend of mine started doing it and I thought, "Why not?"

This method uses baking soda and apple cider vinegar to cleanse and condition your hair instead of shampoo and conditioner.

So far, so good! My hair feels very clean, doesn't itch and certainly doesn't feel greasy gross like when I go a day without washing my hair. I mixed 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup of water in a squirt bottle to use. This amount should last about 1 week for my thick, medium-length hair. I haven't tried the apple cider vinegar yet, since I don't have any on hand right now and I don't normally use conditioner anyways.

Supposedly, hair goes through a transition period when starting with this method so I'll see what happens and how my hair reacts long term.

Maybe I'll love it. Maybe I'll hate it. But no matter what the outcome, this certainly makes for some good blog fodder!

It's frugal, it's healthier for your hair and skin. Certainly worth a try!

Have any of my readers gone 'no poo'? Please share your experience! And would anyone care to join me in this challenge?

Some good resources (which include more good resources!):

How To Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo @ Simple Mom.

How To Make Your Own Shampoo and Conditioner Video @ Keeper Of The Home.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- Company and Vacation Edition

 Fourth Of July Cupcake Flag inspired by Good Housekeeping.

Hope all of my U.S. readers had a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

My parents are flying in later this week plus we're leaving for a family reunion over the weekend. So my menu plan for this week is short and sweet.

My to-do list is quite long to prepare for company and travel so I'm keeping things as simple as possible!

Our freezer is loaded with a huge beef order that we got last week, so you'll notice a good amount of beef on the menu from here on out! We got enough to last about a year! It is so good. Local grass-fed beef purchased right from the farmer. It is more expensive than buying sale-priced beef from the grocery store but we find the price is well worth it for the taste, health benefits and that we are able to support local farmers.

-scrambled eggs, homemade beef sausage, toast (2x)
-hard-boiled eggs, fruit smoothies (2x)
-cold cereal, milk, berries

-spinach salad with various veggies and cheese (2x)
-sandwiches, raw veggies, fruit (2x)
-clean-out-the-fridge-before-leaving buffet

Suppers (You'll notice a few carry-overs from last week!)
-zucchini casserole, green beans, watermelon
-beans and rice, whatever veggies we have from the garden
-scrambled eggs, homemade beef sausage, sauteed veggies
-beef and veggie stir fry, brown rice

**This post is a part of Menu Plan Mondays!

Friday, July 02, 2010

My Two Cents On Budgeting: Paying Off Debt

Welcome back to my budgeting series!

If you are just tuning in, feel free to check out the other posts in this series.

Before The Bills Are Paid


Making A Budget


The Envelope System

Today we're talking about paying off debt.

This common subject really needs no explanation, does it? Almost all of us are much too familiar with debt and how difficult it can be to get out from under it.

Before we were married, we made the decision to not take on any debt for our wedding and honeymoon. At the same time, we decided to live debt-free as much as possible.

Now looking back, we can see that this was one of the wisest decisions that we've made. We do not regret this decision one bit.

However, we did have some debt that carried over from before we were married. While we haven't been in debt up to our eyeballs, so to speak, we do have some experience with it.

One of our first priorities after the wedding gifts had been opened and our honeymoon bags packed away was to get our finances in line.

We chose to pay off our debt rather quickly so that we could begin saving more aggressively. We listed the amounts in order from smallest to largest and paid off the smaller or most time sensitive debts first.

A good share of this debt involved family members, which can be an uncomfortable and delicate matter. I do not recommend borrowing money from family members if at all possible! We didn't have a terrible experience with this but the relationship was much more relaxed once the debt had been paid!

Don't know about you, but I'd rather not eat my Thanksgiving dinner knowing that I owe money to the folks around the table.

In order to pay off debt rather quickly, we adjusted and tightened the budget accordingly. We also sold a few things and had a yard sale to come up with an extra payment or two.

By doing these things, we were out of debt in just over a year.I remember how nice it felt to not owe any thing to anyone and how freeing it was not to have a 'debt category' in my budget notebook.

So if you are in debt, I encourage you to do all you can to start paying it off!

Tighten your budget to just the essentials to make room for extra debt payments. Sell things. Look for ways to make extra money. Do whatever you can, legally and morally, to get out of debt!

As Dave Ramsey says, "Sell your car!"

There is so much more freedom in the budget when you do not have debt. This is especially true if you have a smaller income.

A friend once said in regards to a time when his family of five was living on $1000 a month, " We didn't have the money to go into debt!" I thought that was odd at the time, but I now understand that the smaller the income the less room there is for extra payments and bills!

It's easy to get discouraged over the debt you have. It's easy to feel like there is no way out because it looks so impossible.

Instead of being discouraged and continuing to muddle through, barely making ends meet each month, make the decision to get out of debt and do something about it!

Attack it! Yes, it may take a lot of time to get where you want to be. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will have to sacrifice things you like or change your lifestyle. You may need to eat rice and beans for a while.

But it will be worth it!

**Next time my husband and I will be teaming up to bring you the last installment of this series: Finances and Marriage. We'll be talking about our personal experiences and what decisions have or have not helped us as we work together to glorify God with our finances.

**This post is part of Frugal Fridays!

Thursday, July 01, 2010


 **This photo has been making the rounds on Facebook. **

A guy in a convertible passed us on the interstate today. He was texting while driving at a somewhat high rate of speed and weaving in and out among the traffic.

As he sped off,  his license plate called out: IDIGLIFE.