Thursday, April 28, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

Homemade powdered laundry soap is easy and quick to make. I've made it several times and we've been really happy with how it works. I use this recipe which takes 2 bars laundry soap (Fels Naptha, Zote, Ivory, etc.), 2 cups washing soda, and 1 cup Borax. Using the food processor to shred the soap and mix it altogether takes me about 10 minutes tops.

A few notes:
  • This is not a high-sudsing laundry soap. In fact, it really doesn't foam much at all. I mention this because those with HE machines always ask.:-) 
  • I let the soap dissolve in the water for a few minutes before adding the laundry. Don't know if this is totally necessary but it works well for me.
  • I like to add a few drops of essential oil to each load. Lavender is my current favorite. It makes the laundry room and the clothes smell so nice! I'm not one to like heavily fragranced detergents (they make my nose run!) but I love this because it's natural and not overpowering.
  • Washing soda can be difficult to find. I know everyone says that most grocery stores carry it in the laundry aisle but none here carry it. I think I've looked in all of them.:-) I bought this box at a Publix near my sister's. Buying online is also an option. 
  • One local store carries Zote soap in both the regular and double size bar. I think it cost me around $1 for the big bar pictured. 
  • Borax is pretty easy to find at Walmart and numerous grocery stores. Again, in the laundry aisle. I like to add a scoop of Borax to my towels and then soak overnight to take the stink out.
  • The boxes of Borax and washing soda will last a long time so the cost for making this soap is really quite small.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wild Roses

The wild rose bush outside my front door provides natural spring decor to replace the pots of grass that we've enjoyed for over a month now.

I just love the simple beauty of these roses! It brings me joy to place them all over the house.

I really enjoy using pretty vases.

The smaller blue vase in the front is one we purchased on our honeymoon to Williamsburg, VA. It was handblown at the glassworks in Jamestown. Several people suggested that we purchase something on our honeymoon for our home so we decided on this vase; small but easy to pack and move through the years plus it's something that can be used. I love using it and like that it's not just a souvenir from China.

The tall green bud vase belonged to my great-aunt.

The clear bud vase on the far left was a gift about 10 years ago.

The large blue vase was a church yard sale find. Maybe 10 cents? It wasn't much. One reason I liked this vase, other than the fact that it's blue and would look great holding simple garden bouquets was that it was slightly imperfect in design. You can't see it in the picture but the sides are not completely even. For some reason, I really liked that!

And the small squatty vase is a tiny baby food jar! It looks almost elegant holding a single flower, doesn't it?

Hope you're taking time to appreciate the small beautiful things in life today!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


 Ever since this was first posted, I've wanted to make one of these compost bins. Last year, when my father-in-law brought us a truck load of treasures, a few trash cans were included. Perfect!

I chose a nice round one with a locking lid that worked and without wheels to make a compost bin. We finally got around to it this weekend. A very easy project with a high-powered drill!

I'm excited to try composting! This is a good list of what all can be composted. Lots more than just egg shells and veggie scraps, although we do have plenty of those! This should really cut down on our trash.

A large recycled cottage cheese container sits by the kitchen sink to collect food scraps and another box is available for compostable non-food items.

As with everything I set my mind to, I'm determined to give this a good try and learn as much as I can about it! My most asked question now is, "Do you think I can compost (name of object) ?

If you compost, I'd love to hear your tips and ideas!

Monday, April 25, 2011

What's Cooking In My Kitchen This Week

Last weekend, I cooked and carved Big Bird. It took me at least an hour to get all the meat off the carcass. We ate several meals of turkey, took some to Fellowship Sunday and we still have quite a bit to eat and freeze! Plus broth for soup and enough pan juices for more gravy. Cook once, eat 12 times... now that's my kind of cooking!

I finally got around to doing my freezer inventory this morning. I was mainly interested in seeing how our supply of grass-fed beef was holding up. We received a large order last summer in either late June or early July and have happily been eating beef to our heart's content ever since! Here's what we have left. I hope to make it last through July, maybe a bit longer.

Beef Inventory
* Eye of round roasts- 2
* Chuck roasts-1
* Stew meat- 1 package
* Ribs- 4 packages of varied sizes
* Cube steak- 6 packages
* Ground beef- 14 pounds/packages
* Soup bones- 2 small packs

Here's what's cooking this week:

* scrambled eggs (6x)

* turkey salad with apples and pecans on lettuce
* leftover beef sausage and broccoli, rice, peas
* leftover turkey soup with lentils (2x)
* pinto beans (from freezer), cheese, chopped tomato, leftover veggies
* Lunch on the go: sliced turkey, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, veggies and fruit

1) beef sausage and broccoli, rice, peas
2) turkey soup with lentils
3) leftover buffet
4) cod, sauteed zucchini, rice
5) pork chops, green beans, sweet potatoes
6) breakfast in a hurry, sauteed peppers and onions

1) celery, peanut butter
2) banana ice cream
3) fruit smoothie
4) yogurt, frozen fruit
5) sliced apple
6) fresh strawberries

What's cooking at your house this week?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not Sure What This Means!

During a nap late this afternoon, I dreamed that Toppy Bailey, one of the Wind At My Back characters, was raving over my homemade vinaigrette dressing and begging for the recipe. 


Has my addiction become an obsession to the place that I am now having conversations with the characters?

Is my homemade dressing that special to me? (I didn't think it was! I mean, it's good. But not that good!) 

Is this an indication that I need to get out more?

Or was I just overly tired?

Or maybe I really just needed blog fodder!

At any rate this really amused me. Definitely goes into the Funny and Weird Dreams file. Not that I have these on a regular basis or anything...

While I won't be taking a break from my homemade dressings anytime soon, it may be time for a Wind At My Back hiatus!

And for the record, here's the recipe for a basic vinaigrette dressing. It's so wonderful you'll dream about it!

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing
Makes 1 cup.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (adjust to taste)
1 small clove garlic, chopped (adjust to taste; I used garlic powder instead.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in jar. Cover and shake well. Or blend in a blender for a longer emulsification.

**Keep at room temperature if using within 5 days. Otherwise, store in refrigerator. Bring to room temp and shake well before using.

Enjoy and sweet dreams!:-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Feathering My Nest: Dining Room Remix

For someone who has a hard time with change, I really like rearranging the furniture in my house.

Every so often, I'll get an idea of how things might fit better and create a better living space and I can't wait to try it out! This time, I got the inspiration while in the shower.

The issue with rentals and a collection of thrifted and hand-me-down furniture is that not everything is going to fit the same from house to house. And I don't see the point in buying a lot of specific items to fit in a house when we will most likely be moving again in a couple of years anyways.

Dining Room Before:

I really like this hutch. It's cute, charming and provides a nice amount of storage. And this was the only wall where it fit in this house. Looks great and I needed it for storage. However, our dining area is tiny and with the hutch here, the space for the table was quite limited, especially with visitors when putting the leaf in would be helpful.

I had bruises on my hips to prove how tight the space was. 

And one day I thought, "What if we put the hutch in storage and moved the table to that wall instead?"

Dining Room After:

Since changing our eating habits, my pantry suddenly had more space. I was able to move the items I had stored in the hutch into the pantry and some other cupboards around the kitchen.

We ended up putting the hutch cabinet (the bottom part) in the living room swapping it out with another  cabinet (also kitchen storage). We stored the hutch shelves (the top part) in our shed for the time being.

There's ample room for the table and I can keep the leaf in all the time. I am not constantly banging my hips into the hutch's sharp edges. There's wall space. It's still a small room but now we have a bit of breathing room!

Do you like to move furniture or not?

Monday, April 18, 2011

What's Cooking In My Kitchen?

What's cooking this week:

scrambled eggs, plain (2x)
scrambled eggs, sauteed peppers and onions (2x)
scrambled eggs, sauteed mushrooms (2x)

1) egg salad lettuce wraps, fresh veggies
2) green salad with lots of veggies, hard-boiled egg
3) leftover stir fry, rice
4) beef pilaf salad, fresh veggies
5) leftover spaghetti squash dinner
6) leftover turkey dinner

1) Cod, steamed carrots, brown rice, collard greens for me, broccoli for him
2) Broccoli stir fry with beef, brown rice
3) Eat Away From Home: TBD
4) Crockpot experiment: spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce and meatballs; salad
5) Roast turkey, gravy, brown rice, green beans, cranberry something or other!
6) Turkey salad with apples and pecans on lettuce leaves, deviled eggs, pickles

1) leftover apple pecan celery salad
2) banana 'ice cream"
3) plain yogurt, frozen fruit
4) celery and peanut butter
5) cottage cheese and pineapple
6) apple and peanut butter

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Insight From Scripture: 2 Peter 3

2 Peter 3:

What jumps out?
Verse 9a: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness..."

This has been a special verse to me in the past year and it stood out again to me today as a reminder of God's faithfulness and timing.

Remember this: God is faithful, true to His Word, and keeps His promises!

Area of development:
Growing my faith.

Today's Prayer:
Thank you for this reminder that You are not slow in keeping Your promises! Amen.

**Care to join me this week? Read 2 Peter 3 and share your insights in the comments! If you'd like to post your insights on your blog, just leave a link to that post in the comments of this one.

Insight From Scripture: 2 Peter 2

**As I climbed into bed after 10 pm last night (late for me!), I realized that I hadn't posted my Scripture insight for the day.  At that point, I thought, "Oh well! It'll have to wait for tomorrow." So here it is, a day late!

2 Peter 2:

What jumps out?
Verse 19: "They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-- for a man is slave to whatever has mastered him."

Jesus came to set the captives free! 
"I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free."  Acts 7:34
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
Why then do so many Christians still live in bondage?
"Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" Romans 6:16

Share the message of freedom with others.

Area of development:
Passing the hope of Christ to others.

Today's Prayer:
Thank you that You came to set us completely free from anything that holds us back from truly pursuing a relationship with You. Give me opportunities to share this message with others. Amen.

**Care to join me this week? Read 2 Peter 2 and share your insights in the comments! If you'd like to post your insights on your blog, just leave a link to that post in the comments of this one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How We Save On Groceries, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of How We Save Money On Groceries. Part 1 is here, in case you missed it!

11) Saving on non-food purchases. My grocery budget includes household items such as toilet paper, dish and laundry soap, personal care items and cleaning supplies in addition to food. I try to save as much as I can on these items in order to put as much of our money towards buying good food! Using coupons as much as I can on these items and playing the CVS drugstore game really helps in this department. By carefully rolling ECB's at CVS, I get the bulk of our shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, toilet paper  and laundry soap for pennies on the dollar. And for those who think this takes too much time, I will just tell you that I only go to CVS once or twice a month usually and I still get enough free or nearly free products to keep us going! So it doesn't have to take a lot of time. Another way I have saved big is by cutting back on the amount of products that we use.

12) Freezing and canning garden produce. If you garden, know someone who gardens or have a farmer's market nearby, chances are you have produce available to you for free or a good price. I find that sometimes the farmer's markets are the same price or higher than what can be bought in the store, so it may not always be cheap. But I also like knowing where and how my food was raised so there is a trade-off there! Anyways, if you have an abundance of produce on hand, learn to freeze or can it for later use. Most home-canned items taste better than what you can buy and it's good to know exactly what's in them! I've successfully canned tomatoes, applesauce, peaches, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, apple butter and peach jamGreen beans, shredded zucchini and sliced bell peppers are easy to freeze and so much cheaper or free during harvest! Each year, my goal is to learn to preserve one more item. And we benefit from this, in taste and cost!

13) Portion control. I do not advocate starving your husbands and children, by any means, but since watching our portion sizes in just the last 5 weeks, we've noticed how our food is lasting longer. This will no doubt be helpful for the budget since a four serving meal will actually feed us for two meals instead of one like it had been previously! And we are satisfied and feel great. Sometimes, simply eating less is a way of saving money on groceries.

14) Paying with cash. When paying with cash, you won't spend more than what you have in hand! I always go a little over budget when using the debit card.

15) Eliminating the unnecessary. Obviously, this will look different for each family. I don't expect anyone to do just as we do. But if you're willing, this is a good way to shave extra costs off your bill.  We use very few paper products, opting instead for using rags, kitchen towels and cloth napkins. I use mostly vinegar for cleaning now and am currently still working through my Seventh Generation gift pack which I love! We drink mostly water. We've never purchased a lot of snack foods.

16) Eating leftovers or cooking less. I love eating leftovers and am blessed to be married to a guy who doesn't mind it either. Eating leftovers saves a lot and reduces waste. If your family isn't big on leftovers, then cook things like a chicken or roast where you make a different dish with the leftover meat each night instead of serving the same heated up item. Or start cooking less so you don't throw food away.

17) Packing lunches for the road. Our eating out budget is separate from the grocery budget but I included this tip here anyways. We almost always pack lunches for traveling or when we're away for the day. Based on the average fast food combo meal and festival food prices, we save $10-$15 each time we eat our packed lunches. We set up at events and festivals often on the weekends and taking our own food is much more economical! Plus we eat a lot healthier this way! We fill our insulated water jug (thrifted for $2 years ago) with water and ice and we don't even have to buy drinks.

18) Drinking water. The savings are obvious! And better for you.

19) Freezing prepared meals and meal components. Freezing meals or cooked beef and chicken will help you out and save you money on busy or sick days. There have been times where the budget was especially tight but when I looked in the freezer, I found enough frozen meals or components to feed us for at least a week! Even freezing the last portion of soup or casserole that nobody wants before it goes bad is a way of using your resources wisely. It may be helpful to keep a freezer inventory so you can remember to use what you've frozen.

20) Simple meals. I try to keep most of our meals pretty simple. Feeding your family well doesn't have to mean 4-course meals or lots of variety and choices everyday.  Most of our meals consist of 2-3 items; usually a meat or main dish with a veggie and a grain, if needed. Salads don't have to include 15 veggies! We don't often have dessert. I cook pretty simply without using a lot of canned soups and bottled sauces. We like our simple, home-cooked meals and always get enough to eat!

21) Shopping at cheaper stores such as Aldi or Walmart. While some areas aren't blessed with an Aldi, almost all Americans are within easy driving distance of a Walmart. And whether you like shopping at these kinds of stores  or not, their prices are generally lower than other grocery stores. Depending on your season of life, watching sales and using coupons just may not be for you right now when you just need to get groceries! And that's where shopping at these stores can be really helpful. You know what you're going to get and the prices are reasonable. Personally, I avoid Walmart as much as I can due to the crazy crowds but I love shopping at Aldi. The store is small, there's typically only one of each product so no figuring out which one to buy, my store has a great produce section and the prices are low. I stock up on basics there and on those weeks when I just need to get groceries quick, Aldi is my store.

Hope this series has been helpful to you. I'd love to hear how your tips as well!

**This post is part of Frugal Friday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Insight From Scripture: 2 Peter 1

2 Peter 1:

What jumps out?
 Verses 5-9: "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."

Possessing the fruit of the Spirit will make me fruitful! Imagine that!!!!:-)

Make every effort with the Holy Spirit's help to cultivate these qualities and the Fruit of the Spirit in my life so that I will be effective and productive for Him!

Area of development:
Building a love relationship with the Lord God.
Growing my faith!

Today's Prayer:
Help me to grow in the fruit of the Spirit so that I can live an effective and productive life for You! Amen.

**Care to join me this week? Read 2 Peter 1 and share your insights in the comments! If you'd like to post your insights on your blog, just leave a link to that post in the comments of this one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Insight From Scripture: 1 Peter 5

1 Peter 5:

What jumps out?
The last part of verse 2: "--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;"

While this section is for elders, this verse speaks to me. Don't do things just because you have to! Do it because you want to!

God wants me to have a willing heart to serve others without thought of what's in it for me. No room for selfishness here!

Area of development:
Building a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Today's Prayer:
Cultivate in my heart a willingness to serve others as You desire me to do. Amen.

**Care to join me this week? Read 1 Peter 5 and share your insights in the comments! If you'd like to post your insights on your blog, just leave a link to that post in the comments of this one.

God Is So Kind Like That

I went to the grocery store about a week and a half ago to purchase a frozen turkey which was on sale for $.59 a pound. That's a really great price for meat and I knew I could stretch a turkey really far!

But, alas, the store was completely sold out of turkeys. Since it was a special "While supplies last" sale, I couldn't get a rain check.

I was a little disappointed but knew I had some meat in the freezer at home and that good deals would come around again, so I got the rest of my groceries and headed home.

A few days later, out of the blue, a friend asked me if I would like a frozen turkey, since they'd overbought at some point when they were on sale and were trying to get rid of them.

"Why yes!" I said, "I'd love to take one off your hands!"

They got it out of the freezer and presented me with a 25 pound turkey. Yes, 25 pounds!

I'd totally forgotten about the turkey I'd wanted to buy a few days prior, but was quickly reminded when they handed the big guy to me.

You see, God knew that I wouldn't have to buy a turkey because He had already provided one for me. And a much bigger one at that!

God is so kind like that!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Insight From Scripture: 1 Peter 4

1 Peter 4: 

What jumps out? 
Verse 10-11: " Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others , faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Several things stood out to me here:
**Everyone has received a gift.
**My gifts and talents are not just for my benefit but meant to be used to serve others.
**Stewardship-- we are commanded to use our gifts and not waste them.
** When we use our gifts and talents in the way God intended, they become an avenue of sharing God's grace  and bringing praise and glory to God.

Any gifts and talents I have are not meant to be kept to myself but to be used to serve others. Ask God to give me opportunities to use the gifts He's blessed me with!

This also applies to blogging! :-)

Area of development:
**Growing my faith.
**Passing the hope of Christ to others.

Today's prayer:
Help me to see where my gifts and talents are most useful and to use them to their fullest potential so that the body of Christ will be edified and that God may be praised! Amen.

**Care to join me this week? Read 1 Peter 4 and share your insights in the comments! If you'd like to post your insights on your blog, just leave a link to that post in the comments of this one.

What's Cooking In My Kitchen

 Jars of homemade veggie broth

Before we roll out this week's menu, let's look at how last week's plan went:

** Loved having lunches so well planned! We used up every bit of leftovers this way. Lunch was really easy to put together, too.

**Tacos in lettuce leaves worked a lot better as taco salad! It may have worked better with a  different type of lettuce which we will continue to experiment with. So far we've discovered that cold sandwich fillings do better in lettuce wraps than hot.

**This banana ice cream is absolutely delicious! And includes only one ingredient! We'll be eating this often throughout the summer. The recipe link also suggests trying other frozen fruit.

This week: 

Breakfasts (6x):
** scrambled eggs plain, with veggies cooked in, salsa added or sauteed peppers/onions or mushrooms on the side.

** ham and cheese lettuce wraps, fresh veggies
** egg salad lettuce wraps, fresh veggies (2x)
** hamburger patty, green salad
** leftover beef veggie soup
** leftover chicken and rice, veggie

1) vegetable beef soup, rice
2) pork chops, sauteed green beans with mushrooms and onions, rice
3) chicken and rice bake, steamed carrots
4) salad with veggies, hard-boiled egg, tuna
5) Eat Away From Home: Take spaghetti and meatballs.
6) Date Night: Going Out To Eat!

**celery, peanut butter (2x)
** yogurt, frozen fruit
** fruit smoothie (2x)
** banana ice cream

Hope you have a great week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Insight From Scripture: 1 Peter 2 and 3

1 Peter 2:

What jumps out?
Verse 12: "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. "

While it's not all about our works, we are known by our actions! What kind of an influence am I?

I want my actions and attitudes to influence people towards a relationship with Christ!

Area of development:
Passing the hope of Christ to others.

Today's Prayer:
May my life be a shining light leading others to You! Amen.

1 Peter 3:

What jumps out?
Verses 3-5a: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."

Why and Application(combined today):
Dressing nicely and taking care in my appearance is not wrong but it should not be my focus. True beauty comes from having the Spirit of Christ within me. True beauty comes when my attitude and heart reflects the nature of Christ Jesus.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. " Galatians 5: 22, 23

Area of development:
Building a love relationship with Christ.
Passing the hope of Christ to others.

Today's Prayer:
May my heart and attitudes reflect Your beauty! Amen.

**Care to join me this week? Read 1 Peter 2 and 3 and share your insights in the comments! If you'd like to post your insights on your blog, just leave a link to that post in the comments of this one.

Feathering My Nest: Pillow Shams

I'm not much of a decorator but even I get to the point sometime where I just need to do a little sprucing up around the place. A little feathering of my nest, so to speak.

We've had extra pillows on our bed for a while now, but no shams. Our bedspread is white chenille so it could use some color!

Instead of continuing to wait until I found the perfect fabric, I went through my stash and picked out a blue rose print that would look good with both the white chenille and the pale blue walls.

One evening last week, I sat down and sewed the fabric into shams. Even though these aren't perfect, I really like the pop of color and the cottage-feel they bring to the room.

What kinds of small improvements have you made on the appearance of your home lately? 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Insight From Scripture-- 1 Peter 1

 Today I read in 1 Peter 1.

What jumps out?
Verse 24 and 25: For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."

These verses caused me to question myself about what truly lasts and stands the test of time. So many things I spend my time on are only temporal and while some of them are necessary parts of life, I have to guard myself so that I do not get sucked into these things and take my focus off the only thing that will stand which is God's Word.

Application (How will this change the way I live my life?):
Ask God to help me to align my priorities with His and to give me wisdom on what to spend my time on.

Area of development:
* Growing my faith in Christ.
* Building a love relationship with God.

Today's Prayer:
God, give me discernment and wisdom to know what is worth spending time on and what isn't! Amen.

**Care to join me this week? Read 1 Peter 1 and share your insights in the comments! If you'd like to post your insights on your blog, just leave a link to that post in the comments of this one.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Daily Bible Reading-- 1 and 2 Peter

I've mentioned the method I use for daily Bible reading and wanted to give you a chance to join in next week if you'd like!

Starting this Sunday, I'll be reading through the books of 1 and 2 Peter all week.  Typically I read one chapter a day but since this week's reading includes 8 chapters, there will be one day where I'll do two chapters instead.

Each day, I'll post my insights from that day's reading. If you desire to join in (and I hope you will!) you can leave your insights or a link to your own blog post about that day's reading in the comment section of the appropriate post.


  •  Set aside 15-30 minutes to read the chapter and write down any insight you receive.

  •  Before reading, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you read and to reveal insight and wisdom through God's Word that you will be able to apply to daily living.

  •  Read the chapter. I often read 2 or 3 times before anything jumps out at me. This is ok!

  •  After reading, write down your responses to these questions:

1) List one thing that jumps out at you. This can be a whole verse, a word, a phrase, anything in the chapter.
2) Please explain why it jumped out. 
3) How will this change the way you live your life? This means practical application for daily living.
4) Based upon the answers above, what area of your Christian walk is God developing?
       __Growing your faith in Christ.
       __Passing the hope of Christ on to others.
       __Building love relationships with Christ and people.
5) Write down any insight you have received concerning salvation in Christ.
6) Write down your prayer for the day.

  • Share your insights with someone!
Reading Schedule For This Week: 

Sunday: 1 Peter 1
Monday: 1 Peter 2 and 3
Tuesday: 1 Peter 4
Wednesday: 1 Peter 5
Thursday: 2 Peter 1
Friday: 2 Peter 2
Saturday: 2 Peter 3

Some things to keep in mind:

** Don't over think this! This isn't meant to be a comprehensive chapter study but rather to give simple insight for daily life.

** If you've read these books before, ask the Lord to show you something new.

** Some days you may have very short insight and other days long. This is fine!

** You are not obligated to join in with sharing your insight every day. However, this is a great way to get into the habit of  daily reading so I greatly encourage you to try it for every day this next week!

I hope you'll join me and find this to be as effective of a method as I have!

Who's with me?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Ways We Save On Groceries, Part 1

If you aren't already following the Eat Well, Spend Less series spearheaded by Life As Mom, you should. Every week throughout the month of April, seven different bloggers are sharing how they spend their grocery dollars wisely in spite of the rising food prices. All of these ladies approach this topic from a different perspective concerning eating habits, using coupons, cooking from scratch, etc. so there's something for everyone. I've really enjoyed the posts I've read so far. I even tried a new garlic-herb dressing recipe I found through this series and it is delicious!

I know food prices are going up. To be honest, I haven't noticed too much increase in our area recently but I do know that already grocery prices are a good bit higher than they were 3 years ago.

All this talk about beating the rising prices while still feeding our families good and filling meals has caused me to think about the main ways I am able to save money on groceries! If you've been reading here for any length of time, you'll probably recall seeing these tips mentioned before, because they have been. :-) For the most part, these are tips that I've used for a long time and probably will continue to use as I work to stretch our grocery dollars with or without rising grocery prices.

1) Menu planning. We all know how much I love my menu plans. I love them because they work for me. I make a plan based on what I have on hand and what I will be purchasing at the grocery store. Having a plan helps me to more wisely use my resources. I don't feel bound by my meal plans and I frequently switch up days or even ditch the plan altogether and make something else we're in the mood for. And that's ok. Having a plan in place means that I'm not arriving at 5 pm trying to come up with something for dinner and running out for fast food or to the grocery store to purchase something else. I've also noticed that when I follow my menu plan, we eat much healthier and more balanced meals than the ones I throw together at the last minute!

2) Detailed grocery lists. I make store-specific lists with coupon match-ups clearly marked. I usually have a pretty good idea of prices and try to take the time to figure up my total before I head to the store. With a smaller budget, this is important. If I'm over budget, I can scratch a few things off the list and make substitutions and changes to the week's menu plan.The more detailed my lists, the more successful I am in sticking to my budget!

3) Using basic inexpensive ingredients. The more basic the ingredients the more versatile they are. When I have my freezer and pantry stocked with some kind of meat, canned tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, rice, pasta, frozen veggies, eggs  and basic baking supplies (oil, baking powder, cornmeal,  flour, sugar, etc.), the sky's the limit on what dishes I can prepare. These type of ingredients are among some of the best bargains you'll find at the store, regardless of sales and coupons.

4) Doing without. To save money, there are items we simply do without sometimes or find other substitutions for. Parmesan cheese, chocolate chips, pepperoni, special baking supplies are among the items that sometimes get scratched off the list if there isn't quite enough moolah to go around. So far we haven't suffered from this and we always have plenty to eat!

5) Cooking from scratch. This saves a lot of money over buying pre-made meals and mixes!

6) Different types of meals. Instead of all "meat as main dish" meals, I try to plan a variety of different types of meals each week. If you look closely at my weekly menus, you'll notice that most weeks I plan one or two meals with meat as the star, a meatless meal or two, often a soup, sometimes breakfast for dinner, then other meals with meat as an ingredient rather than the main dish. This stretches our budget! We've recently changed our eating habits to exclude a lot of carbs so it will be a challenge to continue varying the types of meals.

7) Minimizing waste.While I am not perfect at this, I do my best to keep food waste to a minimum. Making your own chicken and beef broth is easy and makes use of something you would throw away otherwise. Since eating more veggies, I've been saving the scraps (well-washed, of course) in a freezer container and making a pot of broth once a week. If I have chicken bones, I'll add them to the pot, otherwise, just make vegetable broth. I also save water that I've steamed veggies in and either add that directly to soups or put them in my veggie broth. Day-old bread gets turned into croutons, stuffing mix and egg casseroles; even bread pudding if you like it (I don't!). Day-old milk can be used in pancakes and waffles or frozen for later use in cooking. I throw a lot of leftover bits and bobs of veggies, meats, pasta and rice into soups and stir-fries. I freeze veggies for later. In the long run, using almost every bit of your food saves a good bit of money.

8) Watching store sales. My goal is to buy very little that is not on sale. This practice alone saves me 40-50% on my grocery bill almost every shopping trip. We buy most of our meat and produce this way, which shows that you can save a bundle even on these more healthful items! Most store sales come around every 6-8 weeks or so, so you only need to buy enough to last that length of time.

9) Using coupons. I don't coupon as much as I used to and using coupons has never been my primary way of consistently saving money on groceries. But it is a practice that should not be overlooked. I primarily use coupons for non-food purchases such as toiletries and paper products. Our local health food store issues a store coupon booklet once a quarter. Many times there are coupons included for chicken and pork as well as other products they carry. It's always worth a look and I've been able to get healthful products at good prices this way. We don't have a Whole Foods nearby but I've heard they have some store coupons as well. This dispels the myth that you can't save money on healthy foods! A local grocery store mailed me a flier including store coupons for the month of April-one for each week. I wasn't interested in some of them, but the 2- $5 off a minimum of a $10 purchase for meat and dairy products (separate weeks) caught my eye. You bet I will use these on the appropriate weeks, utilizing sales to stock up on some products I don't often see coupons for. By simply keeping my total right about $10, I will automatically save 50% just by using the coupon.

10) Produce and meat markdowns. My eyes are trained to spot clearance stickers throughout the store but the main places I look for them is in meat and produce. For my local stores, Food Lion often has excellent meat markdowns and Bi-Lo and Harris Teeter have marked down produce racks. It's hit or miss as to the selection or quality but always worth a look! Generally speaking, I've found mornings to be the best time for these deals. Check these items carefully as they are marked down for a reason. Only buy what you can use within 2-3 days or freeze for later use. Bananas, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach are items that I often purchase this way. I'm very leery of buying marked down avocados as they are often too soft by this time. But there are good deals to be found if you look for them and ask your produce manager what they do with overripe produce.

To be continued next week...

How are you saving money on groceries these days?

** This post is part of Frugal Friday!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Question & Answer

I was tagged by the sweet Tea (Get it? Sweet tea?) to do this little question and answer thingy and it looked sort of fun so here goes...

There are two rules...
Rule 1: The tagged person must post answers to the questions on their blog and replace any question they dislike with a new one they've formulated themselves.
Rule 2: Tag 4 other people to do this quiz.

Here goes...
1. If you have pets, do you see them as merely animals or are they members of your family?
Definitely a member of the family but not quite as important as the human members!

2. If you could have a dream come true, what would it be?
To be a mom.

3. What would you do with a billion dollars?

I have never been one to dream about what I'd do with lots of money so to be honest, I really don't know! For starters: buy a house, a newer and larger vehicle, save for the future, adopt, give freely to several organizations and people that we believe in... Oh, and we hate yard work so I guess having a billion dollars would give us enough extra cash to afford the luxury of hiring someone else to do it for us!

4. What helps to pull you out of a bad mood?
Prayer, reading Psalms, singing, focusing on God and other people.

5. What is your bedtime routine?
Brush teeth, jammies on, get into bed. Sometimes read for a little while. I usually drop right off to sleep.

6. Name something that has surprised you this week about motherhood (or womanhood)...
Can't think of anything at the moment.

7. What kind of books do you read?
Mostly non-fiction, cookbooks, some self-help.

8. How do you see yourself in 10 years?
Tea answered this one the way I would've so I'm stealing her answer: I have no idea. If the last 10 years have taught me anything, I know I pretty much have no idea what the next 10 years will bring.

9. What’s your fear? 

 Honestly can't think of one right now. When I was a kid, I had this fear of the top and bottom of escalators. Thought I would get sucked in. Even now, I'll take wide steps to avoid this. LOL!!!

10. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to see outer space?
No. I really don't care about seeing outer space. At least not as much as eating a few Cheetos every now and then.

11. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Go potty.

12. If you could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be? Or, if you’re single - if you could choose a significant other who looked like anyone in the world, who would it be?
I'm changing this question...
What is one thing you love about your husband?
He's not a picky eater!

13. If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?
Since I don't have an answer to this one, I'm changing it to:
What is a girl's name that you like?

14. If you had to choose between six months of sun or six months of rain, what would you choose?
I do love a good rainy day! But 6 months of rain? In that case, I'd choose sun.

15. If you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?

16. What is the thing you enjoy about blogging the most?
Getting comments! Having details of our daily lives, recipes and how I do things all in one handy place to refer back to.

17. Do you prefer salty or sweet foods?
Definitely salty.

18. What items are in your purse right now?
Cash envelopes, diaper and wipes, calculator,inhaler, gum, checkbook, phone, drivers license, keys, measuring tape, comb, feminine products, inhaler, coin purse, pen, used Kleenex...

19. If you had to choose between vacationing at the beach or in the mountains where would you go?
I love the mountains but lately we've had the hankering to go to the beach! Maybe because other than a quick day trip with family to the Oregon Coast, Andy and I have never been to the beach together?

20. What do you watch on television that you know you shouldn't?
 Nothing that I can think of -- except for Wind At My Back and a few things my husband watches, I don't watch much TV.

Now I have to tag four people. No pressure, but if you're willing to play along...
Debbie J.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Quick Frugal Tip

This tip won't save you big bucks but it will save you a little here and there and only takes a minute!

You know how you pour out the salt and you can still hear some salt in the bottom but it won't come out the spout anymore?

I cut my salt box open the other day and got another teaspoon out that way! 

This technique works for many other food and household items too.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

What's Cooking In My Kitchen

Our new eating style is going great! We are feeling good and I have lost 10 pounds already!

As you can see from this week's plan, we're still in a bit of a transition. I'm using the last frozen pizza kit this week, then it will probably be a while before I make homemade pizza again. For the record, I really really loved my pizza kits and highly recommend them as a frozen meal option.

I had a few odds and ends of leftovers in the fridge and frozen veggies in the freezer so I tried to account for them in this week's meal plan. It's good to use up the old before bringing in lots of new with grocery shopping for the new month!

I heart Costco!
 Yes, that is a box of 7.5 dozen eggs.
Breakfasts (6x): 
  • scrambled eggs plain, with spinach cooked in or sauteed peppers/onions or mushrooms on the side.
  • leftover stir-fry and rice (1 serving), leftover lentil casserole, leftover green beans (1 serving), leftover peas
  • leftover pizza, celery sticks, leftover peas, leftover mixed veggies
  • leftover lentil casserole, veggies
  • tacos in lettuce leaves ( taco meat, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped peppers, shredded cheese)
  • salad with lots of veggies, hard-boiled egg and leftover salmon (after this week's salmon dinner)
  • salad with beef and lots of veggies


  • sliced apple, peanut butter (2x)
  • yogurt, frozen berries
  • banana "ice cream"
  • green smoothie (2x)

Monday, April 04, 2011

No Thanks!

Look at the onslaught of fast food coupons that came in the mail one day last week...

No, we will not be tempted by your Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals and your delicious pictures of sandwiches, fried chicken and pizza!

And no, Burger King, we will not be swayed by your offer of FREE chicken tenders!