Thursday, November 29, 2007

The goose is getting fat...oh, wait, that's me!

We've finally arrived home from a whirlwind two weeks of visiting friends and family and besides mounds of laundry and one dead fish, we had a wonderful time and have survived virtually unscathed.

Our first visit was to the frigid north to visit our friends Rob and Kenna and their passel of kiddies. I haven't stayed up until 3:30 in the morning since college days--or maybe fussy nursing baby days! What a great time we had catching up with our favorite cheese heads.

Next we headed out to visit my folks for Thanksgiving and then on to my grandparents for a mini-reunion in New York for a long weekend.
Now I've never been a woman with body issues--a diet or work-out plan here and there, yes, but the truth is, I'm way too into cooking and eating to really give any serious thought to excessive exercise or health food! But here's the rub: it's more painful than I expected to have someone who looks just like you be 20 lbs. lighter! Here's the photo of the happy fam:

I'm on the left and Ruth Ann is on the right. We've always been a matching set right down to our double names, but now she's quite skinny and I'm, well, getting "settled" and pudgy around the middle. She's earned it with discipline and self-control--she's careful about her eating and exercises often. I'm not and I don't. And until this past weekend, I thought I was ok with that. Now I'm not so sure.

I picked up a Walk Away the Pounds video at the library.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Savings from the Money Saving Mom

Crystal from my favorite bargain blog Money Saving Mom is having a "Just to Say Thanks" Thanksgiving Sale at her other blog Biblical Womanhood. All of her books and CDs are $2, yes, just $2 through the end of this week. In addition, she'll add her Make Ahead Batters E-book to any order for free.

Their affiliate Fashionably Modest Patterns is also having an end of the year sale. All of their patterns are 10% off until December 15.

So hurry on down, don't you wait, to get a great deal at Biblical Womanhood. Tell 'em Saralyn sent you, and don't forget to say "thanks y'all". (I'm thinking about auditioning for a spot in advertisements for either carpet or used cars. What do you think?)

What's in your CD player?

We're spending a lot of time in the car traveling to see family and friends and wanted to recommend a terrific book series that has delighted all the members of our family, from kindergartner to Dad.

Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright, tell of the adventures of Julian and Portia, two cousins who stumble upon an abandoned row of fantastic summer houses from a time gone by.

We borrowed the audios from our local library and are having a delightful time!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanks, Lizzie!

There was a knock at the door this afternoon, and it was my postman with a wonderfully woodsy smelling box for ME! Yippie skippy! Lizzie sent me all these wonderful goodies in the Cozy Sister Swap sponsored by Monica and Carrie:

a beautiful black knitted scarf ( I know in the picture it looks as if a black cat has perched on the edge of the box), sparkly candle, crocheted doily, Thanksgiving kitchen towels, sweet smelling soap, and mounds of wonderful teas.

To see all the other fun things sisters have swapped go here. And keep watching for the next sister swap.

The thing is, I'm not sure if I had more fun filling my box for Lizzie or opening the one she sent me! Who knew being a grown-up could be so much fun!

Sew What?

It started off innocently enough. I was just looking for some fun clothes to sew for Sissy. I clicked from blog to blog, sewing site to sewing site, oohing and aahing over all the delightful garments others had made. I found Sew Mama Sew during kid's clothes month. It was like hitting the jackpot and I was in seamstress heaven!

Then Rebecca and Monica announced that their Christmas plans were already taking shape and they inspired me to start looking for gift ideas. I spent many evenings looking for just the perfect thing to sew or knit and waited "on pins and needles" for Sew Mama Sew to put up their month of homemade holiday tutorials. But the other day it hit me--what have I actually crafted? NOTHING! I've spent so much time admiring the beautiful work of other people that I haven't done any of my own.

Guess what? Scripture speaks to this one, too (and all on the same page in my Bible).

"He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread,
But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding." Proverbs 12:11

"The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting,
But diligence is man's precious possession." Proverbs 12:27

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." Proverbs 13:4

It stinks to realize I've been lazy and frivolous instead of being industrious, so today I am spending some time organizing my home and getting the patterns and fabric picked out in order to (hopefully) accomplish some of these exciting projects others have put before me.

Any advice on how you choose projects and actually finish them in due time would be appreciated.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Strange Fun

I went on the hunt yesterday and bagged some serious game! It worked out that between the visiting we're doing and what I already have stashed in the freezer, I don't have to cook but 2 meals this week. So I used most of the grocery money on extras we like but don't need--known to some as "junk." (My husband claims it's the preservatives in such "junk" that keep us so healthy. He also admits it's just a theory.)

Here's how it worked out:

CVS--These bargains were found with some great coaching from Crystal the Money Saving Mom. Total spent out of pocket was $14.48. I received $14 worth of ecbs for my next trip and the Tums had a rebate for $4.79. I made a $4.31 profit on this trip!

Target--thanks to some info from Angie at Thrifty Florida Mama I picked up some pantry essentials and some of our favorite "junk" for a whopping $4.71.

Meijer--Between the loss leaders and the manufacturer's coupons, I got the peanut butter for $.50 a jar, the pies for $1.48 a piece, the crescent rolls for $.85 a tube, The Spray n' Wash for $1.42 a bottle, and the cheese for $1.50. The oranges were from the reduced produce cart for $.90. Grand total--$10.68.

And last but not least is the Mom's Best Naturals Cereal from our local market. Mom's Best is a Malt O Meal company in disguise that makes great tasting, low priced cereal. You can find a dollar-off coupon here . We got all four big boxes (each being between 18 and 23 oz) plus the bananas from the reduced produce cart for $5.54.

I think this is pretty good for $16.62 (and I'll break my arm if I pat myself on the back any harder)!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's Fall in My Hall

I'm no decorator, but I was quite happy with the seasonal look I was able to pull together in my front entry. The pumpkins were a nuisance all summer as they overtook my flower garden but are now quite useful (and all over my house)! I plopped the pumpkins in a thrift store basket, added a candle I bought on clearance at W-Mrt a while back, a Thanksgiving book from our personal library, and two artificial berry rings from Big Lots. Voila!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Manna from Heaven

It used to be that I loved laundry. I adored cooking. Cleaning my house was what I did for fun and shopping for groceries made me feel like the Proverbs 31 woman bringing her food from afar.

But I've been very sluggish lately. Some sort of combination of "I just don't want to do it" and "It's gotten so out of control that I don't know where to begin." I've tried all sorts of organizational charts and methods of keeping on top of the daily chores, but what I've come to realize is that, like everything else, it's a "heart thing."

When I was first married, all of these chores were wonderful because serving my beloved was a complete joy. We had a cute little house and I got to be the home despot, ruler of all I surveyed. The problem is now that we have more mouths to feed, laundry to wash, and toilets to clean, I'm just not as thankful as I used to be. I'm more like one of the children of Israel whining about the manna, no longer functioning out of gratitude but out of a sense of entitlement.

So how can this be fixed? By re-focusing on Christ and His sacrificial love for me. By confessing my selfishness and remembering that all these things I've been considering menial tasks that get in the way of my plans are really God's gracious gifts to me. They are His plan!

So for this Thanksgiving month I'm going to be asking God for a thankful heart and a diligent spirit. If you also need a dose of thankfulness, check out The Homespun Heart where Monica is running a thankfulness theme this month on her blog. Don't miss her ABC chart!

Friday, November 9, 2007

I'm it!

NO, this is not yet another pride issue rising to the top! Monica at Shine Again tagged me and it's my turn to share eight random things about myself. Here goes...

1. I have an arranged marriage with a man eight years my senior. Ok, so not exactly. But my college roommate's dad--who's also my husband's boss--decided we needed to meet and arranged a blind date. My roommate, her parents, two brothers, brother's future wife, and a family friend all accompanied us on it. The rest is history. (Thanks, Yenta Ron!)

2. I spoke before a Congressional Committee when I was in college.

3. I know the States in alphabetical order.

4. I used to sail dingy class boats competitively.

5. I've birthed a 9 lb 3 oz baby with no pain meds. A 7 lb 12 oz one, too, but that sounds less impressive! ;~D

6. I love wearing dresses.

7. I shake like I've got the palsy if I have more than one cup of coffee.

8. I'm obsessed with old things (see no. 1) and have a very hard time getting rid of old stuff people give me even if it's junk (definitely NOT no. 1).

I know "the rules" on this meme says to tag another 8 bloggers, but I'm pretty sure these ladies will humor me and participate. I'm tagging Anika, Beth, Sharon.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bonanza of Savings

The mailman brought a small bundle of savings opportunities to my door today. When I am spending "real money" (aka not shopping at the thrift store) I like to do it from the comfort of my office chair. I love bargain hunting at junk stores. I hate shopping. Go figure.

Anyway, here's what my trusty federal employee brought me:

40% off any one item at Chadwick's -- use promotion code CH11935
I don't order often from Chadwick's, but what I have gotten has fit well and looked nice for a comparatively low price.

30% off already reduce items at J. Jill November 8-12
If I could get all my clothes from one place it would be J. Jill. They are flattering, feminine, and modest. Of course I always buy clearance and about half of what I own of their label came from the thrift store, but this is a good enough deal to pass on to hubby for his ease of shopping.

$3 shipping from Paula's Choice on all November orders
Another favorite of mine is Paula's Choice. I happened upon Paula Begoun's book Don't Go to the Cosmetic Counter without Me at the library and it has changed the way I buy cosmetics. Basically she's the Ralph Nader of cosmetics. She explains that there are dime store brands that are on par with the very expensive cosmetic counter brands, and some cosmetic counter brands that aren't worth a dime. Go to her Cosmetic Cop site for more information.

Paula has her own brand of products called Paula's Choice. They are no-nonsense, well researched, reasonably priced products. I've struggled with very uncooperative skin since I was pregnant with my first child, and let me tell you, this stuff is terrific. Worth every penny.

So there it is, from me to you. Charge! (On second thought, please don't.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

And the winner of the chili pack is...

Audra Marie over at Scripture Chick. Congratulations! Your goodies will be in the mail in a day or two.
Take a trip over to the winner's page and see who won your favorite giveaways--if it wasn't you! And keep checking in at Bloggy Giveaways to see what other fun things are going for a song.
Thanks to everyone who participated. It was a lot of fun. Hope to be bumping into you again soon in the blogosphere and looking forward to the winter giveaway in January or February.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Science Fair

We participated in our first ever science fair this weekend. The kids had fun studying eight different classes of invertebrates they'd learned about through a song from Lyrical Learning's Lyrical Life Science CD. They made a display board, dressed up as invertebrates--from left to right we had a lobster, a jellyfish, and a spider--and sang the invertebrate song for our homeschool group. Look out Bill Nye!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Dish

For those of you interested in knitted dishcloths, Deb over at Homespun Living has posted her pattern for beautiful waffle knit cloths. She also sells them in her Etsy store, for those less ambitious!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I Walk the Line

There are two extremes to frugality. On one end, life is painfully meager and sparse with short, cold showers, freezing rooms, and scratchy toilet paper, all in the name of saving money. On the opposite end, the world is so fabulously full of freebies that little consideration is taken for other people and their livelihood. People become tools in an agenda and life becomes about gathering lots of stuff as cheaply as possible.

While definitely not immune to either extreme--I've lived at both ends--my question is more about living in the center. Where is the line between being frugal and being unethical? This conundrum surfaced in my mind when the discussions started over this week's free money at CVS. For those of you not into coupon gaming, CVS has a glucose monitoring machine on sale for $29.99, that when purchased, will generate $20 worth of Extra Care Bucks to be used on the next shopping trip. Well it turns out that a booklet available at the pharmacy has a coupon for this same machine that makes it free while still generating the $20 ECBs. On top of this, the deal can be run up to 5 times, giving the lucky winner $100 in ECBs for spending nothing.

This deal is completely and totally legal, but I guess that something about it just doesn't seem right to me. Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right. I'm not a diabetic and I don't need this machine, let alone five of them, but there are folks out there who do. If I go to CVS and work this very legal deal I will gain $100 but I may very well be depriving others of something that is not just nice to have, but necessary for their well-being.

I admit, this was a hard line for me to draw. On the one hand, free money looks really good. But on the other hand, I am a follower of Jesus Christ Who says an awful lot to me about loving my neighbors and having a self-sacrificing love. I also know that there are tons of rationales for this deal. "If I don't do it, someone else will." "There's nothing wrong with it." "Diabetics can buy a different machine." All of these are true, and I don't think ill of you if you feel totally justified. I'm just saying that for me, there is a line. Knowing my own weaknesses, to cross it would be quickly swinging me to the outer edges of frugality, choosing my money over my God.

Are you desperate?

Last March I hosted a Homemakers E-Conference at my home. One of the speakers was Jennie Chancey, a co-author of Vision Forum's latest release Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. The biggest things she taught me through her session was that the "perfect" housewife doesn't look like Martha Stewart or June Cleaver or even Jennie Chancey. The perfect housewife looks like Jesus Christ.

As someone who battles the life-dominating sin of pride, this is crucial, even life-changing. It doesn't matter how much I get done, how clean my kitchen floor is, how stocked my freezer is, how obedient my children are (or aren't). When not done for the love of God and my neighbor, all these things are worthless. And if these victories should come, they are gifts from my Heavenly Father, not badges I should wear.

I'm looking forward to hunkering down with this book--it's at the top of my Christmas list (hint, hint, hubby dear)--and am trusting God to use the wisdom He's given these two godly women to disciple me. If you're interested in picking it up, it's available here through Vision Forum for $16.