"Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take."
~~Proverbs 3:5-6~~
I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. Jesus is Lord of my life and I strive daily to draw closer to Him. I love being a homemaker---taking care of my family and home. I enjoy couponing, cleaning, and cooking. I love to get the best deal on everything and find that yard sales and thrift stores are the perfect places for that. I have recently felt lead to write a Bible study and have been working on it in my spare time. I truly enjoy leading women's groups as we all seek to grow closer to the Lord. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy reading about what happens as I strive do all of this.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Blog of 2011

What a year!  The first half of the year was pretty uneventful and pretty routine.

Summer came and our son had the opportunity to go on a 10 day trip to Las Vegas and Nevada with his best friend and his best friend's mom.  He earned his money to go and even with a little hesitation, we agreed.  It was a trip of a lifetime for him and he had a blast.  They later went to the beach for a week and had a great time.

Our daughter went to two different week-long camps with church.  A couple of weeks before taking her to the second camp, I started experiencing some serious facial/jaw pain.  The day that my mama and I were taking her to the second camp, it finally became unbearable.  I talked to my mama about it and agreed to go to the dentist.  I have had a lifelong phobia of the dentist.  Dr. Snider had done some major dental work for me a couple of years ago and it went really well, so I decided to call.  Turns out that all the terrible pain was due to the fact that I was clinching my teeth in my sleep and subconsciously during other times of the day.  He fit me for a guard to wear at night from now on and during the day for a the first few weeks.  Within three nights and days of wearing it, the pain was gone.  It was during this time that I was chosen to lead the ladies Bible study at our church.  I was dealing with the pain while preparing to lead the ladies.

Shortly after the Bible study starting in September, my daughter and I were home alone when  a man walked in on us.  It could have been much worse but thanks to a very vocal Pomeranian, quick thinking  and knee-jerk reacting, we had him out of our door soon and later arrested.

A month later, my husband came home to let me know that he had lost his job.  He was only out of work for 3 weeks before finding the job he now has.  He no longer swings shifts 7 days at a time, he no longer feels completely defeated at his job, and he is home every weekend.

All of these situations have made us draw closer to the Lord.  Life can bring changes and situations that we do not see coming, but God does. He knows exactly what is going to happen and will help us through the things that come our way.  I am grateful for everything from 2011....the good, the not so good, the fun, the difficult, the confusing, the scary, the happy, the sad, the hurtful, etc.  It is all by His plan.  Knowing that very fact brings me comfort.  He is never caught off guard.  He is never surprised.  He is never unprepared.  He is never unfaithful.  He NEVER fails.  God is good.  Life may be challenging and even a roller coaster, but I am thankful that He has it all under control and all I have to do is hang on.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Frugal Friday 12-30-11

I really meant to get a picture of the items before I put them up last night.  I went to Bi-lo, my favorite savings place, to use coupons that are expiring tomorrow.  Here is what I got:
1 Bottle ERA detergent
3 33.9 ounce cannisters of Folgers Decaf Coffee
16 bottles of Kraft BBQ sauce
1 package Idahoan Instant Potatoes
3 packages of frozen Cooked Perfect Meatballs
2 40 count packages of Tampax Tampons
2 boxes of Zesta Saltine Crackers

Total Before Sales and Coupons:  $101.02
Total After Sales and Coupons + Tax:  $17.69
Savings:  nearly 83%

What a Way to Wake

Since my husband has been at his new job, he and I get up at 5:30 in the mornings.  He usually gets right up and I stay behind and make the bed.  I set the coffee maker (got a new one for Christmas) the night before so the coffee will be ready when we get downstairs.  I hated our old maker but only paid $5 for it.  You had to pour it really really slowly to avoid it running all over the counter.  Sometimes it would overflow as it brewed and would make a HUGE mess.  The one that I got for Christmas has been GREAT!  It is a Mr. Coffee (my brand of choice) and has not disappointed me....YET.  

So I realized this morning that my husband had gotten up and I had apparently pressed "dismiss" instead of "snooze" on my phone.  I jumped up and went downstairs without making my bed because I was 30 minutes behind.  This is silly, but that is always a bad way to start a day.  I get downstairs to a counter full of water, a few coffee grounds, and a half full coffee pot.  WHAT?  It had failed!  I started to figure out what could have gone wrong and started a new pot.  I then realized that "mother nature" had arrived.  GREAT!  I started packing my husband's lunch for him to take to work.  I took his bag of lunch to the place where he leaves everything he needs to take out the door when he leaves.  Since I had hurried to the kitchen to prepare our coffee and breakfast, I had not turned any lights on anywhere else.  As I sat his lunch on the table, his new Mag Lite flashlight fell and narrowly missed my toe.  The sound of it falling scared me.  I go back to the kitchen to start his breakfast and, THANKFULLY, the second pot of coffee had brewed.  I poured us both a cup and finished breakfast.  As I was walking back up the hallway, my husband emerges from the bathroom and says, "Good morning!"  If he ONLY knew that I had pretty much spent the first 30 minutes of my day in a tizzy.  I just laughed.  As I started sharing with him how it had all unfolded, he laughed along with me.  Things could be much much worse, and I truly realize that.

  
I have a friend that had surgery for colorectal cancer yesterday.  She will start MAJOR chemo treatments in a few weeks.  I have been following a couple of blogs where two different mom's are watching there sons fight for their lives.  One is an infant and one is about 5 years old.  I saw online earlier about a teenage boy who died on Christmas day from a heart condition.  I know a wife that is fighting to save her marriage. I know of families that are struggling to keep their home.  I know of a man that lost his wife and within a couple of days his son also passed away.  I know how blessed I am and if my bed does not get made, the coffee maker runs over, and I drop a flashlight.  It is NOT a big deal.  I am sure any of the people in these situations would love to trade places.  I first complained about what I woke up to, but I now think about all of the people I mentioned here and I have to know that they woke to much bigger things.

I am going to make my bed and get another cup of coffee.  I will also stop and thank the Lord for the overflowing coffee pot, unmade bed, and nearly broken toe.  I am now grateful for starting my day that way.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Canning....I can!

Yesterday, I made apple butter. Other than chopping strawberries for a friend as she canned jam, I have never had any real experience canning things.  It is something I have always been interested in.  I did not have all the "proper" equipment, but with some web searches, improvisation, and determination...I did it!
Yesterday, I realized that I had 5 jars of apple sauce, which were free with coupons, about to expire.  I also had several fresh apples that had seen better days.  I had a thought..."I wonder how hard it would be to make apple butter and can it?"  Well, why not?  

I peeled and chopped the fresh apples and put them in the Crock-pot on high for a couple of hours.  Once they were soft, I used the immersion blender to puree them.  I added the apple sauce from the jars, sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg.  I allowed it to cook on high for several hours with the lid slightly to the side to allow the steam to escape.  As it cooked down, the house started smelling soooooo good.  

While the apple butter was cooking down, I did some web searches to figure out the canning process.  I then went on a scavenger hunt in my cabinets.  I knew I had jars, rings, and lids of various sizes.  I came up with several complete sets.  I put the jars in my dishwasher on the heat and sanitation setting.  While they were washing away, I started putting together a make-shift rack for the bottom of my pot.  One webpage suggested that to make a "rack" you can tie jar rings together.  Seven rings and a bunch of square knots later, I had my "rack".  It actually fit perfectly in the bottom of the pot that I was using. I brought water to a low simmer and inserted the lids and rings for a nice sanitizing bath. I did have a wide-mouth funnel that had been given to me several years ago.  I used it to fill the jars.  After filling the jars, I placed a lid and ring on each one.  I then started the "processing" of the jars.  I boiled them submerged in the water for 15 minutes each.  As I removed them from the boiling water, I realized why they suggest to have the right tongs with rubber ends.  It became quite obvious that I REALLY needed those.  I managed to get all of the jars of apple butter out of the water and onto the counter.  It was wonderful to hear them each, one-by-one, "pop".  It was so rewarding!
This morning, I opened our first small jar of the apple butter and my husband and I had it on toast as part of our breakfast.  I got a thumbs up after his first bite.  Now I am inspired.  I am now on a quest to find used canning equipment and cheap jars.  I am already looking forward to making other things and canning them.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In the Kitchen Today

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the grocery store and saw packages of turkey legs and turkey wings that had store coupons on them.  I was able to get them REALLY REALLY cheap....meaning for less than a dollar a package and even a few were less than 50¢.  Today, I have them in a water brine (unmeasured Kosher salt, brown sugar, and spices).  I will oven roast them later this evenings for our supper. 

I realized that I had about 7 large apples in my refrigerator and 3 large jars of natural apple sauce in the pantry (soon to be outdated).  I am going to cook the apples in my Crock-pot for several hours until I can use the immersion blender to purée them and add the jars of apple sauce.  I will add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little salt at this point and continue to cook.  I will put the apple butter in small canning jars to give as gifts along with my homemade sourdough bread throughout the next few months.

I absolutely HATE throwing out food if it can be used in a new or different way.  We eat leftovers as they are or I reinvent them.  I take my coupons, grocery budget, pantry items, freezer items, and refrigerator items as serious as I take our checkbook register.  I think it is the easiest way to save money and is also an area where many families waste money.  I know for us, our food budget can be an area where when I get lazy or careless, we see a huge dent in our money. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Swiss Steak....sort of

I wanted to tryout my new Crock-pot that my daughter gave me for Christmas.  With a freezer full of various meats, I decided to figure out something using some cubed steak (venison).  Here is what I did:
(1)  I soaked the venison in buttermilk for about an hour.
(2)  I then mixed 1/2 pack of Grill Mates McCormick's Southwest Marinade (just used it dry from the pack) with one cup of flour.
(3)  I patted the venison pieces with the flour mixture and quickly browned it on the stove top...just to get the outside browned.
(4)  I sliced a medium yellow onion in rings
(5)  I layered the browned meat with the onions in the Crock-pot 
(6)  I opened a can of Mexican style stewed tomatoes and used the immersion blender to blend them so it would be more like a sauce.
(7)  I poured the can of tomatoes over the top of the steak and onions, put the lid on the Crock-Pot and set it to cook on low for 8 hours (only because the 6 hour setting is for high).  I will allow it to cook about 6 hours and serve over rice.

UPDATE:  I decided to steam some broccoli to put with the steak when serving.  I also decided to serve it over Vigo Yellow Rice  with a dollop of sour cream.  I think "Swiss" steak slowly became "Spanish" steak.

Take it Easy Tuesday

Okay, confession time.....It may be "Tackle it Tuesday", but I am declaring today as "Take it Easy Tuesday"!  My husband went back to work this morning after a wonderful 3-day weekend for Christmas.  He and I spent the day together yesterday.  We went to a local town and looked for him a pair of good work shoes, shopped for a few grocery deals, and came home to grill hamburgers.  We then went to bed at our regular time, 9:30pm.  That is actually 30 minutes late.  Well, we usually go to sleep with our TV on (my way of ignoring is sometimes bothersome snoring).  As I started to look for something to "watch", I came across "Fireproof".  We had never watched it and we both immediately got interested in it.  I could have gone downstairs and set the DVR, but instead, we stayed awake until midnight to watch the entire movie.  We get up at 5:30 am!  We were able to get up this morning, but I am tired to say the least.  
Back to the movie...it was very good.  We had been blessed to be taken out to see "Courageous" and really liked it, so I was not surprised that we would also enjoy "Fireproof".  As we watched it, I laughed, cried, and chatted with Glenn.
We are always heart broken when we hear of a couple struggling.  We have a few couples in our life right now that we know are struggling in big and small ways, for really serious and not so serious reasons, and for short and long amounts of time.  We are burdened when we hear that.  We certainly do not feel we have it all together, but we are blessed to have a wonderful relationship.  We have been through A LOT in our 20 years together.  Our marriage vows have been put to the test:

"For better or worse":  We have lived through a very serious season of me being terribly depressed, angry at God, and bitter at life.  Glenn never lost hope, even when I lost all hope.  We have had seasons that neither of us were at our best.  Some of those seasons last a second and others last for a long time.

"For richer or poorer":  We have seen many lean times and job changes that have caused us to work together.  We have learned that as long as we have our relationship, we can do without things.

"In sickness and in health":  We have each had our share of sicknesses and surgeries.  I will never forget how Glenn took care of me after two c-sections, two serious dental surgeries, and another surgery.  He had neck surgery several years ago and had to relinquish the steering wheel for 6 weeks.  He is always the driver, so this was a big deal for us. He even had surgery when I was 3 months pregnant with our son who is now 17.  I was experiencing some morning sickness while he was sick from being put to sleep.  Not fun, but as we back on all of those times, we are always able to find the humor in them.

"In good times and bad times, all the days of my life":  I think sometimes as couples stand and take their vows, in their minds as they say "all the days of my life", they are thinking "until I cannot handle it anymore".  ALL means ALL....the bad days, the long days, the not so fun days, the hard days, the lean days, the scary days, etc.  

I am blessed to have a good marriage, but I also know that Satan loves nothing more than to break-up families and he is always just outside the boundary lines waiting to pounce at any sign of weakness. So, as I have declared it "Take it Easy Tuesday", I cannot take it easy on praying for my husband, finding ways to serve my husband, and loving my husband.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve


I could not be any less stressed than I am right this minute.  This is NOT typical for Christmas Eve.  We have nowhere to be, my husband is home for three days, and everything is done.  I spent the morning cuddling with my sweet husband while we watched the 1949 "Little Women".  I had never watched it and did not get to see the very beginning.  I then cooked "breakfast" for lunch.  My husband and daughter are out at a couple of stores, my son is playing his guitar, and I am literally doing NOTHING.  I actually need to get some wrapping completed this evening, but I will do that with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, and Burl Ives entertaining me and a large mug of coffee.  I am thinking that a low stress Christmas is exactly what everyone should have.  This is wonderful!  "Let There Be Peace On Earth....and let it begin with me!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Frugal Friday 12-23-11

I am assuming that some people could call today "Frantic Friday".  Even with the the stress of my husband losing his job two months ago and starting a new job last month, I am not stressed at all this year.  I decided to do far less baking, buy less gifts, and plan less events.  It has had a very calming effect on me.  I also decided to not send Christmas cards.  It is not that big of an expense, but it is one less expense.  Deciding to do less baking has helped me to spend less this year. I will do a minimal amount of baking and cooking tomorrow, but most of what I am doing will use things that I already have on hand.

Although I have always lived a somewhat frugal life and consider myself a simple person, we got far too comfortable eating out, spending on extras, and being overall careless the last couple of years.  My husband losing his job really shook me and woke me up.  I have been extremely cautious with every single penny that we have received and that we are spending.  I made a book that I call a "Budget Book" where I keep a literal journal about each of those pennies. Writing down not only what we spend but the reasoning behind it is VERY eye-opening. 
I have also made a notebook for me to write down all of our grocery spending and to keep up with what I cook each day.  It is also a journal.  I am keeping it for several reasons.  (1) I want keep track of our food spending (2)  I want to keep track of the actual cost of food each day (3)  I will be able to see the last time we had ___________ for supper.
I am a firm believer that if you do not have some sort of accountability with anything that you are trying to manage or control, you will not make good decisions.  Writing things down really keeps me on track, rather it is my diet, our budget, or a shopping list.  I believe with all my heart that when we have to look at reality in writing, it makes us more aware.  I keep several (ok, many) kinds of journals for this very reason. I am "old school" and I write it all with my own hand and a pen.  Typing does not necessarily have the same effect for me.
On this Christmas Eve Eve, I am thankful that it is not Frantic Friday for me.  I am grateful that God has given me peace through all that we have been through the last few months.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sharing a Poem

I saw this on a friend's Facebook page and thought I would share it:

A Christmas Version of I Corinthians 13
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies , preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not share the true meaning of Christmas, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not demonstrate kindness to strangers, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure. "And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Author Unknown

Monday, December 19, 2011

Immersion Blender

I have had a simple Rival Immersion Blender for years.  I had never really used it other than to froth milk for coffee or hot chocolate.  Recently, I have discovered that I like to use it.  I used it again this evening as I made homemade chicken noodle soup for our supper.  I save the leaves and scraps from celery in a bag in the freezer.  I wanted the celery flavor along with onion flavor without necessarily having the pieces of either one in the soup.  I cooked some celery stalks and a half of a yellow onion in butter.  I added about two cups of the stock broth.  Once it was all nearly boiling, I removed the pot from the stove and used the immersion blender to blend it all together.  I had read once that cooking vegetables and then using the immersion blender in them makes a "cream" soup without having to add cream.  I have found this to be true. The liquid that I made out of the celery, onion, butter, and stock was creamy.  I tasted it and found that it was full of flavor.  I added the rest of my chicken stock to it along with the shredded chicken.  I will add more flavors once it has time to cook together. 

Home Alone

Today is a rare day.  I will be home alone most of the day.  I am not certain what I will do with my time, but I am thinking I will do some Christmas baking.  I need to, at least, get my recipes together for baking the rest of the week.  I am not doing as much baking and cooking this year as I have in the past.  I am going to try making cake balls. I have never made them and have a slight obsession with looking at them on Pinterest. I am wanting make some of my usual things, but try a few new things this year.  I should probably spend some time wrapping gifts.  I also need to feed my sourdough starter.   I like the thought of getting my closet cleaned out today, but I am not certain that I want to do that either.  I am thinking that I am going to end up drinking coffee and looking at recipes all day.   

Friday, December 16, 2011

Frugal Friday

I find it to be almost a challenge to see just how much I can save on groceries and feeding my family.  I realized as I served supper last night that we have not had the same meal twice in the last nine weeks.  I have had something for dessert each evening too.  I have become quite resourceful and my family seems to be really enjoying it.  As I think back over the last 20+ years but especially the last 9 weeks I know that without certain things in place, feeding my family would be a source of stress.  Since I do not like stress, here are some things that are in place to cut down on our cost for food:

(1)  Casseroles can be made out of almost anything.  I combine all sorts of things to make casseroles out of either leftovers or what I have on hand. Here are some ideas I have used:
*Leftover chili beans in a casserole with a cornbread topping.  Once the cornbread was cooked browned cheese on top
*Leftover beef stew with left over mashed potatoes on top.
*Cooked and shredded chicken with a can of cream of mushroom mixed with sour cream all topped with seasoned bread crumbs.

(2)  Don't feel obligated to have a 5 course meal each night.  I aim for a main dish, vegetable, and a bread. We then enjoy dessert after that.  One dish meals (casseroles) are easy way to get the meat, vegetable, and bread all in one place.

(3)  I don't shop for "weekly" groceries.  I shop for deals...good deals!  I shop for my stockpile.  I fill my freezer when meat is on sale.  My grocery store puts markdown coupons on meat to move it.  Even if I just stop to get milk, I make a dash through the meat department to see what I can find.
Here is a deal that I got last week:
My grocery store had turkey legs and wings in packs of three for $4.50-$5.50.  Each package had $4.50 in coupons attached.  That made each pack $1 or less.  A few were free.  So I got all that they had.  I will soak some of them in a brine one day soon and roast them.

(4)  I am blessed in that my family will pretty much eat whatever I fix.  I have known men that would not eat but certain cuts of meat or certain dishes.  My husband is thankful for whatever I prepare and is not picky.  That saves us a lot of money.

(5)  Know what the usual price for things are.  The biggest mistake that I think some people make is that they have no idea what a good deal is.  They think a sale price is a great deal at one store when the regular price at another store is better. I am a "numbers" person so I remember the prices.  If you are not that way, make a list of the things that you buy most often and keep a check on the regular prices.

(6)  COUPONS!!!!  I cannot stress this tip enough.  Without coupons, I would not be able to feed my family.  Because I do not shop for "weekly" groceries, I find deals when they are a deal and I stock-up on them.  I don't have a HUGE stockpile, but I have enough.  I buy things on sale and with coupons.

(7)  For things that I may HAVE TO have one day that I do not have a sale+coupon deal to take advantage of, I go to Aldi.  They have good prices on things for when I have to pay "full price".

(9)  Keep staples on hand.  I cannot stress this enough.  Various types of flours, cornmeal mix, butter, milk, eggs, sugar, buttermilk, sour cream, canned milk, dried beans, hamburger meat, spices, flavorings, bread, etc are some of the things I always have on hand.  In a pinch, I can make a meal.  If you have to go out and buy staples only when you know you are going to use them for a particular recipe, you will overspend all year long.

(8)  Final tip:  LEARN TO COOK AND TO BE RESOURCEFUL!!!  Don't let cooking intimidate you.  My mother will be the first to tell you that she did not teach me to cook.  Everything I have learned I have taught myself.  I started out with simple recipes and after nearly 20 years of marriage, I have become almost too comfortable in the kitchen.  

Being frugal does not mean that you are cheap.  It means that you are smart.  I use whatever we have, reuse whatever I can, and make the most of what we have.  I did not just start this when the economy took a hit.  This is how we have lived for nearly 20 years.  If you live like this all the time, it is your way of life and not a drastic change in times when things are hard.




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday


Transformed Composition Book

Yesterday, I started a new notebook for our finances and budget information.  I keep a journal of sorts for our money and bills and needed to start a new one.  I decided to try and make it more "my style" by decorating the front of the composition book.  If I need to be on a budget, I might as well make it fun.
Here is what the notebook originally looked like:
I like this particular type of composition notebook because the pages are secure.  I wanted to transform the cover so I went to my stash of pretty papers and gift bags for inspiration.  I found several papers that I liked and a gift bag that had pretty flowers on it.  I grabbed the Mod Podge and scissors and sat down to start the project.  As I looked at the gift bag, I realized that it actually had a printed verse on it:

"God shall supply all of your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus"  Philippians 4:19

I thought this was VERY fitting for the cover of a budget/finance notebook so I cut it out and used it.  After getting the verse, background, and three flowers on the cover, I felt it just needed something else.  I decided to look through magazines and cut out the letters to spell "Budget Book".  I was then finished with the simple transformation.

I plan to decorate three more books in a similar way.  One is going to be my gratitude journal for 2012, another is going to be my daily agenda book for 2012, and the other is going to be a prayer journal for 2012.  I have about 30 of these notebooks that were only 10¢ each during a back to school sale.  All of the embellishments will be from scraps of things I already have on hand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle it Tuesday is a day when I take on a task that seems overwhelming or that I have put off for a while.  Today's task is to defrost the deep freezer.  I have used up a big portion of what was in there and I am expecting to pick up deer meat from two deer tomorrow or Thursday.  So today, I defrost the freezer.  I plan to put what remains in there into the freezer departments of our two refrigerators.  I will straighten them once I get things back in the deep freezer.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Long Day...But Blessed

Today has been a long day and will feel even longer.  Part of it is the dreary cloudy day.  Another part of it is that my son went out of town, my husband left at 6:30am, and neither will get home until late.  My husband found out that he did not get a lot of hours last week because some of the people who distribute the work thought that he was still under a guarantee. He is not, so he depends on getting good jobs to create his hours.  They had not been giving him the best of jobs because they did not realize he was on commission yet.  So, before he was able to even share all of this with me, a friend that has a shop down the road from our home had called him to see if he could work some evening hours this week for him.  I love how God prepares the way before we are even certain which way we should go.  He is so awesome.  
My word is still "enough".  I shared with my husband as we talked about all of this that I still believe that God will provide and that I will just pray for our "daily bread" or....."enough".  We both know that he is where he is suppose to be and doing what he is suppose to be doing.  God is in control and even though the days will be long this week, they will be blessed.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Signature

I finally figured out how to add my signature to each post.  It is the little things that make me happy!

Frugal Friday

I meant to take a picture of our supper last night.  I used a previously used recipe as a guide and did my own thing to create what we had.  Here are the things that I had on hand and what I paid for them:
Manicotti Noodles:  37¢
Spaghetti Sauce:  50¢
Roasted Chicken:  FREE  ---Cooked previously as a full package.  I shredded the extra and froze it so I had it on hand last night.
Ricotta Cheese:  $1.29
Mozzarella Cheese:  $1.00 
Cheddar Cheese:  pennies  ---I only used a handful out of a 2lb package that I paid $1 for
Seasoned Italian Bread Crumbs:  FREE
Cooke Mix:   40¢
Pudding Mix:  FREE
Chocolate Cool Whip:  FREE

What we had:
I mixed the chicken, cheeses, bread crumbs, and seasonings together to make a filling for the noodles.  I boiled the noodles for 7 minutes and then filled them with the filling.  I poured a ½ Cup of the spaghetti sauce into a casserole dish and then placed the filled noodles on top.  I poured the rest of the sauce on the top of that, covered and backed at 350º for about 45 minutes.  I uncovered it, sprinkled the top with cheese, and baked for about 15 more minutes.  While it was baking, I mixed up the Chocolate Oatmeal cookie mix and baked the cookies.  I also cooked the chocolate pudding.  At supper time we had the manicotti along with a dessert which was layered cookies and pudding and topped with chocolate Cool Whip.  
The total for the entire meal was:  $3.56 and it will feed 6 people

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful for my husband.  His 50th birthday is this Saturday.  I have spent about half my life with him and would not be who I am today had I not.  He is a gentle soul that brings a sense of calmness in every situation.  He is possibly the kindest person I have ever known.  He did not have a wonderful childhood and lost his daddy when he was young.  So many people these days blame all of their faults on having a bad childhood, not having a father figure, or not having the right education.  My husband has never done any of that.  When he was 14, his dad passed away after years of battling alcoholism.  My husband had seen firsthand what that disease does to a man, a family, but mainly a little boy.  Not long after losing his daddy, my husband quit school to go to work.  At the age of 40 he went back to school to get his GED and passed with FLYING COLORS!  It was my daddy's greatest desire for him.  He had encouraged him to get his GED and a year before my daddy passed away, that is exactly what he did.  My husband is a hardworking man that truly has that "whatever it takes to provide" mentality.  He has never complained about being the breadwinner. He loves me unconditionally and makes sure to show his love each day.  He is a wonderful father to our two children who are now teenagers.  Our daughter recently said that she hopes to marry a man that is as nice and as Godly as her daddy.  Our son thinks that anything that is broken can certainly be fixed by his daddy, and I have to agree.  My husband has chosen to break many   patterns from his past and from his lineage so that our children would have good memories, know that they are loved, and believe in themselves.  He is living proof that you can rise above what you experience as you grow up.  As I sit and type this, I realize yet again how blessed I am that I share this life with him.  God truly blessed me the day that I introduced myself to him and only 6 months later married him.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baking Today

Today, I took a request for tonight's dessert.  My daughter (14) asked that I make a recipe we had found on Pinterest, Peanut Butter Sheet Cake.  It sounded delicious and I love peanut butter.  You can find the recipe here:  Peanut Butter Sheet Cake   I found that the frosting requires a little extra milk than the recipe calls for.  I added a little dribble at a time until it was glossy and blended well.  I also find that a cake on a jellyroll pan is hard to store, so I cut the cooked and cooled cake in half.  I layered it with the frosting in a 9x13 pan.  I think this is one for the recipe box!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Taken Care Of

One month ago today, after losing his job, my husband started a new job where he is basically paid on commission.  We had lived with him working in the same field years ago and understood that it can be good money, but it would also stretch our faith.  After a couple of days there, his boss came to him and told him that he would have a 3 week guarantee.  It was during those three weeks that they were SLOW!  We both found ourselves questioning if we had made the right decision.  He does not need to turn a lot of hours for it to be enough, but we still saw those three weeks as scary.  Last week was his first week on straight commission with no guarantee.  I decided when he took this job to not question him each day on how many hours he got.  I know me questioning will not change the amount of work he is given each day.  I continued to encourage him each morning as he left and welcomed him home each evening.  Today, he sent me a text telling me how many hours he turned last week and it floored me.  It was about 50% more than I had sort of thought he had based on the few things he had said last week.  God knew.  God knew that November would be a slow month for where Glenn went to work.  Had he gotten the job the week he first talked to them, the guarantee would have been over when those three weeks hit.  Had he not had a guarantee, what he would have made would not have been enough.  God had it all worked out and He was taking care of all the details.
We, as Christians, like to say "The Lord will take care of us".  We like to declare our faith, but when was the last time that you really felt taken care of?  The last 7 weeks have really made me feel TRULY taken care of.  God has used so many different ways to show me that He is taking care of us.  I have not ONCE worried about it.  I should say that for me, that is a HUGE deal.  I have always stressed over money, the bank account, etc.  From the day that my husband came home and said that he was probably going to lose his job the next day until this very minute, I have had a total peace.  God has taught me more lessons in the last 7 weeks than I think I learned for years.  He is taking care of me and I rest in that.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Matthew 6:30-34 (The Message)



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Laundry

When I first got married, it was just the two of us and I was able to manage the laundry pretty well.  Later, after our son was born, I became a stay-at-home mom and it somehow always seemed to be an uphill battle to stay caught up.  My husband has worked jobs where he had uniforms 5-7 days of the week so that should have lightened the loads.  However, our daughter was born a little over a year after I decided to stay home, and the laundry battle got worse.  I was very convicted about it several years ago and decided to come up with a plan that would keep me caught up.  Before I tell you my "laundry rules" that I have established in order to stay caught up, I will tell you that this is an ongoing process, but I have not been "behind" with laundry in several years.
Laundry:
(1)  I do not search for dirty clothes from my anyone.  They know where things that need to be washed should go and if it is there it is washed.  If it is not there, it remains dirty until I wash again.
(2)  I have a three compartment laundry cart where everyone knows to put their laundry. The three are for "colored" clothes, "light" clothes, and "special" clothes.  If they need special attention or have special instructions, they go in the "special" compartment.  
(3)  Each compartment holds an average load.  When the "colored" or "lights" get full, I wash a load.  If there is anything in the
"special" compartment, I take care of it as soon as possible.
(4)  I put the clothes in the dryer as soon as they finish washing.
(5)  As soon as they are dry, I, or somebody else here, takes them out, puts them in a basket and takes them upstairs.  They are placed on my bed and as soon as I have the time I fold them and ask everyone to get their stack.  My biggest rule is that I do not go to bed with unfolded laundry.  
(6)  When we go on vacations, I spend the last morning at the laundromat washing, drying, and folding all the clothes except for what we are wearing home.  I have it ready to put up when we get home.
(7)  Finally, I have found out that with this system, I usually wash one load a day.  We are a family of 4...two adults and two teenagers.  There are some days that two loads are required, but if the compartments are full, I wash no matter what.  Once a load is washed, it is dried, and it is folded and put away before I go to bed.

Laundry can get overwhelming.  It is something that many moms find to be the hardest part of housework to keep up.  I hope that my tips have helped you.  If you are already behind, I have one last suggestion:  Take one day to get caught up and then stay caught up.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Enough

Most people do not like Mondays.  I actually like the start of a fresh week.  I really like Mondays now that my husband is working a regular shift (1st shift/Monday-Friday).  When he was at his other job, the only Mondays that I really liked were the ones when he worked off of 3rd shift.  I did not like the Mondays before he started 3rd and the other two Mondays of the month he was working.  With his previous job being a swing shift 7-day rotation, it left LITTLE time for family.  We had one Saturday a month that he was actually off of work so we tried to cram all our "fun" into that one day.  We longed for him to be on a regular schedule, but I did not realize what a difference it would make in our family life.
Today is the 4th Monday we have had with him on his new job.  It is the first week that he has to "turn hours" and he will not have a guarantee pay.  It is the "unknown" factor that has us sort of fearful.  On this Monday, I am clinging to the fact that God has not let us down yet.  He promises to meet our needs.  He has more than done that the last 6 weeks.  Three weeks out of work and three weeks with a guarantee pay that was less than his previous pay, and God has provided for EVERY need.  We have sort of dreaded the start of this week, but I am trying to look forward to what God is going to do.  He has proven that He is faithful...although He did not HAVE TO prove it.  He has proven that He is our provider...although he did not HAVE TO prove it.  I had to believe it and the last 6 weeks have taught me to believe it.  
When we first started this journey of my husband losing his job, my prayer was that we would have "enough".  I did not pray for him to make a ton of money.  I just wanted our needs to be met. As I think about "enough" it reminds me of how Jesus teaches us to pray.  

“This, then, is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be your name, 
your kingdom come, 
your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from the evil one.”
Matthew 6:9-13

Friday, November 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Banner---FREE


I had seen several variations of banners on Pinterest, and wanted to make a Christmas one.  I made this with paint chip cards (Bher Brand are longer than most).  I printed the letters on my computer and cut them out.  The top right corner had a little simple that can be popped out, so all I had to do was punch a hole in the left side.  I then attached the letters to the cards with double sided tape and strung the cards onto a string.  The star in the middle was a Fiber One Cereal box.  I traced the star and cut it out.  I creased each point on the star to make it more 3D.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011


Last night we had our Thanksgiving meal here at our home.  We enjoyed the company of a couple of college students, my 86 year old great-aunt, my mama, my son's best friend, and a family of dear friends.  As we sat around the table and enjoyed the food, laughter, memories, and stories, it became quite evident that "family" is more than just those you are related to.  Family stretches beyond that.  It was such a blessing to share the evening with such a diverse group.  Watching my aunt make the teenagers laugh as she told funny stories, was priceless.  Seeing the look on my husbands face just before he spoke the blessing, was my blessing.  Hearing everyone at the table as they shared with each other, some who did not even know each other before last night, was touching.  As we laughed, shared, and ate, I realized one thing more than at any other moment in my life....I am truly truly blessed.  I praise the Lord for giving me this life....all of it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My First Christmas


My first Christmas  1969
We had a silver Christmas tree with a spinning color wheel to light it (you couldn't put lights on the tree).
As I get finished with my decorating, I will share pictures of this Christmas and the decorations that are here.  I will not be under the tree.  ;)
Here is a picture that is the view from where I am sitting to type this:


Last Night of Bible Study

Tonight is the last night of a study that has REALLY impacted my life!  James MacDonald's "Lord, Change My Attitude" has been a wonderful study.  Tonight, we eat and watch the epilogue video.  Hard to believe that the 11 weeks have gone by so quickly, yet I have learned SOOOO much. I do not want to live my life in a wilderness.  I do not want to be seen as a murmuring woman.  I want to have a thankful, content, loving, faithful, and submissive attitude in all that I do and say.  I do not want to complain, covet, criticize, doubt, or rebel.  I want to take what I have learned from this study and allow God to change me.
  
I was the leader of this study and found it to be a very humbling experience.  I had big shoes to fill with our former leader moving away.  I knew that we had different styles and personalities.  I wanted to effectively lead but with my own God-given quirks and personality.  I think, in the end, I was able to do that, but I am still overwhelmed that God chose me to do this.

Here is what I have learned:
(1)  If I choose to murmur as a lifestyle, I will spend my lifetime in a wilderness.
(2)  I absolutely choose my attitude
(3)  My pattern of thinking determines my attitude
(4)  When I am faced with something, I need to know that God is COMPLETELY in control

That being said, let me share with you what I dealt with during these 11 weeks of this study:
(1)  I had a severe jaw issue that left me in excruciating pain at the beginning of the study
(I was blessed to get relief with a bite guard that I now wear at night)
(2)  A couple of weeks into the study, my daughter and I were home alone and an intruder came in on us. (We were blessed to have been kept safe....but it was scary to say the least)
(3)  My husband lost his job where he had been for 5 years and was out of work for 3 weeks.
(He was blessed to find a job within that time that allows him to work a regular shift and to be home on the weekends)

Through all of this, I knew that God was teaching me additional lessons from this study.  It has been a challenging 11 weeks, but it has been a blessing (even the hard stuff).  God is good, and if we choose to NOT murmur, there are blessings to reap.  I am blessed to be ending this study the week of Thanksgiving and I have MANY things to be thankful for.  



Monday, November 21, 2011

Early Morning With My Husband

For five years, my husband was swinging shifts that were seven day rotations.  He would work 7 days on 1st shift with one day off.  He would then work 7 days on 2nd with three days off.  And then he would work 7 days on 3rd with 2 days off.  Our entire family planned our whole life around his crazy schedule.  His sleep was off and our schedules were a mess.  
This is the start of his 3rd week at his new job and I realized yesterday just how different our life is with him on a regular schedule of Monday-Friday on 1st shift.  It has changed everything.  I just kissed him goodbye for the day about 30 minutes ago. We had spent about 20 minutes drinking coffee and talking before he left. A few weeks ago, I dreaded the thought of getting up at 5:30 each day, but now I go to bed looking forward to my early mornings with my husband.  It is precious time that I did not realize that I missed when we were living our lives centered around his previous crazy schedule.
I have loved getting up and preparing his breakfast, spending some time with him each morning, and spending the day looking forward to him coming home.  It has been wonderful.  I sense a calmness to our home that has been missing for quite a while.  
My prayer is that he will continue to settle into his new job and that God will use him there to bless others.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Soup


My son is 17 and just discovered that he liked broccoli recently, so today's lunch was based on him bragging about eating broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl at a restaurant that he really enjoyed.  I made "bowls" yesterday from my sourdough starter.  It was four perfectly sized bowls.  This morning I made the soup totally making it up as I went.
I first softened a chopped onion in butter. I added dried celery flakes, chili powder, and minced garlic to that. While that was going, I started a roux from flour and butter in a another pan.  Once the onions were ready, I used my immersion blender to blend the onion so I would not have pieces but a just a base to the soup.  I added the roux mixture along with concentrated chicken stock to the onion base.  While that was cooking and being whisked, I started cooking the broccoli.  Once the broccoli was softened, I added it along with a can of evaporated milk to the base.  I then whisked until smooth and added 2% milk until it was the desired consistency.  The finishing touch was two good handfuls of grated sharp cheese.  Once the cheese was melted, I dipped it into the bread bowls, topped with a little cheese and chili powder, and then served.  It was a hit to say the least.  My husband LOVED it!!!  My son said it was better than what he had at the restaurant.  SUCCESS!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sourdough Bread

Several days ago, I posted the recipe for the sourdough starter that I like to use.  Today I am baking sourdough bread.  It is a two day process, but WELL worth it.

The morning of the day before you are planning to bake the sourdough, mix one cup of warm water with 3 Tablespoons of instant potatoes, and 3 Tablespoons of sugar.  Add that mixture to the starter and allow it to sit on the counter until later in the evening.  I usually allow it to sit until just before time for us to go to bed.  That is when you mix the dough.  Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 6 cups bread flour

Mix all but the flour together in a large mixing bowl.  Add three cups of the flour and mix well.  Now add the next three cups of flour.  I usually reserve ½ cup of the flour just in case I do not need it.  Mix it well until a soft dough forms and all the flour is well incorporated.  I use my hands for the final mixing.  Next, you grease a large bowl and place the dough in it.  Cover well and allow to rise over night.  

In the morning, take the dough out, place it on a floured board and  knead for a few minutes. 

 Divide dough into 4 equal pieces an knead each one until smooth. 

Shape each one into loaves.  Place each peace in a 8x4 bread pan that has been buttered or oiled.  

Cover with plastic wrap and then a moist towel.  Allow to rise until doubled in size.  

Bake at 350º for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Turn them onto cooling racks, brush with butter, and allow them to cool.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Football Food

I bought LARGE russet potatoes for $3.99 for 15 pounds last week.  I ended up getting two bags and my mother gave me part of her bag.  I have been finding various ways to use them.  Today we are watching Clemson play football so I wanted to make something for us to eat while watching the game. I roasted long slices of potatoes brushed with melted butter on parchment paper for 20 minutes on each side at 400º..  After roasting them, I sprinkled each slice with browned bulk sausage and cheddar cheese.  I placed them under the broiler for a few minutes and served with ranch dressing.  They were a hit!  Now....GOOOOOOO TIGERS!!!!

Seasonal Favorite----CHEAP!

Thanks to a wonderful coupon, a good sale, and it being this time of year...I was able to get one of my favorites for hardly nothing. I did not know until two years ago that I liked peppermint mocha until I was accidentally served one at a Starbucks one day.  I fell instantly in love with the flavors.  The creamers that come out this time of year of a real treat.  I was able to purchase one this morning and will enjoy it for the days to come.