Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 
  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, 
and your Father knows that you need them. 
seek his kingdom, 
and these things will be added to you. 
Luke 12:29-31 ESV

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What's in your fridge- Great website

I just found this website and I wanted to share it with you. I think it's going to be very helpful for those of us on a limited budget.

This is how it works: Just click the boxes of items you have in your pantry and fridge.. click a button... and ... gives you meal ideas.

Here you go. Let me know if you use it and how you like it!

My Fridge Food

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Whoever loves money 
never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth 
is never satisfied with his income.

This too is meaningless.

Eccl 5:10 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Budgeting: Living for Today

The Lord continues to teach new lessons on living below poverty level. (So silly to even write that.. I don't feel poor!)

One lesson I am learning is that it's not always a bargain to stock up even if it's on sale. I used to stock up on sale items no matter what. I liked keeping a well-stocked pantry.  But, I'm playing under different rules these days since we are living on at least a 1/3 of what we used to. (My husband says we're living on less than a 1/4).

I normally allow $5-10 a week for stocking up. But, it just depends on the month. For instance, this month I've had to use money from my grocery budget to help pay for Christmas. So, I'm not going to be able to stock up on any sale items. My goal is to spend as little on groceries as possible so I can use the rest for Christmas gifts.

I continue to pray and ask the Lord to show me what we can live without. I've simplified our menu and dropped a lot of recipes due to the cost. If a recipe has out of the ordinary items then I don't use it. When looking for new recipes I scan the list of ingredients to see if they're items I normally stock and if the cut of meat is cheap. We eat very simple these days.

I realized today that I could actually live without another expense. I have a Brita pitcher that I bought at a garage sale for $2. We use it continually throughout the day because the water is bad where we live. The filters are on sale this month but even so it will cost me $14 initially. Since this month is very tight I hesitate putting out that kind of money.  I started asking the Lord what I should do. The lady I care for has told me more than once that I can use her water which is filtered. Ah ha!  There's my answer. I can easily fill my pitcher each morning and save the expense of purchasing filters. Yay! Another expense bites the dust!

Thank you Lord!

Living Small

I guess it's all in your perspective. Some people wonder how my husband and I can live in less than 300 sq. ft. Yet, this young man lives in 78 sq. ft. I've learned the past few years that we need a whole lot less than we ever imagined.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And he said to them, 

"Take care, 

and be on your guard against all covetousness,

for one's LIFE 

does not consist

in the ABUNDANCE of his possessions." 

Luke 12:15 ESV

Saturday, November 26, 2011

ING Bank: Make $107 in 50 days

ING Banking has a special Black Friday deal for new customers. You can make $107 in 50 days with 5 deposits  (made within 45 days of opening the account). No minimum balance and no monthly service fees. This would be a great way to help pay for Christmas. :-)

ING Bank Black Friday Deal

The deal ends today!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Grocery Budget:: Trial and Error

I continue to think and pray about how to stretch my grocery budget of $200 a month. As food prices continue to climb I find myself searching for new ways to make our money go farther.

So, this month I had a brilliant idea (so I thought!!). I made out a menu for the entire month and then made a shopping list of the non-perishable food items and off I went! I hit several stores so I would get the best deal.

My plan failed. I ended up with only $50 by the second week of the month. The third week I purchased items for our Thanksgiving dinner which dropped my monthly total to less than $25. I panicked!

I didn't set out to worry and fret over this lack of funds but the Lord quickly showed me that I was not trusting Him. Forgive me Lord! So, I began reminding myself of all the years the Lord has taken such good care of us. I rehearsed  the promises of God! I recalled to memory the Exodus and how God fed His people manna through the desert. My faith increased and I began to look to the Lord to multiply the money to reach until the end of the month.

The most awesome (I know.. poor grammar! *Smile*) thing happened a few days later. I found out our church was giving away free turkeys. I knew if I purchased my own turkey then I would run out of money by the end of the month. I emailed to see if I might have one. (It's hard to share this with you... I don't relish the idea of asking for help.. let alone sharing with others that I did). The pantry director set up a time to meet at the church. Before I left they had not only promised me a free turkey but given me many boxes of food. As I came home and unpacked the boxes I lifted my heart in praise to God for His goodness and His abundant provision! I now have more than enough food to last through the end of the month which means that the money I have left can be used for milk, fresh veggies and fruit. God is so amazingly good!

Lesson learned.... I'm going back to my weekly envelope method. I'll place my $50 in each week's envelope and shop for that week with the money in hand!

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:25-26 (ESV)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Calculating meat costs per serving

As the price of food continues to rise (and my income is not) I am being forced to re-evaluate my weekly menu and shopping list.

We've cut way back on carbs which means that I'm not able to fall back on homemade breads, tortillas or pastas to stretch my meals. Our main meals consist of meat, vegetables and limited fruits. Thankfully I can make homemade soups during the winter to stretch my meat budget. I've been collecting vegetable soup recipes that work great for lunch. I am also focusing on recipes that use small amounts of meat and focus more on the veggies.

I found this 'cost per serving' meat calculator fascinating (I know, I know.. I live a boring life! *S*). When you put in the cut of meat and the price per pound it will tell you how many servings you'll get per pound. I just bought some skinless chicken breasts (all natural) for $2 a pound. The calculator told me I could get 4 servings per pound according to US governement standards. I want to take the information  from this calculator and use it with my recipes to see if my portion sizes are correct to get the greatest servings per recipe.

Calculate Cost Per Serving

I hope this can help you, too!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gym Workout:: FREE!

God has given a gust of grace the past few months and as a result I've been able to stick to a walking regime. I've been averaging 8-9 blocks a day .. 4-5 days a week. I have more energy and I enjoy the walk. I take my dog and listen to sermons on my IPOD. It's an awesome time.

Unfortunately, I'm having some problems with one of my feet. I started thinking that it might help this old bod if I did something different a few days a week instead of walking.

I considered joining a gym but it's $20-$30 a month. The thing about adding something to the budget is that it's hard to cut it in the future. It's just better to do without it if possible.

I called the local Senior Citizen Center and sure enough they had a gym room. I didn't have high expectations but was more than pleasantly surprised. All the equipment was updated. They had 3 stationary bikes (digital with all kinds of programs and gadgets), a weight machine, and some kind of stepping machine. There are 3 flat screen TV's on the wall which you can listen to with earphones attached to your machine.

My husband and I paid $1 each to be trained on the equipment. The best part is that we will NEVER have to pay another penny to use the equipment. The 'gym' is open M-F from 8:30-4:15pm. The gym is less than 5 minutes from our home.

You only have to be 50 years old to use the facility. I guess there are a few perks to getting old!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Frugal Fridays: How to Give a Haircut


I posted this "how-to" article on my other blog a few years ago. I was going through some old blog posts when I ran across this one. Since it received a lot of 'hits' I thought it might be a good resource for this blog.

I've been cutting my families hair for over 30 years. I first taught myself to cut hair with my youngest son when he was just a baby. I had a friend teach me a few more techniques when my children were older so I was then able to cut my husband's hair. I've saved us a ton of money. I  will oftentimes trim my own hair inbetween hair appointments just to extend my haircut a couple of weeks.

Meet my handsome assistant.... Mr K.

Step One: I started at the back of the neck. I combed most of the hair up so that there was just a thin layer of hair at the base of the neck. I made a cut for my guideline and then used that guideline to cut the hair up to the crown.

May 09 014

Step Two: Pull the hair straight out and cut using the baseline cut on the back of the neck as your guide.

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Step 3: Make your first cut at the front. Use this cut as your guideline. Pull up a thin layer of hair behind the guideline and cut to match the guideline cut.  Continue this technique until you hit the crown.
May 09 015

May 09 020

Step 4: Decide where you want the hair over the ears and make your guideline cut. Use this as your guide and work up to the crown pulling the hair out to the side.

May 09 017

Step 5: Comb the hair over the ears towards the eyes and cut as shown.
May 09 016

Step 6: Shave the neck

May 09 018

Doesn't he look nice?

May 09 022

It helps if you can practice on a young child first. I also found instructional videos on U Tube which looked  helpful.

I hope I explained this clearly.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Low Income Dentistry: My 2nd Appt.

I went for my second appointment at the university that offers discounted dental care. I ended up paying $27.00 for my xrays from the last appointment. My cleaning (which will include some deep cleaning) for the entire mouth will cost $81.00.

My student dental hygenist gave me another exam for cancer of the mouth and updated my history. She evaluated my gums which would make the decision on what type of cleaning I would need. She was very gentle. Her professor came and rechecked the 'numbers' she had assigned each tooth. I had told her that I thought her numbers were too low on the back teeth so she passed the information onto her professor. She rechecked them and confirmed I was right.

She started cleaning one section of my teeth but was not able to finish. She said she should be able to finish cleaning the rest of my mouth at the next appointment.

Overall, it was a good appointment. I'm saving a lot of money. I was quoted $175 per quadrant compared to $81 for my entire mouth.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Free Stuff Friday

Christian Audio has another free download. Click on this link:


THINK: The Life of Mind and the Love of God  by John Piper

John Piper’s newest book will help Christians think about thinking. Focusing on the life of the mind helps us to know God better, love him more, and care for the world. Along with an emphasis on emotions and the experience of God, we also need to practice careful thinking about God. Piper contends that “thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God.” So how are we to maintain a healthy balance of mind and heart, thinking and feeling?

Piper urges us to think for the glory of God. He demonstrates from Scripture that glorifying God with our minds and hearts is not either-or, but both-and. Thinking carefully about God fuels passion and affections for God. Likewise, Christ-exalting emotion leads to disciplined thinking.
Readers will be reminded that “the mind serves to know the truth that fuels the fires of the heart.”

Friday, September 30, 2011

In Evil Long I Took Delight
By John Newton

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
--A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may'st live."
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now is fill'd,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill'd!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Free Stuff Friday

A few freebies are being given away today. The first is a 'give away'. You never know if you just might win. The second one on prayer is free to everyone. It's an audio download of prayers from the Old and New Testament with other prayers not found in scripture such as The Serenity Prayer.


The Baker's Illustrated Bible Handbook

Prayers: A Personal Selection

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waste Not Wednesday: Tomato Paste

I rarely use an entire can of tomato paste in a recipe but hate to throw food away. So, I dallop a tablespoon at a time onto a piece of wax paper and then stick it in the freezer. Once it's frozen I place the tablespoons of paste into a plastic bag.

I like to keep the bag on the door of the freezer so I can easily find it. This morning I started a pot of beef stew and needed just a tablespoon of tomato paste. It peeled easily off the waxed paper and was so convenient.  Better yet, I didn't have to open up a new can.

When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”John 6:12

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is dental care possible on a low income?

Dental insurance on a low income is not impossible... unless you want a 'good' policy. :-) Last year I paid for a dental plan that was less than $10 a month. It was a horrible plan which paid a very small amount of the bill. The dental office that took our policy had higher prices than the average office so I cancelled our policy.

I've been taking a small amount of money out of each check to save for dental work.  I knew  I could not save enough to pay for our yearly cleanings so I started looking for another option.

I discovered through my research that colleges with dental school programs sometimes offer discounted work. I checked out the closest university and discovered they had a dental program for dental hygienists and dentists. I called and sure enough they offered discounted prices for cleanings, fillings and just about any kind of dental work.

My first appointment lasted 3 hours which was longer than I had planned. I was assigned a young lady who took my health history and did an oral cancer screening. She then took xrays of my entire mouth. You could tell that she was not experienced but her professor was available to help her through the process. There was a problem with the xray machine so it's not totally her fault that it took so long.

The dental school program quoted $133 for the xrays and consultation. I knew that was high but figured I'd make up for it because the 'deep cleaning' would only cost $48 per quadrant compared to the $175 my dentist quoted. I have another appointment in October to start the deep cleaning. It sounds like they will do one quadrant per visit. A dentist will also look at my xrays and given an evaluation.

I had no idea what to expect but it actually wasn't a bad experience at all. There were quite a few people getting their teeth cleaned. The office was clean and bright and the instructors were very, very nice. The young lady was gentle. I'm a bit nervous about the deep cleaning being done by a non-professional but I'll continue to tell myself that I'll be getting better care than most people do in other countries. It's either this or no cleaning at all. I choose to be thankful.

I'll continue to do my part at home by daily flossing and 2 minute brushings. :-)

I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gift Giving on Less Income

Gift giving was always very important to my family when I was growing up. Mother taught my sister and I to crochet and knit simple projects while we were in elementary school. We used those skills to make gifts for Christmas.  My sister and I learned to crochet borders around dishcloths and made them into lovely potholders and we knitted house slippers and a myriad of other craft projects. I couldn't wait until I turned 12 because Mother promised she would teach me to sew.

Those skills came in very handy the first 15 years of married life.  I made the majority of gifts for family members and a lot of gifts for my children since we didn't have much money left after our bills were paid.

I stopped making gifts when I started my own home business. It was just too much stress. But, this year's circumstances find me in a place where I'm picking up those long ago learned skills to help stretch my gift budget again. 

 I've been crocheting dishcloths while I sit with Miss Alice in the evenings.  I also keep a crochet project in my purse (and a book) to work on if I'm stuck in a long line. Last week I nearly finished a dishcloth while waiting in the doctor's office. I also crochet or knit in the evenings after my work is finished for the day.

I went through my material bins and found some unfinished projects to sew. I finished a retro apron yesterday. I have enough material to make one more.

Every time I can save money by doing the work myself then I consider it the same as if I earned money at a part time job. Except the wonderful thing is that I didn't have to leave my home to do it. :-) Stretching my gift budget by sewing or crocheting saves money which helps our income go just a little bit farther.

It feels good to have a head jump on Christmas. Do you have any Christmas projects started?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Seasonal Shopping

I hope you've been taking advantage of the 'back to school' sales even if you don't have children at home. I wait until August to purchase my office supplies for the year when they are at their lowest. Did you know that there is a yearly list that shows what is on sale each month? If you know you'll be making certain purchases you'd be wise to wait until the month it goes on sale.

I normally wait and stock up on Christmas baking supplies in November right before Thanksgiving.  I also like to purchase a few extra hams at that time. I've waited to purchase sheets in January and buy next years Christmas wrapping supplies the day after Christmas at the dollar stores when they go on sale for .50 cents.

Planning ahead can save you a lot of money. What months do you stock up?

• After Christmas Sales
• White Sales (
sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and quilts)
• Sports and Weight Loss Equipment
• Computers
• Winter Apparel and Accessories 

(In years past, when I had more money, I would watch for Prime Rib right before New Year's Eve)

• Electronics, radios, C.D. players
• Floor Coverings
• Housewares, china, glassware,
• Furniture, rugs, mattresses, curtains
• Candy and Chocolates

• Spring Apparel and Accessories, shoes
• Winter Sports Equipment, skates, ski equipment
• Gardening Supplies
• Luggage
• Frozen Food

• Spring Apparel and Accessories, men's and boys suits
• Women and children's coats and hats
• Paint
• Wallpaper
• Jewish Foods and Eggs,

• White Sale - Linens and Towels
• Spring Cleaning Supplies
• Auto Maintenance
• Home Maintenance
• Sodas, Hotdogs, Hamburger Meat, Condiments 

• Summer Apparel and Accessories
• Pianos
• Television Sets, refrigerators
• Building Materials. lumber and Hardware
• Dairy Products

• Air Conditioners, home appliances, radios and stereo equipment
• Summer Sports Equipment
• Sportswear, bathing suits, lingerie
• Craft Supplies
• Sodas, Hotdogs, Hamburger Meat, Condiments 

• White Sale - Linen and Towels
• BBQ and Patio Equipment
• Back to School Supplies
• Bathing Suits
• Fresh Fish and Vegetables

• Back to School Supplies and children's clothing
• Gardening Supplies
• Housewares, dishes, glassware, lamps, paints, rugs and carpet
• Bicycles
• Canned Goods 

• Cars
• Houses
• Fishing Equipment
• Crystal, Silver, and Glassware
• Candy

• Winter Apparel and Accessories, shoes
• Quilts and Blankets
• Heating Devices, water heaters

• Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Baking Goods

• Toys
• Gift Items
• Partyware
• Post-Holiday Sales
• Party Foods, Baking Goods, and Various Meats 

 Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Proverbs 21:20

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bugdet: Allowances (for adults)

 When my husband and I were running our businesses (before he became disabled) we found it difficult to set up a budget. I tried to keep most of our bills as low as I could but because we were self-employed our income varied from month to month making it difficult to budget. But, since he became disabled our income is pretty much fixed. One benefit is that I know how much is coming in each month and can budget accordingly.

The best advice I received concerning a budget is to assign an allowance for both husband and wife. We would have saved ourselves a lot of fussing in the early years of our marriage if we had followed this advice.

I've allowed $40 a month in the budget for each of us. We both love having an allowance because:

- An allowance allows us to buy something special.
- An allowance helps us not feel deprived from a restrictive budget. (we're spoiled Americans!)
- We can save our allowance for bigger purchases that could not otherwise be afforded.

This past week I spent my $20 allowance on a haircut. I've been cutting my own hair and imposing on friends and family to give it a whack for nearly 2 years. It was long overdue for an even trim. I've also used my allowance to spend extra on the grands birthday gifts, purchase new clothing and a 'girls day out'.

An allowance cuts down on the temptation to argue over money. When one spouse thinks a decision to spend money in a certain area cannot be afforded then an allowance could be used.

An allowance is not just for kids! :-) 

I'm thankful for my allowance!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Use it up!

Time to fess up! I went off my food budget this past month. After 1 1/2 years of counting every penny to stay within $200 a month I let loose after the news came that my husband had received permanent disability. So... now that I've had my fun it's back on budget again.

I considered raising our food budget to $300 a month to add more fruit and veggies to our diet (and I still may). But, for the time being I decided to continue trying to keep it under $200 as long as I can provide healthy meals. I figure if I shoot for $200 and go over just a bit I'll still be ahead of the game.

My goal this next week is to not buy any groceries. Instead I'm going to shop from my pantry, fridge and freezer. I have 2 fridges with freezers and both are very full which means that I have been over buying. Tomorrow I will go through my freezer meats to plan my weekly menu. Food has a feature where you can plug in the ingredients you have on hand and it will display recipes you could use. Look next to the search engine at the top of the page where it has a drop down menu and choose 'ingredients'. This tool helps when you are shopping from your pantry and fridge.

I'm also concentrating on leftovers because I have been wasting food which is the same as throwing money away. They seem to get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten until the following week when I clean out the fridge.  I had some canned chilies left over from a Chile Rellenos casserole I made earlier in the week. I decided to keep them in plain view so they wouldn't get lost in the fridge. I added some to the low carb chicken enchiladas I made today and then made another Chile Rellenos casserole for lunch or breakfast. Boy, did I stretch those babies. :-)

 This week I tried a broccoli stuffed chicken recipe. The recipe sounded so good but flunked my husband's taste test. I didn't want to throw away the remaining chicken  so I scraped off the stuffing and reused the chicken in the enchiladas. I was able to save the chicken and stretch it into another meal. Kewl! :-)

I know I can do better at stretching my food budget if I stay on top of the food I bring into my home by not allowing it to go to waste. That involves concentrated effort.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hope when our problems seem too big ...

Sometimes there are situations in our lives that .. may... feel hopeless. It may be financial or a marriage that is unstable or perhaps a long established habit of sin. Our first inclination as sinners is that we must pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps to make things right and while we do have a responsibility to obey God's Word... we must learn that we have no resource.. no strength...outside of our great God! Pastor Smith is right.. it's not 'fun' to come to the end of ourselves but that is where we find help in the time of need. I hope this prayer blesses you as much as it blessed me!

Prayer for Hoping in God’s Steadfast Love
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love. Ps. 33:16–18

Dear heavenly Father, though it’s not fun, it’s a good thing to come to the end of ourselves—to be in situations where all of our resources, all of our “goodness” and all of our idols begin to fail us. Indeed, it’s a gospel thing to feel the pain of knowing whatever worked in the past is not working in the present; to feel the confusion of not knowing what to do next; to feel the helplessness of being out of control. It hurts, but it hurts real good and for our good.

For only in those moments do we abandon ourselves to the God who alone can part Red Seas when our enemies are pursuing us; serve fresh quail in the wilderness to his hungry thankless children (Exodus 16); overthrow whole Midianite armies with three hundred gun-less soldiers (Judges 7); take down Goliaths by young shepherds armed with pebbles (1 Samuel 17); deliver his people from the fire or through the fire (Daniel 3); feed multitudes with a few fish and pieces of bread (Matthew 14); raise a dead man for the salvation of his people and the transformation of the cosmos.
Lord Jesus, you are that dead man who now lives and we abandon ourselves to you today. You are the One who is redeeming his bride and making all things new. It is your steadfast love that we can and must hope in today. There is no other supply sufficient to the need. There is no other strength sufficient for the task. There is no other balm sufficient for the pain. There is no other rest sufficient for the exhaustion. There is no other hope sufficient for our cries and crises. Hoping in you alone holds the promise of the end of all disappointment and shame (Romans 5:1-5 ESV), for you were shamed for us on the cross, and raised for our salvation and deliverance (Hebrews 12:1-3).
So we bring our wounded and broken hearts to you. We bring our struggling marriages to you. We bring our jobless families to you. We bring our chronic pain to you. We bring our divided churches to you. We bring our ever besetting sins and addictions to you. We bring our conflicted relationships to you. We bring our wayward children to you. We bring our unbelieving friends to you. We bring the needs of our community to you. We bring it all to you, Jesus. We will trust in you and your steadfast love. Where else can we go? Astonish us by bringing much glory to yourself in the coming hours, days and months. So very Amen we pray, in your merciful and mighty name.

Scotty Smith

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Gospel and our daddy's!

One of the greatest joys of my life was being used by the Lord to share the Gospel with my father.
Many years ago I owned a homeschool bookstore that sold used curriculum.  My daddy had been a postmaster at one time and was very good with numbers so he volunteered his services in the beginning years of the business to keep my books. Even though I have a lot of regrets about running that business while my children were still home I am forever grateful that it gave me the opportunity to be with my father on a regular basis because it enabled me to share the 'Good News' in a way that I can't imagine otherwise. God truly does work ALL things together for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28,29)

Daddy was a quiet man... a man of few words (unlike his daughter). He had the respect of many.. and was especially a good father. But, even though he had many 'good' qualities by the world's standards... he was a sinner in God's eyes (as we all are).  His good reputation would not buy peace with God.
Since my daddy was a man of few words the opportunity to share the gospel didn't come easy. But, the Lord had laid a burden on my heart to pray for my daddy and pray I did. It seemed the shower was the place I often cried and poured out my heart to the Lord begging Him to save this precious man he had given to father me.
I was given 2 golden opportunities to share the gospel with my father in a matter of 10 years while he helped in my business. Both times my father said 'no'. I cried so hard I thought my heart would surely break. The burden increased.. I prayed more. Finally one day while I was cutting his hair the Holy Spirit opened up another divinely appointed door to share once more. This time the tears ran down daddy's face... he was ready to follow Christ and he never turned back until the day he died 8 years later.
I learned a huge lesson in all of this and it was to not give up on sharing God's Good News. To the human eye it looked as if nothing was happening in Daddy's heart. But, that day that I led him to the Lord I realized (by a few things he had said and his immediate humble response) that the Holy Spirit had been drawing him.
I have others now in my family that I pray for and my faith has increased because I have seen the power of God work in my daddy's heart. I just wanted to encourage you... not to give up on your loved ones but to be faithful.. in season and out... to know God's Word well enough to share the Gospel with your loved one and to pray for an opportunity to witness of the great love of God found only in His Son Jesus Christ.
May we live (coram Deo) before the face of God!

(If you want to know more about the Good News please click this link below:),+heaven/

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The news we've been waiting for...

After a year and a half of waiting we finally received a notice in the mail today that Kevin's claim for permanent disability has been granted! We are praising our God for His mercy!  We also want to thank those of you who have said you were praying for us.  It's hard to believe this test of faith is finally over.  God's grace has been amazing! God's provision for us during this time has been equally as amazing. Kevin has not worked since October of 2009 yet the Lord has provided a roof over our head and more food than we need along with clothing and so much more. I'm in awe and I want to bless the glorious name of Jesus Christ who has made peace between God and me! 

"Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever!

Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise!

 You alone are the Lord;

You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You." * 
Nehemiah 9:5-6

... and so do I!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Envelope Method

There was a time in my life when I didn't stick to a budget. Money came easy and I bought what I wanted when I went to the store.  I had an 'estimate' of what I targeted for birthday money and I tried to find the best deal but I basically just bought what I thought we needed at the grocery store and left it at that.

Them days are gone! *SMILE*

Enter the "Envelope Method"! My ears had heard but my eyes had not seen this method in practice so I had a bit to learn but I'm here to say that it's keeping me on track with my narrow budget and I'd like to rave about it.

It became necessary to make out a strict budget when our income dropped nearly half. I used a pre-made budget template on my computer from the Microsoft Works Word Processor program. I love this program. You enter your income and all your bills and at the bottom of the page it shows what you have left.

When my paychecks come in I have the bank teller cash them in small amounts so I can divide them easily into the different envelopes according to my budget plan. I only use the envelopes for the following areas:

- Gifts
- Dentist
- Allowance
- Grocery
- Entertainment
- Savings
- Taxes

I leave the rest of the money in the bank to pay bills that need to be written with a check or paid online.

This is how it works. Say for instance I need to go grocery shopping. I've learned by trial and error to divide the money for groceries into the weeks of that month otherwise I overspend at the beginning of the month and have nothing left at the end. I only take out the amount of money I need for that week.. no more unless there is a terrific 'stock up' deal and then I only take $10 extra.

I also have a plastic 'wallet' I found at the Dollar Tree that has individual compartments with tabs. It reminds me of a coupon wallet. I've labeled each tab to match my envelopes. Once I take the money from the envelopes I place it in the marked compartment. This way I don't end up mixing the money from the different categories once they leave the envelopes. 

It's really very simple and it has helped me stay within my $200 a month grocery budget.

I'd really like to hear what budget program you use on your computer or free online. I'm needing to download one to my laptop.  How do you stay within your budget?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"When you leave this world, will you be known as one who accumulated treasures on earth that you couldn't keep?  

Or will you be recognized as one who invested treasure in heaven that you couldn't lose?" 

The Treasure Principle by Jerry Bridges

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lowering Rent & Mortgage Payments

We've been 'living small' in less than 300 square feet for over a year and half now. 

I've lived on both ends of the housing market. I've paid high rent & mortgage payments in order to have a larger home and we've lived in older & smaller homes in order to save money. And of course we're living rent free right now.

Our 300 sq. ft. home (bedroom not shown).

Downsizing as radically as we have will not be something that appeals to everyone. Frankly, I can't imagine that we would be living this life if my husband had not become disabled. We did talk about it a lot because of the amount of hours it took to maintain our previous home and questioned if it was the best use of our time and money from an eternal perspective but we just couldn't quite let our hands relax from the grasp of what we owned.  But, now that we're providentially here it seems so natural and so easy and I wonder why we didn't do it sooner.  I guess we've adjusted just fine because my little home actually feels 'spacious'.

  Let's face it. The economy has not snapped back as everyone had hoped. I have several personal friends who's husbands will be losing their jobs and the nightly news has shown thousands out of a home due to flooding back east. Thinking 'outside the American Dream house' could be your ace in the hole if a similar situation comes your way.  Downsizing could be a viable option to an easier life financially or help you fulfill your dreams of being a stay at home mom or ministry.

"Tiny Homes", a new housing alternative!

If you stop to think about it.. the basic function of a home is to protect one from the elements. That goal can be reached in many different ways.  Throughout history people have lived in huts, teepees, tents made from animal hides, homes of all sizes and made from all kinds of material to alternative housing such as boats and RV's. During the depression families even moved in together and that is happening again in our generation due to the burst of the housing bubble and loss of jobs. Also, housing can be obtained in exchange for employment which is what we are currently doing.

Sewer pipes remodeled into hotel rooms in the Dutch town of Vriescheloo.

Exposing my thinking to alternative ways of housing throughout the years has helped me with our transition into 'living small'. I read missionary stories first to my children when they were living at home and I continue that practice for myself to this day. It helps remind me that the majority of the world does not live in homes over 2,000 square feet or even 1,000 sq. ft. ( I've read that before 1970 the average size family home was 1,000 square feet or less. )

Currently I've been spending some time reading about families who live full-time in their RV's. I've been scanning over my belongings to see what I could live without if we chose that option in the future. I know we could do it and thrive (by God's grace!).

I'm sure of it!  (Big Smile)

Does living with less appeal to you?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Extreme Couponing... NOT!

I was finally able to watch an episode of Extreme Couponing a few weeks ago.  Wow! All I could think about was how 'sharp' their minds must be to figure out such huge transactions. I almost blow a brain cell just doing a few transactions at a time.

I've been going with a friend a couple times a month to show her the 'ropes' in getting free items at the drugstores in our area. I'll be the first to admit that I just don't have what it takes at this age of life to go extreme in this couponing arena. But I'm very happy about what I have learned. 

 I'm able to get free or nearly free body soaps, bar soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, floss, hair scrunches, chap stick and aspirin to help stretch my $200/mo. grocery/household budget. I try to get 3 or 4 items ahead to last until the next free deal.

 Normally I'll look through the Sunday ads for RiteAid, CVS and Walgreens flyers to see if they are offering any free items that give out Register Rewards. I'll circle those deals in my newspaper which I will end up taking to the store. I'll also go back through the same ads and circle any other items that are on sale.  I will also circle 3 or 4 items that cost $1.00 or less (I'll tell you why later).

I then check out REFUND CENTS to see their write up on the drugstore deals. They list every deal that the drugstores offer.  I used to have a list of websites that posted drugstore deals but it was a lot more work and not always reliable. I pay around $1.25 a month to use their service and it's definitely been worth it. Next time I plan on splitting the subscription with my friend. I will not order the magazine next time because it was full of rebate offers that I really wasn't interested in.

I also check out HOT COUPON WORLD  and use their coupon database to see if there are any coupons that I have missed. You can 'stack' manufacture coupons with store coupons and Register Reward deals.  Every coupon available is listed on this site and tells you where you can find it.

Next, I look for which free deal offers the highest Register Rewards. That will be my first deal at the cash register. If I can find a manufacturer coupon I will save even more money. I then take the Register Rewards and use them to purchase the next Register Reward deal and so on and so forth down the line.

I've learned to stack my grocery cart with low cost items I can use just in case I've miscalculated. Walgreen's cash registers have a bunch of rules I'm still trying to figure out like you have to use as many coupons as you have items. I think another rule is that they only count the bottom line cost AFTER Register Rewards so I keep these low cost items in the cart to grab in case I'm short on items to spend with my RR's.

Does this make any sense? Please feel free to ask questions.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our Marriage: A Testimony to God's Grace

Today is our 27th wedding anniversary! If you had known us the first five years of our marriage you would doubt that we'd ever make it to 27 years. But, what did we expect? We were two sinners committing to a lifetime of love and serving one another. Did we think our flesh and the enemy of our souls would just lie down and cooperate? I think not!

I look back on these 27 years and marvel at the grace God has shown us. Kevin was not a Christian when we married and I was a young Christian. I remember the first time I actually turned to God's Word for help. I had left Kevin after a huge fight and was sitting in a park with my bible. I found a passage in James on strife and thought to myself, 'yep, that is his problem Lord' when suddenly I was convicted that the Lord was talking to ME through those verses. Me? I had thought the entire problem with our marriage was HIM. That was the beginning of a long, long journey of imperfectly learning how to confront the BEAM in my own eye. (Matthew 7) A journey that never stopped and continues to this very day although there are still times that I deceive myself and put the blame on him.

I believe one of the biggest lessons I learned in the earlier days of our marriage concerning living in peace with my husband was not to stay offended at his words or actions. (1 Cor. 13:5) I had a habit of getting offended at something he would say or do and then would make him pay for his sins by either giving him a 'look' or the cold shoulder. I haven't obeyed that Scripture perfectly and at times I still struggle with it but I'm learning more and more how the glorious Gospel applies to my everyday living which is helping me in this area of my marriage.

A holy God who WAS offended by my sin and had reason to be ... yet loved ME (and you) so much that He sent His "ONLY" Son (think long and hard about that) to die in "MY" place so that there would be peace between us. Christ took the wrath "I DESERVED" instead of making me pay the price for it which is death! Now, in light of what Christ can I turn to my husband (but.. oh my... I still do at times) and hold any of his sins or offenses against him when I have been forgiven of so very much!?!

I'm thankful as a Believer that I didn't enter into a binding marriage covenant with my husband alone. I'm so eternally grateful that my God entered that marriage covenant with us because if I know anything at all I know that this marriage would not have worked if God, through His Holy Spirit, had not been constantly working in us to conform us into the image of Christ through every single fight and every single offense. (Romans 8:28,29)

"I love you my husband and I look in hope to our God to continue the work He began in both of us 27 years ago when this young, naive girl saw stars in her eyes when she looked into yours. I'm so grateful to have you as my husband. Thank you for loving me.. warts and all!"

Friday, April 8, 2011

CVS Free Deals

A friend came by tonight to learn how to get free (or nearly free) items from the drugstores. I'm no expert.. I'm still very slow at the whole process but love sharing what I've learned.

So this is the only deal we worked on. CVS was out of 2 of the other items that we could have received for free. The best time to work the 'free' deals is at the beginning of the week. Oftentimes the stores won't restock the free items at the end of the week.

Oral B Manual Toothbrush $2.99
- .99 ECB, limit 2
- $2 (PG 4/3)
- B1G1F (RP 3/13)
Final Price = 2 free 


We actually paid $1.54 for 2 toothbrushes and then received 2 ECB's back on the receipt making the toothbrushes free. I used the 2 ECB's to purchase 4 Reeses Easter eggs for the grandchildren.

I'm not smart enough to figure out how to get $1,000 of groceries for free but I'm thankful for the little I have learned. I'm able to keep a moderate stash of toiletries that I get for free or nearly free.  It greatly helps stretch my $200 grocery budget.

It was fun! :=)

Hurry.. RefundCents is free today!

I use Refund Cents to simplify my couponing.  They do all the footwork for you by researching the best and lowest priced deals all over the internet and at the major drugstores. Be sure to check out the CVS, RiteAid and Walgreen's links on the right side bar.

Hurry... they are opening up their service for you to see FREE today!


If you have any questions then let me know.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Economically Challenged Book Lovers

If you are a book lover then you already know that it's a bit of a challenge to keep your habit supplied. *Smile*  I've read that the library is a good source for those who are economically challenged but  I rarely find the books I'm looking for.


This is how it works. When you join you are given a few free credits to start. You can add to those credits by selling your own  books. Their system to sell your books  is very easy. You just enter the ISBN and it will bring up a picture of your book immediately.  They will ask if the book is in good selling condition and that's it. Once someone requests your book you are given a certain amount of time to mail it. Once the book is received they will go to the website and mark that it's been received. That is when you receive your credit. Now you're ready to purchase a book with your credit.  You receive 1 credit for each book or 2 credits for audio books.

It costs approximately $2.30 to mail a book using book rate so any book I choose through PS will end up only costing me that amount.

I have ordered a lot of books through PaperbackSwap over the past 5 years or so. I've never had a bad experience.  In fact this past month I received The Five Silent Years (about Corrie Ten Boon's last 5 years), Chicken Soup for Caregivers and the audio tapes for Pilgrim's Progress. Of course they do not have the newest books available so I put those on my Wish List. If the book becomes available then I am immediately notified before it's listed to the public. 

Do you have a favorite used book club? How do you support your book habit?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Waste Not Wednesday: Labeling Food in the Fridge

Even with our limited food budget I still fight wasting food. I've tried a few methods I've read about. Some have worked .. for instance, wrapping celery in tinfoil so it will last longer. It really does.

But, I still end up throwing away food that gets lost in the fridge. Not too smart when you realize it's no different than taking my dollar bills and actually throwing them into the garbage.

I've looked over different suggestions to help in the fight against wasting food but haven't been able to find one that 'fits'. The more I thought about it I decided to try mother's method of labeling food to see how it would work. 

I've started keeping a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker in my tinfoil drawer.  Since I don't have many containers that are see-through I've found that marking a saucer on a bowl or a reused cottage cheese container with the food item name and the date helps give me a visual of what is in the bowl and how long it will be edible.How many times do you 'think' you know when you cooked an item but you're not really sure?

In the picture to the left I marked the jar with homemade mayonnaise. The date is important even if I THINK I'll remember..  because most the time I won't.

Labeling works great for the freezer, too. So many times in the past I've put an unmarked item into the freezer and by the time I've pulled it out I don't recognize what it is. A name and date on the frozen product has eliminated the question and loss of food.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. Psalm 145:15

Do you have a method that helps you not waste food?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

I'm not buying much bread these days. I've received a few loaves of sandwich bread from a local food pantry but other than those I've been making our bread. It saves me a lot of money since I found flour for $1.50 a bag. We were given some free hot dogs so I tried my hand at making some hot dog buns. This is my second attempt. The first ones looked like a hockey puck! :-) These looked a little closer to what we're used to. Next time I'll make them a bit larger but all in all they turned out fine. I individually wrapped them in Seran wrap and froze them. I just pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and they're ready to use.

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour  (recipe called for just white flour)
1 tbsp instant yeast
2 tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Note: I put all the ingredients in my breadmaker and used the 'dough cycle'.  Afterwards I shaped them and let them rise again for nearly an hour. Then baked as usual. If you don't have a breadmaker then you can use the instructions below.
Heat milk, water and butter until very warm.
In a large bowl mix 1 3/4 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
Mix milk mixture into the flour mix and then mix in the egg.
Stir in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time beating well after each addition.
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out into a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
With rolling pin roll and shape each piece into a 6x4" rectangle. Starting with the longer side roll up tightly and pinch edges and ends to seal.
Place on greased baking sheet and let rise 20 to 25 min.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 min until golden brown.

Do you make any kind of bread other than for sandwiches?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Frugal Friday: Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

Is it my imagination or have grocery prices jumped BIG TIME?   I went into a grocery store the other day to purchase a jar of mayonnaise and was shocked that the sticker price was over $5.00. 

It has been a huge challenge to stay within my $200.00 a month budget for groceries/toiletries/household expenses so I'm trying to find ways to substitute items that are rising in cost for something less expensive. So when I saw the $5.00 sticker on mayo I decided to try my hand at homemade mayo. I tried it once before but the olive oil I used had a strong flavor that transferred over to the taste of the mayo. I threw the batch out.. it was that bad. 


I used a recipe a friend suggested from Elton Brown. I read you could use a hand blender instead of a whisk so I started out placing the mixture into a cup and slowly began adding the oil. You're supposed to add the oil in a small steady stream. If you add the oil too fast then it will 'break' and separate. The mayo was coming together nicely but my hand blender started getting hot. I tried letting it cool down but then I got impatient and added the oil too fast. It ended up separating. I'll share below how I fixed it. 



Recipe courtesy Alton Brown from Food Network
  • 1 egg yolk*
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 pinches sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup oil, safflower or corn (I used extra virgin olive oil from Costco)


In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (which means you've got an emulsion on your hands). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant (albeit thin) stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.
Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Fixing 'broken' mayo is very simple. Just take a single egg yolk and place it in a bowl. Briskly whisk the egg yolk while you add the 'broken' mayo slowly. Continue adding the entire batch of broken mayo into the egg yolk slowly. That's it. The mayo will turn out yellow but taste great. We normally only eat Best Food mayo and I've never liked 'off  brands'. This mayo passed the test. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Depression Era Teachings: Laundry and rinse loads

I continue to learn new lessons on frugality from my little 91 year old Alice.

Alice has taught me to use her 'rinse cycle' for clothes that are not dirty (per say).  An example would be her nightgowns. Instead of running her nightgowns through an entire full wash cycle she'll have me run them through the rinse cycle. Her pants (just worn inside around the house) and sheets are another example.

I'm glad to learn about this frugal tip. I can see how it will help keep water and electricity costs down.

Do you have any frugal ideas that you've learned from an older woman?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Joy found in Serving (in our new Home)!

  • It's been over a month since my husband and I accepted a job as a caregiver to a 90 (just turned 91) year old woman named Alice. The opportunity came suddenly but as time has gone on I marvel at how perfectly suited this situation is for our current needs and smile knowing that God handpicked it for not only Alice but my husband and myself. To be honest with you I panicked the week before we were scheduled to move. I kept thinking.. what if I can't make Alice happy.. what if she doesn't like me...?   My husband reminded me that the Scriptures never command us to make someone happy.. only to serve and love them. I married a smart man!

    So, here we are a month later and I can honestly say that my fears were unfounded. God has exceeded my expectations in the gift He has given me in Alice.  She has not only opened her home to us but her heart. She has made us feel welcome and like we're part of her family.  She doesn't treat me like an employee but as her friend.  I'm finding great joy in serving her and making her comfortable. Honestly, it's been easy to fall in love with her. It blesses me so much when I ask her if there is anything else I can do for her and she simply says, "Nope. I'm happy."

    I'm a planner.. sometimes to my discredit. This past year I thought through a multitude of possibilities of where we might live next. I imagined us living in everything from a motorhome to my mother's house. Moving into Alice's home and caring for her was no where in the plans.  I wasted a lot of time in 'over thinking mode' when I could have been using those moments worshiping God and serving others. It won't be time wasted though if I can learn from it. I find that recently when I begin trying to micro-manage my future I suddenly remember how amazingly God orchestrated this move and immediately I am reminded that God does a much better job of  taking care of my future than I do. I am learning to 'rest' in His sovereign hands.

    Alice and I are settling into a routine and our days are beginning to establish a hum.. a rhythm. I'm learning her needs and how to make her comfortable. Before I moved in I set up a housekeeping schedule for her home. The first Monday after we moved here I pulled out my schedule and began cleaning. Alice said, 'what are you doing? Why don't you sit down and relax? Nothing needs to be cleaned.'  Alice has kept a very neat and clean home but she is teaching me (slow as it may be on my part) that a person doesn't always need to be busy. I could learn a lot from Alice... and I'm sure I have much more to learn.

    I'm also learning some new lessons in frugality that Alice is teaching me. I'm learning how to clean less and thereby use less water, cleansers and electricity.. to wash less loads of laundry each week and to use less lights and water. These are great lessons that will help stretch our income if we're ever given the opportunity to live in our own home again.

    I am continuing to learn deeper lessons in loving God and others. There is joy in serving.
    Jesus came to serve... and not to be served. He gave His life as a ransom for many. I don't serve perfectly. I've had moments where I'm tempted to put my own needs first. I've struggled at times with the changes my life has taken over the past few years as my husband's disability has kept us closer to home and more isolated.   But.. in spite of these  lapses of giving into my selfish nature I am finding a renewed love for the One who was the ultimate servant as I learn to follow Him in serving others and putting their needs ahead of my own.

    I have so much more to learn.

    Are you learning the joy of serving others?  Is there a widow in your family that needs your help? Or possibly an elderly neighbor?