Friday, December 5, 2014

Our Tongue and the Family

I recently read a question that captured my attention.

Are you growing in how you love your spouse?

Right on the heels of that question I began reading a book called, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard which shared how their marriage was blessed by   speaking the 'law of kindness' to one another. 

I thought of what the opposite of kindness might look like. A cold shoulder? Distancing ourselves? A sharp, biting reply? Sarcasm? Standing up for ourselves with a cascade of unedifying, prideful words? Oh my! How many of us have given in to these temptations? I surely have at one time or another.

She opens her mouth with wisdom; and on her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26 KJV

Playing a new 'thrift' store game.
I've noticed how different seasons of life can tempt us to respond unkindly. I remember when my children were young and following a sleepless night there was the temptation to snap out a command instead of asking kindly. Sickness, retirement and growing older (the last 2 are my current season) can prove a temptation, too. We surely need the power of the Holy Spirit to respond kindly when we are in a weakened state.  

Jesus is the best reason to entice my heart to return a kindness for an unkindness. He showed the ultimate kindness by dying on the cross to pay for my sins... a death I deserved! While I was STILL a sinner.. undeserving of His enemy...He died for my sins. The ultimate act of kindness!

Returning good for evil...a  kind word in response to an unkindness... is a beautiful opportunity to daily live out the gospel message to my family and others.  

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

It also shows my Savior how much I love Him by obeying His command.  

 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15

      The grands and I playing Apples to Apples. (Can you see my cat on the back of the couch watching the neighborhood?)

"God, please help me to live by the 'law of kindness' towards others. I have often returned an unkindness for an unkindness. Help me by the power of your Holy Spirit that lives in me to deny myself and follow you.  In Jesus Name, Amen."

 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love KINDNESS, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22  Galatians 5:22  ESV

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, KINDNESS, humility, meekness, and patience.. Col. 3:12 ESV



1. Our ladies group at church is starting a new bible study in January. I found a used workbook through Amazon for half the price. 

  2. I've been off of wheat (except for an occasional indulgence) for over 3 years now. I normally don't miss it but lately I've been having problems with insomnia and find myself dipping into my husband's crackers in the middle of the night. I'm not sure why carbs are appealing to me at 2am in the morning... but they are! :-) So, I decided to be proactive and make some low carb crackers. I put them in the freezer for those 'I can't sleep' nights.

Sunflower Crackers
3/4-1 cup sunflower seed flour (or almond flour)
4 tsp. Erythritol
1 egg white
less than 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder

Mix together and then divide into 20-24 small balls. Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Put a piece of Seran wrap over a small can to flatten the balls and then peel off the Seran wrap and place on the cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes. Watch closely the last 5 minutes. Edges should be brown, center will be light colored.

3. I had an old kitchen cabinet in bad shape that we hoped to use in our garage but we just didn't have room for it. I hated to have my son take it to the dump since he is so busy so I kept thinking how I could repurpose it. I finally came up with the idea to make it into a compost bin. The doors and the back were taken off leaving just the frame. It works PERFECT! 

4. I found a new game at the thrift store. The grands loved it! 

5. I was inspired by Crystal's post over at Homemaking on the Homestead on canning Chicken Noodle-less soup.  I didn't have 2 whole chickens but used a very large package of chicken thighs and breasts. I canned 5 quarts of soup. My husband said it was very good. I hope to can a lot of soup this winter. 

6.We had a big crop of hot peppers this year. I froze some but there was still a lot left. I decided to dry a batch. I'll use an old coffee grinder and pulse it into red pepper flakes. 

7. I made Pioneer Woman's Spaghetti Sauce. It's a keeper and I think the best recipe I've made so far. We put it over the spaghetti squash we grew in our garden. 

Pioneer Woman's Spaghetti Sauce


  • 5 pounds Ground Beef (I used 3 pounds)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Large Yellow Onions, Diced (I used 1 onion)
  • 2 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced (Omitted)
  • 6 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 cup White Wine (or Low Sodium Beef Broth If You Prefer)
  • 2 cans 28 Ounce Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 Oz. Size) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (small, 4-ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 1 jar Good Storebought Marinara Sauce (can Use Another Jar If You Like The Sauce To Be More Saucy Than Meaty)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 4 whole Bay Leaves (omitted)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar (I used Erythritol)
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Finely Minced Fresh Parsley (or 3 Tablespoons Parsley Flakes), More To Taste
  • 1 whole Rind From One Wedge Parmesan (optional, I'm dairy free so I omitted)
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional, I omitted)
  • 2 pounds Spaghetti, Cooked Al Dente And Tossed With Olive Oil
  • Extra Minced Parsley, For Serving
  • Extra Parmesan Cheese, For Serving

Preparation Instructions

IMPORTANT: This recipe can easily be halved! I just like to make a ton so I can freeze it.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until totally browned. Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Set aside.
Discard any grease in pot, but do not clean the pot. Drizzle in olive oil. When it is heated, throw in the diced onion and diced bell pepper. Stir it around for 1 1/2 minutes, then add the garlic. Stir and cook for an additional minute.
Pour in the wine and allow it to bubble up and reduce for about 1 1/2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and marinara sauce. Stir to combine, then add oregano, thyme, sugar, salt, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper (if using). Stir, then add cooked ground beef and stir to combine. Place the lid on the pot and allow to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add a little water or some low-sodium broth if it needs more liquid
After an hour, add the minced parsley and the rind from a wedge of Parmesan (or grated Parmesan if you prefer--or both!) Stir to combine, then put the lid back on and allow it to simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Discard bay leaves before serving.
Serve a big bowl of oiled noodles and spaghetti sauce so guests can serve themselves. Top each serving with minced parsley and grated Parmesan (or Parmesan shavings) and serve with a big piece of garlic-cheese bread.

My grandson's are getting so big!

8. I don't like to run out of an item and I especially don't like to spend extra money on a trip to the store because I ran out of something. So I try to keep a backup of most essential items. For instance, I save about a 1/4 of my hairspray and put it in an older bottle. It doesn't take long before I have a full extra bottle which then will become the next bottle I use. I also take out a roll of TP from the package and store it away. I keep an extra tube of toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant on hand, too. This also helps to not pay the highest price for these items so I can wait until they go on sale. 

9. I'm picking broccoli and Swiss Chard from my winter city garden. The cabbage is almost ready along with the collards. Just planted a kale plant but it won't be ready to pick for quite a few months. We're still getting some raspberries and the oranges should be ready within the month. Now if I can just keep that rascal of a gopher out of my garden! Ugh!

10. It seems I'm always wanting a bag of cranberries to enjoy with that last turkey in the freezer but after the holidays they are hard to find. This year I've purchased 3 bags and hope to purchase a few more. I keep the bags in the freezer. I dried one bag in my dehydrator and used the other bag to make sugar free cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I hope to make some low carb Orange Cranberry Muffins soon. 

Drying Cranberries

Praise Report:

~ A friend called and said she had some free turkeys and food to share.

Saved, Re-used and Make-Do

- I saved the cotton from my vitamin jar to take off fingernail polish.
- I'm raking and saving leaves to put in the compost pile.
- I saved tea bags (3 make one cup of tea)
- Repurposed a cabinet for a compost bin.
- I saved chicken bones and a ham bone to make broth.
- Broccoli stalk and grated it for a salad. 
- I saved/washed the rubber band from the veggies I bought at the   
  store to to reuse. 
- Newspapers to use under the cat box. 
- Grocery garbage bags to line my garbage cans. 

I hope you all have a wonderful, Christ-filled Christmas! 

Blessed to be home!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Making do with OLDER HOMES

My little 745 sq. ft. cottage was built in the early 1900's. It has a lot of personality! :-) It's not fancy and it's definitely not upgraded. But, it's comfortable and it's God's gift to me. He has entrusted this home into my care for a specific number of days that only He knows. Perhaps I will live here until I'm close to leaving for my heavenly home. Or perhaps He will move me on tomorrow. Life is full of surprises and only He knows the winding and turning of the path He has planned for me. I want to always remember that this home is His gift to us. I want to fight to cultivate a contented heart and accept it with all it's quirks and so called inconveniences.

 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

Alberta is the name of the woman who previously lived in this home for 50 years into her late 90's when she fell and then moved in with a family member. I never met Alberta but I feel like I know her from the little bits and pieces that the neighbors have shared about her life. I often think of Alberta when I'm tempted to upgrade an outdated feature of this home. I'll remind myself, "Alberta lived in this home until she was 98 years old without central heat and air! Now, so can you!" Or, "Alberta lived in this home without automatic sprinklers! Now, so can you for at least one more year!"

She saved herself a lot of money over the years by not keeping up with the times (or the Jones's). She never had to incur a large electrical bill because her heating and air conditioning went on the blink! Or pay to have her garbage disposal fixed or replaced... because she didn't own one. The less things you own the less things need cleaning, repairs and maintenance and TIME. Alberta lived a simple life in this home.  I think Alberta was a smart woman! A lot of older people live this way but rarely does our generation or our children.

I recently read that a simple life is not always a contented life. I've really been chewin' on that one like a dog with a bone. I've mulled it over and over in my mind and I believe that it's very true. I don't know the state of Alberta's heart. Maybe she was contented living in this 'simple' home or maybe not. It's now my choice to decide whether I will cultivate a heart attitude of thankfulness and contentment. It's a daily choice which starts with my thought life and whether I will obey God's Word.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Phil. 4:11 

So, instead of upgrading I'm focusing on maintaining what we already own. These past few months I've worked on improving the way the grout looks on my kitchen counter and also sealing the bathroom grout to help with the mold problems. I look for small little projects to do that don't cost a lot of money but help to improve the way our home is maintained. It's important to take care of what God has entrusted to me.

I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns' the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. Proverbs 24:30-34

My 'sweetheart', daughter and grandson
I know it's not a sin to upgrade and who knows but that someday we might find ourselves doing just that very thing if the need and finances present themselves. But, not for today! Today I want to enjoy my home just as it is with all it's quirks and old fashioned ways. My heart is satisfied! My heart is content!


Here are a few ways I've kept busy in my home:

1. My kitchen sink is old and made of porcelain. It has chips in it that show black spots. Last year my mother bought a kit to paint the chips white. It lasted about a year but now it looks like it did before. I have a friend who accidentally spilled nail polish in her bathroom sink and couldn't get it out. So she bought 3 different colors and dabbed them all over her sink. It looked really nice. So that gave me an idea to see if I could find white nail polish to cover the black spots on my sink. I found a bottle for around $4. Guess what? It worked! I love finding ways to make things in this old house look nice and clean.

2. I've been saving cooked chicken bones in my freezer and finally had enough to make some broth which I used to make a new Chicken Paleo Tortilla Soup recipe. I put the bones in my large crockpot and filled it with water and cooked it all day.  After it cooked I let it sit in the fridge overnight and then skimmed off the fat. The broth was then used in this soup recipe. It was so good!

Paleo Chicken Tortilla Soup

You’ll need:
  • 2 large chicken breasts, skin removed and cut into 1/2 inch strips (I used thighs)
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 32 ounces organic chicken broth (homemade chicken broth)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced (less for lower carbs)
  • 2 jalepenos, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 cups of shredded carrots (1 cup to lower carbs)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped fine
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced – I always use one of these
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • (I added 1 tablespoon of Chicken Tortilla seasoning mix)
  • sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 cups water
In a crockpot or large dutch oven over med-high heat, place a dash of olive oil and about 1/4 cup chicken broth. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, sea salt and pepper and cook until soft, adding more broth as needed.
Then add all of your remaining ingredients and enough water to fill to the top of your pot. Cover and let cook on low for about 2 hrs, adjusting salt & pepper as needed.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, you should be able to shred it very easily. I simply used the back of a wooden spoon and pressed the cooked chicken against the side of the pot. You could also use a fork or tongs to break the chicken apart and into shreds.

Top with avocado slices and fresh cilantro. I added a dallop of sour cream to my husband's bowl.

Remembering a fishing trip with some grandsons

3. I always have a lot of cilantro left from the bunch I buy for a recipe. So, this time I froze it in an ice cube tray. I picked off the leaves and put about a tablespoon in each cube and added water. Once frozen I put the cubes in a plastic bag and wrote the name on a piece of masking tape. I do this with fresh parsley, oregano and basil from my garden, too.

4. I made a batch of pie crusts and put them in the freezer for the holidays.

5. We have a winter storm heading our way tomorrow so I decided it was time to prepare for winter. I put away the summer chairs and covered them with plastic. I took down the patio table umbrella and stored it in the garage. I moved the patio table under a covering to protect it this winter and covered a wooden bench with a large piece of heavy plastic. You can buy rolls of heavy plastic at hardware stores. The window air conditioners have been covered with plastic on the outside so that the cold air won't blow through them into our house.  It's a bit too soon to fold up the hoses but those will be next. I also put extra blankets on our beds and on the cats and the dog beds. We're all as snug as a bug in a rug! I love making sure everyone is warm and comfortable for the winter (even my pets).

6.  I've been reading about 'deepening the pantry' over at Coffee, Tea and Books. It has inspired me to find ways to add to my own pantry. I added canned tuna and canned roast beef to my pantry this past month.

'Grand' birthday party with CANDY BALL played to Musical Chairs.

7. Since winter is coming I was able to cut back my watering time to once a week for the lawn and from 10 minutes down to 7 minutes. Oh, am I one happy girl that winter is almost here and I can take a break from hours of watering in the garden, flowers and lawn.

8. I had a bumper crop of peppers this year which were grown in large pots. I looked online and discovered that I could freeze the Poblano's. I roasted them and then put them in a freezer bag once they cooled. Now my husband can enjoy Chile Rellenos throughout the winter.

9. My mother and sister and I visited our favorite thrift shop. I keep an ongoing list in my purse because for the life of me I can't remember what to look for by memory. I added 'purses' to my list once I realized how expensive they have become. I was faced with spending over $30 when my last purse became worn. I figured I would keep an extra one on hand so I'm not forced to pay higher prices. I found a nice purse for $4.

 Sweet times

10.  I made homemade mac and cheese for our family gathering. My husband requested it. He eats low carb meals in between our family gatherings so I try to make what he wants on those special occasions. I took a small bite to see how it tasted and it was good!

I kept it bland since I knew the grands would be eating it. 

 Kittencals Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
    • 4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni 
    • 4 tablespoons butter ( additional 2 tablespoons to mix with cooked pasta)
    • 2 large garlic cloves, minced garlic ( optional, I didn't use)
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder (I didn't use)
    • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)(I didn't use)
    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 3 cups half-and-half cream ( or use milk or 1-1/2 cups each)
    • 1 1/2 cups old shredded cheddar cheese (I used Monterey Jack/Cheddar)
    • 1 (16 ounce) packages Velveeta cheese ( cut into small cubes)
    • salt & freshly ground black pepper ( to taste)
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)(I didn't use)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a medium casserole dish.
  3. Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente (do not overcook the pasta) drain but do not rinse.
  4. Place in a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons butter to prevent sticking; set aside.
  5. Melt 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Add in minced garlic, onion powder, mustard powder and cayenne pepper; stir with a wooden spoon for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add in flour and stir for 1 minute.
  8. Slowly add cream and cook stirring constantly over medium until bubbly and thickened. 
  1. Reduce heat and add in both cheeses; mix until melted and smooth.
  2. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. Add in the cooked pasta and toss to combine.
  4. Transfer to baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  
Summer fun with the grands

                                                                                                                                                Saved, Stretched and Reused:
~ I add a little bit of water to the glass before I add WHOLE milk for my husband.
~ I saved clean, previously used dishwater in the dish pan and used it to rinse the next load of dishes. 
~ Twistie ties from new measuring spoons. I always save my twistie ties. 
~ I saved the cardboard tubing from a paper towel roll. I wrap reused baggies around it.
~ Cardboard egg cartons along with cardboard tubing from toilet paper rolls (compost pile).
~ Cotton from the vitamin bottle (to remove fingernail polish). 
~ Wrapped celery in tinfoil. The celery lasts twice as long. 
~ Bacon grease. I put it in a small jar in the fridge and use it instead of oil for flavoring when frying. 
~ Washed and reused a LC tortilla bag.
~ I used 'saved' peanut oil from the last time I fried chicken. I keep it in the fridge. I can get one more frying out of it. 
~ I saved the extra coffee by putting it in mason jars and storing in the fridge to use the next few days. We never drink an entire pot. 
~ Saved tea bags. Three saved tea bags will make one more cup of tea. 
~ I've been hungry for oatmeal. I cooked some Steel Oats and divided it in 1/2 cup portions to freeze for later. 
That's all for this time. Are you ladies 'deepening' your pantry? Do you have any good tips you could share? 


* Bible version used is the ESV.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Bible, books and old brains!

I am a lover of books. Not just any books... but books that will draw my heart closer to God. I love biographies and instructional books!  It's my one weakness, as Dorcas would say in Larkrise to Candleford.

Sweet Williams are still blooming
As much as I love godly books, I love God's Word a hundred gazillion times more! My heart swells when I think of the priceless value of His Word. His Word has changed my life! Period! End of story! It just has!

Every area of my life has been touched by His Word. My marriage, my emotions, my thought life, my desires and my goals.  But, far greater than what God has done in me is the treasure of learning more about Him through His written Word. There lies a joy that matches none else. 

Broccoli plants for winter
So I am excited to share with you one of the sweetest little treasures on the internet that is helping me hide God's Word in my heart. My long time beloved friends, Kim and her husband John, have a wonderful new website called REFRESHINGS CHALLENGE.
Refreshings are described as, "... a surprisingly simple and effective method to renew our minds and saturate our hearts with God's Word (and other related helpful things), using condensations from a repertoire of bible studies we've done, skills we've learned, and helpful things we've condensed from other people."

This is how I have used their website. I picked out specific teachings and Scriptures that I want to be reminded of on a regular basis. I've chosen posts that apply to my life or teachings that I can use to encourage others.  After I  printed these posts I placed them in sleeve protectors and filed them in my REFRESHINGS NOTEBOOK under a category similar to the headings she has on her webpage for each post. The notebook sits next to my living room chair so it's convenient to pick up and REFRESH myself daily.

Raspberries are still giving fruit in my backyard

I've added other sections to my binder such as The Godly Woman. I need daily reminders of what Scripture says I should be doing daily with my time.  I've also added Scriptures on the sovereignty of God to encourage me during trials and suffering. Another goal for the notebook is to use it to battle weaknesses and daily temptations. 

Learning, knowing, memorizing and teaching God's Word is one of my greatest joys. I want God's Word to take the highest priority in my life.  The REFRESHINGS CHALLENGE is one easy way to guard what I have learned in God's Word throughout the years. This old brain needs all the help it can get. 

Dragon Tales

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 ESV

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God
. Colossians 3:16 ESV


A Typical Frugal Day 

Here's what is happenin' in my neck of the woods:

1. My husband's T-Shirts are noticeably worn. I've been watching for sales but nothing has come along. I stopped in our local thrift store while the oil was being changed in the car. Lo and behold, I found 5 T-Shirts, BRAND NEW for $4.99. I had a 25% off coupon bringing the total to $2.99 a shirt. Thank you, sweet Lord! 

Lettuce ready to harvest. Chicken wire to keep cats away from snail bait.

2. I normally throw away the stalks of broccoli but decided to peel it and then use a grater to shred it. I added a slaw dressing along with cranberries. I had enough to use for a lunch salad from an item that normally would be thrown away.

3. Did you know that Nature Made vitamins has a reward program? I may have told you before. I enter the reward code on each bottle I purchase of Triple Flex from Costco. I accumulated enough rewards to receive a $7 coupon to use at Costco for Nature Made products.  The coupon can also be matched with Costco's sales which could drop the price by a total of $14. 

4. I cashed in my Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Click here to learn more about Swagbucks. It's an easy way to make money by doing online searches. 

5. I read about an idea to line your fridge shelves with placemats but decided to buy the plastic shelf paper that does not have a sticky back. My mother has always lined her fridge shelves with tinfoil but it's an expensive habit because eventually the tinfoil tears apart after multiple cleanings. This shelf paper (it's made of a rubber type of material) can be washed and should hold up indefinitely. My shelves look so nice and clean. 

Shelf paper lining fridge shelves

6. I'm saving cooked chicken bones in a freezer bag to make broth. 

7. I live in my aprons. I have a few nice aprons and a few 'not so nice' aprons. I rotate my aprons as they get stained and worn. I keep a very worn apron in the garage to wear in the garden. Aprons save my clothes from spots and tears. I love my aprons!

8. My house was built in the early 1900's and I think the kitchen grout is probably as old. Maybe not but it sure looks old and dirty. I've tried several cleaners but nothing has worked. I found a tile renewal product/sealer at Home Depot by Polyblend called, Grout Renew. It comes in different colors. It painted and sealed the ugly grout on my kitchen counters and it looks almost like new. So happy with it! It cost less than $15. I used a fine tipped paintbrush instead of the recommended toothbrush. 

9. My mom and neighbor lady save their newspapers for me. I've started using coupons again to help offset rising food prices. I visit Coupon Mom on Sundays to see if there are any good deals for the week. Last week I was able to get cold meds for .99 cents. 

10. I used the library instead of buying a book that had been recommended to me. 

Saved, Stretched & Re-used!
- banana peels (buried around my rose bushes)
- coffee grinds (buried around my rose bushes)
- tin can tops (put in a bucket with water to make a fertilizer tea for grapes and hydrangea)
- dog food can (washed out and used to pour grease into rather than down the sink).
- egg shells, fruit & veggie peelings (compost pile)
- tea bags (saved in fridge, 3 used for new cup of tea and then thrown in the compost pile)
- LC tortilla bag, cranberry bag, broccoli bag,etc. (washed and reused as a baggie)
- Rubber band off of radishes and broccoli (washed and reused)
- Hair from vacuum (compost) 

That's all for this time. What are you ladies doing in your homes? Are you getting ready for winter? I've started pulling out my blankets and heaters to make sure they're in good condition.

Blessed to be home,


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Husbands, Submission and Budgets

My husband and I have taken turns handling the finances throughout our marriage.  I've been handling them for the past 10 plus years. I began handling the finances when he started having health issues. It was one way I could help take the pressure off of him.

"Dragon Tales" by the driveway in my front yard

I've learned a lot about my own heart since I've been handling our finances. One challenge is to remember that it's not 'my' budget BUT 'our' budget. My husband does not want to be involved in most of the budget making or decision but I acknowledge that I am acting on his behalf as his helpmate.  Budget making and keeping is only one of many ways I can fulfill my God ordained role as his helper.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”   Genesis 2:18  ESV

Here is where I have to watch my heart: A few years ago he said it would be nice to have a cup of Earl Grey tea or some coffee in the morning. He didn't demand it or insist. He just made a comment. Sadly, my first response to myself was, 'Doesn't he realize how hard it is to stay within my budget and yet he wants me to add one more thing?!'  But, I wanted to meet his needs (and even wishes) so I set out to find the best prices.

Thankfully, the Lord does not leave me in the muck and mire of my own selfishness and begins His gentle process of revealing the truth of what is going on in my heart. Eventually, it was brought to my remembrance that I spend money on food items that are not essential. How many times do I pick up a a small bag of nuts at the check out counter? Or grab an item off the dollar menu for lunch while shopping? Or even spend money on low carb treats? My husband never holds me accountable for these small expenditures. He gives me more grace than I give him at times. So now...

The Lord is helping me to see my husband's requests (and even his wishes) as an opportunity to bless him. Now, I find myself looking forward to the joy it brings him.

Spaghetti squash and baking pumpkin from our garden
One night around 10:30 pm he said, "I'm craving a frosty from Wendy's". My first response (to myself) was that we shouldn't be spending the money and secondly we shouldn't be eating that much sugar. But, thankfully the Lord gave me grace and the words that came out of my mouth were... LET'S GO! And you know what? We had so much fun and made a special memory that night. It was so 'out of the ordinary' that it filled us both with joy looking at all the other 'crazies' who were out late at night. We chatted on the drive over to Wendy's and thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

And guess what? We made it through the month without going in the hole financially! Imagine!

How often has God given me something I've longed for... something unnecessary... something other than the norm? And how much joy did it bring to my heart? And oh how I rejoiced knowing He cared enough to bless me! I've shared  many of those blessings with you over these past years. I'm allowed this same privilege and joy when I look for opportunities to bless my husband and those I love.

What joy is found in bringing joy to others!

  ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Acts 20:35

 *Note* I don't want you to think I'm ALWAYS so self-controlled because there have been times I have voiced my concerns to him. I don't think it's always wrong to do so. Much depends on our motives. Sometimes, it can even be wise to speak up because possibly our husbands have missed seeing a consequence that we can see clearly. But, I'm talking here about a very small expense that would bring him some joy and comfort to his heart in the mornings.

Click here to see A TYPICAL FRUGAL DAY

1. I can save the most money by finding ways to stretch my grocery money. I keep praying for God's help and trying new things. I went back to using a designated 'leftover shelf' in my fridge. That way I have one place to look and see what needs to be used up before it goes bad. I continue to throw many of my leftovers into the freezer,too. 

I put snail bait around my lettuce and chicken wire over the top so the animals stay out.

2. I'm trying a new homemade laundry detergent recipe that is dry instead of liquid. I've been making liquid detergent for more than 8 years and I always dread making it. I don't know why because it doesn't take long once I actually do it. But, the dry recipe was so simple and I like the fact that I don't have to heat anything on the stove. So far it seems to work as well as The Duggar's laundry soap recipe. I have found this recipe in quite a few places on the web:

You will need:
5 gallon bucket with a tight lid
1 box of Borax (4 lb. 12 oz)
1  3.7 lb. box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 4lb. box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda  (Now I'm wondering if I used this???? )
2 bars Fells Naptha Soap (grated)
1 3lb. container Oxiclean Versatile Stain Remover (I only used a 1 lb. container)

Use gloves and a mask and stir together and put into 5 gallon bucket. I use 1 tablespoon for average loads and 2 tablespoons for extra dirty loads.

3. Grocery prices continue to rise and I am looking for more ways to cut back. I had freezer bags on my shopping list but as I started to throw them in my cart I decided this was one area I could cut back. I have a drawer full of washed storage bags so I'm going to use those instead. They are not as convenient because I have to use a twist tie and you can't see through them but I've found if I use permanent marker on masking tape to mark the package then they work fine. A penny saved...

Lots of Habanero peppers that will end up in soups this winter!

4.  I got a notice in the mail that our electric bill would be increasing by 10% which will mean a $10- $15 dollar increase. I'm always working on keeping my electric bill low but I want my husband to be comfortable so he controls the window air conditioners or heaters. But, I can work on the water usage to save some money. I've written about how I save the first of the water from the faucet while I'm waiting for it to turn hot. I started filling up gallon jugs with the cold water and then placed them next to the lettuce on my back porch step so I wouldn't have to water them with the hose. I'm also using the jugs to water the new vegetable seedlings.

5. I needed Cajun seasoning for a new fish recipe but I didn't want to spend money on buying a new spice. I checked one of my favorite recipe sites ALL RECIPES and found this one:

Simple Cajun Seasoning
2 1/2 TBSP. salt
1 TBSP. dried oregano
1 TBSP. paprika
1 TBSP. cayenne pepper
1 TBSP. black pepper 

6. Shopping once a week (and sometimes every other week) works best to stay within my grocery budget. I know once a month shopping works great for so many people but I just can't seem to make it work for my budget. This month I bought one large package of meat each week and all of them were under $2 a pound except the hamburger which was $3 a pound. I found that spreading the purchase of the meat over the month helped me not overspend weekly. I'm also using less hamburger since it's more expensive than chicken and pork.

A few 'winter' veggies of broccoli and cauliflower are going in the ground.

7. I bought some hot dogs for .50 a package. I know they are not the healthiest meat out there but .50 a pound is too tempting to pass up. I made a recipe I loved as a child. Mother used to put it over rice but I skipped the rice it since I'm low carbing. I don't have a name for it.

4-6 hot dogs or 1 can of Spam or 8 oz. of baloney
2 tbsp. oil
4 lrg carrots (I used only 2 to keep carbs down)
2-3 stalks of celery
1 onion (I used 1/2 an onion)
Garlic powder, salt and pepper
Cooked rice (I omitted)

Heat oil. Add veggies and stir fry for 5 minutes. Cut hot dogs in nice size chunks. Add to skillet and saute until brown. Add 2-3 tbsp. water to skillet and stir quickly. 4 servings.

You can also add 2-3 cups of finely sliced cabbage instead of rice.

Winter veggie seedlings

8.  If I'm not 'praying as I shop' then I'm often tempted to toss items into my cart that are not on my shopping list.  So, I've tried to make it a habit to stop and review what is in my cart before I get to the check out counter. I ask myself if I can get by without any of the items in my cart. More times than not I'm able to pull one or two items from the cart. This practice gives me a little time between wanting of the item (lust of the flesh) and being able to think objectively about it. 

9. My 'Snoopy' cat loves to sleep on the top of my couch and look out the front window. He watches the other cats in the neighborhood. We call it his 'kitty tv'. :-) His hair gets on the curtain and normally I will use a 'tape brush' to clean off the hair. But, I noticed the curtain was looking dirty. The curtains have to be dry cleaned, which is expensive, so I tried to spot clean it instead.  I had some upholstery and fabric spray cleaner that I used by gently rubbing it into the curtains with a wet rag. It worked great and saved me a lot of money.

Snoopy keeping an eye on the neighborhood!

10.  Occasionally, I will purchase a product my husband and I don't care for. A lot of times I can use a small amount of the product mixed in with a another product we do like and it's not noticeable. That way I don't waste money by throwing it away. I have some cinnamon coffee that my husband doesn't like so I use 1 tablespoon mixed in with 2 tablespoons of his regular coffee.

Items I didn't throw away:
- Low carb tortilla bag with zipper (washed and reused as a storage bag)
- tea bags (saved in a container in the fridge. 3 bags are reused for 1 cup of tea)
- candy bags (washed and reused as baggies)
- toilet paper rolls (torn up into small pieces and put into compost)
- Outdated paperwork (torn and put into compost)
- cotton from vitamin jar (used to remove nail polish)
- plastic grocery bags (lining for kitchen garbage can)
- tin can tops from dog food (I put these in a small bucket in the garden with water. Then use the rust
  water to fertilize my grapes or roses).

Well, that's it for this week! Be sure to check out 'A Frugal Day' at the beginning of this list for my daily frugal routine.

What are you ladies doing in your homes this week? I love learning from  you!

Blessed to be home!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Temptations that Defeat Frugality

There are many reasons people practice frugality. Some reasons may include: saving for a new home or car, living on one income, retirement, giving to those in need, or Christian education.  And, there can be just as many temptations that sidetrack us from those goals. 

"Blue Dawn" morning glories!
I have several reasons I practice frugality. I find it helps me fight temptation if I remember what my goals are. Mainly, I want to be a good steward of the resources the Lord has entrusted to me. Secondly, it enables me to stay at home with my husband.  Thirdly, if I can save money by living below our means then I have money to give to others in need...which will lay up treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6)

It's important to keep those reasons at the front of my mind because it's so easy to be influenced by the temptations that bombard me daily through television, magazines and the stores advertising strategies. I pray regularly while shopping because I can feel the pull of all the enticing goodies as I walk up the store aisles.

One of the most dangerous threats to my goals for frugality is the 'pride of life'. I've been battling it this past week:

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16  ESV

(The NET BIBLE translates pride of life as  'arrogance produced by material possessions').

The Wesley Commentary was very helpful in explaining what it means:

"The pride of life - All that pomp in clothes, houses, furniture, equipage, manner of living, which generally procure honour from the bulk of mankind, and so gratify pride and vanity. It therefore directly includes the desire of praise, and, remotely, covetousness. All these desires are not from God, but from the prince of this world."  

There is nothing wrong with making our homes comfortable or attractive. But, I get into trouble when I use the things of this world to promote myself or to be accepted by others. Then my focus is not on serving but on having others serve me by promoting my reputation.

Say for instance, I'd like to invite a new couple from church over for dinner. But, I find out they both work and make a good income and now I'm starting to hesitate inviting them because they live in a higher income neighborhood and drive newer cars. I start to compare what I own to what they own. I drive a 1998 Ford Ranger (that squeaks horribly) and live in a lower income neighborhood in a 745 sq. ft. home. This is where the downward sin cycle begins if I don't get control of my thoughts. 

"Comparison is a thief, stealing gratitude, joy, and generosity." Jeff Manion

 I begin to wonder if they will judge me by how I live (fear of man). If left unchecked this fear can lead to buying unnecessary items like a new bedspread or new dishes and if entertained for too long it could even lead to moving to a more expensive neighborhood in order to impress others or buying a new car. All of these choices will lead me farther away from my goals of frugality. These choices could also reveal a heart that is set on the things of this world and not on things above

Summer birthdays!

I need to remind myself that my worth does not come from what I own ... but by WHO owns me!
Then he said, "Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own."  Luke 12:15 NLT

You were bought with a price. 1 Corinthians 7:23  NIV

Instead, I should be rejoicing with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15) for the special gifts God has given them (just as He has blessed me!). My mind should be set on how I can best serve them and make them comfortable while visiting. How can I help them to feel loved and valued while in my home? What can I cook for them that they will enjoy? How can I focus on them while we are talking so I can find out more about their lives and know better how to pray for them?

Trying to impress others by what we own will never bear good fruit. It only serves as a means to enslave us to the fear of man and certainly will not help us reach the goals that we've set to live with less FOR A PURPOSE. 

Blessed to be home,

Do you ever struggle with the desire to impress others by what you own? Or do you sometimes feel 'lesser than' because you don't own what others do? Do you find it's a trap for you to spend more money?

More summer gatherings


 A Typical Frugal Day

1. I get upset with myself when I waste food. I found some small containers at the dollar store that I'm using for leftovers. This past month I tried to freeze more and more of our leftovers so that I wouldn't take a chance of losing any of them to 'forgetfulness'. I am practicing putting leftovers IMMEDIATELY into the freezer instead of leaving them in the fridge.

2. Bacon was on sale this week so I bought a package for my husband. He loves bacon. I normally buy turkey bacon at the dollar store because I don't like spending $4 for one pound of 'breakfast' food but every once in a while I like to surprise my husband. I  save the grease and use it for sauteing vegetables. This time I poured some of it into my salad dressing for flavoring. 

Winter veggies

3. I love to cook and really love to bake and even though I enjoy
the rhythm of washing dishes I sometimes get tired of doing it 3 times a day. An elderly friend told me that she runs a pan of hot soapy water before she starts cooking and washes as she cooks. I'm sure many of you already practice this but it was news to me. What a difference it makes! I'm almost done with my dishes before I've finished the meal. I try to make it a game and set a goal for myself. I'm easily entertained! :-)

4.  God spoils me! He really does! I can't count how many times I have thought to myself that I need 'this or that' and God has answered that 'thought' in such an amazing way. I have a pair of garden clippers that are broken but still work so I haven't wanted to spend money on a new pair. Amazingly enough a GOOD pair of clippers were found in the middle of the road while driving the other day. 

5. I'm trying to use chicken more for my meals since it's so inexpensive. I've been searching the internet for new recipes. I've tried quite a few of Pioneer Woman's recipes and they've always turned out great. I tried a new recipe called Chicken and Beef Fajitas and we really liked them. They were extremely flavorful and spicy. I let them marinade overnight. Here is the link: 

Chicken and Beef Fajitas by Dee Rummond 

6.  I use hairspray and it caked on to my curling iron to where my hair was sticking when I tried to curl it. While my curling iron was still hot (and unplugged) I sprayed oven cleaner on the barrel and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I then took an SOS and scrubbed off the hairspray. Good as new!

Watermelon from our garden! It was wonderful!

7. The price of meat continues to rise. I spent a few extra minutes at the meat aisle the other day to see if I could find any cheaper cuts of meat. I try to keep it under $1.99 a pound but lately that is becoming impossible unless I buy chicken. I was thrilled to find a family pack of ribs for $1.99 a pound. The entire package was under $10. It will feed us for 3 days. Buying in bulk can save money. 

8. My shower tiles baffle me! They are old and I fight mold in the grout. I tried a new homemade shower cleaner that I liked. I warmed 1 cup of white vinegar and then put it in a spray bottle. I added 1 cup of Dawn (blue) detergent and then shook the bottle. I sprayed it evenly over the tiles and let it sit for 2 hours. Then I scrubbed the tiles. 

9. I have a "FLYLADY" notebook for my housekeeping schedule that I've used for years. I decided to add more dividers for: 
- Company (Favorite meals for visiting guests)
- Gardening (homemade bug repellants and fertilizers, etc.)
- Household Products (Product numbers for items such as refrigerator filters, spa chemicals,etc. and where to buy them and the price). 

I'm getting to 'that' age where I am more forgetful plus it helps to have a place to keep these details. 

10.  Things I saved this month:
     - Plastic packaging  for: brownies, brown sugar, pinto bean bag
       (washed and reused as storage bags)
     - Cotton inside my vitamin bottle. (I used it to take off my 
       old fingernail polish.) 
     - Vegetable trimmings and peelings (compost)
     - Tea bags (I use 3 used teabags to make 1 cup of tea)
     - A T-shirt that was worn out. (dust rag)
     - Past income tax paperwork (shredded and put in compost pile)
       - Tinfoil not used on dairy or meat. (washed and reused).
     - Low carb tortilla bag that had a nice little ziplock. (washed    
       and reuse as a storage bag).