Thursday, May 29, 2008
One of those things is that we have a very mobile world. No longer, do families live in one place for long periods but many families move quite often for either jobs or other reasons. This is especially true of our military families. Those moves are often very difficult on the children involved but they are also difficult on some adults. I happen to be one of them.
I have lived in the same general area for 99% of my life. I lived in one home from the time I was 6 months old until I married at 18 and I have lived on the same piece of land for 15 of those 20 married years. You could say that my roots run very deep.
During the last year, our sons have participated in our local homeschool basketball team. In that time, we have grown very close to several of the families. We have recently learned that one of those families will be moving soon and our hearts ache.
There are many reasons why they are choosing to take a new job but most of all it means that "dad" will be able to spend more time at home with his family and when he is home, he will really BE home and not constantly on the phone trying to fix problems at work. I know it will be a blessing for their family and I know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him.
The problem is that we have grown very attached to them. The "mom" feels like a sister to me and we have shared a lot together. We were even "neighbors" for a week when the team went to nationals and it had me daydreaming of what it would be like to live in a neighborhood with all of our close friends next door. Our children play together and have little fights with each other that they soon got over, like all children.
I have to be honest, I have been praying that the job would fall through...so have our children, at least the ones old enough to understand. It rather makes you wish for a detachable heart. One that you can turn off the emotions and feelings and run on facts only... but would I really want to live in a world like that? Maybe not.
So, to our very close friends, we will miss you more than words can say. We pray God's blessings on your new home. We pray you will find the kind of friends there that you have been to us here. Moreover, we pray we will see you again.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
Mix together well. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes. Roll tablespoon sized balls in your hands, place on a cookie sheet and press a fork into them to make the traditional x on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
During baking, the cookie will rise up and then come back down. Our boys always like to watch them. :)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I have recently purchased this book for one of my sons. When I showed it to his older brother (now 18) he commented that it was very similar to a book he often borrowed from the library. I remember that book; he would read it constantly and always wished he would not have to return it. Unfortunately, it was out of print and I could not find one.
I highly recommend the book although there is a section on role-playing games and it uses the example of Dungeons and Dragons. These games are not for everyone but there is too much great stuff in the book to toss it for that.
Check it out and you will probably end up purchasing one for your adventuresome young man!
Friday, May 23, 2008
I have nothing against the Chinese but you have to admit the standards that other countries have for what is grown or manufactured in their countries are not as strict as they are in the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration are working to put inspectors in those countries but how many countries will it and will it help?
There are currently 13 inspectors waiting for approval of visas so they can perform inspections in processing plants in China. Only 13 inspectors for all of the facilities in China? So I am wondering...just how many processing plants are there in China that process foods bound for the states?
Think about this; I have checked the shelves at several of our local Walmart stores and even at my favorite store, Aldi's. Every package of fish I found was a "product of China." Now consider the thousands of Walmart stores in the U.S. That is a lot of fish for 13 inspectors to keep a check.
When these inspectors get there...will it help make our food safer? We hear about food recalls every year...food manufactured in the states. Foods recalled for E-Coli or Salmonella.
All this has made an impact on the food I buy for my family. I want to keep them healthy by feeding them nutritious food that is also safe. Here are steps I have taken to protect our family and I hope they will benefit yours as well.
First, buy foods that are products of the USA. Even though our system is not fool-proof, it is better than what's available in many countries.
Second, try to buy your food items from local farmers. Explore farmers markets and buy what is in season...you'll save money and eat healthier. Also, check local butcher shops because many can tell you where the beef comes from. We are lucky as we have a local abattoir who only sells beef they have raised or raised for them.
Third, cook meats thoroughly...especially ground beef. Cook meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F to kill both E-Coli and Salmonella.
Lastly, if it is possible, grow your own. This will not only insure that you know how it was raised but what has happened to it between the garden and the table. Of course, this also saves you money.
I hope you've found this article helpful.
Have a great day!
One thing that has always been troublesome is preparing meals without heating the house. Over the years, we have found ways to cope with that problem and I hope these ideas will bless you as well.
1. Avoid using the oven as much as possible. For people like us, we bake our own bread so instead of baking several times a week I will simply bake a weeks worth of bread in one day. I may throw in a few other treats that the boys like to enjoy like cinnamon rolls too. As soon as the bread cools completely, it goes into the freezer for use later in the week.
2. Use items like indoor grills and crock-pots more often. These heat a smaller space so the kitchen not warmed up as much. I have even put the crock-pot outside in a safe place (away from critters and hungry pups) so that heat was not inside.
3. Use your outside grill as much as possible. Not only does this keep from heating the house, you will also enjoy wonderful summer evenings with your family. Don't forget most of them have burners as well so side dishes can be cooked there too. If you preserve foods by canning them in jars, you can use that burner as well.
4. Think about changing your menu up to include foods that are not cooked. Tuna salads are just right for warm summer evenings and many other foods don't require cooking.
5. Combine cooking chores. If you are having grilled chicken breast tonight for dinner, grill a few extras for tomorrow or later in the week. You can chop them and add them to a garden salad for a nice cool weather meal or using them in recipes like the Teriyaki Chicken with Brown Rice and Veggies.
6. Don't forget your microwave oven. Although not everyone uses a microwave oven, those of you who do can save electricity by use those instead of cooking on stovetops and in ovens.
I hope some of these ideas help you keep the temperatures down in your home.
Have a great day!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
3 1/4 cups water
2/3 cups teriyaki sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
4 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 cup frozen peas and diced carrots mix
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven type pan or big skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook through. Pour in water, teriyaki sauce, peas/carrot mix and garlic; then bring to a boil. Add the rice and broccoli. Stir to combine well. Cook on low for 5 minutes then remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Makes eight servings.
My guys (including hubby) gobbled this up fast! They cleaned their plates in record time and even emptied the pan. I was barely able to save some for dad's lunch. You can make this especially quick and easy by using precooked diced chicken.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
If you need a smaller one, measure and cut your board with a utility knife. We used masking tape to protect the board and help us cut a straight line. Score the board then gently break it.
You can even get edging to make the board have a nice finished look around the edges.
I purchased a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet for less than $10 and we used the clear mirror mounts to put it on the wall. It works perfectly!
You could also cut one sheet into several boards, decorate and give as gifts.
Have a great day!
Boy's haircuts aren't really all that hard. I started learning many years ago and my husband, bless his heart, volunteered to be my guinea pig while I learned. I've never been to a barber school but I've watched many haircuts be given.
With John, it was a little scary. He needed a haircut that wasn't bad looking but we couldn't take the easy way by giving him a "buzz cut." Much to my surprise, the first haircut wasn't bad and as the years have gone by I have learned how his hair lays and it looks great when I'm done.
With our sons, they all started with simple "buzz" cuts because most of the time it was too difficult to get them to sit still. As they've gotten older (and I've had more practice on dad), they've graduated to regular boy cuts. I still give the little ones buzz cuts though. :)
This is "Little T" who got the usual buzz cut....he wanted to be "bald" like his big brother who is in the military but we didn't go that far. As you can see, he does have a HUGE "cow-lick" in the front, which will make a regular boy cut more challenging. He is blessed with a double crown that swirls in opposite directions and another swirl in the back. It's interesting to say the least.
This is "Herman" (his nickname given to him by his basketball team because he's so tall...as in Herman Munster! LOL!). He is 16 and likes his hair a little on the longer side. His hair is springy. He combs it down and it springs back up. It's pretty easy to cut and he likes to use hair gel to keep it in place.
If you think about each one getting haircuts every 3 months, which is generous (they probably get them more often), then I figure I have given about 360 haircuts in 19 years. This does not include friends who have asked me to cut their husbands or sons hair. At about $8 per haircut that is, $2880.00 saved! During that time, I have owned two pair of clippers at a cost of about $20 for one set and about $50 for the other.
Therefore, I encourage you, if you have many young men in your family. Buy a set of clippers and learn to cut their hair. Don't worry about messing it up, especially when they are young, the hair will grow back. My favorite motto when learning to give "boy haircuts" is "if all else fails, put on a guard and buzz it!"
Monday, May 19, 2008
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening - coconut oil or butter can be used
1/2 cup cold water
Combine flour and salt well. Cut in shortening or butter. Add water and mix well. Divide into 10 balls and roll out flat. Toast them on a medium to hot griddle.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It's a 1995 Chevrolet Astro with 188K miles on it. It still runs decent although I think it is in desperate need of a tune up. It has a few other minor things to fix but we are also thinking of the gas mileage it gets. It's about 14 miles to the gallon and at almost $4 per gallon...that's not good. Of course, it would be better if it were running correctly.
You can see our dilemma. Do we keep it and fix what is wrong at a cost of about $500 - $1000 or do we buy one with fewer miles but will cost about $4000 - $5000. If we fixed it, how much longer can we expect it to run? I've heard of other Astro vans running as long as 300K miles with no major problems.
So what do you think? I think we had better pray for wisdom!
Have a great day!
Sometimes I wonder if he pays special attention to her because of the gifts but I know he gave her hugs and kisses before the gifts started. I always remind him to be nice and say "thank you."
Today she came bearing gifts again. Three large Hershey's chocolate kisses...one for the 5-year-old, one for his little brother and one for his mom (how did she know I love chocolate?).
Her daughter tells us that her mom talks about our boy all week and that she simply cannot miss a Sunday at church services because she cannot miss him. I think we will surprise her next Sunday and bring her a bouquet of flowers. :)
We love you, Ms Nancy!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
At Walgreen's I picked up a bottle of Pert Plus and I had a coupon for $1 off...with the $2.50 rebate it will be free. I also bought two bottles of Gillette body wash so I got two free and lastly, I purchased some Sure deodorant. The Sure was on sale for $1.99 and I found a double pack on the shelf...it rang up at the sale price and I had a $1 coupon so each one cost $0.50 each.
I did have coupons for the Smart Start cereal that I would have purchased four boxes and ended up getting them for $0.50 each but I passed them up. I read the label and they have high-fructose corn syrup in them. I thought that was odd since it was supposed to be a "healthy" cereal.
I picked up a few things at Walmart:
Two French's mustard - both free with coupon
Zantac - free with coupon
Olive oil - not very cheap but I did have two coupons for $1 off so I bought two bottles
Two boxes of Live Active cereal - $2.98 minus $3 coupon made it free
Two Farmland bacon packages - $2.50 minus $2 coupons made them free - we don't eat pork but my mom and dad will enjoy them. :)
That is it for this week. I hope this next week is better but if it's not, I don't know of anything we can't live without. I have thought of making some of my own toothpaste because I have a little one that does not really brush his teeth...he likes to eat the toothpaste instead.
Have a great day!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Try it out!
Have a great day!
We personally own about an 18-gallon plastic tub of them and our sons still have a great time playing and building with them. We've bought kits that build Star Wars ships, boats, cars and even an SUV but they usually throw away the instructions for those and build their own creations. Many of which I have taken pictures of to "keep" the project in our memories but free up the blocks to build something else.
One day our boys were quiet playing Legos in their room. At that time, we lived in a mobile home that had air conditioner vents in the floor. When I went to check on them, they had built a whole town complete with an electric generating plant! The "generating plant" was a little building that had a Lego fan on it and when the air conditioner in the house turned on...it turned the fan to generate electricity! How ingenious I thought! Even funnier was the houses and stores were all connected with thread used as power lines!
There were no parents/adults involved in their building...just two boys ages 6 and 9 playing quietly in their room. That told me that Legos would always have a place in our home and I hope they are in yours as well. If you don't have a set for your children, consider purchasing a set and let their imaginations run wild!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The mortgage crisis and following glut of homes up on the market due to foreclosure has driven the selling prices of many homes downward. It can is considered a "buyers market" for a home right now...which could mean more in your pocket when it comes to real estate property taxes.
The value of your home determines the real estate taxes, in most states. If the current market value is less than it was a couple of years ago, you may be able to get your tax assessors office to adjust that amount and decrease your taxes.
Most assessors' offices have certain actions you must take to get them to review your assessed value but a simple call to their office will give you this information. You will be requesting a review of the market value of your home. To make your chances better you may want to do a little research before you do so you are prepared to state your case properly. Here are some steps that might help:
First, check for inaccuracies on your current assessment. Have you removed an old shed? Is the square footage and acreages correct? Does it report the correct number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Be sure to correct anything that is wrong and make sure they know of your homes faults too. Is the home not 100% complete? Let them know, it means it is valued a little less.
Second, check your assessor's website or visit their office and compare homes in your area. Be sure to check as closely as possible to size of home, condition, and lot size or acreage.
Third, you can request a "current market analysis" from a local real estate agent. This tells you what the realtor believes the home would sell for in the current market. Also have the realtor to give you a list of homes that have sold in the last six months that compare to your home.
Lastly, when all else fails and you truly think your house should be valued less. Hire an appraiser. This may not be cost effective in the short time but might pay for itself over a few years...especially if the value difference is significant.
Remember, the more paperwork you have to back up your appeal, the better.
Have a great day!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
If our country is in a recession and you have planned for lean times. Are you debt free or close to it? Have you planned for lean times with a fully stocked pantry, a little extra cash "just in case," etc.? Do you work your occupation to the best of your ability and make yourself indispensable to your company? Do you know how to live a frugal lifestyle and actually enjoy it? Well, I believe you will be all right rather a recession hits or not.
After all, what can any of us really do about our national economy? Sure, we can buy "American" or "Made in USA" but other than that, we can only pray we choose wise leaders.
Another thing that will help our national economy is to take care of our personal economy. We can take lessons from those who lived during the depression and apply many of those lessons to our daily lives. I do not believe we should wait until the wolf is at the door to decide to prepare...we must expect him and prepare before he comes huffing and puffing. Those who successfully survived the depression and some who even prospered did so by preparing. Let us take lessons from them. Here are some first steps to take:
1. Establish an emergency fund of at least $1000 (for most)
2. Pay off debt...start with the smallest ones first and roll those payments over to the next one. This is consumer debt such as credit cards, gas cards, car loans, etc.....not the house.
3. Save 3-6 months living expenses - this will be easy once the debt is gone.
4. Invest 15% for retirement
5. Set up college funds.
6. Pay off house early.
7. Build wealth and have fun giving some away.
Do these steps sound familiar? These are the tips lined out by Dave Ramsey of Financial Peace University but most importantly, they work!
So don't loose your head and panic because Chicken Little said the sky is falling....simply get an umbrella and wait for the rain....after all, after the rain is the rainbow.
Have a great day!
The one I heard, use Listerine (mouthwash) as a spray to keep mosquitoes and ticks off. Sounds simple enough...I wonder if the generic brands work.
Have a great day!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Tonight I attended a meeting of the TLC Club. The TLC Club is an "Extension Homemaker's club." Ask your grandma about them...she can tell you. They lend support to homemakers by having educational programs and activities throughout the year. They allow the ladies to get to know their neighbors better and help build strong communities.
Well, tonight we had a speaker talk about E-Coli and other harmful bacteria, where it came from, how it spreads and most importantly, how to protect our families. It was very interesting.
A short meeting and then refreshments followed the speaker. It was very nice and I had a good time getting to know all of these women and hear of their hair-raising tales of trying to catch mice. Some of the stories were really quite funny!
Yes, I was the youngest person there but I look forward to learning from these ladies in the future. I hear they get together on Wednesday mornings to quilt too!
Have a great day!
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp seasoned salt or Creole seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
Combine all in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate until ready for slaw. Toss with shredded cabbage and carrots. Makes about 2 cups.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Mostly, I'm excited about seeing what my electric bill does. I sure hope it goes down enough to pay for the concrete! Someone on FreeCycle gave the poles to us and all we need to do now is get new wire. The old wire was twisted badly enough it could not be used besides that we add a third pole (from another source) in the middle to make a longer run. I do have 6 of us still living at home.
Have a great day!
Friday, May 9, 2008
The other thing is that some of our coupons for the area are a little different than those others are reporting on their blogs. For example, a few weeks ago there was a Suave coupon that everyone was talking about that was for $1 off but our coupon was only $0.50 off. Another one someone listed (I forget what product it was) a coupon that came in a certain paper but I searched mine and found no coupon.
Therefore ladies, keep that in mind with surfing the net and looking for the coupon deals everyone else is doing...some of them may not work in your area.
Have a great day!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Our debt snowball is rolling a long and gaining some snow along the way. We're making some changes to our leftover credit card bills...mostly switching to lower rates. We're also calling our card companies and requesting lower rates because of our great payment history. Most are willing to lower them...those who aren't usually get culled out. I know...Dave says playing with them will get you bit eventually. However, we have switched one balance to a lower rate card and closed the old account...we're pretty diligent about closing accounts. Some companies just do not want to work with you.
Our Baby Step 1 emergency fund is still healthy...no problems have come up to need it and when there was a small problem, we absorbed it through working it out of our budget.
We've decided to put our stimulus package into a savings to replace our family van. We'll add to it over the next few months and try to find a great deal in the fall when prices are generally lower. Right before Christmas is a great time to buy a used vehicle. :)
That's about it for the update. Have you started your journey to Financial Peace?
Have a great day!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
On Sunday, I bought Cascade (P&G products) that gave me $20 in Register Rewards, plus $3 for the Zantac and $6 for the Venus razors. Today I had planned getting more Cascade and use one of the $10 Register rewards to pay for most of it. Well...that's when I learned that you would not get more reward dollars if you use those you got before on the same product. Therefore, Cascade produced rewards you should not be use toward more purchases of Cascade...but they can go toward other purchases.
This is what I figured out. At the beginning of the month, I buy things that have the register rewards or things on sale that we use anyway. Save the register reward dollars to purchase the items that I'll get free after the rebate (they're in the EasySaver catalog) or things that are on sale and I also have a coupon.
You must remember to use the Register Rewards before they expire...they are only good for about 2 weeks. Hope this helps!
Have a great day!
Monday, May 5, 2008
Too-Tall is really good with the GPS program. It works from my laptop and he makes sure I turn where I should and that I don't get lost. It's really great and I'm glad he's learning it so quickly. It's especially helpful when I see a sign and want to make a detour, he and the computer re-map my route to accommodate me.
When we arrived we went inside to see the table and chairs and after deciding that "yes, I did want it" he and the husband of the house started taking it apart and loading it.
It's great having teen boys, the stuff they can carry and the help they can be. Yeah, sure there's hormones to deal with sometimes, which makes them a little cranky but for the most part it's pretty fun having them around.
His favorite cologne is Axe (Phoenix) and he was wearing it today. When we got home, I gave him a hug and thanked him for helping. It was an interesting smell...I like Axe but his cologne today had what I (lovingly) call "boy funk" mixed it. Wow, that was interesting!
Do you know what the problem is when they are teens? Knowing that soon they'll be leaving home. He's only 16 now but I'm trying to cherish every minute. He has an older brother and although he still lives at home, we don't see him as much. It's kind of hard to take...they simply grow up Too Fast.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups white flour or half & half whole wheat and white
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash bananas in a bowl with a fork. Try to get all the lumps out. Add sugar and butter and mix well until smooth. Add orange juice, mix well. Add the salt and baking powder, mix well. Lastly, add the flour and mix until smooth....the batter will be thick. Turn in the nuts and mix well. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan or two 8 x 4 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. The bread should be brown and crusty and you should be able to insert a knife into the center and it come out clean. Remove from pans to cool.
This makes a nice gift as well. Simply wrap tightly in plastic wrap then brown craft paper and tie with raffia.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Well, I check all my favorite websites and checked my coupons and the savings this week at Walgreen's was outrageous! Although I didn't get everything on my list I did get quite a bit. Here it is (I'll add a picture tomorrow).
Gillette Venus Embrace razors $9.99 - produces $6 in Register Rewards used with $4 of 1 coupon from today's paper = FREE
Zantac 150 8ct. $3.99 - produces $3 in Register Rewards used with $1 coupon from here = profit of $0.01
Dawn Dish liquid $0.79 with in-ad coupon used with $0.25 coupon from 4/6 coupons = $0.54
EARinse Ear cleaning spray 1oz - $9.99 - Easy Saver mail in rebate (9.99) = FREE
Oral B Cross Action Toothbrush - 4.99 - Easy Saver mail in rebate (4.99) = FREE
Nexcare Cold Sore Treatment .07 oz - 8.99 - Easy Saver mail in rebate (8.99) = FREE
There was also a cool thing going with Proctor and Gamble items. You earn register rewards (coupons that work like cash at Walgreen's) for certain number of items purchased.
Buy 3, get $4
Buy 4, get $6
Buy 5, get $10
Buy 9, get $20
So this is what I did. I bought the following items using coupons I had plus Walgreen's coupons where applicable.
Cascade action packs $2.50 - $0.50 coupon from 4/6 PG coupon sheet
Charmin Freshmates 2 @ 1.99 (using Walgreen's coupon) + $0.25 coupon from 4/6 PG
Crest Toothpaste 2/$5 - I bought 3
Cascade 45oz Gel 2.50 - coupon
Febreze Noticeable 2 @ 6.99 - Buy one, get one coupon (6.99)
Here are my totals not counting taxes.
Total products - $72.09
Manufacturer coupons - 16.64
Register Rewards - 29.00
Rebates expected - 23.97
Total I'll end up spending for $72.09 worth of stuff = $2.48
Moreover, I'm probably not done for the week. Check back on Saturday to see the rest.
Have a great bargain-hunting week!
Note: Covergirl products are included in the Register Rewards earnings. There are more coupons for Covergirl in Kmart's "Beauty's In Bloom" savings booklet (look for it at their customer service counter). Many of these coupons can be used anywhere...not just at Kmart so they could be used in combination with the sale at Walgreen's.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Raw honey is an amazing whole food that is 80% natural sugar, 18% water and 2% vitamins and minerals that are essential for growth and development. It has antioxidants and is a fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free food. Just think...John the Baptist survived on nothing but locust and wild honey! Ok...I can do without the locust but the honey is great!
Some benefits of eating honey:
Aids in digestion
Boosts energy naturally
Natural remedy for some ailments
Doctors have started using honey to help diabetics heal sores and foot ulcers. Honey, with it's natural anti-biotic properties, is believed to heal wounds and fight infections.
Many places in the Bible mention honey and yet we've gone on to "better" sources of sweets. Actually, we've gone on to cheaper sweets but honey was always associated with good health and even wealth. Remember the land "flowing with milk and honey?"
Our family has brought honey back into our lives as a way to get back to a more natural diet. We've used it as sweetener in our drinks and in all of our baking. In most cases, it can be substituted in your recipes but it's just as good over warm bread or biscuits!
I encourage you to try some this week!
Have a great day!