Blessings

Blessings this week

It is so easy to get caught up in the ugliness of the world or even just the blah-ness of life, that we tend to overlook the beautiful things in life.  So I decided to share some of the blessings that I have received this past week that sparked some joy into my life:

1. Essential oils roller ball dispensers

6, Cobalt Blue, 10 ml Glass Roll-on Bottles with Stainless Steel Roller Balls - .5 ml Dropper Included

My wonderful mother-in-law sent me a package for my birthday next week and I was very happy to receive these nifty oil dispensers.  I have been using small jars to store my mixed oils in and it gets extremely messy!  While I am trying to not buy anything new this year, I am not above asking for certain desirable items as gifts:)

2. Ministry Fair

I helped to put on a ministry fair at my church this past weekend and received many blessings from this event.

I was blessed to meet so many wonderful people, who wanted to become more involved with our parish.

I also was inspired to sign up for additional ministries myself.  The first one to catch my eye (and my heart) was a signup sheet for attending Adoration on a weekly basis (The Adoration is where the Eucharist is exposed and people can signup to sit with Christ for an hour at a time.  Our Church offers Adoration for a continuous 24 hr period once a week)

Another one that I signed up for was an outreach ministry that goes to community events and spreads information about the Catholic faith.  **I signed my daughter up for this one as well, because she loves meeting new people.

**One that looked really interesting was the prison ministry…but I don’t think I am ready for that one yet:)

3. Thoughtful Children

This past week my children have surprised me with their kind thoughts towards others.

After we said our bedtime prayers, Ben very worriedly told me we forgot to pray for one of our friends who is going through a trying time right now.  So we quickly prayed for them and he said, “I feel better now!”.

My beautiful daughter Emma agreed to go with my mom to visit a homebound lady from our church on a regular basis, helped to set up the ministry fair tables, and also did all of her daily chores with out being reminded.  Thank you Emma!

Life is filled with so many beautiful blessings if we stop to notice them!

What blessings did you encounter this week?

 

 

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Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Kroger deals

I stocked up on cereal for $.99 a box to donate to the food pantry and also remembered to pick up my free Friday downloads, which were a Hershey bar and a Cliff bar.  As I was walking by the frozen food aisle, I remembered that I had an e-coupon for $4 off a box of fish sticks (which happened to be on sale for $4.99) so we had a quick and easy lunch option for only $1.

2. Hobby Lobby finds

Pink Roses in Flower Pot Place Card Holder

I helped to put on a ministry fair for my church this past weekend and was asked to bring in 15 place card holders for our tables.  I was originally going to make them, but then I saw Hobby Lobby had a sale on spring items for 40% off, which made these adorable flower pot type holders just $1.79.  **I was aiming for under $2 a table, so that worked out perfectly.

3. Homemade sign

 

A church bulletin board I made for a Missions Conference
Since the humidity ruined my sign, I decided to share the pretty Pinterest version (aka This is not my sign!)

 

 

I also offered to make a sign for our ministry fair.  Of course I headed over to Pinterest and copied borrowed a few ideas from this board.  Since I am well stocked on paper and printer ink, the only thing I had to buy was a foam poster board, which was just a $1 at the Dollar Tree….God Bless the Dollar Tree!

4. New Sandals

Yes, I actually did break a rule and buy new sandals, but I did find a pretty cheap, well-made pair at Walmart that will last me a few years….so there is that I guess:)  **I have horrible luck finding any nice sandals at the thrift store for some reason.  They are either falling apart or extremely well-worn and not worth buying.

5. Weird Alabama weather

We have had the strangest February that I can remember.  This past week, it has been between 70 and 80 degrees with high humidity, which feels more like early summer to us. The frugal side to the odd weather is that we have not had to use heat for almost 3 weeks.  The only negative side to the weird weather, is that our air conditioners are not put in yet (because its February!!), so our house is mega-humid and warm…

 

Goals

Goal Update Week 8

1. Walk at least 500 miles this year ( 68 miles down, 432 to go)

We had beautiful weather this week, so I actually got to walk 7 miles outside!!

2. Eat less than 30 net carbs each day

I did this for 6 out of 7 days

3. Read two non-fiction books each month

I am still searching for my second non-fiction book for the month.  **I totally forgot to pick up a book at the library last week, because I was crazy busy.  Hopefully I will remember this week:)

4. Have two date nights a month (1 out of 2)

We had dinner at Chili’s this past week and used up the rest of our Christmas gift cards, then we took a nice walk at the school’s track

5. Have two family game nights a month (1 out of 2)

We hope to go somewhere fun next week to celebrate the end of Frugal February…of course cheaply!  My son has been wanting to go to Pints and Pixels to play retro video games, so we might do that.

6. Have one no spend week each month Accomplished

7. Add twelve products to my Teachers pay Teachers store

I am still working on a Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets study guide…

8. Try to buy nothing new this year

Sadly, I did buy something new this week.  I desperately needed a new pair of sandals to wear to church because my old ones are falling apart AND the weather decided to act like summer in February. I did abide by Frugal February rules and bought them with budgeted money, so I am trying not to feel too badly.

**I also was asked to buy 15 place card holders for our church’s ministry fair that I am helping to organize, but I consider that as part of my donation to the church. Luckily, I found these really, adorable miniature flower pots at Hobby Lobby for just $1.79, so it was not too expensive, and we can use them for other events as well.

(New items bought so far in 2018: one Hotwheels car and one pair of sandals)

9. $5 weekly challenge

This week Kroger had cereal on sale for $.99 a box, so I picked out five boxes to donate to the food bank.

 

 

 

 

Frugal February

Frugal February Week 3 Update

This past week has been almost identical to Week 2.  I have only bought groceries and avoided the thrift store all week.  My pantry and freezers are still mostly full, which is surprising because I have not really bought much meat/pantry staples this month.  I think this is because I had a really, well-stocked freezer to start the month. (My dad raises cows and chickens, so I had over 150 lbs of beef and 4 whole chickens in my freezer to start the month) 

Things we have run out of (We were only out of these items for 3-4 days until I went to the grocery store)

Spinach

Apples/Pears

Sliced cheese

Crackers

Mustard

 

Things learned this week:

1. We eat a lot of fresh items.  I have hardly bought any freezer items or pantry items this month. So I guess this is a good thing??

2. We spend a lot of money on food, especially if we buy convenience type items. In the past, I have just accepted that I am going to spend more for certain items that make the way we choose to eat more enjoyable.  Low spend months really help you to realize what you can live without…

3. Every Frugal February, I remember how cheap Aldi is compared to other stores.  I tend to go to Kroger(which is still pretty cheap) for my weekly grocery trips because they have everything in one stop, while Aldi is missing a few items we regularly need. So I am thinking after this month is over, I am going to try to shop at Aldi first and then make a Kroger run to fill in the gaps.

4. If I stay out of stores….I spend no money!  A lot of times, we get bored and end up going to a store to just look around and more times than not, we buy something that we “think” we need.  When I have a low spend month, I realize how much I overspend in other months due to mindless spending habits. I really hope that I can continue this habit of avoiding stores because it makes living on a budget so much easier!

 

*My Frugal February ends next Wednesday and have just completed my final grocery shopping trip for the month.  I have $10 left to spend on random grocery needs/wants for the next five days, so let’s hope we make it!

 

 

Frugal February

Frugal February Week 2 Update

This Frugal February has been so easy compared to others for some reason.  This is surprising to me because I have cut my grocery budget in half, so I thought I would feel the pinch a lot more.  I think that maybe my goal of not buying anything new this year, has really changed the way that I view shopping.  I have finally realized, that I get the same amount of enjoyment out of a $4 purse from the thrift store, as I do from a $20 purse from Target (more so in fact, because the thrill of a great deal, feels wonderful!)  I also am completely happy in my 100% paid off house, that is admittedly in need of some work…but hey it’s paid off:)  Contentment and acceptance of your situation really does bring happiness to your life.  **Paraphrasing the Dalai Lama…you must read the Book of Joy!

Here are some of the things that we have ran out of the past week:

Shredded cheese (I had to shred my own cheese today….boo!)

String cheese (My son eats two string cheeses everyday, so there was a fair amount of whining involved)

Conditioner

Crystal light

Things learned this month:

Our guinea pig eats a ton of veggies…

We are going to have to start growing lettuce at home soon because it is getting ridiculous! She eats a package of carrots, a head of lettuce, and a stalk of celery each week (in addition to hay and pellets) I guess I never realized it until I started to monitor my grocery spending.

We may have a dairy problem!

You know this is true when the grocery store cashier asks, “Oh are you not getting any cheese today??”.

Taco soup still tastes great after 3 months in the freezer

Leftovers are magical to me, because they mean no food was wasted and no additional cooking was needed to feed my family, so that is a win/win.

Have you been participating in Frugal February? If so, what have you learned so far?

 

 

 

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Made sushi at home

We celebrated my mother’s birthday and the Chinese New Year on Saturday, so I decided bring homemade sushi (which I have never made before….)  But I love sushi and have always wanted to try making it, so luckily Publix had all the ingredients I needed for a very reasonable price.  I chose to make Philadelphia rolls and everyone liked them alot, which was very lucky because not all of my experiments turn out well.  **Oh, and I found out that my favorite sauce at the sushi restaurant is just Sriracha and mayo mixed together, so now I can make it at home:)

2.  I only bought groceries this week

I did not intend to only buy food this week, but I had a really busy week, so no thrift store shopping for me:(

3. No electric heating was used this week

We have had really warm temperatures for February, so we did not have to use any firewood or electric heaters for the past week.

4. Made homemade party decorations

image

I made some party decorations out of things I had around the house for our Chinese New Year celebration.  Its amazing what you can do with markers, paper, cardboard, popsicle sticks and a little bit of glue!

5. Bartered with my mom

In exchange for watching my sister so my mom could run a few errands, I took home two dozen farm fresh eggs (So fresh that I had to wash the mud off of them!), 2 cutie oranges, and 4 Ramen noodle bowls. **I don’t charge a fee, but my mom likes to humor my “craziness” during Frugal February each year:)

 

 

Goals

Goal Update for Week 7

1. Walk 500 miles this year

We had a really nice week (on the days it didn’t rain) so I got in 8 miles this week.  So far, I am up to 58 miles for the year and 442 to go.

2. Eat less than 30 net carbs per day

I did this for 5 out of 7 days this week

3. Have a family game night twice a month

One down and one to go

4. Have two date nights each month

Not yet, hopefully this next week!

5. Have one no spend week a month   Accomplished

6. Read two non-fiction books a month

One down (I really enjoyed The Book of Joy) and am now working on the second book

7. Add twelve new products to my Teachers pay Teachers store

I am working on a literature guide for Harry Potter and the Chamber Secrets that I hope to add to my store next week….if I get motivated that is:)

8. Try to buy nothing new this year

I did not buy anything except groceries this week.

9. $5 weekly challenge

I decided to buy beans and rice again to donate to the food bank. *At $.10 a serving, that is hard to beat!

 

 

 

 

Family Fun · Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest-Chinese New Year Edition

image

We love learning about other countries’ cultural traditions and celebrations, so this year we decided to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  Luckily, the library had lots of cute books on the subject and as always, Pinterest had lots of fun ideas to celebrate the holiday.

These are the books we enjoyed the most:

PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year

PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year by Virginia Loh-Hagan

Ben and Emma both enjoyed this book a lot. This is a cute story about how a little girl’s grandmother comes all the way from China to introduce her grandchildren to Chinese New Year traditions. (Did I mention that the grandmother is also really superstitious?) We especially liked the little asides that give you more information as to why they believe certain things are lucky and which things to avoid that bring bad luck.

Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story (Festival Time)

Lanterns and Firecrackers by Jonny Zucker

This was a nice book if you are looking for a simple explanation as to how to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It was a quick and easy way to show Ben how Chinese families celebrate the holiday.

Great Race

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey

This is a definite must read.  It tells the story as to how the Chinese determined which animals would get a year named after them by holding a race.  Ben and Emma really loved this book, due to the beautiful pictures and the great writing.  If your children like fables, they will love this book.

Seven Magic Brothers (Chinese Edition)

Seven Magic Brothers by Kuang-Tsai Hao

This book was not about the Chinese New Year, but is a beloved Chinese story.  It is about seven identical brothers that each have a different magical talent (ex: being fireproof, possessing super hearing, ability to swallow anything, etc).  When one of the brothers is condemned to death, each brother steps in to save the next, by using their amazing talents. This was a really fun read!

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosul

This book is also not about the Chinese New Year but is a Chinese fable.  We actually own this book because my kids love this story so much! This book tells the story as to why Chinese people choose to name their children short names.  (The main character in this book has an absurdly long name that eventually gets him into trouble)  Both the writing and the pictures are beautiful throughout this story.

Interesting facts about the Chinese New Year

1. Its important to sweep out the dirt in your house before the New Year starts to “sweep out the bad luck”. **But only throw the dirt out the back door!

2. Clean your windows to allow good fortune to flow in

3. Open your windows and doors at midnight to allow the old year to leave

4. Only serve whole chickens (to keep the family together) and whole fish (to have a good beginning and a good end)

5. Leave noodles unbroken to ensure a long life

6. The first person you meet on New Years and the first words you hear are important for how the year to come will be

7. Wear red clothes to scare away the bad spirits

8. Children should wear new clothes to confuse the evil spirits

9. Avoid the number 4, because it sounds like the Chinese character for death, so it is considered bad luck

10. Throw firecracker snaps on your front door to scare off evil spirits

11. Eat oranges to guarantee happiness and wealth for the year to come

**My kids were highly entertained by these traditions:)

After we learned all about the Chinese New Year, I headed over to Pinterest to find a few cute crafts that we could do together.

I settled on making these cute dragon flame blowers and these banners. **Images from Pinterest**

Dragon Toilet Paper Tube Kids recycled Craft - perfect for Chinese New Years, imaginative knight and princess play - easy to turn into a puppet!The Stuff We Do ~ For the Chinese New Year, we made good luck symbols. ~ Sherry

Another fun tradition is to give children money in red envelopes to ensure good luck for the coming year, so I made a couple of these cute envelopes to give to my children.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with these DIY Lucky Red Envelopes. We have a printable template to make it easy!

We ate ramen noodles for lunch (unbroken to guarantee a long life) and cutie oranges (to ensure happiness and wealth)

Before we went to bed we snapped a few firecracker poppers on the front doorstep to scare away the evil spirits.  We also remembered to put the red envelopes beneath the children’s pillows to ward off evil dreams.

Happy Chinese New Year!

 

Frugal February

Five Things That You Learn By Having A Low Spend Week

This year as one of my new year’s goals, I decided to have a low spend week each month.  I decided to try this because I learn so much about my spending habits during Frugal February, that I probably would benefit with the reminder year round.

Here are a few of the reasons you too would benefit from a low spend week each month:

1. Gratitude

Having a no spend/low spend week each month, really makes you grateful for your normal weekly budget.  I think we all grumble about being on a budget sometimes (If you do not have a budget…get one!) and this is one easy way to help you to appreciate the wiggle-room in your normal weekly budget.

2. Lowers waste

I am sure many people are like me and have a lot of food waste during the month.  By having a low spend week each month, it really keeps you aware of how much food you are throwing away.  It also helps you to make sure you are using up pantry or freezer items that maybe are going unnoticed.

3. Thankfulness

I am sure we have all heard the term “first world problems” and feel a little bad about how much we have, when others have so little.  Having a low spend week really helps you to appreciate what you have and also more importantly, it serves as a reminder as to how little others have around the world on a daily basis.  My no spend week always reminds me to be thankful for my blessings and to pray for the less fortunate around the world.

4. Monetary benefits

A low spend week also helps to trim your monthly budget substantially.  During my low spend week, I try to only spend $25 on random food items to round out our meals and nothing else.  Considering that we spend around $125 a week on food, this puts $100 back into our bank account each month.  That really adds up throughout the year!

5. Better spending habits

Having a reminder of how little we can live on each month, really helps me throughout the rest of the month, to avoid excessive spending.  Being frugal, like other habits, takes time to develop.  I do notice in prior years when I did Frugal February, my spending would slowly go back to normal during the rest of the year.  Having a monthly reminder to monitor my spending habits really helps to “keep the spirit alive” year round.

Do you have a low spend week each month? If you do, what lessons do you learn from this practice?

 

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Kroger deals

I made sure to download my digital coupon and pick up my free Sweet tarts candy box before they ran out of stock at Kroger this week. (It is Valentine’s week after all!)

I also bought 5 packages of butter for $1.99 each. **I had just opened my last box yesterday, so I was happy to find this deal.

2. Completed a no spend week

Nothing bought except a little bit of groceries, so I am off to a good start for the rest of the month.

3. Made all of our meals at home this week, including our family game night meal

We sometimes will get pizza for game night, but this week we made our own “junk food”.  The menu included pigs in a blanket, mozzarella sticks, and then they finished it off with brownies and ice cream. (I say “they” because I was a good girl and ate a salad, but those brownies were mighty tempting…)

4. Finished filling out my taxes

I included this because I do our taxes myself. **I have always enjoyed doing taxes each year and I know that I am not normal:)

5. Library finds

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together

My son has just finished his learning to read program and I have been looking for the next level of books to expose him too. We have already been through all the early reader books that we have, like Dr. Seuss, but most books I have found are either way too young or way too old for him.  So I was searching for the next level of books to get for him at the library, when I happened upon two cute series. One series is called Hamster Holmes (stars a detective hamster) it is really cute and simple to read. The other is called You read to me, I’ll read to youit is basically a book series that the child and parent read to each other.  This works out great for us, because Ben is resistant to reading a whole book by himself…he doesn’t want to grow up ever he says:)  So once again, the library comes to my rescue!