Friday, December 30, 2011

Lists. Make Them-and watch it get done.

I believe in lists. Not the rigid kind of list that lacks flexibility, but the goal kind. Write a list and you can be sure that you have direction. Want to start an exercise program? Don't wish, make a list. What routine are you going to do? What time of day? Then write it down. Put on your sneakers, exercise, and then cross it off your list. Such a fulfilling experience to cross it off! Proof that you accomplished your goal.

Some don't make lists. They don't believe in filling their lives with something, because something better, more creative or meaningful may come along. It might!!!! If it does, re-arrange your list, move some items to the TOP of tomorrow's list. Still make a list and move towards accomplishing the items on it.

Want to organize your home? Make a list. Go room to room and write down, in detail what needs done. Living room: Vaccuum, organize closet, clean out old dvds in the TV cabinet, take down Christmas items, dust. You get the idea. Then do the list. No need to think, just follow. Get the vaccuum and run it, cross it off the list :)

It  is good to think about your goals and the steps needed to reach them. Reflection is important, but if you reflect all day and JUST keep making lists without doing the items nothing will get done. (Unless you are passing out the lists by delegating ;) Be reasonable, make a doable list. 5 items. Tomorrow is another day.

I'll leave you with a barometer for list making as stated by the late Steve Jobs:

“Follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you want to become.” Steve Jobs

Happy New Year 2012!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

It was a lovely Christmas! Christmas Eve was magical as we hosted nearly 50 of our closest friends and family.  We bought presents, we made presents, we cooked, baked and decorated. The traditions of the Victorian Christmas traditions are ours today. Some bring a sense of wonder and joy that is not surpassed at any other time of the year. We have dolls in our library. We add ribbon candy, candy canes, and old fashioned shaped candy from yesteryear. The vintage hat collection tops off the victorian flair of the room. 

Every room has a different feel to it, as we walk in the circular layout each entry way brings a different scent, sight and sound. The Kitchen is old fashioned. Old Santas, large primary colored strands of lights, Christmas Cards hung around the door, an elf on the shelf, and a charlie brown Christmas tree. The Living room is decorated in traditional ornaments, sentimental pieces passed down and collected over a lifetime. Here is where the presents are located under the tree decorated with love.  The library is decorated Victorian. Tall lean tree, large pink bows, gingerbread, candy canes, and dolls. It is the favorite room of many with it's 10 ft ceilings and glowing lights, antiques and books. The Dining room is furnished with a piano, candle pillars and glitzy tinsel covered tree. These rooms have been filled with laughter every Christmas for over 18 years. This year will be the last for us here in the home that we raised our children. It is bittersweet.

The new year is upon us. Lists and resolutions. A time to look forward and not back. Looking forward doesn't lessen the memories that we have experienced in the rooms of our large old house. Moving to downsize doesn't change our family and traditions. We are our home. The house is just a house. The memories remain, and we take them along to the next destination. To all of you who have gone through the experience of downsizing a family home, your comments are welcomed and appreciated. It is both difficult and exciting all at once. Here is to the new year ahead! One of Opportunities and Miracles. Happy New Year~

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011-Kasey Jack

                                            Kasey Jack Kemmerer 1990-2009

Christmas is a time of cheer. It is for most- some not so much. This year we took part in a first annual coat drive. "Kasey's Coats: Sharing Warmth this Christmas Season. "  Through social media we spread the word that we were collecting coats that would be distributed to those in need. In all we collected 216 new and used coats in just over 10 days! The large refridgerator box was overflowing as we took the collection to the local food pantry to separate and size the love that others gave. Mittens, hats, scarves, snowpants and blankets were additions to the warm coats. The morning of the distribution several were waiting at the door. Young and old came to claim a new to them coat for the extreme cold of the winter season. One man in particular stood over a Pittsburgh Steelers coat that had been donated. His eyes filled with appreciation and disbelief at his he picked up the garment and tried it on. Eyes filled as he realized it FIT! Our eyes filled as well as we realized just how much we take for granted!

The idea for the coat drive came from a conversation with a beloved friend who I've known since birth. My dear friend lost her son, Kasey, in a tragic four wheeler accident 2 years ago. For my friend, even though she has two other children, Christmas is not a time of cheer. It instead is a time of endurance. She endures the holiday season. So this year she honored her son, Kasey, by giving to others in his name. A gift of warmth. The community who donated, the food pantry who hosted, and the recipients who received, all brought Kasey to life. His generous spirit, the kindness of his heart and the warm appreciative smiles of those less fortunate, created an atmosphere of what Christmas is all about. The Christ child came to this world in swaddling clothes. In a manger he was born, to humble parents in a barn. He rose to great influence. Not by a forceful power, but by gentle love and grace.

The Prayer of St Francis:

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

Merry Christmas to All~

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Arrives

It's nearly Christmas, today, the first day of winter reminds me of its opposite: summer.  Every coin has a flip side, heads or tails, the value of the coin doesn't change no matter what side faces up.

Waves of the ocean roll in and out like the seasons of nature and life. With it an undertow brings the new to the surface, and the old gets carried away.  It is the ending of another year.  The future holds infinate promise and possibilities. Our choices, every one of them, will pave our path.

Choose wisely in the new year ahead-whether it be Fitness, Frugality, Food or Fun. Live Abundantly!  We are blessed.

"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny." --Author Unknown


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cards at the Laundromat~

We take a lot for granted. For instance, I have a brand new front load whirlpool washer. It works fantastic! Well most of the didn't hold up to its end of the bargain when we arrived home from vacation a few weeks ago. I washed as normal, and expected the washer to run its cycle and give me clean clothes. Not so. It turns out the entire liner of the washer was turned inside out! Ruined! Thank God for extended warranty! But....that doesn't change the fact that I have to go to the laundromat. I don't go to the laundromat, ever. #1 it Costs a Fortune! $20 just to wash! We drag everything home to dry it.

We have a laundromat that gives free coffee, free popcorn, and offers tanning lol. So, I go and watch television , eat popcorn, and drink $5 worth of coffee. One thing that always needs to be done this time of year is the Christmas Cards. I like to hand write something to each of the recipients. So the cards go with me to the laundromat. It is the silver lining. One more thing checked off of the holiday to do list.

Another plus from doing the laundry at the laundromat is that everything is washed at once! Folded and put away. We are good to go for 2 weeks! Being grateful, even when we are "put out" by inconviences, is immeasurable! It is just a blessing!~

We still have no washer and the Christmas season is upon us! My in-laws will be arriving, and their bed clothes need washed in the guest room. It looks like I will be stripping beds an hauling them to the local laundromat......but at least there is FREE Popcorn and Coffee ;)

Merry Christmas!  Keep smilin' :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wreath, Christmas Spirit, on Better Homes and Gardens------Would love your Vote.

Christmas Spirit- Featured on Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Wreath Site

                                      Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

A few weeks ago a friend sent me a link to the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Wreath Contest. I was intrigued, and thought that I may enter it if I found the time to make the perfect one. The other day i was in the mood to decorate so decided to take the wreath, even though not perfect, outside to photograph by the barn. This is the picture of my wreath above. We have it hanging above the mantle now.

If you like it would you consider voting for it on the Better Homes and Gardens link:

Click Link.
Click FB "Like" that is the vote. You can vote once a day. Through Friday. (Short contest :)
Please leave a comment too! Would love to hear from you on the link ;)

Super excited, as this is the first time that I've entered an online contest like this.....prize for the winner is $250. Possible wreath photo in BHG Magazine. Hope you like my wreath, if you have a chance to vote that would be GREAT! I know we are all knee deep in Christmas preparations, so I completely understand if you are too busy ;)  

P.S. I hiked the mountains yesterday, 13 miles. 3 miles were straight up the mountain....having a hard time getting around today! So sore.  Planning a New Year's Eve 5 K run with my daughter. Thought maybe I should start pushing the exercise a little more. Anyone else working out in the colder temperatures outside?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's the Little Things that Matter Most.

It’s the Little things...
I have been traveling quite a bit lately. Things are changing fast for our family. So fast that it is necessary to say: “Whoa, Bessie!” It is exciting and sad at the same time. The home that we raised our children in will soon be put on the market. This will most likely be our last Christmas celebration here in our home. My husband will hear soon if he was given a promotion to Director,  and I am interviewing for full time work. My daughter was appointed an assistant director at a university, and my son will soon be in college. My husband and I are looking towards his retirement in 8 short years.

Life is changing...

We have been, for the most part, a one full-time income for our entire marriage. Therefore, creativity and ingenuity were the jewels in our crown. They sustained us through all of our leaner years, helped us to always have enough, and even an abundance to share. I considered those last few decades to be the skim milk years. Watered down versions that could still be considered a healthy choice, even if lacking in conventional “richness.”
As my husband moved up through the ranks in his career, the skim milk years became more and more a whole milk experience. A  conventional “richness” began to give us the ability to do more, still not having “enough” to truly do it all: fixing things, traveling, and saving- or at least to do it well consistently.  

These, whole milk years are soon to be replaced by the ½ and ½ years. My full time employment, outside of the home, will not only give me the opportunity to utilize my education, but give our family an experience of conventional richness that it has not had the opportunity to before. It makes me a bit uneasy, if I am honest, to pour the ½ and ½ when I have only ever had milk. I like ½ and ½ in my coffee, but I wouldn’t drink it out of the container from a glass. Will I still be me? Complete with ingenuity and creativity? Will I make my own wreaths at Christmas, or will I just buy them? Will I make my coffee at home, or buy Starbucks? (becoming “THAT” Styrofoam patron) Will time and restraints limit my freedom to travel, laugh, learn, and love…
I hope not.  These years have taught me, formed me, that living in the present moment with a smile no matter the occupation, is truly living.

Life, like cream, rises in stages. It all comes from the same source-skim, whole, and cream….Give thanks to God for the provisions in every stage!

A short story that actually happened this morning:

.... I poured milk into my coffee, and when opening the fridge to put it back, I saw that my dear husband had bought me 1/2 and 1/2 when he went to the store last night. I said, out loud, no one in the room, with a smile: "I love you."

Growing where planted, because It’s the little things that truly matter….

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Pup "Chanel" -Lessons Learned

"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."-Dali Lama

I decided that I wanted a small "purse" sized dog. Something small like the lady had that I saw on the Southwest flight home--she carried the puppy in a sort of fashionable sling, it was so adorable!! My precious Bobbi, long hair 9 yr old pastel calico cat,  had to be put down with a lymphoma a few weeks ago. So I was hoping to get a persian kitten, or a purse sized puppy.

I looked online at various breeders. Thinking I wanted a yorkie, shih-tzu, or miniture poodle. Every one was very kind, and the puppies looked adorable! I began to wonder if there might be something at one of the shelters that would be small. When I clicked on the local shelter's link there was a space for a 3 yr old Shih-Poodle! (Shih-Tzu/Poodle), but no photo since it was just brought in.

                "OH I am SO excited, I thought to myself. This is the perfect purse dog for me!!!"

Since it was Thanksgiving Day we had to wait until Friday to go and get her. Sight unseen. I was at the door when they opened at 10 am. Cash in hand. Waiting. There were lots of other people there at the door too. So maybe they wanted "My Dog". I dashed through the doors asking about the pup, going back to the kennels, looking for her.....she wasn't there! I asked the desk again. Noone knew her. Then one worker said: "Oh, yes. She is at the vet and groomers." Thank goodness! Can we wait? I asked. Well it may not be until the end of the day. Well can I get her then? (Still sight unseen). Well you need to put down a deposit, and then we will keep her for you. "YES!"

I read over her sheet. "Overweight!" It said she was "Overweight, never exercised-ever!" Well how overweight can a "Purse dog" be? Right?

They closed at 4pm. I was back at 3:30pm to pick her up. New leash, new collar :)

When I first laid eyes on her my first reaction was to giggle. She was short. She was Round. She was not a "Purse Dog". She was a "Meatball". I heard "She weighs a little more than we thought: 26 lbs!" I smiled. You can visit with her and decide they told me.

I put on her new collar, the leash-and said I weigh a little more than I thought too. We will get in shape together! Oh are you sure. Yes, I'm sure. I paid. We went home to walk.

Chanel the 26 lb Shih-Poo gets her coat when she smells my coffee brewing. She wants me to walk even if I want to sit back down to watch the news. We have walked at least twice a day since Black Friday. (She was my Black Friday 2011 Purchase from the Shelter.)

We are getting fit together, one step at a time. Love what you have, who you are. Begin where you are at one step at a time.....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jet Lag*Holidays*Weddings and More!

Jet lag. Going from the west coast to the east coast offered us the opportunity to experience jet lag. It's going to take a little bit for me to get back on track. We came home to a cold house, the first thing I did was light a candle, and turn on the heat.

When you first arrive home after being away it is both a welcoming feeling, and a sense of dread all at the same time. For me, I kind of got used to having someone make my bed and empty out the trash daily. (To which now those are my duties-and ones that I haven't kept up with since arriving home.) We need to get back into the routines of cash only spending, building up the emergency fund once again, and cooking from scratch. With the holidays right on my heels it is necessary to step it up some. No more sitting cozily under the blanket next to the fire every night. Time to sing carols, make gifts, bake, and decorate with a flurry! My in-laws will arrive in the middle of next week for Thanksgiving. My daughter is cooking for the first time at her apartment-I've been assigned mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Looking forward to it.

...But before we get to next week. I'm a bridesmaid in a dear friend's wedding tomorrow. I ate a little bit much, and things not normally eaten, while I was away. SO, my dress is a little snug. (good grief) We are decorating the venue this morning and then having the rehearsal and dinner this evening at the Country Club. The bride's dress is gorgeous and her shoes look like Cinderella's slippers, not glass, but a sparkling, shimmering silver that appears like glass.

Fitness: Working towards goals. Still jogging. Have slacked off on drinking water.

Frugality: Off track while traveling. Planning to get back on today-Payday. Cash in envelopes.

Food: Menu planning for Sunday through Friday. Replenishing items at the grocery store for meals.

Fun: Laughing at the mishaps-Car broke down on the way home from the airport (300+ repair bill), Neighbor's dogs ripped through our trash cans making a mess, front load washer is leaking (hoping it is just a hose)...bridesmaid's dress is a little snug, hope I can get it zippered. Did I mention that I am smiling." Laughter is the best medicine." Oh....and the port for the SD card was now I need to find the USB chord to upload photos :)

Enjoy the Holiday preparations. Do only one at a time. Enjoy the process. Blessings~

Sunday, November 13, 2011

10 Days Until Thanksgiving

There are 10 days left until Thanksgiving is here. 11 until the day after-"Black Friday"-the day that we are told to shop, early and much! Will you be out in the stores? Online looking for bargains in your pjs-cup of coffee by your side? Or will you not get caught up in it at all?

We are on vacation, well really we needed to come to Arizona to look at property that my husband inherited near Lake Mead. We were able to get airfare using only loyalty points. The total cost for 3 round trip tickets was $15 for the fee. (NO baggage costs). The hotels that we stayed at cost us only approx $96 TOTAL for 7 nights using loyalty points. We love Southwest and Priority Club. I will have to write a post on how we did this, it took some planning and patience but it can be done. Food was strategically planned so that breakfast was offered at the hotels, and we ate a late lunch around 3pm daily, then only snacks in the evening. In one town we found a Fantastic quality steak and shrimp dinner for $7.77 which included mashed potatoes and salad! With 3 of us traveling this came to under $25 for the whole day!

It dawned on me today, while in Laguana Beach window shopping, that Thanksgiving is only 10 days away. The Christmas decorations in the shore front windows were the giveaway. It immediately brought me back to reality, the couple of dishes that I'd left in the sink at home, the stack of clothes on the corner of my bed that I had decided not to bring along. The artificial tree in the back room that needs to be brought out and decorated,  the wreaths that need made, the homemade gifts that need finished....the cookies that need baked. It will get done. I'm kind of looking forward to it. I hope it snows. I'll play Frank, Dean and Judy music and find myself in the holiday spirit.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy the season in all of it's glory!


* MS Clipart used above

Monday, November 7, 2011

Join the Blog and Receive Updates

"Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing" --Thomas Edison
We are taking a Face Book Hiatus. Sometimes it is necessary to take a break from the constant feed of ideas, projects and recipes in order to actually do them, instead of just reading about how to do them. The holidays are approaching at a fast pace, and it's time to use our inspirational pins from Pinterest, favorite blogs, and magazines and apply them to our homes. We will still be here on the Blog. Once a day posting, Once a day responding.

Many of you have emailed to ask where the Facebook feed went? I wanted you to know that I take Facebook and information hiatus every so often.  It is something that I do to regroup, recharge, and Tie up the crafts and projects that had been left undone.

Here's how you can join the blog:
  • Email: Go to the left side of the page under the Live Feed there is a place to sign up for email updates.
  • Twitter: If you have a Twitter account we are  @abundancefrugal
Under the e-mail update link on the blog page on the left are Face Book and Twitter Share Buttons. If you like a particular blog post here please feel free to share it on your FB page or Twitter feed by clicking the Button. I hope you will join in the conversation by posting in the comments section. I will try to post in the mornings and respond in the evenings.

Here are today's Abundance: Frugality, Food, Fitness and Fun plans:

Abundance- Today I am thankful for the beautiful weather, family and friends, and the ability to share.

Frugality- Traveling on a budget. Learning how to be more with less. Continuing to unplug electrical appliances around the house to save electricity. Insulating a window in the library that is drafty. Finishing 4 wreaths that are in progress.

Food- Today is once again left over day. Going through the cupboards to use what is there so there is no waste. Considering a pasta dish.

Fitness- Couch to 5k plan. Decided that my fitness level puts me at week 6. Jogging and biking outside  in the great fall weather.

Fun- Beginning crafts, cookie baking, and decorating.

Life is such a fun adventure. Every day we are blessed with a new 24 hours. How will you spend them in a positive way? Pray, Live, and Laugh. Blessings~

The Blog website address for Abundance: Frugality, Food, Fitness and Fun is:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Abundance: Food, Frugality, Fitness and Fun

        "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."-Steve Jobs
                                                                      Photo Taken by Tammy Bennett NYC

Habits become what they are because we do the same small thing over and over again. I think that each habit is started with a thought. If you think you can save $1,000, walk 10 miles, or create an innovative product it would have begun with a thoughtful commitment.

                                                              * * *
Food: It has been an uneventful week for the grocery store, we have not run out of food in the deep freezer. I have filled in a couple of times with items that were needed in order to make a complete meal- I also purchased  6 lbs of deli meat on steep sale. Cooking from scratch saves time, money and is healthier.

Using leftovers is SO Important. I like to call it "re-inventing". Voila casserole was born out of using up what was left in the refrigerator instead of letting it go to waste. We gathered everything that was leftover, still good, and able to be put together in a creative way to make a meal.

Breadcrumbs-Made from 1 bagel, 2 heels of bread, and an english muffin
Deli Meat-Roast Beef, Turkey and Chicken
1 Small Eggplant-Sliced
3 Medium onions-Sliced
1 clove of garlic-minced
4 medium potatoes sliced
Cheddar shredded
Mozzarella Shredded
Sour cream
Organic Butter

Learning that exercise is an important part of life in order to feel energetic and healthy is a priceless lesson I've learned. So is realizing that sometimes raking leaves can be just as strenuous as going for a jog. Moving and accomplishing a chore at the same time is a great thing! We bagged 22 bags of leaves over the last two days. That is a lot of leaves! You could feel the back muscles, hamstrings, and waist working and stretching with every scoop that was gathered.

The Couch to 5K program has been great for me. It allows for beginning from where you are and progressing from that point. I did discover that week 6 is about where I'm conditioned from previous workouts. So I have decided that I'm going to begin where I'm at. (I can easily go beyond a mile at this point, and see no reason not to start on week 6, knowing I can always walk :) The plan is to do a local 5k or maybe even a 10k by late June.

I have been saving Coca Cola caps and codes for about 6 months now. Normally I enter sweepstakes in hope of winning a Kitchen Aid. However, the points were racking up quickly since others were donating their unwanted caps to me. So today I went online and entered each number towards points. Then I redeemed them for a present for someone special for Christmas (in case they are reading, I can't say who or what ;) If you go to My Coke Rewards online you will see what I mean. Dasani water is included too. Even if you are not a soda drinker, others at work, the co-op, or relatives may not want their caps. It's worth it. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fitness is a CHOICE!

                         "Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." ~William James

I'm sitting here, just after a 3mile jog (jogged 2, walked 1). I am no longer in shape, not the shape that I used to be in when I was, well younger. That is no excuse for sitting in my comfy chair, using the excuse that I won't ever have the 25 year old energy back. IT is NOT. I'm using this space today to try and explain exactly how this middle-ager is feeling not 2 minutes after the jog.

Sweaty, this qualifies as "sweat" not "perspiration" heart rate is elevated, legs are tinging, and the cold air breathed in gives that strange taste....

Besides that, I FEEL FANTASTIC! My energy is elevated, my focus for the day seems ordered, and I strangely wish to do it again :) Not for calories burned, although that would be great too, but for the way it makes me feel.

It didn't take me long to fit it in. More thought put into it, than the actual jog itself. Join us on the Facebook page and share your jogging /exercise routine or jot it down here in the blog comments.

Note* I did go to the doctor to be sure I was clear to exercise, it would be a great idea to do that if you haven't :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Anyway"....Because Attitude Predicts your Altitude.~

Ever been around someone whose priorities are different than yours? My years of being a stay at home mom have given me a lot of experience with this....but wait before you think that I'm taking a side.....My experience of being a working mom, outside of the home, has given me an equal dose of the "opinions". 

The focus for today is "opinions". What works for me, may not necessarily work for you, or your family. Quite frankly, this blog began on paper as my own personal journey of discovering what works for myself and our family--and I'm truthfully enjoying the journey. Most days I feel gratified by my ability to volunteer, work-out, cook nourishing food, bake, and blog. We all have seasons of our lives, we need to listen to those rhythms. I think that having an understanding that the steps along the journey are unique to you is important.

It is, after all, our very own attitude, that will predict our altitude... My Grandmother wrote me a poignant Poem on a piece of poster board long ago when the kids were small, my enthusiasm was great and my persistence was not marred by "opinion." Here is what she copied in her own handwriting:

The Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.-- This has been attributed to both Charles Swindoll and Mother Theresa

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


In the early morning I clicked on the television while going to the kitchen to make coffee. What appeared before me was a skin cream commercial that promised to make me look 15 years younger. “Nice!” I could hear it from the kitchen, as I was thinking about the reason for being up so early….i.e.  Going to the gym to work out. So naturally I listened on how my skin could look great too!

Wow, it’s only $39.95! Marked down a lot! And there are BONUS Gifts INCLUDED!” STOP!” “ STOP!” Says my good sense. So I quickly turned it off. I got my coffee and proceed to the master bathroom to finish getting ready. I slowly opened the chest above the sink….and what should appear but several (not a few) unopened, and ½ used bottles of various “promises”. 

Now I don’t have a daily regimen of using these creams and lotions-just normal ivory soap and water. They just sit in the cabinet waiting. Why, you might ask? They are all free to me! (Well they weren’t originally free) I paid a lot more than $39.95 for them, when I was working full time outside of the house.  SO what is it, within us, that has us thinking that the “new” products are “better”? As I thought on it more…I started to think, maybe moisturize, drink water, and use natural cleansers…would be cheaper and  more reasonable.

But, how easily I was convinced. Seriously, maybe it was the time of day (super early), or maybe I just liked the promises from the gorgeous person…whatever it was… I caught myself. Decided to look in the cabinet and use what I have, and use the already purchased faithfully, first!

 I’m admittedly shocked at just HOW Much I already had. (The photo doesn’t include those items that were out of date, that I tossed).

I’m going to spend some time looking for natural alternatives for beauty regimen items. I am going to use up the ones that I currently have on hand….then if needed, after I’ve searched for better methods, have empty containers of current cosmetics….I’ll buy another promise, maybe…maybe not...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

November Little House Month of Simplicity

“The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

The first set of books that my mother bought me were the "Little House on the Prairie" series.  I read "Little House in the Big Woods" and fell in love with the characters immediately.  Pa and his fiddle, Jack the dog, Carrie the little sister, and Ma and her understaning ways.

I made a list from memory of items that they had in those days, items that would still be reasonable to use now:
  1. Oil lantern- I've seen these at the thrift stores and have two on my table now.
  2. Bread and Pie Crust- Recipes using the staples of wholesome flour
  3. Handicrafts-Conversation while creating something from nothing-coffee filter wreaths, rag rugs
  4. Agriculture- Grow from seeds, plant bulbs, plan gardens
  5. Barter- Ma took her eggs to Mrs. Olsen for store credit.  What ways can we exchange and barter?
  6. Hard work- Gratitude and upkeep.  Have a porsche or a pinto? Does it matter if it runs? Keep it clean, tuned up and paid for. Be proud of what you've been given.
  7. Simple Christmas and Holiday Season-gift giving streamlined.
  8. Patience with difficulties.
  9. Look for lessons in life's struggles.
  10. Do  more, Spend less and Save.
As November approaches we look for more ways to have a month of "Little House" Living. If you have ideas on how else to live a month of simplicity please leave a note in the comments.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Frugal Updates Moving Into November

This journey of blogging and posting began with a simple question of a mother facing an empty nest: "Time or Money" ? It seemed to me that I have been continually blessed with one or the other- but never both at the same time. When working outside of the home I had "extra" but not a lot of time to listen, cook, clean, craft, decorate or rest-but I did feel fulfilled by accolades, personal accomplishments and success. If working inside of the home I was rewarded daily with great conversations with family and friends unhurried, a project in every room, great recipes, candle scents billowing, time to exercise, to plan vacations, do coupons and redecorate on a budget...

Having done both, I personally feel that there is no "right" way, but that each individual has to weigh those decisions based on their own journey. I'm still weighing my decisions and options. :)

September we did a no spend challenge with a goal of saving $1,000 for our emergency fund. We reached that goal 2 weeks into this month of October. However, our cat of 9 years developed Lymphoma, and last week had to be put down. It was considered an emergency and cost $162. We will have to replenish this amount. This was unexpected, but it was encouraging to know that those funds were available.

October we are trying a checklist of 10 items that will make daily decisions for health, wealth, and wisdom easier. It has been going very well. (My checklist can be found in the Blog Archives) I have only checked the entire sheet 3 times this month. However, having the list is a tangible way for me to see that I've accomplished my goals for the day. I may tweak it for next month, but I think I'll try to keep it around. (Not everyone is a list maker, so if this is a drag for you ignore it ;) It keeps me motivated :)

On our car ride to Pittsburgh yesterday, I wrote some ideas down for November. One of the most important things that I would like to try, in addition to the Cash Envelopes and Daily Checklist is to have a "Little House on the Prairie" style month. Just 4 weeks. Make it like a game. For example:


Right now as I sit typing the kitchen light is on, the living room light is on, the space heater is on, the den light is on, the television is on, I left the radio on in the studio, the dryer is going......lots of electricity is being used. I do not  want to become the person who shuts the light off when someone is trying to read, but if you've left the room and left a light on, that's a waste. So I read that anything that is plugged in uses phantom electric and is causing the meter to go round and round racking up $. It is my intention to go around to every room in the house and use surge strips to plug everything into it. (extension chords would work too.) Then I only have to unplug one chord at the outlet for many appliances, lamps and electronics. If it is not plugged in except when you use it, it can't draw electric and cost $.


I know that we all need the phone. Do we need 3 cellphones in the house? Can one person get by with none? Maybe not. Maybe so....this is on the table for discussion.


Is it possible to save water? Think of the ways we use it in the home. Do we have rain barrels? What do we do with the grey water from the dishes? Do you water the plants? How many times do you flush? Do you let the water run when you brush your teeth? Showers, are they 30 minutes or 10?

Do you recycle?


How long is the television and computer on at your house? What did they do in Ma and PA Ingalls day? They were outdoors, by the fire, reading, playing games, music and the home was filled with conversation.

This is the November plan. Continue to save. Continue to move forward with healthy food and fitness. Begin to have more of a Little House on the Prairie experience if only for a month.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Watching a Parade through a Hole in the Fence.

MS Clipart
I heard a story once, I don’t remember where, or even when any more….but I summed it up in the following quote:

 “Life is like watching a parade from behind a tall solid fence through a fallen knothole.” –Tammy Bennett

The story, as I remember it, suggested that there was a grand parade taking place, with activity and spectacular displays of merriment. So much fun happening that to not be a part of it would be an exponential loss.

 However, since the solid fence, in theory, separates us all from the full grandeur of Life in all of its glory -we are oftentimes looking to some extent through a knot hole in a solid fence.  The view that we see of the parade is limited by our own view from the parade route.  We can’t see what others see along the route, just our small portion of it.

Think about it, we are in our own individual circumstances, looking through the small hole, and we subscribe to what is before us. You can neither look down the street to see what is coming, or up the street to see what has gone before. We are here, in the present with what is in front of us. I pray today that we do not judge the lives of those who have much, or those who have little.  But be where you are, and be grateful. The prayer of St Francis has always resonated with me:

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy. –

(First Stanza) St Francis

 Please know that we are looking on only in part, we don’t see the whole parade of Life in its entirety. Understand that you are gifted with your view, use what you have been given, share with others, and enjoy with gratitude what you have. Blessings~

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cleaning out the Nursery

Today is a day that will be a crossroads for us. We have no more babies in the house. Yet, we have a room that was a nursery for our now grown children. How does that happen? The years pass by so quickly, and we find ourselves parents of adults.

The door has been closed, there is an ironing board set up in there for quick access. However, it is in need of an update. It's time to create a space for the time of life that we find ourselves in.

It's time for an artist's studio.

Photography, wreaths, floral arrangements have all been hobbies of mine--A way to make presents, and home decor for others and ourselves. A friend asked me why I haven't opened a store on Etsy to supplement the Emergency Fund...I hadn't thought of that before. In truth, I don't want to be pressured to create an object-wreath, arrangement, or find the perfect picture. But the way I understand it, items may be listed, like Ebay, when you have them finished. Simply work and list as they are completed. I think we will try this. I'm excited because we came up with a name: "Abundant Harvest Creations". We should be open by next weekend. (Wish me luck, not 100% sure of it :)

I'm going to keep a spreadsheet of time spent in the studio, and the time that would be spent at a career position out of the house, and compare the productivity of two. This blog began as a reflection on time and money, working outside of the home or being a stay at home mom. Where does a mom go, with an advanced education, or not, after the children are grown.... We're converting the nursery today....wherever you are on your journey know that where you spend your time and money is very revealing.

Blessings on your journey. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Frugality, Fitness and Fun

Only leaving out the 'food' part of Food, Fitness, Frugality and Fun today....

Since exercise has become so important and central this week, and I've been faithful each day to working out, I have SO Much energy! It is exciting how much I can get accomplished in a day not being tired! (at all) The Couch to 5K program has been a blessing. Five minutes of walking, 60 seconds of jogging, 90 seconds of brisk walking, alternating to 60 seconds of jogging again. This continues for 20 minutes for the first week. (I have also been doing 20 minutes eliptical and 20 minutes of weight training)

Frugality is Fun, but we'll keep the two topics separate here :) The pantry has become a little sparce after the September No Spend challenge. However, there are items that should be used or tossed. There is a key lime pie cheeseball from Pampered Chef, that I don't ever remember purchasing....should I just toss it? Or give it a whirl? Other items like horseradish dip mix, and alot of canned milk that I'm not even sure are in date anymore... It will feel fantastic to clear all of this out. Even though it may be wasteful to toss an item, if it is not going to be used, or can't be given away, it shouldn't be given a place in the pantry.

Fun is really my new focus. Life is so full of opportunities! For example, I'd only heard of Etsy just recently, and I know that I really love making handcrafts, so when it was brought up that I should open a store I thought it may be a perfect fit. There are a lot of questions that I still have before I would open the doors of a store, but I did come up with a name :)  "Abundant Harvest Creations" I may actually list some things after I become a little more comfortable with the whole process. Kind of exciting, and fun.

Blessings, you are all so great! I appreciate your taking the time to stop by the blog :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


In the process of clearing out unwanted items, there have been some things that have been placed on Ebay. It is an online yardsale, and it is a lot of fun to watch the items go up in price. Earning money for something that was not needed anymore feels great, and also gives the item a second chance to be appreciated.

An online site that I had never visited before, called Etsy, has been mentioned alot lately on the blogs and pages that I visit. I decided to take a peek over on the Etsy Site and see what it is all about. There are some remarkable hand made items! Beautiful wreaths, jewelry and art abound. Since I've been slowly working on the oval braided rug, I know what kind of time it takes to make something handmade. Most of the items on Etsy are handmade. There are inspirational pieces, and practical pieces alike. It is super easy to set up a store.

I think this is a great way to contribute to the family income, while at the same time doing handycrafts that you enjoy. There were many items on the Etsy pages that I lingered on wondering whether I should purchase as gifts.  Do you have an Etsy Store? Please leave your store link in the comments section. We would love to visit :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kitchen Aid Mixer: Is it worth it?

Is it better to buy a quality mixer like a Kitchen Aid, then to suffer through with a hand held mixer? I've always been a frugal, economically minded person, so it hadn't dawned on me until recently that having something of quality may last many many years, and may be in the end the more economical way to go.

I think I may set aside money weekly to make this purchase. Planning to:
  1. Get it on sale
  2. Use a coupon if possible
  3. Research the best model (hopefully one with attachments for making pasta:)
At the grocery store today I priced frozen ravioli, it is not cheap-and rarely goes on sale. Making homemade ravioli, hopefully with sprouted flour, would not only be more economical but healthier!

I understand that a Kitchen Aid Mixer has an attachment for bread dough too....I'm hearing such good from so many people that have one, it almost seems like a necessity in the kitchen. Is it? or Do I just want one? Telling the difference is sometimes hard. Sometimes it is even legitimate for a "want" and a "need" to be one and the same. That's what I'm calling this one. I think it will pay for itself with the first case of fresh ravioli that is made.

So today I've accomplished my checklist already, have been to the gym for the Couch to 5K workout, and now it's time to research the Kitchen Aid Mixers. Please weigh in on how you like yours if you have one? If you know of a better mixer? Or if you think mixing with a hand mixer is the way to go....
P.S. I still mash potatoes with a non-electric potato masher ;)

Monday, October 17, 2011

First day of the Couch to 5k Challenge.

I'm so excited to begin the Couch to 5K program this morning even my Coffee cup is smiling! The plan looks  fantastic! It looks feasible. Today is the day! Treadmill 20 minutes. This is what is required for the first day of the couch to 5k program. I'm planning to work out on the eliptical for 20 minutes after the walk run routine. Then we are going to go for another 20 minutes in the weight room-equipment machines, not free weights.

I know that this isn't for everyone, each of us has our own levels of fitness, and should go to the doctor before starting a program-but for me....this is going to be AWESOME!. In about an hour I will be on that treadmill, and to be honest, I am completely pumped! Have you ever looked at exercise that way? With excitement?
Music playing, working yourself at your own level, seeing improvements every time you step on to the treadmill. That's the best part, I think....the improvements that happen when you take the initiative to begin.

My fitness level today, won't be the same next week. The Couch to 5k outline it for you. It's pretty cool the way it lays it all out. The goal is a 5k at the end. (If you're competitive) Otherwise, the weight loss, increased energy, and new found confidence might be enough :) 

Remember to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program, I did. Here is the link to the Couch to 5K Plan:

"He who has begun is half done. Have the courage to be wise. Begin!" Horace Epistles

Saturday, October 15, 2011

No Photos in Blog and Faith

I still can not see the photos in my blog. Not exactly sure why? However, it got me to thinking about the need to "see" things before we "do" them. Posting, without knowing what my post looks like, takes a bit of Faith. (Sort of like curling your hair, and putting on make-up in the dark with no mirror) I have to trust that it will be alright if no photo shows up, or if one is too large, or too small while hoping it will be as it's supposed to be.

We aren't guaranteed the outcomes, or opportunities...but if we act on Faith in every moment, then we're moving forward. Typing my blog, knowing I can't see what it looks like, and that everyone else can, could stop me from posting at all. Or I could have Faith that it will work out.

It really is the same with our incomes, homes, and the cars we drive don't you think? We aren't guaranteed the opportunities or the outcomes of each. But we can choose to have Faith and do the best with what we've been given.

Checklists, downsizing all of the stuff in our lives, exercising, and eating right are choices. It has been a fun challenge to stay on budget using the envelope system, and eliminating white sugar and  flour from the diet. Taking time to accomplish things, without unnecessary pressure to be perfect, is refreshing. Posting when you can't see the pictures, and trusting that they are there for others, to see takes Faith.

I trust you can see my Maple Syrup and Coffee photo :) My apologies if you can't. (I can't) Blessings~

Friday, October 14, 2011

Update: 31 Day Checklist and Healthy Eating

Last Night, after dinner, my husband turned and said to me in all seriousness: "We need to eat less grease." We had cheesesteaks and white rice. (I didn't make pasta, my intentions were good, but it never happened.) My reply was quick, and to the point. Yes, I agree.

Having always been an exerciser, it has never been an issue. The metabolism seemed to take care of the calories from the energy that was spent in exercise. No more. Healthy and fit are the new mantra. This morning I did not have sugar in my coffee. I used PURE maple syrup instead. We are not going to fry foods, instead we will bake. No more white flour, instead I'll be using sprouted flour. I discovered Essential Eating with Janie Quinn. It is a fantastic site and very informative. I went to one of her classes on whole foods and essential eating several years ago, but it didn't last more than a fews days...I claimed it was a lack of time.

This time feeling better is the motivation. More energy and hopefully droppinga few pounds. I don't claim to be a food expert, only a Mom who has realized that simply drinking some water, and following a checklist for 2 weeks, has invigorated me! I think I'm ready to change the food that we eat as a family. I'm not sure if it will be less costly, in fact I'm expecting that it may cost more. However, cooking from scratch, even when purchasing more expensive sprouted flour and pure maple syrup, has got to be less expensive that eating out.

In order to not set myself up for complete failure, I am doing this for two weeks. The 31 day check list is going fantastic! The cash envelope system for our daily expenses is in place. It is time to try Sprouted Flour, and Pure Maple Syrup to replace refined sugar and white flour. Gosh I could eat a Spinach Salad. Sounds like lunch! Please share your whole food experiences. I am so new at this, and I am VERY interested to learn.

Please check out Essential Eating with Janie Quinn for more Information on Sprouted Flour and Maple Syrup:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Listening with Your Eyes

Whether you are a stay at home mom, or a mom that works outside of the home, do you listen with your eyes?

My son said to me when he was seven, while I was frantically cleaning the kitchen and moving between the laundry room, "Mom, you aren't listening to me." To which I replied; "Yes, I am!" I was right there, listening as I worked. I had so much to get done. We were both in the same room. I was listening!

The fact remained. I was NOT "listening with my eyes". The kind of listening that says, I understand what you are saying. Not the I only hear you, but the I understand what you are saying kind of listening. It makes all of the difference.

Short post to ask: Are you "Listening with Your Eyes?" To your husband, friends, children, parents.......Listen with your eyes. See the difference it makes.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Envelope System

Using the Envelopes

This morning I distributed cash into 7 envelopes in the drawer. We've decided that Friday to Friday will work better than Wednesday to Wednesday. So this is day 4 (Tuesday), I put $11 in each envelope. We put the excess money in the "Fun Cash" envelope at the end, there is currently $65 there.

Hopefully I can continue to build that $65 to $100 by the end of next week. That would be fantastic, and is my goal. On Saturday, the envelopes will replenish to $11 a day, with any excess going into the "Fun Cash" envelope.

We are selling our truck, so there will be money to set aside for a new one. We will have an account to hold the money until the right time comes along. Until then we will be a 1 car family, plus the company car that my husband uses only for going to and from work. Do any of you have teenagers that drive, and have only one car between you? We are hoping to save on insurance for the two months that we will be a one vehicle family. This money will go to the surplus account as well, so we can pay cash for the next vehicle.

The envelope system has served us very well. Paying cash is much better then plastic! Knowing exactly how much you have to spend, and the amount that is left, is very freeing. Even if sometimes the answer to buying something, if the money is low is: "I'll have to wait".

Blessings on this positively gorgeous October Day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Traveling and the Budget

Returning home from our trip to New York City yesterday I was both excited by everything that we'd experienced: great food, city views, and culture. Yet, I was also concerned that I'd maybe spent too much, or gotten too far off budget.

Today, although tired, I find myself doing laundry, dishes, and running the sweeper to catch up on the two days that it wasn't done. Almost caught up, I'm feeling the need to sit with my finances and 31 day checklist to be sure that I am back on track. Doesn't it seem that when you are having a lot of fun, traveling and shopping (even window shopping) that a well developed budget can fly out the window?

I spent $180. I had a marvelous time. We took many taxi rides, stayed at a hotel with a great view of the Empire State Building, had a dinner of homemade pasta with Sea Scallops and Shrimp.  We ate outdoors in the Chelsea District, shopped on 5th Avenue and atThrift Stores, saw a show and had breakfast in a NYC diner. It was great! I would do it again. In fact, We've signed up for Martha Stewart Show tickets for the Nov 2nd taping. Will will not stay overnight. I will spend  significantly less next trip. However, we are scheduling a trip out west to California, Arizona, and Nevada before Christmas to see some property that my husband inherited (which we've never seen)-this will require us to budget some extra spending money.

Our trip out west is already paid for with airline and hotel loyalty points. I feel good about that. How do you budget for travel and activities that you do during the year? Do you plan ahead? We love to travel and go out to eat, but it is not always economical to do so. Are there any pointers that you can share on traveling and eating out? Ideas on how not to break the budget?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Update: 31 Days of Following a a Top 10 Checklist.

The Check list is going SWELL! Seriously, yesterday was a first completing it!

I jogged, and rode my bike-even though I may be a little sore today, I'm going to do it again. I went 2.1 miles, making it about 1.5 miles before it was necessary to stop and walk for a minute. Not thinking that I should be able to jump right back into jogging after taking such a long break from it. For Me, consistancy of the checklist is going to be important. Gradually building up to our goals, in my opinion, is so important. Often times, we think we can't do this or that amount, so we don't even begin. I don't want to be that person. So again, I'll jog as far as I can personally, and then do it again.

The water drinking habit is starting to kick in, and I feel so much more energy it seems. Is that a product of drinking more water? Energy? Maybe it is the combination of exercise and water. Or the great October weather, or sunshine. Or maybe even having a checklist...but I like it. So going to continue to drink the 16.9 oz bottles of water.

I spent time outdoors decorating for fall-Jack o'lanterns in the windows, Mums on the corner of the property, Orange Pumpkin lights in the tree, and a Pumpkin Banner flying in the autumn wind. (Does anyone else simply enjoy the sound of wind chimes?) In the evening the orange hues of the fall lighting is enchanting. I do think that I spent waaaaayyy longer than 1/2 hour outdoors (time alotted on my checklist) in the yard. It was just so beautiful that we didn't want to go inside.

The indoor cleaning for a 1/2 hour was timed-because it was so nice outdoors, I wanted to simply get it checked off of the list. Quick Sweeper run, laundry, and dishes.

So Day #6 of the 31 Days of Following a Checklist is Complete. It was a Good Day~

Yesterday I gifted someone from the abundance that we have. We were both happy. Giving has a quality to it like no other. A gift well received is like Eating a Pan of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls and not being charged with any calories. It is just gratifying. I'm making a daily habit of giving something out of our abundance. More on that next week.