Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meaningful Work Outside of the Home

I've worked in higher education, while earning my degrees, and raising children, over the last 15 years. Recently, I began to apply for full time positions. I was offered, and accepted, a terrific full-time job at an outstanding university! Full-time for me, Mom, is new to our family.

When I began this blog of Frugal Abundance I asked the question of more time or more money? Is it possible to be frugal minded when it is not a necessity to be so? Save, Share and Spend are the motivating factors for us when we are blessed with more. Avoiding the frivolous and wasteful spending of $10 a day lunches (which I have been doing) is something to focus improving on. Automatic savings deductions taken from the pay are also a great way to save. Setting up a scholarship, or other means of giving, will make you feel invested in the work that you are doing. Giving is its own reward.

Then there is the outstanding debt. For us it is student loans and what remains of the mortgage. Over the next few months we hope to make progress on both of them, with the goal to pay off both in half of the time.

Join us here at the Blog as we journey into Saving, Spending and Sharing responsibly in the coming months ahead.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rainy Days

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. ~Author Unknown

Rainy Days.  I've always liked them. Do you remember "bubble umbrellas" and galoshes? A time where a mud puddle meant Jump! Splash! and Giggles...

Maybe you've graduated to warm blankets, and hot tea, as the sound of the rain hits the ground outside. Isn't there something calming and soothing about a rainy day....

Saving for a rainy day is also a very good idea. Do you have a rainy day fund? A rainy day would actually be a great day to take a look at your "rainy day" account. How much could you save in a week to put into the "rainy day fund".... Grab a notebook and jot down some areas where you could save between $5-$50 for starters. It is easier than you think. Then put the increments into a safe account, and watch it grow.

Then you will have the extra cash for when the next rainy day approaches.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Satisfaction + Gratitude = Abundance

Getting back to the basics of abundant living. Satisfaction + Gratitude= Abundance

I really believe the equation above says it all. It matters not how much you have-whether a little or a lot. I have been contemplating purchasing a new car if I get a new job. Why? Do I have the cash for this vehicle? Or can I simply afford the payments now-and not the purchase price in total. Why not save for a new car with the extra money from my new job? Why not be satisfied, with gratitude, until I have saved for a new purchase? Why go in debt? Make payments? Why do we do this...

The reminder of what abundance truly is-never more important than when you have a small (or large) surplus. Let's look up the definitions according to Webster's online

a: fulfillment of a need or want b: the quality or state of being satisfied: contentment  c: a source or means of enjoyment  

a: appreciative of benefits received


An ample quantity

We are in charge of what is "enough". Save, Spend, Share from the abundance that we have been given. Take care of what we have been blessed with. Not begrudging it.

Satisfaction + Gratitude = Abundance

Friday, May 4, 2012


Have you ever been told to wait? Or Been in the situation where you had to wait? It conjures up feelings, that word, doesn't it?


The anticipation of what is coming gives one an uneasy feeling. Wait for what?

Even if we realize what it is that we think we are waiting for, it takes a certain amount of patience and faith to wait with grace. Often times we fill that space of waiting with distractions, frivolous time wasters, or worse. Is it possible to understand the true meaning of what it means to wait?

Take a conversation. One person talks, while the other listens. Then there is a response from the listener. The back and forth goes on in the conversation, and there is ultimately an understanding that happens.

What if one person continuously talked, never offered a response, and didn't listen? That person, it could be said, has never learned to wait. Sometimes the greatest gifts are discovered in the listening.

The waiting.

Don't be so quick to fill the spaces in between.

It is in the pauses between the notes in which great music is made, the empty spaces around the paint on the canvas that images in art are developed, and in the quiet moments of waiting where we are given direction in our lives.~

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Have you ever allowed time to slip by, just because you could?

Knowing full well that life would become hectic again, that things were currently unorganized, and that this was the moment to complete projects, downsize items, clean and streamline...yet still you remain on Pinterest thinking up ideas, frittering time away,  rather than doing something to create the space to actually accomplish what you see.

If you find yourself in the stage of " will get done tomorrow... I think I'll have a few more cookies and a cup of tea and then I'll get started..." STOP. Put down the cookie.  You don't have to get EVERYTHING done, but SOMETHING would be good. If you start, you will find that you may enjoy what you're doing. i.e. cleaning, exercising, cooking, errands, organizing, phone calls, etc.

So if one more cup of coffee has turned into afternoon teatime and you find that you are still in your pajamas at 2 pm. We all have had days like that. Time to get up and get started :)

"The best way to get something done is to begin. "~Author Unknown

Monday, March 19, 2012

Regional Food

Have you ever gone to a different region of the country and eaten something out of your comfort zone?

Most people associate peanuts with a crunch. On the other hand, we look forward each spring to trying some "boiled peanuts". An old Florida staple, boiled peanuts are a fantastic regional food. I had cajun spiced boiled peanuts this trip. They were great. You can see venders set up across the south at roadside stands. I once saw a person selling them from an old keg filled with boiling water and peanuts, set up on a burner along the road. I purchased mine from a roadside fruit stand along with honey stix and a sample of valencia oranges.

Our trip down to Florida is a relaxing and a much needed adventure every March. We drove out on Merritt Island near the Kennedy Space Center where we got to see dozens of Alligators sunning themselves along the road. My husband and son then golfed with the "gators" as they lay in the water on the golf course at the Cocoa Beach country club. They thought better of retrieving their golfballs from the tall grasses and water after seeing the first 8ft gator resting in the sunshine.

Cocoa Beach was sunny and 82 degrees when we visited. I remember the 1960's television show that was located on Cocoa Beach-"I Dream of Jeannie". There is a street located there with that name. Major Nelson's house was located there. Sitting on the pier one can sit and reflect with the ocean breezes blowing and the smell of coconut oil filling the air.

But mostly I loved the "boiled peanuts", an old Florida favorite. A regional food that is an aquired taste for northerners, or a staple of the natives. Never visit without trying honey stix and "boiled nuts"

What regional food comes from your area? What have you tried that is "different" while on the road?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Riding a Bull, Skydiving, Bungee Jumping and More

Have you ever wanted to ride a bull for 8 seconds, jump out of an airplane sky diving? How about bungee jumping? Do you think that these sound exciting or fun? I have friends who have done them all, and a couple of them a few times. I have not. I would not. I will not.  However this last week (The weekend really Fri/Sat) the $15 a day challenge had me wanting to do something "fun", maybe not as daring, but "fun"--and for me it felt just as daring.....(and silly)

A Road trip. Waste gas. Spend some money. Have fun at the expense of frugal. (What am I teen that doesn't know better? I felt like I needed someone to tell me NO! but I was the only adult in the room....have you been there?) We are talking about $80. Still. According to my self-imposed "rules" that is over 4 days worth of envelopes. Now remember that I am no financial expert, simply a wife and mother who is "trying" to balance out frugality and fun, fitness and food. I'm starting to realize that sometimes they lack in similarity. I seriously considered folding up this Blog. Why should I write about such things when I can't motivate myself to follow my own game plan.

Then it dawned on me. Just like FITNESS if you are doing exercise you are moving toward your goal. Walking is good, move the body and you are moving in the right direction. FOOD is a choice, choose clean and healthy and you will have more energy.....(it is easy to be daring and choose cakes, cheeses, and a high fat piece of is. I don't have the answers, as food and fun are my "sky diving") Lean towards the right choices. Energy and health need to become more important than instant gratification.

Choose well. FRUGALITY is not being cheap. It can be fun. I've successfully completed this challenge before. I know it can be done.  This is a new day.

Cleaning out the freezer, fridge and pantry this week. I started already this morning taking inventory.

Deep freezer: 2 months supply of broccoli and corn (frozen from last summer's farmer's market), Hot dogs (10 packages), Large Frozen Turkey, boxed pizza, bacon, 4 pkgs of chicken, chicken tenders, venison, hamburger, sliced roast beef, bagged vegetables:artichokes, brussel sprouts, green beans....

Pantry: Flour, sugar, baking supplies, packaged pudding, lots of noodles, canned soup....popcorn, bbq sauces...really everything that I need except speghetti sauce. :)

Fridge: Yogurt, Milk, Eggs, Water, Juices, Butter, Cream, Lettuce, Spinach, Condiments, and more.

We are blessed this week. Cooking from scratch. Beginning again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day #7- $15 a Day Challenge

Today is Day number 7. The 7th day of the $15 a day challenge. I did fabulous until day 5. I still had cash money in the envelopes until then. Then I needed more than a few things from the grocery store. Who thought we would go through the drinks: Milk, water, juice and coffee like we did. While at the store I picked up dishwasher liquid and dog food. This cut into day 6 cash as well- but we still haven't touched the balance in the bank-still using cash only.

Then yesterday I simply did what one shouldn't do <gulp> I went through a drive-thru. I wasted money for convenience. It was really a matter of having to be 2 places at once, having to feed the family, and making it to the 3rd place all in a matter of 15 minutes. So I used the rest of day 6, and day 7 money.....and now I have today to get through with no cash or reserves for the week.

The lesson here is be prepared. Eating out wastes money. It does. Make sandwiches in advance, or carry snacks in the car like granola bars, pretzels, and mints. This might have held us over until we were able to get home to make a meal. (I know the crock pot is my friend, but I was running 10 minutes behind in the morning). How do working Mom's do it? I'm so used to having as much time as I need to bake from scratch, cook with ingredients from the pantry and generally take my time. Being rushed to get it all done, in time to meet every one's needs is a skill. Doing it without the drive-thru is a talent. 

Today, I have no more cash in the envelopes. Today I cook from the pantry and make do. Tomorrow the envelopes replenish and we begin again. Here's to hoping for a surplus from the cash stash next week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's with Trisha -Guest Blog Post- Love & Abundance, A Lesson from the Woods

The following post was written by Today's Guest Blogger: Trisha Rockwell. Trisha's blog can be found at:

Today is Saint Valentine's day.  A day of love.  Romance.  I think of batting eyelashes and unspoken intentions.  Young love.  After 15 years of marriage and children running a muck at home, the romance feels a little lacking. 

How does abundance relate to romance and love?  What is nature telling me here in the northeast about love and abundance?  It's telling me that the fullness and richness of abundant love is lying just below the layer of snow and ice.  The promise of fulfillment in the soft and comforting moss that lines the rocks and the trees.  It's easy to forget that everything we need is right at our fingertips when life feels full of demands and responsibilities. 

The promise is right under the layer of snow.  When I push my finger into the snow and clear a spot of it away, I can see a layer of green grass ready to bask in the sun as the snow melts into needed nourishment.  Abundance is knowing that you always have more than you need.  Abundance is knowing that you are more than enough.  You are smart enough, beautiful enough.  You exceed the boundaries of enough just because you are. 

Be open to the opportunities for abundance.  Allow love to shine it's light on you today.  Acknowledge it, breathe it in, feel it.  It is yours.  Accept it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 3- $15 a day Challenge

                          "Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose." Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is Day 3. I'm just back from the early morning workout at the gym. I did not particularly want to go this morning. It is cold, it snowed over the weekend, and the coffee smelled like it wanted to be carried to the comfy chair--not out the door to the treadmill.

I went. I actually drove through the parking lot with the intention of going back home rather than parking. That's right, I drove all of the way to the gym and considered not staying....but I did, and I feel better for it!

The month long $15 a day challenge sometimes feels like this to me too! I have my envelopes, $15 in each for the week, my intentions are there......but then the Dairy Queen opens, or a child needs gas money, I want to go to the thrift shop (Why? To bring more stuff into the house? When I'm trying to downsize!) or Valentine's Day arrives and I feel obligated to buy a card, candy or both.  My response to all of the above and more is NO! Just say NO! If it fits within the $15 a day, and there is ample food for the table, gas in the work car, and all of the necessary items are accounted for...then maybe--but not until! Like getting dressed driving to the gym, and wanting to not on a self imposed cash budget takes intention. It isn't enough to put the cash in the envelopes, and then not follow through on a daily basis. I may not see immediate results from this morning's workout--but I will feel it! I think the envelope system, $15 a day, works the same way. I may not see immediate results, but I will feel it immediately.

Day 3. I gave $12 towards the family gas fund. Anyone have an electric car? Is it worth it? A lot of money is put out in the gas tank in our home.

We have a $3 surplus for the day. So we are up to a $5 and change surplus for the week so far. It is a silly amount in the grand scheme of things. However, if I can store up savings from $15 a day by managing it well by making that my focus I will never touch the larger balance left in the bank. Just like food, it is portion controlled. Pre-packaged in envelopes with $15.

So far so good. Day 3 was a success.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 2 - $15 a Day Challenge

Today is Saturday. The Saturday before Valentine's Day. Many of my friends are going "out" in celebration. It is hard to go "out" on $15-So we are improvising. I made a pan of meatballs in the cast iron skillet, along with a large pot of speghetti. A lovely side salad of romaine, with parmesean and light dressing. A movie from the local library for free. The promise of popcorn later this evening, as we watch Saturday Night Live. The pup, Miss CHANEL, is curled up next to my chair, and we are super content to watch the snow fall outside of our window.

Would I have  liked to have gotten dressed up and gone out..maybe. However, being content, and still staying on the $15 challenge is way more satisfying. We are planning for our vacation today as well. We love to travel. Traveling on a budget, and finding ways to go for low cost, or free, is what makes it all of the more satisfying. Storing up extra cash while on the $15 a day challenge, allows us to travel more without as much concern.

We did really well today-day 2 of the $15 a day challenge. We have a $5.28 surplus. Since we went over $3 yesterday we are only $2.28 ahead for the week. I did organize the house today and found many items to put on Ebay. Planning to list this evening and watch them sell. This will go directly into the emergency fund. How much is in your emergency fund? We would like to have ours built back up before we leave on vacation. Day #2 was a success.

Happy Valentine's Day weekend- We are enjoying ours on $15 today :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 1 of the $15 a Day Challenge

Today is day one of the $15 a day challenge. I found myself at the grocery store because I'd forgotten to purchase a case of water, juice, and romaine lettuce yesterday. My husband requested haddock for dinner tonight, so I found a package for $7. (I expained that I had salmon already at home, but he insisted.) So, I spent $18 total- which is $3 over budget for the day.

Sitting with the checkbook, balances, and game plan can be daunting. At least I think it can be. When one of you wants to save, and the other is content to spend it is especially daunting. (Sometimes the spender is me, I will admit) However, knowing what you owe, or don't owe, is important. This will let you know for sure the amount that you have left to save, share, or spend. This week we are coming off of a lot of traveling, so I'm looking forward to being home more and making this challenge work.

Bread making this afternoon. One loaf of whole grain wheat bread at the store is $3-$4. I should be able to make another 5 loaves from scratch with the ingredients that I have left.  That is a nice savings, and healthier too. Haddock, romain salad, baked potato and a slice of fresh bread this evening.

Total today: $18 ($3 over budget)

Planning to gather "Stuff" to list on Craigslist, Ebay and Gazelle. Hoping to earn the $3, and then some, back before the evening is over. Going over budget is a great motivator to increase income-even if it is only $3. It's minding the small amounts that add up to large ones-whether leading into the black or the read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No Spend Month: Begins February 10th

I've managed to live on cash in envelopes before. It isn't something that I haven't tried-that I don't know if it does. It works, and it works really well! We have more income than we did when I tried it before, but our living expenses have actually decreased. This should give us a bigger surplus you would think. It hasn't. We have just increased our spending because we could. That stops today.

Friday begins the NO SPEND Month. (technically I am preparing for it today)

Preparation and Planning begins with a savvy shopping trip to the grocery store. I want to get the most food and supplies that are possible for the least amount of money. I will shop at the local ALDI store, The local Crash and Dent store, and every purchase every grocery stores' loss leaders that we use. (Those items that are marked waaaayy down in the flyers just to get you into the store.)

Once the food is purchased we will bring it home and write out menus for the week. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. (Hoping to spend under $200- this is to stock the pantry, fridge, and cupboards for the Month! Feb 10th - March 10th) Remember to buy in bulk: Eggs, Flour, Maple Syrup, Corn Meal....pantry staples. So that items can be made from scratch.

On Friday both vehichles will be topped off with gas-filled. Miles will have to be watched, because the $15 a day includes putting gas in the car.

Next, on Friday we will fill 7 envelopes with $15 in each one. This = $105 Total for the week. $105...that is plenty. Every day you have a new $15 to spend on anything that is important. Or you can save it as surplus. I have an envelope in the back called : Fun Money. I put the extra from the week in that envelope. If there is a surplus, say $20, then the Mr. and I can go out to dinner at our local diner for the early bird special ;) No, I don't add the extra from the week to my savings account, because it is my fun money--and I believe in being rewarded for a job well done.

The money is replenished $15 in each of the 7 envelopes the next week, and every subsequent week.

There may be a week that something comes up, and you have to borrow from the next day. It happens sometimes that you are borrowing from yourself. (At least it isn't a credit card that you are borrowing from :) Things like kids sports fees, school pictures, Doctor co-pays, medicine....these are necessities and we take them out of the checkbook, not the $15 a day. The $15 a day is there to fill in any food staples that you run out of, add gas to the car, and incidentals that come up. The whole goal is to have something left from the surplus in the bank account (from your source of income), after the $105 cash has been taken out,  at the end of the pay period to put in savings.

So if for example (this is not our income, and may not be yours, so please adjust it accordingly :) you make $505 a week. Take out the $105 = $400 - $200 bills= $200 left for the week in surplus. Let it sit and plan to save it at the end of the week. Grow the emergency fund and/or the vacation fund with the surplus.

One benefit from doing the no spend month is creativity in cooking and reinventing leftovers, healthier eating from scratch, the satisfaction of making it through a week with an envelope surplus.

We are starting this Friday February 10th. Join us, or follow along if you'd like. Frugality Posts Galore this next 4 weeks...

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Town Clock

When I was a little girl it was fun to play on the back porch of my aunt's house in the middle of the summer. We would tell stories, sing songs, catch fireflies, and swing on the porch swing until we were sleepy.

That is when I noticed it for the first time...the glow of the town clock at dusk, from the stoop of my aunt's porch. It was the color of a full moon, high in the tower of the church steeple. Sure and strong it stood, keeping time. Tick, tock. It is still there today, although I haven't gazed at it long enough to notice if it is still keeping time. Many from those days years ago are no longer with us....but the amber glow of the round clock tower up in sky remains. It reminds me of the stories, fireflies, porch swings and what is truly important in life-family memories.

I haven't looked long enough to see if it still keeps time. (or even lights up like the moon) I think it's time I slowed down enough to notice.

* Dinner around a family table is time welll spent
* Play a board game with your children-you will never regret it
* Ride a bike, go for a walk, swing on a swing with your spouse
* Visit your old restaurant
* Get outdoors-even to just sit in a hammock, chair or back porch step

Take time to notice the little things....because the little things are where memories are made, and a lifetime is formed. We are blessed, truly blessed.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Egg Timer Cleaning Challenge

 EGG Timer Cleaning.

PART 1 (11 am)

You can accomplish a lot when you know you only have to clean something for 20 minutes! One room at a time, 20 minutes in each space. On your mark, get set…..GO!
If we were being timed to see how much food we could put into a shopping cart for FREE, and given only 20 minutes to do it, we would clean off the shelves!! Let’s approach our homes this way in regards to cleaning.

How long does it really take to vacuum the stairs? Make the bed? Throw in a load of laundry? If you hustled you just might be able to do all three in 20 minutes ;) Just think if you stayed in one room, instead of trying to go to the laundry room, kitchen, and bedroom within the 20 minute span.
Motivated by my brand new handy dandy Rooster Egg Timer, that I purchased from the Thrift Store for .29 cents- I am setting it for 20 minutes a room.

20 minutes. That’s it. How much cleaning  can you get done in 20 minutes??

(Be Back to report)

PART 2 (3 PM)

We have two staircases in our old house. Vacuum both sets in 20 minutes was the goal. Set the timer, and began the challenge. It went FAST!! I knew the timer was ticking so I hustled. (I kind of got a workout too lol) It took just over 15 minutes. Not too bad.
The dishes needed done. We have a portable dishwasher (did I mention our house is huge, and old). Goal unload and reload the dishwasher, attach it and press start. Also, clean out the sink. 20 minute goal. I did this in 12 minutes….12 minutes!!! Really?? That is all the longer it takes? Blessed with an extra 13 minutes between the two tasks, I moved on to the laundry.

20 minutes to Take from the dryer, put into the basket, put the wet in the dryer, insert a new load, fill detergent, press start. Fold laundry, take it to each bedroom. (maybe put it away….see mine usually sits on the bed folded….must break that habit…so adding put away) My egg timer went off before I was done with the laundry. If I didn’t take it upstairs and left it in the basket, then I would’ve made it ;)  However, that’s not the point…and I did have banked minutes… maybe I need ½ hour to do a load of laundry from separation, loading, washing, drying, folding and putting away. (assuming there are dried clothes in the dryer to be folded-wet in the washer)
Now this morning as I type this post on egg-timer cleaning, I look around the room to discover that it is time to do it all over again. Egg-timer cleaning is a daily challenge. Clothes are worn daily, dishes are re-used, and the vacuum needs run. Daily. An egg-timers work is never done.

Time for the challenge.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Minimize- What Clothing to Keep- The List

Minimize What Clothing to Keep- The List.
I have asked myself what clothing, and how much, do I really need to keep in order to function fabulously? I’ve gone through my closets (twice). Each time there have been multitudes of items tossed. Still I have too much. Even though I can hang everything up, it is still too much. What do I love to wear? Do you find yourself wearing the same items over and over again? I do. Even if I accessorize with different scarves, earrings, or necklaces I still reach for the same garments over and over again.
So I’m not going to choose which garments will remain in my mind right now—but I’m going to instead decide just how many of each I really need to keep. Then later this evening I’m going to go to the room and eliminate. I’m only allowing myself that many items to keep. I will have to <gulp> choose.
To Keep:
1.       Underwear- 12 pair.

2.       Blouses- 5

3.       Knee highs/trouser socks-  12 pair

4.       Jeans-5 GREAT pairs

5.       Khaki pants-2 Great Pair

6.       Black Dress pants-2 Great Pair

7.       T-shirts-8 (just b/c I won’t be able to decide, so it is between 5 and 10 )

8.       Dresses- 2

9.       Suits- 4

10.   Blazers/Dress Jackets- 10 (These are my favorite item, besides shoes.
**Nothing changes an outfit quicker than a different blazer and scarf.

11.   Workout clothes- No Limit!!! Just not ratty.

12.   Bras- 5 great bras. Toss the rest!

13.   PJ’s – 5 pair of PJs. Toss the rest!

14.   Shoes know no limits—not ready to go there yet ;)

Wish me well. I’m going in this evening. Limiting to the numbers will be hard at first. However, it will make decisions on what to wear, even that much easier in the end.
**Remember: When you bring in another item in a category, OUT goes the old. Remember to bless others if your cast off is still wearable and fashionable. There are those who do not even have the items on our limited list. Oh and if you have cute shoes in size 9.5 medium, send them my way…..that category for me is limitless J

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From There to Here

"Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don't count on harvesting golden delicious."
--Bill Meyer Baseball Manager

This blog has been in existence since sometime in August, 2011. At that point I had 12 wonderful chickens that I'd raised from baby peeps. We'd gathered eggs daily, and enjoyed the farm fresh abundance. We had no cockapoo pup, named CHANEL. I was 7 lbs heavier, and had only just begun to workout again--this after having a sit down at a desk experience for several years. I was cooking from scratch, but was not watching calories at all. Our finances were okay, but I wanted a bigger emergency fund.

Today, about 6 months later (going from memory so please forgive), Frugality, Food, Fitness and Fun has kept me moving forward with my goals.

  • Wanting less stuff to confuse my choices is a great goal. I have accomplished this to some degree. Eliminated coffee cups, closet clothes, and small appliances. I still have a way to go.
  • Emergency Fund was taken down by Christmas and Vacation in November. It needs attention.
  • We have been on a pre-packaged food plan since December. My husband reached his goal weight. I have lost 7lbs of the 20 lb goal--I have 6 weeks to lose 13lbs more.
  • We did not watch calories before, we just cooked from scratch, or not. We just ate. I would like to use the Ration Plan from the 1940's diet (or the Depression eating plan) that I have been reading about. It rations (portions) food, cooks from scratch, and is cost effective. The link is on the Abundance: Frugality, Food, Fitness and Fun FB Page. I will post it on the web site as well.
  • This is where I think I have most improved. From a couch potato, to teaching 6 fitness classes a week--plus M-W-F morning workouts on the treadmill.
  • I at first used the Couch to 5K program:
  • I then ran my first 5K on New Years Eve.
  • Beginning the Blog was a lot of fun-meeting great people, learning new ideas, and supporting the Frugality, Food, Fitness and Fun principles.
  • Entering contests. There is always that excitement that one might win a trip, a gift card, or a book
  • Taking Staycations around our neighborhood doesn't cost much, or anything.
These are just some of the improvements that have taken place over the last 6 months of blogging. It is helpful to know where you were, where you are, and where you are going :)

How are you doing? What choices towards improvement have you made over the last 6 months?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Make from Scratch: Store and Save.

I went to our back guest room this morning. We keep all of our stockpile of shampoos, body washes, shaving creams, etc. They were all purchased for $0 - $1 a piece. Mostly free from CVS, Kmart, and Rite-Aid.  I have not needed any of those items, including toilet tissue for nearly 6 months! It's true. I almost forget how to accomplish the coupon matching...almost. It is time to stockpile once again. Cutting the coupons, and gathering the store flyers to find the best deals and incentives--i.e. Free Gas Card, Extra $ off for buying certain items, etc.

As I began searching the grocery store circulars, it dawned on me just how many of the items listed on the pages that could be made from scratch- for a fraction of the cost! Even the laundry detergent could be made from scratch for a huge savings!(We have done this in the past-must get back to it!) Start to think of what ingredients go into the items on the grocery shelves.

Then buy those original ingredient items:

Flour, Sugar, Butter, Rice, Vegetables, Fruits, Dairy, Grains, Beans, Spices, Herbs, Cocoa, Condiments, Meats, Fish, Cornmeal, Coffee Beans. 

You could make nearly everything with these staples. I liken it to a primary source or a secondary source--which do you subscribe to? Would you rather read an original, and create your own interpretation- or have it fed to you, even if it means that it doesn't resemble the original? You know what I'm saying? An apple is an original from the tree. A fried apple pie, from a fast food chain, is a far cry from the "original".

I'm beginning to "get" the idea of original food sources to stock the pantry with. We are thinking about getting our own grain mill. This way the flour is fresh, and from a variety of healthy grains, when making homemade bread, pasta, crackers and cereal.

Pack the pantry with originals, but don't waste what is alreay there. Use it up. Get creative. Then to the store for the staples, to create wholesome food from scratch. Enjoy. ~

P.S. Don't forget to visit our friends on Twitter hashtag #SundaySupper where they believe in the value of the Sunday family meal around the table.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Meal made for #Sunday Supper

SUNDAY SUPPER- CELEBRATION of Weight Loss and Kitchen Aid Mixer Inauguration

I began to use my Twitter account. I will admit to not knowing exactly how it all works yet, but I was RT during an episode of #AmericanPickers, and have been trying to figure it all out since. The HashTag #SundaySupper is one of my favorites.

Those who tweet #SundaySupper believe in bringing the meal back as a staple of family life. I would agree. An every evening family dinner would be even better, but shouldn't we take at least one day a week to come together in conversation as a family around the table?

Since the Pre-packaged plan has been the way of things around here for weeks, we have taken our food on the run-and not around the table.

However, last Sunday I cooked. I baked. It was not as healthy as I would have liked, but since my husband lost his 16 lbs, it was celebratory, and it was what he requested. I made a London Broil Roast with caramelized onions, red skinned mashed potatoes (made in the new Kitchen Aid), green bean casserole, and bread from the oven. Chocolate chip cookie muffins (own invention) were prepared beforehand (the first item ever made in my brand new Kitchen Aid).  Now this is not healthy eating. It is not how I plan to feed my family from here on out. This was a christening of the Kitchen Aid, and a "What would you like for me to make, since you lost 16lbs, meal?"  I will go to the grocery store this weekend and we will begin the transition to the new eating goals laid out yesterday. I firmly believe if it is not in the house (unhealthy food ingredients) then we will not eat it! (How could we?) :)

The following are the step by step photographs of the Kitchen Aid Christening and Celebratory Weight loss Meal. Inspired by the TWITTER #SundaySupper Feed. Enjoy your Sunday Supper!!

London Broil Roast

Onions and Roast on the Stovetop

Green Bean Casserole

Red Skinned Potatoes

#SundaySupper Mostly Finished- Just need to whip the potatoes

Brand New Kitchen Aid

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in Muffin Tins

Chocolate Chip Cookie Muffins

I've been looking for healthier ingredient replacements for chocolate chip cookies. Is that even possible?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Food, Fitness and Fun. How to go from diet to real food after goals are reached?

I have a Goal: Lose 20 lbs in 9 weeks. This is week 3 of 9. I have lost 5 lbs. That is not too bad. (Could be better) One thing is for certain, I am getting in the best shape of my life. Teaching group fitness classes was a "good thing" to do. It means I HAVE to be at the gym at certain times or risk letting other people down.

Now food is the issue. We have been on a pre-packaged weight loss plan since before Christmas. My husband weighed in today and he lost 16 lbs! He is satisfied. He's reached his goal, and is ready to move back to homecooked meals. I have decided to not weigh myself until after the entire 9 weeks are up. The last I knew I had lost 5lbs. Either way we need to wean ourselves off of the pre-packaged food plan towards whole-clean food.  My husband is ready now. (I will complete the 9 weeks. We are in week 3 of 9.)

** The following are just personal opinions for our family. These are not coming from a nutritionist, just a mom. Please take your family's dietary needs into consideration, and consult a nutritionist/family doctor before making any changes to your fitness or dietary routines.

Here are our areas of focus:
  • Water intake- Keep choosing water. It's cleansing and necessary. Drink enough daily.
  • Raw food gone mobile- Vegetables, nuts, and fruit. Pack it in the purse, and car to avoid the drive thru syndrome i.e. I'm starving and going through the drive thru because I deserve it.
  • Clean Food- Food in its purest form- Fresh made whole grain pasta topped with grilled veggies, and shrimp instead of fatty sausage or beef. Make everything from scratch from wholesome ingredients. I'm organizing my recipes and making ingredient substitutions on index cards for the grocery store.
  • Purchasing smaller plates and bowls. One of the biggest changes that the prepackaged plan taught us was portion control. This is an important change. Moderation is necessary.
  • Fiber- Dietary fiber is going to be monitored. Are we getting enough?
  • Low sodium/Low Cholesterol/ Low Sugar: When cooking from scratch use seasonings that fill with flavor but leave out the Salt, Cholesterol and Sugar. Just don't put it into the recipe.
  • Frequent eating- Several small meals and snacks 5-6 times a day. It can be a low fat yogurt, fruit, small salad, card size of protein, oatmeal, cereal, plate of pasta....etc. Personally, I want a lot more squashes on hand: Speghetti Squash, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Zuchinni...just so versatile and delicious.
So that is the overview of the plan. It will become more detailed after the grocery store this weekend. I will begin to take photos of recipes that I'm creating. Look for them in future posts.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Minimizing: Self and Stuff

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit."--Aristotle

I want to minimize.
                        To reduce.
                                        Stuff and Self.

This is my pep talk to me. It is easy to sit and think about doing a scale down of the closets and hips, but it is quite another to actually do it! I have been sitting here sipping coffee having wonderful conversation, taking notes and making lists all morning long.....all the while the day awaits.

Do List. (Doesn't that sound much more powerful than "To Do"?)

1. Finish the bedroom closets. Be brave. Empty more than two boxes. Get it (gulp) ALL done. Especially those items that no longer fit, or those that don't make me feel like a million bucks. Just Chuck it! or Donate it! Today is the day. Don't say: "Well I might need this for....or when..." GONE!

2.Sit down with spouse to go over budget. Get him on board. Get it Done. $400 savings goal.

3.Break out the brand new KitchenAid. Find a recipe and make something. Why is it just sitting there lonely on the counter with the instructions in the bowl? I wanted it so badly, but there it just sits.

3. Exercise-Light jog. Then pampering and rest. Yes, it is work to actually take the time to soak your feet, paint your nails, or put the heating pad on your shoulders.

"Do it"

"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit."--Aristotle

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Answer.

                                     Why Do you Write?

A Question that was asked recently. I've been giving it a lot of thought. At first it shook me up, like, I don't know why I write? Further, why am I writing, in the sense of, maybe I shouldn't be..

I came up with some ideas that mattered to me: Food, Fitness, and Fun. Then I asked, how do I want to live? With Abundance, was the answer. So I took my journals online, and named the hastily thrown together blog- Abundance: Frugality, Food, Fitness and Fun.

That was all of the more thought that was put into it. Then while online I began to learn from other like minded Frugal friends, or those who were raising chickens, beginning exercise programs, or attending fun events for free. This gave me a sense of understanding and support. Learning new information about living with less, being on a budget, eating healthy delicious food while having fun is amazing! So I continued.

Today, in addition to those reasons above, I write because I think I've formed a habit. You know our habits, those things that we repeatedly do over and over that become who we are. If we eat right, exercise and budget we will be healthy, wealthy and wise. Habits can be good. We all know the bad ones that we sometimes read about or may even experience in our own world. However, making a choice, a singular decision, opens the door to a new habit.

I write because it keeps me accountable, on track. I don't have it all together, and all of my goals are not met. We are human, so I would imagine, that we will continue to strive towards attaining all of our goals--But we can live abundantly right now.

I write. There doesn't have to be a reason. Sometimes it feels great to be enjoying the present moment. Having enough =Abundance.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Laughter. Choose to do it.

"Humor helps us to think out of the box. The average child laughs about 400 times per day, the average adult laughs only 15 times per day. What happened to the other 385 laughs?"-- USA Today

Laughter. How often do you do it? Is it spontaneous, or forced. I'm a firm believer that you can't be sad, and glad, at the same time. Neither can you be mad, and happy, at the same time. Isn't it interesting that we have a choice no matter our circumstances. Choose to laugh!

Finances: We saved our first $20 in an envelope towards Hawaii 2013. A conscious choice to go. A visible commitment. A tangible 20. The amount will only get larger and larger from here.

Fitness: Exercising 6 times a week is surely going to improve the fitness level. One could get discouraged at the amount of weight loss that is actually taking place. However, to stop when you have lost 4 lbs is ridiculous. Just like the $20 saved towards a goal, 4lbs lost is something, the poundage will continue to come off 1 pound at a time if perseverance is involved. After all it is 1/5 of the amount I want to lose. That is not all bad.

Food: The Nutrisystem plan is really working for my husband. 13 lbs lost since starting the plan. It has been nice to not to have to really cook. Just heat and serve. On the other hand, I like to cook. The house smells terrific and it is a warm cozy feeling when the stove has a big pot of soup, and the bread is rising. I've decided that my son should still experience this in spite of the fact that my husband and myself will not be eating any. It will be harder to not try some...but turkey sandwiches, hot pockets and fish sticks are not what I feel that he should be eating. So we start the cooking, baking and using the brand new Kitchen Aid today. We will see just how strong the willpower is...I'll let you know.

It's mid week. Wednesday. Embrace it, and laugh 400 times.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Food, Fitness and Fun


We have taken the Nutrisystem challenge. At first I ate only the three meals that came with the plan, plus the 2 daily snacks that were in included. However after a few weeks of diligently following this regime my husband lost 13 lbs and I was stalled at 4lbs. What is wrong with that picture?

So I contacted the company, and they told me I wasn't eating enough! Not enough? I thought restricted calories would be better, not worse! So I had to eat 5-6 times a day. I have yet to eat all of the food that the nutrisystem plan suggests. I keep trying daily, but I have, so far, fallen short.  The 3 meals are no problem, they are very delicious for the most part too! The water intake is a little short, I should be drinking more. It is the vegetables, dairy and protein that are an issue. I need to try and fit those in, when they are prescribed to keep my metabolism running high, says nutrisystem. So this week (yesterday) I did well. I checked everything off, except for 2 items. Time will tell. In week 2 of 9 weeks of exercise to lose 20 lbs. I feel terrific! Just haven't lost any more than 4 lbs.


This has been an AWESEOME year of exercise so far! I began with a New Year's Eve Resolution run. The 5 K had me feeling that I could do that again, and improve my time too! So signing up for another in February I will continue to run daily. Yesterday, I ran with the dog. She made it 2 miles!!! This is a pup that couldn't run more than 5 minutes on Black Friday. Today she is holding her own after 25 minutes!!! She is getting in great shape, and i feel so good about it! She still looks a little bit like a meatball, but her collar is getting loose. So I know she is losing some. I am adding a 5:30 am workout 3 times a week to boost my metabolism in the morning. The Couch to 5 K program sure jump started me on my way--I sure recommend giving it a try.


Everyone is excited about the trip to Hawaii in 2013. Using Southwest Airlines and Priority Club Rewards points to fund the majority of the trip, it is encouraging to know that we can use the program for items that are perpetual to earn even more points towards travel. Even home electric earns points. Still trying to figure out who the partners with the loyalty programs are. Hoping to add those that we already use, like internet, cable and other utilities. We don't want to spend more to get points, but it would be foolish to not earn points for those items that we are already using.

January 2012 is a good month. Staying on focus is always the challenge. However, it sure has been effortless and a lot of fun this New Year! Hope you are having a similar time of it ~

Monday, January 9, 2012

"Enjoying where you are, on the way to where you're going."

"Monday Monday, so good to me,
 Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be
 Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guarantee
 That Monday evening you would still be here with me." --Mamas and Papas

Fitness. It is the number one goal. 20 lbs lost in 9 weeks is the mantra.

I have begun teaching group fitness classes at a local gym. It is something that I have done in the past, but not for a very, very long time. After running in the New Year's Eve Resolution 5K and signing up for another 5K in early Feb, I thought I would maximize on the momentum and teach a group fitness class.

Mondays and Wednesdays I teach two- 1 hour long classes. Last week was the first week. I sure was sore on Friday. Today, Monday, I feel fantastic! Ready to give it another go this evening. Plus we have added 2 more classes this week for a total of 4! Educators and students from the local high school were interested in that 4pm time slot. It should be a lot of fun!!

 I'm still applying, and interviewing, for what has been termed by those nearest and dear: "Real jobs".  My background is in higher education. I've been an adjunct professor, worked within student affairs, and as an academic adviser. However, I sure am enjoying where I am, on the way to where I'm going.

Blessings, on a Terrific Monday! Here's to the start of a fantastic work week.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Identifying witht the Shepherd.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany (Three Kings). We took down our Christmas Tree. It is always sad when it doesn't snow at least once when the tree is up. Onward to Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day!! Spring will be here before you know it! (....and it will be time for Florida weather)

Yesterday morning, at church, my 83 year old grandmother by my side, I looked into the manger scene like I have done for over 40 years. The same characters, the same images defined. "Who do you relate to?" I asked myself.  I still have the same response after all of these years.

"The Shepherd". The shepherd in our church's manger scene wears a colorful hat, vest and has sheep at his feet. The shepherd is the same after all of these years. He even has an instrument in his arms. I've never really personally related to the 3 kings bearing gifts, or even the holy family in the barn. I sometimes wish to be the king, or savior, but I'm beginning to understand that those are not my calling. They are not, or I would have related to them from the time of my youth.

I welcome the shepherd image. He is a leader, but not responsible for saving the world, only for the flock that he has been entrusted. I'd never noticed it before, but the shepherd was looking in the same direction as the 3 kings. Even though their paths, and eyes, don't cross...the shepard and the kings are both looking in the SAME direction, the savior, the Christ child. It makes sense doesn't it? As long as we are moving forward according to our purpose, having the best of material things doesn't much matter.

I think we should stop trying so hard to be something that we are not--and instead just be. Be the person that you were created to be. Stop and Be, and the doing won't be so hard.

Embrace the shepherd, or king. But just be happy being you.

HAPPY New Year! Here's to a life on purpose--Teaching another week of fitness classes at the gym, so excited!!

Frugality Vs. Fun. Does it have to be" Either" "Or"?

Frugality: It feels GREAT to save! It feels GREAT to get a bargain! Having an abundance to share is even better!

Fun: Vacations, Dinner out, Outdoor adventure, Long drives and conversation, Shopping....etc. Costs money $.

Now I don't know about you, but sometimes Frugality takes a back seat to Fun. This isn't my ideal, this isn't even my intention, ever. However, it happens-and it happened this weekend. We can afford to take $150-$200 a week to spend frivolously, without serious consequence. However, is that a great idea? NO!

So why does it happen? Someone says: "Hey let' can fill in the blank with: Shopping, Dinner out, Day trip on a full tank of gas ($55)...etc." I'm feeling guilty for spending. Guilt because I could have saved that $150. I could have paid down debt, built the emergency fund, or saved for vacation. All of the bills are paid, we still have money in our accounts, but we could have put money away.  What was I thinking?

Have you ever wanted your money back after spending frivolously on silly things that leave you with nothing to show for it? I am apparently not on my own plan. It is UNCOOL. I need to get with the program.

My fitness goals are on track.
My weight loss goals are on track.
My minimizing stuff goals are on track

I feel abundance in my life, we do not lack for anything--BUT, spending, just to have fun frivolously, when I could have saved, shared or invested is silly. Just silly. It's time to get with the program.

Writing my short term savings goal here:
"I will save $400 for the household emergency fund by February 3rd." Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012


I Love new beginnings!! Don't you? Isn't it fun to have 365 days to fill! My mind has been busy dreaming and planning for the year ahead! I think it is going to be a miraculous year! A Year of new opportunities, friendships and goals met. Discovering what our purpose is can be the most fun ever! It doesn't have to be confusing or dull--just begin where you are.

Look around you. Look at your home, family, friends, work--they are all blessings. Often times we are so busy getting to where we are going that we forget to stop and look around at where we are at. Don't take this new year for granted. (Or the people who are in it with you) You have 365 (well 359 now) days to fulfill your dreams, reach your goals and become who God created you to be!

ABUNDANCE: Frugality, Food, Fitness and Fun are my focus areas. Life is Abundant!

Frugality: Use Cash and not credit/debit

Food: Continue to use portion control to lose the remains of 20 lbs- weight loss

Fitness: Run the second 5K race and improve my time

Fun: Figure out how to go to HAWAII in 2013 for NEARLY Free.

What are your 2012 Goals? Have you written them down?

Blessings in this NEW YEAR~