Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Cyber Monday!

Hope this finds all of you blogger friends grateful after a blessed Thanksgiving and not too stressed about the upcoming Christmas season. I am happy to report that MOST of my shopping is done (at least ordered). As many of you know, we go to Michigan for Christmas to visit my husband's family. Again this year we are planning to visit the hospital in Cleveland on our way up to Mich and my daughter is again organizing a fundraiser/toydrive. This has been such a blessing to our family!

Yesterday I cooked up my two Maine pumpkins into puree...thinking I'll make a pumpkin cake and muffins tonight. I toasted the seeds also, so yummy. My cousin Carl gave me a big bag of NC mountain apples, so I'm thinking more applesauce will be on the menu.

There are just not many free samples out there these days, but here's one for Biolage shampoo:
And one for Dingo dog treats:

I do hope you are getting in on the great internet deals. Check out amazon for sure and for any other stores, be sure to go through ebates first to get money back on your purchases:
It amazes me that even ebay is on there!

One gift that I really like to give is a magazine subscription. Check this out for $3.99 a year deals on Rachel Ray and Family Fun:

Share your great deals with us!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ebates and Black Friday

If you shop at all online, you really need to have an ebates account. I was a little slow to warm up to this, but I don't know why, because it's a great deal. Basically, where ever you want to shop, go to ebates first and click on that store...then shop as you normally would. You get a percentage back into your ebates account evert time. And you automatically get a $5.00 bonus just to open the account. Most stores (hundreds) are on ebates: Walmart, Kmart, Barnes and Noble, even ebay and groupon!! So buy your good deals and get cash back in the form of a check every 3 months. Plus, right now if you refer 5 friends (yep, that's you!) you get $50.00. Refer 50 friends and get an iPad!! So, share the here:

I didn't even wake up this morning until 8am. I never sleep that late. Must have been God telling me that I really didn't need to go shopping at o'dark hundred. I've never been one of those crazy get in line at midnight people...if you are, I hope you weren't crushed or anything horrible like that. I went out one year at 5am because we had a Guatemalen student with us who really wanted to go. She had a blast. Abby and I couldn't for the life of us figure out why she was so happy.

Anywho...I did go shopping today. The funny thing is, for me Black Friday is more about getting things I need at a discount. I really raked in at Walgreens and CVS with lots of free-with-a-profit by using coupons. I think I need to slow down on the toothpaste and deoderant...or give a bunch away...or both. I also got a laser printer. 50 bucks. Couldn't resist. The starter toner is supposed to print 700 copies. I'll let you know if it's worth it.

I also picked up a pair of shoes for work on clearance at Sears. I'm so not an exciting shopper. It's a good thing the kids don't have a big list!

Tomorrow we'll buy our tree in the scratch and dent tree bin at Spillman's tree farm. You know the one: a missing branch or a crunched side. It's our tradition to find the best Chralie Brown tree. Then we come home and decorate the house.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Cicero said that the highest virtue is gratefulness.

Did you know that thankful people live longer??

"I thank my God every time I remember you..." Phil 1:3

Have a thankful Thanksgiving my blogger friends!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Warehouse stores and whose fault is it, anyway??

In my never-ending interest of all things economic, an article in Time magazine highlighting two new books about the current financial crisis caught my eye. The titles of the two books are: The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America--and Spawned a Global Crisis and The Devils are all Here. Of course, both books claim to be fair and balanced accounts, but from reading this article and the actual author tidbits on Amazon, it is obvious that most of the blame is placed on the greedy lenders/bankers/wall-streeters. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of truth there, but what aggravates me the most is the lack of blame placed on all the greedy buyers who wanted houses that were simply too much for them to afford.

Case in point: Mike and I have purchased 4 homes in the last 15 years--we still own two of them. Without exception, every time we bought, our lenders qualified us for more than we were comfortable borrowing and our realtors insisted on showing us homes that were in that price range. But we were undeterred!! We insisted on buying a home far below what we were told we could have because we didn't want huge payments. It's that easy!! Any thoughts on this??

Another interesting article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted what they call the "just-in-time consumer;" that is, more and more shoppers are buying only what they need, when they need it. Apparently warehouse stores like Sams and Costco are feeling the hit and are offering items in smaller package sizes. I can see both sides of this one. While I most admittedly will buy items that are free after rebate even if I don't need them right then, I've also never been a big proponent of the warehouse store. In fact, I let my Sam's Club card expire several years ago. I have found - with very few exceptions - that Aldi prices and Wal-Mart prices combined with coupons beat warehouse prices hand's down. I also don't have the storage space for gallon size tubs of ranch dressing. When do I stock pile? When there is an unbeatable deal. If I can get peanut butter for 50 cents a jar with a coupon (thus beating the warehouse price per ounce), I'll get 5 or 6 jars, but not 20. There will be another sale. As I've blogged about before, the way I make sure to use up what I have is by shopping hardly at all right before (about 3 weeks) we go to Maine in the summer and eating up all we have on hand. I also periodically give to food drives, which keeps my pantry cleaned out. The good news: 93% of consumers say that they expect to continue spending cautiously even when the economy improves. We'll see if that holds true...

And here's a deal on postage stamps that make them 41 cents each (rather than 44)...some hoops to jump through, but worth it if you send as many cards as I do:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving traditions

It's been a gray day. Gray trees. Gray sky. Gray tea. Gray stomach. But I seem to be coming around. Still can't figure out if it was the refried beans and plantains that I had for lunch or if a stomach virus came to visit, but either way, I seem to be over the worst of it. I just went for a lovely walk to "blow the cobwebs out of my head" as my mother used to say. It is gray days like this that inspire me to write; I'm not exactly sure why that is...maybe the cool air drives us in to snuggle with tea and a book.

Yesterday I got two rebate checks back from items I sent in this summer! Ususally the checks come quicker than that. I don't keep a record unless it's a substantial rebate. Also got the ONE dog food sample. And I listed a book on ebay. I haven't sold anything for such a long time, so I'll consider this a test run.

Have you noticed all the stores that are starting their sales on Thanksgiving day instead of Black Friday?? That just annoys me a little bit. I understand where they are coming from, but it takes away from just being thankful for what we have and focuses instead on what we can get.

I love Thanksgiving. It has always been my favorite holiday. Because of the age differences in our family, I grew up pretty much an only child, and the holidays were special because everyone came home. Thanksgiving usually saw the men folk hunting in the morning while the women prepared all sorts of special food. We have been away since we were married, so we have come up with our own traditions. One of our favorites is a tablecloth that we write on every year (see the photo from a few years back). Since we are away from family, we usually invite other friends who are  "away" also, and whoever is present has to write something that they are thankful for. It is fun every year to look back at all the names and memories. When the kids were really little, we would visit a nursing home after we ate. So many of those folks are lonely, and loved holding our babies. I make the traditional meal: turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberries, pumpkin pie. And of course, we have the Macy's Day parade playing, even if no one is watching! What are your traditions?

Monday, November 22, 2010

That fine line...

You know that fine line between saying "Don't let me be sick, don't let me be sick, don't let me be sick," and, "OH, PLEASE, just let me get this over with..." I've officially crossed the line. Out of commission until further notice...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Leaky roof and credit cards..

Judging by all the facebook comments about Abby's post...I'm thinking I should have her as a guest writer more often!

There are not many free samples out there right now. I'm thinking it's because companies are focusing more on the upcoming holiday shopping season. Even the credit card companies are involved. I have two cards right now besides my debit (I suppose it goes without saying that I pay them off each month, but I'm saying it anyway). I've been planning to cancel  my Bank of America Mastercard, but they keep sending out good deals. From now until 12/31 I can get 20% cash back on Fandango, Netflix, Carrabbas, Subway, Outback and Barnes and Noble. Not too shabby. Obviously I won't buy things I wouldn't normally get, but B&N is a big shop for me at Christmas. They also just sent a card saying I'll get $10 back for making two Shell gas purchases (totalling $ hard is that??) and also a card for $10 back on any $10 purchase at Kohls...that's a FREEBIE! So, guess I'll hold on til after the new year.

My newest (and soon to be only) card is a AAdvantage Visa to earn airline miles. I signed up for a really good promo and basically earned enough points in the first 2 months to get TWO FREE TICKETS TO EUROPE!!! How awesome is that? So, I think that was worth it since they waive the fee for the first year. I'll let you kow if I get burned.

On another note, Mike and I had a new roof put on 5 years ago. The roof wasn't leaking, but it was 25+ years old and we had a big windstorm that blew off a bunch of shingles. To prevent leaks--and knowing that a new roof was inevitable--we started pricing. We got a fairly good deal and put on 30 year architectural shingles. Within a year we had two leaks in different areas. We called them and they came over immediately, threw some tar one it and said we should be fine. They had pounded nails right through the outside shingles!! My husband has helped his Dad build a few houses. He was NOT happy. 6 months later we had another leak. We figured out where it was on our own by crawling under the eaves and spraying water on with a hose. Mike fixed that one. Now, a year later, there is an area of paint falling off the living room ceiling. Mike went up today to check it out. 5 NAILS through the roof. He took pictures of them all and patched it. We haven't yet called them back. So what would you do? Demand a refund? New roof? Partial refund? Report to BBB? It's very frustrarting because we had NO leaks before the new roof. Ahhh, home ownership!

Going to serve at a dinner for foster families tonight...early Thanksgiving...yummm!

Friday, November 19, 2010

guest post by Abby

So sorry I've been out of commission all week friends. My computer has been giving me fits and today is the first day it seems to be a little better. I've decided to dedicate this post to my daughter Abby who has been filling out college and scholarship aps continuously. On one she was asked to respond to this paragraph: "A lazy person does little to nothing while a busy person does almost everthing, but the similarity is that both refuse to be intentional. Busyness is the moral equivalent of laziness...We say that haste makes waste, but the way we function indicates that we really believe that the hare, and not the tortoise, wins the race. Exhaustion is inevitable when we take on too much or fail to anticapte the unseen demands that come with every new commitment. And our exhaustion plays itself out in countless ways, especially in our key relationships. Busyness, however, is moral laziness because it involves refusing to live with courage and intentionality. Instead, we give our spirit over to the demands of necessity."

Here is her response:

Earlier today I found myself lying on the floor, half-way through my second bag of discount Halloween candy, completely disgusted with myself. There I was munching through my fifteenth fun-size Butterfinger, allowing the countless demands on my time to pile up around me like my discarded candy wrappers. As I began to analyze my position, I found that my laziness was a defense mechanism against my increasingly busy lifestyle.

Lately I have been feeling the pressure of “giving [my] spirit over to the growing demands of necessity.” My days have been filled ceaselessly with the many activities that I committed to at the beginning of my school year, many of which are permanent commitments that I cannot now leave. I confess that much of the pressure I feel to be involved in so many areas comes from the push of colleges who want not only good scholars, but “well-rounded” ones at that. Not content with mere grades, they want/reward students who excel in multiple areas. I did not truly realize the position I was in until my grandmother (age 88) passed away mid-October. When I returned from her funeral I was completely swamped by the make-up work from my four AP courses, online Spanish Three, missing the middle school small group that I normally lead, and the fast approach of our cross country conference meet. I was exhausted. Everything that I was involved in suffered as a result.

Now that cross country is over I find myself sinking to the opposite extreme. Allender has helped me realize that the struggles of busyness and laziness are actually two sides of the same proverbial coin. By doing everything, I was removing the necessity of excelling in anything. By doing nothing I was also (obviously) accomplishing nothing. There is a certain way that time management is a moral issue, and it is magnified when the person who is managing their time incorrectly is a leader within their social circles. Intentionally refusing to be intentional, whether by doing everything or nothing, not only destroys productivity, but also wastes God-given minutes and hours that can never be recaptured.

This week I am going to spend an astonishing amount of time doing nothing, but I am going to be extremely busy while doing it. As I type this essay I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of midnight so that I can go to see the new Harry Potter movie premiere. Is it necessary? No. So why am I wasting my time in this way when there are so many more productive things that I could be doing?

The answer is not difficult to understand, only difficult to admit: I am taking the easy way out of all those things that I really need to do, but do not desire to do. As a leader of two small groups I should be preparing lessons for them. As an academic leader in my class I should be setting the example of a true scholar by studying for my AP Calculus quiz tomorrow. These are not “fun” things, but they are important things. When I put off the important things in favor of the mundane I am committing a moral crime. Unfortunately these reflections are not going to deter my going to the premiere tonight, but they have given me food for thought about my time management skills in the future.

Looking ahead to college, I honestly want to improve my time management so that I can excel in areas that are important to me and to God’s kingdom. I confess that oftentimes I swing back and forth from the two extremes of lying on my back and eating chocolate and juggling every activity that my school and church has to offer instead of finding one or two things that I could do in a truly exceptional way. As I leader I am fast recognizing the importance of doing things thoroughly even if it means doing less. There is only a set amount of hours in each day for anyone to excel in, and being unintentional about those hours is at worst ethically wrong (sinful), and at best wasting time that cannot be reclaimed. Christians are called to lead “purpose driven” lives and I am becoming more and more convinced that disguising a life without purpose by leading as many activities as possible is not God honoring. I intend to continue to be a leader in the college setting, but want to set a better example for people to follow in the area of time management. This may mean that I will not be able to do everything, but that, I am realizing, is not a bad thing. No one has been called to do everything; we are all different parts of the Body and have different functions. Once I discover my primary “function(s),” I will certainly pursue it/them with intentionality and vigor, not wasting a single minute through laziness or busyness, or at least that is my current intention…three hours and 35 minutes until the movie premiere, but who’s counting?

Monday, November 15, 2010

A few freebies for you...

There aren't many internet freebies out there right now, but with Christmas right around the corner, I can tell you that stores are pulling out all the stops--a very good thing for us! Be sure to check or your other favorite site that lets you know what the deals are every week at the three big drugstores. I scored big at Rite Aid tonight. One Free Herbal Essence and 2 free Gain dish detergents. Also picked up some 90% off candy. The cashier told me she wished the manager would just let her put it in a buggy with a "free" sign on it because it's such bother to code in all the sale prices. Sounds good to me!

There are some fantastic deals coming up on Black Friday. I'll tell you more about that later...along with my strategy, which is really pretty lame compared to some people.

Office Depot has a BIG list of 100% back after rewards items this week, and they are good for two per person. Time to stock up on office supplies! Good until 11/20. Check them out here:

Snapfish has a great deal right now: 365 free 4x6 prints with any $10 purchase, with code 2010MY365. There are lots of $10 items, including more prints. Buy a $10 gift and get all your pics developed:

Get a free sample of Nature's Bounty You Life Multi Adult Gummies:

Free sample of Avery shipping labels:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Do not Fear

This has always been one of my favorite praise and worship songs and our church does a wonderful job singing it, but it took on special meaning after our wreck as many people sent us this verse as a reminder. Again this summer, when I stood with my mom watching the house go up in smoke, the words, "when you pass through the fire, you will not be burned, " came to me again. Today, we sang the song in church...and of course I cried, because that's just enjoy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Veteran's Day Salute

I'm about as patriotic as you get. I love this country and I have the utmost respect for all those who have served, are serving and will serve to protect my freedom. I want to especially thank those in my family who were/are in the armed forces. I think of my Uncle Lester, who passed away not too long ago and who was part of the greatest generation, serving in Europe during WW II. I have several great uncles who served in WW I. My cousin, Carl Monroe, who at 89 still runs his own construction company here in NC served in WW II as a pilot. My three brothers put in varying time in the Air Force. My nephews Leon and Larry, my oldest borther's sons, have both served. Leon is a West Point grad and has served as a neurosurgeon for the Army ever since his graduation from med school. His wife Lisa is also a doctor and she continues to serve in the Army. My nephew Larry served 20 years as a Ranger. He saw a lot of action up close and personal including Grenada, Somolia and Iraq. His wife, Kerry, also serves in the Army. Leon and Lisa's children are in varying stages of what they term "learning to serve." Their oldest, Kristen, is a senior at UVA. She is there on an ROTC scholarship and I believe has chosen to serve her 4 years immediately after graduation. Her sister Aimee is also at UVA in the ROTC program. Their brother Geoff is in his first year at West Point. On my husband's side of the family, I thank my FIL Bill for serving during the Korean War, my BIL Marshall for serving 4 years in the army and my niece Chelsea, who is currently in the army.  I cannot adequately express my gratitude. Thank you. 
(I apologize if any of this info is inaccurate.)

Since a picture paints a thousand words, I'll share some with you:
Great Niece Kristen after Airborne School, 2009.

Nephew Larry circa 1980s (?)
(Third from left)

Brother Larry, Air Force, 1960s

Nephew Leon taking command of Fort Meade MEDDAC, July 2010

Nephew Leon (in yellow) congratulating son Geoff after march at West Point, '10

Great-Nephew Geoff, West Point 2010

Nephew Leon, West Point 1980

Kristen, on the left, Aimee 3rd from left,
UVA  ROTC 2010

Good friend Larry Small, USMC, disabled vet talking to my son Lee

niece Chelsea, on the left, 2010


America, Bless God.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Free Prescription sunglasses...and essentials continued...

"Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4: 7, 23

I love the book of Proverbs. Each verse is so rich. Sometimes (oft times) though, I find myself mindlessly reading and not really grasping what it is that is being stressed. I mean, honestly, am I willing to pay any price to get understanding? What does that mean? Even if taken figuratively, do I value wisdom above all else? And the heart truly is our wellspring of life, in every way. Yet every day, my heart is "prone to wander, prone to leave the One I love." You know the rest of the song...."take my heart, oh Lord and seal it, seal it for thy courts above." I can save money and find the deals, but if my heart is not His, if I am not seeking wisdom and understanding (through the Word and through those Godly saints He has sent before me), then it is all for naught. Let's seek Him, my friends. Even though I daily let Him down, Christ has NEVER let me down.

Great day so far. Had a wonderful time in the word, along with a hot cup-o-jo. There's a double batch of crock pot granola cooking that has the whole house smelling like cinnamon and nutmeg. Yesterday I pulled the last of the beet greens. They were delightfully delicious. We've had our first two hard frosts and now Mike is kicking himself for not pulling the tomatoes and impatiens before they turned to slime. The mailbox has been brimming with freebies lately: Crisco olive oil, a "big" P&G box with Pantene and more, Curel lotion, coupon for free Barilla....hope you are signing up friends.  I'm ending today's post with some great free stuff for ya.

Essentials. Yesterday I touched on groceries. Here's the next big one: Clothing and getting that clothing clean. Again, obviously we have to have to wear clothing, but how much we have and where we get it makes a huge impact on our budget. I am most admittedly NOT a fashionista, so this is not an area of struggle for me. I still have and wear some of the same clothes I had in high school. I don't think I have to state the obvious, but I will anyway: the best place to find reasonably priced clothing is at yard sales, followed closely by thrift stores, consignment shops and clearance racks. (My personal favorite is hand-me-downs, but of course, you can't always count on that.) If wearing the latest is important to you, then at least make sure you are taking advantage of sales and store coupons. As I like to tell my friends, it's not always that I can't afford to pay full price,  I just think I'm being a poor steward of my money when I do. Take a good hard look at your closet. How much do you actually wear? I do this at least once a year and have found that I tend to wear the same few outfits over and over. The less clothing I have, the easier my life is. I have many like-minded frugal friends and family members and we are forever passing clothes around, so consquently I give away several bags of clothes (all family members) a year. Less IS more.

Caring for clothes? I shy away from anything that says, "dry clean only, " and when I do take items to the cleaner, I use coupons. I don't do laundry unless I have full load. Typically I wash in cold water and hang at least a couple of loads a week on the clothes line. I use about half the amount of detergent called for and sometimes I reuse my dryer sheets, or I cut them in half. I don't wash clothes unless they need it. None of these things in and of themselves will make me rich, but collectively they add up. It's a mindset that says, "Sure, I can spend more, but why would I? How do you save money on clothes??

And finally, some deals for you:

Free 10,000 pair of prescription glasses promo on facebook! Click here for details:

Get a pair of free flip flops with a lot code off a pack of Orbit "remix" gum:

Sign up here for a promotional booklet called "Organize in Style" that has coupons for Swiffer, Febreeze, Dawn, Cascade and others:

As of this morning, Wholly Guacamole still had a $4.00 coupon out making their products free or almost free! I love their fresh salsa! The coupon is only good for 5 days after you print it:

And if you live near a Jack in the Box check this out: Jack in the Box has done it again! On Tuesday, November 16 after 2:00 pm you can get two free tacos at Jack in the Box (no coupon required). No other purchase is necessary. It’s always a good idea to call your local Jack in the Box to confirm that they are participating in this promotion. Thanks Freebies-4-mom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What exactly is essential?

Don't you love that time of the month (or week, depending on your style) when you have to sit down and pay the bills? I pay them as close to the 15th of each month as I can, because my husband is paid on that day. I immediately write out the tithe and mortgage checks. Most of my bills are paid online. I could do this with the mortgage, but I add as much extra as I can each month, so it varies in amount. I am paid bi-weekly, and my checks vary widely because I may work 4 hours one week and 20 the next. One thing I have learned: if I I send out the mortgage as soon as Mike gets paid, adding as much as I reasonably can, I then have to force myself to make do with what is left. If I wait until the end of the month to pay, invariably other things come up and the extra isn't added. Works for us.

I remember reading an Amy Dacyzyn article waaaaaaay back about figuring out what is essential and what isn't. It was eye-opening even though we were poor college students at the time. Since then, I've read much on the subject, so for the next few posts, I'm going to talk about several "essential" areas and ways that I have found that I can cut back...or ways I didn't but could!

Let's hit the biggie first: groceries. Aside from the mortgage and possibly the tithe, it is the single biggest expense that most of us have. I remember a co-worker once talking about her MIL. Seems mama had given her a dressing down about how much she was spending on groceries. "She just doesn't get it, " she sniffed, "it's not like we can just stop eating." On further probing when we were alone, she admitted that she spent way too much on "junk food." "My husband and kids will easily eat a whole box of chicken wings, a bag of popcorn and a 2 liter of Coke every night watching TV" she sighed, "but I just don't feel like I can tell them no." It really is the little foxes that ruin the vines, isn't it?

To make this personal, let's look at my typical Aldi $90.00 grocery purchase.  What I would call the essentials are: milk, OJ, eggs, lunch meat, cheese, bread, frozen/fresh veggies, peanut butter, fruit, oatmeal, ground turkey, chicken,  rice and pasta. What I buy that I could cut out completely: coffee/filters, juice boxes for lunches (more on this later), poptarts, boxed snack cakes, soda and candy. What I could easily substitute for a cheaper alternative: cold cereal (oatmeal/grits), baby carrots (cut and peel whole carrots), condensed soup (make my own with basic white sauce) paper napkins (cloth)...well, you get the idea.

In other words, yes, we do have to eat, but we could subsist on rice and beans (Dave Ramsey style). Where you draw the line is a very personal matter. I just want to get you thinking about what you truly need. One item that I did cut out this year is the pre-packaged juice boxes. With 5 lunches packed a day, (Mike drinks water), even using store brands and coupons, I was spending about $4.75 a week. Now I wash and reuse 12 oz Gatorade bottles and fill them with generic "crystal lite." I spend about a dollar a week. Over the course of the school year, this will save over $120.00. And that's just one example. You will also recall that I get 97% of my toilettries (toothpaste/brushes, soap, shampoo, deoderant, make-up, etc) free after rebates at the "big 3" drugstores. Obviously, I'm not brand loyal.

There you go, some food for thought. What could/have you cut out of the grocery bill?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Money woes...

There seems to be, according to the stats, a new trend among mall-goers; shoppers are visiting 3 stores on average instead of 5, and they are visiting "with a purpose." In other words, window shopping and recreational shopping are out and buying things you actually need is in. What a concept.  Coupon shopping and "grouponing" type sites are busting at the seams.

And shoppers are continuing to eat out. This was very surprising to me at the beginning of the recession. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that restaurant parking lots were still full while people everywhere around me (who I knew were filling those parking lots) were complaining about "just getting by." Recently though, I read an article about a new upscale restaurant in Portland, Maine. (Digression here: I tend to read -and therefore know-more about my home state than I will ever know about NC. Election night I followed the results of the governor's race in Maine very closely on the web while watching TV at the same time. I was very annoyed when our local TV newscaster kept breaking into the national news with updates on NC races. Guess I'm just a Mainer at heart....)The owner of the new eatery was proclaiming great success and offered the following explantion: Many middle to upper class folks are cutting out "big" extras like new cars, lavish vacations, country club memberships and private schools for their kids. So to make life "bearable" while having to do without the finer things, they justify going out for a nice meals just as, if not more often than before. Ahhhhh, it all makes sense now. I've never been in that position, so the mindset is completely foreign to me.

My conclusion is that we spend our money on what we value...and we'll sacrifice just about anything to do it. A heroine addict will sacrifice his family and his health to get enough cash for his next high. A woman who values fashion will sacrifice the trust of her husband by taking money from his wallet or hiding the credit card bills from the latest shopping spree in order to wear the newest styles.  One family I know was "devastated" when they had to pull their child from a local Christian school, but then promptly took the whole family to Disney, a trip that I later learned cost far more than a year's tuition. Make no mistake, rich or poor, we all-myself included-do this. We pay for what we value.

I challenge you to think about what it is that you personally value. Better yet, take a close look at where your money is going, for "where you money is, there will your heart be also." You might be surprised.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sticky Thoughts

Yesterday I spent the morning in the parking lot of Grimsley High School in Greensboro, waiting while my Korean student took the SAT subject tests. I "redeemed the time" by writing thank you notes to those who gave money/flowers/etc in memory of my mom. It's gratifying to write thank you notes. It took me about 3 hours to write almost 50 of them, and I ended that time feeling very blessed, not only by those who gave, but also by my mom, who elicited such a warm response in others.  She would be most pleased to know that over $1000 was given in her honor to her little country church.

Later in the day, we went to a BBQ Chicken fundraiser for an area youth group and then to a Harlem Rockets basketball game which was also a fundraiser for a young boy who used to be a student at our school. He is batting cancer...but what a shining testimony...and he was sinking 3 pointers too! After the game, Mike and I went to Panera for a date night (I love their soup) and then rented Robin Hood (I also love Russell Crowe).  Just a gem of a day.

Today we had a wonderful church service. The speaker is with Campus Outreach, a ministry to college kids. He spoke about--of all things--dealing with the grief of death. After telling a little about his own life and the young folks he had known who have died seemingly "senseless" deaths, he stressed two points: God is sovereign and God is good. These were the two areas after the wreck in which God showed Himself so very real in our lives, and He continues to show me that on a daily basis. After the service, I was talking with a gentleman about this very subject. He held up his Bible and said, "But if we aren't living this during the good times, He will never seem sovereign and good to us in the bad."  (Thanks, Darcy).

And that is my sticky thought for you this weekend.  Are so close to God that when the tough times come, you will be able to unequivocally say, "God is Sovereign and God is good. All the time."

Let's have a great week...lots of deals coming up, read carefully.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's the little things....

Last night my oldest son was wanting to see pictures of his Dad's souped up '68 GTO (which was sold after baby #3 so we could buy a minivan--oh, the tragedy...). Anyhow, I was looking for these photos and really had no idea where to start. After seaching for about 30 minutes, I grabbed a big crate I have that is the "junk drawer," if you will, of my photos. You know the box. It's the one where all the random photos/cards/papers get thrown. On top lay a bunch of scrapbooking pens and stickers. On a whim, I dug clear to the bottom and grabbed several photos. What I pulled out caused me to sit right down in the middle of the floor and cry tears of joy. It was a baby picture of me with my mom. To fully understand the significance of the moment, you have to go back further than my mom's funeral 3 weeks ago, which in and of itself might have produced tears, but not like this. You have to go back to this summer when the old homestead of 57 years went up in smoke. I honestly believed that my only baby pictures (and, I thought, the baby pictures of all my siblings) were in the house that night. I do not ever remember taking any photos of myself out of the house; I just assumed that after mom passed on to the other side that I would get them then. I had sat with her this summer and looked through the album she had of when I was a baby, and I saw this very picture. I didn't know there were two of them. The day of the funeral, my cousin did share some photos, and there was a baby picture of me with my brother, which really made my day, but not like this one did. Isn't God good? It's such a little thing. It's not like I'm going to die without it. I'd pretty much convinced myself that it didn't matter anyway and had moved on to other issues. And when I was least expecting it...there it was.

Thank you, Lord, for the little things!

(I've been trying unsuccessfully for an hour now to scan the photo so you can see it and I keep getting a "scan error" message...but I REFUSE to let this cause me to be ungrateful...HA!) Have a great weekend:)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Free Calenders and pet food/litter

These are both links to free calenders, Pillsbury and Betty Crocker. They are 11X11 and have new recipes every month. Great way to get calenders for the new year! you have to sign up for an email newsletter.

Link to free sample of Purina ONE:

And if you have not used this already, click here: to get a 100% rebate on this brand cat litter!

Had some good shopping days lately. I had the $50 Groupon for Gap for which I paid $25--but I also got 2 referrals @ $10 each, so you could say I only ended up paying $5. Anyway, I used it in the clearance section in Four Season's mall and bought $269.00 worth of stuff with my little coupon. Nice! Now that my kids are older, these will make great Christmas gifts.

Also used my Renuzit $1 coupons for 2 free cones and my Coffee Mate $1 coupons for 2 of the holiday flavors, making them 50 cents each at Wal Mart. Bagged some half off Halloween candy in the process. Did great at Walgreens today, spending $15 but saving $18 on Tide detergent and stain release, Cottonelle wipes, Hellmans Mayo, 2 blocks of cheese and baggies. On to Rite Aid, where I picked up an "i-pod home" wannabee for 20 bucks (reg 50)This will be a Christmas gift. Also got some St. Ives apricot scrub, which is the only product I use on my face. It was on sale for $3.99, I had a $2 UP reward to use, and I will get back $3 in rebates. Gotta love it.

Tonight we are attending the fundraiser banquet for the High Point Pregnancy Care Center. We love supporting this very worthy cause.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


No blogging yesterday, too busy watching election results. I'm moderately happy, though I don't think much will change as far as the economy goes...which means, as always, we should hunker down, pay off debt as fast as we can and shop as little as possible while never paying full price. Amazing, my strategy has NEVER changed!!

So here are some deals to check out:

Here's an offer if you are willing to be up at 12 am on Friday...Lowe's will be giving out 5000 90% off coupons on a first come first serve basis. Not sure what the "more than a dozen" items will be, but if it's any big-ticket item, this is a whopping great offer. "Like" them on Facebook, them join the party:!/event.php?eid=101055153296472

Tom's of Maine toothpaste sample:

If you missed it the first time, Renuzit is giving out 70,000 more dollar off coupons for their air freshener cone, making them free! Here's the link:

Free children's books are back inside SMP's of Cheerios. 6 million books will be distributed in the next few months. Be on the lookout.

Get a free pack of Extra Dessert Delights gum here:

Four sample packs of ideal sweetener here:

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 1, 2010


The winner of the November 1rst drawing of 15 books and tea/coffee samples is Lynn Reeder from High Point, NC. Congratulations, Lynn, and thanks for reading my blog:)!!

Two facebook freebies:
Coupon for a dollar off a Renuzit air freshener cone, which makes it free at most stores:

Free sample of Folger's Special Roast Coffee:

Free sample of Prilosec OTC here:

Happy Shopping!