Monthly Archives: January 2013

12 Habits for 2013 {January Recap}

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12 Habits for 2013

January’s habit was daily Bible study.

I knew when I wrote my 12 habits for the year that this one would be January’s habit. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ll have periods where I’m really good about reading my Bible daily… and then something happens and I miss a day. Or two. Or a week.

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Lately it’s been more weeks going by instead of days and I knew I needed to change that. Since I’m finally getting into a better routine after having a baby a few months ago it’s easier to find a time to do this. At this point in my life I find it’s better if I do my Bible reading first thing in the morning. Before breakfast (and even coffee) to just take a little time and read His Word.

It sets the tone for the rest of the day. It improves my mood. It calms me. It reminds me how much I need Him.

And I’m proud to say that I succeeded in making this a habit! Every day I read and studied God’s Word. Some days I wasn’t able to spend as much time on it as I would have liked but I did my best.

And now for February’s habit of the month.

~ Exercise daily (even if it’s just 10 minutes).

Since a few of my goals for the year are health related I believe this is a good goal for February. I can’t wait to see how I do on this one!

Did you make goals or habits for 2013? How are you doing on them?

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Memory Verse of the Week: Week 2

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This week’s memory verse is Luke 2: 30 – 32:

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I love the line “all peoples” — that means everyone.  Jews, Gentiles… black, white… rich, poor… friends, enemies.  Everyone.

Up to this point the Jews were God’s chosen people.  They still are.  But the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was so all people could have salvation.  Luke stressed this several times in this book (probably because he was a Gentile himself).

A light… to the Gentiles.  Jesus was indeed a light to the Gentiles.  He showed them the way to salvation through Him.  He is still a light to the Gentiles and to all the world.

And glory to Israel.  Old Testament prophesy had been fulfilled!  The Savior of the Israelites had been born.  This was indeed a glorious time for the Jews… if they chose to accept that Jesus was the Messiah.

I love these verses. It shows such trust and faith by Simeon (the speaker of the verses). He had waited his whole life to see the Savior. God promised him that he would before he died and Simeon trusted that. He was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he immediately recognized the Christ Child as the Savior.

Oh to be that full of faith, trust and obedience!  My sinful self can’t even imagine.  He lived in God’s will.  May I be also, Lord.

If you would like to download this PDF in color, click this link (luke23032 color).  If you would like it in black and white, click the following link (luke23032 bw).

Goals for the Week: January 28 – February 3

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Goals for the WeekThese were last week’s goals:

~ Continue daily the Habit of the Month {Bible Reading}.  {Completed the book of Genesis.}
~ Complete Week 2 of Living Like Jesus Bible Study.
~ Do something extra for my husband {note, special meal, back rub, etc.} every day this week.  {This was fun and something I should continue.}
~ Read 2 books/ebooks.  {I am in the middle of “I Can Teach My Child To Read” and I read “30 Daily Weight Loss Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle” so I almost made this goal.}
~ Read at least three books a day to my daughter.  {Usually, it was several more!}
~ Introduce my daughter to the letter “L”. Review letters “A” and “C”.
~ Invite friends over for a meal.
~ Fill and drop off box to Goodwill.
~ Exercise 30 mins x 5 days.  {I did at least 30 minutes for 4 days.  Not too shabby.}
~ Clean all ceilings, ceiling fans and wipe down walls.  {Got more than half of them done.}
~ Declutter and organize {rearrange?} master suite.  {Still rearranging, but the decluttering and organizing is done (for the moment!).}

And here are this week’s goals:

~ Continue daily the Habit of the Month {Bible Reading for January; TBD for February}.
~ Complete Week 3 of Living Like Jesus Bible Study.
~ Have a date with my hubby.
~ Finish “I Can Teach My Child To Read” and read one other book/ebook.
~ Enjoy some play time with my daughter every day this week.
~ Introduce my daughter to the letter “E”. Review letters “L” and “C”.
~ Cooking from the pantry/freezer.  Need to clean it out!
~ Exercise 30 mins x 5 days.
~ Clean all baseboards.  Wipe down all doors and door frames.
~ Finish cleaning all ceilings, ceiling fans and wipe down walls.

My Coupon Binder

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So you’ve decided to save your family money by using coupons.  And you’ve studied the methods used by those I-bought-100-things-for-only-$5! kind of websites (or tv shows).  And while those are entertaining and do probably give good pointers here and there, they are not realistic.  Sorry to break it to you like that, but they’re just not real.

Sure, you can probably have a shopping trip where you save 90%.  But will they happen every time?  Sorry, not happenin’.  Not even every other time.  But don’t be discouraged.  You can still save your family money by using coupons, especially if you follow the rules I talked about in my previous couponing post.

Once you get started couponing it won’t take you long to figure out you’re going to need some kind of storage system for your coupons.  You may find that the big binders with baseball card holders etc, etc is the way to go for you.  It didn’t work for me.  For one thing it’s too big and bulky.   When I’ve got a toddler, an infant in a carseat, diaper bag, wallet, and shopping bags the LAST thing I want to lug around is a big old three ring binder.  It’s just too much.

So when WalMart had it’s Back To School stuff on sale last year I found a small accordian type folder that really works for me.

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It has 12 dividers with tabs and also came with 12 inserts for the tabs.  They were labeled Jan – Dec but I turned them over and wrote on the back.  (Aren’t I clever? lol)  Of course you could be fancy-dancy and design something on the computer or with a label maker.  Whatever floats your boat.  I love to be creative too, but at the time I did this there was no time for creativity, only function.

I took the layout of the store I most often frequent (in my case it’s WalMart) and divided the store up into sections.  Then I labeled each tab to reflect the divisions of the store, in order, so that it’s really easy for me to find the coupon I am looking for.  For example, I always, always start on the right hand side of the store (health and beauty aids) and work my way around counter clockwise so I’ll end up in the freezer section and produce (I don’t want my produce squished under everything else — including the toddler).  So my second tab says “Health and Beauty Aids”.  It has all of my coupons for things you’d find in that department: shampoo, soap, razors, vitamins, feminine products… you get the idea.

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You’ll notice I said that I started with my second tab.  My first tab says “Current Use”.  That’s where I put the coupons that I’m using on my current shopping trip only so it saves time at the register.  We’ve all been behind the person in the check out lane who has 400 coupons and at least half of them don’t work.  So frustrating (for you, the cashier, and the couponer).  You know why they don’t work?  That couponer doesn’t have a good system in place.  She probably hasn’t read the coupon carefully to check for expiration date or if the coupon calls for a specific type, weight, or other exclusion.

I vowed before I started couponing to never be that couponer.  The kind that gives the rest of us a bad name.  That I would be kind to the people around me (and to myself).  To have my stuff together before I get to the checkout lane.

So that is why I have the “Current Use” tab.  Once I locate the coupon I want to use and put that product in my grocery cart (after double checking to make sure I have the correct item for that coupon) I immediately file the coupon behind that first tab.  So simple and saves so much time later when I’m trying to corral cranky kids, throw my groceries on the checkout table/belt, find my wallet, and use those coupons.   Right then is not the time to try and remember which products I put in my cart so I can try and find the corresponding coupon.  Right then I’m ready to get my groceries and get out.of.that.store before my child becomes unglued…. or I do.

Aaaaanyway, let me get back to the point.  🙂

You might find that you want to tweak things just a bit after a few weeks of using your couponing system.  I moved a few of my tabs around because the flow wasn’t quite right.  (Because I tried to remember every aisle from memory when I completed my couponing folder… and my memory isn’t too great.)  Just find something that works for YOU!

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{Pardon the crumbs on my placemat.  My daughter was eating lunch as I took these pictures. :)}

How do you organize your coupons behind each tab?

I’m so glad you asked!  At first I debated about grouping all of the toothpaste coupons together, then the shampoo coupons, etc, etc.  But then I realized that would be a lot of hassle and I’d probably forget something.

I decided on the obvious choice: organizing by expiration date, with the closest expiration date first.

That really works for me.  I usually do a quick glance in each tab to see which coupons are about to expire.  If it’s something I need (or will need before I think I’ll have another coupon for it) I’ll buy it then instead of waiting for the item to go on sale.  I’d rather use up the coupon without a sale than pay full price for something I need because I waited too long and the coupon expired.

How do you maintain your couponing folder?

Every Sunday night or Monday morning when I’m clipping coupons I use that time to cull through my folder and see if there are any coupons that have expired.  Since I don’t have hundreds of coupons anyway (because I only clip them for products I use or want to try) that process really doesn’t take long at all.  I also take that time to remind myself of the coupons I have so if I see it on sale I can snag it.

How much money do you save each week?

This is tough to say, actually.  Some shopping trips I save $20 in coupons alone and some trips it’s $2.  I also save in other ways.  I bake my own bread.  I usually buy store brands (unless name brands are cheaper with a coupon than their store brand counterpart).  We rarely use paper towels (preferring these purple rags instead) or store bought cleaners.  We don’t (usually) drink carbonated beverages.  I do “splurge” on disposable diapers for both children — I haven’t gotten into the cloth diapering thing — but I do plan to make my own baby food when he’s old enough.

I routinely save 40% – 50% each time I go to Brookshires.  But because Brookshires has generally higher prices than WalMart I tend to only buy the things on sale.  So even though my receipt says I saved 48% it’s probably only about a 10% – 20% savings from WalMart’s everyday lower prices on those items.  {But when you can catch things on sale, use store coupons AND manufacturer coupons… now that’s saving money, buddy.  I recently found Pull-Ups on sale there for $9.48 (usually $9.98).  Rewards members scored an additional $0.50 off the discounted price.  I had been online and loaded a store coupon to my rewards card to take $2 off that price.  AND I had a manufacturer coupon for $2 as well.  Those Pull-Ups cost me less than $5.  Score!}

All in all my family of four (that being two adults, a 2.5 year old and an infant) spend about $100 a week on groceries, toiletries, baby items, etc.  Whatever you can buy from Brookshires or WalMart (the only two places I shop) is accounted in that figure.

And I’m constantly looking for more ways to save.  What’s your best money saving secret?  I’d love to hear!

Goals for the Week: January 21-27

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Goals for the Week

~ Continue daily the Habit of the Month {Bible Reading}.
~ Complete Week 2 of Living Like Jesus Bible Study.
~ Do something extra for my husband {note, special meal, back rub, etc.} every day this week.
~ Read 2 books/ebooks.
~ Read at least three books a day to my daughter.
~ Introduce my daughter to the letter “L”. Review letters “A” and “C”.
~ Invite friends over for a meal.
~ Fill and drop off box to Goodwill.
~ Exercise 30 mins x 5 days.
~ Clean all ceilings, ceiling fans and wipe down walls.
~ Declutter and organize {rearrange?} master suite.

These are my priorities this week. I feel like I make myself more accountable when I post my goals for everyone to see. I want to cross everything off this list! Of course, I also want to cross everything off of my daily to do list, but that rarely happens. There is always something to clean! 🙂

Memory Verse of the Week

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This week I started a new Bible study hosted by goodmorninggirls (dot) org called Living Like Jesus.  I stumbled across that website right before their last study (which was on Colossians) and I absolutely loved it.  I sincerely hope I am able to do more of their studies in the future.

Anyway, the memory verse for the week is:

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That just spoke to me.  Jesus rescues us.  He gives us what we need to be able to serve Him.  Without fear.  We should not be afraid to do what God has told us to do.  What’s the worst that can happen?

But to whom much is given much is expected.  We should be holy and righteous before Him.  Holy means being dedicated or devoted to the service of God.  Saintly; godly; pious; devout.  Righteous means acting in an upright, moral way.

And how long should we be holy, righteous, and in service to Him?  Until we have children and get busy with “life”? No.  Well maybe just until we get burned out and need a break? Still, no.  How about until we retire or get “old”.  We still should serve.

All.  Our.  Days.

Jesus wants us to serve Him all of our days.  That seems like so much sometimes.  It seems impossible.  But look how much He’s done for us.  He lived and He died for us and rose again, praise God!  He gave His life for me so that I may be with Him for eternity.  Eternity.  I can’t even wrap my head around that.  But even though He knows I don’t deserve it — I’ve sinned, I’ve turned away from Him, and I’ll sin again — He still died for me.

The least I can do is serve Him.

 

If you would like to download this week’s memory verse in pdf, click on this link:  Luke 1:74-75.  What’s your weekly memory verse or your favorite Bible verse?

Christmas Decoration Storage Ideas

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I had a brilliant idea (which probably isn’t very breakthrough, but stay with me) while I was putting up my Christmas decorations this year.

As I was boxing up the miriad of tinsel, ornaments, and everything else that goes along with the Christmas holiday I made a list.  (I just love making lists.  Any excuse to make a list.)  I numbered each box.  Then when I put something in that box I wrote it down beside that number on my list. For example, box #1 — which is labeled with a big 1 on top and one side in heavy permanent marker — contains most of our artificial tree stuff.  So on my list I wrote: (1) fake tree decorations: lights (blue and clear), tinsel (blue and silver), bead garland (blue and silver). And of course I did the same for each box.

This will help me tremendously when I’m taking out the boxes in November because each box can go where it needs to be straight away instead of cluttering up my dining area and living room!   And since I usually write out my Christmas cards early (because I buy them on clearance after Christmas to have a good supply for the next year) I can easily locate that box and take them out instead of opening six boxes until I find what I want.

Now I realize that y’all are way more organized than I am and you’ve totally got a system in order already — and have long since put up all of those Christmas decoration boxes, right? — so this may not help you.  But maybe there’s just one person out there like me.  Someone who’d like to be more organized and find a better way to do things.  Someone who might still be putting up the decorations… or may be just leaving them out til next year.  (Mardi gras tree, anyone?)

Maybe I can help that person. 🙂

Frugal Living: Baking Your Own Bread

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It’s no secret that homemade bread is better than store bought.  It’s better for you — you know what you’re putting into the homemade bread.  It definitely smells better.  There’s nothing like walking into the house to the smell of homemade bread baking in the breadmaker (or oven).  The thought of it is making me hungry right now!

It does take a little more time to bake bread than to pick it up while you’re at the store… but if you have a breadmaker the time difference really isn’t noticable.

Plus who doesn’t like to eat a piece of still-warm-from-the-oven buttered homemade bread?  Yummmm….

With that in mind I set out to find the perfect whole wheat bread recipe. After a few failures I coincidentally happened upon this blog today.  She lists eight bread recipes (and I can’t wait to try them all).  The one that caught my interest though was the first one:  My Favorite Homemade Bread Recipe.  And although I don’t have a grain mill I do have the store bought stuff which will have to work til I’m able to buy a mill. 🙂

After I read all of the ingredients I was on my way to the kitchen to get out the breadmaker.  I used the breadmaker to bake the bread instead of putting it in the oven, mainly because I do not own a bread pan.  (Yes, I know you’re shaking your head in amazement right now.  And yes, I am ashamed of myself.  And yes, I am going to buy one.  It’s on the list to buy next time I’m at the store.)  I set it on the whole wheat setting for a 1.5 pound loaf.  And a light crust of course.  But I still don’t like how hard the crust gets while baking in the breadmaker so I tend to turn it off about 15 minutes before the timer says it’s done.  That seems to work beautifully!

And now you’re probably wondering if this is the perfect whole wheat bread recipe that I’ve been searching for.  And you’re probably wondering why I haven’t included any pictures of my loaf of bread.  The bread was so good that between the three of us old enough to eat solids there isn’t any left.  Well, there may be a crust.  And it was all gone before I remembered to take any pictures.  Guess I’ll have to make some more very soon.

I think I’m going to challenge myself to make my own bread instead of buying store bought from now on.  I’m all about being frugal — especially when we are talking about yummy, buttery, fresh homemade bread.  Although I might have to start exercising more to counter the extra carbs I’m ingesting!

Faux Metal Wall Art

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I ran across a website months ago that really piqued my interest. Any craft that repurposes things I already have at home (that usually just get thrown away anyway) is a winner in my book. I mean really — who doesn’t use toilet paper?

So I started saving my empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls. My husband gave me a slightly strange look when I asked him to save them, but he didn’t ask any questions. I guess he’s used to hearing weird requests from me? Anyway, I saved a medium box full because I had no idea how many I would need. Turns out I needed far fewer than I expected (I think I used about ten) so now I have loads left over. Since the one I made was for someone else, I’m thinking about making three or so more to hang in my bedroom since most of the walls are bare right now. (The hazzards of moving into a larger house. You don’t have enough to fill it!)

This is a really easy craft to complete. The main items you need to have is time, patience, and imagination… and a pencil, ruler, tacky glue, spray paint, balsa wood and toilet paper rolls as well, of course. I bought the same tacky glue she used in her tutorial but I had all of the other “ingredients” so this was a very frugal gift idea.

The most boring time consuming part is the measuring and cutting. I kind of got into an easy flow when I started actually putting it together.  And it was fun!

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I will admit that I did not use balsa wood as a base. Instead I used some extra thick and sturdy cardboard I had laying around and just cut it to size. It seems to work fine.

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I love that this kind of took a shape of it’s own.  I got some design ideas from the tutorial but mostly just put it together as I went along.  It basically made itself.  Well, no that’s not technically true.  I still had to do all of the work.  But you know what I mean.  🙂

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And this is the (mostly) finished product. I had to wait a few days for the weather to warm up enough to take it outside to spray paint it.

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The spray paint I used is a satin nickel and I must admit I like it better every time I look at it.

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Be sure and spray it from every angle.  And then go over it again.  Even after I was sure there could not be anything I missed, after I let it dry I realized I’d missed a few spots here and there.  So just keep that in mind while you’re working.

003And there ya go!  Easy peasy, right?

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I would say this is a fairly easy craft for a person at any level of crafty-ness (I’m sure that’s a word, right?).  And since scissors are the sharpest tool used I think it would be a great craft for older children as well.  As long as they’re patient.

The great thing about crafts is that they don’t have to be perfect.  The imperfections are what make them unique!  So go to it — and have fun while you’re at it!

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This post is linked up at:

raising arrows     Thriving-Thursdays1     Thrifty-Thursday    CreateItThursday

January Fitness Challenge

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source: freedigitalphotos.net

source: freedigitalphotos.net

Well, I didn’t do so hot on my December Fitness Challenge. I totally bombed the Squats Challenge (as I mentioned in a previous post). And I didn’t hit the 1,000 fitness minute goal that I set for December either. I did get over 800 fitness minutes, which I am proud of. I don’t think that’s too shabby. There was a time that I would have been really disappointed in that number, but I’m at a different time in my life now. 800 minutes of planned exercise is pretty darn good for me right now.

And so I might have been just a teeny bit unrealistic in my goal setting last month. Goals are great. I need goals. But I also need them to be realistic so I don’t burn out and quit. Some exercise is better than no exercise any day.

So here are my fitness goals for January:

~ At least 800 fitness minutes (aerobic or strength training)
~ A few core strength training exercises a week (need to firm up the mushy baby belly)
~ Walk at least 5 miles a week
~ Lose 2 more inches
~ Lose 5 pounds

Challenging but doable. So here I go!!