Friday, October 31, 2008

Light On A Dark Day

Today it is overcast and is threatening to rain. We've had a little rain already and we are hoping for more because it has been so very dry here all summer and fall. In spite of the dryness we've enjoyed a beautiful display of God's handiwork with color. I love to take walks this time of year. We go to our local park, pick one of it's many walking trails, enjoy the beauty of the trees, the spicy smell of the woods and pick up acorns along our way.
It would seem that there could be nothing to mar such a beautiful season. However, in my humble estimation, there is just one thing that does. Just one day. I refuse to call it a holiday because there is nothing holy about it. It does not glorify God or honor Him for His handiwork. It is in fact extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find anything redeemable about this day.

If you haven't surmised what day I'm speaking of let me just say, it is halloween.

I do not like this day. I loath to see small children dressed up like axe murders, Dracula with fake blood dripping from the corners of their mouths and ghoulish, ugly creatures. Yes, I know, not all children dress this way but all the same there are enough who do.

In our small town the local elementary schools make a BIG deal out of this day. There are activities and lessons in the morning centered around the themes of halloween. There is a parade in which all the children walk through the downtown area with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles watching and cheering. And then to top it off they return to their classrooms for candy, cupcakes and juice boxes. Oh, and the children wear their costumes all day at school.

That is just in the schools.

Then there is the house decorating. One home in particular in our town is an advertisement for every yard decoration that's been thought of. The home itself is a beautiful white, two-story home with a wrap around porch, surrounded by lovely grassy lawns and a graceful curving gravel driveway. On Halloween it is turned into a mock graveyard complete with skeletons rising from the earth. From one of it's tall stately trees hangs a life size manikin in a noose. In two of it's large windows, well lit from behind, stand manikins of a vampire and some other scary guy. Greeting trick-or-treaters at the door is a tunnel with the grim reaper at the end. There are other blow up things on and around the house as well. In fact there is so much stuff I couldn't possibly hope to give you full inventory even if I wanted to. In short, its disgusting.

With all the "everyday"evil in the world, you know like, terrorism, murder, abortion, molestations, etc., why do people want to celebrate it? And don't tell me it's "just a fun" day. There may be "innocent" fun aspects of it but it's roots are not. If you talk to law enforcement, firemen and emergency room workers there is very little that's fun about it.

So how does a Christian deal with this day? How have I and my family chosen to deal with this day? Well, we try to be lights. We don't decorate for it but we do pass out candy with some sort of Christian tract or sticker. We try to take opportunities to talk to people about the Light of the world, Jesus. We try to shine as brightly as we can...and on this dark day that is getting darker the light of Jesus is all the brighter.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." ~John 8:12

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And as if I don't have enough to do....

I started another blog.

Yeah call me crazy. Call me nuts. Call me a spendthrift reforming her ways and wanting to blog about it.

I didn't want to make this blog about being frugal, a tightwad...whatever...and I have a lot of ideas about what to post on the frugal subject. I want to keep this place what it is...just a little spot in blog world.

Not that I'm expecting my new blog to light the blog world on fire. It's only one of many blogs out there on the subject of being frugal.

But hey...if I can add anything of value...well at least I'm gonna give it a try.

Soooo, if you would like to you can go over and check things out at Walking Frugally. Yeah I know, it's a brilliant name! HA! Either that or I'm trying to franchise myself...ummm...not. Let's just say, "it came to me."

Monday, October 27, 2008


Someone once said to me, in regards to walking with the Lord, that you know you must be headed in the right direction if you are getting opposition from the Enemy.

Well, I would say that in the last year and a half or so we have definitely been getting some opposition. There have been slings and arrows wielded in our direction which we have not always handled the way we ought to have. But the thing with testing and trials is that they are meant to grow us and conform us to the image of Christ.

This morning I was reading through my journal and came to this entry. I felt led to share it here and I hope it will be a benefit and/or blessing to you.

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and, let us run with patience the race that is set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1

The weight that I must lay aside is that of working for acceptance, working for points, working to earn favor with God, working with the thought in the back of my mind that if I'm good enough God will owe me a peaceful, perfect, prosperous life here on earth. And in that lies the sin, the sin of pride, pride that I can in some way do enough or be good enough to tip the scales in my favor.

And when this sad, pathetic formula doesn't work, I move on to my next sin, murmuring and complaining and unbelief. I am no better than the Israelites in the wilderness. It's a wonder that God doesn't just open the earth and swallow me up. It's what I deserve.

This all leads to doubt and despondency. I doubt God is ever going to change things. I fret that he is done with Husband and me. I lose hope. More sin.

This quote from Streams In The Desert has opened my eyes to the spiritual warfare I am, we are encountering:

"The devil has two master tricks. One is to get us discouraged; then for a time at least we can be of no service to others, and so be defeated. The other is to make us doubt, thus breaking the faith link by which we are bound to our Father. Look out! Do not be tricked either way." -G.E.M.

Praise God for His mercy and grace and forgiveness. I am not swallowed up by the earth, I am forgiven.

Praise God for His Holy Spirit who gives me the strength, hope and will power not to succumb to discouragement, despondency and doubt.

Praise God for His Word that gives me truth to cling to when the Enemy is whispering his treacherous lies in my ear.

This season of trial will pass. My prayer is that I will count it all joy, that I will walk closer with Jesus, my Lord, that it's lessons will someday help someone else and that my trust in Him will be ever deeper.

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our heart by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." ~Romans 5:3-5

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm On A Mission!

I mentioned in my Monday post that I have been thinking a lot about how to spend less money. Of course the obvious solution would to not spend any at all but hey, I have these people living in my house that seem to want to eat. Personally I could easily live off my fat stores but the kiddos haven't got any fat to speak of so...well...I guess I ought to feed them.

So I've been obsessing lately about how to feed this crew with the least amount spent. I've been reading The Tightwad Gazette, (actually it's The Tightwad Gazette III, borrowed from the library, but I am hankering to get the newer edition that includes I, II and III), visiting sites like The Grocery Cart Challenge, $5 Dinners and The Simple Dollar and taking inventory of my own stores and resources. And Tuesday I set about to make a list and a plan to spend as little as possible on a months worth of groceries.

I felt challenged by Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge to spend only $50 a week on groceries. From what I've read at her blog this is her goal every week.

Right off the bat my challenge is that I don't shop for groceries on weekly basis. As I mentioned before, in our small town we do not have access to discount grocery anything. In order to get to those stores I needs must travel an hour away. There I will find Costco, Winco, Dollar Tree (at least one that sells more than mac&cheese), and the Grocery Outlet.

My next challenge is that there are a few items that I insist on buying organic. Milk, apples, potatoes, carrots, salad greens all fall into that category.

So I decided I would shoot for about $75 a week. This amount, I decided, would include not only food but household and hygeine items as well.

I am happy to say...I came in at $291.44. Woo Hoo!!! And here is what most of it looks like.

I did not include the Food Saver or the Starbuck's coffee in the total above. One was a special purchase so that we don't waste things we buy in bulk and the other know...ummm kinda like a necessary medicine.

This isn't all of what I bought, what you don't see are things that needed to get into the freezer right away. But that there is what ya call a whole lotta food. Part of my strategy was to avoid as much convenience foods as possible. I'm trying to make it from scratch. Whatever "it" may be, like baked goods, beans and casserole type stuff. I also shopped the bulk aisle at Winco. For some reason I just thought it had a lot of candy over there. Imagine my surprise when I found everything from dog food to spelt flour tucked away in the corner of the store.


Where have I been?

Never mind, don't answer that.

I also went with a sort of spread sheet...well that may be too grand a term for it...I'm one of those people who has never really been able to effectively make a spread sheet. It was more like a price comparison chart. I made a list of most of my usually bought grocery items down the page and then across the top of the page the various stores. Then I took some receipts from the last couple of months and started filling in squares.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of what I'm talking about. I tried to fill in new price comparisons as I went along at the different stores. It was helpful in deciding if I was getting the best deal or not. I missed getting the best deal a couple of times because of specials but on the whole it was a good thing.
The best part of my day though was buying gas. Bet ya haven't heard that from anyone lately! Imagine my delight when I walked into Costco and saw this sign.
I couldn't understand why there wasn't dancing and celebrating right there in front of the sign. In my home town at the begining of the day the cheapest place in town was still $3.43 a gallon. Eighty cents cheaper in "the nearest large town"! Eighty cents people!!!!
And yes, my children were mortified that I was taking a picture of a gas price sign. I told them that they would just have one more story to tell their kids about their crazy mother.
So all in all, I felt it was a pretty successful day hunting down bargains. The real test now will be to see if I can avoid a trip to our local grocery stores for the next month. I have a feeling there may need to be an exception for produce...but we'll see. I do have plenty of frozen and canned stuff on hand.
And I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, but you know it is always more fun to hunt with other people. So I'm wondering, what sort of things are you doing to "tighten your belt"? What strategies and tools are you using?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Simple Thoughts

FOR TODAY Monday, October 20, 2008...

Outside my Window...
…it is overcast (okay, partially cloudy) and the trees are turning gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and red.

I am thinking...
… a lot about how we can spend less money and get our debts paid off. I must admit to being slightly obsessed by this at the moment.
From the learning rooms...
…the kiddos actually got going before 9:00 this morning so it was a much less stressful day than usual. I also insisted that written work be done first before reading. This made the day go a lot more smoothly…this made me happy…and when Mama is happy, everyone is happy!
I am thankful for...
…the fact that today is the. last. soccer. game. of. the. season. The last one friends!!! Do you hear my elation? Do you hear the joy in my voice? Hallelujah!!!!

From the kitchen...
…beef barley soup and homemade bread. I think I will also make an apple crisp. We picked the last of our Granny Smith’s on Friday and I need to start using them. I think this will be a perfect meal after our last soccer game.
I am wearing...
…my new jeans rolled up to be capris, a blue floral t-shirt over a long-sleeved white t-shirt, socks and my favorite pair of slippers.
I am reading...
…I have moved on to James Herriott’s Every Living Thing. Did I mention before that I love these books? Tina at Red Wellies, Rainbows and Cinnamon Whirls left me a note telling me she had actually gotten to go see the real Skeldale House. Did I mention I’m a little jealous Tina?
I am hoping...
…that we can have a nice family evening, maybe even play a board game or something after we get home from the last soccer game of the season.
I am creating...
…not much right now.
I am hearing...
…the dishwasher running and my son chopping fat wood for the fire.
Around the house...
…we are still working on finishing up the painting on the outside of the house. Praise God that it has been warm and dry this October, I think if the weather holds we will actually be able to finish it next weekend!

One of my favorite things...
…is time with my hubby. We have been making much more of a concerted effort lately to make sure we get more time alone together.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
…I think I now have enough ripe tomatoes to finally make some stewed tomatoes. They are holding up remarkably well in the frig. On Wednesday we will head to the “nearest large town” for some serious grocery shopping, so on Tuesday I will be making my list and checking it twice.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Welcome to my home.

For more entries in the Simple Woman's Daybook head over to The Simple Woman.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Too Many Receipts

This, my friends, is two months worth of debit receipts which have been hiding out either in my purse, my husband's wallet or a manila envelope I use for storing them until I record them in my check register.

Now please, for those of you who balance your checkbook every month down to the penny, please don't think any less of me because I don't. I have never been able to do that, no matter how hard I tried. I do keep track of my balance by viewing my account regularly on-line and checking what has cleared against what has been hiding out in my purse.

And today, I entered all the receipts into my check register. We have Quicken which also can help you with a budget and generate spending reports for you. I know I do not use this software to it's full potential but one of these days, very soon, I hope to be able to. after entering all debits and credits I generated a spending report for groceries and auto fuel.


First of all, we have been spending about twice what I thought we were on gas. Of course, these days that's not hard to do. But the reason it surprised me was because I stay home. A lot. However, when I do go out, it's usually to our nearest large town to do grocery shopping. Said large town is approximately 60 miles away. We have a Ford Focus and get anywhere from 28 to 32 miles to the gallon but when gas is close to $4.00 a gallon it all adds up quickly. I am going to start thinking twice about quick trips around the town we live in though. Those miles can add up quickly too.

Our grocery spending was also more than I originally thought. During the Spring and Summer months I wasn't able to make as many trips to "our nearest large town" and so I bought groceries in small quantities from our local markets. Let's just say that while we are blessed to have three supermarkets in a town of 7500 people, they aren't exactly discount markets. We do have a W*lM*rt in town but it's not a Super one and judging from the Super ones I have been in I don't know that I would be inclined to shop for my groceries there anyway.

So how am I going to tackle these two areas? Well that there my friends is a good question. We have pretty well stripped all other areas down to bare bones but we can do some good work in these areas I think.

#1 - less trips anywhere. Period. There are places we can walk to easily and to our health's benefit. Time to get out the walking shoes. (I need to lose ten pounds anyway.)

#2 - make more food from scratch. I have already started to do this. Bread in particular. I haven't done an actual cost breakdown of how much a loaf of homemade bread costs compared to a store bought loaf but I'm willing to wager it's less than the $3.00 a loaf I can expect to pay locally.

#3 - some friends and I are going to start some "co-op" buying. We have yet to work out all the details but when we do I'll let you know how we do. Some things we have considered co-oping include flour, sugar, meat, paper products and other staples. We are also working on a plan to coordinate our garden produce.

#4 - eliminate as many "in between" trips to the local grocery store as possible. This will take a considerable bit more planning on my part to make sure I purchase all that we will need when I make my trip to "the nearest large town".

These are just some initial steps to stem the flow of blood cash from our wallet. Some other resources I plan on utilizing are The Tightwad Gazette, borrowed from the library, of course. And I'm going to be reading a lot more over at this gentleman's blog, The Simple Dollar. I've only just begun to do some reading over there but what I've read so far seems practical and useful.

So what I'm thinking is...if I do less spending (always a good thing) I will have less receipts to enter in my check register. If I have less receipts to enter I might be more inclined to get them entered in a timely fashion and then there will not be a pile like the one in the picture.

Some Simple Thoughts

I think that this little meme is normally to be done on Mondays. But I was about 400 miles away from my computer on Monday so…well…anyway…I needed something to spur on my thinking and I’m doing it today…

FOR TODAY Thursday, October 16th...

Outside My Window...
…it is dark right now. But the trees are beginning to turn to shades of gold and there is a crispness in the air that makes me think of apples and cinnamon.

I am thinking...
…that there is a lot I’m thinking about these days. More than I can possibly put into words. I think that there is a stage in life when you look all around you and things and people are changing. Children are getting older, parents are getting older, suddenly you realize you aren’t as young as you used to be. This causes me to reflect a lot. What is next in my life? Am I doing a good job raising my children? How can I be a help to my parents?

I am thankful for...
…the fact that I don’t have figure all this out on my own. I have my husband who God has gifted with steadiness and clear thinking. I have my Lord who will guide and direct us both.

From the kitchen...
…ummm, not much too exciting lately. I did make an apple crisp last week. The weather is prompting me to make lots of soups, stews and chili lately. I hope my family doesn’t get tired of them!

I am wearing... yoga pants (can I just say I love these things…they are so comfortable…and I don’t even do yoga!), a t-shirt, a fleece sweatshirt and some socks. Yep. You could definitely call me comfy.

I am creating...
…ideas lately. I hope to be making some Christmas gifts soon.

I am going...
…to hopefully stay home for awhile, at least until Thanksgiving.

I am reading...
…James Herriott’s The Lord God Made Them All. Again. For like the umpteenth time. I first read this series in the ‘80’s when I worked the swing shift as a PBX (switchboard) operator at a hospital.

I am hoping...
…that we will be able finish painting our house before it gets too cold.

I am hearing...
Jon Courson doing his Wednesday night teaching on-line at KAPL. He is going through Proverbs.

Around the house...
…things are pretty snug for the winter. We have been lighting a fire in the wood stove in the morning to take the chill off.

One of my favorite things...
…is sitting by the woodstove in the morning and doing my devotions and having my coffee. So cozy, such a special time for me.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…
…mainly to get our schooling caught up and make a batch of stewed tomatoes.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... makes me think of warm family times to come this holiday season and reminds me to be thankful.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Just Thinking Out Loud

For the last few mornings I've gotten up and made my way to my kitchen only to be faced with three large bowls of tomatoes.


Every day Husband asks me, "Are you going to take care of the tomatoes today?"

I go through my mental list of to-do's and say, "I don't know...depends on how things go."

The bowls of green tomatoes have me less worried than that bowl of red ones. The green ones will take a couple of days to ripen but the red one wants taking care of now.

I have contemplated inviting my dear, pregnant friend over, who currently is having tomato cravings and sitting her down with the bowl and letting her have at it.

This afternoon there will also be grapes and Granny Smith apples joining the entourage of produce.

Now don't get me wrong. I am in no way complaining about my good fortune. I know that later this winter I will be ever so grateful for the "free" produce sitting in lovely jars in my pantry. It's just the energy I know it will require to get it all into those jars AND trying to do school with the kiddos as well.

I think it's the combination of the two, canning and schooling, that I'm finding daunting.

We are also going to celebrate my Father-in-law's 80th birthday this weekend. So that means Saturday is shot as is Sunday. (We will be traveling 8 hours to his home, thank God that gas prices have gone down some this week.)

So here is what I think I will do. We will be traveling home on Monday. I think we will have a "recovery" day on Tuesday and I'll get some of that produce taken care of and then back to school on Wednesday.

Yes...I think that is what I will do.

Thanks so much for coming by and listening to be babble about my tomatoes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Can't Get That Song Outa My Head

Ever wake up in the morning with a song looping in your brain? This frequently happens to me. Usually it's a praise song I heard recently or something the kids have been humming.

This morning it was the Beatles.

I haven't listened to a Beatles song in ages. In fact I can't even remember the last time I purposely set out to listen to a Beatles song. (Nothing against the Beatles per se, just haven't listened to them much in the last ten years or so.)

And not just any Beatles song either. No. I woke up with When I'm 64 looping in my brain.

Just so you can join me in my time of madness crisis whatever here is the whole song for you to listen to.

The last half of this segment reminds me of some of the counting clips they used to have on Sesame Street. Hmmmm. Wonder who copied who. Anyway.....

You can think of me today as I go around with this song in my head.

La la la la la, la la la la.........

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Psalm

The Lord is teaching me these days to rest and trust in Him. To praise Him through my trials. James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall in various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." This is not easy but by His grace others have gone before us and found that it can be done. The following hymn, written by Horatio Spafford, came to me this morning. I thought of the story of how he came to write it and suddenly my trials seemed miniscule in comparison (you can read his story here). Thank you Lord for these sweet words that I can sing today, It Is Well With My Soul.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll;Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,Let this blest assurance control,That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!My sin, not in part but the whole,Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:If Jordan above me shall roll,No pang shall be mine, for in death as in lifeThou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,The sky, not the grave, is our goal;Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,Even so, it is well with my soul.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hello Again

Is anyone still out there? Hello. Hello. Hello.

Well I'm back. At least tentatively. I say tentatively because I have gone back and forth several times about whether to continue blogging or not in the past few weeks.

I like to blog. I like to "go around" and read other blogs, commenting here and there. Frequently a subject will come to mind and I will begin composing a blog entry in my there it sounds great, pithy, worthy of conversation and comment. When I finally have time to sit down and write I just stare at the screen and wonder what it was I wanted to say. And that's when I don't like to blog. Because then I spend much too much time on it to the detriment of other things I ought to be doing. I walk away from the computer aware that there is laundry I ought to have folded or time I ought to have spent with my kids.

Let me tell is a vicious cycle of enjoyment and guilt.

However, I did decide to give writing my own blog one more shot and see if I can come up with some way of getting all my "pithy" thoughts out of my head before they go wandering off.

heh heh....we'll see what happens.

So anyway...I'm back for now.