Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

What I’m Into: November 2015

Well, I happened to blink and it’s the end of November already.

Not sure how that happened, but hey, here we are.

Here is a monthly menagerie of things I’m into as of late:

*Fair Trade shopping. I did a bit of shopping for people at a Ten Thousand Villages store that isn’t too far from us. Above is a pan flute that I bought for one of my little guys, as well as a thumb piano for his twin.

Oh yeah, I may have purchased a cute little something for myself too…including these darling bicycle earrings! They had some fabulous jewelry there, including some great clearance deals.

*Baking. It takes a couple of chillier days and I get into baking mode. Some breads, cookies, and the like. I love all the fun holiday baking recipes I see popping up this time of year!

Speaking of which, my kids really want me to try making these Snow Globe  cupcakes. Are they not the cutest thing ever? I think yes.

*Yarn. Yup, it was on my list last month and yet it remains.

Here’s a button-over cowl that I made up a couple weeks ago. I like making these with big round wood buttons, but I also discovered these wooden toggle buttons that I like. I’ve also been working on a couple of newsboy style hats and a baby gift for my best friend, who is due in just a couple of weeks.

*The Christmas story. Advent has begun and this year I’m super excited about all of my kiddos being in a Christmas pageant next week.

I have two little shepherds, one angel/townsperson, a wise man, and Joseph (played by Daniel, not Joseph. Confusing, I know, when you have all these boy Bible names rolling around in one family…)

Well, that’s all folks. Add in upcoming Christmas concerts, other kid activities, and a bunch of school happenings this week, and there’s my life this time of year. Thanks for tuning in!

Points to Ponder, Recipes

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

Hello!

If you are new here or unfamiliar with my “frugal accomplishment” posts, here’s a synopsis of what they are about.

Basically I go over what I have done in the past week (it’s ended up being about two weeks in actuality) to save our family some money. Some of the things may be repetitive, others may be brand new. We are a family of seven that has lived on one income for many years–and done so rather successfully, I might add. We don’t do credit, our vehicles have long been paid for, and we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on our mortgage. Though my husband is the breadwinner, I have been the one to manage our money over our 16 years of marriage. I’m not patting myself on the back or anything, but I think I do a fair job at it, and as our kids have grown I’ve gotten much better at being frugal. (Sorry to break it to you readers with small children, but they get more expensive as they get older!!) Therefore, I feel like I know a little bit about what I’m preaching on here, so I feel like I can share freely about what I do on a regular basis.

Anyway, with that bit of background, here’s what I’ve done these last two weeks:

*Harvested sugar snap peas, beets, scallions, greens, and hull peas out of the garden. I blanched and froze some bags of the regular peas to keep for winter.

*I just got a nice deal on apricots and am making Apricot Pineapple Jam with them.

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*Didn’t do any big grocery runs.

*Had a leftover smorgasbord for several different meals instead of cooking up something new.

*The kids and I went to the North Museum in Lancaster for free yesterday! I had a free voucher for a family that I had gotten the day they reopened after remodeling. We had tried to go that opening day, but due to plumbing issues, they had to close their doors and issued family vouchers to everyone who had tried to attend. I literally got handed one before even going in. SO…I paid nothing and we all got to see the newly remodeled museum AND planetarium show for free.

*Packed our lunch instead of eating out for several different outings.

*We’ve been to the library a couple of times since school let out. The library is our saving grace during the summer! Usually we stop to trade in books about once a week and then attend some of their free programs too. The kids signed up for the summer reading program, where they can earn free coupons and passes to local places.

*I helped serve a wedding rehearsal dinner at our church one evening. When the meal was done, I was given some of the leftovers to take home for my crew. They were yum!

*For the same wedding, I had Longwood Gardens tickets that we had gotten free with our family pass. I gave them as a gift to the bride and groom instead of buying something. (Hey, I know that sounds cheap of me, but I thought it was a cool gift! It’s a great date destination.)

*I bought some very cool retro soda advertisement glasses for super cheap at a yard sale. My kids are in love with them and I purged some of our little kid cups in the process.

*One of our AC units was making some crazy noises and I thought we would have to buy a new one. My handy man checked it out and was able to fix it on his own. Hooray for guys that can fix stuff!!!

That’s all I have for the moment. Hope you’re having a wonderful week.

–Rachel

Points to Ponder

This Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

Today I am launching a new set of *hopefully* regular posts entitled “Frugal Accomplishments.”

If you know me in real life, you may have picked up on the fact that I like to live fairly frugally. I don’t think I was always this way, but as our family grew, I have learned to run this house in a frugal and practical way. Sure, I think we live modestly as far as the “big things” are concerned–we both drive older vehicles, our house is not big and fancy, etc, etc. However, I like to think that saving and living simply with the “small things” do add up in the long run. I am very inspired by other people who make things work by raising families on a modest income and LOVE to hear the little ways they save. So, in turn, hopefully I can perhaps inspire you in some small way by sharing what I do on a weekly basis to save us some cash.

(I totally copied this idea from The Prudent Homemaker, who does this as a weekly post. I love reading what she does for her family.)

Here’s a few things that I did last week:

*With some nice sunny days I was able to line dry many loads of laundry and not run our dryer.

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(Weird but true fact about me: I rather enjoy doing laundry and love hanging it out to dry. It makes my heart happy.)

*I sold a few items on Ebay. An old Michael Jordan jersey, which I found in a bag of free-to-us boy clothes, brought way more than I expected. Sweet!!

*I went to a couple of yard sales on Friday. I scored a pair of kid snow pants for next year, a dressy shirt for Andrew, and a hooded sweatshirt for Heidi for a couple bucks. I also got a pair of knitting needles and some vintage quilt squares for free. I was just asking what the price was and the lady very much insisted that I just take them!

*Though it wasn’t directly for my own kids, I was able to easily alter a couple dresses for my brother’s girls so they can wear them this summer.

*Instead of doing a store run, I hit up my closet “gift stash” to provide a birthday gift for a party my daughter attended.

*We watched a few things on Netflix.

*With some coupon dollars, I was able to save a whopping $20 on a new backpack for my latest birthday boy. We have always bought LL Bean brand packs and they hold up for MANY years. He has had the same one all through elementary school and is now in 6th grade. This is the one he picked out–here’s to hoping it lasts through the next 6 years!!

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*We planted part of our garden on Saturday. That day we did 3 types of potatoes, green beans, and a little bit of sweet corn. Peas, onions, and a couple of other things had already been planted.

*I cut some early spring flowers from our beds outside the house and used them for decoration inside. There’s just something about fresh flowers!

Well, that was a sampling of some of the things I do. Stay tuned for more!

Have a blessed week.

Rachel

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

Kids on a Mission…How Refreshing!

As my two youngest boys are currently sleeping, I just had to do a post on what we did today. The reason they are exhausted is that it is VBS week at our church, and they are getting to bed a bit later than usual. True to form (for my kids, at least) they were all up at a little after 6 in the morning. Then, late this morning, we finally went up to Water Street Ministries in Lancaster to donate our Hope Totes, a project we’ve been working on for a few months. My Dad, who is a men’s chaplain there, also had lunch with us and gave us a grand tour of the facility. As we pulled out, my oldest kids commented on how good it felt to just give things away. Yes, it does, I agreed with them. Then a prime “teachable moment” struck me. The theme for our VBS is Water to the World, and also teaches that if you refresh others, you will be refreshed. I was able to relate what we were learning in Bible school to what we experienced by giving to others. Though our gift was very tangible, you can refresh others by giving of your time, talents, or spiritual gifts. In this way you can not only bless, or refresh others, but be refreshed yourself in the process!

A trunk full of Hope Totes. We ended up with @30 to give.

For the back story on our Hope Tote project, check out my Couponing for a Cause post from several months back. I plan on continuing to collect items as I get good deals with coupons and sales.

Posing in front of the WSM sign.Posing with Grandpa in front of a cool mosaic.

Chaplain Jim (aka Grandpa) was our tour guide for the day, showing us all around the WSM campus, including the donation center and warehouse area. I was amazed by the volume and variety of items people donate to this organization. The need is great, however. In fact, when I had pulled up my van to the donation area, a huge line of people had formed to get into the food pantry area and were watching us unload.

Mama and her brood on the loading dock.

I am actually a little conflicted about posting this, but I’m going to anyway. The reason is I don’t want people to think I’m just some do-gooder who is giving themselves a big ole’ pat on the back. Here’s why I am sharing what we did–to inspire others to give in some way, whether it’s giving of your time, talents, or treasures. I can guarantee that if you choose to give and choose to honor God with your gift, whatever that may be, you will not only refresh others, but in turn YOU will be refreshed.

The back of our VBS T-shirt reads: Water to the World. Refresh Others. Be Refreshed.