11.29.2011

Shop At Your Local Library

Are you looking for a good find for a great price! Check out your local library, most have shops or shelves you can browse and pay 50 cents up to a dollar for gently used books, magazines, or media.

Need a gift idea for that upcoming office party grab bag or your group's white elephant gift exchange. How about stocking up your gift closet for children's birthday parties? Sometimes you'll find a like new book and no one will be the wiser.

The other side to this equation is donating your gently used books.

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” - Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

11.28.2011

Deals!

I can resist a deal, but when I find a smokin' deal on something I need, it's time to celebrate.

Christmas cards here. Purchased Sunday night (Black Friday Deal) at 70% discount with no shipping costs. Cyber Monday Sale .49 cents each!

"Shop 'til your mouse breaks!"

Discounts without leaving your house.

11.26.2011

Treasures


"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." Matthew 6:19-21 The Message

I am finding that this holiday season is stirring up a heartfelt prayer for my daughter for spiritual treasures.

In my faith journey thus far, I have realized the importance of God's blessing, favor, and anointing in our lives—especially in these last days.

I often reflect on the riches of heaven that I am blessed to experience and witness. What is equally rich about my life is that I am undeserving, yet He continues to give grace even when I fail and fall.

There is no greater treasure more precious than divine grace for this sinner!

Divine grace is God-given, Salvation through Jesus Christ, a free gift, reconciliation, and peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

11.25.2011

Solomon's Wisdom

When God is teaching me, He finds more than one way to get to the point.

Earlier today, a couple of chapters from a book regarding the Sabbath were a welcomed respite brimming with goodness for my soul. Then this evening nearing the end of Solomon the movie, scriptures read earlier reverberate in my mind.

The purpose of Ecclesiastes: "To spare future generations the bitterness of learning through their own experience that life is meaningless apart from God." - Life Application Study Bible

Summary of Ecclesiastes (in part): "All of his (Solomon) remarks relating to the futility of life are there for a purpose-to lead people to seek true happiness in God alone. He was not trying to destroy all hope, but to direct our hopes to the only One who can truly fulfill them. Solomon affirms the value of knowledge relationships, work, and pleasure, but only in their proper place. All of these temporal things in life must be seen in light of the eternal." - Life Application Study Bible

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all." Ecclesiastes 12:13

"The book of Ecclesiastes cannot be interpreted correctly without reading these final verses.  No matter what the mysteries and apparent contractions of life are we must work toward the single purpose of knowing God." - Life Application Study Bible

Solomon was a man of great wisdom, but he was also a king who fell hard.  I am so grateful for biblical character studies that are relatable to our messy lives.  It shows their weaknesses of the flesh, their courage through faith in trials, as well as the favor, and judgment of God.

When we walk with God we have success of various types and forms, but when we aren't we fail and fall.     

11.24.2011

Thankful For The Trials

I remember being thankful for stuff, but now I think stuff is very overrated. I’m most thankful today for my family, health, deep sleep, and peace of mind.

Once the thrill of house hunting, eating out, and shopping was a kind of happiness for me. I wasn’t materialistic and grateful for all I had. Nonetheless, caught up in the gotta-have-the-best-now viewpoint.

In this economy of struggling with big decisions with few options a peek at prime real estate in a magazine had me saying aloud this evening, “I don’t even care about this stuff anymore.” I casually threw the magazine on top of strewn newspapers on the coffee table.

Quickly a deep under layered emotion came rising up, which then had me tearing up. Those unexpected deep reflections definitely needed, but so untimely. The NFL game was on and finally relaxed after dinner I let myself feel the emotions attached to expecting a miracle, a plan, anything to assist in these hard-pressed times.

Waiting on God and in His promises isn’t easy. It’s where "patience has its perfect work." Amen! Growing strong through trials has me digging deeper, and the more I dig, the more thankful I am.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

Trials and Temptations

11.23.2011

Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

Santa Claus is comin' to town in 31 days!


This morning is extra special because I was able to share the Magic of Santa with my daughter in a specialized video message that is specific to her personally using uploaded pictures, improvements this year, and a challenge for next year—and all from the lips of Santa Claus.

Hello!

How many times have parents used the "Santa Card," sure it seems unfair at first, but it works.

Here's a news flash to all the naysayers and experts who say, "No!" to this tactic: I'm not perfect, I'm a parent.

Parents have a variety of parental perks like:

"Because I'm the mother."
"Because I said so."

But I digress.

The magic of Santa Claus is a wonderful way to start the Holiday with our children.

11.19.2011

An Encouraging Word: Surrender and Seek God

Some of us are going through while others are just coming out, and a few of us are holding tight for what's ahead. Amen! Still, whatever our current circumstance GOD is on the throne, and the Holy Spirit is our Helper!

Read Surrender and Seek God for your daily dose of spiritual nourishment. 

Keep on keepin' on!

11.14.2011

Quickie Meal: Smothered Noodles with Brown Gravy, Mushrooms, and Onions

Quickie Meals that I make on the regular because Steak prices are ridiculous!

No Yolks Noodles are the favorite in this dish. These are smooth in texture and compliment the rich brown gravy with sautéed mushrooms and onions.

What you need:
- 1 Pkg of No Yolks Noodles (Broad)
- 1 Pkg of McCormick 30% Less Sodium Brown Gravy Mix (Maybe 2 if you LOVE gravy!)
- 1 or 2 Packages of Fresh Sliced Mushrooms
- Sliced Raw Onions (Cooks Preference)

How to do it:
Cook the noodles in a pot (12 min until done) and sauté mushrooms and onions in separate pan with lots of butter. When the sauté is near the end, start your gravy in a smaller separate pan. Add ingredients to an individual serving bowl, mix, and serve!


Comfort food at its best! This tasty dish is a great alternative to the richness of steak. Nonetheless, I'm not trying to convince you it's anything other than what it is, but these flavors keep that desire at bay, for a bit.

It does for me!

11.13.2011

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

It was said today during a campaign announcement that she (announcer) tells her sales staff team, "I reserve the right to get smarter."

I just stumbled upon a better version of homemade laundry detergent. For months I've made the liquid version, but Crystal at The Thrifty Mama shares a better way with a powered recipe.

No more dissolving the grated bar of soap on the stove! No more measuring of water! No more 5 gallon bucket taking up precious real estate in my cramped laundry room!

Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe

Ingredients:

* 1 cup Washing Soda
* 1 cup Borax
* 1 bar Fels Naptha Soap (grated)

Directions:
Mix dry ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Add 2-3 Tablespoons to a load.

For those who are greener try Soap Nuts. What a great gift idea!

11.11.2011

Reward Points & More

Using a credit card is certainly a convenience, but it's also very hazardous. I know this well. This morning after packing my OCC Gift Box for one special little girl, I decided to order my daughter's special one gift this year. The surprise was using accumulated reward points towards my order total reducing it by 60%.

It's a Lalaloopsy doll! These dolls are the craze with young girls. My daughter was first hooked when she bought Meet the Lalaloopsy Girls at the school book fair last month. These dolls encourage lots of pretend play with their own story and personality. Genius marketing!

What makes getting new stuff better is my rule of Something In Something Out (SISO). After little coaxing (yes, she was ready!) my daughter agreed that her whole collection of princess figurines/toys would be traded in for credit even before our first purchase. Cleaned and bagged we added $10.00 a couple of weeks ago to our growing credit at one particular resale store.

What's great is teaching my daughter the value of things and money. If we take care of our property, it can then be sold or given away. It's a 2-for-1 lesson!

When the desire to get a Lalaloopsy doll was overwhelming, the idea of using her own saved money from grandma for a mini version with accessories was a perfect solution while waiting for the larger treasure on Christmas morning.

I am definitely getting into the Christmas spirit already!

Related Post: Change It Up: Buy Used

11.10.2011

Follow Your Box!

"OCC will collect millions of shoe box gifts – filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items – for the neediest children around the world!"

National Collection Week November 14 - 21

Operation Christmas Child is a favorite tradition of mine. I haven't done it every year, but this year it's a go! Today after seeing a few empty red and green boxes stacked at Chick-fil-A, I was even more excited.


Store bought items such as a small doll along with a girly toothbrush and more filled our special shoe box for one blessed little girl.

Bonus: On November 12th (Saturday) drop off a "filled" shoe box and receive a coupon for a free Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich.

I'm also excited that OCC has incorporated Follow Your Box.

"Make your shoe box donation online and learn about the country where your gift is going. Receive a special shoe box label included in your e-mail receipt."

For those pressed for time and still want to participate check out Build-A-Box where you can select items online and add a personal greeting with your photo.

What hasn't this ministry thought of?!

It's such an honor to share love with a child in a practical way far from here that has less, and wants less this Christmas than my child, but in need of much more. How can my heart and hands ignore this. I can't. I won't.

OCC Shoe Box Blitz

11.08.2011

Ditching The Paper Towels

I have been asking myself why I'm frugal with most things and have made many adjustments to our family lifestyle, but paper towels seem to always be on the grocery list.

Like most, I had a roll in the kitchen near the sink, but also decided that one in each bathroom would work as well.

After a bout with sickness, and my daughter grabbing too many towels at one time I changed it up. Buying cheaper brands and select-a-sheet towels as a last ditch effort (pun intended!). Sadly, we were going through rolls within days. Ridiculous! The expense in keeping a germfree home was obviously counterproductive to a more conscious effort to be thrifty.

Then, I had an aha moment -- removing my paper towel dispensers from the kitchen and bathrooms. They are now collecting dust on a shelf in my laundry room with only one dressed in a white paper roll for messy messes. Five (5) rolls remain on the same shelf from an 8-pack purchased recently.

Time and messes will tell if I've truly converted!

Paper Towel Alternatives:

*Cotton Hand Towels (owned)
*Cotton Dishcloths (Package of 9 Sale $3.00 Wal-Mart)
*Handi Wipes (6 Reusable/Washable $1.98 Wal-Mart)
*Mr. Clean Reusable Wipes (6 Antimicrobial/Washable $1.00 at BigLots)
*Microfiber Cleaning Towels (8 Pieces $5.00 Wal-Mart)

Microfiber Cleaning Towels can be found in the automotive section of the store. They are used in car detailing and windows, leaving no streaks. Highly recommended for glass and bathroom mirrors.

Thrifty is an adventure whereby we learn some new habits and dispose of the antiquated ones, and for most of us it's just getting back to basics -- like grandma used to do.

Careful at throwing your money at consumables! Be wise. Be prudent. Be a good steward.

Updates:
Change of Habit
I Did It!

11.07.2011

Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats

The air is turning crisp and cool, which means a change in the weather here. Still, I look forward to the changes this season brings for various reasons, but hearty comfort foods are certainly one of them. I know I'm not alone in getting excited about recipes and 4-hour crock pot meals.

In my blog posts labeled "favorites" you'll find an array of my personal recommendations.

Trader Joe's Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats on the stove and ready to eat in 8 minutes!

Scoop a healthy dollop of brown sugar and you're good to go for breakfast or a late night snack.

$2.49
24 oz.

Ingredients: 100% whole grain oats.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/4 cup uncooked
Servings Per Container about 17
Amount per Serving
Calories 150 Calories from Fat 25

11.02.2011

Surrender and Seek God

Surrendering to God's will when we cannot see too far ahead can seem scary at first. Yet, through faith we put one foot in front of the other and believe that He is walking beside us even on those days when we feel very much alone in the world.

Living in a desert landscape there is much I can draw from nature in my prayer time, as I am thirsty and hungry for more of Him. I realize that He must be my primary source while I walk out this journey. I need my daily dose of Heavenly manna. I need a covering by day and warmth from His fire (the Holy Spirit) at night, because anything less would be insufficient. Jesus must be my end all be all! Otherwise, I am deficient -- lacking in power, wisdom, understanding, and all the rest that He freely gives.

I've been on my own, before my commitment to Christ, and dare I say afterwards for a season. The busyness of life being a stay-at-home mother had become my priority. I strayed a bit not realizing what grave danger I had put myself in by not being grounded in the Word of God daily. I had no idea how weak and vulnerable I was until one ordinary day when my world turned upside down. Fortunately, God brought the right people to me, who helped in getting my world right side up again. Nevertheless, it took time and a lot of work letting go and letting God be God. I had to relearn about taking a healthy stand in some instances, while in others surrendering fully to God's Word and believing as it is written:

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10-11

I encourage you my brother or sister whatever your trial or circumstance, know that God is able to do the impossible. Trust Him with your whole heart. Rededicate your heart and life to Him. Prove Him right as you walk this side of Heaven with humility and grace for others. Let love be your language. Forgive and forget. I promise that He will turn the tide. You'll sing again! He will turn your mourning into dancing. Believe that "with God all things are possible."


"Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near." Isaiah 55:6

Isaiah 55

© Cup of Goodness. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.