Womens History Month

I have been dabbling in my family history for a few months.  It is a pretty fun and interesting hobby.  If you haven’t tried you should really give it a whirl.  There are loads of resources out there to help you.  
Recently, Olive Tree Genealogy had a challenge out for Women’s History Month.  Write a blog about your favorite female ancestor.  Oooo, I am in!
My favorite female ancestor would have to be my Grandma Fries.  First, look at how beautiful she was:

I wish I could see her dress more in this picture.  I was told and I think you can see in this picture, she was super stylish.  I mean the pearls and the super dreamy fabric here is enough to confirm that!!!
I grew up living right next door to my grandparents.  First, there is nothing better than that.  I could walk over to their house any time of day or night and I was always welcome.  Grandma was a cook by profession and let me tell you, she was really good.  She could make anything and it would be wonderful.  Her cooking ability seemed like magic to me because nothing was written down and she certainly didn’t own measuring cups.  I would love going over and smelling whatever she had going in the kitchen.  She cooked, baked, canned, you name it.  I think the most crazy memory I had was when she would make Crab Apple Jelly.  She would cook the apples and then put them in the cheese cloth to drip.  Imagine white cones of the fine fabric propped all over the kitchen and dining room with red goo dripping out of the bottom of them.  It was almost circus looking.
She was also a crafter.  Although I think most people of her generation were, but that made her no less special or inspiring to me.  Her and I would sew, make Christmas ornaments or whatever popped in our heads that day.  
I spent loads of time with her.  She was basically my daycare.  She would chat with me about anything and always had time to listen to my banter.  I also liked that she was protective of me.  If there were a threat, she would tell me to come over and sit real close to her.  The comfort and warmth of being near her was priceless.  
Like most grandmas she had pockets of advice that I thought was random….always keep a quarter with you in case you need to make a call….watch out for strangers, you’re a pretty girl and someone might grab you (yep, she would say that!), or simply ah just ignore it, that will pass.
She gave me some of her costume jewelry and hankies which I now love to think about … where did she wear such things?  I guess when she was a cook she would fold one of the delicate, embroidered hankies and fix it to her uniform with a lovely pin.  
She was a beautiful lady inside and out.  I loved spending time with her no matter what she was doing. It is good to have someone in your life you can simply just BE with and love it.  For me, that was her.
I love you Grandma, miss you.  XOXOXO

Some ideas for saving money

I was reading a post from My Lil Pink Pocket about couponing and it got me thinking, we could learn a lot from each other on this.  I love a good bargain but there have been many times in my life in which bargain shopping wasn’t just the fun of getting a good deal, it was a neccessity if we were going to make it.

Here are some things I have done or still do.

1.  Menu Plan
     This saves me a lot of money.  Taking 15 minutes each week (that is all it really takes) to know what I am making for dinner each night probably saves easily $40+ per week.  I put all of my recipes in an accordian folder that is labeled to help me plan quickly.
My labels are crock pot, grill, breakfast and the type of meat (chicken, pork, turkey, etc).

This may sound strange at first, but when I am looking for a recipe, I have found that is how I search.  If I am going to be working late, a crock pot meal is what I want.  If pork is on sale, guess what kind of recipe I need?  You get the drift.

I just pull a recipe out for each night and post it on my fridge, with cute days of the week magnets (it’s the little things that entertain me!).

Once I know what I am making for dinner each night, I can quickly survey it and determine my grocery list.  The beauty is I have a list and I KNOW if I only buy what is on the list – I will have good meals each night.  Throw in some lunch staples, fruit, cereal and you’re set.

2.  Repurpose
     Many people know this but it is a bit of an art.  Look at an object and let go of what it is telling you what it is.  A pair of old jeans with a tear in the knee may be screaming they want to be a book cover, purse, skinny jeans or even a lamp shade cover.  Let go and really brainstorm.  You wouldn’t believe how much “free” stuff is around your house.

3.  Coupons
     First keep in mind lots of places accept competitors coupons.  From gas stations to craft stores, they want your business and welcome their competitors coupons.  Don’t be nervous to ask, the worst thing that can happen is they will say, no.

I think the most difficult aspect of coupons today is they expire very quickly.  With that said, only choose coupons on items you will actually use and hopefully have a long shelf life. Check your local stores for double coupon days – this will make your efforts more worth while.

Sometimes the “loss leaders” are the best way to shop.  Each week, grocery stores will offer some items at a ridiculously low price.  These are loss leaders, they intend to draw you to the store to buy these and then buy MORE and MORE.  Plan your menus around these items or stock your freezer with them.

 4. Organizing
     Make specific areas for items you will stock up on when you get a great deal.  Some that I use are:

  • Toiletries – I have a shelf dedicated to stock up when toothpaste/deodorant/etc is a good deal.
  • School supplies – I buy the minimum before school – two weeks after school prices plummet – that is when I stock up.  Five cents for a package of loose leaf paper, yes please!
  • Freezer – I have a small dry erase board on my fridge.  On it I list what is in my freezer in the basement.  Otherwise I forget it and potentially I haven’t saved at all because I have to throw away.

5. Ditch cable
We use Netflix and stream whatever TV we decide to view.  This saves a ton of money and really allows us to do so much more.  I am not going to kid you, when we first got rid of it, I was nervous.  What are we going to do without flipping the channels for an hour or two (now this seems so silly)?  Truth is, everyone starts filling in that time with what they truely enjoy.  More reading, crafting, games & writing have happened since we pulled the plug.

6.  Bigger ticket item savings
We have a rule in our house – incorporated from too many unfortunate purchases – sleep on it.  If it is a bigger price item, no matter how great the deal is, sleep on it.  If it is really a good deal, they most certainly will take your business tomorrow as much as today.  So many times when we are at home later, the glitter and shine of the salesperson or ambiance of the store has faded away, we have realized maybe it isn’t that great of a deal, or it just doesn’t fit in our life or that money can be better spent elsewhere.

7.  Grow it yourself
In the summer, if you are able, grow veggies yourself.  You don’t need a big garden to save money and enjoy fresh veggies.  Make a container garden.  The savings from just not buying salsa and pasta sauce is enough to make you grow a few tomatoes.  I would suggest keeping it small or at least keep it to what you really think you will stay committed to.  Otherwise, you may become frustrated and quit.

8. Sign up for Freebies
Setup an email account that you use to subscribe to stores you frequent or coupon sites.  It is probably best to keep this as a separate account so your email doesn’t get too crazy.  Check as frequent as you like – maybe you can treat yourself to a buy one get one Blizzard or something.  🙂

These are just a few of the things we do, but I am really curious to know what you are doing?  What are some ways you save money?

Time goes by fast

I was organizing some photos this morning mostly because I just got this installed in my scrapbook room:

So I am really in the scrapbooking / creative mood.  So, I was looking at some photos and while we keep commenting how much Nick is growing right now, these photos really sum it up.
Basically, enjoy each and every moment because they certainly are fleeting!!! The older I get the more I feel like my life is in fast forward!  No need to dwell on that, just learn a lesson to embrace what is currently happening.  Nothing good comes out of longing for the past or worrying about the future.

Appreciate LIFE

Recently we decided to give our puppy up to another family.  This decision wasn’t made lightly and was most certainly difficult.  Where I knew it was the right thing to do because three large dogs is just too much for our household, it was so painful.  Luckily she went to a very nice family that is extremely happy to have her in their home.  She will be the center of attention – she deserves that and more. 

What this made me think about (mostly because I spent so much time crying) was, What should I learn from this?  How is God trying to teach me something here?  Interestingly I have a new appreciation for many things.  My dogs I have, my kids, my hubby – lots of stuff.  How often do we sigh because we have to do something we don’t want to? Or grumble because there are more dishes to do? Or get irritated when the dog isn’t cooperating?

Wouldn’t it be better to think…

I’m glad I have to pick up this because that means my house is lived in and the people here feel comfortable to be themselves. 
I am glad we have dishes to do because that means we have full tummy’s and aren’t worried about where our next meal is coming from. 
Look at how much joy this dog has in just being with me.  Shouldn’t I try and emulate that in life with others?

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we just really tried to appreciate what we have?  Next time you feel yourself getting upset over the small stuff, try really hard to see what you should be appreciating.  Life truely is short.  Live it fully and with love.