Thursday, January 31, 2013

Request Free Samples!

Thrifty Thursday - Free Samples

I've found that requesting free samples of various products (that will be useful to our family) is a great way to try new things and enjoy different things with no risk or money wasted.  It's also fun to check the mail and see what will arrive :)

Almost a year ago, I subscribed to All You's Daily Free Sample e-mail (enter your e-mail address to subscribe).  While I don't check many advertisement e-mails, I almost always check this one.  Some days the samples are simple and require only that I submit my mailing information.  Other days samples can be received at various stores, so I don't participate.  Occasionally the samples aren't relevant for our family, then I skip it.  Oftentimes however I'm thrilled by the chance to "splurge" and enjoy a free sample!  Money Saving Mom's blog also lists a variety of free samples (look for the "Freebies and Giveaways" page along the top menu) along with other excellent information.  If you're not reading it, subscribe soon!

Lately I've received a small bag of ground Seattle's Best coffee.  I've also received Tide Pods for the laundry as well as the fabric softener beads.  I've enjoyed free tea bags from lovely Bigelow tea and others.  My husband just used four free Airborne samples I'd requested (he promises they ward off the germs he encounters as a bank teller).  I receive various toiletries frequently, and have found them perfect for creating a bag of items for out of town guests who may stay with us.  These necessities are used often when visitors come and can be easily replenished with more samples!

Last week my husband brought the mail home including a sample of Method laundry detergent.  As I opened the box I realized it was a laundry night (we use the campus laundromat-style facilities and he's great to haul them back and forth in the freezing cold for me!).  Next, I realized we were out of detergent and couldn't have washed our mountain of laundry without that sample.  What sweet timing of the Lord.  When samples are requested I never know if I'll really receive them or how long they may take (most forms say 6-8 weeks).  I certainly didn't plan to receive this sample at this time, but God knew and cares about even our smallest needs.

Try requesting free samples for yourself.  You never know when the Lord's timing will be perfect! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

a full heart of thanks

"to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God"
~Ecclesiastes 5:17

1296. for an abundance to share
1297. lessons from Ecclesiastes (listen to sermons from Sojourn here)
1298. singing songs of truth
1299. the Holy Spirit's work to encourage, affirm, and comfort
1300. opportunities for full time ministry post-graduation, pray with us!
1301. seeing the Lord's work to change us and make us ready
1302. a brave girl at her first dentist appointment
1303. kind dental hygienists who patiently played and cleaned little teeth
1304. dinner with friends
1305. fun multiplied when extra little ones join in
1306. a reliable mechanic who's honest
1307. a cooking afternoon
1308. Matt who loves eating my muffins (a dozen gone this weekend!)
1309. an attempt at baking bread in my new Dutch oven
1310. a picnic in Moriah's tent
1311. a husband who kindly washes dishes after guests visit (while I give our little one her bath)
1312. financial provision, always
1313. the Lord bringing us and sustaining us each semester, this is the last one for Seminary
1314. wise words in good books (see my recent reading here)
1315. snuggles with a little girl
1316. reading and finding comfy spots for three little ones on one lap
1317. safe driving and God's protection on a day with slippery roads
1318. mild weather today
1319. an upcoming trip to celebrate our marriage and upcoming graduation while we rest and relax
1320. a grandma coming to stay
1321. Little Golden Books, timeless stories, "Baby Dear" is our current favorite
1322. prayers on our behalf
1323. bird watching, especially when we can enjoy a pileated woodpecker and a kingfisher!
1324. pursuing more time in nature, knowing that as I see God's work I'll marvel at Him
1325. a husband who leads with love and gentleness

Friday, January 25, 2013

Back to Seminary January Meal Plans

Back to Seminary January Meal Plans

Our last Seminary semester begins this week. I really can't believe it.  On this side of things it seems like time flew by.  I know there were days and weeks when I wouldn't have felt that way, however.  

The long winter break is always delightful as we enjoy more family time in the evenings.  For the next few months we'll relish the time we're together in the evenings and re-adjust to our school time pace.  

We have community group on Monday nights, Matt's in class this semester on Tuesday evenings, and I take class on Thursday evening.  Thus we make large meals when we can and enjoy leftovers too!

spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce, salad, and garlic bread

from Passionate Homemaking

roasted chicken with lemon green beans and potatoes, bread, salad, and fruit
*We're having friends over for supper so this is an extra large meal,
and one of our "go to" recipes for company!

from Real Simple
from Espresso and Cream

homemade chicken noodle soup, baked sweet potatoes
*Last week, I made the 100 Days of Real Food Crock-Pot whole chicken
and overnight chicken stock in the Crock-Pot, then use them in this recipe

from 100 Days of Real Food




pancakes, bacon, and eggs

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How do we pay bills?

Maybe this Thrifty Thursday post won't be helpful to you, but I hope it might be!

I'm not Dave Ramsey, and I haven't read much of his writing (though I hope to!).
I do know that we live on a fairly tight budget and have learned to make
ends meet with God's grace and through His perfect provision.

One way we've done this is to prioritize our bill paying above all other expenses.
This my be only logical, but I don't think everyone approaches their finances like this.
As the primary "book keeper" in our home, this is what I've done!

When we get paid I write it in our checkbook register.
 Starting in the middle of the month, I look at the spreadsheet of our
bills that I use to keep us organized.
While our bank account is "full" I deduct bills that will be owed
(oftentimes weeks in advance) and record them in our register.
 In my mind, the money's gone at that point,
even if it won't be withdrawn for a week or so.
 I obviously leave money in our account when we know other expenses are coming,
for our cars, doctor's appointments, etc.
but to the best of my ability I spend our money on bills first.  

My husband thinks I'm crazy :)
He'll often ask about the amount in our account
and I'll explain that it's not "really there"!
He understands my system and is happy that it works for us,
though more mathematical and frugal people
may not need to trick themselves like I do, haha.

This simple way of paying our bills has been a
tremendous help to us month after month.
It offers us peace of mind, knowing that the bills we owe WILL be paid.
While we may need to lessen our grocery budget, or reconsider gift shopping,
or extra entertainment at one point or another,
we don't have to wonder where money will come from for
the more essential matters like rent or electricity. 

This way of thinking also helps me avoid over-spending when
it might otherwise seem like we have "extra".
Since our money is quickly designated, I'm not tempted to splurge in ways that I might
be otherwise if I was thinking about the present only and not our upcoming bills.

Maybe this will help you reorient your thinking as you pay bills!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meal Plans January 18 - January 25

Mid-Winter Meal Plans

I haven't really followed my pre-planned "Fall/Winter Meal Plans" for awhile now.  I may get back to that soon, once they don't seem as familiar to me.  In the meantime we're trying some new things, and enjoy our Crock Pot!  I didn't realize I was using it so often this week, I'll run back to the store for more of my favorite Crock Pot liners.

The plans are...

tomato soup, grilled cheese

(we're skipping the mozzarella balls this time, though I've tasted them with this soup as leftovers at work... they're great, but require plenty of freezing time before baking,
if you try it I was told not to tweak that step, even if the mozzarella balls seem plenty frozen.
I may cut the grilled cheese into squares and eat them in the soup as "croutons" -
I just heard that idea this week!)

from Peas and Crayons


for breakfast...
(I'm using up buttermilk and blueberries we had a surplus of!)

from Alexandra's Kichen

for dinner...

(I'd highly recommend making the stock from your chicken as the recipe suggests...
it's easy and cooks on it's own overnight!)

from 100 Days of Real Food

from Pioneer Woman

from Kalyn's Kitchen
panini-style turkey sandwiches, leftover veggies, fruit
(we use our George Foreman grill and make sandwiches similar to the Green Turkey I loved at
Planet Sub with cream cheese, avocado, bacon, onion, tomato, and turkey... can't be beat!)

(the turnips from church are still lingering, I'm off work Monday and Matt will be home,
so I'll have the time to figure out exactly how to prepare them... if you've tried them, share!)

from All Recipes

waffles, eggs, bacon
(they didn't happen last week, Matt was out of town, so Moriah and I finished off our
Cracker Barrel gift card from friends at church and had breakfast for dinner there!)

Crock Pot ham and beans, cornbread muffins

from Plain Chicken



from He Graces

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Use it up, Wear it out, Make due, Do without"

children's consignment sales help me...

"Use it up, Wear it out, Make due, Do without"

Have you ever heard this?  I hadn't until recently, and found it to be a helpful summary of the Lord's work in our lives over the past few Seminary years.  

One way we've practiced living out this motto is by selling clothes at consignment sales and by shopping at consignment sale and stores.  Until I became a mom, I didn't know about the great things that could be found at children's consignment sales.  Here in Louisville, my favorite sale is Little Treasures, held twice a year.   I'm also able to volunteer as a worker, allowing me to make greater profit on my sales (70-80%) and shop worker pre-sales before things become too picked over.

We've been blessed to have many of Moriah's clothes given to us by excited family.  As we have no storage space in our apartment, I've chosen to consign most of her outgrown clothes in order to "make" money that I use to buy the next season and size of clothes.  I price my own clothes and earn a percentage of the final sale.  So many baby clothes are gently worn then quickly outgrown.  It seems like good stewardship to share them with others by consigning them.

even this sweet flower girl dress was found at a consignment
sale with the bride's approval!  it was only $10

My mom kindly stores a few of my favorites from each season at her home in Missouri.  She's also been kind to loan me money up front for my consignment shopping until I can pay her back with my earnings.  

If I need something particular to match a certain outfit, I go to local consignment stores first.  Do you have a Once Upon a Child or Children's Orchard in your area?  There are likely other independent consignment stores as well, and perhaps even a large seasonal sale.  I've also tried the site Thread-Up which is a sort of mail order consignment though I didn't like having less of an opportunity to select items I knew I'd love (now it's changed and you can choose individual items, when I tried you only received a box based on size/season).

this winter hat, scarf, coat, and boots were all found at consignment sales,
I was delighted that they could even match :)
We hope to continue to find great consignment stores and sales in the future as they've helped us remain thrifty!  Enjoy consignment shopping for your little ones :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I took the girls to the Lousiville Nature Center this morning for a nice (and free!) outing on a cold winter day.  We all enjoyed their bird blind.  Once you're inside it's mostly sound-proof (so the birds can't hear you) and has a wall of one-way mirrors.  I think that's the right term, you can look out at the birds, but they can't see you!  They can however sense the jumping little feet of girls startled by a squirrel :)  The bird blind also has speakers inside allowing you to hear the outside sounds and songs of the birds.  We were there once and even watched a deer walk up close among the birds.  It's wonderful for all nature lovers, or for those growing to be. 

After a birdwatching morning we were inspired...

We went to the library and checked out a few bird books for little ones.

We went to the Tractor Supply Company and purchased some bird seed.  I'm not sure if we were lucky or bought poor quality bird seed (we'll see!), but suet cakes were only $1.50 there and some were even 99 cents.  I've never seen them so inexpensively :)

from kiwi crate
We came back and made bird feeders and ice laterns that are currently freezing.

This wreath bird feeder is freezing now... easy and fun to assemble!

We'll try to work on a few more this week.  Pinterest provided lots of inspiration...
from moffatt girls
We made these last year and had great luck.  Can't get much easier for little hands.  Matt would also be happy for me to utilize some of the toilet paper rolls I'm always stashing away for projects :)

We may try these in the upcoming days...

from hands on as we grow
Just a slice of bread, cut out, spread with peanut butter, pressed into bird seed, and dried!  Simple.

This looks like lots of fun, and would likely attract interesting birds to the fruit.

from create celebrate explore
Finally, when Moriah's older this popsicle stick bird house would be fun to assemble together.

We planned a post-nap trip to bundle up, ride the (child's) Gator, and fill up the real bird feeders in the "back forty" as Mr. S. calls it. 

While birds were on my mind I starting looking out the window while I did dishes as all settled into their naps and rest time.  I noticed birds flying here and there then looked twice.  The birds I saw in this very yard were some of the great birds we enjoyed at the Nature Center. 

I'm thankful that my dad taught me their names.  My Grandma Nettie did as well though I didn't always care too much then.  Now I'm glad to know them... we've enjoyed some tufted titmice, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches (that go down the tree backwards, how fun!), blue jays, and cardinals.  There's another woodpecker I'm seeing too but haven't figured out yet... we'll look in our bird book tonight.

How come I hadn't seen them yet this winter?  First I thought perhaps they'd just arrived.  Then I realized that of course I haven't been looking.  How much of God's wonderful creation do I miss when I just haven't been looking?  Probably a lot! 

I thanked the Lord for the birds, and His creation of so many amazing varities.  I thanked Him for a life slow enough to see the birds today.  And I prayed for more days with the birds wherever He leads us this year.  Maybe we'll even have a home with a window over a kitchen sink so I can enjoy more bird watching.  A simple life is blessed.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thanks this New Year



1266. a New Year and God's grace
1267. my husband who serves us when I'm sick and can't
1268. giggles from Moriah as she plays with daddy
1269. urgent care and no wait
1270. intentionality and the fruitfulness God gives
1271. back to a "normal" routine
1272. a playdate with friends and little ones
1273. finding new books to read
1274. God's amazing work on behalf of His people, that He would part the sea and lead them to safety, He has done no less in giving us Christ
1275. Seminary classes paid for, God's faithfulness seen so clearly to us
1276. talking with a faraway friend, feeling like faraway isn't so far
1277. encouragement for Matt in a phone call and a possibility, God will be faithful
1278. wise words that are timed to help me re-think my selfishness with time as a mom, thankful for The Mission of Motherhood
1279. chocolate pudding faces and delight in a special treat
1280. new houseplants adding green
1281. repotting our succulents into a "terrarium" of sorts
1282. a new recipe that tastes good to all
1283. breakfast-for-dinner pot-lucks, a theme that always delivers!
1284. community from friends who walk along with us
1285. the respectful way our church members nurture Matt and I, and love us well
1286. protection in a fall from a ladder, thankful for Jimmy
1287. our little girl learning to pray, thanking God and asking God every day
1288. a free class to try some little gymnastics, good for a cold morning
1289. grace lived out to me by my employers, I've never seen it so clearly
1290. my husband's service and care
1291. trusting in God for whatever He has planned, knowing it will be good
1292. a taste of a cookie cake shared
1293. trail mix
1294. that searching for pleasures of any kind will leave us empty-handed without an answer, Solomon in Ecclesiastes
1295. looking back and seeing God's purposes in such a book as Ecclesiasties, we will always be looking, or we we finally receive "it" only to our great disappointment, the rest that comes with contentment is promised in Christ alone

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back to "normal" Meal Plans

Mid-January Meal Plans

After the holidays, guests, lots of leftovers, and sickness I'm ready to get back to our normal meal planning routine.  I'm also ready to get "back to normal" in other areas of life too, but I'm not feeling 100% yet, so I'm starting small :)

After about two months (or maybe three?!) of our Fall/Winter meal plans, I'm also a bit bored.  This week's meal plan is a hodge-podge of Pinterest inspiration or other things we haven't had lately.  We also have plans to eat out with a friend one evening, and to join our community group for a pot-luck as well.

"healthified" cashew chicken and broccoli, rice, crab rangoon (frozen or from a local Chinese restuarant!)

from Live Better America

out after church


from Southern Girl Cooking

small group pot-luck

(the turnips were a gift from church members that we're thankful to try!)

from Real Simple

from All Recipes




honey lime shrimp, rice, sweet potato fries

from The Dough Will Rise Again

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Books To Read in 2013

Books Worth Reading 2013

Here's my list of books that I'd love to read this year.  Some have been on my night stand or mental book list for awhile now, and others are recent purchases.  I also have a re-read list as I know there are books I read once that would be more helpful in my current season of life than they were when I first read them (often as I anticipated a new season's arrival, haha).  I love to read and often find other good fiction books at the public library, though I'm hoping to read through my list of books with greater priority than others I'll discover.  If you'd be curious about other good books of various genres, I've developed a page to chronicle my current reads.  Follow the link on the left side of my blog or click here!  I also have an ongoing Pinterest board with book ideas I come across.  If I finish this list, I may hunt for some of those, though I hope to read what I have first.  There are other classics in Christian literature that I've re-shelved with my husband's books and would love to get back out as well.  We'll see how it goes.

Books to read (in no particular order)...

Womanly Dominion by: Mark Chanski

Mission of Motherhood by: Sally Clarkson

Steady Days by: Jamie Martin

Teach Them Diligently by: Louis Priolo

George Muller by: Roger Steer

Almost Amish by: Nancy Sleeth

Place of Quiet Rest by: Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Be Still My Soul by: Elisabeth Elliot

Fit To Burst* by: Rachel Jankovic (one book on my list I don't own yet)
Heaven At Home* by: Ginger Plowman (another to purchase)

(this is my text book for a Seminary Wives class later this Spring)

Books to re-read...

A Woman's High Calling by: Elizabeth George

Keep A Quiet Heart by: Elisabeth Elliot

Loving The Little Years by: Rachel Jankovic

Don't Make Me Count to Three by: Ginger Plowman

Hannah Coulter by: Wendell Berry

Joy by: Lydia Brownback

Contentment by: Lydia Brownback

What suggestions do you have for me?  Have you discovered a new favorite book lately?