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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grocery Frugality

Mark and I have been enjoying our house thoroughly, the extra room, the time we are able to invest in others because we finally can fit more than our family in one space. While our home is wonderful and we are grateful for it we are having to pinch our pennies tighter. Our energy bill is WAY more than what we paid for at our apartment. Usually two months out of the year we had a credit to us from the energy company, not this year.

One area we are able to save is groceries! It's one area we can reduce while eating nutritiously. How do we accomplish this. One we have a grocery store literally down the street from us and they have a bin with reduced priced meat in it. Meat that is almost out dated but still good so long as you use it right away or freeze it. This can save us tons of money, while eating some yummy stuff. I've bought brats from this bin and just today I bought some stakes from this same bin. I also buy veggies that are on sale this week and cater my menu planning to the meats and veggies I bought. This can reduce our grocery bill down to $20 or $30, at times this will last us two weeks!

Roll over meals. A roll over meal is any meal that you made once, that can be made into other meals later in the week. Some examples. Have Taco night one night, then the next day for lunch or supper have taco salad. A beef roast can be roasted in a crock pot with yummy veggies and turned into a hot beef sandwich, beef and veggie stew, or BBQ beef. A roasted whole chicken can make tons of different meals through our the week. The bones can be added to veggies you've chopped over the week and made into broth. The skins can be made into yummy crunchy good for you baked skins. The chicken can be divided up for soups, chicken and rice, chicken salad, chicken burritos, chicken enchiladas. Brats can be had with sauerkraut one night and the extras cooked brats can be chopped up for spaghetti, soups, we've used them in omelets in the morning or egg baked. Chopped up in bits they work in pizza. Leftover Ham can go lots of ways! Scalloped potatoes and ham, fried ham and eggs, ground into ham salad, ham sandwiches. There is lots of room for creativity with one meal that can be mad into many meals for the coming week.

Almost any meal can be turned into a soup. Last night we had stir fry with pork and a variety of veggies I had on hand. I two cans of tomatoes, some beef broth, and some veggie juice. This super will feed us tonight as well as provide for lunches this week! Soups are so nutritious for you in so many ways. The broth is amazing for you! It doesn't have to be digested so nutrients, vitamins, and minerals gets absorbed right into your body without giving your body the workout of digestion. Broth is a super protein.

Another grocery frugality is putting more effort and time into the kitchen. This is going to take a bit more of your time preparing, freezing, and making meals. However more time in the kitchen does two things. One, it saves you money because are are not buying prepackage meals that are full of preservatives and things you cannot pronounce. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, you probably shouldn't eat it!

Another thing I have started to do is buy generic diapers. I have been Leary of generic diapers, it is not worth it to me to buy a cheaper diaper that my child will leak through and destroy their clothes, thus actually costing me more money than what I saved. I prefer Target brand diapers, but we don't have a Target in our town so it's not very cost effect. Walgreen diapers fall in second, they are absorbent, the tabs are hard to pull off so toddlers who are suppose to be napping but aren't can't take their diapers off. Walgreen's also often has buy one get one free on their company brand products, when that's the case I stock up on the Walgreen diapers and wipes. Walgreen thick wipes are also my wipe of choice. They keep the poop on the wipe, not on my hand, and they handle multiple swipes of little bottoms!

Keeping my needs to absolute needs. Crackers, chips, ice cream, fruit or veggies not on sale are not needs. A new shirt or new shoes are not always needs. Planning ahead and having menu plan and list of grocery's I need for that meal plan are crucial. Training yourself not to buy something that isn't on your list often takes diligence but can be done.

Mark and I are determined to allow me to be able to stay home with our children. There are going to have to be sacrifices made in order for us to accomplish this. We have sacrificed vacations, junk food, new clothes for ourselves and our kids. We shop at thrift stores and the salvation army. Honestly, to spend $20 on a pair of jeans makes my stomach sink like the drops on a roller coaster. However, to spend $20 on a bag of clothes from a thrift store makes me giddy and excited!

These are just some of the things that Mark and I do for frugality. What are some of the things you do to save you money?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Everything it's crack up to be...or is it?

We started out as friends, it turned into love,
then it turned into comitted love!

In two weeks Mark and I will have been married for six years! It has been an amazing six years of growth and LOTS and LOTS of changes. Did I mention LOTS of changes! Mark and I had been married for a little over a few months when we were at a benfit banquet for a friend with cancer. We were helping at a booth and we were standing in each others arms, nothing inapproriate we just had our arms around one another. Another older couple came up and asked us how long we had been married and their response was, "oh that explains it, wait until you have been married longer". I looked at Mark and I said honey, I hope we never say that to another couple. I hope we can tell other couples, it only gets better.

Growth lessons in order:
1. We got married, it is absoultely hullarious that God often puts people who have absoultely nothing in common and are polar opposites and allows them to be married! What once were cute and things I admired became not so admirable and actual a bit annoying to be honest. Yet it is this everyday annoyances that helps me to become more holy and Christ like.

2. Six months after we got married we got pregnant with our daughter Maddie. She wasn't planned but she wasn't unwanted. She was loved from the moment we knew we were pregnant. But it wasn't easy. Having a baby meant that I had to give up my independance that I loved very much. I had to give up sleeping at nights. Maddie's first year of life was one of the hardest years I have every had in my life. It was this year that Mark and I grew to appreciate the fact that we had choosen to move to Albert Lea, MN and be near family. Minnesota is NOT were either of us would have choosen, it's still not our dream destination, but we do have family, and that far outways the mountains...most days. :)

3. Oregon or bust. Mark had lost his job, he couldn't find a job and we were desperate and Mark needed to get out of Minnesota. So pack our bags and moved to Medford, Oregon for seven months. Seven of the loneliest months I had ever experianced.  Through this move God brought Mark and I to a place of contentment when we moved back to Minnesota seven months later. Mark got layed off and we choose to go back to MN were he started school not soon after we moved back.

4. Mark enters school, which would last for three years. Two of those years I worked full time while being wife and mommy. There were many mornings I would cry as I left Maddie at my moms, because I wanted to be her mommy and I wanted to be there for her, not working. Then in Mark's second year of automachanics we got pregnant again. This time we found out we were having twins! In Mark's last semester the twins were born 7 wks early! On top of the twins Mark was attempting to do finals and pass his classes! The twins were in intensive care for 7 weeks. Again we learned and experianced the value of living near family. Mark passed his classes with straight A's AND showed me that no matter what he would be there for me and his family! I had never felt so loved.

5. Mark orginally went to school for automachincs, which then turned into one more year for web design. I became a single mom more often than not. Mark would work full time during the day and go to school full time in the evenings. I had three little kids, but I learned to put Mark first. I learned what it meant to be a supporting role. The little time Mark and I did find for each other meant so much more beacause there was so little of it.

6. Mark graduated and we moved into a house! God's provision for our hard work for the last three years. Yet with a house we have had to sacrifice eatting out, doing special extra things with my family, we are limited in our traveling. Yet, we have more room, we have a fire pit in our backyard. We are able to enjoy being a family so much more and partly because we have a kitchen with a back door that leads to our backyard. Mark and I are learning to budget, we are learning to make groceries last as long as we can. We are learning to be content.

One of the things that has kept Mark and I from destruction is to forgive quickly and let things go. We have both been committed to take our relationship to Jesus, we have been committed to being submitted to the Holy Spirit. We have sought the counsel of wise friends and family when we got into sticky, hard to forgive moments in our marriage.

We do not have the star struck love of newly weds anymore, but we do have a much richer, deeper, committed love. We have a love that says, "I forgive you". We have a love that says, "I will submit to the Holy Spirit". We have a love that is willing to put our pride aside. Mark and I have the ability to hurt each other deeper than anyone else has power to do, we have the ability to be more angry at each other than we have ever experianced and we do have these moments. But I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit who comes and softens our hurts and brings us to a place were we are willing to forgive and talk about the hurt and anger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Panic, what sends you into panic? Is it lack of money, lack of love, rejection, lack of food? Does going into a room with tons of people send your mind realign?  Next question, what do you do when you panic? Do you run away? Do you face it and yell at it? Do you break down and can't function, becoming a zombie? Do you turn to God and let him wash over you with his truth?

I panic over lack of money, which brings a lack of food. I panic over rejection and possibly not being loved. I have run like my hair was on fire, I have broken down and sobbed my heart out and walked around like a zombie, functioning but not living. But I have also been taught, yes it's something that can be taught. I have broken down while turning to God, the one who is able to bring peace to confusion, clarity to confusion, the one who is able to give me the whole picture or half the picture, or no picture but still peace. I am blessed with friends who put their arm around me and love on me and yet still they point me to God's truth and God's love.

Today I was panicking about the lack of money for bills, food, much less anything we might "want". Which then goes into a whole bunch of different messages in my head about who I am, what I'm worth, and lots of other garbage I believe but isn't true. But when I turn to God, when I turn to his word he is able to reign in my thoughts, remind me of who I belong to, reminds me what my eternal purpose is. I had a wonderful cousin/friend walk me through my treasures on earth struggle and bring me to a place were I could focus on my treasures in heaven. What a precious gift this friend gave to me today. God indeed used this friend in my life today to point me to Him!

I was thinking of the fact that Mark and I are renting the house we live in for a year. Which is a great picture of my time on earth. I am only renting my time on earth. I own none of my time, I can't take anything with me when I die.

When you come to a panicking moment, what will you do? I encourage you seek truth! You shall know the truth and the truth SHALL set you FREE!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Who's shoes are you trying to wear?

My son Titus is determined to put shoes on. He has learned that it is easier to put my shoes on rather than his own. The Lord showed me a parable in this. When Titus tries to put my shoes on it is usually harder to stand up, he falls down much more easily, and walks more clumsily. What Titus doesn't realize is that by accomplishing the hard task of putting his own shoes on he will be able to walk much more freely. 

This is also true when I attempt to put someone elses shoes on. I see people all around me with straight hair that rarely gets frizzy, I see some who are fabulous teachers, rarely do I see what I have to offer anyone. I attempt or wish that I had someone elses shoe's on. What shoes do you wish you had? What "shoes" are you trying to make fit your feet when that's "shoes" God has for you. When you attempt to put on someone else shoes you are missing the wonderful things God created in you to give to others.

The Lord is reminding me that he has created me with my very  own special shoes. Ones that fit me just right, ones that are able to help me walk straight, ones that are able to help me stand firm, ones that allow me to loves others to my best ability. I have shoes that are mine and wouldn't fit someone else because God didn't make them to fit someone else, he made them to fit me!

God made you with your very own set of special shoes. Shoes that will allow you to walk straight, ones that will help you stand firm, ones that will help you to love others to the best of your ability. Shoes that won't fit anyone else because they were made for you!