Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gift Ideas for the Mommies: #1

T-minus 1 day until Black Friday.

I am sure your family members have been hinting at their Christmas list, but what about the mommies? A few people have been asking me what I would like- and quite honestly I had to really think about it. There are lots of great new gadgets out there (Ipad, Ipad, Ipad....) Practically, though, I go through a mental list every year: What new kitchen gadget do I have my eye on?(Food processor) Do I need new kitchen washcloths or towels? (YES!!!) How are my kitchen knives shaping up? (Definitely need new ones!)

Stocking up my Kitchen is always first on my list... then I think of other things- Magazine Subscriptions (the gift that gives all year!), a new Purse (most of my purses were already worn out and used when I got them- so a brand new purse has been a treat since I was young!), and wallet to go with it (even better if there is a little moolah in it!)

I have a fantastic product to review for you today that each of you have to add to your Christmas list. Not only is it functional, practical, frugal and unique... but it will SAVE YOU MONEY ALL YEAR! Do I have your attention??? The Savvycents Wallet.

A great way to budget is to use the envelope system. It is the way our family sticks to our budget and I highly recommend it whenever those I know are looking for a new way to stick to their budget.

The envelope system is a system where you take out cash for all of your areas in your budget where you might normally use your debit card. For example, we use cash for our groceries, eating out money, entertainment money, baby-sitting money and misc. items. Previously, I used a regular wallet and tried to separate my different areas of money using paperclips. I didn't have great luck with this! Then I tried to use a separate system using an index card holder for my cash, but I was nervous that I would lose it- plus all that change was annoying!

Then I found the Savvycents Wallet. I have been using this wallet for months and love every aspect of it! I get so many compliments and people wanting to know where to get one!

Here is a basic description from their site:

"The Savvycents wallet is not only functional but also fashionable. It contains everything you need to organize your monthly or weekly budget using a cash system. With an accordion style file system inside the wallet you can separate money, coupons, receipts or store discount cards by categories. Your wallet comes with file cards where you can label each category with our pre-printed labels. There are also blank labels where you can customize your wallet based on your personal categories. You no longer have to carry envelopes or zip lock bags to separate your money and coupons. Your change will fit nicely in a coin pocket located on the backside of the wallet.

It also has 6 pockets for debit cards and store discount cards. On the opposite side there is a place for your driver’s license and a place for your checkbook."

Wallet is 8” x 4”

I cannot say enough good things about this wallet. It looks great, has a space for all my different cash categories, has a place for all my cards, checkbook etc. This wallet has encouraged me to stick to my budget and has taken the frustration out of trying to keep all my "envelopes" organized.

This would be a great gift for a teenager, just learning how to budget. A young wife who is learning how to stick to a family budget or someone who has been at it a long time - yet wants a more organized and fashionable way to be frugal!

The wallet is $24.99 and worth every penny! Check it out today and get someone else (or you!) crossed off your shopping list.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Octopi: An easy, cheap lunch idea

You were just out shopping. You're tired. You just spent more than your budget for the week. You don't feel like cooking, and the kids are whining about being hungry. I feel you. ;0)

Here's a quick lunch that doesn't cost a lot and can be whipped up in a snap, and your kids will think it is fun. In fact, they can help you make this one easy.

Dry Spaghetti noodles
hot dogs
beans (optional)
vegetables on the side

1. Cut each of the hot dogs into 3-4 parts.
2. Break your dried spaghetti into relatively equal lengths and push them into one end of the hot dogs. (kids have fun helping with this part, and the breaking of the noodles)
3. Get your water boiling.
4. While the water is coming to a boil, pop open a can of beans and warm them up. (I just heated them in my microwave)
5. Cook your octopi in the boiling water until the noodles are cooked.
6. Serve your octopi on the beans, along with some veges on the side. (we just did peas)

A Thanksgiving Food For Thought

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want. 

~ Wendell Berry, The Gift of Good Land

Monday, November 22, 2010

He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.
Psalms 104:19

It was not even half past three in the afternoon. For many of us, this is crunch time. Cram time. Get it done time.

Dinner is forthcoming. Lunch is over. Little ones might be napping. There are errands. Forget dusting, that can not be accomplished until the surfaces are cleared off of the books, toys, paper piles, and is that the sock I have been searching for shoved behind the shelf(?). There are blogs to read, emails to send, books with dog eared pages waiting for further indigestion. The phone keeps ringing, sometimes important, sometimes idle but sweet chatter. Across town is a mega good deal on cheese, today only. The church play needs edited and somebody has to make the set out of cardboard and twine, any volunteers? Plus, cookies sound good and the dough sits half completed waiting for that darn butter to soften. And, the in laws are staying three days over Thanksgiving and the guest room is somewhere under the laundry.

It was half past three. I did not know where my to do list was. Late November and it is raining. Wow. Late November and the windows of my house are open wide. Because of our modern conviences it can be so easy to disconnect from nature and the display of ever changing sensations that take place outside of our climate controlled habitats. At night, when the land is dark and our bodies naturally begin telling us that it is time for rest we turn on the lights and fight nature. In the heat we condition our bodies to desire the cool forced air taking away our natural ability to gradually cope with warm weather. During a November rain storm we rush on, push through, and miss out.

At half past three this afternoon my entire house was dark. Without using electric light the dark clouds had cast a shadow over our home. This made going about our tasks difficult to do. My first thought? Turn on the lights! And, then I remembered the importance of going with nature, flowing with the seasons, connecting to the natural world.

I stopped. I sipped a cup of coffee. I held my children. And, we did......nothing.

Take a cue from nature. Rest at dark. Rise at light. Labor during times when naturally the body is energized. And, when that rain storm comes crashing through on a rare late November afternoon keep the lights off, windows open, and thank the Lord  for the seasons and cycles that take place around and within us every moment of every single day.

Many blessings. This day and always.

One beef brisket, Three Meals.

In light of Thanksgiving (whippeee!!!)  I wanted to create a meal plan that was easy, something that could in a sense be in the back of my mind, so that we could go about our home preparing for the holiday company.
In my deep freeze I had one nice chunk of beef remaining from the pastured cow we purchased last year. Seemed like the right week to use this. Beef sounded good as we have had vegetarian meals since last Thursday! Including two nights where I simply served a bunch of vegetables from our CSA this summer along with salt, pepper, butter, and some rolls.

My plan is to roast the meat today and make a fairly typical roast.
Tomorrow we will make drip beef sandwiches with the leftover meat.
Wednesday we will use any remaining meat and have pot roast soup or pour the remaining meat, broth, and roast vegetables over brown rice.

Then, of course, is Thanksgiving!

Here is the drip beef recipe. Many blessings for a happy, peaceful, and festive Thanksgiving.