Friday, December 13, 2019

Frugal Friday 322

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- I cleaned out my dresser. 15 items went to the Junk Exchange box. It still amazes me each time I clean out my clothes, generally twice a year, that I ALWAYS find more to part with.

- I ordered the last of our online Christmas gifts. I had forgotten (UGH!!!) to use a free promotional coupon that I had but I was still able to wait for a decent sale and free shipping on the items. I saved (between the sale and shipping) about $35 but I would have saved an additional $15 if I hadn't let my coupon expire. Thankfully this sale came in time for Christmas shipping.

- I donated a $30 bag of Usborne books to the Franklin City Police Department's Christmas party. The department kindly offered every family who came to the Christmas Party a door prize. I hope this bag, books, and coupon are a blessing to the family that received it.

- We enjoyed the department Christmas party as a family. We won a salt water float ($50 value!) and a coupon for a free meal at Culver's. We don't eat at Culver's so we passed that along to a friend. Toodleydoo Toys in Franklin also AMAZINGLY gave every single family a $10 coupon! Thank you Debi and staff!

- Mark and Owen used the $10 Toodleydoo coupon to buy Annabeth's Christmas gift. It was one of the last gifts that we needed to buy, we had planned to do it close to when we open gifts so Owen wouldn't have to keep the surprise from Annabeth for long, and this coupon came just in time.

- Saturday morning Mark and Owen met up with Mark's mom to do some Christmas shopping. Annabeth and I had a quiet morning at home as we worked a 300 piece puzzle (she is great at puzzles and I am learning to be patient with my lack of skills) and watched baking shows.

- Saturday afternoon we drove down towards Seymour for a birthday party. Annabeth's sweet friend from summer camp has been her pen-pal all school year and the girls were excited to see each other to celebrate H's birthday. I didn't know that she goes to school with a couple of my friend's children so I was able to catch up with my friend Whitney as well. On the way home, we stopped in Columbus for a Ru Yi sushi date.

She has ALWAYS loved sushi!
That night she had a sweet potato roll and rainbow roll with 5 kinds of fresh fish.

- Sunday after church we did our grocery shopping for the next two weeks. This was our first big trip in three weeks and should last us through Christmas (we get fresh produce delivered weekly from Imperfect) We made Chinese Food at home and then had a triple-show-Christmas-movie afternoon. It was a much needed break before the busyness of the next few weeks set in.

- Tuesday we drove to Shelbyville to deliver books to a customer. We also stopped by the Grover Museum - Shelby County History Museum - for about 90 minutes. The kids always love to see the 1900 town, train room, and at Christmas the decorated trees. Annabeth is in third grade this year so I am making a point to visit all of the local county museums to learn more about our local history.

- Tuesday evening we enjoyed Travel Club at the library. This month was about Italy and presented by an exchange student from Italy. The kids loved learning about his hometown and each asked some great questions.

- Wednesday evening Owen and I dropped Annabeth off at dance and then we drove to Indy for an Advent Service. Both of our nieces and our nephew were reading/singing in a mid-week Advent service and we so enjoyed worshipping with them. Mark picked up Annabeth from dance and they took a fun drive to look at Christmas lights.

- Yesterday, Annabeth had a Riley appointment. Since we were already nearly to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis we headed there after. We enjoyed an in-the-car picnic lunch on the roof of the parking garage. Then we enjoyed over three hours of fun at the museum. We have about six weeks left on our membership so I want to go as much as possible.

- This year Owen's FAVORITE thing to do has been to save the sea turtles at the museum. The one Christmas gift I hadn't found yet was a turtle like the one at the museum so we stopped by the gift shop to get him one. We do NOT usually exit through the gift shop but I really wanted him to have a turtle and members saved 20% so it was the day for it. Annabeth also got a small item.

 Owen saving the turtles. 
He LOVES this area!

Ultimately he decided against a plastic turtle like the museum ones
and chose a plush one. Since it was over 1/2 the price of the plastic one, I agreed.
Hugging "Leo" his new turtle friend.

- Last night Owen and Mark went to a local park to help a friend's son with his Eagle Scout Project. Annabeth and I stayed home to have a low key evening.

Frugal Fail: Last Thursday, a family at church called and offered us two tickets to the Jurassic Quest dino show in downtown Indianapolis. Owen hasn't really gotten into dinosaurs and is scared easily so I passed on the generous offer. Once I saw other people's pictures/videos from the show I realized that he may have really enjoyed it. That being said,I hope they found another family to share with.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Frugal Friday 321

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money -

- Mark worked some overtime and I worked my Usborne Books & More Business.

- Last Friday, we decorated the house and put up the tree. We ate Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch which was wonderful! Each of the kids also decorated a ginger bread house. I found Anna-Safe Mickey Mouse ones at Target for just $5 each. We love doing this each year and I love when I find Anna-Safe ones!

- Saturday I worked the Ladies Day Out Vendor Fair at Style. I had a decent sales day and enjoyed meeting some new book lovers. I packed my lunch and only purchased a $5 item so the day was very affordable.

- Saturday morning while Annabeth was at gymnastics, Mark took Owen out for a date. Owen asked to go to Starbucks and they sat, drank coffee, and talked. Owen has talked about it ALL week!

- Sunday we were the Advent Readers and Candle Lighters at church. Annabeth was so excited that she barely slept the night before! They also had practice for the Christmas Cantata. 

- After church, we finished up our Thanksgiving leftovers (mashed potatoes, cheezy carrots, and corn on the cob) but we didn't have any turkey so we ate it with shrimp. We called it an Island Thanksgiving! 

- Sunday afternoon Mark and I took turns playing with the kids and taking naps. We each snuck in a 2 hour nap which was AMAZING! He played games and built paper crafts with the kids during mine and the kids and I baked cookies and wrote our mail for the week during his.

- Our church has adopted several families from a local elementary school to receive Christmas gifts. We took two wishlists off the tree and the kids selected all of the candy that the kids had wished for. In the candy aisle, they each found things they wanted and it was such a great reminder that it is more blessed to give than to receive. 

- I LOVE getting money back with Ibotta. This month's gift card came just in time to purchase a gift for a Secret Santa exchange I am doing with some ladies I work with. I was able to buy a nice item off her wishlist and ship for free ALL covered by my Ibotta money. Join and Save Here.

- Tuesday after school we enjoyed a bit of play at the library. The kids also found new books for the week as well as our new read aloud. We then spent 90 minutes at our local museum. The kids enjoyed the permanent exhibits, seeing what the revolving exhibit is, and voting on Christmas trees decorated by local charity groups.

- Wednesday we had a bit of cabin fever. We're at the end of the semester, finishing books and testing so we've been home most days the past few weeks. The weather was very warm and since it was around 50 degrees we spent over two hours outside that afternoon.

- Wednesday evening after I dropped Annabeth off at dance, I took 30 minutes and went to Starbucks. I used a giftcard to buy a coffee (decaf always now) and a cookie and I finished a Christmas book. It was  the very sweet 25 Days Till Christmas by Poppy Alexander.

We had a low key week and did not eat out (other than the Starbucks with a giftcard) or drive farther than 5 minutes away as we were trying to save on gas this week as well. Our monthly bills have increased this fall due to some unforeseen medical/dental issues and so we've had to cut back very much on "extras" That being said I am SO proud that we continue to "live like no one else so later we can live like no one else." We aren't in a season where we are paying extra on our mortgage but we are still paying cash and not taking out credit.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Frugal Friday 320

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money:

- Thursday after Annabeth's last P.E. class, we drove down to Evansville. We listened to books on tape on the drive down. We had a great visit with my family - Dad and Annabeth finished a project for her room, we ate out for sushi and pizza, and Dad and Aunt Lu took the kids to the children's museum. Mama and I had a quiet afternoon reading by the fire at the library, a bit of shopping for Christmas, and then a walk through her favorite consignment store. We also took Saturday to shop the Central Band Craft Fair and to visit Momaw in Owensboro. We had a very good visit and look forward to going back in a month or so.

- A few weeks ago, Mama and Dad took home the nightstand from Owen's room to re-do for Annabeth. This originally came from the lakehouse and hasn't really served a function in Owen's room for a couple of years. Dad completely redid it, painted it, and now it's the perfect doll wardrobe for Annabeth's American Girl Doll Samantha.

Here you can see the nightstand by Owen's rocking chair.

 All made over for Samantha.
It doesn't even look like the same piece of furniture! 

 Annabeth's American Girl Corner
The doll, desk, and clothes were all mine from when I was a child.
My Mama and I found the doll bed at a consignment store and Mama put together all 
of the bedding. The closet makeover was a project made by my Dad. 

 Inside the closet. She has all of the dresses nicely hung with mirrors
to check her hair. The drawer underneath has shoes and accessories.

- I watched a friend's kids on Monday. They are extremely well behaved and clean up so well after themselves plus my kids love playing with them so it didn't feel like work at all! The family generously paid me with a Starbucks giftcard. Thank you all!

- Monday evening we purchased a fundraiser item from a student at our dance studio. The fruit is an item we buy weekly anyway and even though this was a bit more expensive we were happy to support Ella and the FFA. Mark and I have always made a point to support fundraisers when we can, knowing our own kids will also do them at different points.

- Tuesday we did the pre-Christmas deep clean of Owen's room and Wednesday we did the pre-Christmas deep clean of Annabeth's room. Nearly 50 items are leaving our house to either be donated or sold at the spring Here We Grow Again sale. 

- We had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday with Mark's family. M&J hosted and we took deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, chocolate chip pie, and chocolate chip cookies. We had a wonderful afternoon together and were just missing one member of the family who was home sick.

We are home today, with a slow morning of cinnamon rolls and a Christmas movie. Next is tree and house decorating for Christmas but NO shopping. Our Christmas shopping is done and we're looking forward to an evening of making memories together.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Frugal Friday 319

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Saturday night my sister and I had tickets to a show (my birthday gift to her) but it was cancelled a few weeks ago. She went ahead and came up for the day and we went out for lunch and then the Cake Bake Shop for dessert take-out. We shopped a consignment store after and each found some great new clothing items.

- Sunday we went to the CMOI. My sister came along, for free thanks to our + on our pass. We spent quite a few hours at the museum and the kids enjoyed having multiple grown-ups so we could split up and they could each down their own age appropriate activity. We packed a lunch so we spent $0 on our fun outing.

 Mark and the kids in front of the CMOI water clock
Once again, Owen spent well over an hour
of the visit caring for the sea turtles.

- After the museum, we ran by Mark's parents house. We enjoyed visiting with them and they colored and played games with the kids. I love long, slow Sundays with the people that we love.

- We played with homeschool friends at the library and got new books/audio books for the week. Thank you to Miss Sarah at the desk for helping Annabeth find everything from Harry Potter to a book on Ryan White.

- Tuesday evening the kids each took a toy to donate at 4H. The Junior Leaders will be taking the toys to one central location for a special toy drive run by those Leaders. I was happy to see each of the kids choose a nice item to donate.

- Yesterday morning, we enjoyed a preschool storytime at the Church of God in Franklin. Our sweet friend Miss Kelley leads such a fun class each month. We also donated a big bag of individual dessert bags to be used in December's Meal Bags.

- Yesterday we wrapped up the fall session of P.E. at Franklin College. Annabeth has enjoyed this class so much each year. I very much appreciate Franklin College and their openess to young learners and the local homeschool community.

- We only had one hour between storytime and P.E. but instead of eating out the kids and I went home and ate quick sandwiches and fruit. Yes, it would have been much easier to eat out but it was SO much more affordable to eat at home.

We had a busy, busy week and are looking forward to a weekend with family.

Happy Savings to All!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Christmas Jar Challenge

A few weeks ago, a movie ad popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. It looked like one of those feel good Christmas movies that I like to watch while baking cookies. Mid-way through the ad it mentioned "based on the best selling novel..." which prompted me to reserve both the book and sequel at my local library.

I finished the first book Christmas Jars, by Jason F Wright, yesterday. I was teary eyed, moved by the beautiful story of how one family's jar of change that created a real change in people's lives. I promptly stood up, found a Ball jar, and emptied the change in my wallet into the jar. I wrote Acts 20:35 across the top. A few hours later, still feeling that Christmas spirit, I set up a cute photo for Facebook hoping to share some joy and encourage others to enjoy the novel.

Today, in a squeezed in quiet moment, I began the sequel Christmas Jars Reunion because I was in such a hurry to revisit the beautiful writing of Wright and the world of Hope Jensen. The sequel, so far, is perhaps even more moving than the first book. The more I read, the more I wanted to create my own Christmas Jar movement - so, here I am.

What is a Christmas Jar?

According to Wright's novel, it's any kind of jar you have around. You fill it with change beginning as soon after Christmas as you can. The change you get at the grocery, coffee shop, or lunch line always goes straight in the jar when you get home. Then, the next Christmas you gift the jar to someone who needs it. A stranger, a homeless woman, a widower, a loved one, whoever the Spirit moves you to share with.

As I've been praying over this project and pondering who I might share a jar with it occurred to me that I have many people in my life who might benefit from a surprise jar of money - a widow who will celebrate her first Christmas just her and her young children, a family facing mountains of medical bills, a friend who is fostering children, etc 

And so, dear blog friends, I challenge you to get a jar and start it TODAY.
Not after Christmas, not when you have extra, not when you have time, but 
The point is not the amount of money in the jar but the statement of "I see you. I value you. I care for you."

How many people can we bless? How many people will we choose to SEE this Christmas season? 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Frugal Friday 318

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Saturday I had a rare in-home Usborne Books & More party. We had so much fun and my hostess earned an incredible $85 in FREE books! I also hosted my Third Annual Holiday Open House on Sunday.  I was pleased to open our home to four additional vendors who enjoyed the free table fee and business exposure.

- Annabeth has been working for a month or more on crafts - paintings, magnets, and some ceramics for the open house. She had her own table with Annabeth's Originals. Thank you to everyone who came and purchase, especially sweet grandparents and aunts/uncles who called and ordered over video chat! :) She is saving her money for next year's vacation.

- Sunday the kids both decided they wanted to be REALLY dressed up. Owen had to wear his new red tie from Grandmama-Mimi and Annabeth wanted to wear her fanciest dress for the Open House. They looked so sweet I had to make pictures.

In their Sunday Best.

Mark was so cute and decided to match Owen while
they went to Sunday lunch at Nana and PawPaw's. 

- Saturday and Sunday were both fun, but long, days. We resisted the urge to eat out and I cooked dinner at home each night. When I am tired or in a hurry is when I am most tempted to eat out or run through a drive-thru. We have worked really hard to break that habit. Mark has also been taking his lunch or coming home most days.

- Mark worked some overtime.

- Monday Mark was off for Veteran's Day. We splurged and took the kids bowling. We used a $5 coupon to save one shoe rental fee. We came home and Owen and I spent the afternoon curled up reading while Mark and Annabeth played Monopoly.

- Monday night we had our first snow, nearly 4 inches, of the year. Annabeth and I were at dance but Mark and Owen went out to play and had hot chocolate afterward.

- Tuesday we got out in the snow for a free bat lecture and regular P.E. class at Franklin College. Thank you to our friend Ben for allowing us to sit in on the bat lecture and for the openness of Franklin College to include learners of all ages.

- Tuesday evening Mark helps lead a cub scout pack and boy scout troop. This week they were making fruit salad so he took fruit from our Imperfect box. We had ordered more than we had used so that was a perfect way to ensure we're using all of the food that we buy.

- We spent two afternoons at the library, playing games and visiting with other homeschool friends. We also stocked up on books and movies for the snowy week.

- I had a bit of money from a fundraiser to help pay our dance budget this month. That allowed me to have extra money to go out to dinner with a friend/potential book lady last night.

We had a great week and the kids really enjoyed the first snow of the year. I held to my commitment to spend a minimum of 20 mindful minutes outside each day (not just walking from a car to a building) and I think we are ALL better for it. We have been doing this since last winter and it really helps to keep everyone happy even on dreary days or really hot or really cold days.

We are looking forward to the weekend with some special out-of-town company.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Frugal Friday 317

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/made extra money/spent our money wisely:

- Mark worked overtime and I worked my Usborne Books & More business and Mark worked overtime.

- On Halloween, the kids and I drove down to Evansville. We enjoyed indoor trick-or-treating at Deaconess Women's Hospital. With three floors of costumes and candy the kids were thrilled! We went back to my parents' house to hand out candy and for the traditional soup/sandwiches dinner.

This was our first Halloween in Evansville so as soon as they were in costume, 
we ran outside to freeze on the front porch making pictures just like I did as a child.
It was really special to share this holiday with my family for the first time.

- Friday we had a fun day out. Annabeth went with Aunt Lu to spend her birthday giftcard and to share lunch. Mama and I took Owen out to chick-fil-a to play on the playground and I redeemed a $2.99 coupon for a FREE milkshake. We all met up at the mall for a free ride on the carousel (the kids are in their birthday club and get free rides for their birthdays) and $11 glow-putt putt. This is an AMAZING deal as it's two full rounds of glow golf with over 50 holes at that price!

- Saturday we went to Owensboro to visit Momaw. We enjoyed lunch at Old Hickory and then split up boys and girls. Dad and Owen went downtown to the park by the river and us ladies enjoyed some Holiday Open Houses.
Just a couple of cowboys after a BBQ lunch.

- Sunday evening we all got back in town around the same time. Mark came in from hiking/camping and the rest of us came back from Evansville. Mark made an executive decision to splurge and get delivery pizza (we didn't have any freezer pizzas) using a gift card. We got the pizzas for free thanks to a gift card from a tire rebate. Mark will use the rest of it to buy his lunches for the week.

- Wednesday evening we made our own pizzas with Naan bread at home. The kids LOVE pizza and although they like freezer pizzas, they tire of them quickly. I try to mix it up and keep it fun when I can.

- Thursday Annabeth began her third session of P.E. at Franklin College. This is offered, for free, to homeschoolers once a semester. We also enjoyed a good hour of craft and play at the library with a friend afterwards.

- My Team Leader cash bonus came through this week! I will be putting most of it aside to save for vacation. I am SO excited to be a new Team Leader with Usborne Books & More and love the team I am building. Let me know if earning serious cash while selling children's books appeals to you!

Lastly this week, I just want to share a story.
Wednesday we were in Greenwood for an appointment. We stopped in one of the post offices there to mail a book. This is a post office that we never use but I just felt like I should stop there.
While waiting in line we met the neatest man! Owen had pulled a card with whales off the rack and the man said, "Oh, I wonder what kind of whales those are..." He flipped over the card, no description. He then said, "The absolute highlight of my life was seeing a blue while in the Arctic..." and proceeded to tell us an incredible story about whale spotting in the Arctic Circle. He then shared his pictures from his Alaska trip just last month. While out driving a large snow vehicle for work, his team came face to face with a polar bear. The pictures and his stories were incredible. I was so thankful to be in line with him.
My point? SLOW DOWN. Take time to talk to strangers, connect with the people around you.
I am like my Mama and my Momaw, strangers have always just connected with us, told us stories right away, and so I've learned to listen. I meet some of the most amazing people just by being willing to stop and listen.

I am working all weekend but am looking forward to connecting with lots of local people through my book business.

Happy Savings to All!