Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Photo Favorites!

We had a very blessed Christmas season!

We were able to spend a record 5! days in Evansville/Owensboro with my family. We very much enjoyed getting to see most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. We also had a wonderful evening celebrating with our Family Group Bible Study. We came home Christmas night and have spent the past four days with Mark's side of the family. We have been able to celebrate with his parents, grandpas, and brothers as well as their families. We were especially excited to see the SD Rileys - our first time seeing them since August and we loved cuddling with our precious nieces and nephew.

Here is our Christmas, in our favorite photos:

Some of us Group Kids and our Kids. 
Our parents were part of an assigned Advent Group when they were "Young Marrieds." That 6 week Bible Study has resulted in more than 25 years of friendship, studying the word, and creating our own special family - now three generations deep in love. 

Aunt Lu and Annabeth enjoying a McDonald's playdate/lunch date on Christmas Eve.
Our goal was to wear her out - Lu succeeded!  

Christmas Morning with Grandmama-Mimi and Grandpa Kuhn  

Christmas Afternoon in Kentucky. We enjoyed special time with my cousin's wife/my friend Jill and their sweet son Cooper in from Florida. We had such a wonderful afternoon! ALL of my cousins and their children were in town! It was the first time we all have been together as a new baby was added just this fall! God is so good! 

The Riley Cousins! Annabeth was so happy to see the SD Rileys! 

Cousin Love.
They spent a lot of time just holding hands.

The Three of Us.
Just as we are.
Annabeth being crazy and us just laughing.

We love the  Christmas season and love seeing all of our family and friends. Even more, we enjoy celebrating the birth of our precious Lord and Savior. For from Him, all blessings come.
Merry Christmas Time!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Frugal Friday 19

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/worked to make extra money this week:

- My sister and I did some last minute Christmas shopping at Target and were able to save 10% off our order. The store was giving all customers a 10% discount off their total order to help make up for the credit card issue their shoppers had. Thanks Target! Saved: $3.90

- LucyAnne and I decided to take extra advantage of the extra 10% off by purchasing our shopping trip snacks (Starbucks) Saved: $.40

- Christmas Eve we did not have plans with friends or family until the evening so we had a LONG, cold day to fill. Mark, Lu, and I took Annabeth to a McDonald's for lunch and to play in the indoor playground! Not totally free fun but under $10 for lunch, entertainment, and a good long nap that followed

- I received an e-mail from the Here We Grow Again- Indy South Sale owners that it is registration time for the Spring 2014 Sale. I signed up and will begin transferring tags from last fall's unsold items to the spring sale AND tagging new items. My goal for this sale is 75 items and $100. We shall see...

Another short one this week! We have simply been enjoying precious time with family and friends!

Merry Christmas Week to All! We pray you have enjoyed celebrating our Savior's Birth!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference!"

Friday, December 20, 2013

Frugal Friday 18

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is what we have been doing to save money/spend money wisely this week:

- I mended my black leggings and one of Annabeth's solid shirts. Both are staples and just had small holes. I couldn't see buying new so I just fixed them up.

- We met friends at The Commons playground in Columbus. We first enjoyed a lunch out and then had FREE fun playing on the playground and exchanging Christmas gifts!

- After a lengthy wait and even longer sick visit exam at the doctors, I treated Annabeth to Apple Juice at McDonald's. FREE thanks to a coupon from her Auntie Cassidy and Uncle Luke. Saved: $1.00

- Mark's mom sent over some yummy Christmas goodies! So kind of her!

- We checked out lots of dinosaur books and some movies for movie night at our library. FREE!
*Good thing because Mark and I both have something we are affectionately calling "The Death Flu." We have called in Nana (Mark's mom) to come get Annabeth and for the first time I am letting Annabeth spend the night away from us. Pray for me!*

Due to "The Death Flu" this ends this Frugal Friday because it feels awful to be in a sitting position.

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Monkey Arms

Happy Last Throwback Thursday!

I have enjoyed sharing some points from my past that have helped shape who I am today. I hope you have enjoyed reading!

I feel like, writing as a woman, body image issues have to be addressed. I decided to be really brave and share what I am most self-conscious about.

My arm hair. (Please note: This picture does not do it justice! There is so much!)

My parents both plenty of arm hair so I am doubly "blessed" and have even more than both of them! It really started showing around my middle school years - perfect timing right? In the 7th and 8th grade, a group of boys started calling me "Monkey Arms" and as us girls waited in the lunch line (they separated each grade into two lunch sessions - boys and girls) they would point, laugh, and comment. Around that same time, those boys saw a movie called "Congo" which features an ape named "Amy." Oh the irony...

I took to wearing long sleeves. I once shaved my arms and quickly realized I didn't want to have to do that every day for the rest of my life so I went back to the hairiness.

In high school, I became somewhat more okay with my hairy arms but I still did my best to hide them under long sleeves and especially in pictures. Then, around junior year, my Mama found this amazing Avon product that bleaches dark hair without turning it orange! It was a huge turning point, we invested in many bottles of it, and I finally felt like I didn't have to worry.


As I led a tour of future students and their parents, I asked if there were any questions or comments. One parent raised his hand. "Yes?" I said. He replied, "Dang girl! You have the hairiest arms I have ever seen!"

Yes. A parent said that!


By college I stopped caring and quite honestly with the exception of wedding pictures and holding Annabeth pictures I have forgotten to hide them. Then...

Last fall, my best friend and I went to a new nail salon to treat ourselves to pedicures and manicures. All was going well until the manicure, I rolled up my sleeves, the manicurist began the process. Then she giggled. A tiny, little giggle. I immediately thought of my arm hair. Then I thought, "No. Amy. Stop. It's not about that." More tittering, giggling. Finally, in a Cambodian accent, "Oh. You have hair like monkey." Fits of laughter.

So...there you have it...I am most self-conscious about my arm hair. My monkey arm hair to be exact. But, in the end, Mark says he doesn't mind it and Annabeth loves to brush it so I guess it's okay with me :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dinosaurs, Dragons, and Monsters!

Annabeth's Three Favorite Things.

Our conversations are currently about these three things.

Example 1:
We have been working on getting Annabeth to say her name and age. Today practice went like this:
Me: What is your name?
A: "AB."
Me: "Annabeth what?"
A: "Din-saur."
Me: "How about Annabeth Sage Riley?"
A: "Syeah. Monser." (aka Monster)
Me: "Okay. How old are you?"
A: "Dragon!"

Example 2:
We went to lunch with friends today. As we were leaving this happened:
Me: "Okay, let's go Annabeth."
A: "No. I dragon. RAHAHRHRR!" *Puts hands in front of her mouth and waves. "FIRE!"

The love of dragons came from a children's show that she and Mark have been watching since last spring, "Jane and the Dragon." The monster interest came when she learned about Cookie Monster because he is on her Pampers diapers and she now loves saying things in a "monster" voice which consists of jumbling a bunch of letters together and growling. As for the dinosaurs, she just loves picking out every library book she can find about them. I can say that I am learning a lot about all three! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Annabeth: Toddler Fashion Diva

I am not a fashionista. I like to look nice. I like to be presentable and appropriate for the occasion. I LOVE jewelry and accessories like scarves and hair bands/barrettes. However, I am not ever one who looks like a fashion spread or the displays at the mall. In fact, today I have on 8 year old leggings, simple tanks, and a hand-me-down cardigan from my younger sister.

BUT we do have one fashionista in our house and she is only 2!

Annabeth LOVES to pick out her clothes in the morning. As soon as she is up, she is in her closet looking for things to wear, finding shoes, and yelling "Bow! Bow!" until I get one out for her hair. She loves playing with my makeup and has even claimed a few of my purses as her own.

Need an example?

Here is what she picked to wear today:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frugal Friday 17

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

- We enjoyed free fun at home in the snow! We also made Snow Ice Cream

- Marked ordered Chinese on Sunday so we did pay for "eat-out" food but we also ate it for three meals. So yummy!

- We went to Target to shop for our quarterly round of items there. We really like their different snacks for Annabeth. When I got to the toddler food section someone had left their good coupons for what we needed!! Saved: $2.00

- We decided it was time to get rid of Annabeth's funky chunk/rat tail piece of hair. We cut her hair at home and also did the "first haircut package" with pictures and keepsake locks of hair. Saved: $17.95

 The funky chunk/rat tail reason for the haircut

 Chop Chop!

 Nanners and her new do! Looking too old! :(

- We cleaned out Annabeth's toys in preparation for the Christmas gifts that she will have coming soon. We ended up with three "give-away bags" - one went to Goodwill, one to my aunt and uncle for their new granddaughter to enjoy when visiting their house, and one to a teacher friend's Prize Box in her classroom. We pray that when Annabeth is older she will truly understand what we are doing when we clean out and that she will love giving better than receiving.

- I am still earning points on Swagbucks and money through advertising on this blog. Thank you for taking a moment to click on the ads - every click adds a little money to Annabeth's college fund!

Total Saved: $19.95

What have you been doing to save money? Do you clean out before Christmas?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference" 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Words from my Younger Self

Happy Throwback Thursday!

In true Throwback fashion I have reread my high school journals and am including some wise (perhaps beyond my years) words. Enjoy!

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." - The Wonder Years

I have had one of the happiest, most joyful weeks of my life. Why, you might ask. Well, I have no idea. Nothing superb or amazing has happened and yet I am sitting on top of the world. Major annoyances are being taken in stride and all of my world feels okay. Hmm...who am I? Oh, to be 16!

As always, I must use the last day of the year to reflect on the year as a whole. - This was my butterfly year. I spread my wings and learned to fly. I gave my time and love to the world. I left little bits of me all over the country. In this year, I allowed myself to tell someone how I really felt. My New Year's Resolution for 2004: to allow myself to fully love someone AND accept their love in return. I aim to dive in the deep end just to see what it feels like to sink, swim, or float.

Today I am 17! My first words of wisdom and a great lesson to include in my journal is that: no matter what happens with others learn from that person who you do or don't want to be. The hardest thing to do is say nothing at all. Happy Birthday Amy!

I came home from Lakeview yesterday. Oh goodness, I love that place! Maybe it is the constant awareness of God surrounding me or the time in nature, the people, or the love. I cannot pinpoint it but I love it. I cannot say I learned any huge life lessons however I grew so much in my faith these past two weeks.
"Amazing love, How can it be, That you my King would die for me. It's my joy to honor You, in all I do, I honor You."

Lately I have been feeling very unappreciated by certain friends. So much so that I have withdrawn from a lot of people and social situations. I had confided this in Treva earlier this week in a phone call. Then today, in band class, Treva gives me this note and and a bag. The note says "Thanks for it all! I love you!" She told me to open the bag. I expected a poptart or candy but when I opened the bag it was a whole bag of notes saying "Thank You." She had gone to all of our friends and had them write to me. It was by far one of the sweetest and best moments of my life.
**Note: I still have this bag of notes and each time we clean out my dresser I take the time to read them and smile. Proof that the little things matter so much**

In the insanity of my return to reality from the beauty of Lakeview, I struggled to find a way to write this. I know that it will not be perfect nor will it come close to being able to express my emotions I feel but I am going to try. There's this song called "Breathe" and the last two lines are "I'm lost without You, I'm desperate for You."
I've sung that song every summer at camp and I have always liked those lines but never fully grasped their meaning. But the night of Jesus Walk there was a huge storm. It had started as just rain so we were trying to hurry from station to station. My little girls were scared of the storm and some were whimpering. My cabin was on the porch of Ottawa and a huge branch fell on the roof. The whimpering turned to screaming and we ran through the woods back to the dinning hall. As I ran holding hands, with two very afraid little girls, I realized I was completely helpless. I couldn't stop the rain or the thunder or the lightening. So, as we ran I said, "Let's pray!" I said one of the most desperate prayers of my life. I prayed that all of camp would safely reach the dinning hall, that the Lord would calm the little ones fears, and that the storm would end soon.
When I got home and reflected on my two weeks as a JC I kept going back to that moment and I realized it was like the song. I was lost I was desperate, and I turned to Him.

And from my last day of my first year at UofL:

It's the middle of the afternoon and I am sitting outside of the UofL Library. 9 months ago, I sat on the other side of this sidewalk and wrote about being so proud of living my first day alone at college. I remember walking around campus and finding each building for my classes. There were no people, just me. Today is much like that. I felt the need to complete this year as I started it. 9 months ago the walk here was so exciting because each new turn on the path was new and unexplored. On my walk here today, I smiled as each turn holds a memory. This year I did things I never dreamt of doing and also things my heart could never have even dreamt they were all so wonderful. I poured my heart and soul into this place and these people. I have no regrets on how I spent my time or who I spent it with. I think about how many hundreds of times I stopped my life and just fully appreciated and loved the moment I was in. I fully loved the peopled I met here. I haven't wasted many moments and the few I did were just because I wasn't fully soaking in the moment or loving the person I was with. I feel so much peace in my life and love and my heart.

I love that last entry especially. It was so true and hopeful and pure. That month my life changed completely as I lost one of my closest friends in a car accident and met Mark the week after that. But for this one entry, this one moment, life was just perfect at 19.

Words from my younger self, so much to learn from, even now.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Day!

We were blessed with the first "real" snow of the season this weekend!

It started snowing late Thursday evening and did not end for about 24 hours. It was a slow, gradual snow fall which made it extra fluffy and beautiful! Our trees are beautiful and the limbs are gorgeously covered in snow. Mark estimates we ended up with about 6-7 inches.

Annabeth's first two winters she hated the snow. Hated it! Poor girl would burst into tears anytime we even walked across the backyard to the garage at the old house. She was just not happy so we were a bit worried about how she would fare this winter. She is such a nature girl and loves to be outdoors from morning until night so I was hoping she would learn to love the snow so we can continue enjoying days outside.

She loves it this year!

We spent Saturday afternoon outside as a family: making snowballs, making videos of the snow, and tromping around our yard as well as the lot next door. It was a beautiful day and we loved just being together.

We came inside, mostly due to the cold and Annabeth's wet mittens and hands, and made snow ice cream. Mark said that was something he had never done so I think he may have enjoyed it even more than Annabeth and I did! :)

Snow Ice Cream

4 Cups Snow
3/4 Cup Milk (we used vanilla soy milk)
2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Add sprinkles or your favorite topping if you'd like!

Fill one very large bowl with snow and fill another smaller bowl inside of that one with the 4 cups of snow. This keeps the snow from melting as you mix the ingredients.

Mix all ingredients together.


Originally we had planned to go back outside but once we were indoors and warm we decided that we would just let Annabeth play with the snow in the kitchen. We filled our largest mixing bowl and got out measuring cups and spoons and let her go to town!

Snow much fun! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Frugal Friday 16

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is what we did to save money/spent money wisely/make money creatively this week:

- We put up our Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving only to discover that our 8 year old hand-me-down tree was looking very worn and only had about half of it's "pre-lit" lights working. Mark ran out to Lowe's and was able to get us a new tree on a Black Friday Sale! We had budgeted and planned to buy one after the holidays but this worked just as well because we have a very nice looking tree now. Saved: $100

- We hurried and took our family Christmas card picture in front of the tree and ordered our Christmas cards from Sam's Club. Every year on Thanksgiving Weekend they run a sale and we are able to get 100 cards for $15. Saved: $10

- We got another free offer from Shutterfly that allowed us to finish a Christmas gift. Saved: $14.99

- Last week we finished most of our Christmas shopping at Kohl's. I spent $51 and earned $15 Kohl's Cash. This Monday we went back to spend the $15 because we had gotten our last lists from people over the weekend. I was able to get a family member a $50 value gift AND a Color Wonder Set for Annabeth's stocking. Both items were on sale + coupon + Kohl's Cash = I had expected to pay between $10-$15 for the purchase - a great deal!! BUT both items rang up for less than they were marked and I only paid $.20!!!! Saved: $55.80

- I enjoyed a FREE Starbuck's coffee thanks to a Swagbucks' giftcard. Saved: $4.81

- We enjoyed a dinner out with a coupon that made Annabeth's Kid's Meal free. It was also large enough that she ate some of it later as a snack and for lunch the next day. Saved: $3.00

- We enjoyed an evening out at the library making ornaments for the library's tree as well as our own. Free Family Fun!

Annabeth and Mark making links for the Christmas Chain

- Mark worked two afternoons at a former teacher's house doing yard work and made some extra money. The extra money helped up purchase the new tree. God always provides!

Saved: $188.60

Did you score any great Black Friday deals? Are you earning extra money this holiday season?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, December 5, 2013



I first heard this word at 20. It was fall of my final year of college and for about six months I had been in horrible pain during certain times of the month. Finally, I called home and told my mom I needed to see a doctor. 2 visits and 2 ultrasounds later I learned the words Endometriosis and Infertility.

Mark and I had been engaged since the summer before. We had discussed wanting children (him 2-3 and me 1-2) and just assumed they would be part of our lives after we married. I drove to visit Mark at school and we went through everything the doctors had said. I told him I wanted him to really think about marrying me. I knew that, more than anything, he wanted children and I knew that he was not necessarily open to adoption. I told him that I needed him to really pray and be sure that I was still the future wife for him. He did. He said I was. And in the months that followed the Lord opened Mark's heart to the idea of adoption.

We married in May 2009. We decided that we would allow the Lord to give us children when and how He saw fit. Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

A year in I saw my family doctor and we were referred to a specialist (read VERY expensive doctor) on the north side of Indy. I called the office and was scheduled six months out and nearly fainted when I heard the cost of one office visit. During that time, I switched family practitioners and found a wonderful doctor in Dr. Kimberly Franklin. She was the first one who suggested that our fertility struggles did have something to do with the Endometriosis but there may have been other underlying factors. We ran a ton of tests and found that while my blood sugar always tested fine my insulin levels were 10 points higher than the high end of the scale. I started on Metformin and changed my diet. She suggested a vitamin plan for Mark and myself. We foolishly thought this was the magic cure-all. I fully expected to be pregnant within the first few months of those changes. Still nothing.

It seemed every other week someone we knew was announcing a pregnancy: "We weren't even trying!" or "I cannot believe it's our third!" or "We just got drunk, I guess I'll marry her now." Every woman I knew had some crazy advice - and I tried ALL of it! It began to really consume our lives, the want for a child. We kept praying that adoption would feel right but it never did. We really felt the Lord answering a firm "no" to that prayer. That made it all feel even worse - not only did the Lord not see fit to give us a biological child but also was giving us strong feelings against adoption. We canceled the appointment with the fertility specialist. I shut down. I could no longer attend baby showers, shop for children, go to the mall (because every pregnant teenager would cause me to breakdown right then and there), I would avoid facebook and blogs in case someone else was revealing a pregnancy.

In October 2010, we put away the charts, the calender, the thermometer and we just gave up. No more. We decided that in the new year we would begin the adoption process even if we still felt the Lord saying "no." It was one of the lowest points in my life. The holidays that year were very less than merry - we were just trying to survive. All I could think was "How many more until we have a child?"

On New Year's Eve, I made the resolution to be happy as a family of 2. I vowed to enjoy the life the Lord had given me.

We started the year off busier than ever. We never got around to getting the adoption process started. We welcomed a visit from the SD Riley's, Mark worked Boy Scout Winter Camp, I hosted a ladies junk exchange - we started living again. Then, January 28, 2011 we realized that it wasn't just the two of us living life - we were THREE!

Everyday of expecting Annabeth, we lived in fear her little life would end. I counted hours between appointments to hear her heartbeat. We lived for that 20 week ultrasound. I slept so little and threw up so much. And then this happened. Then, by God's amazing grace, she was ours.

The name Anna means "God is merciful." We chose it because it's beautiful and it is in part a family name but in the end it fit so perfectly. God is in fact merciful. We are so blessed.

We know friends who have to adopt who are still waiting, after years, for a baby. We know friends who have been trying for years to conceive. We know that to those our nearly 2 year journey through infertility is nothing. To them we are blessed beyond measure - they are right.

God is merciful. To Him be all the glory.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Christmas Card Photoshoot

We shoot our own Christmas card photo each year. As in, Annabeth and I sit in front of the tree, Mark fights with the timer on our camera, sets the timer, and then runs to be in the photo. In the end, I think ours looks about as good as anyone else's. Last year, Mark took extra time and shot some portraits of Annabeth that turned out beautifully. We used one on the card and then had others made into 5x7s for our living room. We attempted to the same this year but a 2 year old is much more difficult to photograph than a 1 year old. Here's what we got...

Annabeth putting candy canes on the tree

We decided that our ornaments may not survive a Christmas with a very curious and hands-on 2 year old so we just planned to put candy canes on the tree. 

She quickly lost interest in hanging them and threw them in
a pile and exclaimed, "Finished!" 

Then I asked for one nice photo...

She was not interested in this photoshoot at all

They may not be perfect, in fact most professional photographers probably would have put these in the outtake pile, but this is who we are, right now. We are a family with a two year old with is busy, curious, and oh-so-sweet!

Merry Christmas Tree Time!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lost? The Real Reason for the Season

People often say that the holidays are really about the children - the joy of watching them visit Santa (or in our case the nativity scene at church), open stockings, and tear into presents. Many would claim it's pure joy to see their child open the toy they had been wanting for months on Christmas Morning.

We have a different kind of joy. Yes, I enjoy gift giving and I love to watch people open carefully wrapped gifts that I carefully selected. Yes, I enjoy the parties and family gatherings but most of all I enjoy the quiet time we spend as our little family reading Advent devotions before dinner and completing each day on the Advent Calender. I love, and find great joy in, teaching our daughter about the REAL reason for the season - our precious Lord and Savior's birthday!

Yesterday, we decorated for Christmas and we started the day with reading nativity stories to Annabeth and we allowed her to open her Little People Nativity from Grandmama-Mimi and Grandpa. She enjoyed talking about each person and animal as we unpacked them. She especially loved sliding Baby Jesus in the manger down the slanted roof of the stable. She even decided that our Baby Jesus should live on the roof.

Daddy and Annabeth with our new nativity  

She seemed to enjoy playing with her new toy and reading her Christmas books - most of which we only get out for the month of December. She loved putting up the tree decorating it with candy canes and then the "big reveal" when Daddy turned the lights on!

Our Sweet Nanners decorating the tree

We finished decorating, went our to dinner and despite the fact she demanded to take the Baby Jesus in the car with us, I wasn't sure she was really "getting" it. She can identify Jesus in her children's Bibles and says His name when we pray. But does she understand Him or see Him out of those contexts?

After dinner, we drove around our neighborhood to look for Christmas lights. One yard was beautifully lit with an array of colored lights, blowup figures, and moving reindeer. In the midst of all of that, our little girl saw one thing she thought was worth mentioning - "Ah! Baby Jesus!" 

We pray that she will come to know more and more about our dear Lord. We also pray that you, dear readers, will as well. If you are one of faith, we pray that it may continue to grow. If you are not a believer, we pray that the Lord will work in your heart this Christmas Season and always. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Frugal Friday 15

Happy Friday!

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

- We enjoyed our family meals at home this week. We saved on our grocery bill by using up freezer meals that I made earlier in the fall.

- I took advantage of some of the great Early Literacy Kits at our library. It is such an easy way to read different and new books as well as play with fun toys. At our library these kits can be checked out for three weeks at a time so we have plenty of time to enjoy them. This week's was a "Sounds Around Us" Kit. It had two books, four instruments, and six new puzzles to work.

- Annabeth and I met our friends Sarah and Bella in Columbus for a free playdate at The Commons. This is a wonderful indoor playground and it provides hours of free fun!

Me and Annabeth up in the playground. She is so brave and had started climbing it by herself! 
I had to run up after her! 

- We shopped a Hobby Lobby sale and were able to get all of the stickers we needed for Christmas cards and crafting for less than $5! Saved: $4.99

- My bodywash was on sale this week. Due to allergies I can really only use one on a daily basis and it is fairly expensive. However, this week it was $1 off which I could combine with a $1 off eCoupon. The store was also running a deal that if I bought two I would get a coupon to save $3 off my next order. I had them ring up the bodywash, paid, got my coupon then I rang up the rest of my purchases using the $3 off coupon. Saved: $7.00

- I have started making money through AdSense on this blog! So far I have just made a few dollars and I just direct deposit the money into Annabeth's savings account. More easy, free money for Annabeth!

- I worked at American Eagle at the outlets, thanks to my sister-in-law Cassidy, over Thanksgiving. I had two hours of paid training and then an 11 hour paid shift from Thanksgiving Thursday 7 pm - Friday 6 am. It was fun to work and fun to make some extra money as well!

Saved: $11.99

What have you been doing to save money this week? Did you get any great Black Friday deals?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Forever: When I Knew Heaven was Real

I spent three summers as a Junior Counselor (JC) at Camp Lakeview - the camp I had grown up attending and loving. In my first summer as a JC, I was really growing in my faith as a personal relationship. Having grown up in the church and with a Christian family I had known "the basics" my whole life. I knew that God made the world in 6 days, I knew the Old Testament Sunday School Favorites (Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Jonah) and most importantly I knew that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. I knew that he died on the cross for me - for you - and that because He paid the ultimate price we are able to live in Heaven with Him forever.

But was this heaven real?

In my young life, my great-grandparents and a boy from school had gone Home. I remembered bits and pieces of their funerals and what adults had said to me. "It's okay. They are in heaven." But that heaven part never felt real or personal to me. I figured it would be where I would go...someday because I believed in God and Jesus Saved Me.

Then, one summer night, while our JC group led the campfire devotions we sang this song:

The nails in Your hands
The nails in Your feet
tell me how much You love me.
The thorns on Your brow
They tell me how
You bore so much shame to love me.

And when the Heavens pass away
All Your scars will still remain
And forever they will say
Just how much You love me.

Forever my love
Forever my heart
Forever my life is Yours
It's Yours

I had sung this particular song dozens of times as a camper, in the months away from camp, and now as as JC. I loved the way it sounded musically. But that night, standing by the tree in front of Lakeview's campfire it hit me: Heaven is real. It's where I am going. Forever. 

I closed my eyes and for the first time ever I really sang the words: "Forever my love. Forever my heart. 
Forever my life is Yours. It is Yours." 
Forever. My. Life. Is. Yours. 
I recommitted my heart to the Lord that night, forever. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Post (a few days early)

I am going to do my Thanksgiving Post two days early since I'll be posting a Throwback Thursday Post on actual Thanksgiving Day.

I've decided to list 11 things this year in honor of one of the numbers of our new address:

1. The New House. I am thankful that we have been working in it since March 5, owned it since April 19, and living in it since July 6. We are so blessed to have this beautiful house be home.

2. The Old House. I loved our first house and I am so thankful for the three-and-a-half years that we were able to live there. We learned so many lessons and lived so much life in that little house.

3. Precious Time. This year was a good-bye kind of year and I once again was reminded with just how much I need to slow down and enjoy the time I have with the people I love.

4. Workman's Comp. Mark's knee was seriously injured while making an arrest in December 2011 and it took until this March to have it operated on. He was in so much pain, even after months of physical therapy and we are so thankful that Workman's Comp covered that therapy, the surgery, and the recovery.

5. Google Chat. We LOVE chatting the the SD Riley's on Google Chat. It makes the conversations flow so much easier when we can read the other's body language and the kids love looking at each other.

6. Scribbles. I never appreciated how sweet little scribbles were until Annabeth began coloring this year. I love and treasure her little doodles and hang them on the fridge. I also love the scribbles that our nieces and nephew sent us in the mail.

7. Princesses, Dragons, and Little Mouse. When I look back on this year I will think of Annabeth's princess birthday party, her fascination with "Jane and the Dragon," and the game "Little Mouse." They are the first things that have interested her on her own.

8. Pictures. With so much of our family now living more than an hour away I am so thankful for photographs. Every day Annabeth wanders around the living room pointing out everyone in the pictures. It is a physical reminder for us to pray for the ones we love.

9. Pinterest. This year I joined Pinterest and have really enjoyed the time I have spent with family and friends baking, cooking, and crafting as a result.

10. Our Fireplace. Our new house has a fireplace, it was a dream item on our wish-list, and it has been so nice to sit by the fire in the evenings. Mark has made it even more special by having a whole fire building routine with Annabeth. She loves helping and he loves teaching.

11. My Little Life. As a teenager I felt like the world was huge but that if I just worked hard enough I could take it over. I felt like everything could be mine if I would just reach out and grab it. I felt like I could change the entire world. As I grow into my 20's, I am realizing that I am not meant to change the whole world but rather than I am meant to change my little corner of it. I pray that I use my life to do God's Will and to share His Word with this lost and hurting world.

I give thanks and praise to the One from whom all blessings come.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Previous Thanksgiving Posts:
Thanksgiving 2011
Thanksgiving 2010
Thanksgiving 2009

Friday, November 22, 2013

Frugal Friday 14

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I mended an undergarment and one of Annabeth's dresses. We also sewed buttons back on one of Annabeth's shirts and one of Mark's pairs of shorts. By taking good care of our clothes we make them look better longer and last longer! We also save money on alteration bills by doing most of it ourselves.

- We enjoyed free breadsticks from Pizza Hut by signing up for their rewards program.

- Annabeth and I enjoyed a lunch out at Fazoli's for just $5 as part of their new lunch deals.

- I combined a store sale and coupons to buy Excedrin Migraine for $1.96 (for the 24 count bottle - usually $3.96) Saved: $2.00

- We received our latest Stride Rite Rewards Check in the mail. Annabeth has all the shoes she needs in her current size and tennis shoes in the next one too. I was able to get boots in the next size and tennis shoes in the next-next size. Combining the in store sale of Buy One, Get One 50% Off + $10 Reward Coupon + $5 coupon from an online survey we spent only $30! Saved: $38.01

- Annabeth is VERY into a library class game called "Little Mouse." In my Gymboree ad I noticed that they currently have a very cute mouse line for girls. I splurged and took her to get a "Little Mouse" outfit. She picked from between 5 shirts and 2 bows. She was so excited to have a "Little Mouse" outfit and we wore it to library time yesterday. I combined the already one sale items + Whole Store Extra 30% Off + 20% Coupon to and saved: $9.49

Annabeth in her Little Mouse shirt and bow with the original Little Mouse cutout from library time.

- I redeemed 500 Swagbucks for a $5 Starbucks giftcard!

- My blog has been approved for AdSense! You will begin seeing selected ads on the blog which means I am earning money for each click on them! Happy Clicking!

Total Saved: $49.50

What did you do to save money this week? Have you redeemed any Swagbucks yet?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Waiting to Kiss

I was 16 years old and I had been "dating without the labels" my best friend since the summer. It was my first love and then I was convicted and my whole life changed.

It was the night before Christmas break. We had just spent a lovely evening with dear friends and exchanged Christmas gifts. He walked me out to my car as snowflakes fell around us. The driveway was surrounded by snow covered trees and twinkling Christmas lights. It felt like the end of every romance movie I had ever seen. He leaned in to kiss me. I panicked! I quickly hugged him and drove off crying.

On the way home I had this conversation:

"What the heck Amy? Seriously?! You've been waiting for that moment for months. Go back. Go back. You're 16, kiss him."

Then I heard this, plain as day, as though someone was in the car and said it to me:

"You should only kiss one man. Your husband."


"One Man. Your Husband."

I pulled into a parking lot and prayed.

I spent the next few months really struggling with this. I was a Christian, I went to church, my parents went to church, but they had not made this particular decision. Many of my friends were Christians but they had not made this decision. They all had first kisses years before. It was confusing. I always had known that I wanted to save sex for marriage but it seemed like everyone was kissing everyone. It was lonely. Most of all, it at the time created a broken heart, as I didn't know how to explain to my 17 year old boyfriend that I did not want to kiss anyone until I was sure they were who I was to marry. That lack of honesty and communication caused me to withdraw my heart from the relationship and ultimately it ended, albeit into friendship, within a month of "the" night.

My freshman year at UofL I became involved with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) and in those Bible studies I met quite a few young women and men who not only were saving sex for marriage but also limited the physical intimacy in their relationships. Finally, other people felt like I did. It was so wonderful and so refreshing to be able to talk about it.

At 19 I met Mark, we began dating, we quickly approached our relationship as a courtship where we knew that we were planning to become engaged quickly with marriage to follow in God's time. Our first kiss was September 2, 2006 at Franklin College. It was the perfect moment. The moment I had waited SO long for.

I am so blessed to had my first kiss be my one, my always, my forever, and someday, before I return Home, my last.

Me and Mark on our First Wedding Anniversary - 05.23.10
(No one wants to see people kissing pictures so this will have to do!)

Linked to: Raising Homemakers

Throwback Thursdays: Introduction

I do not have Twitter but often see the "Throwback Thursday" Twitter links on Facebook.

I have decided on the Thursdays leading up to Christmas I will post some "throwback" thoughts that may help you learn a bit more about me and some reflections on the moments that have REALLY made me, ME!

Enjoy! :)

Week One, November 21: Waiting to Kiss
Week Two, November 28: Forever: When I Knew Heaven was Real
Week Three, December 5: Infertility
Week Four, December 12: Words from my Younger Self
Week Five, December 19: Monkey Arms

Friday, November 15, 2013

Frugal Friday 13

It's time for Lucky #13! Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is what we did to save money/spend money wisely this week:

- Annabeth enjoyed making two fun and frugal Turkey Crafts

- We also took advantage of a free morning dance class at our local library.
***If you think your local library is only for books or research you are SO wrong! In each place I have lived I have taken advantage of many adult activities: free classes (arts, computer, crafts, financial, etc), book clubs, discussion groups, and social outings. Now that we have Annabeth, I am also enjoying an array of children's activities: story time, dance time, tot-art, etc. Take advantage of FREE family fun at your local library**

- Annabeth enjoyed a FREE package of apples at McDonald's thanks to a Halloween Coupon from her Auntie Cassidy and Uncle Luke. Saved: $1.00

- My sister and I made a trade when I went to visit last weekend. I traded three magazines for two shirts and a skirt!

- I did an online survey after a Kroger shopping trip and added 50 extra fuel points to my Kroger card

- I did one of our two grocery trips for the month and with in store sales, ecoupons, and paper coupons saved 20% of our total bill. Saved: $14.78

- I was able to use coupons to get the following items TOTALLY FREE: 1 box of cake mix, 1 box of Cheerios, 1 Kroger frozen veggie, and 1 soup from the deli. Saved: $8.54

- Mark traded some of our venison for pork.

- Now that Annabeth has to have soy milk in addition to Mark, our milk bill has gone up quite a bit. I went to and registered to win free Silk for a year and also signed up for coupons. We do not have a printer so I signed up for the USPS option. I am anxious to see how quickly our first coupons get here.

Total Saved: $24.32

What have you been doing to save money this week? Do you and your family take advantage of free library fun?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fun and Frugal Turkey Crafts

In the past week we have been able to make TWO fun and frugal Turkey Crafts to celebrate the month of November.

We made the first one at Tot-Art at our local library. The library provided all of the supplies: googlie eyes, a rubber nose, paper body, and colorful feathers. This was fun and easy and could be made easily at home as well! Our Dollar Tree usually has all of these supplies.

Our second craft, our sweet friends Sarah and Bella brought to our weekly playdate. Sarah had seen the idea online to use a child's foot as the body of the turkey and then to paint different style feathers around the body. Sarah decided it would be cute to trace the girls' hands and to use those cutouts as the feathers instead of painting. She was right - it made for an adorable craft plus a fun way to remember the size of their hands and feet this year. The only supplies we used were construction paper and paint that Sarah had on hand.

What have you been crafting for the month of November? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

You'll Need:
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
6 oz Chocolate Chips

Mix all in a large bowl. 
Place on cookie sheets by the tablespoonful. 
Bake 10 min at 375 degrees.
Yields about 24 cookies. 

*Variation: Chocolate cake mix and white chocolate chips*

I started making these cookies for birthdays when I worked at the Sheriff's Office. They are so easy and fast to make so I love that I can throw them together quickly. I also love that they are inexpensive - especially as I usually get 4 to
5 "Free Cake Mix" coupons from Kroger each year!

In our house we call these "Schiller Cookies" for a friend who always asks me to bring them for cookouts OR "Da Bomb! Cookies" as our very former Jail Commander yelled this phrase from his office upon trying them. 

We hope you enjoy them too!

What are you baking this week?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Frugal Fridays 12

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

- We continued tracking our Kellogg's Rewards, Pampers Points, and Swagbucks.

- We finished our FREE fall photoshoot as Mark and I played photographers instead of hiring one. We estimate this saved at least $200.

- We shopped a sale at Gymboree and were able to find this year's Christmas pjs, the end of Annabeth's Christmas gift, and next year's Halloween costume and shirts. The whole store was 30% off PLUS a kind lady shared a coupon that saved us an additional 20% off that price! Saved: $75!

- We enjoyed a free day at the Children's Museum thanks to friends who shared the +2 on their membership with Annabeth and me. Saved: $32

- Mark's parents gave us 3 free bottles of apple juice. Saved: $3

- We at some creative dinners

- As we are still eating venison from our deep freeze from last season's hunt, Mark took some to work to share with a family who has eaten all of theirs already. We feel so blessed to have enough for ourselves AND enough to share!

- I did my own haircut and color. I spent just $6.49 on the color. Saved: $83.51

- I homemade two hairbows for Annabeth using clips and ribbon we already had on hand.

Total Saved: $393.51

What have you been doing to save money?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One of "those" dinners...

Monday we took a "quick" trip to Wal-Mart, it took 15 minutes to find everything we needed on our short list and more than 1 hour to check-out! Ugh!

I got home and browned the meat for lasagna - I had noticed on Sunday that our cottage cheese was set to expire so we needed to eat lasagna ASAP! I had the meat browned and all the ingredients out only to realize that we had just 2 lasagna noodles in the pantry. Two. I thought about going back to the store but worried the lines would still be too long to make it worth the wait. Oh well, people can enjoy lasagna with just two noodles right? So I went to get our small, square Pyrex pan out to put it all together. All of our square pans were in use, storing freezer meals. So, I assembled our two noodle lasagna in a round cake pan. It wasn't pretty but it was together so I put it in the oven.

Then I remember that in the midst of solving the lasagna issues I had not gotten the rolls out of the freezer to thaw. Short on time, I got them out, put them in a pan - now I only had a heart shaped pan left to bake in - and put the pan in our guest bath, the warmest room in the house to thaw. 1 hour later they were thawed and I put them in to bake.

Also please note that Annabeth would not nap on Monday so she was awake and screaming at me the entire process. I called my sister-in-law for our weekly phone date and prayed for sanity. She was able to witness to our crazy over the phone and even got me to laugh about it all. Desperate for quiet, I put jackets and shoes on and we went out to the backyard to run off our 'angries' before Mark came home. Then she decided that she did not want to come inside to eat dinner. Thankfully the weather was warm enough to bundle up and eat at her picnic table outside.

In the end, dinner was edible and we enjoyed a November Evening Outside. I also tried to make up for our crazy dinner by baking our favorite chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

 Eating their cookies, still outside even in the dark!
(It was only 6 pm - the time change makes it dark far too early here!)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night I baked our favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies!

McCormick Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies
- from McCormick & Co. Inc

3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp. McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips (we like the mini ones best for these cookies)

MIX flour, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Set aside.
BEAT butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy. 
ADD in eggs and vanilla, mix well.
GRADUALLY ADD the flour mixture.
STIR in chocolate chips.

DROP by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.

BAKE in preheated 375 degree oven 8-10 minutes or until brown.
Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute, then cool completely on wire racks.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Photoshoot - 2013

As I mentioned in my last Frugal Fridays post we spent a few Sundays at the park doing fall pictures. I love pictures, keeping detailed journals and photobooks, as well as scrapbooking and was really looking forward to a fall photoshoot of our little family. Here are some favorites:

 Annabeth on "her" playground at our favorite park in town

Daddy and Anna - Best Friends 

Blowing dandelions 

 Mama and Nanners in our matching outfits

They may not be "perfect" or "professional" pictures but they are ours. They are how either Mark or I saw the day through the lens. 

This is the fall, just the three of us. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Frugal Fridays 11

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is what we did to save money/spend money wisely this week:

-  Last weekend we went out to dinner - Ruby Tuesday's - and our sweet waitress gave us a free dessert AND after asking if they sold their amazing croutons separately brought me a huge takeout container full of them! We may have spent money by eating out but we had a dinner we truly enjoyed and crouton breakfast for the next morning! :)

- Last Sunday we headed to the big park in town to take fall pictures of Annabeth as well as Annabeth with Mark. There were at least 5 professional photographers there working with families and they took pictures in most of the places that we chose. Our pictures turned out very nicely and they were FREE! We estimate we saved at least $200 by not paying a photographer.

- I had 17 free prints on my Sam's Club online photo account so I printed pictures for friends and family. Saved: $2.21

- We got a sample of "Clear" shampoo for colored hair in the mail. It was a 1.7 oz travel size so I will be able to get a few extra washes from that. It also came with a $4 off my next purchase coupon so if we like it we can buy our next set for a discounted price.

- I bought groceries at Kroger and my receipt came with a survey code. I spent about 5 minutes giving our store feedback and got 50 fuel points for my time! I then was able to save $.10 off each gallon at the pump this week.

- Annabeth had Five Fun and Frugal Halloween Outfits

- One of our General Mills food items had a code for I went to the website and with the code, store purchased at, and our zip code I was able to donate 5 meals to our Gleaner's Food Bank.

- We made Halloween dinner for Mark's parents who came down. I made a simple Crockpot soup as well as some pumpkin crumble muffins. We had lots of muffins left over so we sent some with his parents and then this morning Mark took the rest to work for other's to enjoy.

Confession Time: I find that in being frugal as an adult, I have often been reluctant to give to others. I worry that if I spend too much on a birthday gift or Christmas gift that it will break our budget. I also worry and fret over any impulse buy at the store. However, I love that General Mills made it easy this week to make that purchase be something that fed our family and provided meals to others. I also loved that the Lord gave us an abundance of food this week so we were able to share. I am working to remember daily that:

"...Jesus said, "It is truly more blessed to give than to receive."
 - Acts 20:35

What have you been doing to save money this week? Did you dress up for Halloween?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Five Fun and Frugal Halloween Outfits!

Have I mentioned that I LOVE holiday and themed outfits?!

Here are Annabeth's fun and frugal Halloween 2013 outfits!

Black "Trick or Treat" Shirt - Found at a garage sale by Rose for us - FREE
(a great deal because it's gender neutral so we can send it back for SJ for next year)
Orange Leggings - Gymboree Clearance more than a year ago for around $2
(another great deal because she has worn them for 14 months!)
Halloween Hairbow - Claire's Clearance 2 for $2.50 - worn last Halloween and this year
Total Cost: $4.50


Orange Dog and Pumpkin Shirt - Children's Place Clearance - $.99
Black and Silver Tutu - Hand-me-down from Kati and Elli - FREE
Halloween Hairbow - The same one from yesterday
Total Cost: $.99

Halloween Themed Turtleneck - A garage sale find - $.10
Jean Jumper and Tights - Carter's birthday gift from her Nana and PawPaw - FREE
Same Halloween Hairbow as the past two days
Total Cost: $.10


 Hello Kitty Halloween Shirt - Old Navy a gift from Grandmama Mimi - FREE
Hello Kitty Black and Silver Tutu - A birthday gift from Auntie Rose - FREE
Still that same bow!
Total Cost: FREE!


Her Halloween Outfit since we have tumbling during Trick-or-Treat Time!
Leotard - Found at Growing Sprouts consignment store - $4.50
Red and White Bow - Gymboree Clearance - $1.49
Total Cost: $5.99

Total Out of Pocket Cost: $11.58
However, the leotard will be worn for the rest of this tumble season and hopefully some of next year's! Also, the leggings and red bow are worn year round. So on Halloween specific items I spent just: $3.59!!!

Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Homeschool Preschool - Year One

As Annabeth turned 2 this month, we have "really" begun to "formally" homeschool.

Why homeschool for our family?
*Please note: I grew up in public schools and public university. Mark grew up in Lutheran Schools and public university. We each had very positive experiences and are thankful for the lessons and opportunities that we had*

Right now, for the beginning preschool and pre-k years, after months and months of prayer and seeking God's wisdom for our family, we feel that the Lord has laid this upon our hearts. As you read above, neither of us were homeschooled nor did we grow up with any close homeschooled friends, and I feel like that really means this is God working in our hearts. We have many family members and friends who are teachers (both in private and public schools) and we are completely supportive of family and friends who choose to send their children to brick and mortar schools BUT we feel that this is right for US.

Will we homeschool all the way through?

Only the Lord knows. Although I can envision homeschooling through high school that does not mean that it is God's plan for our family. We plan to take it year by year and to really pray and seek His answer for each season of our lives.

What if Annabeth doesn't care for this? What if she wants to go to school?

Again, we will seek God's wisdom on this matter. If she is really old enough to begin making her own decisions we will ask that she pray on her own as well as with us and we will work as a family to hear God's answer.

What does our homeschool day look like this year?

This is a rough outline of our days. Our goal is to accomplish this day at least 3 days a week:

We generally have one playdate a week and one library day a week. On those days we will always have Bible and Prayer time but for this preschool year the other school things may wait until the next day. I will not cancel outings or fun opportunities for "school" as she is just 2.

Also, there is ALWAYS learning happening these are just formal things we set out to accomplish each day. We do colors and shapes as we read and play. We practice adding, subtracting, and fractions while we bake and cook. We play learning games on her vtech laptop or online. We do animal and color flashcards. We play games. We do puzzles. We play with children in a wide range of ages. We go outside and have nature lessons hiking with Daddy.

Overall what is our goal?

Our goal is to establish a lifelong love of our precious Lord and of learning.
By learning in the home we hope that Annabeth will become as creative as she desires. We hope that she will enjoy learning underneath our "lesson tree" in the backyard or sitting on the floor or in the bathtub and not just sitting at a desk. We hope that this freedom will give her the opportunity to study, in depth, things that truly interest her. We hope that it allows us time as a family to do community outreach and service. We hope that it allows us to have flexible vacation time and lessons that can take place on the road as much of our family lives far away. We pray that it glorifies the Lord and prepares Annabeth for a lifetime of service to the One from whom all blessings come.

I am sharing this today because people have begun asking some of the above questions, in hopes that you will understand a bit more of our hearts, and to pray for our family as well as our little school: Annabeth's Academy.

Linked Up To: Teach Me Tuesdays @ Growing Home

Friday, October 25, 2013

Frugal Fridays 10

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I entered Pampers Points and redeemed 1,000 for a free Shutterfly Photo Book. Saved: $29.99

- We continued decorating with Annabeth's Birthday Flowers

- We saved money on our baking budget by creatively saving sugar

- I used a Shutterfly offer to redeem a page of free address labels. Saved: $6.99

- I saved extra on my grocery budget this month by using ecoupons for the first full month. Saved: $8.50

- I got a free pair of underwear at Victoria's Secret with a coupon that came in the mail. Saved: $12.50

- We ate all meals at home this week.

- We did only free recreational activities - going to the park, playing outside, and getting books and movies from the library.

Total Saved: $57.98

What have you been doing to save money this week? Do you use ecoupons? Store coupons?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sweet Savings!

On moving day in July, Mark's parents were kind enough to buy our moving crew breakfast. They brought a coffee bar and yummy breakfast baked goods. Most everything got finished that weekend but we had leftover coffee condiments that I could not bear to throw away! Mark used the Sweet N Low packets over time but since July we have had the sugar and Equal packets in our pantry in little baggies.

They have been falling out, spilling packets on the shelves, and lining the bottom of my pantry so when I did our big pantry clean out this week I decided they had to go. I knew that no one in our families use Equal so I plan to take that to our church's food pantry but I realized the sugar was just inconveniently packaged for baking. This morning, Annabeth and I emptied all of the packets and were able to get about 3/4 cup of sugar to add to our big container!

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Annabeth's Birthday Flowers

To say that Annabeth loves flowers is an understatement; they are her favorite things! She loved our pansies that we planted at the old house and that we moved to the new house.

She was heartbroken when in late August we had to admit defeat and throw them away.

She was overjoyed when we let her pick out her own flowers at the store one September day. She picked out lovely yellow (or as she says 'lellow) mums.

Even though her birthday party had a Princess theme we really only had princess plates, napkins, and of course her castle cake that were themed. Mark wanted to decorate with flowers instead of princess items and he picked the perfect items! He went out on her birthday eve and got four beautiful bouquets of flowers! She was thrilled when she woke up on her birthday to " 'LOLWERS " on all of the tables!

Mark and Annabeth enjoying her birthday breakfast while smelling her flowers

We wanted to make sure we made the best use of the flowers. They stayed very nice until this past week so on Thursday the 17th we had to weed out the ones that had wilted. I was impressed they made it 13 days looking really nice. Once I went through them I found one nice one of each kind left and Mark pressed them into one of our Bibles so she can have a dried bouquet from her 2nd Birthday. I also noticed that all of the pink and red ones were still pretty fresh so I made a new bouquet out of those! They are decorating our dinning room table very nicely.

We are so glad that not only has Annabeth been able to really enjoy these flowers for two weeks already but that we've found ways to keep using them!

What do you do with bouquets when they begin to wilt?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Frugal Fridays 9

Here is what we did to save money/spend money wisely this week:

- I had a Shutterfly coupon set to expire at the end of the month. I ordered $20 worth of autumn greeting cards for just the cost of shipping. Saved: $20

- I shopped at Target for Kashi Granola Bars that we love! They are only $3 a box there which is much less than other stores. PLUS this week they were on sale for $2.75 a box AND buy 3, get 1 free. Saved: $3.75

- We visited my family this past weekend and came home with tons of freebies:
   - My Mama and Sister had cleaned out their closets so I came home with a new skirt and about seven new shirts!
   - My Momaw sent Annabeth home with a week's worth of snacks. She even had purchased one of Annabeth's favorite treats, Goldfish crackers!
   - Momaw also sent us home with a Racehorse Pie that we did not all finish while there. We refrigerated it and then were able to heat and serve it to company this week.

- We took our Box Tops for Education stash to my best friend who is a teacher at a low income public school. We usually tend to buy store brand products but for items that are more expensive I try to make sure to at least buy either Kellogg's so I can earn my Kellogg's points or ones with Box Tops so we can help schools.

- I shipped the last of my maternity clothes (at least the last ones I am willing to part with - I've kept two pairs or pants and two shirts for memory's sake) to a camp friend in Texas. Between my friends Rose, Sarah, and now Katie I have been able to pass on most everything I had! I did loan some to Jenn as well and then we sold those in our garage sales.

- We ate lunch and dinner at home or while visiting friends, we did not shop this week, and we also enjoyed lots of free fun outside and at our library.

That's it for us. What did you and your family do to save money/spend money wisely this week?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Friday, October 11, 2013

Frugal Fridays 8

Here is what we did this week to save money/spend money wisely/creatively make money:

- Annabeth's 2nd Birthday was last Saturday and we had TONS of leftovers from that. We ate leftovers through Monday dinner. I just added fruit and veggies and called it a meal!

- Annabeth had three fun and frugal birthday outfits

- Sunday I went to pick up my unsold items from the Consignment Sale. Here are my posts on getting ready and my post sale post. In the end I made $57.50! :)

- Monday I took unsold winter items from the sale to Once Upon a Child and made an additional $20!

- We added birthday and sale money to Annabeth's savings account.

- Tuesday we had company in so I made a double serving of pasta for lunch and we were able to have it again for dinner this week. I also made a huge dessert and we were able to send leftovers with that guest AND take it to a playdate on Wednesday.

- I took our monthly trip to Big Lots for cereal ($1.80 a box/one box per month - we are not huge cereal fans) and juice ($2 a bottle/2 bottles per month)

- Thursday Annabeth and I enjoyed her weekly FREE library class. She was able to move from "Wonderful Ones" to "Terrific Twos" this week! What a big girl.

- I went to Kohl's with Kohl's Cash to spend! Before going, I looked through our closets to see what we might really "need" from Kohl's so that I was not just wandering, throwing things in the cart. I saw that Annabeth does not have any church clothes for next spring or summer and they have really nice, cute ones! I hit the clearance racks and found: 2 church dresses*, 1 summer adventure bonnet, and a 2 piece outfit that we will give as a gift. After my Kohl's Cash I spent $9 and saved $79.40!
*I did not intend to buy two dresses and would have saved more money if I had just purchased one but this happened: I pulled all of the dresses in her size off the rack, showed them to her, and she firmly said "No." to all of them but one. Unfortunately it was a 2T dress on a 3T hanger and although it fits now I was worried it may be too small come spring. I put it back but when we got tot the front and I was double checking prices with a price scanner she said, "Mama", signed "Where?," Said, "Fishy dress?" Oh man! Four words in a row! How could I say no?! I went back to get the "fishy dress." So, if you see us in a fish sundress this will know why!*

What have you been doing to save money? Let me know!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"