Monday, December 15, 2008

Crimson, Pine and Candlelight

This past weekend flew by very quickly (we were on the road again) but we did have 2 beautiful Christmas evenings out (Saturday and Sunday). Friday evening the roads were icy, so we decided to wait until Saturday to leave for PA and therefore got to hang out at the seminary game night. It was fun watching the Asians play ping pong. Then Saturday we drove to DuBois for Mike's cousin's wedding. We didn't quite make it to the wedding but we did enjoy the reception. Christmas weddings are so beautiful... After Mike's magic show on Sunday afternoon on the way back to Ohio we stopped at Grove City College. The compromise was that we would watch the 1st half of the Steeler game in Ketler Rec and then go over to the Chapel for the Candlelight Christmas service. Unfortunately for Mike, the ending of the game was the best part.
However, I did enjoy being back on the campus for a little while and sitting in on the Candlelight Christmas service, especially since it will likely be a long time until we will have that opportunity again. ...Thank you, Mike, for giving up your Steeler game to allow me to enjoy that!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Frugal Friday

Shopping was not very exciting this week, so I'll mention my free "Amazing Grace" DVD that I got from Walden Media through this link. And since I posted something earlier in the week about decorating for Christmas, I thought I would mention these frugal decorating ideas , using free evergreen clippings, which I found interesting. Maybe next year I can talk Mike into getting a real live Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Caleb's Birthday Puppy

I am just now having the chance to post this video (sorry, the video turned out a little dark) of Caleb opening his birthday present last weekend. Even though his birthday isn't for another couple weeks, we were excited to be there visiting near his birthday and that he could enjoy his birthday gift separately from the Christmas gifts! It was the cutest thing! We love you, Caleb! (You'll want to turn the Christmas music off at the bottom of the page on the playlist.) video

A New Experience

Mike and I can now say that we've had a private investigator come to our house. It was a first for both of us, but it wasn't that bad. It was actually more informal than I had anticipated. They (he and his wife) asked a series of 14 questions...such as "Have you ever been married before?" and "Tell us about your growing up years." "What would your neighbors say about you?" "What is your highest level of education?"...questions like that. They took about 5 pictures of us and our apartment. And that was really it. It lasted about 45 minutes and we conversed with them about ourselves and they told us a little bit about themselves also in between the questions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dressing Up

With all of the other things going on, (including traveling every weekend since before Thanksgiving) we have finally managed to complete the decorating of our apartment for Christmas...
We discussed not putting up a tree this year and just not going through the hassle of getting all the decorations out of storage, but I just couldn't do it. I needed to decorate...to place some things around the apartment to keep my mind in anticipation of the coming celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.
Luke 2:17-20 "When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
Can you imagine? A newborn baby. The Birth of the Messiah. Angels announcing His Birth. What it must have been like to experience that!
I think that the Lord is pleased when we make Christmas a big deal (in a worshipful kind of way). The devotional book that I was reading the other day entitled "Come and Behold Him" put it this way...
...if God commissioned angels to roll back the night and fill it with blazing light,
...if God provided a mighty celestial choir to serenade a few startled shepherds,
...if God graced the heavens with a miracle star,
...if God arranged such a memorable entry point as a feeding trough in a stable,
then festooning our homes with a few seasonal reminders to celebrate the event with attention and care...is entirely appropriate. And, may I go so far as to say that if I would have chosen to not put forth the effort, to be too busy, and just skip the decorations this year...would that have been displeasing to the Lord?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Meal Planner Monday: Soups - Chicken Noodle

The reports indicate that flu season hasn't officially started yet, however, the common cold seems to be making its rounds. I managed to get by with only about 2 days of feeling really under-the-weather last week, with some help from extra vitamin C, ecchinacea, a day off work to get some rest and God's grace. So, I thought now would be a good time to share how easy and cheap it is to make homemade chicken noodle soup which by the way has been proven to be "good medicine" for the common cold. Ingredients: Chicken (I usually use leg quarters or thighs but a carcass would be good to use to) Water Onion Carrot Celery Salt Pepper Seasonings (I use some parsley and McCormick Chicken & Fish Seasoning) Noodles (I like to put in 1/2 regular Inn Maid medium and 1/2 whole wheat) Boil chicken in pot full of water. (I leave the skin on but you could remove it before boiling the chicken.) Add seasonings, vegetables. When chicken is cooked through, remove and let cool enough to handle. Skin and debone the chicken, break into pieces and put the chicken back into the pot. Add noodles and cook until tender. I don't have an exact recipe but you could find one in a cookbook or online if you want something more precise. If there is not enough liquid for the leftovers I add a box of chicken stock. Be aware that the chicken boullion (and powdered soup base probably too) contains MSG, so I stay away from those when I make my soup. Enjoy and best wishes for a healthy winter!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Frugal Friday

I am writing this to schedule to post since we are on the road again this week. I didn't see very many good deals this week. Most of my grocery budget this week was spent on contact solution for myself and razor blades for Mike which were both on sale at CVS. I also got a free surge protector power strip at RiteAid. Everything else that I bought this week was just the basics (milk, juice, produce) and a couple other items. This week's shopping trips were... Aldi 4-pack peppers OJ green beans bananas hot dog buns Hawkins 2 bags (1 doz) grapefruit $5 (Tuesday only sale but other stores are advertising for 2/$1) Mac n cheese (not something normally I buy but I needed a quick meal) Walmart 1/2 gallon milk tortilla chips ice cream CVS 2 pk OptiFree Replenish multi-purpose solution $15.99 - $1 coupon - $2 ECB = $12.99 8 pk Gillette Fusion Razors $25.99 - $5 ECB = $20.99*** ---
Ok, the truly frugal thing to do would be to strictly wear glasses rather than contacts and Mike to grow a full beard, but we haven't decided to do that...at least not yet... RiteAid Surge protector power strip $5 - $5 rebate Total $45.51 ***I was disappointed though that I couldn't find a Sunday Paper last week because I could have saved another $4 with a coupon for the razors. Oh, well. RiteAid is doing a promotion 11/16-12/24 that you can earn gift cards for spending $25 or more, unfortunately purchased gift cards, money back on rebates and prescriptions don't count toward the money spent to earn this reward. Walgreens has a few good deals (see here) this week...by the way, I recently heard one is coming to Ashland! Kodak Gallery is running a special deal on 75 free prints and 30 holiday cards for $.48...more info here Currently there are several online coupons for contact solution... AMO Complete multi-purpose solution (this is a December CVS monthly deal $8.99 - $8.99 ECB) Aquify multi-purpose solution Renu multi-purpose travel kit Renu Multi-Plus Renu Multi-Plus home & travel pack OptiFree multi-purpose solution Boston Simplus multi-action solution Renu rewetting solution
This week's Frugal Friday tip
Check your receipts and know your prices so that when the clerk rings up the order you can catch a mistake (almost always overcharging because the sale does't ring up)...I have had it happen twice in the last couple months, one I caught while I was in the store and it was corrected and one I didn't catch until later so I couldn't get that one corrected.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

One of the Christmas traditions that we enjoyed as a family growing up was celebrating Advent. Many churches today have gone away from this celebration, but I still think that it is a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for Christmas.
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The word "Advent" is from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming" and refers to the coming of Jesus into our world. The celebration of Advent has been observed for a thousand years and includes the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The Advent wreath is symbolic with the evergreen branches, and each of the five candles.
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Whether you are following a guide which has Scripture and a devotional reading for each week in Advent or have another family tradition which emphasizes the preparation of our hearts for Christmas...I encourage you to keep reminding yourself, even in the many things that we spend our time on during the Christmas season (shopping, decorating, baking, socializing, writing Christmas cards, giving to a charity, gift wrapping, etc), to prepare your heart for the coming of the King as you are doing these things.
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It is so easy in our "drive-through" "instant" society to miss out on the joy of anticipatory waiting. Rather than waiting in anticipation we tend to make the Christmas season a month-long series of events, celebrations and duties. So, this year I am going to work on waiting in anticipation. (See more about "anticipatory waiting" on Mike's blog this "Theological Thursday.")
By the way, did you notice the background music? There were a couple additional songs that I wanted to add to my playlist but they were not available on the playlist.com website. One of those songs is "Christmas Offering." I just love that song. The words are changed from the original version of the song to be sung at Christmas-time...
Over the skies of Bethlehem appeared a star
While angels sang to lowly shepherds
Three Wiseman seeking truth they traveled from afar
Hoping to find the child from heaven
Falling on their knees they bow before the humble
Prince of Peace
We bring an offering of worship to our King
No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing
Jesus may you receive the honor that you're due
O Lord I bring an offering to you
The sun cannot compare to the glory of your love
There is no shadow in your presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It's only by Your blood
It's only through Your mercy
Lord, I come I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus, may you receive the honor that you're due
O Lord, I bring an offering to you
We bring an offering to you
We are an offering to you
We are an offering to you, Jesus
We are an offering of worship to our King
No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing
Jesus, may you receive the honor that you're due
O Lord, we bring an offering to you
O Lord, we bring an offering to you
We bring an offering to you
We are an offering to you We are an offering to you
You can listen to it from the Casting Crowns "Peace on Earth" album on youtube here.
What are you hoping to find this Christmas???

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Frugal "Black" Friday: Early Edition

Both CVS and Rite Aid are open today for their 3-day super sales. Both have some freebies and even moneymakers...

Be sure to check out all the CVS deals and printable coupons here

Rite Aid Maybelline nail polish $2.99-$2.99 rebate = Free Maybelline lipstick or mascara $4.99 - $4.99 rebate = Free Garnier Fructis shampoo or conditioner (11/28 only) $2.99 - $2.99 rebate = Free CVS Colgate Total $2.99 - $2.99 ECB - $1 coupon = $1 profit Hershey's King size Chocolate Bars $1 - $1 ECB = Free (Who can pass up free chocolate?) Johnson's soft lotion $5.69 - $5.69 ECB = Free (overage if you print the coupon) Bic Soleil $5.99 - $5.99 ECB - $3 coupon = $3 profit Sally Hansen $3.79 - $3.79 ECB = Free CG Smoothers $5.99 - $5.99 = Free ...from the weekly ad... Right Guard Professional Strength deodorant $7.99 - $7 ECB = $.99 Dial, Coast, or Tone 3 pk bar soap $1.99 - $1 ECB = $.99 ***Also, I have recently learned that most CVS stores will accept ECB for up to 2 months after the expiration date and they also give rain checks for items that are the ECB deals which will just reduce the original price instead of printing the ECB (for example the store was out of the Bic Soleil razors so she wrote me a raincheck and said they would deduct the ECB automatically from the price and they would be free with my raincheck.) I assume I'll probably still need to pay the tax and I probably won't be able to use the coupon to get a profit but still it is good to know that they do give out rainchecks since it can be quite annoying when the item is out-of-stock. Other "Black Friday" deals did not impress me too much since we really aren't interested in buying any electronics this year. We may go out for a couple of things tomorrow, and I am trying to talk Mike into going with me to the Bon Ton because they have a coupon in the newspaper for $10 off any item over $10 (excluding door buster sales) so I am hoping to go in and find some socks or something for free or very cheap...but we won't be getting up at 4 am or anything...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

I just love Thanksgiving. Whether my mom or Mike's grandma is doing the cooking (depending on where we are spending Thanksgiving Day), the meal is always sure to be delicious. (I think my favorite this year was the completely-from-scratch pumpkin pie my mom made using my $1 pie pumpkin that I had been using as part of my fall decorating.) But, even more than that I just enjoy the history and meaning of the Thanksgiving season. I recently ordered a book/CD resource from Family Life called "Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember" (which, by the way I would recommend). Barbara Rainey writes, ..."Thanksgiving remains the holiday of 'coming home.' It's a holiday of rest - in stark contrast to the frenzy of obligations and spending that threatens to destroy the essence of Christmas. Our national observance of Thanksgiving is unique. It is both distinctly Christian and exclusively American, a holiday for celebrating faith, family and freedom."
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If it has been awhile since you've heard the Pilgrims' story, I would encourage you to listen to it again. (You can hear the Thanksgiving story on the Family Life Today archived broadcast website here - look for 11/10 through 11/14.) Our current struggles pale in comparison to what these men and women went through. Being grateful is a choice. It's not a feeling dependant on circumstances, as we can see in the Pilgrims' lives. They believed in God's providence for all that was going on in their lives.

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For more thoughts on the Thanksgiving season...see also David's Jeremiah's audio message entitled "Growing in the Grace of Gratitude" and his "Thanksgiving" article on his website here. We have so much to be thankful for! I pray that you have "an attitude of gratitude" to the Lord as you spend time in reflection this Thanksgiving...
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
Remember His wonders which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth.
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Psalm 105:1-2, 5

Update

I apologize that I have not had time to sit down and post anything lately. The last 2 weeks have been busy through the week and on the weekends. It is a busy time of year at work and I have been staying later than usual, so it makes for a short evening by the time I run my errands and get dinner before Mike gets to his Hebrew class, etc. In addition I am trying to work on a couple crafts for Christmas. We've also been busy the last 2 weekends. Two weeks ago Mike and I attended the Eschatology ("End Times") conference at church - which was really good. We also had a social for our Adult Bible Fellowship (Thanksmas) and church at the detention home. This past weekend we had the Focus retreat in PA and got to have a mini-Thanksgiving with my parents. If you haven't seen it yet, Mike put together a video of the retreat and posted it on his blog this past Tuesday (click here). We are spending Thanksgiving with Mike's family and will be returning to Ashland on Saturday to be back for our Sunday commitments. I have 2 more posts that I am going to do, but this computer is slow (it's been a long time since I've used dial-up!), so we will see if they go through...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring those who have served our country

Unless you work for the government or have children in school where they may be holding a special assembly today, you may not realize that today is Veteran's Day. I went to the Department of Veterans Affairs website to get the history of Veteran's Day...
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the
end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of thosewho died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
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An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - - a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
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The Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to insure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
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The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.
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Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
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So, that's the history lesson for today. Let us make a point today to honor America's veterans for their sacrifice for our country and for serving to protect our freedom. And also let us remember in prayer especially today all those who are currently serving in our military - for their souls and for their safety and for their families...and give praise to the Lord for what He has done through all these military men and women - past and present.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by my sister, Julie, to list 5 things I love about my husband. She did such a great job sharing 5 things that she loves about Keith that it will be hard to follow her, but here it is...
5 Things I Love About My Husband...
1. Mike has surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is continually growing in his faith. He has great knowledge of the Scriptures and is very insightful in his teachings and "Theological Thursday" blog posts. I love that I can turn to him to help me with my understanding of the Bible and have deep theological discussions with him. He is committed to leadership in the church and the Lord's will for his life. I am also humbled by his prayer life. I often will ask what he is doing if he is sitting quietly on the couch or while we are in the car traveling and he says he is praying. I am so grateful for the Lord's working in his life.
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2. Mike is committed to our marriage. He desires to have our marriage glorify God and for us to serve the Lord together. We do devotions, pray and read marriage books together to strengthen our marriage. He can be very romantic and thoughtful. I love it when he plans a little weekend getaway to a bed & breakfast or a date night as a special romantic treat. He does little things to make me feel special, like opening my car door, doing the dishes without me asking or starting the car for me to go to work on a chilly morning. He's not too "tough" to take a bubble bath, take a long walk on the beach with me holding his hand, cuddle or watch a "chick-flick" together. He often says that he misses me. He is very patient and rarely complains about anything (unlike me). He also gives me a different viewpoint on some things (such as evangelism, for example) because of his own experience and personality. Although that will sometimes cause friction between us, we "balance" each other. I have learned that being married to someone who is not exactly like me allows the Lord to challenge me and work on my attitude - that it would be truly Christ-like, not that I have a certain opinion/attitude just because of my own personal experience, and I have grown to appreciate that.
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3. Mike makes me laugh. There are times that I will be having a bad day or things will be rather unexciting and he will either say something or do something to make me smile or chuckle...like, just recently, singing karaoke before Jason & Kerby's reception or doing the "Yearbook" pictures of us on his blog. Not everyone gets to see this side of him because he appears to be quiet most of the time. But, whether it be saying a pun randomly, joking or telling a funny story from his childhood, or any of the other random creative funny things he does, I am thankful that I have him to keep life enjoyable even when things are serious or not going well.
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4. Mike is so talented. He is so intelligent and athletic. He has never had any formal computer training and he has somehow become the backup IT person at work. He is responsible about how we spend our money and is financially-wise. He was even considering a job recently with Edward Jones. He has been a little entrepreneur, buying and selling on eBay at times. When he is motivated he can get the job done in a lot less time than anyone else. The other evening he surprised me with a clean apartment - it took him less than 2 hours - it would have taken me all weekend. He is also very creative and a great problem-solver. And, he still amazes me with his magic tricks.
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5. Mike genuinely loves and cares about his family, including all of the "in-laws." He enjoys being at home with me, spending time with family whenever we have the chance, praying for them, playing golf with my dad and brother, doing fantasy football with my family, playing with nieces and nephews, sitting and talking to his Grandma and I could go on and on. I understand that he was his great grandmother's favorite and he loved spending time with her. She passed away very soon after Mike and I started dating, but I am glad to have had the chance to have met her. We visited her in the nursing home and I will always remember Mike gently caring for her and feeding her a banana and how her spirit changed knowing that Mike was there even though she couldn't open her eyes or speak.
I am so thankful that the Lord gave you to me to be my husband, honey, I love you!
And, now I tag Amy A., Jenny G., Maria D. and Dana J. to share 5 things you love about your husband either by leaving a comment on my blog or simply sharing with your hubby!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Frugal Friday

Well, I'm a little late in getting this up this week. We were in PA last weekend & I've been busy with flu clinics at work so I haven't been home much lately to do my homework on bargain shopping. The best grocery deals I found for this week are... CVS (ends Saturday) Hershey's selected candy $1 each with $5 ECB back when you buy $10 (if you are planning on making candy for Christmas and need milk chocolate this is a good way to get it cheap) Brita filters 3 pk $14.99 - $5 ECB = $9.99 Crest Pro-Health Whitening $3.49 - $3.49 ECB = Free RiteAid (ends Saturday) L'eggs hose BOGO G.U.M. toothbrush 2 pk $1.99 - $1.99 rebate = Free Soy Joy Nutrition Bars 10/$5 - $5 rebate when you buy 10 = Free Christmas M & Ms $1.88 (again, not a bad price if you are planning on baking Christmas cookies) Buehler's (ends Sunday) Chex cereals 3/$4.50 - $1 off coupon from newspaper = 3/$3.50 Hawkins (ends Saturday) Inn Maid Noodles 10/$10 Red Seedless Grapes 10 lb/$10 Kraft marshmallows 10/$10 Cut-Rite Wax paper 10/$10 Krogers (through Sunday) lots of deals in the Mega Event sale - see here Walmart - updated deals & printable coupons see here And, since I was so late on this week's I decided to go ahead and post next week's deals early... Hawkins Chicken leg quarter $.58/lb (Tuesday only) CVS Palmolive dish detergent $1.49 - $1 ECB = $.49 Hershey's candy lots of kinds on sale & spend $20 get $10 ECB Kroger Milk (gallon) 2/$5 Rite Aid M&Ms, Hershey kisses BOGO Crest ProHealth $2.69 - $2.69 rebate - $1 coupon from P & G booklet = $1 profit Also, if you are planning on buying anything on Amazon.com between now and December 31st you can get $10 off when you spend $50...details here. Also, there is a deal right now on Amazon, when you buy $25 worth of toys you get a free subscription to Cookie magazine (but, you can ask for a refund of $15 instead of the magazine)...details here

Monday, November 3, 2008

Need a good laugh?

This is funny...

Meal Planner Monday: Freezer Coleslaw & Primanti-like Sandwich

The Steelers are playing Monday Night Football...Does that put you in the mood for a "Pittsburgh-classic" kind of meal?
Freezer Coleslaw (serves 4 -8) 1 medium head of cabbage 1 carrot 1 teaspoon salt 1 onion 1 cup vinegar 1/4 cup water 1 teaspoon celery seed 2 cups sugar Cut cabbage and onion. Mix with salt and let stand one hour. Mix the vinegar, water, celery seed, and sugar. Bring all this to a boil and boil one minute. Let cool until lukewarm. Cut up carrot and mix with the cabbage. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage & let it set for about an hour. Serve or place in containers/freezer bags and freeze. The recipe says to boil the vinegar dressing, but I just mix it all together (I guess maybe I'm just lazy). I like to make this coleslaw for my version of the Pittsburgh Primanti Brothers sandwich... Primanti-like Sandwich (This is much healthier than the real thing) Thick sliced homemade Italian bread Deli-style ham, several slices A "heaping handful" of Homemade French Fries (see below) Provolone cheese, optional Sliced tomato, optional A "heaping handful" of Coleslaw (above)
Serve on wax paper for authenticity!
Homemade French Fries (I just kind of make it up as I go) French cut potatoes Drizzle liberally with olive oil and salt - mix together - spread out on greased baking sheet Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. (You'll want to flip them a couple times while baking.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Frugal Friday

I went to a craft show last Saturday here in town. It's wasn't really frugal since I did buy a couple things for myself...one of the things that I bought was a bundle of bittersweet (pictured above) for $2 which I hope will dry to keep past this fall season...hmm, if I had my own yard I would consider growing it to sell. I did get a couple really cool craft ideas which I can't share now because it may give away a Christmas gift.
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I thought these were some pretty good deals this week...
Hawkins
Chicken leg quarters $.79/lb
Pork roast $1.68/lb
Red Potatoes, 5 lb $2.98
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Kroger (I did comp pricing at Walmart for milk and strawberries)
1/2 gallon milk 10/$10
Whole boneless pork loin $1.77/lb
Strawberries 1lb clamshell 2/$5
Organic salad $2.99
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RiteAid
Kotex pads or tampons $3 - $3 rebate = Free
GE Power Strip $5 - $5 rebate = Free
Oral B Artica Toothbrush $2.49 - $2.49 rebate = Free
GE Indoor extension cord $2 - $2 rebate = Free
Adidas deodorant, body wash or spray $3.99-$ 3 = $.99
Brita pitcher or replacement filters $14.99 - $5 = $9.99
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There are also some decent deals using coupons at Walmart. This link will give you the whole list. (Our Walmart prices are not always the same as what is listed here, but it is still usually a pretty good deal) Also, there is a good Progresso soup $1.10/1 coupon here.
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As far as Halloween candy goes...if you didn't get any (like those of us without kids) or want more, Walmart marks all of the Halloween candy 1/2 off the next day...if you are trying to get rid of the Trick-or-Treat candy, you can take it in to Dr. Gregg and get paid up to $5 for it - now that's frugal and good for your health!
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Movie: Come What May

There is a free screening on GodTube October 27-29. I just found out about it so I haven't watched it (only the trailer), but this review praises the movie for "presenting solid legal arguments against the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision while captivating audiences with an engaging storyline that is both entertaining and thought-provoking." There is more information and the link to watch the movie here. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Uncertain Times (Part II)

I found last week's sermon at Grace very fitting for this topic. You can listen to it on the church website at the following link:
Mark 9:1-13
Sermon Notes:
1. Jesus is a unique person. (John 7:37-38; 8:12; 10:9-10, 27-30; 11:25-26; 14:6, Matthew 11:28-30, John 3:16)
2. Jesus has the ultimate perspective. (John 8:58, Mark 8:34-36; Luke 12:15, Matthew 6:19-34, Hebrews 7:24-25; 13:8)
3. Jesus has an unstoppable plan. (Revelation 21:1-5; Matthew 25:23; II Corinthians 4:16; II Peter 1:16-19)
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Psalm 33 - 1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. 4 For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. 6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. 13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Meal Planner Monday: Fall Favorites - Haystacks

I made these over the weekend for our ABF Harvest Party/Hayride (except we ended up not going). I think they are kind of "fall-ish" and make a fun thing to take to a fall party.
My recipe is:
Melt 12 oz butterscotch or milk chocolate chips (or mixture of both), Mix in 1 cup peanuts, 6 oz chow mein noodles. Drop onto wax paper.
There are variations on the internet using pretzel sticks, white chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut butter or coconut. There is also a recipe from Weight Watchers using Fiber One cereal which would make these fall treats quite healthy.
By the way...Mike informed me about this promotion during the World Series...there are free crunchy beef tacos at Taco Bell tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/28) 2-6 pm!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Frugal Friday: Saving on your Heating Bill

Just about everyone has turned their heat on around here. (Our friends who are still holding out on turning their heat on said that it was 50 degrees in their house the other morning - yikes, now that's frugal). We are very blessed that we do not have to pay for our heat or utilities but I am still trying to get us both accustomed to keeping the thermastat turned down. I'm no expert on this topic so I've posted some links for saving on your heating bill this winter (hopefully these are all reliable sources, if anyone is an expert on this and you see something that is wrong here, please let me know)... 12 ways to fight soaring heating bills (from msn money website) Heat & cool efficiently (from Energy Star website) Ask Mr. Electricity: Saving Money on Heating How to save money on heating bills (from eHow website) Cut your heating costs and save money this winter (from Good Housekeeping website)
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I have not done much shopping this week, just a few of the basics pretty much. Here are the best deals that I found for the week... Hawkins Boneless pork loin or chops $1.98/lb Hunt's ketchup (24 oz) $1.39 Bauman's apples (3 lb bag) 2/$5 Buehlers Grapefruit 5 lb bag $3.99 Ohio Grown Apples 10 lb bag $6.99 RiteAid Crest ProHealth toothpaste $3.19 - $3.19 rebate = Free CVS Colgate MaxFresh toothpaste $2.99 - $2 = $.99 G.U.M. Toothbrush 2 pk. $3.99 - $3.99 = Free Powerade 32 oz $1.69 - $1.69 = Free Kleenex $.89 (cold & flu season is coming) L'eggs pantyhose Buy 1 get 1 50% off And, finally, the most exciting thing for us this week was that Mike got a "bag of crap" from woot.com...If you are not familiar with this, it is a basically a mystery bag of items for $6 and it is not easy to get because the items are worth a lot more than $6 - it sells out very quickly - some have even reported recieving a big screen TV! Now I am not promoting the idea of just accumulating more stuff - I'm hoping that it is something that we can sell off on ebay for a profit...
...I'll let you know what is in the mystery bag when it arrives...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Uncertain Times (Part I)

We all know the economy is struggling. Mike & I received our quarterly retirement statements last week and it sure wasn't pretty (and we're not talking huge investments either). The presidential election is only 2 weeks away, and we have, dare I say, the most liberal presidential candidate ever running in this election. So many people supporting him with his ideas to take a "woman's right to abortion" to the extreme in support of leaving a newborn unwanted baby to die, to "spread the wealth around" (a.k.a "socialism"), more and more dependancy on government, and who knows what his religious views are or even if he is proud to be an American citizen. All because people say they want "change." I fear what may lie ahead for our nation. This article describes a historian's concept for the rise and fall of a democracy. I can see how things very much may be headed in this direction. But, I do know that whatever the future holds for our country that...
God IS in control....
And we now, more than ever, need to be on our knees in prayer, pleading to God for our nation. I would encourage you, if you haven't already, to research the candidates & the issues, not only for U.S. President but also state/local politicians, and encourage others to do the same through sources such as Fox News, Ohio Round Table or Focus on the Family's Citizenlink, (including the Newsletter from Dr. Dobson & "Values Voter Guide") so that as many as possible especially other Christians can be educated on the real issues/facts here and not just vote blindly on a surface notion... Ok, enough talk on politics and the economy (I am not one to be interested in those things but I do think we need to take the current events seriously right now)... I want to share an excellent book which I think will be a source of encouragement during these uncertain times, because it is a study on God's sovereignty.... I recently started reading "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges (Mike has already finished it.) This is a great book to accompany your Bible reading...
Excerpts from Chapter 1:

"Yet it is just as important to trust God as it is to obey Him. When we disobey God we defy His authority and despise His holiness. But when we fail to trust God we doubt His sovereignty and question His goodness."

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"In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense."

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"Rather than being offended over the Bible's assertion of God's sovereignty in both good and calamity, believers should be comforted by it. Whatever our particular calamity or adversity may be, we may be sure that our Father has a loving purpose in it"

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"It was for Jesus in His humanity a calamity sufficient to cause Him to pray, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me' (Matthew 26:39) but He did not waver in His assertion of God's sovereign control."

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"Jesus Himself affirmed God's sovereignty in calamity when Pilate said to Him, 'Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?' Jesus replied, 'You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above' (John 19:10-11)"

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I was hoping that the sermon entitled "Voices in the Chaos" from this past Sunday would be posted on our church website but it is not on there yet so I will post Part II when it is available for listening...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Meal Planner Monday: Fall Favorites - Squash & Apple Bake

2 lbs butternut squash
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted 1 Tbsp flour 1 tsp salt 2 tart apples
---- Butter a 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Heat oven to 350°. Peel, seed, and cut squash into small slices. Core the apples, peel, and cut into thin slices. Toss squash and apples together. Transfer squash and apple slices to the prepared baking dish. Combine brown sugar, flour, salt; cut in butter with fork or pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over sliced squash and apples. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until squash is tender. Note: a similar recipe on the internet added 1/4 tsp nutmeg & 1/4 tsp cinnamon with 1/2 cup brown sugar instead of 1/4 cup. Hint: They say that if you pierce the skin & place the squash in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes it will become soft and easier to cut.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Beach Wedding!

I'm back. Mike and I made it home Wednesday late afternoon, after an 8-day trip to beautiful Gulf Coast Florida for my brother, Jason and his fiancee, Kerby's wedding. (only about 3 1/2 of those days were actually spent in Florida, the rest of the time was spent travelling)...
Here are some (well, lots of) pictures & highlights...
  • The beautiful wedding on Santa Rosa Beach, of course! It was an absolutely picture-perfect wedding...

The bride with flowergirls and ringbearer (Josiah & Katelyn on the left)

Bride & groom during wedding

Wedding Party (I think Jason is stretching his face muscles)

Bride & groom with Mom, Dad & Grandma

    The kids having fun after the wedding - Caleb was covered in sand

    Wedding cake

      The reception at the Hatmaker rental home

      • The gorgeous house that Mom & Dad rented for the special weekend complete with an infinity pool that "dropped off" into the ocean. Just sitting in the house with all of the French doors open to the deck and the ocean breeze coming in was wonderful. The pictures don't do the house justice - I mean, it could have easily made it into a Better Homes & Gardens magazine...
      • The view off our back deck

        Mike in the "infinity" pool nearing sunset

      • Being there with family to celebrate - Mom & Dad, my siblings, my niece and nephews, my grandma, great Aunt Wanda, aunt, uncle and cousin - some of whom we don't see very often - we are so glad all of you were there...
      • Sorry, Keith, you were so busy being a photographer that I only have this funny one

        Can we say that Caleb loved the sand & the water? - so cute to see him "reaching out" to the waves

      • The "extra" time Mike and I stayed on Sunday at Destin to enjoy the beach a little longer - we took about a 5-mile walk along the beach and then just relaxed trying to "soak in" as much of the beach as we could - ahhhh, priceless...

      • And, the adventure of our 1st Amtrak trip. (A little fun thing was that Mike's aunt & uncle waved and held up a sign "Hi, Mike and Jen" as we went by in Maryland - unfortunately we passed them so quickly the video didn't turn out very well.) We did get to see some great fall leaves in Eastern and Central PA on our way home as well. We enjoyed it and would do it again, although if I had the choice between taking the train or spending an extra 2-3 days on the beach...I'd pick the beach...

      The sunrise on the 1st day of our vacation driving on I-80 in PA

      The beautiful fall colors back in PA returning home

      Congratulations, Jason & Kerby! This was a precious time for you both, but it was also a special memory for all of us!!!

      Thursday, October 16, 2008

      Frugal Friday: Fall Edition - Simple Fall Decorating

      I just love decorating for the fall season. And it can be done very inexpensively using what you have and collecting natural things from the outdoors (as described on this site)...
      One of my favorites is the grapevine wreath that Mom made me a few years ago. We had a grapevine in our yard up until they moved a couple years ago, so there was no need to even go to a craft store for that...Adding some leaves and such...and a couple additional items from the craft store...and finally a bit of ribbon...
      My indian corn is another favorite - simple, festive,
      and can be used year-to-year...
      This post called "All from one little pumpkin" is creative and inspiring...
      ...This is another interesting decorating idea from A Soft Place to Land (again, using mostly what you already have)
      ...I think that candles add a nice warm glow for this time of year...
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      Bittersweet, if you can find it, is beautiful to add around a doorframe, in a vase or on a wreath.
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      An idea that I got from our Taste of Fall...press and dry leaves and place them in a frame.
      (This link shows basically same idea with a little extra added to it.)
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      Finally, if you have a throw or pillows in the fall hues, you could add them as well, to "warm" up the room and make it cozy.

      Monday, October 13, 2008

      Meal Planner Monday: Fall Favorites - Hot Spiced Apple Cider

      This is not a recipe for "meal" but rather for a seasonal delight during the fall season - a festive drink for a fall get-together/social, a treat for the kids, to serve as a refreshment at a bible study group, etc. I just love the smell of a home when there is hot apple cider brewing on the stove... Hot Mulled Cider
      1 qt apple cider
      2 Tbsp orange breakfast drink
      1 tsp lemon juice
      1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar
      3 whole cloves
      3 tsp allspice
      2 sticks cinnamon
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      Hot Maple Apple Cider
      6 cups apple cider
      ¼ cup maple syrup
      1 orange peel cut into strips
      1 lemon peel cut into strips
      2 cinnamon sticks
      spice bag & string
      6 whole cloves
      6 whole allspice berries Pour cider and syrup into large pot. Place spices and peels in center of a spice bag and tie up with a piece of string. Drop spice bundle into liquid and heat over moderate flame for about 10 minutes. Remove spice bag and discard. Serve the hot spiced cider in mugs. For a nice touch, add a whole cinnamon stick to each mug for stirring, float thin slice of lemon or orange on top.
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      Caramel Apple Cider (this one is really a special treat)
      Cider:
      1/4 cup heavy cream
      1/4 cup brown sugar
      3 cups apple cider
      1/2 cup water
      Bring the cream and brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cider and the water and raise the heat to medium high, heating just until the cider begins to steam, about 4 minutes. Divide among 4 mugs, top with 2 Tbsp of caramel whipped cream (recipe follows).
      Caramel Whipped Cream:
      In small chilled bowl, whip 1/2 cup heavy cream with 1 Tbsp brown sugar until soft peaks form.

      Friday, October 10, 2008

      Frugal Friday: woot.com

      Mike discovered this website a couple months ago. There is a featured item of the day. The items are mostly electronics, or things you may find in a store like Brookstone. The items are drastically (about 50% or more) cheaper than retail or other internet prices. So, if you are able to find something that you like, you can really get a good deal. They also have a "woot-off" a few times a year where they put one item up on the website right after another (similar to the home shopping networks) and they don't last more than a few minutes, so when that comes around there are lots of different items coming up all day long. Our DVD player quit working a couple months ago, and Mike found a DVD player/recorder on their site during a woot-off for $39 (tax and shipping included) and the comparison price for Walmart online was $89 (pre-tax). Our order arrived at our doorstep in just a couple days. I will say that it's not a good site if you are only looking for a certain brand or model, but I think it is a good site to check out as you are thinking about Christmas shopping, or if you are looking for an item for yourself that you are not particular with brand and model (like with our DVD player/recorder - we did check out how the item was rated on different sites, which it did get good ratings, but we didn't care if it was Magnavox, Sony, or whatever). I am guessing that a lot of people not only buy an item for themselves but a good number buy more than one and then try to sell them on ebay for a profit, which could easily be done. You can read more about the company and their policies on their website. Now, on to the best deals that I saw this week: CVS Glaceau vitamin water $2.29 - $2.29 ECB = Free Bic Soleil razor or 4 pk cartridges $5.99 - $4 = $1.99 Colgate MaxFresh (monthly deal) $2.99 - $2 - $1 coupon from newspapers = Free Mennon Speedstick deodorant $1.99 - $1 ECB = $.99 CVS brand vitamins/supplements BOGO Always Infinity Pads $4.98 - $4.98 ECB = Free Hawkins White bread $.63 Chicken leg quarters $.63/lb Lettuce $.63 Domino sugar 5 lb $1.98 Kroger Energizer batteries $2 - $1 peelie coupon = $1 (while supplies last) Amick Farms fresh boneless skinless chicken breast $1.99/lb 1 doz eggs 10/$10 Rite Aid Rite Aid vitamins/supplements BOGO Crest Whitening Rinse $3.99 - $3.99 rebate - $1 coupon = $1 profit Walgreens See list on Money Saving Mom site Note: Final prices do not take into account the sales tax. There may be other pretty good sales on specific items that you would normally buy that are not listed here. I have only listed the ones that I think are the best deals (products I may or may not buy this week).

      Wednesday, October 8, 2008

      Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

      This will be posting as we are on our way to Florida for my brother Jason's wedding... Most of my family is flying...and my mom and dad are driving (they are retired and just may decide to take a side-trip on the way home)..and Mike and I are taking the train... We've talked about taking the train somewhere before, so we decided to take this opportunity to try it. It will be a long trip - the most of 2 days getting there and 2 days to get home, but we are hoping it turns out to be an enjoyable adventure. (I hope we have some views out our window like in this picture at some point, maybe on our way home) I have a few things scheduled to post while we are gone, and hopefully I will have lots of pictures and thoughts about our adventure to post when we return home...

      Monday, October 6, 2008

      Meal Planner Monday: Fall Favorites - Pork Chops with Apple Stuffing

      This is the 1st in a series on some of my favorite "fall" recipes. They are not necessarily low-fat, like I try to have, but, I only make them once a year, so I figure it is all right...
      I did make this recipe this past weekend. Mine didn't look as "pretty" as these, but they were very yummy
      Apple Stuffed Pork Chops
      1 medium onion, chopped
      6 Tbsp butter - I cut back to 4 Tbsp and add a tiny bit of water to make the stuffing stick together
      4 slices raisin bread, crumbled - or I use regular bread and add in a small handful of raisins
      1-2 large apples, chopped
      1/4 cup parsley
      1 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp pepper
      1/2 tsp thyme
      1 egg, beaten
      4 double pork chops, 1 1/2 " thick
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      Saute onions in butter. Add bread crumbs, apple, parsley, salt, pepper, and egg. Mix well. Fill chops with stuffing and fasten. Cook in skillet until brown. Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover. Simmer 40 min until tender. Remove pork chops to platter. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp flour into pan drippings. Stir until smooth. Stir in 1 cup apple cider (can substitute apple juice). Cook until gravy thickens. Bake excess stuffing on apple halves.

      Sunday, October 5, 2008

      Fall Favorites

      I love comments, so I am hoping to get some comments from this post...
      I also love fall...

      Last year with Mike's nephews at the Corn Maze

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      These are some of my favorite things about fall...
      • The vivid colors of fall foliage
      • The rustling of the leaves and the sound of them crunching under your feet
      • The smell of the fall leaves
      • The cool brisk air
      • Pulling out a sweater to wear that has been packed away
      • Taking a hike on a trail to see the fall beauty like we used to do as a family growing up
      • The smell and taste of apples
      • The smell of concord grapes
      • Getting cozy on the couch with a blanket
      • Warm soups and hot drinks to warm you up
      • The sound of the marching band at high school football games
      • The warmth of the fall sun in the midst of the cooling air
      • Pumpkin patches
      • Hay rides
      • The fall harvest
      • Thanksgiving

      ...what about you? What are your favorite things about this time of year?