Monday, June 30, 2008

Money Planner Monday: Honey Lime Chicken

This is a delicious recipe for the summer grilling season... (I made it for our guests last week. It's very easy and it is low-fat too!)
This link takes you to the recipe on the Kraft Foods website.
And while you're there you will want to sign up for their mailing list if you are not already on it (it's free). (Click on "sign up" in the top right corner) They send a magazine every few months with some recipes and tips and last issue there was a coupon in it for a free Kraft dressing!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Frugal Friday: Using What You Have (Part 4)

My family taught me well when it comes to "using what you have" - just to mention a few things...yogurt containers would be using to start tomato plants, old sheets would be torn into strips to tie up the tomato plants and Christmas cards would be used the following year for name tags on our gifts. And remember grandma using road maps from AAA to wrap our Christmas gifts? To end this series, I am posting several really cool and interesting ways to "Use What You Have" - check these out..
  • Turn old worn blue jeans or khakis into a book bag or pocket purse or lunch bag
  • Mike and I made our own game of Yahtzee with an empty film container and 5 dice - you can print the scorecards here
  • Make an airplane from a Styrofoam meat tray using this pattern or use the trays for a paint palate
  • Make a bracelet out of an old toothbrush (honestly, I have my doubts on how this one would turn out)
  • Soap pieces can be made into liquid soap as described here (as well as used in other cool ways)
  • Stuff for kids and teachers ...from egg cartons to Altoids containers
  • Make postcards out of your greeting cards - using these instructions
  • According to Heloise...cola that has gone flat can be poured into the toilet bowl. If left to soak for an hour, it will clean the bowl...if you own a freshwater fish tank, instead of throwing out the water when cleaning, use it water the plants (as a fertilizer)...recycle pantyhose by making a ponytail holder or no-scratch scrubber...remove excess salt from soup or heated liquids by adding a sliced raw potato to absorb the salt (remove slices when they begin to soften if you don't want to eat them)...reuse spice bottles (fill with cinnamon sugar, store glitter for crafts, put embroidery thread in them and feed through the holes to prevent tangling, fill with flour to sprinkle on meat before frying

Those are just a few - there's a ton more out there...If you have any, please share!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What Are You Waiting For?

This week the Pastor and his wife from the Grace Brethren Church will be coming to Ashland to visit with us. This is just one of the steps in the interviewing process that began in late winter for the Pastor of Connections position. This is our first experience interviewing for a position as a pastor in a church so the process is new to us and much different than any of the other jobs either of us have applied for in the past (which typically only takes about a month or so to know whether or not you have the job). Although we are in a time of waiting (especially when it comes to making any specific plans after July) I can say that we have not been confused, frustrated, or impatient in the process. We are excited and hopeful yet totally trusting the Lord for the job that He wants Mike to have.
I can not say that I have faced every "waiting" period with the same heart. We all have many dreams and desires for our life beginning as a child saying "when I get big enough I will be able to _____ (fill in the blank)". We could make a whole long list of things that we look forward to in life (or in other words "wait for")...getting a driver's license, graduating, getting married, having children, buying a house, retiring, getting a job, having the baby old enough to sleep through the night, having the children old enough to take care of themselves, getting a promotion, getting a bigger house, moving to another state, etc., etc. Many people spend their entire lives waiting for the next stage in their life (or maybe even waiting to die) without really living their life. By doing this we miss out on all of the joy in the many blessings that we already have.
Mike and I are looking forward to buying a house and having children someday, Lord willing. But see those are the key words "Lord willing." Even though we pray and ask God daily that He would bless us with those things someday, we also realize that He may have other plans. If we end up living in a small apartment for the rest of our lives, can we have contentment and joy? We realize that our small apartment would look like a palace compared to the homes of many other people in the world. If we never are blessed with children, can we have contentment and joy? We realize that God has given us nieces and nephews whom we love dearly and also that not having children right now has given us freedom and opportunities that would not have been possible if we did have children.
So, allow me to encourage you...If you are feeling disappointed, discouraged, struggling with unfulfilled desires, or feeling like life is passing you by while you sit and "wait," - seek Him, the Lord alone is the source of true joy and contentment...
  • Pray and tell God how you are feeling/your desires
  • Read scripture (I recommend the book of Job, the story of Hannah in I Samuel, and the writings of Paul in the New Testament)
  • Find a Christian you can talk to for encouragement

Two of my favorite songs are: "Blessed Be Your Name" and "Everlasting God". Both express the sovereignty of God and how awesome He is despite whether we are going through a time of abundance or suffering, and how, if we trust in Him, our time of "waiting" will strengthen us...


Paul learned to be content because he could see life from God's point of view:

Philippians 4:12 "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."


Friday, June 20, 2008

Frugal Friday: Using What You Have (Part 3)

Of course in order to use what you have you have to know what you have. (Thats kind of a brain twister) This involves organizing. From the meal cleaning the medicine decorating, the first step is getting organized with your drawers, cabinets, closets...everything. Throw out the junk. Most things that you have can probably be used for something - they just maybe need to be more organized so that you can find them when you want to use them. Don't neglect being resourceful to find uses for as many things as you can, such as a lonesome single sock that can be used as a dusting cloth. But, some things are just junk like a broken appliance than can not be fixed or used for spare parts. If you have so many things that you can't find what you are looking for then it's time to downsize by reducing the number of different products or things that you have in your stockpile/storage. Combine two 1/2 full bottles of the same product into one bottle. Use up the small amounts of something. Once a product is gone, decide if you really need to replace it or if you could use something else that you already have on hand. Before you buy anything ask yourself: Do I really need this? Is there something else I have on hand that would work just fine? (Mike says that his rule is that for every $100 that something costs we should spend that many days praying about it before actually making the purchase.) They say that when you take your shopping trips, you should "shop" at home first. Keep things simple. For example, try to keep basic medications in the medicine cabinet rather than combination medications or ones that are marketed to treat special symptoms. With the drug companies constantly marketing "new" & combination medications it's easy to buy something that sounds like it will relieve all your present symptoms. But then two days later your symptoms are different so that medication you bought is now just sitting in the cabinet (usually until it expires and you throw it out). ---Avoid buying combination products For example, if you have diphenhydramine and acetaminophen then you have the same ingredients as Excedrin PM. Be very careful about taking more than one medication at a time because a name brand like Tylenol doesn't mean that it is only acetaminophen. Always read the active ingredients (know the generic names for the same medication) and know what would best relieve the symptoms that you have (an antihistamine vs a decongestant). And check with a doctor or pharmacist before you take more than one medication at a time. ---Be aware of special packaging Be aware that many times a medication is marketed as "special" when in fact it contains the same ingredient as something else you may already have at home. For example, they now have Tums for kids. I had a rebate to try it for free so I looked at the ingredients and it is exactly the same as the Extra Strength Tums - no need to have both. The same thing holds true for pain medications like Tylenol Arthritis. The same medication is marketed with different names. Another area to keep things simple is with cleaning products. Again, there are lots of different products marketed that really do the same thing. Come back next week for "Using What You Have - Part 4" and more on keeping things simple with cleaning if only I could set aside some time to do some much needed thorough spring cleaning:) ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Adjustment

At the free steak dinner that I mentioned a few weeks ago I agreed to have an evaluation and doctor report with the chiropractor, so last week I had an exam and then Mike & I went to the doctor report last night. We decided that I would go through with the treatment that she recommended (my insurance pays for over 1/2). Like most people, I was skeptical at first thinking that they just want me to keep coming back (for business) but I do also understand the explanation of why it is important for your health to keep your spine in line not just have a one time fix to relieve the symptoms. Actually, it didn't take a lot of convincing because I have been thinking about going to a chiropractor for quite awhile. I knew that I probably needed an adjustment since I have neck and shoulder pain so often. (and I know it isn't good for me to try to "adjust" it myself and just massage it out - even though it really does help a lot it doesn't keep the pain from coming back). So, I went and had my first adjustment tonight...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Meal Planner Monday: Oriental Chicken Salad

This is a good summertime recipe (you could make variations of it)... Oriental Chicken Salad Boneless, skinless chicken, cooked in strips Salad greens of your choice Cabbage (use a majority of cabbage compared to salad greens) Shredded carrots Mandarin oranges, optional Green onions or sliced red onions, optional Sliced almonds Rice noodles (or chow mein) Oriental dressing (I did a google search and found a fat-free recipe) _____________________________________________

Friday, June 13, 2008

Frugal Friday: Using What You Have - Part 2

Here are some ways of being intentional about using what you have for meal preparation... 1) Plan ahead The 1st step toward being more frugal by using what you have is to have a plan. I try to plan out basic meals for the whole week. Often things get switched around because I forget to get meat out of the freezer, I get home from work later than I had planned etc. (maybe the leftovers planned for tomorrow night get switched to tonight). But, having a basic plan eliminates the last minute "What am I going to fix for dinner?" approach and therefore: -increases the chances of preparing a healthy nutritious dinner -decreases extra trips to the store for a small number of items or buying something that is not on sale just because it is easy & quick -decreases the chances that you will end up going out -decreases waste/food being thrown away 2) Be flexible Vary your recipes depending on what you have on hand or try a new one if you have something that you want to "use up." For example, spaghetti doesn't need meatballs or ground meat to be a meal. Also, you can use a different type of pasta other than spaghetti. I make mashed potatoes differently depending what I have on hand and may want to use (such as cream, sour cream, ranch dressing or cream cheese...and, a bonus is that the fat-free or reduced fat versions are less calories than margarine...I've never tried it but plain yogurt may work too) I don't buy garlic bread, I make my own using bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns. Instead of pizza, you could make personal "pizzas" from English muffins, bagels, buns or bread. These two websites can help you put together a recipe for what you have on hand: and 3) Use substitutions A lot of things can be replaced with something similar: - apple juice instead of apple cider - semi-sweet chocolate squares (1 Tbsp vegetable oil, 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tsp sugar) - to make pretend buttermilk, add 1-3/4 tablespoons of cream of tartar to a cup of milk, or add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. (in many baking recipes, you can also just use plain yogurt or sour cream instead of buttermilk) 4) Make your own if you are out Stocking basic items allows you to make your own salad dressing, BBQ sauce, taco seasoning and many other things. Try a search on the internet to find a recipe to make your own with ingredients that you have on hand before you run out to the store to buy that item. Maybe you'll like the homemade version even better. 5) Plan your leftovers I don't mind leftovers. But, it always works best if I have a plan for them (to be eaten for lunch, and 2nd dinner, to make into a different dinner that week) and know how much of the original meal you want to have leftover. If we are going to be out of town for the weekend or longer, I don't want to make a meal late in the week that will have leftovers that end up getting thrown out. 6) Be happy eating something other than what you are craving at that time This is the hardest one for me especially on days when it seems like all of the meals that I can think of to make for dinner "don't sound good." I am trying to be better at making meals that eliminate waste by finishing what is open and using any fresh items before they go bad even if something else "sounds better." Now, I don't want you to think that I am an expert because I'm not. I am trying to get better at doing these things myself. However, by being intentional, you will have a much better chance of using what you have efficiently and also saving money!!! (And also, the more you read about how others have done these things, the more inspired you become to do them yourself.) __________________________________________________ *Finally, I had to share my trip to Walmart this week (if only they could all be this good) :

Post Trail Mix cereal = Free with coupon

Kashi Honey Oat waffles = $2.12 (-$2 coupon)

Kraft dressing = Free with coupon

Taco seasoning = 2/$1.00 (-$.75 coupon)

Grand total = $.41

(and I also got a free travel size bottle of All laundry detergent at Target and had another coupon for $1 off Ortega that I used at Walmart for 2 more free taco seasonings!)

So, you don't always need to have a CVS to find good stuff...


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Canning and Preserving

The Ashland Public Library is hosting an educational event on "Canning and Preserving" this Thursday, June 12th 7:00-8:00 pm. I hope to someday learn more about gardening, canning and preserving (and eventually do some of my own) since it is healthier and (I think) less expensive than buying processed foods. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be able to attend this meeting. It sounds very interesting though. __________________________________________________

Monday, June 9, 2008

Celebrating Life

4Saturday was my birthday. (We were in Pittsburgh for the weekend. I had a nice, relaxing day. Saturday afternoon we attended a wedding - Kris & Pete, friends from the Focus bible study in Pittsburgh. It was a fun time. And I got to do some swing dancing! Thanks, Steve & Amy for hosting us for the weekend.)
------- 4 And, yesterday was my 3 year "anniversary" (as my oncologist calls it) as a breast cancer survivor. So this weekend was kind of a celebration of life. I praise God for the gift of life that he has granted. And, I praise him for my hope of eternal life... Let the praises ring!!! Oh Lord my God in you i put my trust Oh Lord my God in you i put my hope Oh Lord my God in you i put my trust ohh yes I do Oh Lord my God in you i put my hope in you In you In you I find my peace In you In you I find my strength In you, I live and move and breath Let everything I say and do Be founded by my faith in you I lift up holy hands and sing let the praises ring Oh Lord my God to you I give my hands Oh Lord my God to you I give my feet Oh Lord my God to you I give my everything Take all I am Oh Lord my God to you I give my life Woah...Woah In you In you I find my peace In you In you I find my strength In you, I live and move and breath Let everything I say and do Be founded by my faith in you I lift up holy hands and sing let the praises ring.. Artist: Lincoln Brewster Listen here
"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands."
Psalm 63:3,4

Friday, June 6, 2008

Frugal Friday: Using What You Have - Part 1

My strategy to saving money this month is to not buy groceries. Of course there will be some things like milk, some fresh fruits and vegetables, etc that I still plan to buy. However, I plan to limit most everything else unless we really need it (or if it is a CVS moneymaker on something I can give away). I am pretty good at "stocking up" on things at sale prices but sometimes I have a hard time using up what I have. I have this idea in my head that I should have an "extra" on hand so it is there when we need/want it. But, with us moving anytime between 2-14 months from now I really don't want any extras that will have to get boxed up. Besides, it appears that one of the principles that people in the "frugal" blogging world talk about is using what you have. (I can see how not being intentional about using what I already have on hand leads to waste.) So, I am going to focus on applying this principle this month and see how much of my stockpile I can use up while minimizing my spending... ------------------------------------- Specific ways that we have saved money this week (and you can too): 1. Subway still has their $5 footlong subs (we shared one for dinner one night) 2. We had an enjoyable evening out (free steak dinner) at The Cabin with Pastor Rob and his wife Christy thanks to a new chiropractic office in town who was trying to round up some business - I could probably get you signed up if you are interested 3. We are blessed to know a mechanic who is always very reasonable when charging us for car repairs 4. I have my free Cold Stone Creamery "Love It Size" ice cream coupon to use when we are in Pittsburgh this weekend - you can sign up for their Birthday club here (Baskin Robbins also has a birthday can sign up here) (In case you are wondering, it is very rare that we eat out this much)
5. My CVS trip this week (sorry the spacing is all messed up)... $5.84 $1.29 6. If you are around the Ashland area, gas is currently $3.69/gallon at the Eagle gas station on Claremont Avenue (as of 1:00 today)
update @ 4:30...nevermind it didn't last it's $3.77
Also...Friendly's in Ashland is givivg away free ice cream cones tomorrow afternoon. Other freebies from Money Saving Mom: Free Krispy Kreme doughnut when you register
Free beverage and other stuff when you register your Starbucks gift card
...and many others!!! (go to Money Saving Mom to view & click on links)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Turning Back the Clock Tuesday

Since someone has a birthday later this week (I won't mention any names) I thought it would be fun to reminisce about growing up in the 70s and 80s. These are the things that I remember... - Commodore 64 computer, dot matrix printers, big floppy disks, Betamax and VHS, boom boxes, Oregon Trail, flash cubes, Xeroxed paper really was "hot" off the press - Atari, Pacman, Frogger, Mario Brothers, Rubiks cube, Speak n Spell, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Smurfs, ET, Mr. T, Sit n Spin, Simon, Schwinn 10 speed bikes, true Saturday morning cartoons - Cosby Show, Family Ties, M*A*S*H, Little House on the Prairie, Hee Haw, Muppets, Lawrence Welk (w/grandma), Silver Spoons, Scooby Doo, Dukes of Hazard, Nickelodeon's You Can't Do that on Television, Double Dare, Dance Party USA, Punky Brewster, ALF, Happy Days - Wheel of Fortune (when they actually bought stuff with their winnings) - Big Mac Attack (2 all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun), Full Meal Deal (DQ) coins, Mr. Donut - Madonna, Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, Thriller, Back Street Boys, New Kids on the Block, Menudo, Aerosmith, Bangles, Bon Jovi, U2, LL Cool J, ZZ Top, Band Aid & Live Aid, "We are the world" - Friendship pins, Moonwalk, break dancing, "Walk like an Egyptian" and soc hops (in jr high/high school) - Big hair, big (red) glasses, jelly shoes/bracelets, pegged pants, stone washed denim, denim mini shirts, stirrup pants, "jams," slim/husky jeans, sweat bands, pulling your sweats up to your knees, turning your collar up, leg warmers, banana clips, crimped hair, mullets, having a tail, mohawks, wearing a comb in your back pocket to "feather" your hair - Nike, Reebok, Keds, Tretorn, hi top tennis shoes, pump up shoes, and pumps - Lee, Wrangler, Calvin Klein, Benetton and Guess jeans - Photos of missing children on milk cartons - Chalk boards (cleaning the erasers & washing the board), themed metal lunchboxes - Full-service gas stations, choosing between leaded or unleaded gas, no air conditioning in the car (or in our house), riding in our station wagon - Penny candy, pretzel rods in a canister at the convenience store, candy cigarettes, Bonkers candy, glass bottles of pop, paper bags were the only option in the grocery stores and someone bagged and took your groceries out to the car - Steelers superbowls, when the Pirates were good - "Gag me with a spoon" "Where's the beef?" "Don't have a cow man" "Cool beans" Now, it's your turn... ...Be careful, cause "The rhythm is gonna get you"

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A+...A Job Well Done

"Mr. Harpst" is now retired
from teaching
at Greenville High School !
How does it feel???
Courses Taught Most: Practical Algebra and Algebra I and II
Years teaching = 33
And for anyone who didn't know, yes, I had my dad for Algebra II...
I got an A in the class (not because he was my dad)...
and if I was grading, I would give him an A, as well, for being an excellent teacher!
(I wish I could have found a better picture of you teaching)
Congratulations on your retirement, Dad & Mom!!
We'll be waiting for you to come visit!