Mudroom Makeover (More Than A Makeover)

 

img_5304

If you’re here just for the deals scoot on to the next penny-post ~ this one’s a doozie! And, know that I know SO MANY OF YOU have hardships so much greater than mine, I feel almost silly even sharing this here. But maybe you’re in a funk too ~ and maybe this one’s just for you. 

 

Good gravy.

 

This week as I was debating what home project to tackle as our regular Friday Fluff Up, I started dreaming up ideas for our mudroom.

 

I really wanted this, or this, or even this, but the truth is the space isn’t huge and I don’t have any business right now spending lots of money on it, so it just needed some TLC.

img_5264

Since my husband’s heart attack just over a month ago, I’ve allowed clutter and gunk and schoolwork and coats and hats and heart attack papers and all of it to just take over that space.

 

(If you know me well you know that’s just not the norm for me ~ but goodness it’s turned into a disaster!)

img_5265

I just didn’t want to deal with the mess, so I rounded up my youngest and spent a few hours shopping, dreaming up ways to make that space just a wee bit more Pinterested before coming home and setting to work.

 

As I started muddling through, I realized that it wasn’t any new fancy stuff that tiny space needed.

 

It was a much needed attitude shift.

 

You see, since his heart attack I’ve (we’ve all?) been in this sort of funk.

img_5266

I didn’t want to deal with the paperwork.

 

I didn’t want to look at insurance claims.

 

I didn’t want to read through mounds of heart attack literature.

 

I didn’t want to learn a million-bazillion ways to control his cholesterol.

 

(For the record, he’s really changed his diet on his own and we’re all working even harder to eat the right foods ~ I just didn’t want to read any more about it!)

 

I didn’t want to be the 40-year-old wife of a 45-year-old husband who’d had a heart attack.

mudroom3

There. I said it.

 

I wanted to stay a regular mom with a regular life and regular kids and a regular-not-so-much-struggling life.

 

I’m betting you get that.

 

And honestly? (if I’m being real-real-deeply honest here?)

 

Ever since moving two years ago I’ve just kind of been in a funk. (Y’all who know me best know that’s the case ~ I can hide it on the outside but here in my heart it’s tough to hide.)

 

So I just let the piles keep climbing.

 

I let the shoes take over the floor.

 

I shoved the paperwork on top of the cabinets. And hid some inside the closet. (eek.) And just decided if it was all stuffed somewhere I didn’t really have to deal with any of it.

 

I just didn’t want any of this turn of events. 

 

I didn’t want my life to look different.

 

I just didn’t want to deal with the mess of it.

 

In my heart or on my countertops. 

 

whew.

 

So when I came home with all my cute stuff from Home Goods and Michael’s Wednesday night and realized it wasn’t any “fluffing” that needed to happen, but rather just a good case of me being real about life, I determined to get it together.

mudroom4

I de-gunked.

img_5309

I sorted through the paper work.

img_5299

I made files named “James’s heart stuff.”

 

I saved files about medications I really care nothing to know about.

mudroom2

I pulled up my big-girl-panties and decided to deal with what the last six weeks have doled out.

 

ooch.

 

Do you know what?

 

It feels better.

img_5343

The space is cleaned out. I’m still the same regular mom that I was a month ago. We still have the regular life that we had months ago. My husband didn’t really age a million years like I feel he has.

 

We’re just us.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.16.43 AM

And we’re going to be okay.

img_5298

You may have so. many. struggles. so so much bigger than mine.

 

You may be dealing with a debilitating illnesses, the long-term sicknesses of a child, or the loss of something or even someone so very precious and dear to you.

 

And like me, you may think that if you just shove the clutter all away none of this stuff will really be real.

 

But, precious one, you and I know it doesn’t work that way.

mudroom1

If you’re drowning in stuff because you don’t want to deal with the real issues, I encourage you to pull up those big girl panties with me and  just de. mess.

 

De-clutter.

 

De-gunk.

 

De. funk.

mudroom5

You will feel better.

 

You will find order.

 

You will be no less precious than you were before the mess.

 

Because even when life doesn’t hand us what we choose, we still get to choose what we make of it.

mudroom6

Make your life beautiful today.

 

If that means you need a de-cluttering and a de-gunking and a de-funking, come along with me and find beauty right where you’re at.

 

If you’re in a hospital room holding the hand of a loved one, tidy things up a bit and make that that space for them just feel beautiful. But most importantly hold on tightly and let them know they’re loved.

 

If you’re home in the summertime and your kids have taken over your home (ahem), take a break from the crazy and head outside to pick some fresh greenery, then come on in and sweep up the floor.

 

If you’re at work and the clutter on your desk is overwhelming you, clean off that space, put up a favorite quote and stay motivated in your work today.

 

And if you’re the sweet momma of a tiny one who hasn’t allowed you to have a shower in too many days to count, find a safe spot for that baby for twenty minutes, hop in the shower and make yourself feel beautiful today.

 

You can find beauty wherever you are. I just know you can. 

 

I’m thinking of you folks right now who walk beside me or even through something so much harder, and am praying a beautiful day for you no matter what life hands you today.

 

Make today a beautiful day. 

 

 

 

 

Print Friendly and PDF

101 Free Things To Do With Kids This Summer

free things to do with kids

free things to do with kids

Looking for a few FREE things to do with kids this summer? My kids are already getting a wee bit bored, so finding free things to keep us busy is always a welcome diversion. Here’s a peek at a few free things to do with kids to keep your kids busy too this summer . . .

20130612-180818.jpg

  1. Make a summer bucket list
  2. Visit the library
  3. Make homemade sidewalk chalk using what’s in your pantry
  4. Freeze Koolaid in ice trays to make popsicles
  5. Attend Vacation Bible School in your hometown
  6. Find a bowling alley that offers kids to bowl for free
  7. Create a yarn obstacle course (my kids love this one!)
  8. Make Homemade Snow Cones
  9. Bake cookies
  10. Play flashlight tag
  11. Find a local bike trail
  12. Try this Ivory Bar Soap experiment
  13. Make a homemade sprinkler
  14. Volunteer
  15. Sign up for a Lego Store free Mini Build 
  16. Set up a backyard obstacle course
  17. Visit a local splash pad
  18. Build a homemade fire pit
  19. Go on a picnic
  20. Make summer snow
  21. Visit a thrift store
  22. “Paint” the driveway
  23. Have a tea party
  24. Make homemade sidewalk chalk paint
  25. Host a lemonade stand
  26. Sign up for free Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics
  27. Check out free Home Depot Clinics
  28. Go to a free Michael’s Store Clinic (these range from free to $2 per class – go HERE to learn more)
  29. Take advantage of free summer reading programs
  30. Visit a state capital
  31. Visit a park
  32. Lay out a blanket and watch for cloud shapes on a pretty day
  33. Go on a nature hunt
  34. Make a sidewalk “city” out of sidewalk chalk
  35. Collect sea shells at the beach
  36. Play jump rope (my kids love this chinese jump rope)
  37. Have a water balloon fight
  38. Paint rocks
  39. Set up a car wash
  40. Have a pillow fight
  41. Have a movie day – close all the curtains and make popcorn
  42. Go to a concert in the park
  43. Build a homemade volcano
  44. Play hide and seek
  45. Set up indoor tents with old sheets
  46. Even better, set up outdoor tents with old sheets and enjoy summer reading time outside
  47. Plant a garden
  48. Decorate a cake
  49. Make homemade milkshakes
  50. Visit a local Farmer’s Market
  51. Go window shopping in a nearby town
  52. Download the skyview app to find stars in the sky at night
  53. Catch fireflies
  54. Go fishing
  55. Learn a new card game
  56. Clean out a closet with kids and donate to local thrift store
  57. Find a 4 leaf clover
  58. Get a free map at a rest area and check off places you’d like to visit nearby
  59. Use the Video Star app to make a silly movie
  60. Have a bike race with friends
  61. Go geocaching
  62. Play hopscotch
  63. Bake cookies to take to your local fire station
  64. Bake cookies to take to your local nursing home
  65. Build ice castles
  66. Visit a stream and hunt for minnows
  67. Set up a bike wash station
  68. Dig for worms
  69. Play dress up
  70. Have your kids set up a yard sale to earn money
  71. Find a new hiking trail
  72. Host a “craft” day – give kids tons of supplies to craft with and let them have at it
  73. Visit all of the local parks in your town
  74. Make a pinecone bird feeder
  75. Play board games outside
  76. Go birdwatching in a local park
  77. Make homemade play doh
  78. Make a bubble bath outside by filling an outdoor pool with bubble bath and water
  79. Fly a kite
  80. Attend a free story hour at Pottery Barn Kids
  81. Earn a free book from Barnes & Noble
  82. Sign up for Apple Camp at your local Apple store
  83. Print free coloring sheets at Crayola
  84. Make paper airplanes
  85. Create a scrapbook
  86. Send a letter to troops overseas
  87. Pack a care package for troops overseas
  88. Use a free Redbox code to get a free DVD or video rental
  89. Go on a factory tour – go HERE to find ones in your area
  90. Visit the mall and play at the indoor playground
  91. Have a spa night and paint your nails
  92. Stop by the McDonald’s Playplace and get $1 ice cream cones
  93. Make shadow puppets
  94. Have a family soccer game in your back yard
  95. Let your kids play in the mud (eek!)
  96. Have your kids practice their reading skills at Starfall
  97. Let kids practice math skills at CoolMath4Kids
  98. Take advantage of free apps at Smart Apps for Kids
  99. Let your kids enjoy a free Auntie Anne’s Pretzel 
  100. Get free Dippin’ Dots when you sign up for their email club
  101. Stop by Coldstone and enjoy a free ice cream creation when you purchase one

What other free things do you like to do with your kids? I’d love to hear them ~ leave a comment to share!

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Best Baby Shower Gift Ever

bestbabyshowergift6

I could not wait to share this darling gift my cute niece received this weekend at her baby shower! One very (very) smart momma gave her what I think just might be the best baby shower gift ever.

bestbabyshowergift

She found a super cute heavy duty file folder . . . 

bestbabyshowergift2

And made darling labels for everything Baby Cash’s mom (isn’t that a cute name?) will need to hang onto those first few years.

bestbabyshowergift3

Genius.

bestbabyshowergift4

Here are the labels she included (made with a label maker): 

  • Birth Certificates & Social Security
  • Keepsakes
  • Milestones
  • Pediatrician Visits
  • Immunization Records
  • Other Health Records
  • Insurance Paperwork
  • Nursing/Feeding Info
  • Manuals
  • Receipts
  • Miscellaneous

bestbabyshowergift5

I just loved this and thought you might too ~ such a wonderful gift idea!

babyshoweronabudget

Looking for more frugal Baby Shower Ideas?

 

Print Friendly and PDF

7 Ways A Fitbit Will Change Your Life

7 ways a Fitbit (1)

(Note: these work for me because I work from home, but if you’re in an office all day I’m sure your days look very different than mine! So, think about ways you can force yourself to walk a few minutes each hour while doing office projects, cleaning off your desk, walking to take care of an errand during lunch, etc. I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

 

In response to Shannon’s 7 reasons she broke up with her fitness tracker, I had to share my thoughts on this one too. Like Shannon I’ve had many (many!) days where I’ve let those numbers on my Fitbit drive me nuts, but I’ve slowly come up with a moderated way to let it help me be my best without driving me crazy.

 

While I exercise almost every day (and have for twenty years), as a blogger I sit a lot throughout the day. Once I finish my workout in the morning and get the kids off to school, I usually head to my office and sit down to work 6-8 hours straight without leaving the computer.

 

However, using my Fitbit to remind myself to get moving has seriously changed our home life. Here’s the thing ~ while many of us work on computers every day in our current culture, our bodies just weren’t designed for that. We were designed to be up and moving, so my Fitbit is just a friendly reminder to get that moving in. 

fitbit

Curious how it’s changed my life (and honestly our home life too?) Here’s how:

 

1. I complete our laundry. (Every. day.)

Ever hour on the hour between 10 and 3, I force myself to get up and tackle a household chore that helps me sneak in 1,000 steps. The first one I start with each morning is a load of laundry, so my typical routine is to pop a load in the washer as soon as I get showered in the morning, move it to the dryer as soon as I hear it beep, then on my first hourly 1,000 steps I head upstairs, fold laundry and put it all away. 1,000 steps completed (and my laundry is done by keeping up with one load a day!)

2. My house stays tidied up.

During my second 1,000 step round (usually at 11 AM), I walk through the house and pick up anything that needs to be put away. If it needs to go to the basement I take it there, because I’ve got to get those extra steps in and it needs to be put away anyways.

3. Dinner plans get made.

Around 12 o’clock I figure out what’s for dinner, hop off the computer, and get everything I need ready for dinner that night. Today I’m making a slow cooker recipe, so by the time I got my ingredients together, chopped everything up, popped it in Mrs. Potts and cleared the kitchen, I’d almost hit another 1,000 steps. Not only am I getting my steps in, I’m taking care of something I could so easily skip ~ such a win each day!

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 1.34.34 PM

when I got 40,000 steps in on my birthday ~ ummm, yes, I was a little obsessed!

4. My plants stay watered & our sinks stay clean.

I am the worst about keeping our plants watered, but every day around 1 o’clock I take a few minutes to get those plants watered. While I’m at it I use Lysol Wipes to wipe down all the sinks in our home, easily eeking out another 1,000 steps.

 

5. The trash goes out & the mail comes in.

As you can imagine around 2 o’clock I’m ready not to hop off the computer with kids coming home all too soon, but I force myself to hop up, walk around to all the trash cans in our home and get all the trash thrown away. While I’m up I force myself to get up to another 1,000 steps  so I grab the mail, and look for anything else that needs to be done while I’m walking around. It’s amazing how much easier it is to keep your home tidy when you force yourself to move each day!

 

 

6. I’m always glad to park far away at the grocery store (as long as the weather’s not bad!)

Stuck with a parking spot way far away from the grocery store? No problem! I easily add an extra 1,000 steps at the store, and those far away spots just help get in a few more steps.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.44.30 PM

my personal post on FB last weekend ~ we’ve always tried to walk when we have a few minutes at night, but I loved that someone actually stopped us as we went when holding hands last week!

7. Any chance I get for a walk with my husband in the evenings I take.

We have so many crazy nights hauling kids around to activities, but my husband and I try to take advantage of quick walks whenever we can. He has no idea I’m using them to sneak in those extra steps, but it’s a win-win for both of us.

 

{*BONUS* I’m also way more willing to help my husband with yard work because it helps me add in a few extra steps ~ such a simple way to make ourselves go and do the things we need to do each day!}

 

I no longer sync my Fitbit and do challenges with other people (I realized that made me way too obsessed!) and have never worn my Fitbit as a sleep tracker . . .  I honestly just use it to make sure I’m up and moving throughout the day, because I know my life can be so sedentary. While I’m incredibly fortunate to work at home, even in an office all day consider spending some time just making yourself walk to run an errand, taking a break from your computer every hour for a quick walk around the office, or do something to keep you moving each day.

 

For me, while I have definitely had days where I’ve allowed myself to be consumed with my steps, just using it to keep myself up more often throughout the day has not only helped my health, it’s helped me balance in my life. Having our home kept up with each day is huge and the health factor is just a fun added benefit! I really do believe our bodies were designed to move so much more than they do, so this is such a great way for me to cross a few things off my to-do list each day, and take care of myself too.

 

This is the Fitbit I use if you’re interested ~ I love it and have had it for over a year ~ highly recommend this one if you’re looking for one! I’d love to hear if you’ve seen success from using a Fitbit too ~ leave a comment to share. 

 

fitbit lowest price

Right now eBay has a sale on the Fitbit HR ~ just $99.99 shipped (which is the best price I’ve seen since Black Friday!) 

 

21dayfix2

In case you’re interested, we’re starting a new 21 Day Fix Challenge group next Monday (May 16th). We have over 100 ladies in the group (several have lost 20-30 pounds+!), and would love to have you ~ go HERE to sign up if you’d like to join us! (Note: this will likely be my last round to start until the fall, so I’d love for you to join us if you’re interested.)

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy to learn more.

Print Friendly and PDF

How I Save $100 On Groceries (Every Week!) In 30 Minutes Or Less

How I Save$100 On Groceries (1)

Save on Groceries

I know that saving on groceries sometimes seems impossible.

 

And like it’s more work than it’s worth.

 

But I promise, you can easily save with a few simple strategies, and could literally slash  your grocery bill by $100 or more. It can take as little as 30 minutes each week to prepare for, but saving $100 in 30 minutes make your hourly rate $200 per hour.

 

Not too shabby, right? 🙂 

 

Here are the strategies I use every single week to save on my groceries, even when I’m short on time. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 6.25.30 PM

1. Make a menu plan and grocery list. (15 minutes)

I love Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan and grocery list, and she even has a slow cooker option and whole foods choices available. You can also make your own menu plan, but doing this one step alone will save you as much as $50 each week ~ so worth it for the 15 minutes in time it takes! (Her plans start at just $1.15 per week or make your own for free. So worth the little bit of time investment it takes!)

 

2. Shop Your Pantry. (3 minutes)

Before heading to the store, shop your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you already have at home and cross those items off your list. (Easy, right?)

pppstockup1

3. Check your store’s sales ad for loss leaders. (3 minutes)

Prior to heading to the grocery store, always take a peek at your store’s local ad to see what their “loss leaders” are. Loss leaders are deeply discounted sale items that the store offers to convince you to walk in the store (so they’ll take a “loss” on that item.) Have your stock up price list in hand, so you’re guaranteed that the big sale item your store is telling you about really is a big sale.

Curious what’s on sale at your local stores? Go HERE to see a complete list of stores sales ads AND coupons that match up with the weekly sales ad at your favorite store.

 

pppcoupons4

4. Print high value coupons before you leave home. (3 minutes)

Take just 3 minutes to check out this week’s best printable coupons and see if any are on items you regularly buy anyways. Print them out right before you go, and make sure to check your store for digital coupons as well before you shop.

grocery4

4. When  you shop, don’t be brand specific. (3 minutes)

If you need a certain item for a meal this week, buy whichever brand is on sale at the best price per ounce. For example,  ifDel Monte tomatoes are “on sale” for $1.25 this week, but the store brand is 73¢, go with the store brand.  From what I can tell, tomatoes are tomatoes (at least when you’re choosing between Kroger and Del Monte), and there’s no way my family will have any idea whether I use the Del Monte or Kroger brand in our recipes this week.

 

Now, there are some items which a certain brand really does seem better, but if you can give yourself a little freedom to try out the less expensive item, you might save quite a few pennies each week just for going with the sale item! And, if you really do love your Charmin or Quilted Northern (toilet paper seems to be one of those areas where people love their brands?)  watch Amazon or the drug stores for a really good deal.

Save $100 on your grocery budget

5. Watch for easy coupon & savings deals at your regular grocery store and double check your list. (3 minutes)

Always watch for items on sale throughout the store, especially if your store offers digital coupons. While you’re shopping, keep your eyes peeled for items that are deeply discounted, and load digital coupons that match up with those sales if your store offers digital savings.

Recently I noticed orange juice was on sale for $1.49 at our store, so even though we had some in the fridge I grabbed it because I knew that was a great price. And I always watch for deep discounts on things like shampoo, toothpaste, and personal care items, because some weeks those items are deeply discounted. It takes just a few extra minutes to walk down those aisles, but can save a bundle when I take the time to do it!

And, while you’re at it, always, always, ALWAYS double check your list one last time before you leave the store. While you may not want to walk back for one more thing, it will save you the time of making an extra trip, and is so worth it. There’s nothing worse than getting home and realizing you’re missing that one extra ingredient, so be sure to double check that list before you check out!

 

 

freshthyme

BONUS TIP: If time allows, shop 2 stores.

Folks, this is huge and I know may not work for everyone, but is well worth it for our family. I typically shop Kroger each week for major sales and loss leaders, but also make a trip to Fresh Thyme (or a similar store) for meat and produce at least every other week, saving our family a bundle.

 

If you have an Aldi, Fresh Thyme, Sprouts, or even possibly Trader Joe’s in your area, I highly recommend a trip once a week (or at least every two weeks), to stock up on meat and produce. 

 

Their sale prices are significantly lower than anything I’ve seen at local grocery stores (unless your grocery store has a rockstar sale), and it’s pretty easy to get in and out in a few minutes. I don’t shop anything else at those stores at all (really, only produce and meat), but it saves a bundle and is well worth the extra trip at least every other week for our family!

 

Do you have other tips on how to save on groceries even when you’re pinched for time? I’d love to hear your tips ~ leave a comment to share!

How I Save$100 On Groceries (2)

Looking for more ways to save on groceries?

aldisamscostco

Print Friendly and PDF

That Time My Husband Had A Heart Attack.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 12.57.53 PM

Get ready for a long post. If you’re here just for the deals (I TOTALLY, really do get that), scroll waaayyyyy on down.  UPDATE ~ I tried responding to all your sweet comments tonight and realized I was just exhausted and you all would understand. THANK YOU MORE THAN YOU’LL KNOW for taking the time to be such blessings to me – I am so so thankful for you!

 

13 days ago my husband had a heart attack. 

 

My 45-year-old-mostly-healthy husband had a heart attack. (For the record I’m 40 ~ no reason for you to think I’m quite 45 yet, right?) 🙂

 

My heart still hurts.

 

He’d had some chest pain about six months ago and had done a stress test to make sure everything was okay. The stress test came back negative, and we assumed everything was fine and went on about our lives.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 12.56.54 PM

Our bunch just 4 weeks ago, on our way to ski for a week in CanadaWhile he’s always been a little overweight, James has stayed the same weight since we were married twenty years ago, and is as strong as an ox. He plays sports hard with our kids, and is in general a pretty healthy guy. He doesn’t smoke or drink, but did have slightly elevated cholesterol and some family history of heart issues at an early age.

On Wednesday almost two weeks ago, he started having pain in his arm while driving all over Ohio for work. He called home around 3 and said he really wasn’t feeling well, then finally made it in at 5 that night.

 

Because I’m a horrible (read – awful, terrible, pitiful) not-ever-meant-to-be-a-nurse-wife, I told him I didn’t know what he should do, but if his chest hurt he should go to the ER. (Honestly, I wasn’t all that compassionate about it ~ we had 3 kids going 3 directions and I had no time for this craziness. Like I said, I’m an awful, terrible, pitiful wife!)

 

A few minutes later though I looked at him the way I should have looked at him the minute he came home, and realized he looked awful. He headed to the ER, and I headed out for evening carpool duty.

 

An hour later he called and told me that while his EKG was fine, his blood work came back with some issues and they were transporting him to a nearby hospital for testing the next morning. Remember we’d just moved here two years ago, so while we definitely have a few people we could call on in a pinch, our kids weren’t all that comfortable with folks they didn’t know so well (my oldest is 16).  I left the kids at home around 7:30 PM and headed to the ER to see what was next.

 

I don’t know anything medically, but by the time I got there the second EKG had changed, and the ER doctor seemed pretty concerned. He let us know that a cardiologist would meet us immediately at the hospital, and when the ambulance came to transport James (they said he wasn’t stable enough for me to drive him even though he looked pretty good), I ran home to get a few things and then planned to meet him in the hospital.

 

It didn’t happen like that. 

 

I arrived at the larger hospital’s Emergency Room and was immediately taken past dozens of people in the waiting room to a small waiting room with a night chaplain. She wasn’t allowed to tell me anything, just sat with me as I waited. (I couldn’t figure what on earth had happened ~ just a few minutes ago we’d been laughing together in the original ER?)

 

About 20 minutes went by, and the cardiologist came out to tell me that my husband (yes, the 45 year old seemingly healthy one), had a mild heart attack. He had 100% blockage in one artery (thankfully only 20-30% blockage in other arteries), and they’d put in a stent to fix the blockage. He was doing well, but his life would change.

 

He wasn’t kidding.

 

Thankfully, because he was basically healthy his heart had used “collateral arteries” to repair the problem as much as they could on their own (which masked the heart issues in his initial stress test.) We found out a few days later that despite everything he had absolutely no heart muscle damage, and I’m guessing it’s partly due to those collateral arteries taking on the extra load.

 

(Isn’t it crazy that God makes your body to DO things like that?) 

 

I was allowed to see James who honestly looked great considering everything he’d gone through. I think we were both just in shock ~ and totally unaware of what this meant for our life. (Two weeks later, we’re still pretty unaware.)

 

Around 1:30 in the morning I left him in the ICU to come be with our kids and try to sleep, and his sister (she’s a doctor and was completely a lifesaver through this!) headed up to be with us just to get us through the first through days. (His other sister also came up for the weekend ~ I can’t even begin to tell you what a gift they were to me those first few days!)

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 12.56.25 PM

Us out on a short hike last week while playing hooky 🙂 

So here I sit, almost two weeks later, still just in a small state of shock over all this. James wasn’t allowed to work last week, so we kind of played hooky all week. We visited every plant nursery in a 30 mile radius, ate meals at fancy restaurants (he’s supposed to eat salmon and I haven’t yet learned to cook it), and even went to see a movie at 10 o-clock in the morning just because we could. (We were the only people there besides an older couple in their 70’s. I’ve never ever seen a movie at 10 o’clock in the morning!)

 

You know what though? I’m still kind of terrified.

 

I’m afraid of how I’d do life without him.

 

I’m afraid of what we would do if our finances really changed because of an illness. (We are so so blessed financially thanks to years of penny pinching, but fear of the unknown still scares the crud of me.)

 

I’m afraid of my kids not having grandparents for *their* kids. (Y’all, I am seriously jumping the gun on this worry thing. I know. I’m nuts.) 

 

I’m afraid of what my life would look like if he wasn’t right here next to me.

 

He’s always been my one. 

 

I don’t know that I believe that people have just one person out there made just for them, but, for me, he’s been my one.

 

He’s the one I just feel safe and cozy with. The one who likes me even though I’m a mess. And more than anything he’s the one who completely cheers me on each and every day. 

 

The thought of something happening to him terrifies me beyond what I can even express. 

 

And honestly, the thought that’s filling my head right now is that something could happen to him, and in just a few short years my cute kids will be gone. And this awful crushing fear of just being without them kind of terrifies me.

 

But as I was muddling through all that in my head today, I remembered that long before I was James’s wife, I was chosen by Him.

 

And way before I ever dreamed of being Jackson & Caroline & Reagan’s momma . . . I was His child.

 

And I was reminded that the same God who has held me through so many difficult things along the way, loves me enough to hold me through this not-so-easy time too. 

 

Whatever may come.

 

Whatever it takes.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, right now things look good for my sweet husband. (Thank. heavens.) He’s doing an amazing job working to change his diet, is on a mountain of medication to keep this from happening again, and is already heading to physical therapy. His prognosis really is good (in fact, his heart is working perfectly), but my fear still is there.

 

But just this experience has rocked my not-as-firm-as-I-want-it-to-be foundation, so I needed to be reminded that ultimately the One who loved me first holds me no matter what comes my way.

 

 

I have no idea what mountain is in your world right now. I don’t know if your world has maybe been shattered by something so crazy-ridiculous-you-feel-like-you-can’t-even-breathe too.

 

But I do know that the same God who’s holding me? He’s holding you right next to me too.

 

He loves each of us, and desires peace for us, no matter what comes our way.

 

Know that I’m praying for you today. And I’d so love your prayers too as our hearts adjust to this new season too. God’s plan is bigger and better than ours ever is, and I’m so crazy-ridiculously-overwhelmingly thankful for peace that comes when we choose to find rest in Him today.

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

(On a quick side note ~ thank goodness I have some amazing workers here on PPP who totally have kept things up and running while I’ve been way more frazzled than normal. I don’t *think* any of this should have any long term impact on PPP except that I need to spend a little more time preparing meals and a little more focused on my family (I so appreciate you  understanding!) Right now we’re trying out the Mediterranean diet, so those are the recipes I imagine you’ll see here for a bit while we figure things out. Thanks so much for your kindness and support ~ so so thankful for you.)

Print Friendly and PDF

Orange Bird Feeder

ppporangebirdfeeder8

 

Looking for a fun and frugal project to make with your kids this weekend? I love this!

 

ppporangebirdfeeder

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large oranges
  • Bird seed
  • Skinny ribbon
  • Sharpened pencil
  • Scissors
  • Spoon

ppporangebirdfeeder6

 

Directions
1. Cut your orange in half

 

ppporangebirdfeeder2
2. Scoop out (and eat) the inside of the orange

 

ppporangebirdfeeder3
3. Poke four holes opposite each other, towards the top of the orange like so

ppporangebirdfeeder4

 
4. Cut two 8″ pieces of ribbon, tie one end in one hole and the other in the opposite hole
5. Repeat step 4 with your other ribbon

 

ppporangebirdfeeder5
6. Fill your orange up with bird seed
7. Now cut a 5″ piece of ribbon and use to tie the top of the ribbons together, then onto a tree branch

ppporangebirdfeeder7

Looking for more spring projects?  Here you go . . .

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

Interact with 480,000+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!

 

 

 

 

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Ikea Shopping Secrets: 15 Secrets You Need To Know Before Shopping IKEA

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 1.13.59 PM

 

You know love IKEA.

 

Like, L.O.V.E. IKEA.

 

So much so that I brought home an entire bedroom worth of furniture for my daughter’s room home in my minivan not too long ago. 🙂

 

(Um, while we loved the furniture we did sell it not too long ago in a local buy-sell group because that bed was nearly impossible to make. But, I got back almost everything I spent!)

ikeacollage9

So, whenever the opportunity arises, I race into IKEA to hunt down a few tips to share with you. (Check these out here too.) 

 

(My poor family ~ we were in the middle of Seattle, Washington on Spring Break when I saw an IKEA sign and I totally had to make them pull off the road to see what was there. Thankfully, they love their ice cream and it was kids eat free day, so we all survived.) 

 

Did you know there really are extra ways to save at IKEA though beyond their fantastic prices? Here are a few things you need to know before your next IKEA shopping trip . . .

 

 

ikea9

1. Join IKEA family ~ it’s free. 🙂

Just by joining the Ikea Family (totally free to join ~ I love that!), you get a ton of great benefits. Here’s what to expect:

  • free coffee or hot tea at the IKEA restaurant
  • an extra 30 minutes of time in “Smaland” for your child
  • 90 day price protection guarantee – if something goes on sale after you bought it you have 90 days to get that price when you bring in your receipt
  • chance to win a $100 IKEA gift card
  • special “bonus” IKEA family pricing offers only available to IKEA members

 

Go HERE to sign up.

 

ikeacollage5

 

 

2. Start at the finish line. 

If you’ve ever been to an IKEA before, you know that going in the front doors you’ll be led down hours of hallways throughout IKEA’s massive store.

ikeacollage1

However, if you go in through IKEA’s exit, you’ll go right in to their most deeply discounted “as-is” sales. Watch for a ton of savings in this area, including couches marked down as much as 75% off. For example, the couch above with the stains on it was $700 regularly, marked down to $175. It looks to me like a sofa that was made to be slipcovered, so that’s a crazy good price if you can stand the stain!

ikea13

In this area you’ll also find dressers, knick knacks, rugs and more ~ the store we visited even had a chair marked down to $6.50. If you don’t mind doing a little work, you can save a bundle in this area!

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 1.14.26 PM

3. Take advantage of free childcare.

If you have young children, take advantage of IKEA’s free Smaland childcare available as you enter the main entrance of the store. IKEA offers free childcare for an hour and don’t forget that by joining IKEA Family you’ll get an additional 30 minutes of childcare.

 

Kids must be between 4-10 years old and potty trained, and availability is limited based on the number of kids playing (meaning weekends and holidays are busy.) Go HERE to learn more.

ikea12

4. Watch for weekly specials.

Each week, IKEA offers weekly “specials” throughout the store. These are crazy good deals that won’t last, so keep your eye out for them!

 

For example, the lovely pink sofa 🙂 above was on sale for just $179 (regularly $399) the week that we shopped. If you happen to be decorating a room for a girl (and have some space) that would make for some serious savings!

 

If your curious what the special offers are in your area, here’s how to start:

  • Go HERE
  • Change your store’s location to the one you’re visiting
  • Click on “IKEA Seattle (or whichever store you’re visiting) Special Offers”
  • Watch the list to see their special deals for the month.

 

Note: the information on the “special offers” tab varies a LOT by location. I noticed the West Chester, Ohio store shares their “last chance” deals, as well as new items in the store. The Long Island, New York special offers page showed only a few deals but offered discounted tickets to the New York Aquarium, Centra Park and Bronx Zoos. Be sure to do your research on the store your visiting’s website before heading out

 

ikeacollage4

5. Don’t miss IKEA’s last chance deals.

In addition to IKEA’s weekly specials, they offer “last chance deals.” These will vary some by store, but you can snag some incredible savings with these! I was absolutely obsessed with the star lamp above but my hubby said we absolutely didn’t have room for it on the airplane ~ I’m still a little sad about missing that one . . .

ikea11

I tried to find a way for you to check out last chance deals online, and this *may* help (I’d love your feedback on this?) I noticed that the IKEA Portland website is lists their last chance deals online, so check these out and *possibly* they’ll match up with your local store.

 

(If anyone happens to be near an IKEA and wants to do some deal checking, I’d love to hear if the Portland’s Last Chance deals match up ~ I know a few of these items were on sale when I checked them this week in Seattle ~ knowing those ahead of time would be fantastic!) 

 

ikeacollage3

6. Watch for Member Only offers. 

Since you’re already signed up for IKEA Family (refer to secret #1) be sure to watch for IKEA member only offers throughout the store. Our store had the table and chairs shown in the above left picture for $149 (regularly $179), so keep your eyes peeled for extra savings.

ikeacollage2

7. Watch for specials on fabric remnants.

If you sew (or are just a wee bit crafty), watch for discounted prices at IKEA on their fabric remnants. Their regular prices on fabric are pretty reasonable as well, so be sure to check out the fabric section while you’re there.

 

ikeacollage6

8. Don’t miss price drops on all things random at IKEA.

While shopping IKEA you never know what item will be dropped ridiculously low. For example we noticed soccer balls for $4.99 as a price drop, which was such a weird deal to notice in the middle of everything else at IKEA!

 

Also be sure to look for fleece throws, pillows and even wrapping paper when you’re there. Their fleece throws are almost always under $5 (they were $2.29 at our store), and are perfect to grab for yourself, as well as one to donate to your local homeless shelter in the winter.

 

ikea14

 

9. Buy kids playroom furniture at IKEA.

The prices on kids playroom furniture (think easels, small tables and chairs, etc.) are incredible.

 

(That easel above? Just $14.99, compared to $40+ on Amazon.)

 

If you have small children or even homeschool, there is no other place to get everything you need at crazy good prices, so be sure to watch for those while you’re there. (Especially since kids tend to abuse these pretty quickly, there’s no reason to pay more!)

 

ikea10

 

10. If you’re shopping with kids, go on Tuesdays.

Kids eat free on Tuesdays at Ikea. And, some stores offer special promotions as well (for example, this week Seattle’s IKEA had kids eat free all week), so be sure to check the special offers area at your store for any additional savings in the IKEA restaurant before you shop.

 

11. Get free baby food every day of the week. 

With any purchase at IKEA, you’ll get FREE baby food in the IKEA restaurant with any purchase. They also have high chairs to use while you’re there.

ikeacollage8

12. Get $25 off your $250 purchase if you’re moving.

Especially if you’re a student starting college (or have just moved), this is a great way to save. Go HERE to sign up.

 

 

img_2346

13. Don’t miss the 50¢ hot dogs.

img_2350

Pick up 50¢ hot dogs and $1 ice cream cones at Ikea, and you may want to grab a 6 pack of cinnamon rolls for the road priced at just $4.

 

ikeacollage7

14. Be on the lookout for incredible prices in the bathroom and curtain sections at IKEA.

While I love the entire store, I always notice the very best prices on curtains and just about everything you need for the bathroom at IKEA. (99¢ toilet brushes? You can’t beat that!)

ikeacollage12

Curtain panels are as low as $4.99 when on sale, and a great way to quickly save while you’re there.

ikeacollage11

15. Check out the IKEA catalog before you shop.

Go HERE to view the IKEA catalog before you shop, and sign up for email updates which may include local savings as well. 

 

ikea3

Be sure to check out my top 22 items to watch for when shopping IKEA, and leave a comment if you’ve found other ways to save when you shop. I love hearing from you! 

michaels

Looking for other ways to save at your favorite stores this spring?

Print Friendly and PDF

What Kind Of Saver Are You?

pppgrocerysaver1

I’ve been thinking lately that there are three different types of savers and spenders out there.  Here are the types I’ve seen . . .

groceryweek3_4

1.  Folks who save 70-90% on their grocery bill by using coupons at the grocery store. 

I would include my buddy Shannon in this group, and while I’ve been that girl before (and kind of miss her many days!), I wouldn’t put myself in that category right now. These are the people that never (ever) buy anything without a coupon or serious sale, spend a few hours each week reading frugal blogs, clipping coupons and organizing their grocery trips, and menu plan well so that they can use what’s in their pantry to maximize their savings. 

 

how to really change (1)

2.  People who are a little more subtle about their savings and save probably 50-70% on their grocery bill. 

 

This is where I’m at right now, and where I’ve been for the last few years. People like me always (always) shop the sales ad, look over their store coupon matchups before shopping (sometimes using their mobile phone), and primarily print coupons from their computer without stressing over a coupon binder. Savings for them won’t be over 90%, but they do save quite a bit without too much effort. (And, if you’re one of those folks like me, you probably order many of your household products on sale at Amazon ~ have I mentioned grace lately? This is the grace I’m giving myself right now.) 😉

 

groceryguidenumber

 

3.  Others who really don’t pay attention to how much they save. 

These people go to the store because their pantry is empty, grab what they need (without considering the cost), and might feel pretty discouraged when they get home. (I tried just shopping this way at Walmart at the end of last year hoping to make life a little easier, but I was sick when I got home each week and realized how much money I was throwing away each time I shopped ~ I just can’t do that!)

 

So, what kind of saver are you, and how do you want your budget to look in 2014? As I’ve shared before (over and over!), there is no other area in your family’s budget that you have so much control over as you do grocery shopping, so this is a fantastic place to start.  I encourage you to decide TODAY how much you want to spend on groceries this month, and can’t wait to see how we do this year together!  Leave a comment to share your goals too.

pppstockup1

And one more thing ~ if you haven’t gotten my free stock up price list I highly recommend checking it out so you can determine what your basic prices should look like before picking up groceries each week. That alone should help you get started!

 

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Trinket Tray

ppptrinkettray9

I love this cute trinket tray, and it would make such a simple Mother’s Day or teacher appreciation gift!

 

ppptrinkettray

 

Here’s what you’ll need to get started: 

  • Terracotta tray – I used the 4″ inch size
  • White paint – I used the acrylic kind sold at craft stores
  • Foam brush
  • Stencil of choice – purchased mine at Hobby Lobby
  • Gold paint pen or gold paint – found at craft stores

 

ppptrinkettray2

 

 

Start by painting your terracotta tray white.

 

ppptrinkettray3

 

 

Be sure to paint the bottom side too to finish the look.

 

 

ppptrinkettray5

 

 

ppptrinkettray6

 

When the paint is completely dry, center your stencil on the tray.

 

ppptrinkettray7

 

 

I used my gold paint pen and went right over the stencil.  (some paint pens bleed so you could trace the stencil with pencil then use your pen to fill in if you prefer)

 

 

ppptrinkettray8

 

 

Remove stencil carefully.

 

 

ppptrinkettray10

 

 

Allow to dry completely and you’re done. So fun!

 

Looking for more spring projects?  Here you go . . .

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

Interact with 470,000+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!

 

Print Friendly and PDF