Snow Days in Alabama

Here’s a peek at what today looks like in Alabama…. We have had snow off and on the past 3 days! We had to play early, it’s supposed to melt soon. Here is a glimpse of our past few days:

This is the biggest Snow Ball Ever according to my six year old! 

And what good is snow without snow cream? Yummy! 

 

25 Days To A More Organized You Day 22: What To Do When You Can’t Keep Up

 

I had great intentions to clean out my bathroom drawers today, then underneath the sinks and of course finish up by tackling my kids bathroom cabinets.

 

Then life happened. ;) My kids were home on a two-hour delay from school, I had a painter and carpet cleaners working on my house, needed to get together a new nacho recipe to share (watch for the post tomorrow), the PPP site decided to quit for about an hour (ugh!) and my kids all have a slew of activities from 2:30-9 tonight.

 

Something had to give, so I thought I’d share this old post as an encouragement to you. My friend Shannon and I shared this thought when talking a few years ago,  and I’m betting a few other folks struggle with it just like we do!  Even if you’re a slightly un-organized mess like we are some days, God has a good plan for you. ;)

 

Do you ever watch another mom who seemingly has it all together and feel simply overwhelmed? Do you look at someone else’s cute clothes, cute shoes, cute kids and (of course) super organized life and think . . . Why can’t I be like that?

 

I know, I do that too.

 
Many days I look at my frazzled, worn-out, over-anxious, slightly-pudgy-self and all I can think is “I AM A MESS!” (And if you know me, you know that’s pretty much the case!) My kids are rowdy, my husband is fantastic (but also loud, boisterous, and slightly prone to holler at drivers that don’t drive correctly . . . ~ahem~), and I’ve managed to miss exactly three appointments in the last two months because I simply don’t seem to have a grasp on all there is to do each day. I’ll never be PTA president (ummmmm . . . which really is just fine by me), I barely keep up with the very few volunteer jobs that I do, and my daughter has convinced me that I’m the only mom in the whole school who doesn’t plan a weekly lunch date with their child.

 
But, you know what? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay that I can’t keep up. My children are fed each day, my laundry is (usually . . .) caught up, no one has been eaten by the dust bunnies in our home (yet), and when my kids have a rough day, all they want to do is come home to hang out with me. (Mess that I am and all . . . isn’t that just nuts?) They don’t care that my clothes aren’t super cute, they don’t even notice that I own shoes (much less whether they’re highly fashionable or not), and they’re each pretty sure that they’re kinda cute themselves.

 

I’m never going to be that girl . . . and I have a sneaky suspicion that even that momma doesn’t feel all that on top of things herself. So instead, I’ve got to work on being the best (unorganized, chaotic, very excitable, and a wee bit nuts) girl that I can be . . . even if that doesn’t look like what I would choose most days in the mirror. Deep down inside, my heart wants to do good, desires to help others, and yearns to be a momma who shares a glimpse of God’s own heart with her children.

 
And my guess is that He’s not all that concerned with how I look on the outside or just how organized I am, but rather He’s taking a peek at the inside of my heart to see the real me (which needs so much more work than the outside even!) So, it’s really okay that I’m a mess (I promise!), because ~ thank goodness~ He’s got work to do on me yet.

 

 

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

 
Photo credit

 

What Do You Need In Your Kitchen?

 

Because I’ve been racing around just cleaning my house today (no time to organize anything!) I thought I’d re-post this and would love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

 

 

Do you really need fourteen mixing bowls in your kitchen. . . or could you survive with just three? Is it necessary to have 13 wooden spoons, or could just a few do the job? This is one of those questions I find myself constantly asking as muddle through my cupboards, and when a PPP reader asked for a list on the first day of our 25 Days to a More Organized You series, I thought it would be fun to throw together.

 

It’s so easy to see another fancy kitchen gadget or cute utensil and think we need it, but eventually those items can take over our kitchen cupboards, and force us to lose all sense of organization. Gadgets can also get pretty pricey, so whenever possible I try to pass them by!  But, there are a few items I’d have a tough time living without, and they help cooking each night in our home become so much more manageable.

 

Here’s a peek at what’s on my must-have kitchen list, but it may look different than yours (especially depending on how frequently you cook, and how many you’re feeding!) I’d love to hear your suggestions also . . . but here’s a start at what I’d be lost without. . .

 

I’d really hate to live without:

 

These are so nice to have, but aren’t necessities:

  • KitchenAid Mixer (really don’t need, but goodness I do love mine!)
  • Food processor or hand chopper
  • 4 cup measuring cup (if you don’t have a 4-cup measuring cup and have room for one, I highly recommend it . . . it really could be on my must-have list because I use it so much!)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Large stockpot
  • Warming Tray (I don’t have this but have always wanted one!) :)
  • Bread Maker
  • Blender
  • Electric Grill

 

Things I can easily live without:

  • Toaster Oven (my husband just told me he wants one ~ eek!)
  • Panini Press
  • Chocolate Fondue Pot (we bought one of these forever ago and absolutely didn’t need it so we donated it a few years ago!)
  • Bagel slicer
  • Cake Pop Maker (these look cute, but there’s no way my cupboards have room for one of those!)
This is far from a complete list, and I’m betting you have other items you’d absolutely love to have or think are way more than you need! So, what are your must have kitchen products?  Leave a comment HERE to share . . . it’s always fun to hear your thoughts, and this is a great time to clear out those cupboards of any items you just aren’t using!

 

 

 

Looking for more ways to get organized? See previous 25 Days to a More Organized You:

 

This post does contain affiliate links which helps support this site.  See my disclosure policy to learn more.

How Cleaning & Organizing Help My Budget

My daughter’s tee-tiny bedroom – see more pictures HERE and read more HERE on how it’s taught me contenment

The last week as I’ve been tackling laundry, tidying our entertainment center, scrubbing the sinks and just generally catching up on my home, I’ve been amazed at how much more content I am with what I have simply by taking care to make my home the very best space it can beAs a girl who’s spent years thinking if only I had . . . “, I’ve been reminded that just taking care of what I already own can make even the tiniest space just enough. 

 

If you’re in a place today where you feel like your home isn’t big enough, your closets will never be large enough, or there’s just no way you can manage without a bit larger kitchen, bathroom, garage (or whatever), I encourage you to choose to do the very best you can to make the space you already have just perfect for you.

 

I promise from experience that our family has lived in a tiny home and one that’s plenty big, and there is always (always!) someone who has something bigger, better, fancier, and way more impressive than what I’ll have in my own home (and I really do love my  home!)  But, taking care to clean, organize, and “fluff” the space that you’re in (no matter the size), can make what you already have just perfect for you.

 

Take pride in what you have right now – whether it be your home, your car, or even something as trivial as the purse you carry, to make it the very best space you can have with the money you can afford. I promise it’s worth it, and choosing not to sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now will change your family’s future.
If you’ve seen this in your own life (or have struggled with contentment too), I’d love for you to leave a comment to share your thoughts!

 

 

Frugal Frozen Fun In Alabama

Thought you all might enjoy a peek of what we have to do for fun around here in Alabama. ;)   While the rest of the South was cozy warm inside watching the big game last night, my thirteen year old hauled buckets of water to the driveway so he’d have his own ice rink to play on this morning. I’m popping dinner in the crockpot right now, and will be back with more penny pinched deals in just a bit!

(our frozen “waterfall” out back – crazy!)


When The Unexpected Really Happens

 long term care insurance do you need it

Four years ago, one of the most unexpected things our family could imagine happened. In September of 2009, my (very healthy) father-in-law contracted West Nile Virus.  Within hours, he turned from a completely energetic seventy-year-old man (riding twenty-two miles on his bike for his seventieth birthday), to someone who no longer had use of his legs, and very limited movement of his chest and back  as well. (See his story here ~ he’s one of my favorite people on the planet and I’m oh-so-thankful for him!)

 

 

 

As you can imagine, our life stopped for awhile. Don spent the next eighteen months in several hospitals and rehab facilities hoping to re-gain strength, however the virus left him paralyzed and unable to care for himself.  I really can’t express in words to you just how difficult it was for us as we watched him, but even more so for he and my mother-in-law.

 

However, years before he became sick, my in-laws purchased a long term care health insurance policy which truly has given them so much more quality of life than they could have dreamed of without it. Thanks to his long term health plan, Don was eventually able to return home. Without the plan his only option would have been to remain in a nursing home, and while he was incredibly fortunate to have wonderful care in those facilities as well, there’s just nothing like being home.

I would love to think that sudden illness never happens, but have seen entirely too closely that sometimes we’re given little control over our own future. My husband and I have been discussing our own need to find long term care insurance, which really is just awful to even talk about. (Am I the only one who would rather pretend it doesn’t exist?) However after seeing firsthand how my in-laws quality of life has been so much better thanks to their policy, I know it’s something we’ll consider at some point.

 

Have you considered purchasing long term care insurance for your own family? According to statistics, 69% of people aged 65 and older will need some type of long term care after age 65 – and not having long term care insurance can cost your family anywhere from $300,000 – $400,000 or more. 

 

Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider program is a great place to start looking for Long Term Care Providers, and they can help you find services in other areas of your finances as well, including investing, real estate, health insurance and tax services.  Find out how you or your parents could benefit from Long Term Care Insurance ~  click here today for free help!

 

This is a sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers, however all opinions are (of course!) my own.

 

 

New To Couponing? Let’s Get Started.

 

In the last week (possibly just since the New Year?) I’ve received at least twenty requests for information on how to really get start couponing.  So, if you’re one of those folks who’s determined to start your saving big in 2014, this is for you. Here are a few tips (and feel free to ask your questions below!)

 

Also, there are certain times of the year when specific items are significantly cheaper to purchase. Here’s the cycle that my friend Shannon and I have figured out are the best times to grab certain items (please leave a comment if you think of other items that go on sale seasonally and I’ll add them!)

  • Baking Supplies, Cooking Soups, Spices, Seasonings – November/December (Holidays)
  • Meat, Condiments – Summertime (Grilling Season)
  • Produce – Summertime (Stockpile things like green peppers and onions to freeze for winter casseroles, soups, etc.; freeze fruit for winter baking – strawberries, blackberries, bananas, etc.)
  • Cream Cheese, Velveeta, Canned Tomatoes, Dried & Canned Beans, Cheese - January, February (Super Bowl and March Madness)
  • Packaged Snacks, School Supplies – August (Back to School)

 

 

Also be sure to join Passionate Penny Pincher on Facebook to keep up with all the penny pinching deals!

 

The Only Time I Kept A New Year’s Resolution (And How You Can Too)

Photo Credit

Folks, this has nothing to do with penny pinching, but might be here just for one of you who’s struggled with weight loss too. If you’re here for just the deals, I promise to be back tomorrow morning with oodles of penny pinched bargains for you!  (Also know that this is just my experience, and I have no medical expertise to share on weight loss ~ this is only what has worked for me.)

 

19 years ago I made a New Years’s Resolution that actually stuck. As I’ve shared a little bit about before, I was tipping the scales at 225 as a junior in college, and for the first time ever (I really have no idea why), something clicked and I decided I was just done with being overweight.

 

This was me as a junior in high school when I was probably around 190 pounds – it was all I could do not to Picmonkey this picture to make me look just a little better but I’m keeping it real here ~ yikes! 

I’d always been heavy – I never knew what it was like to shop in the regular size kids department (at age seven I remember my mom moving me up to junior clothing, and then shortly after that to women’s clothing), and it just was part of who I was. I never went to prom, never wore a fancy dress, never even had a single date as a chubby girl.  And almost twenty years later, every time I look in the mirror I still see that chunky girl staring back at me.

 

 

But somehow I got started, and not so slowly the weight dropped off. By June I had dropped a whopping seventy-five pounds (I know folks ~ it probably came off too fast and I wouldn’t recommend that, but that’s just what happened for me!)  I’ve maintained that drop in weight for almost twenty years now, give or take ten or so pounds.

2011 at the Alabama Governor’s Ball – the only time I’ve every worn a formal dress other than my wedding. ;) I think I was at my absolute thinnest there which is about 8 pounds lighter than where I am right now, so I’m determined to get there in the next few months!  

 

So what did I do? I think I decided that New Year that I was just done with being incredibly overweight.  I was miserable, had lived my life miserably, and decided I wanted a different future. Here’s the nitty gritty of how that actually worked for me:

  • I had a roommate (we’ll call her super-cute-skinny-girl) :) who was kind enough to actually say something when I began to overeat. It wasn’t always fun, but that accountability helped so much and made all the difference for me. (I can remember every time I considered going to the vending machine she would remind me that we had bananas in our dorm room ~ since bananas were the only kind of fruit I would eat I stuck with those even though Swiss Cake Rolls sounded so much better!)
  • It was back in the 90′s when lower fat grams were all the rage, so I limited my fat grams to (I think?) less than 20-25 per day. I forced myself to eat salads, limited my portions drastically, and when we went out to eat I stuck to grilled chicken salads without the dressing ~ not so yummy but it worked! My “treats” were Snackwells cookies ~ I’m not sure they even sell those any more but I had to be careful to limit myself because I could easily eat the entire box.
  • I exercised as much as I possibly could (at least an hour five days a week) ~ which is one of those things that has stuck. Almost twenty years later I still workout 4-5 times per week, and feel awful when I miss my early morning workout.
  • I weighed myself every 2-3 days (and still do.) For me, it helped me monitor my success and kept me accountable to something frequently.  It still helps me to know where I’m at, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was the morning that I crossed under the 200 pound mark (it was the most wonderful feeling!)
  • After dropping the initial weight, I read a book which talked about eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.  I’ve heard different reviews on the book, but prior to reading it I had never once considered that concept, and I really believe it’s what’s allowed me to maintain the weight loss for almost twenty years. Prior to that I just ate because I could find food nearby. Listening to my body to tell me when I actually was hungry has changed the way I view food completely.

 

Me with my kids last week waiting to see Santa a few weeks ago :)  

I would love to tell you that I’m a size four or six and I’ve maintained that every day for the last (almost 20?) years, but that’s not the case. However, at 5’8″ I’m a happy size eight or ten, and even though I’ve still never been a skinny girl, it’s oh-so-much-better than the size 22 I once wore.  I’m seriously considering starting Weight Watchers this year (I did do Weight Watchers after having one of my kiddos to help lose baby weight) so that I can drop down to my “dream weight” which I’ve never been at. (I keep thinking I’m only getting older and would love to know what a size 6 feels like before I die!) ;)

 

If you’ve struggled with your weight, I just want to encourage you that it can be done (really!) and YOU CAN DO IT. It’s not easy (at all), and you may never be the skinny girl, but you can be the skinnier girl, and you might just find peace with that. In so many ways, it’s just like pinching those pennies – we have to deny ourselves what we want right now for what we really want.

 

Most importantly though, know that ultimately (really, truly), your value lies not in how skinny you are, how many times you exercise each week, or how tiny your dress size is. You are absolutely beautiful, incredibly valuable, and so very worthy just the way you are right this very minute (Did you hear me? If not, read that again.) Yes, it does feel oh-so-much-better not to be heavy, but there’s no way to change that without you deciding TODAY and that you want a different future.

 

To help get you started, here are a few free or inexpensive tools which may help ~

  • Weight Watchers – there is nothing that will motivate you like knowing someone is weighing you each week, and the accountability of having other folks with you as you go is just huge. I personally think attending the classes is your very best bet because there’s just something about someone else recording your weight, so I definitely recommend that as my first choice (and may be there this week myself this week!)
  • Lose It App ~ my sister-in-law recently tried this out and has done amazing by following it, and it’s totally free! You just have to make yourself actually do it. ;)
  • My Fitness Pal App
  • If you live in Alabama, try out Scale Back Alabama ~ it’s a free program run by the local hospitals where you join in with three other friends to lose at least ten pounds over the next 12 weeks. I’ve done this several times after Christmas (to lose any weight I gained during the Holidays.) and there’s just something about knowing I have to weigh in for someone else that is incredibly motivating for me.
Your turn nowPlease tell me I’m not the only one who’s struggled with weight loss, and share your tips, thoughts, comments, whatever?  I would love to hear what’s worked for you – any other frugal tips on saving, or where you’re at on your weight loss journey. We can do this!

Merry Christmas

Pretty sure this is my favorite Christmas song (well, maybe right next to this one and this one?)  Planning to watch the movie this afternoon while I make Potato Soup & Honey Bun (Happy Birthday Jesus) Cake. I also love this rendition of the song that Amy Grant does with CeCe Winan ~ beautiful!

 

And, in case you’re looking for more Christmas music, I’ve been loving listening to the Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant Christmas channels on Pandora. (Love listening to my favorites for free!)

 

Merry Christmas. ;)

 

Shannon’s CVS Trip: Huggies Deal

 

Here’s what I grabbed at CVS this week for $16.65 out of pocket! I wanted to donate the diapers to our local pregnancy center, so this was a great way to get a deal on them.

 

Transaction #1 

Bought 3 Huggies Diapers $9.99

Transaction #2 

Bought 3 Chex Mixes $2.00
Bought 1 Conair Hair Brush $9.99

 Here are two deals I saw while shopping! 20131216-152533.jpg Wuggle Pets $4.99 (these are actually just $3.99 on Amazon if you don’t have a CVS nearby!)20131216-153637.jpg Slim Fast Shakes $7.49

Have you gotten any great deals at CVS this week? We’d love to know what you’ve found! You can also see the complete list of CVS deals HERE before you shop.

 



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