Slowing Down?

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You may have seen over on Facebook my oldest’s warning to me on Christmas Eve. 

 

Bleck. 

 

I’m so not ready for these crazy kids of mine to grow so fast, and while I am so enjoying them as they’re getting older, it’s bittersweet as I know I don’t have forever at home with this busy bunch.

 

While I love (love love love!) my work here on PPP, over the last year I’ve become more and more and more taken over by all the deals, and sometimes have spent as many as 12-14 hours working here to keep up with everything. 

 

It’s simply been too much!

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So, you may have noticed a bit of a slow down around here the last week, and things will stay slowed down at least until next week when my kiddos are back in school. And, because I’d love to just have a life again one of these days, I’m looking at ways to continue sharing the very best deals with you every day, as well as adding in just really fun stuff that doesn’t have to be kept up with every single hour of the day.

 

(Here’s the schedule I’m thinking about keeping starting next week in addition to regular deals ~ thoughts anyone?)

  • Monday – Menu Planning (including easy ways to get it all together)
  • Tuesday – Cleaning Idea
  • Wednesday – Recipe
  • Thursday – Budgeting
  • Friday – Friday Fluff Up

 

 

I realized over the last few months that I was spending hours looking for awesome deals, when sometimes there just weren’t any so-awesome-I-can’t-hardly-stand-not-to-tell-you-about-them deals to share with you. Some days I’d just sit searching and searching and searching, and end up with eyes glazed over and only mediocre bargains to share.

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So, we’ll see how it goes ~ I’m enjoying some extra time with my favorites ~ and know you all are always so gracious to understand for now. If you have little ones at home, your days probably feel plain old hard and long sometimes, but goodness, just like everyone else has told you, they are F.L.E.E.T.I.N.G.

 

Hang in there, know those babies won’t be babies for long, and snuggle them an extra time or two just for me. What a wonderful opportunity us mommas are given each day!

 

Photos courtesy of Megan Edwards Photography

 

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What Are You Making This Christmas?

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go

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Goodness, how I love baking. 

 

I mean really, I love baking.  Or cooking.  Or mixing. All of it.

 

If it were up to me I’d wake up bright and early every day and hang out in my kitchen all day long.

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And my pantry would magically always be filled with every ingredient I needed so I’d never need to run to the store.

 

And, I wouldn’t have to head to the gym before and after a baking session to make up for sneaking a bite. Or two. Ahem ;)

 

(I’m planning to go first thing in the morning. Promise.)

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Here’s a peek at our kitchen tonight . . .

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My husband and son made their second batch of Chex Mix this year ~ they doubled the worcestershire and cayenne pepper and it really was the best it’s ever been!

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Then I made some Christmas Crack (so good, but I almost completely made a mess because the goo in the middle started to bubble over in my oven – make sure to keep a larger pan underneath your baking sheet to be sure to catch any extra goo!)

 

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A quick batch of marshmallow fudge (y’all, this is the easiest fudge recipe you’ll ever make, and my youngest informed me tonight that I needed to teach her how to make it when she grew up herself.)

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Some Oreo Truffles – I’ve never made these before, but used this super handy Black & Decker Food Chopper that I’d bought this summer when it was on sale (it was just $10 then!) I love love love this little gadget and it made mixing these up a breeze!

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A few M&M Pretzel Bites - I forgot to get the Christmas colors and we used the red and green ones to give away to other people ~ so we’re stuck with the orange and blue ones for Christmas at our house! ;)

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And for breakfast tomorrow morning I went ahead and made our favorite Almost Homemade Cinnamon Rolls trying out Jen from Balancing Beauty & Bedlam’s fancy Christmas Tree idea. Mine aren’t nearly as pretty as hers, but I’m pretty sure my family won’t care! ;) I’ll try to take a picture in the morning to let you see how they fluff up.

 

So, what are you baking for Christmas? Leave a comment to share (and a link to the recipe if you’d like!) I’d love to hear!

 If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

 

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Our Christmas Surprise!

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Soooo excited about our fun Christmas surprise for our kids today! Meet Summit ~ our new Goldendoodle. (My kids said last Spring that if we ever bought a dog they’d name him Summit so that when he got in trouble we could holler “dadgummit, Summit!”) :)

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When we moved to Ohio so many folks shared that getting a pet might help our house feel more like home, and already (in the 3 hours we’ve had him!) he seems to be just the perfect fit for our family. We are new to house training and having an indoor dog though, so I could sure use any tips you have.

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If you have any recommendations on favorite pet toys, house training, or puppies in general I would love to hear them ~ we’re so excited but a little lost too. So much fun though!

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(Pretty sure watching a sleeping puppy is like watching a sleeping baby – they just look so perfect, and it’s the only time they stand still. We love him already!)

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Christmas Gifts For Our Children: When Is Enough, Enough? (Guest Post on DaveRamsey.com)

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Oh my goodness gracious. Like, for real, oh. my. stars. 

 

I’m so excited (really, thrilled!) to share a guest post today over at DaveRamsey.com. (Y’all, I have chill bumps just knowing it’s over there. WOW!)

 

Here’s a preview of the post . . . 

 

A good friend of mine once asked: “How much do real families budget for Christmas gifts for their children?”

Yikes.

If there was ever a question I didn’t want to get into at Christmas, that would be the one. 

It did get me thinking though—and after fourteen Christmas mornings with a few of the cutest kids running around our home, our family has learned a thing or two.

Decide early what Christmas will look like for your family.

Goodness, I wish I could tell every momma of a one-year-old that they simply don’t need to spend more than $20 to $30 on their sweet baby. Babies have as much fun with the packaging—wrapping paper and boxes—as they do the actual presents . . . and my bet is a few family members will add to their Christmas loot.

By choosing to purchase less when they’re little, you’re  paving the way for your child’s future expectations. If you shell out $500 in gifts to a four-year-old, just imagine what their expectations will look like when they’re fourteen.

Start simply. Be different. Determine when your kids are young that Christmas will be about more than dozens of gifts under the tree.

 

Read the rest of the post over HERE.

 

(yay!) :)

 

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Winter In November?

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It’s our first snow day here in Ohio! My kids are thrilled (I’m a little behind here on PPP while keeping up with them), but I thought you might enjoy a peek. After having to come up with ways to become a wee bit creative to enjoy winter last year down in Alabama, this is a big treat for them.

(Remind me of that in January – rumor has it this is the earliest snow day they’ve had in years here so you can bet I’m a little worried.) ;)

 

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Has it already snowed in your hometown this year? I don’t keep up with the weather much at all, but I’m afraid it looks like we’re in for a long winter!

 

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Praying With Your Children (The Addendum)

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Time for some random rambling today ~ if you’re here just for the deals (I understand!) scoot on past to the next penny pinched post. ;)

Some of you may remember probably my favorite ever post sharing how I started praying with my kids when they were tiny.

 

Well, all too quickly my kids are getting bigger (ugh), but the most amazing transformation has happened.

 

A few weeks ago, I was in a hurry (I’m always in a hurry), and rushed my kids along to bed. I was working on the computer and told them I’d be there to tuck them in shortly.

 

Shortly turned into not-so-shortly, and when I finally made it upstairs I found two cute girls in the middle of the floor of one of their bedrooms, Bible in one girl’s hands and a children’s devotional book wide open.

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(This is the one they found – similar to this one.)

I plopped down next to them, snuggled in close, and they led me in a much needed bit of quiet time.

 

Three weeks later, at about 8:12 each night, my girls call me upstairs for our quiet time together. When I told them a few days ago that I was way too busy to make it up, my eleven-year-old informed me that I needed our quiet time more than she did.

 

Ahem.

 

I really don’t know how I ended up so lucky. (Seriously folks, I would never have dreamed this future for my family!) But what I’m loving about this precious time is that even when I don’t take the time to slow down a bit, my children call me to this happy little place each night where we can talk about our fears, thank God for the good stuff, and just love on each other a bit.

 

The devotionals are quick – last night we talked about making new friends and the night before was about not being anxious (which I needed to remember way more than my girls did!)  The best part is that at the end of that time we say a quick lay-it-all-out-right-out-loud prayer, and my girls are starting to pray the verses that we discuss each night.

 

How amazing is that????

 

If you have a little one at home, and feel like you want to pull your hair out instead of pray with them some many? days, I promise (promise) there’s a really fun light at the end of the tunnel.

 

I promise that those lessons you instill today will give you the most precious grace for tomorrow.

 

Even if you’re not the praying type, consider taking just a few minutes to wrap that little one up in your arms and let them know just how precious they are before you tuck them in tonight. (Doing just that might just turn you into the praying type.) ;)

 

Turn off your computer. Put away your cell phone. Don’t check those Facebook or Instagram notifications and instead spend a few minutes of face-to-face time with the ones closest to you.

 

I promise, wholeheartedly, that you’ll be plain old amazed at what kind of grace will cover you.

 

And just to be clear, my kids still fight with each other. They still tell me no when they don’t like what I’ve told them to do, still leave their shoes out all over the place, still talk back sometimes and drive me a wee bit crazy some (many?) days. I still holler at them sometimes too. We are oh-so-far from having it together, but if there’s grace for this mess of a momma, there’s grace for you too. ;)

 

 

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How My Seven-Year-Old’s Perspective Changed

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Good.ness.

 

Can I just promise you what a blessing giving is?

 

Last Friday night, as I was packing for a trip, my seven-year-old snuck around our closet and came across some hidden treasures for our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. (Remember when I found a bunch of clearance items at Target last month to give? Yup, she found it too.)

 

Her eyes lit up, and she was so excited because she just knew she’d hit the new-toy-jackpot. I explained to her though that the treats weren’t for us, but rather for us to share with kids who might not have any Christmas without them.

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Oh my. That girl was mad.

 

She didn’t get it, and absolutely knew she was deserving of every trinket in the box. Honestly? She was a wee bit irate that none of it was for her. (And, honestly? I was a wee bit irate with her for not getting that she needed absolutely none. of. it.)

 

I stopped my packing, pulled her up in my arms, and tried to explain a little bit more about the program and who would be receiving those tiny gifts. (Even though we’ve filled Operation Christmas Child Boxes for years, she still needed the reminder.)

 

Then I grabbed my laptop, and we sat down in the middle of the floor of my closet and watched a few of the Operation Christmas Child videos.

 

My girl’s heart changed. completely.

 

I encouraged her to separate the items into a few different boxes, and goodness, watching her expression soften and change to excitement for someone else’s gift melted this momma’s heart.

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“They’re gonna love our stuff,” she said.

 

“I’m glad that I’m helping this year,” came next.

 

And finally “My heart just feels so happy right now momma.” 

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She then decided to spend a little of her own money to buy them a few extra gifts this year. ;)

 

Folks, I have no idea where your finances are at right now, but if you’re in a place where you do have some extra to give, I encourage you to find just the right place to share this year. Whether it be packing a box with your kids for Operation Christmas Child, donating to a local food pantry, or even just giving of your time to help someone in need, you will be blessed more than the one you’re giving to will. Promise.

 

As a family we’ve struggled a bit recently with gratitude, and there’s nothing like giving to someone else in need to completely change our perspective. And, while I think traveling on mission trips to share the good news with others is wonderful, I also believe there are seasons in our lives when there is simply so much good we can do right here at home. With the power of the internet, our children can get a glimpse of ways to give abundantly to those who live in a completely different world than our own.

 

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Discipline.

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Came across this quote today and goodness, I needed the reminder. ;)

 

What do you want most right now? Determine today to wait for the very best, and don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now.

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PPP Five Year Blogiversary Giveaway Coming Tomorrow

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First giveaway is live – enter to win HERE!

Goodness gracious, I can hardly believe this but I’ve been typing from this side of the screen and on over to you for exactly five years this month.  WOW!

 

What I completely started on a whim turned into something I never would have imagined, and I can hardly believe I’m still hanging out here with you each day. In case you haven’t figured this out (~ahem~), I’m just a mom. I don’t have any degrees in marketing, advertising, or journalism . . . in fact, I’m in sheer amazement each day that so many folks take time to read what’s here on PPP.  (It’s all I can do just to keep this technologically-challenged brain on top of things most days!)

 

Blogging has changed my life so much these last five years that I can hardly imagine life without it.  It’s given this kind-of-shy-goofy-not-very-confident mom a little presence on the internet, taught me so much about what I’m really passionate about, instilled in me the importance of some serious determination, and been just a wonderful gift (despite the ridiculous number of hours it’s taken to keep it together. Yikes!)

 

I looked back to my very first post back in October of 2009 on “publixpennypincher.blogspot.com” (when I made myself “pretend post” for a few weeks to see if I even enjoyed sharing deals at all.) Here’s what it looked like . . . ;)

 

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(seriously folks, we’ve come a long way ~ it took me a whopping six months just to learn how to hyperlink!)

 

I feel so incredibly blessed to have this virtual home here with you, and am simply overwhelmed that you take time to read what’s here each day. I love how this has completely changed our family’s ability to give as well as beefed up our children’s college funds, and having you all to chat with each day has helped me through some crazy difficult times.

 

(I know that sounds nuts, but you all are just the nicest cheering section!)

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To top that all off, last week we reached ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND FACEBOOK FANS (WOW!) So, of course we need a little giveaway to celebrate, don’t you think? ;)

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Tomorrow, watch for some seriously fun giveaways (hint: think Kitchenaid & Amazon ~ both!) I’ll be starting out early in the day and can’t wait to share, so be watching.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this little spot with me each day – I’m so very thankful for you!

 

And on a very important side note, I do NOT do manage all of this by myself most days. A big thanks to my friends Cheryl, Misty, Susan and Staci who help out with various tasks around here when I need them, and a HUGE thanks to Shannon (who y’all know is a rockstar.) ;)

 

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The Smartest Financial Decision We {Accidentally} Made

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Goodness, I have been so hesitant to share this but feel like there might be someone out there who needs to read it. Please know that I grew up in a single-parent home and I COMPLETELY know that for many of you this is not an option (I don’t know how you single mommas do it all!), but I felt like it was something worth sharing. And I know that we ALL come from different financial places, but this is something that’s changed our finances and might help you out too!

 

My husband and I had a long drive back this weekend with three sleeping kiddos in the car after visiting Cedar Point for a conference, and started talking about our finances (and really, how we got from HERE to HERE.)

 

A long time ago (way back in 1996 to be exact), we decided as a young married couple that we wanted me to be able to stay at home with our kids. So, when we bought our very first little-fixer-upper house (even though I was working), we based every financial decision we made on my husband’s income alone. (I never made much more than minimum wage, so it wasn’t all that difficult a decision in some ways!)

 

In fact, when I sat down to interview for a better paying position in my first job, the interviewers asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

 

Naively stupidly (at age twenty-one), I replied, “Um, I really just want to be a mom.” ;)

 

Yup, moving up the ladder to success with that position clearly wasn’t going to happen.
That very clueless comment was the truth though, and shaped the way we looked at every financial decision we were faced with. It made us purchase homes that we could afford on just one income (even while we both worked outside the home), and forced us to stay frugal when our children were small as we were determined to stick it out.

 

That’s when we learned to just live a frugal life. And how to clip coupons. And how to watch our grocery prices. And it’s when we decided that we wouldn’t live in debt other than our home.

Fast forward 18 (really?) years.

 

All those things I learned in those early days apparently paid off, and I’m lucky enough to write about them for a few several hundred thousand readers each month. (Can I just tell y’all that’s crazy?????) And while this blog does now earn an income (learn more about how to make money blogging HERE and HERE), we’ve chosen not to spend any of the money we make from it.

 

(We have spent a little of the income on a few specific splurges, but the bulk of it goes towards saving for our kid’s college and for giving.)

 

I wish I could give you just a taste of what it feels like to have that financial freedom after years of working towards it. It’s still so weird to know that if something unexpected comes up our finances are in decent shape (which was an incredible blessing during our recent move!), and  I wish I could just let you feel for a moment the peace that comes with that.

 

Do you know what’s the coolest thing about our decision? That one choice has given me so much freedom as a business owner. (I really don’t think of myself as a business owner, more a crazy-momma-who’s-too-excited-not-to-share-a-deal-with-you all day long? Ahem.) Our choices early on gave me the opportunity to learn this crazy blogging thing; it gave me wisdom in an area that some folks don’t really understand; and it gave me the ability not to worry about making an income while I was learning the ropes of blogging and running a business.

 

We didn’t make the decision to live on one income purposefully because we wanted an extra savings account or extra cash flow or anything. We simply decided that it’s what we wanted for our own family (and don’t feel like it’s bad at all for moms to work – it was just what we hoped for when we looked at our future!) However, in a crazy turn of life, it’s turned out to be the best financial decision we could ever make.

 

I have no idea where your family’s finances are at. I do know that we are incredibly blessed to be in this position after many years of hard work, and I know that it simply won’t work for some folks.

 

But, maybe you’re a young couple just looking at your future and trying to determine where you really want to go. Maybe you’re a mom thinking about re-entering the workforce now that your children are a wee bit older. Or maybe you’re a family that does have two incomes, and have never considered trying to live on one and allowing the second to go towards savings.

 

I encourage you to maybe consider what life would look like with just one income (if that’s even a possibility – I know it absolutely won’t work for everyone!)  Even if you have two incomes (which is fantastic if both of you love your jobs – I’m not at all against mommas working here!), consider what would happen if you continued those jobs and chose to live on just one income to allow the excess to bulk up your savings account?

 

I firmly believe that the only way we did it in those early lean years was by clipping coupons and shopping the sales ads.  Even today our grocery budget rarely exceeds $300 a month, and I talk to so  many folks who are spending two to three times that on groceries alone (almost enough to be a second income alone!)  Please understand that I know this won’t work for everyone, but as we’ve watched the peace that’s come from years of penny pinching, I guess I don’t want to miss this opportunity to tell you something that we (truly accidentally) learned along the way.

 

Your turn now? I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little afraid to share this post as I hate the thought of offending anyone, but I’m so thankful (truly, overwhelmingly thankful) for the peace that we’re finally feeling after so many years of penny pinching.  I just wanted to mention it as a possibility to consider, and would love to hear your thoughts too.

 

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