Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Paid Way Too Much For A Box of Cereal

As a general rule, I have never been one to buy cereal unless it is on sale, mostly buy one get one free.  And the prices of cereal at Aldi are even better than that so now I usually stock up when I make a trip there.  But even a frugal girl can be susceptible to a great marketing scheme now and then!  So I have to tell you, I paid full price for a box of Wheaties the other day just because of the box...

Yes, that is the vintage box from 1984 with Mary Lou Retton on it! Yes, I had that same American flag leotard even though I was pretty much the worst gymnast ever. Somewhere there is even a [rather frightening] photo of me wearing it with my navy blue school uniform knee socks and a pair of roller skates.  (I'll have to ask my mom to dig up that gem.)

I even had the haircut, which would be one of the bigger mistakes of my life.  The growing out phase was painful, especially when your mom still insisted on making you sleep in pink sponge rollers the night before your school picture even though you told her it was too short and wouldn't look right.  Just picture a girl in a puffy sleeved plaid dress with wings on her head and massive buck teeth (I'll have to dig out that photo too).  It's a wonder any of us survived our school years!  But knee socks, roller skates, buck teeth, wannabe Mary Lou haircut and all, I must say 1984 was a good year.  And seeing this box brought back some memories of those good old days!

So this morning, I ate an overpriced breakfast.

But hey, at least it was the breakfast of champions.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On My Heart

This morning I am thankful for...

*God's provision.  I shouldn't be surprised when we make ends meet because He promised to take care of us.  But I am amazed and thankful for His provision in our lives!

*Contentment.  There is such freedom in not longing and seeking after all that glitters, but finding joy in God's daily gifts.

*Sunday night.  We watched the movie Courageous as a church family, with many of our youth group students in attendance.  There was an overwhelming response from many of the men in our church afterwards.  It was an emotional, powerful moment.  There is going to be follow up on this over the next few weeks and I can't wait to see what God does!  After the movie, Jimmy and I got to take a crew of students to a dodge ball tournament for some good old fun since there was no school Monday.  It was a blast, and I was so proud of our students.  Great time of working together and bonding and cheering each other on!

*Health.  I never want to take basic abilities for granted.  We all woke up this morning with the physical strength to face the day.  That is a gift.

*A chance to spend most of the day off from school yesterday with my dad and daughter.  We got soaked riding the rapids in Asia, saw beautiful giraffes and other exotic animals on a safari in Africa, took a spaceship to Mars, and stopped at a bakery in France to end our day with our favorite chocolate cake and a gorgeous strawberry tart.  Oh, the magic of Disney and the memories we are blessed to make together!

*The fact that my husband has one of his closet friends and brothers in Christ in town.  He is taking some time to spend with him playing guitars, talking for hours, having fun.  Last night I fell asleep to the sounds of them playing praise and worship on their guitars in the other room.  I know how much renewal is found in spending time with a godly friend who makes you more like Christ.  Iron sharpens iron.  Laughter is good medicine.  I am happy for my husband.

*Time in the Word.  This morning that was a focus and I am challenged and renewed.

This morning I am praying for...

*Miracles.  God knows what they are.

*Trevor's cough.  It's been a tough time for many of us with allergies, and my little buddy is struggling with them big time.

*This week.  It is full and is going to go by quickly. I pray for the energy and focus to accomplish what I need to.

*This weekend.  I will be taking some girls from the youth group to a Girls Retreat at a camp.  A sweet friend of mine is speaking, and has been working hard preparing.  I am in prayer for her, and that God would make huge imprints on the hearts of the girls who go.  It is bound to be both a challenging and super fun time, and I am very excited!

*For a sister in Christ in Texas who told me she too will be busy with a girls event this weekend.  She and her husband and family have faithfully served in ministry for years and years.  I pray God's blessing over this time they will be setting aside for the teenage girls in their lives as well.

We Don't Always Know What Is Best For Us

This morning my 90 Days With David study went to I Samuel 8, where the Israelites declared they no longer wanted judges to rule over them, but decided they wanted a king.  In fact, they basically insisted upon it.

Samuel must have felt the pain of rejection as he had faithfully served them as their judge, but God told Samuel that it was actually Him they had rejected, not Samuel.  God also told Samuel to grant their request.  He would let them have what they wanted, but it would not be best for them.  He told Samuel to warn them what kind of king would rule them, and that they would have to suffer the consequences of this choice.

Samuel obeyed God.  He warned the people passionately of what would come - how they would pay large taxes, lose freedoms, and their children would be reduced to virtual slavery if their request was granted.  The people stubbornly insisted.  Other nations had kings, and they wanted one too.  They were out to get what they wanted, and would do so at a cost.  Verse 19 says, "the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel."

I loved this quote by Beth Moore on this passage...

Samuel warned the Israelites about what they were getting into.  Often when God does not readily give us what we want, it is because He knows what our desire would cost us.  Faith sometimes means forgoing our desires because we trust Christ to have a better plan for our lives.

That is so very true!  Faith does sometimes involve not getting something we want, or not getting it immediately when we want it.  It requires trust that God knows what is best for us.  I firmly believe God has our best interests in mind, and sometimes we stubbornly push through and make sure we get things our way, only to end up suffering the consequences for it.  Often, like the Israelites, someone wise in our life like Samuel has warned us to take caution.  To wait.  When we ignore that advice, we again suffer the cost of our choices.

Bottom line: we don't always know what is best for us.  We can't always see the whole picture.  Often we can't see past our circumstances or even our selfish desires.  But God can, and when we are willing to submit to His plans, purposes, and instructions, the outcome is always better than when we blindly and selfishly insist on doing and getting every little thing we want.  What we want may cost us big time in the end; and while what God wants may not be what we desire in the moment, we will see a reward for our obedience and a purpose for it in time.

And that is a great reminder for all of us today!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clearance Rack Wins!!

A sweet lady and faraway friend recently posted on my facebook wall that she thinks of me whenever she browses the clearance racks, wishing this "thrifty gal" a great week.  I thought that was so sweet!  
I'm honored to be known as a thrifty gal!

 I have been meaning to share with you my best recent finds for a while, but time kept getting away and now there are a few more to tell you about.  Here are my fun and frugal clearance rack buys from the past 3 months!  I've been snapping some photos to show you!  

And as for the photos, I make no claims to be a model, so they are what they are...   :)

This cute top from Belk had an original price $44.00.  It was on sale for 10.98 with extra 50% off so I walked away with it for $5.50. I love the look of it, and it is so soft and comfortable!

This sweater was also from Belk.  The original price was $48.00.  It was on sale for $23.99, was 50% off then another 10% off with coupon.  Ended up being a little over $10.00.

Jimmy and I try to go out on date nights at least once or twice a month, so I paired my new sweater with jeans and tall boots for a cozy dinner out with him on a chilly evening.  

I haven't even worn this cute ruffled t-shirt yet, but it was hanging on a rack at Walmart for $1.00.  Yes, that is one dollar.  And who can't use a cute white tee?

I wandered into American Eagle for the first time in ages and saw these cute flats. I had recently thrown out a couple pairs of old, worn-out flats and liked the look of these.  I can't remember the original price, but they were on clearance for $14.99 with an extra 50% off so I scored them for $7.49.

I love wearing vests here in Florida on cool days, because it is often chilly enough in the winter to need something, but not quite cold enough for my warm Maryland coats.  I can't find the receipt to remember the original price or exact breakdown, but I know after sales and coupon it was about $9.00.

This very soft, lightweight mock turtleneck is also just right for those chilly Florida days.  Original price was $28.00 at Belk.  It was marked down to $13.99 with 50% off, then additional 10% off with coupon, so it ended being a little over $6.00.  
(The sticker was free for doing my civic duty!) 

Like everything I do, I did my Valentine shopping on a budget.  My husband lives in flip-flops many months of out of the year here, and I knew he would like these from American Eagle.  They were on clearance for $14.99 with 50% off making them $7.49.  The t-shirt was $11.99 with 50% off making it 5.99.  

And now for a clearance rack flashback.  It was either 2 or 3 winters ago that I saw this comfy gray dress on a clearance rack at Target for $6.00.  It is so easy to wear.  I have been working some at a retirement home teaching a choir, and last week when I went to practice I pulled out my $6 dress and paired it with a scarf and boots, both of which were Christmas gifts this year. Felt like a whole new outfit, but the foundation of it was something several years old that I got for a mere couple of dollars!

So that is... 

1 women's dress
1 pair of women's shoes
1 pair of men's shoes
1 men's shirt 
1 warm women's vest 
3 women's shirts
  1 women's sweater 

Nine brand new items for around $58.47 total.

Now that is my kind of shopping!  

Valentine's Dinner and Love Overflowing...

Monday evening, I was blessed to be able to go out for a leisurely dinner date with my handsome Valentine.  We had a gift card I had been saving for our meal, and the kids were thrilled to spend the evening with one of their favorite sweeties from the youth group!

Earlier that day Madi and Jimmy had given me the gifts they had picked out together.  

This candle, since they know I love me some Red Velvet Cake...

And this beautiful picture for our home, with Joshua 24:15 on it. 

What a special surprise that was!

Tuesday morning the kids went to school with Valentines in hand.  I spent the morning in Pre-K helping serve up a special breakfast, and the afternoon in 1st grade for a cupcake buffet and Valentine exchange!

It was quite a day!  In between the parties, I baked Glazed Tea Cake for a special dessert.  I made this recipe at Christmas with peppermint extract and crushed candy canes and it was so delicious!  This time I stuck with the traditional almond extract and garnished each cake with a cherry heart.  The flavor to this cake is simple, and it would be lovely served at a shower or special occasion.  I found the recipe in my Cooking With Grace cookbook that is one of my absolute favorites.

Glazed Tea Cake

Heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour an 18x12 inch pan.  In bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp baking powder. Set aside.

In small saucepan combine 2 sticks butter and 1 cup water.  Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.

Add to flour mixture, stirring to combine.  Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp almond extract.  

Pour in prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes (cake will be light in color).

Let cake cool, then prepare glaze.

For glaze: In medium saucepan, combine 1 stick butter and 1/4 cup milk.  Bring to boil stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 tsp almond extract and 3 cups powdered sugar.  Spread over tea cake.  Cut into squares, garnish if desired, and serve.

(I added a drop of red food coloring to make the glaze light pink.)

After school I taught my piano and vocal lessons, and then served my family up a Valentine's dinner at home!!  This was more affordable than going out, and kept us from having to fight the crowds and stay out too late on what had already been a very busy school day.

I mixed china and crystal with paper goods found at Walmart!

Everyone got a serving of grapes in these darling Candy Heart cups...

More fresh strawberries were served in small, heart shaped bowls...

Since the heart shaped breadsticks worked so well at Saturday's breakfast, I decided to make them again!  

We had steamed broccoli and kid-friendly green beans...

And heart shaped pasta that my friend Laurie sent me in my fun package!  This was perfect for our main course since I needed to get dinner ready in a hurry after an afternoon full of lessons.

I used a jar of alfredo sauce with a little tomato paste mixed in to give it a pink tint...

And it was both adorable and tasty!

We sipped on sparkling grape juice in crystal goblets...

And just before I served up dinner, my mom gave me this special gift.  We had spied this a month or so ago when we were out for lunch.  It is a vase within a chalkboard - just imagine the possibilities! How thoughtful of her to remember this, it was the perfect Valentine treat!  Madi wrote a message for me and it adorned our Valentine table.

I truly enjoy Valentine's Day!  Celebrating those you love is a good thing to do all year long, and this holiday comes with lots of inspiration and fun ideas to do just that!

I love my husband. My kids.  My parents.  My friends.  My family. My church family.  And above all, I love God who has blessed me with such wonderful people to love, and is the ultimate giver of love.  He gave us Jesus!  And there is no greater love than the love He showed to us on the cross.  My love for my Savior fills my heart and just has to overflow! He is my reason to live and love well.

Valentine's Breakfast, Pinkalicious Pancakes, and a Full Heart

One of things I enjoy most in life is making my family feel loved.  A fun way I have found I can do this is with special meals and celebrations, especially breakfasts.  There is just something about starting your morning off with a celebration that sets a sweet tone for the day!

Since Valentine's Day was going to be a busy school day, I decided to give my family a Valentine's Breakfast on Saturday morning.  After tucking the kids in bed on Friday night, I did some prep work, wrapped some presents, and set the table so it wouldn't take as long to serve things up in the morning.

My friend Laurie sent me these darling plates from Hobby Lobby.  She reads my mind from 1,000 miles away because I actually had my eye on these but didn't purchase them - then one day they arrived in the mail!  How neat.  I set little love notes at everyone's places.

The kids each got two presents...one necessity and one treat.  Madi received a pack of socks because since the school year started, somehow about half of hers have disappeared!  I have yet to figure out where they go when I wash them.  

She also got a cute and stylish new shirt, since she is the self-proclaimed "fashion princess" and "glamour girl" these days.  :)

Trev got a pair of tennis shoes that fit - he had been squeezing into his for quite some time now and this was a huge relief for him!  

He also got the Star Wars version of the old Operation game.  It is a hoot!!  They had a ball with this game, and played it all.day.long.

For Jimmy's necessity, he got also got a pack of socks - comfy athletic ones for his morning runs.  His treats were a new shirt and pair of flip-flops, and the book The Power of a Praying Husband. I read The Power of a Praying Wife early in our marriage and it was great.

And yes, I even treated myself to a gift...
A dress to wear on a date with Jimmy!

The table was set and festive, so it was time to get cooking.

I found this Perfectly Pink Pancake Mix and low sodium bacon at Aldi for great prices...

Check out this batter!  These definitely were perfectly pink!

Madi declared these pancakes pinkalicious!  She and I enjoyed them with lite syrup and fresh strawberries.  They were yummy!  Trev, however, wanted nothing to do with pink pancakes.  

He did, however, love these!  

I had a can of breadsticks in the fridge and tried this...

And it worked!!  My little guy gobbled these up with his bacon.

And of course, our fresh strawberries were perfect for a Valentine's celebration.  This time of year we have an abundance of locally grown berries available for good quality and great prices and I love it!!

My cocoa loving girl got a warm cup of chocolate in a heart shaped mug with heart shaped marshmallows...

Table set, gifts ready, food prepared, ready to go!  
My Valentine's gift to my family.

These expressions are exactly why I love taking the time to do something special.

The kids were so sweet and thankful, and said some nice words that made this Momma's heart happy.

What a sweet, pinkalicious morning!  The evening was special as well, because I sent these two stunners off to a Daddy-Daughter dance.  My daughter had been anticipating this evening for weeks!

What a Saturday!  My heart was full.

Joining the Potpourri Party at 2805 and Marti at Tabletop Tuesday.