Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Here are a few pictures from our visit with Aunt Carrie, Uncle Eric and Nathan so far! Included are pictures of Rachel's birthday - though we are celebrting again over the weekend with more family! These little cousins don't get to be together very often, so I am thrilled for this time we have and I'm enjoying capturing pictures of them!

A wagon ride to the park.
Rachel loves to swing!

Nathan rides the horse!

Emily enjoys a different kind of swinging!

Cousins playing in the yard!

Sidewalk painting!

Fun at the park!

Rachel enjoying her cupcake!

Emily "helps" her sister open her present!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Haven Swap

You may have guessed it was coming! With the two of us in the same room, the next swap was definitely on our minds.

The theme of this swap is haven. We hope this swap will encourage you to make your home a more welcoming, refreshing and inviting place. Please keep those ideas in mind when selecting items for your partner. As usual, please limit your swap contents to what can fit in a shoebox.

We’re doing things a little differently this time, so please read the following details carefully.

1. With our last swap, we had quite a few participants who did not follow through, which is very disappointing to their partners and requires more work on our part as the coordinators. As a result, we’ve decided this time to do more of a “closed” swap. In order to participate, you must either have swapped successfully with us, or you must be a regular commenter on one of our blogs (The Homespun Heart/with all that I’ve been given). We are sorry to disappoint anyone, but feel this is the best course for this round of swapping. If this swap goes more smoothly, we hope to host a more “open” swap next time.

2. Another change is that we’d like you to fill out your questionnaire as part of the sign-up. In order to sign up for this swap, please e-mail with the following info:

Complete mailing address
E-mail address
Blog site, if you have one
Please indicate if you would be willing to ship internationally.

Also, please answer the following questions in the e-mail. The more thorough your answers, the better we can match you with someone complementary.

What does the word “haven” mean to you?
What color themes are in your home? (List specific rooms, e.g. kitchen is black and red)
Describe your dream home.
Describe your decorating style.

Sign-up entries must be complete to be included. Even if you’ve swapped with us before, please send all the above requested information.

Important dates to consider:
Sign-ups due by 8 a.m. (CST) Thursday, July 24, or when 50 people have signed up.
Partner info will be e-mailed to you by July 31.
Please send your shoebox by Wednesday, August 20!

If you have not received an e-mail from us by August 1, please check your “junk” folder.

We made it!

Whew - our road trip plan included FOUR days of driving (not all day) and with little ones, I'm glad the big push is over! We are now happily snuggled in at my sister's and having a great time!

My Grandma flew out and drove back with us since David couldn't go with us this time. She was a big help passing things to the back seat, getting snacks and dropped Pinky and Ellie's, holding Samuel so Mama could go to the bathroom and keeping me company! Thanks, Nana!

Here's what we've been up to so far: (Daddy, hope you enjoy seeing all your little family! We miss you!)

Day One ~ drove to Chattanooga; we stayed in a guest cottage at Covenant College. It was great! I felt good about staying at a Christian college rather than in some random place! The ladies had a ball playing with all the gravel outside and we had a beautiful view! I will definitely keep this in mind when traveling in the future - especially in the summer, to check with colleges for accommodations.

I had told the little ladies we would have a manicure/pedicure session when we got there that night so they had something fun to look forward to! And, we spread out a blanket and had a picnic dinner!

Day Two ~ drove to St. Louis (naturally we had to stop and take a photo with "Cinderella Road" sign!); had dinner with Craig, Megan and ladies - thanks for a fun and tasty time!

Rachel - some day when you can read this, I just have to say that you cracked us up with how many times you talked about seeing the cow at Chick-Fil-A! You would say it like this every time:

Rachel: "I saw cow at Fay."
Mama: "Really? You saw a cow at Chick-Fil-A?"
Rachel: "Outside!"
Mama: "It was outside?"
Rachel: "Corner."
Mama: "It was on the corner (waving to people)?"
Rachel: "Uh-huh!"

Day Three ~ drove to Kansas City - to see my aunt! Stopped at an ENORMOUS indoor playground and the ladies had fun! Had a fun afternoon playing and visiting. I put everyone to bed downstairs and headed back up to visit with my Aunt and Grandma! It was fun and as I headed downstairs to bed myself, I realized I've graduated to the living room - I have lots of memories of laying in bed on vacations hearing my Mom and her sisters and mom chattering in the other room. Now I am one of them and my little ones are listening to me - it was fun!

Day Four ~ had powdered sugar donuts for breakfast - a tradition my Grandma started when I was a little girl; then we went to get a picture taken of all three and get Rachel's two year photo and Samuel's six month photo - I'll share them when they come by e-mail; drove to Carrie's! Had a fun welcome with her trademark signs on our doors! After dinner, we walked to a park and the cousins had fun playing!

Today is Rachel's 2nd Birthday! Happy Birthday, Rachel! You are such a sweet and fun addition to our family and we are thankful for you! Rachel's new things lately include learning a few colors, saying different animals and what sounds they make, she finally says her name and Samuel's name! Happy Birthday, Rachel!!!

Pictures of our visit with Aunt Carrie and the cousins playing together to come next time!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Road Trip

Hi everybody! We're heading out this morning for a two week road trip to see family! I am hoping to check in here and there.

My Mom told me that the first week of August is Simplify Your Life week - please join me as I spend the entire week on this topic. I'm planning to post on:

* Clearing out clutter of our heart and home - what do the two have in common?
* Simple Living - what does the Bible say?
* How planning simplifies my life.
* A favorite book on living a simpler life.

Should be lots of fun - hope you'll join me! I'm up for suggestions if you have something you'd like me to address the fifth day.

See you later!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

All Wrapped Up

First of all, look at that sweet little face!

My friend, Grace, gave me the best gift recently! Here is the history -

When I was a new mom, I carried my only baby all around myself. No wrap, no sling, no Snugli or other carrier - my arms were it. Fine with just one baby, right?

Along comes baby number two - sweet and petite Rachel. My mother-in-law bought me a Snugli and I loved it for her, though it did pull on my neck some. Rachel was so little, I don't really know how big of a deal it was. Oh, and there is the deal of being so short (5'0") that even when I have it tightened as far as it would go - I am still too short for the smallest setting. So, it hung off my neck more - but as I said, with Rachel this was ok since she was small. At least I thought it was.

I started using the Snugli again with Samuel - and he isn't a huge baby, just average, but bigger than Rachel was. And, it was pulling on my neck a lot. Well, I went to visit my friend Grace and her neighbor makes these great wraps. She let me try hers first and said if I liked it, she would give me one.

We tried it at Target - and Samuel was so happy and content in it, he really seems to enjoy being in it! I was sold from the beginning. I've only learned how to tie it on this one way so far, but it comes with a cd and printed instructions for tying it on lots of different ways. I think the two things that make it work so great are:
* it is adjustable - not one body size fits all, you tie it onto you, so it fits you
* it spreads the weight out across your shoulders and back instead of just hanging from your neck

Doesn't my little papoose look so cute all bundled up in there? He always seems to enjoy being in the wrap and I love carrying him this way. Grace described it perfectly, when you have your baby in a wrap - it is like they are part of you, it doesn't feel weird or uncomfortable, you just move as one and it is so comfortable.

Thanks for such a great gift, Grace! P.S. You can also check out Grace's diaper/wipes cases, very very cute and useful for so many different things! I have two of these and it is all I take in to church - no diaper bag, just the case with a travel size wipes and a diaper or two.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More on CVS & Thrifty Shopping

There were several questions posted in response to yesterday's post on my deals at CVS. Here are my thoughts on these things ~

Opal wrote,

"I'm a CVS/Walgreens shopper too, as are most of my friends. We're actually having a debate though about the ethics of "double dipping," which is where you open multiple accounts under different names, ostensibly in the same household, so you can take advantage of a good deal more than once.

I know one argument for it is that “all’s fair in love and frugal shopping,” and if you can come up with a way to further extend a store-offered deal, more power to you. The stores in question encourage combining coupons, sales, and rebates, so to partake is just using the system set up to gain customers. To use the system to its fullest is just the advantage of taking more time and effort on the shopping.

But the other side of the coin says that the CVS/Walgreens deals are marked as per household, (as in “one deal per household”) so to have multiple accounts under different names for the same house, even if it’s like a work address and a home address, it’s basically resorting to fraud to take advantage of a deal, and is thus unethical (one friend insists it’s no different than theft by fraud). The other argument I hear is that it’s not fair to other shoppers to open multiple accounts and take more than your allotted share of a bargain, and thus possibly denying their family the opportunity to reap some of the same good fortune from a sale… Especially a problem on items that are “needs” items for families on fixed incomes who may depend on a sale for certain items.

I’d love to hear your take on the subject, on why it’s OK or not OK to have or not have multiple accounts for the same household."

Opal, I think this is a great topic to address. I have not had a second CVS card until just a few weeks ago - and when I got it I asked the cashier/manager if I could open a second account in my husband's name. She said, "sure" and gave me the card and helped me get him signed up. I can assure you that if I thought this was fraud or was instructed in this way - I would absolutely not be doing it.

I was actually VERY hesitant about getting a second card. I mean, how many tubes of toothpaste can one family really use?! And, is it fair to jeopardize the supply of free items by going in and getting ten of something free and then there aren't any for the next person? Those were my doubts.

Here is what has happened though. I take out what our family will use and then keep a box in my closet of extras. I have had opportunities to share these items with those who really do need them or can't afford them. And, I have seen God offer me more and more opportunities of using these items as blessings in the lives of others.

I sent a message to the Customer Service e-mail at to ask about their policy on this. Here is the response I received,

"Thank you for contacting regarding our ExtraCare program.

In response to your email, it is fine that you have ExtraCare accounts in both names. However please be aware that when you receive coupons in store, you can only use the card that the coupon specifies. In other words, you can't use your card with a coupon in your husband's name."

I was already aware of this policy that the number or name on the card must match the card that you are using at the time of check out. I hope this response helps clarify for someone.

Now, I do not ever send in Walgreens or Rite Aid rebates under two addresses. I only use our home address to do these. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say it is fraud or theft to submit one under one address and one under the other - but it is something I've never really even considered and don't think I would be comfortable with as it does not seem honest.

Personally, on the topic of a store being out of something - I have observed that often there is a good supply of the sale items and even if I go later in the week they often still have plenty. Either people are not taking advantage of the reward deals or CVS is doing a good job keeping their stock filled on these items. Walgreens is notoriously out of things on sale - but I haven't had much trouble with their rebate items. Maybe it is just where we live that dictates this.

Other thoughts on this?

Lynn Marie wrote,

"I would love a lesson in how you get the great deals at CVS. I don't understand how you can hand over a coupon and get money back! I guess I'm just lost when it comes to that. "

Start out by reading this article over at Money Saving Mom ~ CVS 101 or Q&A Making CVS work for you.

Now, I will share that I used to not "get" how to use coupons either. And, I struggled with the ethics of combining coupons and rebates for extra deals. Read more on this here.

However, in my Grandma's living room, my Mom and Aunt, Grandma and I were all discussing this. These are the ladies who taught me the joys of being frugal and thrifty. They helped me understand that coupons are like cash - when you spend them, the store gets their money back plus a handling fee. They want you to combine their offers because they put a coupon and a rebate out at the same time. Manufacturer's are not dumb - they know that a coupon is out and what the sales are.

Also, it is not like CVS opens their register and gives me several dollars cash - when I say that I earn money there - it means that I came out with more Extra Bucks than I spent that day. It is still earning me spendable dollars, but it is not in the form of cash.

Katy wrote, "I would love to find similar great just seems to good to be true. I get confused on how you use a coupon and actually earn money on something?"

I agree that sometimes it does seem too good to be true. I often say to David that I just don't know how these places can afford to give so much free stuff away. One thing this tells me is that tons of people are probably not taking advantage of the offers or never send in their rebates. Or, possibly they are buying lots of high priced non-sale itmes while they are in the store.

There is a learning curve to all these rebates. My best thought on this is to start small. If you start huge, there is a bigger chance of getting burned and have it end up costing you more money in the long run. Understanding the sales, coupons and rebates is key to making it work.

So, pick a store to start with and then do one or maybe two deals the first week. The next week take your rebate dollars in (if CVS) and roll them into one or two more deals, etc... When you feel good about this, add in a little more and a little more. Eventually you can add a second card or another store if you want to.

But, I would not suggest starting all the stores with the deals at once, it will be so overwhelming and confusing to learn everything about it all at once. I did Walgreens only for years before I'd ever even heard of CVS. And, even when I did live near a CVS I was skeptical on how it could really be beneficial. I did not yet understand their system. Now that I do - CVS is my favorite place for good deals.

Another thing to remember is that these drug stores are generally quite expensive in regular prices. So, be very careful about sticking to your list and not impulse buying when you are in there. And, even some of their sale prices may not be good deals. Just learn what is a good deal and stick to it!

Ok, now - if you are a seasoned CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid shopper - what would you share with someone just starting? And, if you are a new shopper, what do you wish you would have known?

Free Water

I love to stick my watering can outside when it rains! I have a spot where the edge of the roof drains into the flower bed - it is perfect for running into the watering can! This is another thing that makes me feel like a pioneer! I'm glad I don't have to do it for our entire water supply - but enjoy capitalizing on the opportunity when I can. It just started raining again and I ran out to put my watering can out!

Do any of you do this? What other things can we do like this that make the most of the opportunities we have just where we live and taking advantage of the resources around us?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Making my home a haven!

I have been missing participating in Crystal's Make Your Home A Haven each week. Either we have been sick or catching up from being sick and I just can't seem to add this in. But, this week I was excited because our "assignment" was the kitchen and I needed to clean my kitchen!

Here are the before pictures:

I cleared the counters and then scrubbed them. Put away the clean dishes and washed the ones in the sink and cleaned out the sink.

Now, it looks like this:

For dinner, I tried a new recipe for the Crock Pot!

Hot Ham Sandwiches (from Taste of Home)

3 pounds thinly sliced deli ham
2 c. apple juice
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sweet pickle relish (I did not use this)
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. paprika
12 kaiser rolls, split

Place separated ham slices in the Crock Pot. In a bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients (except for the rolls) and pour over the ham. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through.

I only made half of this recipe, so put mine in for about 2 1/2 hours. These turned out really yummy! I served them with a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of the ham. And, for sides - we had chips and watermelon. Simple and tasty!

CVS Deals

Since several of you have mentioned that you've been inspired to start shopping the deals because you saw them here - I thought I would at least periodically post what I got that week.

This was a great week at CVS - I thought. So, here is what I did:

On my card: (I have Extra Bucks that need to be used, so I was trying to really boost my total with as little out of pocket as possible)

Two 6x8 photo books: $7.99 each; $7.99 Extra Bucks reward - limit two = free
One 4x6 photo book: $3.99 each; $3.99 Extra Bucks reward - limit one = free
Two Sally Hansen's nail polish: 0.99 each; use this $3/2 coupon = earn $1
One CVS cleansing cloths: $3.49; use $2/1 CVS beauty item and earn $1 Extra Bucks = 0.49
Two Herbal Essence shampoo (I used this as a filler item): 2/$5; $3/2 mfr. coupon = $2
Two Sure Deodorant: $2.69 each; use 2 $1/1 coupons; earn $3 Extra Bucks, send in for BOGO rebate = earn $2.31
Two Colgate Total toothpaste: 2.79 each; use 2 $1/1 coupons; on sale for BOGOF = 0.79 for two

Use $3/$15 coupon.
Spend Extra Bucks: $22.98
Spend out of pocket: $0.30
Earn Extra Bucks: $23.97
Total: $3.00 earned

David's card:
Two 6x8 photo books: $7.99 each; $7.99 Extra Bucks reward - limit two = free
One 4x6 photo book: $3.99 each; $3.99 Extra Bucks reward - limit one = free
Two Sally Hansen's nail polish: 0.99 each; use this $3/2 coupon = earn $1
One CVS cleansing cloths: $2.99; use $2/1 CVS beauty item and earn $1 Extra Bucks = free
Two Sure Deodorant: $2.69 each; use 2 $1/1 coupons; earn $3 Extra Bucks = 0.38
Two CVS panitliners: 0.99 each; 0.99 Extra Bucks reward - limit two = free
Two CVS tampons: $1.49 each; $1.49 Extra Bucks reward - limit two = free

Use $3/$15 coupon.
Spend Extra Bucks: $20.00
Spend out of pocket: $6.00
Earn Extra Bucks: $28.93
Total: $2.93 earned

Grand total: $5.93 earned

The photo books alone make this a great week to visit CVS if you could use these for upcoming gifts or even for yourself!

Coupon links courtesy of Crystal at Money Saving Mom. Also, for those of you in the south, remember you can use the above $3/$15 coupon at Publix as well! Visit here to view other scenarios.

Monday, July 14, 2008

There's A First Time for Everything

Oh yes. You know I am not a southern cook - I had never prepared okra before and didn't have the first clue about where to start. I was given some locally grown okra last week and David likes it so I decided to give it a try. With guidance from my friend, Melissa, I had a plan to make fried okra.

I took it out of the fridge and thought, "I don't know if I should peel this? Can you eat the seeds? I guess I could start by washing it." Now, if you are in the know about okra, you can just go ahead and laugh at me in all my ignorance!

Well, I washed it. Sliced it and started following the directions Melissa gave me. Beat an egg, add some salt, pepper and garlic. Add the okra and let it sit about five minutes. Heat 1 T. oil in a skillet and then shakey shakey the okra in some cornmeal and add to the oil. All was going well at this point.

I gently stirred the uncovered okra for a few minutes until the cornmeal was starting to brown and then I served it. It was crunchy. It's not supposed to be crunchy I'm told. So, back in the pan. And, it never really did get non-crunchy. Better, but not mushy.

Sorry people, but Colorado girls are not raised knowing how to fix okra. This is up there with fried chicken, I can say I've tried making it and I am ok with the fact that it just isn't in me to do it successfully.

How about you? Is there something that is normal to everyone where you live that you have never tried fixing or tried and it didn't work - are you willing to share?! Please tell me I'm not the only one with no clue about okra!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We have a winner!

Thank you all for making this such a fun giveaway! I was surprised by Land's End and their generosity and then surprised again by how many of you participated!

David chose the winner through the random number generator:

"Oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE Land's End!!
I have looked over their site and would love the navy swim skirt with the navy and white paisley halter swim top and of course a boat bag to match and a towel which is on sale! And because they are having such a great sale, a pair of shoes to match too!
Thanks for the chance and hope I win!!!"

Well, Sue - you did win! Congratulations! I'll be sending you an e-mail shortly.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Family Meal Table

Quick update to my post this morning - several of you mentioned wanting to read this book and I even had a hard time locating it through a Google search. Tammy was gracious enough to call Nancy Campbell at Above Rubies and get the scoop for us. If you are interested in a copy of the book, go here and scroll down to the fourth item - The Family Meal Table and Hospitality. Hope this helps! Enjoy!

Free Chikin!

Well, we joined the ranks of frugal-Chick-Fil-A lovers everywhere and dressed up today for free lunch!

Ours had passed out cow head bands recently so we saved those and I made black spots out of paper that were taped on our white shirts. It really is no small feat that I even got a photo of this considering how short the ladies wanted to wear their attire.

I even got Samuel in on the fun - which I think is so appropriate since I call him Mr. Moo. Don't ask why - it just started when he was born and has stuck. Maybe because we're nursing all the time?!

We could not get a photo with the big cow because Little Miss R was petrified of said cow. In fact, she didn't eat much of her free food because she was so concerned about where Mr. Cow was, how close he was to her, etc... You get the idea.

Thank you, Chick-Fil-A for the yummy free lunch and for always serving us with excellence! Check out more pictures of the fun here.

Fun Summer Giveaway!

Oh, ladies! Did Land's End ever come through for you!!! I am so excited to announce that they have sent me a $120 gift card to give away here!

You can read my thoughts on Land's End swimsuits here! I was thrilled that so many of you have enjoyed one of their suits as well!

I have been so impressed with their quality, service and clothing that is both cute and modest!

May I ask you to do something for them? In response to their generosity, would you kindly visit their site and let us know what you like - swimsuits is what started this, so if you see one or two you like start there. Otherwise, let us know what else catches your eye.

To enter the drawing, please visit their site letting me know what your favorite swimsuit is by leaving a comment here. You can get a second entry into the drawing by posting the info about this giveaway on your blog and linking back here. Please leave me a second comment so that I know you did this.

Comments will be open until Friday at midnight and I will draw a winner on Saturday.

Make sure I have a way of contacting you! If I don't, I'll have to draw a new winner.

Ok, let's spread the word and make this a really fun giveaway!!

Note: I'll be bumping this up each day - so scroll down for new stuff!