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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Slow Down

One of the nice things about winter is the slower pace. It's the makings of creativity. 

I worked on a little sewing project for Amy and ended up with this top. I know she will be looking fancy come spring. 
Our school days have included more busy work.
Have kids running around the house or keeping busy at the table? I know which I choose! No snow days for these kiddos! ;)

I've been purging closets and continue with the S.O.S challenge (getting rid of at least 5 items per day). I even mailed out several packages this past week of clothing items I sold and cashed in an $80 credit from ThredUp for the bag I had sent them and another $25 from my Swap.com account (by the way, use SPRING at checkout for free shipping when ordering - they have some great stuff!). 

I did good on my first $100 weekly grocery trip. I took $100 out of the bank and used that for all purchases that week. We ended the week with $10 left! This week is not going as well. I think we are at $160. :( That's not good, though it's not just food. That included gas, hair cut, babysitting, etc. Luckily the cash I mentioned above helps to offset that extra expense. Just keeping closer track of my spending is helping me spend less.  

U.S. Cellular Helping You Stay Healthy

With February being  American Heart Month it's a good time to think about heart health. With my own Father passing away at the age of 60 from a heart attack it's an issue close to my heart (pun intended).

It may seem silly at first that a smart phone can help your health but it's true.

First of all, it's important to get immediate medical attention with the first signs of a heart attack. Having a mobile device with you means that whether you are at home, in the car, or fishing in a remote stream...you have that access to 911 at hand.

We all know that googling health problems can cause more panic than good, but most of us do it anyway. It can help with a serious problem. 

Now it's possible to "virtually" connect to a doctor with Telemedicine. Sometimes it's not possible to get into your doctor office immediately, or convenient. While you should go to the hospital at the first signs of distress, it is possible for practitioners to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely using technology made available through a reliable wireless network like high speed/4G LTE network available at U.S. Cellular. It’s meant to enhance, not replace, in-person physician visits. Telemedicine is used to treat minor ailments like cold symptoms, which account for nearly a quarter of office visits to primary care doctors.

It saves time as well as money.

Wouldn't it be nice to avoid picking up more germs at the doctor office?

 Ask your Primary Care Physician. Discuss your options with your primary care physician to get their recommendations and see if they already have a relationship with a telemedicine provider.

Check your insurance.  Determine whether your insurance provider covers telemedicine, and if there are any specifications surrounding this coverage.

 Do your research.  Third-party medical rating service websites like Vitals and NCQA provide valuable research on various telemedicine practitioners and services.  

This post is sponsored by the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Own Your Life

I was a big fan of the book Desperate By Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae so I was looking forward to reading more from Clarkson. Own Your Life did not disappoint. Sally's writing comes across as someone having a chat over a cup of tea, not a sermon or a soapbox rant.

So many things in the book jumped out at me.

"Will you invest your life for eternity, or spend it, wasting the days on things that do not matter, on issues that will quickly fade away?" 

"Each person has the power and authority to bring his or her life back into order. Each of us is a steward of the days allotted for our lifetime."

"There is no single way to serve God, but the point is this: We each have only one life to live to tell a story about Him, about His ways, about His love. And if we are Christ followers, then God calls us to use our gifts, to exercise our faith, and to become salt and light right where we are."  

I could go on and on about what I liked about this book. It makes you stop and think about how you are living your life. How to stop making excuses for how your life has turned out because we all have the chance to change it.

Yet, it's not a "how-to" book in the way that other books seem to be. Clarkson helps us see that we don't always have to like our current situation in order to embrace it and use it to God's purpose. She writes about tough times in her own life that she saw worked towards the good of God. 

Own Your Life doesn't show us a magic formula on how to have the perfect life but rather how to take up our cross and be content in all things. And to own it. How to change how we view our life, view our days, view our life purpose.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February IPSY Bag

IPSY is $10 a month and each month you will receive a makeup bag as well as 4-5 trial and full size items, based on your beauty profile as well as the review you submit on their site.

The theme this month was LOVE and you could tell with all the pink! 
My bag included:
*Luxie Beauty Face Brush

*ModelCo Blush

*Cargo lip gloss

*Tini Beauty Eye Shadow

*JOYA Composition No. 1 Parfum Oil (this smells amazing! but I was still a bit bummed that I didn't get the Demeter Fragrance this month)

The bag this month is cute as well! IPSY is always a fun mixture of items to try out and it's been a favorite subscription company for years.

Disclaimer: Referral links included in post. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

If I Fall, If I Die

"Will has never been to the outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their little world comprises only the rooms in their home, each named for various exotic locales and filled with Will's art projects. Soon the confines of his world close in on Will. Despite his mother's protestations, Will ventures outside clad in a protective helmet and braces himself for danger. He eventually meets and befriends Jonah, a quiet boy who introduces Will to skateboarding." If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

I loved the premise of this book. Seeing the world for the first time through a 12 year old's eyes (which is the age I finally settled on for Will, though it took quite awhile to realize how old this boy was) was interesting to say the least. 

Eating food only from a crockpot because mushy food was less likely to choke, changing light bulbs only if wearing a wet suit or dish gloves, wearing a helmet at all times. These habits that Will developed because of his mother's agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house) amused me. 

A lot seemed so out of character for the actual character of the book though. Would a boy, who had been sheltered inside his own for as long as he could remember, removed from all of society except for  delivery men all of a sudden step into the world with little to no fear? Immediately immerse himself in public school by choice? He didn't seem to have the fear that a child growing up in a household as described above almost most definitely would have. 

The "mystery" in the book seemed so disjointed and didn't make much sense even once it was revealed. By about the last six chapters I wasn't interested much in the book, nor the characters any longer. 

With that said, I did thoroughly enjoy the first half of the book. Christie's writing is vivid and fun. I just feel like he took a perfectly good dramatic fictional book and suddenly turned it into a mystery half way through, which I could have done without. 

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

One of my most popular posts, even 4 years later, is How to Feed a Family of Five Under $75 Weekly. Daily I get a hit or two on that post alone. 

For years I was able to come in at $75 or under a week for groceries. All that went out the window when Jacob got sick. We were blessed by being surrounded by caring people who dropped off meals, sent gift certificates for the grocery store, or local restaurant gift certificates. That took a huge strain off of me having to closely budget and shop all the sales. It allowed me that extra time with Jacob, which I will forever be grateful for.

But a lot happens in three years, mainly rising costs of groceries. And boy, did the cost of groceries rise in the past five years! When I went back to budgeting, meal planning, and detailed grocery shopping in the fall of 2013, I was horrified by how our grocery budget needed to be doubled, if not tripled, some weeks. 

Still, I am in sticker shock. My problem is doubled by the fact that I could care less about food. No, I haven't stopped eating, probably the opposite is true, but the pleasure of meal planning...of even being able to think up a menu seems a little beyond me yet. It's grief, it's not really caring about this issue, it's trying not to stress out about it. 

But stress I do.

I find myself running to the grocery store a few times a week. Spending $30-$40 and walking out of there with just a few meal's worth of food, then repeating the process a few days later. I find myself sending hubby to the store for something, only to have him return with several bags of (unasked for!) stuff. I find us eating too much junk. Going through food too quickly. Wasting time and money. It's a circle way too easy to fall into.

I've gotten to the point that I don't even know how much we spend on food, and am a bit scared to find out. I don't even know what a reasonable weekly food goal is at this point. According the a quick Google search it sounds like $900 or more for a family of four?!

I did the Frugal Housewife's $70 Menu Plan (which ended up costing me $82) in 2012. We found the menu to involve way too much bread and not many meals that we liked. I did a $400 Healthy Month Meal Challenge in 2010 and don't think I could replicate that 5 years later.

We are a family of five. My husband packs a lunch each day for work. With us homeschooling, every single meal and snack is on me to provide. That adds up to a lot of food. Add in a 6 year old boy that literally grew out of his shirts in a one week span and a tween that will soon be as tall as me. A toddler that burns her energy as fast as she makes it. Food, food, food seems to be the theme around here! Even the cats beg for food all day long. :/

What is my point? I'm hoping to get back on track. My first goal is getting together a good menu and shopping list for this coming week. My next goal is to figure out just how much we are spending on groceries each week. My next goal will be to see how low we can go. I shall allow you peeks into this process.

What area of the country do you live in and what is your grocery budget each week?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Breathe Deep

Once again, I feel that I've jinxed myself. Saturday I boasted "Becca and I haven't been sick all winter."

I should have knocked on wood. 

Guess who is sick this week?! Yep, both of us.

I've been drinking cups of this tea (very quickly, because it tastes gross) several times a day. 

It really does work in clearing up congestion. Yes, I only paid 50 cents for this at the Amish bent and dent store. Along with the tea and the 85 cent peanut butter m&ms that I also got at the Amish store, my homemade chicken noodle soup, and a warm quilt and a good book I've managed to make the most of this icky sickness.


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