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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall Acorns: New Beginnings and Possibilities

After my morning walk I typically work in the yard for a little bit and sweep our walkway as well.  While sweeping I spotted the first acorn of the fall (at least that I had seen) laying on the path. I'm sure it will be followed by thousands more as fall progresses.

Fall Begins Acorns and Possibilities

Most people look at the season of fall as a dying down, slowing down, kind of sad time of year.  I see it as a burst of color (even here in Florida on occasion) and a time of reflection foreshadowing events to come.  It is a harbinger of Thanksgiving and Christmas, family times, 6 birthdays in our  extended family, and a glimpse of cooler weather.  We all know what a tiny acorn can grow to be.  Possibilities and new beginnings are just around the corner...

Psa. 1:3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall begins: Awaken the Day Garden Flag

Now that it's too cold to swim in the mornings I've resumed walking instead. The day begins well when I step out of our front door and see this pretty garden flag that I found on Lowe's clearance table last week. I had been wanting a new flag since our old one had been shredded by multiple storms this summer.  Funds are a bit tight right now so I had refrained from buying a new flag. A friend asked me to tutor her son in math for a few sessions so I had earned some extra $$ to buy it.  :)    I hung a wind chime on the rod so that I can hear the lovely sound when a breeze flows.  My eyes and ears are awakened gently and sweetly.

The simple desires of our hearts... He hears all of them.

Garden Flag Awaken the Day

Psa. 145:16 Thou dost open Thy hand, And dost satisfy the desire of every living thing. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Home Cooked Dinner: Beef Stroganoff


  • Beef stroganoff
  • Brown 'n Serve Rolls
  • Carrots
  • Salad w greens, tomatoes, walnuts, feta
  • Strawberries, banana, vanilla yogurt

This all took about 30 minutes to prepare = happy family.

Home Cooking
Home Cooking

Fall Decorations at Home : Setting the Table

Just a quick photo of our kitchen table with a few fall colors added...

I thought I'd need to change the tablecloth since it has a spring-ish look to it but it matched the centerpiece perfectly.  The napkins were made by a friend last year from a round tablecloth which I could  no longer use.  And of course, the little Mr. & Mrs. Pilgrim from Pubix...

Decorating: Setting the Table for Fall 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teaching Your Children About Money

I had a nice visit with a younger mom yesterday and one of the things we discussed was how to teach your children, younger and older, to be responsible with their money.  Here's what we have done in our family...

Teaching Kids About Money

We gave small allowances when the children were very young, say ages 5-12.  Small means $5-$10 a month.   They were still required to help with household chores appropriate for their age for which they were not paid.  Everyone in the family needs to help around the house i.e. make your beds every day, laundry (including putting it away), start dinner occasionally, etc.  Once they hit age 12 (no real magical number here, just what I chose) they no longer got an allowance and we opted for them to get paid for harder outdoor chores such as yardwork, weeding, mowing the lawn.  This is what we have continued to do even now.

Along the way, as they started driving we had them pay a portion of their part of the car insurance... $50 each month.  This was not so much  of a stretch for them since they both had saved their $$ well and spent wisely, shopping for bargains like I do.  By age 16-17 each had a part-time job (my older started at age 15) and began saving for a car.  No, we do not buy cars for our children.  Our older one bought a used Honda for $4,400, the exact limit of pricing that we had prayed for once you add in tag and title.  Our younger is currently saving for his car now. In the meantime we share my car.

They both pay for special activities and if they want a designer shirt, I tell them we'll cover $___  and they can pay for the rest. They buy their own movie tickets and meals out (unless it's a family outing), Christmas gifts, outings with friends, etc.    We provide all food, gas (reasonable use) and clothing as long as they live at home.   I always told them when clothes shopping, "be reasonable and careful in your purchases".  They know that means that extravagance will come out of their own pockets.  

I also taught them how to sell on Ebay and Amazon so they could also make a little extra $$ from home as well.  Our older son moved out when he was a junior in college and now has graduated college debt-free with money in the bank and is now working full-time. Believe me, he knows how to handle his money.  We did NOT pay for his food, rent or gas while living away from home since he could live at home for free.  Moving out before being a junior was not an option either.  That way, he/they have time to save their $$ and work out their budgets well in advance of the big move.  He has told me numerous times that he is one of few of his friends who ever had any extra $$ for fun while in college.

I highly recommend  teaching your children good stewardship while they are at home, drawing from real life situations and helping them be responsible for paying for things that they want to do.  They are not so quick to spend $$ when they recognize how much things cost and equate it to what they earn [1 movie ticket = one mowed lawn]  I am thankful that both of our sons are responsible and careful with their money, yet still generous.  What parent could ask for more than this?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Time Alone with the Lord: Are You Too Busy?

Another quote from Max Lucado's devotional journal...quoted from one of his books...

Martha's life was cluttered. She needed a break. 

Max (I guess it's OK to call him by his first name) refers to the story of Mary and Martha where Mary chooses to sit at His feet and listen while Martha is scurrying around the house with busy-ness.   I love the part where Jesus confronts Martha and tells her that she is worried and bothered about so many things (even good things), but only one is important (the one thing we don't usually worry about)--listening to what the Lord has to say to us.   That is the type of "break" to which Max is referring.

This is a practice that I have not regularly kept up in awhile--the writing part, I mean.  It really does help keep me focused and go back through the passages and ponder, rather than just read.  Blogging about some of it as a sort of online journal helps as well since my handwriting is not as neat as my typing and I can type so much faster than I can write.  I still write at least one paragraph in the journal though.  It's encouraging to look back through old journals and read what I have written, sometimes even years later.  I have kept  those from my youth (20s, 30s).  When I'm with the Lord, it will be a way for my children to see even more deeply into my heart than they might even do now as well as "keep" a part of me.  Letters and journals have historically been a way for generations to "know" one another.

Starting each day reading certainly helps me put everything in the proper order and not get stressed about all the extras that need to be done.  I'm a natural planner so organizing the day to get the most done comes easily but I can still let myself become entangled in all that needs to be done on top of my regular home life and neglect the more important things like time with the family and prayer and/or be short-tempered and irritable due to the extra stress.

I encourage you to spend 30 minutes reading, praying and  journaling, even just a paragraph or two like I do, with a devotional book, a read-through-the-Bible pamphlet or one-year Bible (I use this) or some other method.  A simple spiral notebook is fine.  Different stages of life, young babies, illness, jobs outside the home may limit the time available,   10-20-30 minutes a day--make your own goal realistic and small and set a timer.  It can always be increased.  One less stress in your already busy life.  Everyone has some unoccupied time, so no excuses.  It is better to think through and apply one or two verses to your life each day than read 3-4 chapters and get nothing out of it due to reading too quickly (to check off that you did it) or not focusing because the amount of reading is so lengthy.  It's a little bit of renewing your mind, a few minutes each day. Try it.  You'll find that your heart feels more satisfied because it has poured itself out in a deeper way and what you read stays with you simply because you wrote some of your thoughts down on paper.  You may even find that once you start, you want to stay with Him after the timer goes off.  :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Decluttering: Less Really IS More

Use What You Have Decorating.   I love that idea and consequently have a few books by Lauri Ward whose business is doing just that.  No need to buy much, if anything, although we all like to perk our homes up a bit with a few new things every season or so.

Sometimes it just takes moving or RE-moving one piece of furniture.  In our case, it was this traditional Bentwood rocker that we purchased just before our first son was born some 22+ years ago. I blogged about this previously when I gave it away over the summer.  Lots of fond memories in this chair with babies.  :)

The rocker above  used to occupy one corner in our living room where the other rocking chair sits now.

THAT rocking chair used to sit where the red arrow is in the photo below.

By moving the Bentwood rocker OUT of our family room above (and giving it away), the rest of the furniture fits SO much better and does not appear cluttered.  The room even seems larger to me now.

By moving the padded rocker into the living room, that room still retains a comfortable rocker for reading and for guests.    It can also be moved back into the family room if needed for extra seating.

Sometimes we make parting with a piece of furniture harder than it needs to be.  Just because it is a larger item to dispose of and we know how much we paid for it, it still may be time to say good-bye.  If it has fulfilled its purpose (mine was to rock our babies when they were small), it may be time to pass it on.   I passed this one on to a young woman moving into her first apartment.  Another step in decluttering one piece or room at a time.  :)

Check this out on Facebook HERE.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Family Finances & Budgeting: Using

I've been using for years to keep track of our spending.  It was very easy to set up an account and I like it for the most part, even better than Quicken online.  You must input your passwords and user names for the various accounts you own (bank, credit cards, loans, investments, etc.) but I've been told by a financial planner that it is as safe as your bank codes.  Everything is then in one place.   I've customized the categories for our family with my husband's regular job, a rental house and  three home businesses.  Did I mention that this online program is FREE?  And that it is Mac compatible?

I love the colorful graphs.  You can tell at a glance where the largest expenditures have been for a week, a month or a year or more.  Sometimes you just don't realize how much you are wasting.

Once a week when I do our finance paperwork, I double-check the transactions for the week to make sure they are in the correct categories.  If this is done properly, tax preparation is a breeze.

Every homemaker should know how to prepare and maintain a budget and keep track of the family's  expenditures.  Even if your husband prefers to take care of the finances for your household, you need to be able to do it as well.  it goes without saying for singles, too.  I have known and heard of too many wives whose husbands passed away  or became sick and/or disabled and they had no idea where they stood financially. In today's economy, this is really a necessity, for you and for your children. Teach your children how to maintain a budget from the time they get their first allowance, mow their first yard for $$ or babysit for pay.  They'll appreciate it more when they are older and out on their own. Mine already do.  :)

Proverbs 31:27 
She looks well to the ways of her household
And does not eat the bread of idleness. 
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