Showing posts from October, 2009

MakeThe Barking Stop!!!

We live in a neighborhood full of barking dogs. Almost every backyard has at least one (or in one case half a dozen) outdoor dog. That means there is a constant chorus of barking, yapping, howling and general disorder most of the day and a good portion of the night. Our girls play outside off and on all day, but we don't allow them to bark incessantly or be alone for very long. We consider it respect for both the dogs and our neighbors. Most dogs bark because they're bored, they have pent up energy to release or they've learned that barking gets them something. All of these are adjustable situations that can result in a quiet, peaceful home and neighborhood. 1. The bored dog. Some dogs who live in backyards 24/7 get very little attention. What time they do get is usually confined to the yard itself. This can get very old very quickly - how long can you stay in the house before you have to run an errand just for a change of scenery? These are the dogs that bark at the mail

Save at the Doctor's Office

One of the most expensive parts of our life is our health care. We often have no choice but to seek medical advice for everything from everyday injuries to chronic pain. There are many ways to lower the amount we pay each time we visit the doctor. 1. Be informed before you walk in. Have a list of your medications, write down all of your symptoms and bring all of your insurance and medical information with you. Don't waste time or money in the office when you can bring what you need with you. 2. Find out if an appointment is even necessary. When you call the office and give your symptoms, ask if they're severe enough to warrant a trip in or if you can get some over-the-counter treatment. The receptionist may tell you to come on in, but she may also recognize right away if you've got something treatable. But always ask. 3. Ask for generics. If you could pay a fraction of the cost for a medicine that works just as well, wouldn't you ask your doctor for it? 4. Look over al

On-The-Road Treats

So you're hitting the road over the holidays, but you don't have the time or the money to get snacks and meals along the way? Not a problem - packing some simple, healthy treats before you leave will save hours, dollars and pounds. If you store your treats in plastic bags and resealable containers, you'll be able to avoid the high prices at convenience stores and the restaurants right off the interstate. So what are the best choices for on-the-road food? * Fresh fruits and vegetables. With a cooler this is an easy choice. Choose "easy-to-eat-in-the-car" fruits like grapes, cherries and apple slices. Oranges and bananas are fine if you peel them ahead of time. For veggies, cut up celery and carrots, then throw in some raisins and you're set! * Dried Fruit * Trail Mix * Whole Grain Crackers * Pre-popped Popcorn * Chocolate Covered Nuts All of these prepackaged, resealable snacks are perfect for taking in the car, as long as you're careful not to drop between

'Tis the Season For Creative Decorating

We are not blessed with the best front door for holiday decorations. We have both a solid door and a screen door and there is very little space in between. I was resigned to the fact that we just wouldn't hang anything this winter. Then I found this great craft/decorating idea that was so simple and so inexpensive. You can either hang it over the front of your screen door or hang it from a finishing nail on a solid door. So pretty and so versatile! You will need: 6-8 pine cones (real or artificial) 6-8 2-3' lengths of ribbon Hot glue gun Seasonal decoration (like the cranberry heart pictured) Twine or wire Note #1: All of the items you need for this craft can easily be found at the dollar store at this time of year. Also look for post-season sales and you can find exactly what you need for very little money. Note #2: When decorating or crafting with real pine cones, bake them at 200 degrees for 20 minutes before using. This will kill any creep crawlies in them and harden the sa

Finally...The Meaning of Life

If you ask the secular world what it thinks the meaning of life is, you'll hear phrases like: motivated by goals, discover your mission, a sense of your own identity, a vision of where you want to go in your life, and going after your dreams for a better life. While these may sound like worthy ambitions, they all fall miserably short of what the Bible says are to be our focus in life. The true meaning of life is this: Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, though, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that

Where Have All the Courteous Drivers Gone?

Driving is one of our favorite things to do. Danny and I love road trips and can't wait for ours next weekend to Louisiana. There's something about the open road that just speaks to you, encouraging you to drive a little further and see what else is out there. And then you happen upon other drivers. I don't mind sharing the road with courteous drivers, ones who use turn signals and don't talk on their cell phones while gesturing with the other hand. There are some fellow travelers who actually make driving fun again. But it seems like wherever you go now, rude motorists follow you. Just driving the 20 minutes to church we have to spend time guessing what the cars around us are going to do. As opposed to popular belief...I am NOT a mind reader! So please, make the roads safe and enjoyable for everyone on the road with you by being a super-courteous driver. There's more to driving than turning the car on, pointing it in a direction and stepping on the accelerator. * U

What Are Your Priorities?

Usually, we find just enough time to get everyone up and around in the morning, get some work done, run some errands, fix a couple of meals and put everyone to bed. By the end of the day we wonder where the time went and why we're not getting much accomplished outside the everyday stuff. So where have you set your priorities? What people, activities and tasks are getting the majority of your attention every day? Do you want more family time? Are you wondering where your personal free time went? Would you like some time to breathe during the day? Put your priorities in order and you'll find time here and there just for you. * God comes first. Time in prayer and Bible study are essential for the morning time. I know I don't feel ready to face the day without Scripture and prayer time before everything else. God deserves the firstfruits of everything we have, including our time. When time with Him is in the forefront of our minds, we can better face the rest of the day. * Deci

Is Your Pet Pampered?

Now I know that my dogs are a little can tell by the way they jiggle when they walk. And Cayenne is no exception - she has me wrapped around her little paw. But when trying to decide if you just love you pets a lot or they're truly too pampered, ask yourself these questions: * Are your pet's clothes making a better fashion statement than your own? * Do you hire someone to walk your dog because you don't think you could make it around the block? * Does your pet get more massage than you do? * Do you provide steps to get into your bed instead of letting them sleep on the floor? * Was your pet's food last night higher quality than what you fed your family? * Have you ever thought about purchasing vitamin water for your pet? * Do you let the cat lay across you arm until your finger loses all blood flow? * When you go on vacation, do you leave your animals at a luxury resort - which is nicer than where you're going? * How many accessories does your pet have

We Spent How Much???

After coming home from the commissary this week, I stared dumbfounded at the receipt in my hand. I had estimated how much this trip would cost as I planned the menus, and this was not the figure I came up with. Does this sound like a typical day at your house, too? Want to know where that money went and how to keep it from happening next week? Here are some of the things I discovered as I assessed the situation. * Plan your list in advance. As you fill out your shopping list for the week, planning menus and restocking the pantry, stick to exactly what you need. Copy ingredients straight from the recipes and actually look to see what empty. This will keep you from guessing later while you're at the store and buying things you already have. * Decide now exactly what you'll get as a treat. If you're wandering down aisles at the store and something looks good, you'll throw it in the cart. In the next aisle something else will catch you eye, but you don't put back what y

A Delight of a Find

Several months ago we brought a shed-full of boxes Danny's parents had in storage. It's been a blessing to have family mementos where we can see and enjoy them, but there was one special treat tucked in a box. Danny's mom had saved two plastic bags full of clipped recipes. Now, I know they were at least a decade old because that's how long they had been tucked away, but many were much older. Some were even in her father's handwriting - a real treasure both genealogically and in the eyes of a foodie. Needless to say I've been sampling recipes from those bags for months. Here's a favorite: Crab Delight Bake 2 packages Louis Kemp Crab Delights (real crab flakes if you can afford it) 1/4 cup margarine 1 bunch green onions, chopped 6-8 oz can mushrooms, sliced and drained 1/2 cup bread crumbs (something with some flavor!) salt to taste Cayenne pepper to taste (the spice, not my cat) 1/3 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese (fresh, please) 1. Preheat oven to 350 degre

To Everything There Is a Season

When we moved this past spring I knew that I wouldn't be sending Christmas cards this year. It wouldn't be because I'd still be unpacking or because I couldn't find what I needed to make, I'm a little more settled in than that. We're sending Thanksgiving cards instead. I want to make sure that everyone has our new address before they start sending their Christmas cards. It would also be nice to actually enjoy the Christmas season and not rush trying to get cards done, and then not appreciate the Scripture and message of them. So in less than a month we'll be sending out cards in all of my favorite colors - I'm addicted to those deep, saturated shades like gold and navy. I much prefer a terracotta or an ivy tone to neon or pastel. Fall is my season! If you have a similar idea, or just want to create some great fall cards, start pulling out the twine, leaf stamps and textured papers. Match up some denim designs and falling leaves with torn edges

The Gift of Submission

Whenever we hear the word "submission," we automatically go on the defensive. Why should we turn ourselves into a doormat for someone else? We're grown women making adult decisions, so where is the need to submit to anyone? First and foremost - the Bible definition of submission is not allowing people to walk all over you. To submit means to obey, to reverence and to honor. We get this picture in our heads of letting someone lord over us, but submission is really about giving credit, respect and authority where they are due. So when and where is submission most needed in a victorious Christian woman's life? 1. Submission to God's authority. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) We don't know the future, we don't know what's happening in other people's lives and we don't know the plan for our own lives. There is one God Who does, and He requires our humility, our respect and our submission.

How Does Your Winter Garden Grow?

Now that nighttime temperatures are dropping, we need to be thinking about winterizing our yards and gardens. If your lows are in the upper 30s to low 40s, it's time to get to work preparing for the winter months and making easier work in the spring. * Clear out flower beds and around trees. Remove weeds, annuals and dying or diseased leaves from trees and other plants. * Take care of trees and shrubs. Trim larger, overhanging branches so there are no surprises during winter storms. Don't over-mulch around the bottom of trees, or you'll create lovely little homes for rodents and bugs over the winter. And wait until the first frost to put it out, so you don't attract them while they're looking for a winter home. * Mulch your perennial vegetables. This will prevent root damage and protect plants from extreme temperature changes. * Treat perennials appropriately. I was under the impression that when fall was over, you trimmed your perennials down to 6-8 inches for the

Good Morning, Morning!

I think there are basically three types of attitudes when it comes to mornings: 1. "Good morning, morning! It's a grand and glorious day and I'm so excited to start it! Let's get to it and see what wonderful things God has in store for today!" 2. "Hurry, hurry, hurry! There are things to do as always and we have to get out the door. There's no time to slow down and appreciate anything because we've got to go, go, go!" 3. "Well, here's another day pretty much like yesterday. I guess I could get up and around, but bed feels good, the computer seems good, the newspaper seems good, the television seems good. There's no reason to rush things today, and I'll get around to stuff after while." Did any of those sound familiar? Where we fall in these descriptions will also determine if we're bursting at the seams to start the day with prayer, Bible reading and a light heart, or if we choose to pull the covers over our head and try

Pet Allergies - The Pets

We joke around here that it would only be fair if Cayenne were as allergic to me as I am to here. But allergies in an animal are something I wouldn't wish on anyone. In addition to sneezing and itchy eyes, pets' allergies also develop in their skin and ears. If you see any signs of skin irritation, red in the ears or anything else out of the ordinary, see your vet immediately. They are the ultimate source of information and treatment. What Are They Allergic To? Our pets can be allergic to the same things we are. Most common are inhaled allergens (dust, mold, pollen), contact (something that touches their skin), insect (fleas), and food (an ingredient in their daily food). Only specific tests by your veterinarian can tell for sure what you pet's allergies are. Sometimes an educated guess (like sneezing or coughing around certain plants at certain times of the year) can help your vet's diagnosis. What Are the Symptoms? Pets with allergies of most any kind will lick excess

Brown Baggin' It

A frugal woman is always looking for ways to save a few dollars here and there. We are set as stewards over the money and provisions God has provided, and the smart woman will use her creativity to spend less. One easy way to save on food, especially if there are several people in your family gone during the day, is to prepare brown bag lunches. If you add up how much you spend each week on eating lunch at the local restaurant or in the school cafeteria, the amount you'd spend on a sack lunch is a huge difference. But brown bag lunches are boring, aren't they? If you use your imagination, they can be the treat of the day. * Use up your leftovers. Time to raid the fridge! The roast or the ham from last night will make a great sandwich. Many days I'll put some leftover chicken in a container with some frozen veggies and they'll go in the microwave together at lunchtime. Use up that last little bit of "whatever" that won't make a full meal again. * Plan ahea

Superb Slow-Cooker Pork Chops

Are you looking for a fabulous dinner that takes minutes to prepare, but tastes like you slaved over it? Then look no further - these pork chops are a favorite in our house. Plus, they're very inexpensive and sit all day in the's a win-win! And once you have these, you'll never grill chops again. You need: 8 boneless center cut pork chops Your favorite meat rub 2 cans (14.5 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth 1 envelope onion soup mix Potatoes and carrots (optional) 1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet. Cover your pork chops in the rub and brown on both sides. 2. While chops are browning, combine broth and soup mix in slow cooker and set on high. 3. To make a meal, chop potatoes and slice carrots. Leave out if you only want the meat. 4. Transfer chops to slow cooker and add potatoes and carrots. 5. Cook on high one hour, then reduce to low 7-8 hours. Meat will be incredibly tender - be careful removing it from the slow cooker or it will disintegrate into t

I've Been Framed!

With all of the premade craft project starters out there, it's now super easy to make a great, creative gift. (Or decoration if you like it too much when you're done.) This stand-up frame is a perfect example. With three pieces of paper, a few embellishments and half an hour, this frame goes together like a dream. Technically you could make this frame yourself from scratch, but we busy women don't always have the time for that. For a couple of dollars at the craft store, this is a smart alternative. 1. Start by adhering the first sheet of paper to the frame. (Cat supervision is optional.) I used double stick tape, one of my personal favorites, but you could also use glue dots. Steer clear of wet adhesives just so the frame doesn't get soggy. Wrap double stick tape around the inside edge of the picture opening - you'll see why in the upcoming steps. 2. Using a craft knife or a single blade from your scissors, score an X across the frame, going clear to the inner edge

Don't Mess With Your Success

We start out each week with grand and glorious expectations of what we're going to accomplish. Our Christian service is in the forefront of our minds and we're ready to face the day... ...and then something happens. Our schedule gets changed around. We're knocked out of whack by an emergency. We lose our focus. We get lazy. The next thing we know it's Friday, the week has flown by and we didn't accomplish half of what we'd planned. Sometimes we even feel like we've failed the Lord by not doing all we said we would. Paul wrote in Romans: For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do (Romans 7:18-19). We are not alone - battling our flesh is daily warfare that every Christian woman faces. So what are the issues we face in performing our service for God and how can we overcome them

How To Organize Any Room in 5 Easy Steps

When was the last time you said, "Now where on earth is that?" Was it in the past week, the past couple of days, or was it just this morning? If we were just a little better organized we'd all be set, wouldn't we? (OK...a lot more organized. I was trying to be nice.) What if I told you it only takes five simple steps to organize any room in your home, not matter how large or small? Are you already laughing hysterically at me? Just wait until you try them. 1. Make a wish list. This is the fun part! Take a look at the room and think about exactly what you'd like to see it used for. Do you want new storage? Would you like a different floor plan so it's not so cluttered? Now is the time to put pencil to paper, plan exactly what you'd like to see this room be and get your ideas written out. 2. The design phase. Measure the room and make sure that what you're thinking is feasible. Locate all the outlets, the vents and the washer/dryer hookups - you'll

Time Waits for No Woman

It's the beginning of the week again - do you know everything that needs to be done? There are seven days laid out before you, and Psalm 89:47 says: Remember how short my time is... So today we'll look at what's important in the upcoming days and how to prepare. Planning: With everything we have planned in our house over the next week, there's no way I can remember it all on my own. I sit down on Sunday afternoon and plan menus, write down notes of when things need to happen and where we need to be on each day. Then that calendar goes with me everywhere for the week. Work Time: Because I've mapped out seven days, I already know what chores need to be done on which days, so it's easier to be on task first thing each morning. For you this may be around the house, out running errands or on the job. I feel so much more productive when I can cross things off my list and really see the progress I'm making in my own handwriting. The Unforeseen: When planning, purp

Pet Allergies - The Humans

Our cat, Cayenne, was looking at me while I wrote today. I think she's fully aware of the situation - she came and jumped up in my lap, snuggled around my face and then plopped down for a nap. So what's the big deal? Some people would love to have a devoted lap kitty like Cay. She's sweet and lovable and gentle. But I'm sure she's figured out that I'm horribly allergic to her! If you're like me, you have sympathy for the itchy eyes, sneezing and sinus pressure that come along with pet allergies. There's nothing better than loving on your kitty while making sure the tissue box is handy. Pet allergies come when your immune system overreacts to something the body thinks is harmful. Cayenne isn't harmful, but my system thinks her hair and dander are offensive, so it sends out histamine to counteract them. That's where the symptoms like red, itchy eyes and difficulty breathing come from. Now on to the good news. There are ways to live peacefully in th

DIY...Or Not

When we begin to think about home repairs and renovations, we instantly want to do as much of the work ourselves as we can and save some money. But is it really cheaper when you spend time and energy ruining a project and then pay to have it fixed, there's not much savings. The idea of hiring somebody to do the work and forking over that kind of money may seem excessive though, but there are certain home projects that may not be DIY. Exterior doors: If you want to remove an existing door and install a new one, you're looking at a sizable project especially if it's a patio door, but it's still doable. If you need to cut a new hole in the side of the house, though, consider getting an expert. Garage doors: It might be cheaper to install a new garage door...of you have the proper tools, time and expertise. If you're good at reading directions and are confident in your abilities, go ahead. Of you'd like less hassle and a door that goes up on the first try, you might

Never A Boring Chicken Be

If there's one staple we always have on hand it's frozen chicken. After a while, though, it gets a little dull fixing the same chicken recipes over and over again. But don't despair - instead of hiding your chicken away in the freezer because you can't handle the same old thing, play around with different coatings. For all of these recipes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a foil-covered baking sheet with nonstick spray. Coat chicken in egg wash, then in chosen coating mixture. Cook chicken for 30 minutes or until cooked through and the breading is golden. Seasoned: seasoned bread crumbs Italian: Italian bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese (pictured above) Mexican: tortilla chips, chili powder and cumin Breakfast: crushed cereal (flakes or puffed rice) Cheesy: crushed cheese crackers, onion powder, pepper Herb: herb stuffing mix, onion powder, paprika Onion: crushed fried onion rings Traditional: flour, paprika, thyme, oregano, ginger, ground mustard Nutty: cr

Frugal Fall Flair

I absolutely refuse to spend gobs of money every season redecorating our house. It's already fall and before we know it winter will be here - I'll just have to put something else up in a few weeks. But we want our homes to reflect the season, the holiday...and our budget. These pretty fall vases are just one example of how a little can go a long way. Gather up: 2 glass vases - preferably something you already have or can get at the dollar store. Remember - we're being frugal. A bag of river rocks - perhaps left over from the fall centerpiece we made three weeks ago (check it out if you didn't see it). Apples - the number will vary depending on the size of your vases. 2 fall floral picks - the dollar store is a great place to find a variety of these. Pine cones as needed 1. Cut apart the floral stems and take inventory of all your items. Divide them evenly between the two vases. 2. Layer rocks in the bottom of each vase. 3. Begin alternating apples, pine cones and larger

Sweet Sleep With God's Peace

There is one constant through every facet of our lives - sleep. If we don't get enough, we're cranky and irritable and of no use to anyone. If we sleep too long, we waste so much time that could be used serving the Lord. We've been sleeping since the day we were born and we'll sleep until the day we die. But the perfect amount, that length of sleep that God knows is just what we need, will keep us going all day long. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2 In this busy, bustling world we live in, it is not difficult to become anxious and worried as each day progresses. It is only when we go to God that He can soothe our frazzled minds - and what better way than through sleep. When we are at peace with the Lord and the world around us, we can enjoy undisturbed sleep. This rejuvenates both mind and body, making us better servants when we awake. This verse teaches us that it is pointl

A Spiritual House Cleaning

Today we're not going to talk about doing a hint of housework...unless you're led to. This isn't a list of chores...unless you make it one. The subject I'm writing about here may not even affect you...unless you let it. We strive daily to make our homes a safe-haven and a place of refuge. With the cleaning and fixing and arranging we do we often overlook some of the trouble spots. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul said: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are new. Are there things in your home that shouldn't be? Are there remnants of that former life that haven't been removed, or are there some that you've let creep back in? Let's go room by room and see what might be lingering. Living Room: Are there DVDs or CDs that aren't appropriate and fitting for your life as a Christian woman? This is the time to weed out based on language and content - anything that's not glorifying to God goe

I'm Way Too Busy! How Can I Find More Time?

The way of the woman is to be busy, but not to the point of collapse! When you start listing all the things we have to do in a day, it would be nice if there were an extra couple of hours added in somewhere. But there aren' what are the options for staying stress-free and happily busy? * Feel free to say no! Just because we're loving, caring Christian women doesn't mean we have to agree to everything. If everyone else is as busy as you are, they'll probably understand if you don't sign up for everything, go everywhere and bring all the things they need. Pick and choose what fits in your schedule, not try to adapt your schedule around other people. * Where does your time go? Do a quick calendar assessment and see exactly what activities are making you so busy. If there are some unnecessary time-wasters in there, purge them now! Then prioritize those things that are left. * Figure out why you're doing what you do. Some pursuits like Bible study and ladies

On The Road Again

We're getting ready for a road trip in a few weeks we're taking Bailey and Sadie with us. This is Sadie getting a practice run in! Why spend money on boarding or pet sitters when you can take your pets with you? Sound like a hassle? It doesn't have to be if you truly want some bonding time with your four-legged companions. 1. Find pet-friendly places to stay. There are lots of hotels and campgrounds that take pets, but find out all of their rules and regulations ahead of time. Some only allow one dog, and others won't let you leave them there unattended. Know what you're getting into before you're actually checking in. 2. Take a few rides beforehand. Some pets will not travel distances very well, and cats especially don't handle being confined for hours. Practice getting them in and out of the car and take progressively longer rides until it's old hat. 3. Make sure you have ID tags and vet info in the car with you. You'll want all the important re

Putting Your Financial House In Order

So you're getting ready for the fall cleaning? Are you fixing up the yard for cooler weather? Have you changed your closets yet with warm clothing? This is also a great time to give your financial house a good makeover, too. With the economy and our personal finances in a squeeze, every little but helps. Psalm 37:16 says: A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. So let's put that little we have to good use! * Take a few minute to peruse the situation. Sit down for a little while one evening with your financial documents in hand and figure out where your money is going. Not knowing the current state of your money is like going out to the car and hoping against hope that there's gas in it. Knowledge is power when it comes to your finances. * Double-check your payments and balances. Make sure you know exactly what you owe and where, and that you're not paying for something you're not using. Will paying off a certain balance put you

Positively Precious Pop-Up Cards

After making all kinds of flat cards and cards with 3D elements on the front, it's time to move on to something more eye-catching. The dimensional effects on this pop-up card are made with simple stands cut through the inner paper of the card. Gather some coordinating paper, double stick tape, scissors, a paper cutter and some stickers and die cuts in your selected theme. 1. Cut a piece of cardstock for the base of your card. You want a stronger, stiffer piece of paper because you'll be cutting into in a minute. 2. Mark pairs of lines on the back of the folded card. Each pair will be cut and folded to make stair steps inside. Draw as many pairs as you would like steps inside. 3. Cut up each line, but do not cut across. You want them cut but not separated from the paper. 4. Push the now loose stands in through the slot so they stick out on the inside of the card. Fold the card and crease the steps so they will stand up when the card is opened. 5. The inside of your card should n