Saturday, April 30, 2011

Life Is What Happens

Isla Roatan, Honduras
The best thing about writing every day is the introspection. It gives me a moment to slow down and contemplate. Where is my life headed? What are my priorities? How am I spending my time? How is my relationship with God? Am I finding contentment? 
Those of you who know me well, know I love to travel. I love experiencing new places, new activities, new foods. The past few years, cruising has been my favorite vacation destination. I have loved visiting different countries and islands, snorkeling, climbing waterfalls, swimming with a dolphin, eating in a Mayan village. These have been wonderful experiences! In retrospect however, I realize my vacations were often the focus of my thoughts practically year round. They helped get me through the monotony of my every day life. Kept me working at a job that gave me no sense of satisfaction or fulfillment. I couldn't quit could I afford all the little extras I had become accustomed to? So to keep walking, one foot in front of the other, I planned. Big vacations, like cruises and a week in Colorado. Little weekend getaways, like Branson and Eureka Springs. They were wonderful! But they only represented a couple of weeks out of the year. The rest of the time I was busy making plans.
 I can't say I am huge John Lennon fan, post Beatles, but there is a song he wrote that speaks eloquently of this very subject. The quote below is from the song "Beautiful Boy." 
Life is what happens to you
When you're busy making other plans

Well, I haven't made plans for two months now. And amazingly, my life seems to have slowed down, become richer somehow. I am sure I will still get away for an occasional weekend......but I don't feel the urge to plan to fill that void anymore. Life is what is happening to me right now.
Have a great one! ~Marla

Friday, April 29, 2011

Planning to Save

I am learning one definite truth as I travel this saving journey. You must plan ahead! I used to go to the grocery store without a list, or really even much of an idea about what my menu would be for the week ahead. I rarely had coupons. I would browse and buy food as an idea would enter my head. Often I was pretty limited on ideas and would come home with two, maybe three, meals worth of food. When that food was used up it was generally easier to go out to eat than to do another grocery store run. Obviously, with our finances limited, this way of life has gone out the window. Now I scour the grocery ads along with my coupon database, and come up with a full week of menu's before actually going to the grocery store. Coupons are pulled and taken. A quite extensive grocery list is followed with very little deviation. This all takes quite a bit of planning. But the savings are well worth it. I also try to plan ahead when running errands. No more running to Dillons one day and then Target the next. Instead I try to stretch my gas by visiting stores close to one another in the same trip. Again, way more planning than I was doing previously. My latest planning focus is Christmas. The only way to make gifts possible this year is to be creative. And for me.....that means more planning. Watching clearance sales, free magazines, rebates, coupons, and finally......making some of the gifts myself. No Thanksgiving this year where I realize I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet. Actually it is a little scary. I found myself on the Martha Stewart website yesterday! I was a little worried I might start channeling her! But then today I found a new blog. This one may fit me a bit better. The name of the blog?......Crap I've Made! Aha, here is my new mentor!
Have a fabulous day! ~Marla

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sew Much Fun!

I used to sew. A lot. When my kids were small and we were financially strapped, I spent a great deal of time with my sewing machine. I babysat to supplement our income, and 25 years ago a babysitter went about their every day life while they watched after the children in their care. So I had plenty of time to sew clothing and small craft projects. When I graduated from college money became more plentiful and time less so. Over the years the sewing machine became a forgotten relic, stuffed away in a corner of my basement storage room. Last night I dug it out. Amazingly it still runs, quite well actually. It needs a little oil and some other minor maintenance, but otherwise it works pretty well. Once again it is being called back into service. Once again time is plentiful and money is not. Oddly enough, I am okay with that. Those years that were lean really weren't such bad years. I liked being homemaker. I don't regret the years I spent working. It paid for wonderful vacations, college for my children, and a wedding. But I am realizing that I am enjoying picking up old hobbies and developing new ones. Choosing to spend my time on things that are important to me, that have meaning for me, is a true blessing. So, if you are reading this and you are normally on my Christmas list.........what you receive this year will probably be from my hands as well as my heart ;)
Blessings ~Marla

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do Something Remarkable

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.  ~Edward Everett Hale

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Free Tree for Arbor Day in Wichita Area

Remember to pick up a free tree in Old Market Square, this Friday starting @ 7am.And check out the cute video below, featuring my gorgeous, talented, (future) daughter-in-law. Last year they gave away Magnolias. Mine is 4'6" and beautiful!

Reality Bites!

After a few sweet days where pain was quietly in the background, today it has reared it's ugly head full force. This will be short, as I am up only to eat with my morning meds. Then back to my bed. Time to catch up on some reading I suppose. The weather looks lovely today. I hope everyone has a wonderful day. Prayers are appreciated. ~Marla

Monday, April 25, 2011

Royal Wedding Week

I am a bona-fide Anglophile. I have been since 1980. That was the fall that I was given the opportunity to spend the summer of 1981 in England. My brother & sister-in-law were both in the Air Force and were to be transferred to Alconbury AFB that June. They had two small children ages 4 and 6 years old, and needed a nanny for the summer. I was ecstatic! I was extremely lucky to have a college English professor who was also an Anglophile and she was delighted to set up an upper level independent study course for me in English Culture. I was to spend my spring semester learning everything I could about the history of England and it's people. I spent hours studying the monarchy. I poured over maps of England, learning geography. My brother and sister-in-law had already decided to look off base for housing in an English village, so I was to be truly immersed in the culture. How could life get any better? Then came February 24th, 1981. The day that Prince Charles announced to the world his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer. And best of all.....a wedding day was set.....for July 29th, 1981. I would be in England during their largest event of the century! It was a wonderful time to visit England. The pride and joy was apparent everywhere. We did end up in fact, in a quite small English village called Alwalton. Alwalton is located about 5 miles west of Peterborough, 65 miles north of London, 15 miles north of Alconbury AFB. So the kids and I really were fairly secluded in the village during the day when their parents were working. I had no car to use, and the nearest train station was in Peterborough. There was a bus you could catch into Peterborough or down to Huntingdon, the village next to Alconbury. But with myself only 18 years old and 2 little ones in tow, that did not happen. So we explored the countryside and village. And when the village threw a "Fancy Dress" fete in honor of the royal wedding, we went. A fete is an English festival, often held outdoors, and Fancy Dress means costume, so my niece and nephew went as a prairie girl and a cowboy. Our weekends were spent sightseeing, visiting numerous villages and cities. Seeing as much as we could cram into one brief summer. There were souvenirs everywhere depicting Charles & Diana. I came home with several newspapers, linens with their images stamped on them, photo books of the wedding and a beautiful heart shaped Wedgwood box in cornflower blue with raised white silhouettes of the couple. The wedding itself we decided to forgo. London was packed. Instead we spent the day at the house party of a fellow Air Force family who lived in Huntingdon. We watched it all unfold on television, just as I will this Friday morning at 3am. It won't be the same however. There was something about just being on English soil that made that 1981 wedding magical for me. That and the thought of witnessing "happily ever after" occur to a young girl who was only 14 months older than myself. Of course now we know, "happily ever after" was not to be for Diana. But this Friday the bride is older, more experienced, marrying a man who wasn't forced to choose a young, virginal bride he didn't love. Maybe we will get to witness "happily ever after" this time. This is one Anglophile who is truly hoping to hear Kate addressed as "Queen Catherine" one day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Unconditional Love

In an earlier post I used the term "unconditional love." I realize now that I used this term in a very limited context. I am not sure true unconditional love is something that you or I can profess to show. I love my family, and many of them I believe I would continue to love no matter the circumstances. So yes, I may show unconditional love in those very limited circumstances. But, what if.....? You can probably fill in the blank here. We all read the headlines. Mother drives car into lake killing her children. Son goes on murderous rampage, killing entire family. Hmm. Makes unconditional a little more difficult, doesn't it? Wait! My family members are good people and would never do such a thing! So, of course I can love them unconditionally! Well, that right there makes it conditional, doesn't it? I believe I would do anything for my children. Bus bearing down on them? Of course I would push them out of the way, sacrificing myself. But what if that bus was bearing down on the guy who had just robbed me at gunpoint? Would I sacrifice myself for him? Not on your life! 
But there is One who shows unconditional love. One who loves us no matter what atrocities we commit. One who was willing to send His Son to this measly little planet. One who was willing to suffer and die for the very people who nailed Him onto that cross and spit into the face of God Himself. He offers unconditional love to anyone willing to accept it. An unconditional love that we can only poorly emulate. Will you accept it?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rules of the Road

Probably the most confusing thing about using coupons are all the rules involved. Every store has their own policy in place and changes can occur anytime. Walgreens, Target and Dollar General are all pretty generous. They allow stacking (using more than 1 coupon per item). While Dillons and Walmart have much stricter policies, making it advantageous to pay close attention to the way you use your coupons there. On the other hand, Dillons does double up to a total of $1 off on manufacturer coupons. So, you can see how this can quickly become confusing! If you are not a big coupon user, the digital coupons are great! Very little work involved, and you don't have to worry about misplacing or forgetting the coupon. If, however, you are trying to save as much as possible, you will need to pay very close attention to what is loaded on your card. I will use an example with Kleenex tissues at Dillons, they had a digital 25 cent coupon and I have a 50 cent manufacturer coupon.
I go to Dillons to buy Kleenex. I bring my 50 cent coupon to use. Dillons doubles manufacturers coupons, so I am anticipating a $1 savings. Yay me! When I get to the register and hand over my coupon, it is not accepted. Why? Because according to Dillons Policy, digital coupons have priority at checkout. And, to make matters worse, they do not double digital coupons. So instead of saving $1 on my tissues, I saved 25 cents. Bummer.
Now you can get around this by taking the digital 25 cent coupon off your card, but I find it easier to only load my card right before I go to the store and only with the coupons I intend to use on that trip.
So, with all this in mind, I have added a page dedicated to different store policies. If you are really interested in saving with coupons you absolutely need to read these.
Have a great day! ~Marla

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Help! I'm Drowning!

Drowning in coupons that is! Holy cow, there are tons of coupons available out there! Two weeks ago I was waving pieces of paper at my husband, "Look, more coupons!", I would exclaim. Now, I am looking at the equivalent of shoe boxes full and moaning, "More coupons, how am I going to organize these?". Coupons are out there to be had, no doubt about it. Do you need help finding them? Well, let me share my very limited expertise.

  1. Sunday Newspaper ~ I know. Obvious, right? Well a lot of people do not subscribe to a newspaper. Even so, it may well be worth your money to purchase a single paper on Sundays. Last Sunday there were 3 different coupon circulars in my local paper. Using just a few of those will more than offset the cost of the paper.
  2. Magazines ~ Most magazines geared toward women have coupons in them. If you can get a really good deal on the subscription it will pay for itself. Since I started this blog I have gotten 2 subscriptions for free. Redbook & Good Housekeeping. I have purchased 2 more subscriptions for less than $4 for 1 year. Better Homes and Gardens & Family Circle. With one other magazine I paid a discounted rate of $14.95 for a year. This was for All You. This magazine is a coupon lovers bonanza! The April edition contained $75 in coupons & May will have about $85 in coupons. That's a pretty big return on your investment! You can find these discounts on various Internet sites. Example: is offering a Weight Watchers magazine subscription for $3.99 today with the code weight.
  3. Online printable coupons ~ These are everywhere. Coupon based blogs have links, manufacturers web sites, manufacturers Facebook pages, web sites dedicated to coupons & other savings. This blog is not all about coupons because so many others do it so much better than I could ever hope to. I have provided some links, both at the side and bottom of this page, to help you get started.
  4. Coupon clipping services ~ Yes, you can pay to have someone else do the dirty work for you. This may be worth it to you if you have more money than time. This is a decent option if you are ordering the big money coupons. Paying 5 cents for a $1 coupon still makes you a profit. But I would want to make sure I was definitely going to use that coupon!
So, there are a few ideas to get you started. Go ahead! Get your coupon on!


Addendum: After comments came in it was noted I forgot Digital Coupons. These are coupons you can load onto your cell phone or onto a store card. Cellfire is one such site. aware of the stores coupon policies if you are using this along with regular manufacturers coupons. Some stores, Dillons, for example, will not stack coupons. You want to make sure you are getting your best deal in that case. I will post some of the store policies later this week. Thanks for all the input! It helps to have all the comments :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

As Long as We Both Shall Live

Have you ever spoken those words? I have. Once. As a very young, very naive 20 year old. I promised to spend the rest of my life with my husband. Easy enough when you are so very young. When you can't see around the next bend in the road. When you have no idea what life will bring. When your dreams are bright & shiny, and your life together is filled with hope & promise. But then, reality starts to seep in. Maybe in the form of financial problems....a lost job or problems with budgeting. Perhaps personality traits surface that were well hidden prior to the marriage. Maybe issues such as infertility start to strain the relationship. Just having children changes the dynamics of the relationship & can cause stress on the marriage. The death of a child or parent may strain the relationship further. And then, of course, that part about "In sickness & in health?" Almost a guarantee. One of you will very likely have to care for a sick or injured spouse. I used to think that love was what held a marriage together. That was 28 years ago. Now I realize that love alone is simply not enough. Perseverance, strength of character, resolve, forgiveness, empathy, unconditional love, reliance on each other, compromise and many, many more. All of these play a part in making a marriage that will go the distance. My husband is not the same 21 year old I married. And I am sure I am not the same 20 year old that he married. But I love the 49 year old man I share my life with, and wouldn't trade him for that 21 year old version for anything. We share a rich history, a bond, that I will never experience with another human being. 
Yesterday was yet another funeral. This one was for a 60 year old woman who died after 8 years battling Alzheimer's. Her husband stood by her throughout the illness. As this horrible disease took the woman he had shared 40 years with and reduced her to a shell of the person she had been. When she could give nothing, make no contribution to their relationship, still he stood firm, upholding the vows he had made 40 years ago. The beauty of that is so bright as to be blinding. The ugliness of the disease was overshadowed by his devotion to his wife & his continued, unconditional, love for her. He is an example to his friends & family of what true commitment is about. My son is getting married this fall. I pray that as he & his bride speak their vows, the words will be seared upon their hearts. My prayer for them is not a perfect, painless marriage.....but a strong & courageous that will stand the test of time.
Blessings ~Marla

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Patience is a virtue. A very old saying, but how many of us embrace that concept? Especially in our society. Rather than embracing patience, we are more likely to emulate Veruca Salt. Stumped? Hint, "Give it to me now!" The spoiled brat from Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. When we want something we want it right now. And given the opportunity, we will come up with many reasons why we shouldn't have to wait. This isn't just in reference to monetary or material things. For myself it is often something entirely different. Right now I am waiting. Waiting for relief from pain, an answered prayer, a medical solution. Some days the waiting is easy. Other days I am the one saying, "I want it now!"
The problem with those days is I can easily forget to find the joy in the moment. In yet another day that the Lord has graciously provided. God hears every single prayer, no matter how small. He does not always say yes. Sometimes he says no. Sometimes he says we must wait. So, I am waiting. But while I wait, I honor Him by living life to it's fullest and learning patience along the way.
Blessings ~Marla

Monday, April 18, 2011

Passing the Torch

Are you a control freak? I am! I freely admit it. I like to plan. I like to make sure everything is exactly how I like it. Anyone who has been around me as I plan a vacation already knows this! I will have every detail carefully planned. The odd part is, that if things don't go exactly as I planned, I actually have a pretty good attitude about it. Go figure. Well, the other thing I spend time obsessing over are holidays...Thanksgiving in particular. I love hosting Thanksgiving at my house....mostly because I am particular about the food and even the table settings! However, some holidays I am a bit more flexible, so when my daughter offered to have Easter at her place.....I was thrilled. This is the first family holiday she has hosted, and since it is generally just immediate family, her smaller home will work just fine. I am still in charge of the ham, which is just fine, but she gets to do the house cleaning leading up to the dinner, which is even better. Even my son is in charge of bringing some food! So, this got me thinking about the passing of that torch. The one that really brings home that your kids are all grown up. As a mom, one of my main jobs was to provide nourishment for my children. Another was to instill family traditions. As they marry and begin their own families, a shift occurs. Their world no longer revolves around the same sun. Instead that original sun becomes a little satellite, which they pull into their orbit occasionally. Some moms handle this better than others. Myself? I'm working on that concept and trying to embrace it......just don't touch Thanksgiving, it's mine ;)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lazy Day

What a beautiful day it is! I have spent most the morning tweaking my blog a little. I have moved the list of Freebies to their own page. Check those out daily, as I will try to add new ones at least once a day. Also, on the Recipe page I have added some links to free eRecipe Books. Just download them to your computer. 
Yesterday was shopping day, which wears me out physically and mentally. Though I have worked hard to implement a system for my coupons that works best for me, I still feel like my brain is fried by the time I leave the store! So today I will do a few things that have to be done, but mostly just relax and enjoy the day. Some days we just need to be quiet for awhile, "Be still and know that I am God." The perfect verse for me today! 
Enjoy your day ~Marla

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Whole New World!

These past two weeks have been a revelation to me! I had no idea how many free or greatly discounted items are out there! Just to name the items I can think of off the top of my head:
Free Redbook Subscription (1 yr)
Free Good Housekeeping Subscription (1 yr)
Full yr of Family Circle $3.67
Full yr of Taste of Home $3.67
Free small lotion from Bath & Body Works
4 cans of free cat food
2 free samples of coffee
Free samples of Miracle Whip
2 free Kraft cheeses, regular size
Several free shampoo samples
2 free reusable shopping bags & I'm hoping to score a 3rd at Target on the 17th
Free travel sz deodorant
Several free lotion samples
Free pet toy
Free small can of Valspar paint
Free printer paper

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Gift in Giving

I admit it. I spent most my evening last night watching mind numbing television. I watched two episodes of "Hoarders: Buried Alive" followed by two episodes of "Extreme Couponing". The interesting thing about watching these back to back was seeing the similarities in the people featured. It was like looking at the two faces of a manic-depressive. The hoarders, depressed and overwhelmed by the chaos surrounding them. Friends and family pulling away. The couponing extremists, on an adrenaline high, endless energy, surrounded by tiny warehouses of food and supplies in their homes, all neatly stacked with the labels facing forward. Surrounded by admiring crowds, friends and family. Do you see what they have in common. The comfort they are both finding in having an overabundance of "things" to feel safe? What they need help with is learning how to give. Giving to others can be one of the most satisfying things you do. Even if you can barely make ends meet, I promise that if you are reading this, that there are people far worse off than you out there. I am not talking about giving through volunteer work....although that is wonderful, and maybe a good topic for another day ;) I am talking about giving money, when money is tight. Food to a food pantry, when your own pantry is running low. A spare car to someone without transportation. You see, God has commanded us to take care of those in need, and in return we learn to trust in Him for all of our needs. It really is a wonderful gift. My husband tells a story that illustrates this beautifully. His father was laid off for an extended period of time when my husband was young. He remembers every week, his father sitting down at his desk to pay the bills, to decide which bill would get paid and which would have to wait. And every week, without fail, the first check he wrote was his tithe. The other bills may have to wait, the giving came first. Amazingly, God always provided. So, this week, I challenge you to give. Whether it is to your church, or another charity. Whether it is with money or just cleaning out your closet and taking it to Goodwill. I promise you too will receive a gift in this. 
God Bless ~Marla 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Save Yourself!

I have been collecting a few ideas on how to save some money in fairly painless ways. I have compiled the list below. Please comment if you have some other ideas. I would love to hear them!

  1. Use cold water to wash your clothes                                                          Hot water is a big energy drainer. Use cold water as often as possible to do your laundry, this will really save on your electricity bill.
  2. Hang clothes to dry                                                                                       Your dryer consumes a large chunk of energy. Hang your clothes outside whenever possible and they will smell sweet as well as save you money
  3. Open the door on your dishwasher instead of using the dry cycle or at the very least use the no heat dry setting if you have one                     If you prop the door open just a bit, the heat/steam that has accumulated while washing will dry your dishes.
  4. Use a candle to make your house smell good instead of plug in air fresheners                                                                                                     They don’t use electricity, they look nicer, and they are potentially less toxic. Just be careful if you have small children in your household.
  5. Use a crock pot                                                                                               A crock pot uses a lot less electricity than the oven. Food tastes great after cooking all day and it’s a huge time saver! (Not to mention the house smells great!)
  6. Unplug small appliances when not in use. Coffee pots, toasters, blenders, hair dryers, curling irons, straighteners, etc.                      Each one may not add up to much, but combined they can make a dent in your energy budget.
  7. Make your own laundry detergent                                                     Laundry detergent can be pretty expensive. It’s a lot more cost effective to make it yourself and it’s easy and lasts a long time.
  8. Make your own dishwasher detergent                                                 Same as above.
  9. Make your own cleaners                                                                     Instead of purchasing cleaning supplies in the store, make them yourself. Not only is it a lot less expensive to purchase the ingredients needed, it’s a lot safer to use because you know what the ingredients are. You can find recipes for the cleaners and detergents under the $ Saving Tips tab.
  10. Don’t throw those veggies out!                                                               Turn leftover veggies into soup. Keep a large Ziploc style bag in your freezer, and each night after dinner dump any remaining veggies in the bag. When the bag is filled, you have a great base for soup.You can have a separate bag for meat as well. We had soup once a week when I was a kid from the leftovers. It’s a free meal!
  11. Use “scrap” paper for printing coupons                                                     It doesn’t matter what’s on the back of the coupon, so the next time you print something in error or you have some leftover paper, use the back to print your coupons on.
  12. Use plastic grocery bags in your small trash cans                             There’s really no sense in buying small trash can bags when you get plastic bags for free at the store. They are the perfect size and work just fine.
  13. Use perfume and cologne samples to sweeten your drawers                If you get magazines or mail that contain pages with fragrance on them, open them and add them to your drawers to act as a sachet would.
  14. Use your public library                                                                          It is free and has more than you might expect. In addition to books, there are DVDs, audio books, eBook loans, and free computer and WiFi access. Not to mention all the free programs for kids.
  15. If you have children take advantage of all the free and discounted programs available in the summer                                                 Free movie matinees, free bowling, free zoo days, library programs, local park or recreation programs, children's theater matinees, just to name a few.
  16. Watch for give aways in your area                                                     
    For example, some communities offer free trees on arbor day, or free mulch after Christmas. Others have free junk haul away days. Police departments often sponsor free child ID programs and fire departments do free blood pressure checks.
So, use some or all of these ideas and save yourself some money! Please comment below if you have some money saving tips that I have missed! 
Have a great day! ~Marla

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Free Summer Bowling for Kids

Awesome!! If you are looking for activities for your kids this summer check this out. There are several here in Kansas.

This Is the Day!

This morning was difficult. We attended the funeral of a child. After sitting in a pew for an hour and a half, my back was killing me. After arriving home and changing I was so close to just climbing into bed, pulling up the covers and sleeping away the afternoon. It would have been so easy. And who could blame me, right? When you feel bad, physically or emotionally, isn't sleep an easy way out? But then I looked outside, saw the flowers blooming in my yard, the birds flitting about, the sun shining, and provided this beautiful day, I'm going to make the most of it. Even if that is just sitting in the sun listening to His sights and sounds. And then the following song came to mind. This is not a song many people know, but it is one that I hold close to my heart and cherish. This was one of my nephew's favorite songs.....he loved all the songs from Agapeland's Bullfrogs and Butterflies collection. This song, however, is especially precious to me because it was played at his funeral. He was eight years old when he died suddenly from Reye's Syndrome. So this morning was dufficult. Another little casket. Another family drowning in grief. Another Pastor trying to comfort, but having never experienced the loss of a child, unable to truly relate. So today I wanted to share this special song. The song that reminded me that if I sleep away this day I will never get it back. The song that constantly reminds me that God walks with me, even on days when the walking is slow and labored. God Bless ~Marla
Use your mouse to click on the title and a link for a demo of the song will appear. To turn off the music on my blog page simply scroll down to the playlist and click to pause the music.

This Is The Day

This is the day that the Lord has made
Not like tomorrow or yesterday
He made today in a special way
So let's all sing and be glad

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time Out!

This morning is flying along with all the items on my "to do" list. Finally I had to make myself take a self imposed Time Out just to get something to drink and to take a minute to relax. I never imagined I could stay so busy at home! My son asked me a couple of weeks ago what I was going to do with my time now. Pretty much everything I couldn't find time for when I was working full time! Clipping coupons and scouring the ads for the best deal takes up most of my Monday morning. I did implement a coupon database on my computer, which helps tremendously. I can do a quick look up instead of shuffling through a mound of clippings. Much better! I am also cooking all our meals at home now, so meal planning, grocery shopping and the actual cooking time have all taken a nice chunk of my time. I have decided being frugal is at the least, a part-time job. The other half of my days are spent cleaning. When you can only clean for 15-20 minutes at a time, it takes a little longer to get things accomplished :) That's OK though. In the breaks in between I can enjoy the sunshine out on my patio, catch up on some reading, enjoy a cup of coffee, take a whirlpool bath, catch up on Facebook. So really these self imposed Time Outs are a good thing! I find myself much more appreciative of this world when I'm forced to slow down and smell the roses a few times a day.

Have a wonderful day ~Marla

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tearing Down the Walls

It is noisy in my house this morning! For the past two Saturdays our wonderful handyman, Tony, has been busy with all the little things we have let accumulate here at home. Today he is tearing out a section of wall in our bath area and replacing the rotted dry wall. Now, this was not exactly what I had in mind last week. You see, once there had been a built in soap dish in the wall. Well my son had his foot propped up there last year, shaving his calves, (laugh if you must, but he was a college decathlete who taped is legs often) and suddenly said soap dish was no longer on the wall, but in the tub! Well we patched it up with plastic and Duck Tape and made do for awhile. Our plan was to have Tony patch up that area with some spare tiles that we had. Those plans fled as Tony called us into the bathroom to show us the rot and tapped on various tiles to show how large of an area was really involved. This was not what we wanted to hear, and the urge to say never mind and just slap that makeshift bandaid back on and leave it was great. But that would only have delayed the inevitable day when then entire wall would give way. So we sucked in and tightened our checkbook and authorized the work. This started me often do we slap a bandaid on a problem, not peeking at the festering mess beneath. Pretending it really isn't that bad until finally the entire wall gives way. I am guilty of this. Especially regarding health issues. Thinking, "I have this under control", until finally the crash comes. I spent months using prednisone off and on, so that I could go to work, do more at home, etc. Well, that was my bandaid, and once the bandaid was removed I discovered my back had actually deteriorated even further. Probably, in part, to not listening to what my pain was trying to tell me to begin with! How often do we do this in relationships as well? Try to slap on that bandaid instead of getting to the heart of the problem right away? And often pride is involved. We worry about what others will think. So, with that thought in mind, I know that when Tony has finished the wall and the tub is ready to use again, that a new feature will be there as well......a shower bench.....because this is one time pride will not come before the fall.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Guest Book for Trinity Pacheco – Online Guest Book by Batesville and

Guest Book for Trinity Pacheco – Online Guest Book by Batesville and

Finding the Rainbow in the Middle of the Storm

There are days when words are not enough. Prayer is the only help, and sometimes, that plea is wordless as well. Dear friends of mine lost a grandchild two nights ago. A sweet 9 year old girl died in a very tragic way. How do we make sense of that? My own nephew died suddenly at the age of 8 years old. To this day that remains the most painful, difficult loss I have ever experienced. More than the loss of my own parents. How do we cope, survive, such an unfair, horrible event? When we are in such pain that we cannot even articulate a prayer to God? Perhaps, just perhaps, we may even be angry at Him, only able to shout the words, "WHY? HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?" Thank God that He is never changing. That He holds us, and calms us, even as we rant against Him in our grief. That He reads our heart, so that no words are necessary. Over time, soon for some, longer for others, God helps us to see that rainbow, peeking through the clouds of our pain & suffering. We start to realize that our child wasn't taken. He or she was chosen. Chosen to bypass the pain of this world. Chosen to spend eternity with God. Chosen to have every teardrop & physical limitation wiped away. And so, now they wait for us, and we grow through the pain, leaning on the Lord. Knowing that while we will never match their innocence, that through the grace & mercy of God & His Son, we will be found worthy to be with them again one day. ~Marla

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Balancing Act

A couple of years ago I was out hitting Garage Sales, and came across the oddest sale. Instead of the normal sale items, old china, clothes, etc., this garage was filled to the brim with grocery items. It was bizarre! Toilet paper, canned goods, lotions, condiments, candy......At the time I was confused. Had these people owned a convenience store that had closed.....were they serial shoplifters? Well last night my questions were answered. They were extreme couponers! If you missed the TLC show Extreme Couponing you can catch excerpts on, or Jenny posted a link to YouTube in the comment section of yesterdays post. Like many TLC shows, it is like watching a train wreck. You simply can't look away! Now I don't mean to offend anyone, but these people have some serious OCD going on! I want to save money and try to live more frugally, and to that end I will spend a couple of hours a day dedicated to clipping, searching and planning. But my life is so much more than that! Really living life is about balance. Make a list, in order, of the most important things in your life. Then look at where you spend your time and energy. Extreme anything is going to take up such a large amount of time and focus, that you will find other aspects of your life shoved aside. 

The best way for a person to have happy thoughts is to count his blessings and not his cash.  ~Author Unknown

Have a great day! ~ Marla

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What a Wonderful World!

I'm just singing along with my playlist this morning! I found a site that let me create a playlist for free and post here on my site! Check it out to the right and down.
So my morning started out slow & painful, but it's amazing what my favorite music and a free sample of coffee can do to lift my spirits! That free coffee is available to you too! Just click on the “Like” button on the Joe Ragan’s Coffee and Office Supplies Facebook Page and it'll be on it's way. I found this tip on Money Saving Mom. 
I wanted to share some ideas today that I found while scrounging the web for leftover ideas. This particular one was perfect for my family. I wonder how many others have this problem? Leftover hamburger and hot dog buns. It never fails. As grill season gets into full swing I can guarantee I will be staring at extra buns! So, here are some nifty ways to use them up! Some seemed like common sense to me...but others? Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunny Side Up!

When life throws you a curve ball, how do you react? I've seen such a wide variety in my own personal experience. People who only dwell on the negative, what they can't do, what they have to give up. These people often are so bitter that it just emanates from them. I'm sure we have all met some people like this, right? On the other hand, I have met people who despite truly difficult circumstances, meet life with a smile. They focus on what they can do, the blessings their life holds. When you are around these people you can just feel the energy coming from them. Now I don't know about you, but I want to be in the second group! So how do we get there, even when our nature may lean toward the negative side? By making a conscience effort to avoid that negative thinking. To that end I have made two lists. A list of the positive and a list of the negative about my current situation. The pro's and con's if you will. Once the lists were made I took the negative list and ran it through my shredder. Then I took the positive list and taped it up in an area where I see it everyday. Actually several times a day! It is hard to be negative with the positive side of life staring you in the face! Try it and let me know how it works for you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Target Coupons, Just Click on the Link

These were just loaded today.

When Prayers Are Enough

My purpose in blogging is to explore what options are available when limitations enter your life. With our household income decreased, how can we cut corners to make ends meet? With physical ability decreased, how can I learn what works best for me and keeps my quality of life high? Hopefully some of you can help me with ideas, and maybe I can offer you new ideas in return. With that said, let me very briefly touch on the subject of my health. I have back issues. I have a primary doctor, a neurosurgeon and a pain specialist who will help me on this journey. While I appreciate the concern and I covet your prayers, if you want to speak to me about specifics please email or use the private message on FB. As a nurse I realize that many times people feel to be supportive they need to offer advice, but really your prayers are enough. God will take care of the rest :)

OK, so yesterday I spent about 2 hours pouring over ads and coupons. My goal today is to form an action plan. To get your best deal at Walgreens you have to make separate trips in order to use you register rewards wisely. So today I strategize! BTW in case you hadn't scrolled down to the bottom of this page, you may want to. I have started listing freebies down there. I will try to keep an eye on the links and remove them when the deals are not available, but if you run across one that is outdated please let me know. 
Have a great day!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Taste of Home Magazine $3.99 for 1 yr

At there is a special for TOH magazine for $17.99 for a yr. If on checkout you put in the discount code TASTE, it will ring up for $3.99.

Shopping Walgreens

So, as I stated previously, I have been pretty much a Dillons shopper in the past. Many years ago I did a little more at Walgreens, mostly because they have some pretty nice coupon deals. However, I have found some sites out there that have taken this to whole new level! And most are more than happy to share their expertise with you and I. Check this out from Deal Seeking Mom. Her link is to the right.
:: Freebies

Colgate MaxFresh, MaxWhite or MaxClean Toothpaste (6 oz.), $2.99
Get $2.99 RRs
$0.35/1 Colgate Toothpaste, exp. 4-23-11 (SS 04/03/11)
Better than FREE after coupon and RRs!
Dawn Dish Liquid (10.3 oz.), $0.99 (with in-ad coupon)
$0.50/1 Dawn Product, exp. 4-30-11 (P&G Everyday Savings Book)
$1/1 Dawn Hand Renewal Dish Liquid, exp. 4-30-11 (Organize In Style)
$0.25/1 Dawn Product, exp. 10-31-11 (Organize In Style)
$0.20/1 Dawn Dish Soap, exp. 4-30-11 (P&G 04/03/11)
As low as FREE after stacked coupons!
Now this girl does some research! Her site lists all the items you can get register rewards (RR) with as well. If you shop Rite Aid or CVS, she has info on that too. I love that someone else is doing all this work for me! So my job this afternoon? Start clipping those coupons ;)

Walgreens Photo is back with another great photo deal… get a Free 8×10 Print + Free In-Store Pickup! {Sunday Only!}
Here is how to get yours:
  • Go to Walgreens Photo
  • Add one 8×10 print to your cart (excludes collage prints}
  • At checkout, enter promo code: DEAL8X10
  • Pay no shipping with FREE In-Store Pickup making your photo enlargement totally FREE!
{Deal good today only, 4/3}

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My House Smells Like Vinegar

Good Morning! I have been busy since yesterday! Lots of web surfing....there are some great sites out there. Check out my links on the right. BTW if you don't already use Groupon, check it out. For the Wichita followers there is a special for Tanganyika, $13 for admission for 2 and you can buy 3 deals (6 admissions). They must be used by May 22nd. If this is your first visit please click on this link and I will receive credit.

Now about that vinegar......If you saw my tabs at the top, there is one for $Saving Tips. I have some info on using vinegar to clean. Well, I thought I should test some of these if I was going to share them. So far, the ones I have tried work like a charm! The All Purpose Cleaner, Toilet Bowl Cleaner and the Fabric Softener. Also I tried straight vinegar on a stained t-shirt that Spray & Wash did nothing for. The stain is now gone! However, my towels do have a slight vinegary smell to them! lol  I think I can deal with this, but I'm waiting to see if my husband notices ;) I didn't notice any other clothes smelling odd. I guess the fluffy towels just really soak it in. I think my next trial will be a vinegar & baking soda paste for carpet stains. You use an old toothbrush to work it into the carpet, let it dry & vacuum the stain away.....or so they say....I'll let you know.

If any of you have tips or recipes to share, I have tried to make those pages so that you can. Have a great day!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why Am I Doing This?

I debated about starting this blog. I really don't have a grand purpose or such a fascinating life that people will rush to read what my latest thought might be. But, honestly, I thought it might be good for me to do a little journaling, and at the same time perhaps get some tips from others whose lives have been turned upside down by job loss or disability. I am still processing my situation, yet the changes I feel are necessary cannot wait. I admit, I rarely use coupons. I shop at Dillons for all my groceries. When I want something I buy it. And with the exception of the Christmas season, I rarely look at the sales circulars. With the loss of 1/3 of our household income this is going to have to change. I'm eager for any input. I spent 1/2 hour today reading on how to clean with vinegar! Let the squeezing of those lemons begin!