Friday, December 10, 2010

A Strongly Worded Letter

I have threatened on many occasions to "write a strongly worded letter" to whomever is in charge of whatever I am upset/disappointed/irritated with, but I don't think I've actually ever followed through with that. It's an expression my husband and I use often, jokingly. That, however, changed today - when I redeemed some Speedy Rewards Points in an effort to be frugal while out and about and got way less than I bargained for. Here's the Strongly Worded Letter I just sent to air my grievances:

I have been a Speedy Rewards member for many years now and have always been pretty happy with your system and the products you carry in your stores.

Today, however, I was EXTREMELY disappointed in the quality of the food items I redeemed a few thousand reward points on. Specifically, the Bacon Double Cheeseburger and the Cheeseburger, which I got for my son.

I can honestly say without any doubt or exaggeration they were the absolute worst burgers we have ever eaten. Completely disgusting, actually. And I highly doubt it had anything to do with "freshness". I would be very surprised to learn that there was ANYTHING resembling beef, or any type of meat, for that matter, in those burgers. The taste and texture were terrible! I had already left the store where I got them before I realized how awful they were and was in a hurry to get to my next destination, or I'd have gone back.

I am very disappointed that I used 2500 points on sandwiches that could only be called "food" in the wildest stretch of the imagination. This is the first time I have gotten any hot sandwiches at a Speedway store, and after this experience I don't think I will ever want to waste my points and take a risk like that again.

I would very much appreciate a refund of the 2500 points I used on those sandwiches today. And I'd like to encourage you to seriously consider a different supplier of hamburger patties for your hot sandwiches, preferably a supplier who actually uses ground beef instead of soy, which these very obviously were. And, in the interest of those who suffer from food allergies, clearly indicating on the label that there is a high amount of TVP in those "burgers" (or that they are 100% TVP, as I highly suspect is the case) would be very beneficial. I couldn't find the ingredients in the "nutritional information" on this website, and no longer have the wrapping to check and see if it is there. I do wish now I would have kept it.
I would also like you to know that I am a blogger, and will be posting my letter to you and your response, for which I eagerly await.  I am assuming that, in keeping with your President's statement of commitment to conducting its operations in accordance with both the law and the highest standards of business ethics and integrity, you will endeavor to ensure this long-standing member of your Rewards program is satisfied and my trust in your company's operations is not misplaced.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a very blessed holiday.


Dawn Yoder
Of course, I probably should note that I am in no way attempting to disparage or libel Speedway Super America, but merely want to inform other consumers of the experience I had there as well as document their response to a very unsatisfied customer. This is the first time I have been so disappointed and dissatisfied while patronizing their establishments. I sincerely hope that they will grant my request of refunding the reward points I feel that I wasted today. Usually, we use those to get a lower price on gas for our van but today I thought I'd be frugal and not spend money eating out. Brilliant, I tell you...

And, as one who is trying to not eat "junk" as much as possible, I wrestled with the decision to get those "burgers" and decided once in a while won't kill us...probably. While we are still alive, I can honestly say I don't feel well at all tonight...not in a food-poisoning type of way, but more like I have just experienced an extreme chemical assault. If I had realized that "burger" on the label was merely a suggestion, not an actual representation of what was inside the wrapper, I never would have gotten them. I think I just discovered how we can win that war in Afghanistan...and where they've been hiding the WMD's...

I will follow up with whatever response I receive from Speedway Super America's Customer Service Team. Assuming, of course, my blog doesn't get shut down for mentioning "Afghanistan" and "WMD's"!


It is now Monday, December 20 and I have not yet received a reply to this message. I have sent another message, willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as anything can happen to an electronic message...including being accidentally deleted by one's spouse perhaps. I haven't asked my husband yet, but it is a plausible possibility. We'll see what comes of this...

Dear Speedway,

I sent a message on this site a week ago (Friday, December 10, 2010) and have not yet received a reply. I am hoping that something happened in the transmission of your reply, perhaps, or that my husband may have inadvertently deleted your email, because I surely do not want to believe that you are not going to address my grievance with the quality of your "burgers" and the the 2500 points I feel were wasted on them.

I realize that this time of year is a busy time for everyone, however, I believe that no reply from your company (if that indeed was the case) regarding a very unsatisfied customer is surely not in keeping with your claim to conduct your business according to "the highest standards of business ethics and integrity."

In case you have lost my previous message, I will copy it below for your convenience. And again, I eagerly await your reply and a resolution to this matter.


Dawn Yoder
Message originally sent on Friday, December 10, 2010:
(in the interest of space, you can read it above if you wish).

And the lovely message after I clicked submit was...

Thank You

Thank you for your interest in Speedway.
We will respond to all inquiries in a timely manner.

Perhaps we have a different opinion of what a "timely manner" means...

GREAT NEWS! Apparently, their response must have been deleted or missed somehow. I received another reply and not only did they refund the points I used, but also another 2500! That makes me very happy. Thank you, Speedway, for going above and beyond to restore this customer's confidence in you! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

DIY: Make Your Own Marshmallows...Really, You Can!

OK, so this is totally against all the "real foodie" in me...but in my quest to spend as little money on things as I can by making as many things as I can myself, I have wondered:
  1. Can I make a healthy, or healthier, marshmallow?
  2. Is it even possible to make your own marshmallows without the benefit of ginormous industrial equipment or magical woodland elves?
Well, as it so happens, I can at least answer one of those questions...and it's Yes, You Can Make Your Own Marshmallows In The Comfort Of Your Very Own Kitchen!  I found this neat video tutorial (via Money Saving Mom...if you haven't checked her site out yet do it now, it's great!) on the Denver Bargains site...check it out! And amaze your friends this holiday season with delicious, easy and inexpensive "gourmet" marshmallows!

Meanwhile, I'm going to see if it's possible to make a healthy marshmallow...since corn syrup is on my NO WAY JOSE list these days...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Entitlement Mentality: From a Nation of Entrepreneurs and Hard Workers to a Nation of Whiners

We have a free, local paper here that has a column called "Speak Out." It has long been a source of amusement for me, to read the complaints (such as "we live in the United States of America but I don't understand why we have so many Canada Geese"), bizarre questions and various soapbox diatribes that people call in to have included in the column. Today, however, I just about had an aneurysm. 

There has been a slowly simmering discontent within me regarding the Entitlement Mentality that has what seems to be a death grip on the populace of this great nation. A nation forged out of adversity, by hard-working people, people who traveled thousands of miles in unfathomable conditions just to have a shot at the "American Dream", as well as people born here to families who knew the value and importance of taking care of their own. 

The blurb featured on the front page of the paper caused my jaw to drop and my dander to rise. I turned quickly to the column to read the whole comment, not wanting to take anything out of context, only to find that I was definitely NOT taking anything out of context. I will include the full comment here for your perusal:

We Are Struggling
 I'd like to see those presidents live on what we have to live on. Why do we have to struggle when they are not struggling?
 They could give some of their money to some of us other people like senior citizens and other people who don't have jobs. They could hand some of that money over to us.
 But they don't need it. They're already millionaires. Let them share it with us. We need it. They don't.
 I'd like to know if I am the only one who feels this way because it kind of makes me mad to think we have to struggle when they are not struggling at all.
 There are some weeks I don't even have money for groceries. If it wouldn't be for my little garden, I wouldn't even have any grocery money.

Let me start by saying that I am not a millionaire. I know what it's like to not know how we're going to pay the utility bill in the dead of winter, or the rent, or how to feed five people on $60 a week. I've even had a food stamp card. So I get struggling to make ends meet. And I feel for those who are in that position right now. And I wouldn't mind having some of what those millionaires have, either, for the record. It would sure make things easier here!

I don't know this person's situation, either, so it would be unfair for me to categorically include them in the masses inflicted with Entitlement Mentality. But it sure does seem that this person has a raging case of it by what they said.

So now, tell me, why do millionaires have to share their millions with you? To "hand some of that money" over to you? Just because you don't have any? How does that even make sense? To expect someone who has more than you to just hand money over to you because you do not, well, to me that sounds very childish. Because the underlying message here is that "it's not fair" that someone has more than you. 

When, exactly, did life become fair? Is it even reasonable to expect fairness in every area of life? Liberals have some good ideas...of course we should do what we can to make life better for others, but where I take issue is when it's demanded, or forced. That whole "redistribution of wealth" concept really doesn't work...just take a look at the countries who practice it. I can't say standing in line for hours to buy bread is really good for the collective. Life, by its very nature, is unfair! And there is nothing that any law, mandate, referendum, policy or political correctness can do to change that.

But that's what those inflicted with Entitlement Mentality apparently believe...that others, who may work harder (or just work, as the case may be), who become successful through educational opportunities (that are available to everyone, by the way, although some will just have to work harder than others to achieve success), planning, and making wise choices for themselves, have to hand over the wealth they accumulate to people who don't  take advantage of education, don't work hard at improving their lives, fail to plan, and make irresponsible decisions. Simply because they have what others do not. It really drives me nuts!

Of course, there are all kinds of situations and exceptions and people who really are down on their luck in spite of doing the right things. Those aren't the ones I'm talking about here.  They are the kind of people who will accept help, but still do what they can do get out of their situation and improve their lot in life. It's the ones who won't work, won't go to school, won't be responsible for themselves or the babies they create, and then expect everyone who has what they want and can't have, because of their own choices and irresponsibility, to cover their living expenses, pay their medical bills and buy them food. Or expect the government to do it for them.

Am I saying that those who are blessed with abundant financial means should keep it to themselves and never help anyone? Absolutely not! I believe part of being responsible with wealth includes giving to the poor and helping the less fortunate. As one with a heart to give to others as I am able, I consider it a blessing to be able to do just that. And as a follower of  Christ, I know that it is my responsibility, my duty, to serve others and give.

When did we go from a nation of people proud of working hard to become successful to a nation of people who expect the government, or the very wealthy, to provide for their every need? When did the role of government change from its proper role, to prevent crime and lawlessness, to its perceived role of Nanny, of Provider? Why have so many Americans fallen victim to Entitlement Mentality?

The proper role of government is to restrain crime of every sort. The problem of government is that it becomes the perpetrator of the very crimes it is supposed to restrain, except on a massive scale. This is why the Founders established the Constitution. Its purpose is to restrain government, giving it limited, enumerated authority. The purpose of government is not to redistribute the private property of its citizens, or to provide a benefit to one class of citizen, at the expense of the rest. When this happens, all classes begin to demand special benefits using the police power of government to extract it from their fellow citizens until you have anarchy. ~ Our Republic (emphasis mine)
It is really sad to see this nation deteriorating and deviating from the principles on which it was founded. It is sad to see people, who have so much to offer our country and our world, fall victim to hopelessness and despair and the illusion of security provided by our government. And it is absolutely maddening to hear people whining about the fact that others have more than they do. There will always be those who have and those who have not. At least in America...for the time have opportunities to leave the Have Nots and join the Haves, if only you were to quit your whining, get off your butt, and do something about it.

If you expect the government to do for you what you should be doing for yourself, don't be surprised when you end up broke, homeless and ill. It's inevitable. Just look at Washington, DC...
~yeah, I said that...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Make it Yourself and Save Money!

I just added a post to my Purposeful Nourishment blog on making your own cream of mushroom soup, plus I've included a recipe for Taco Seasoning and my mother in law's famous Burrito Casserole. Come check it out!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WE HAVE A WINNER!! Congratulations!

(Due to technical difficulties on November 1, the winner of the Really Woolly Kids DVD giveaway was chosen just now...thanks to Random Name/Word Picker)

AMANDA, you're the lucky winner!

Please contact me with your address so I can send it out to you! Thanks again for following my blog and for entering the giveaway, I know your kids will love this DVD!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Originally, I didn't want to have children. I didn't want to sacrifice my freedom, I absolutely adored sleep, and I didn't want to bring another innocent life into this crazy world. God had other plans in store for me, though!

I now have five kids...three stepsons - 20, 18 and 16...a daughter, 10 and one boy of my very own, who is almost 3. God is funny like that, really.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, and before I knew she was a she, I was pretty sure she'd be a boy, given her father's track record...and his family's, it's just absolutely fraught with fact, even at the ultrasound I had just before being induced, to see if she was big enough, they said she was a girl. I said "I'll believe it when I see it!" I was so relieved when I saw that she was, indeed, a girl. At that point in my life, I don't think I could have handled a boy.

I didn't really want to have a boy. Boys are strange, foreign creatures. They like dirt, rocks, army men, sticks and guns and noise. I don't really like those things, so how am I to relate to someone who does? How do I get past the rambunctious, infinite energy...the things that get broken...the dirt...

Two of my stepsons live with us, and we have a long, complicated family history. It hasn't always been pretty. We haven't always gotten along so well. But I've been praying for restoration in our family, and for reconciliation between my stepsons and I. That's a tall order, especially at the stage of life they are in now!

And recently, they all had birthdays. This year the idea popped into my head to make them whatever they want for breakfast. Oldest Boy's birthday was on a Saturday, and the way the day went we ended up having his birthday breakfast for supper...but hey, pancakes and bacon from the best butcher shop around is good any time of day!

The next birthday was for Youngest Boy, who turned 16. He wanted cinnamon rolls, hot wings and chocolate milk. So I made cinnamon rolls...that almost didn't turn out, but then ended up being really yummy...and cheated a bit on the wings, I got frozen ones and nuked them. He said that was ok, so I went ahead and took the shortcut.

And Middle Boy, who is a well-known carnivore, wanted steak and bacon and scrambled eggs and cheese. So, I made a New York Strip steak, two pounds of bacon (like anyone else around would stay out of the bacon...had to make sure there was enough!) and scrambled eggs and cheese. His friend joined him and ate the eggs, Birthday Boy was quite full of steak and bacon.

I got some of the best compliments...the youngest one (who told me his friends are jealous because I make him breakfast every morning before school) thought the cinnamon rolls were awesome, when Middle Boy walked in the house (he's the one not living with us), he said after checking out the steak, "Dawn knows the way to a man's heart", Middle Boy's friend said "why can't my mom cook as good as you?", to which Middle Boy said it's because "she puts a lot of love in it."  That really made my day. Because I really did put a lot of love in all three meals. And I meant it.

I realized after reflecting on all this Birthday Breakfast stuff that I felt rather maternal toward them. I'm not actually their mother, and even "stepmother" is more of a title than anything. I wondered if this is how moms with a bunch of teenage boys feel, when they're cooking their sons' favorite meals. It was nice. God has opened my eyes recently to the wonders of my stepsons. They really are terrific young men. I'm glad that God has put them in my life.

And so, this gives me hope for my own son, who is in the same moment endearing and exasperating, loving and annoying, cute and rotten. I still haven't figured out what makes a boy tick, but I know the way to his heart is through his stomach...thank you, Lord, for giving me the ability to cook! And thank you for all these boys in my life, and what I have learned from them...and what I will learn in the years to come. They have added a dimension to my life I never knew existed, and for that I am truly grateful.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Confessions of an SLS Junkie: How I Went No-Poo

Have you heard of the No-Poo movement? It's quite interesting. I gave it a whirl, then did a guest post about it on my friend's blog, The Homesteading Hippy...come check it out! Really, her hubby read it and just totally cracked up. You'll love it, I promise! Just click that link down below there...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I WON! But did I REALLY Want This?

Do you have a lot of luck signing up for all those giveaways on the web? Until just the other day, I've never won a thing. I was so excited that I finally won a blog giveaway! But...

I have to be honest, I entered the giveaway thinking I wouldn't win anyway, and it was helping out a friend of mine. No biggie. I honestly didn't really WANT what was being given away...not that it's a horrible thing, but, well, you'll see in a minute what I'm talking about.

The prize was a Mend Mark Bracelet. Jewelry! Everyone loves jewelry, right? But, there's something different about this one. It has a specific purpose. One that kind of hits a little too close to the truth of who I really am. And the responsibility I have as what I profess to be.

The mend mark is a distinctive wristband designed with the purpose of resembling one of the five scars of Jesus. The band features circular disks that are positioned at each side of the wrist. The intent of these is to simulate one of the holes that was instrumental in killing a King. The purpose of bearing this symbol is to emphasize the importance of His sacrifice and prompt us to never forget the role that it continuously plays in our lives.
It also reminds me of how much I am NOT like Jesus in my everyday things...thoughts, words, actions. How I deal with frustrations, challenges, my children, and people who have hurt me. I don't really want to be reminded of those things.

I also have to remember that people who don't know anything about the God I serve are seeing my actions (or reactions), hearing my what conclusion do they come? That Christians are no different than the rest of the world? If that's the case, why bother? 

I know that I don't have to wear it, and I surely don't want to sound ungrateful...I just thought how ironic is that? Entering a contest because I don't think I'll win anyway, only to win something that makes me a bit uncomfortable in my skin. My daughter, when she was three, said something so profound once. She had done something naughty and when I asked her why she did it, she said "my skin made me do it." It didn't hit me until later that she was right on. That pesky flesh can sometimes make us do things we really shouldn't. 

After I put the bracelet on, I was looking at it and thinking about how God sure has one strange sense of humor sometimes. And how he always knows what we need, even when we're clueless. He said to me...

I'm going to mend all that is broken in your life. Stand still and watch me work.

This echoed what I'd read just a few days before, while praying about several things that need mending...mending that is beyond my ability...

2 Chronicles 20:17 (Amplified Bible)

17You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.
 So now, I am also reminded of what Christ's sacrifice has done for me and for all who accept it. It means that I have a powerful intermediary working on my behalf, one who always wins! And when God says to stand back and watch him work, what a relief that is. I would mess it up, for sure. I have a long track record of doing just that. But he is faithful, even when I am not. He is always there, even when I turn away. And he is true to his word. 

Thanks,, about all those other blog giveaways I've entered...

Monday, October 18, 2010


You're probably familiar with Dayspring products, such as their cards and gifts, but did you know they produce DVDs too? I recently got the chance to review their Really Woolly Kids DVD, Trusting in the Shepherd.

Geared for kids aged 3-8, it features two engaging stories that teach children about trusting in Jesus, our Shepherd, through the adventures of the gang at Woollyville, including Gracie, Jacob, and Grandma Tabitha.

In the first episode, Gracie learns to trust the Shepherd while on a Ewe Scout campout in the dark, scary woods. The second episode is where Jacob learns to trust the Shepherd while dealing with a "bully" at school. Both episodes are wonderful illustrations of Psalm 23:4, easily understandable by children:

Psalm 23:4 (New Living Translation)

 4 Even when I walk
      through the darkest valley,[a]
   I will not be afraid,
      for you are close beside me.
   Your rod and your staff
      protect and comfort me.

I judge a kid's DVD by two criteria....what does it teach my child, and does it capture and engage my child's attention?  I like the message of Trusting in the Shepherd, fear is not an easy subject to broach with very young children. And I particularly liked that my almost-three-year-old was enthralled with it. I'm talking sitting still for both episodes. That is on the order of a Miracle of Truly Biblical Proportions. Akin to the Parting of the Red Sea, in my book.

And then there is a catchy song..."The Fear Not Song"...I find myself humming and singing it throughout the day and the kids will join in. I think it will even help me to fear not, as well! I also have to mention the great price, too...just $9.99.

I give this DVD a definite thumbs up! Be sure to visit the Really Woolly Kids website and their Facebook page too!

And now...I'm so excited to be able to do a GIVEAWAY on my blog! Since I generously received two copies of this great DVD, I have one to give away to one lucky reader. I hate complicated giveaways, so I'll make this really simple. You can earn two entries by doing the following:

  • Follow my blog. If you already follow me, great! Just leave a comment saying so. If you're just joining, thanks!! Let me know that, too.
  • And, a bonus entry for every friend of yours who follows my blog (and they can enter too, of course!), just tell them to leave a comment telling me who kindly sent them my way.
My birthday is in November, and to celebrate, I decided to extend the time to sign up for this giveaway so I can give this DVD to someone in November!

I'll be choosing the winner on MONDAY, OCTOBER 25 NOVEMBER 1, 2010.  Good luck!

"Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR,  Part 255: "Guidelines concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

DVD REVIEW: The Mysterious Islands: A Testimony to God's Hand in Creation


Do you remember high school science say, oh, a couple decades ago (or longer)? What did you learn about how our universe came to be? I remember the big debate in the late '80s was whether or not the theory of evolution could be taught. Now, only twenty years or so later, it's taught as fact! Evolution has always seemed a bit off to me, always leaving me with the sense that something was missing...but not the supposed Missing Link for which scientists have been searching for years. The Biblical account of Creation in six days almost seems too fantastic to be real, made more difficult for Christian students by the evolutionary bent that is present in public school science curriculum. Could this theory of evolution somehow explain how God created the universe? Can there be a marriage between Science and the Bible? Watching The Mysterious Islands helped answer that question definitively in my mind.

Released on August 31, 2010 by Provident Films (who also brought us Facing the Giants and Fireproof), The Mysterious Islands is a documentary that challenges Darwin's findings during his exploration and study of the Galapagos Islands and the amazing creatures that live there. Calling the Galapagos "The Jerusalem of Evolution", Doug Phillips journeys with his 16 year old son Joshua and a Christian team of scientists to these incredible Islands to follow Darwin's path of discovery over 150 years ago. They beautifully answer the question, "Is the Galapagos a laboratory for evolution or a glorious testimony to God's creation?"

The cinematography is breath-taking, soaring over the islands and diving deep into the surrounding oceans to capture some of the most beautiful and amazing creatures on earth. There are thought-provoking discussions on faith, modern science, and insight into how Darwin came to the conclusions that forever changed science, helped shaped the environmental movement and altered the very fabric of society itself.

This film is a terrific resource for homeschoolers, youth groups, church small groups or for anyone searching for the truth amid the myriad scientific "evidence" abounding to explain the origins of life and how our universe began. A discussion guide is available to download, as well.

Our family thoroughly enjoyed this documentary, especially my ten year old daughter, a budding scientist. After watching The Mysterious Islands, I am convinced that a marriage between Darwin's conclusions and the Biblical account of Creation is an unholy union. I plan to use this DVD as part of our homeschool science curriculum and am excited to have a resource that both encourages me to explore this topic even more and arms me with a defense against evolutionary theory....which, by the way, has yet to actually be proven! 

Something to think about:  Does it bother you that your children are being taught a theory as fact, especially since the "fairness" that is demanded to allow teaching of, say, alternative lifestyles or other "faith traditions", for example is blatantly ignored when it comes to including Creationism in public school science curriculum? What far-reaching implications will that have on future generations? Are you satisfied to blindly accept popularly held theories and conclusions or are you willing to dig deeper, to measure such theories and conclusions against God's Word? And when you find discrepancies, what will you do next?

"Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16CFR, Part 255 Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 6, 2010

DIY: Make Your Own Homeschool Planner

Anyone who knows me well knows that organization is something that really does not come naturally for me. Last year, I used the homeschool planner from Home Educating Family called The Well Planned Day. I really liked it, but, as I find with pre-designed planners in general, there's always a lot of the pages I don't use. Maybe that says more about myself and my "organizational" style than the overall design of the planner, but either way I end up with a lot of wasted pages. [Did it work? Or did I still end up with wasted pages? Check out my new and revised planner for the 2011-12 school year and find out!]

I came across a great tutorial over at Dynamic 2 Moms that shows how to make your own planner (which was moved to their sister site, New Beginnings) as well as tons of other great resources! That idea had never occurred to me, so I was quite excited to discover that I could design a planner that would have exactly what I wanted in it and none of what I didn't. I was also very pleased to find out that I could do this for a fraction of the cost of buying a planner. It really wasn't all that difficult, either. I did make some mistakes along the way, but now at least I know what NOT to do!

Here's some pictures of my new planner:

Click on a photo to see a larger view
Front cover, 11" x11" laminated cardstock

Front cover. This was double-laminated because the employee at Office Max made a mistake. Actually I think I prefer it that way, it's sturdier!

Yearly calendar,

Starting things off with a yearly calendar with some holidays highlighted. Like that wretched Dumb Stupid Time we are now forced to observe. I never know when that is, usually.

Attendance record,

School attendance record. This one is broken down by month, but you could use any format you like of course. Last year I had it all on one sheet, but in a landscape orientation. Didn't like that so much.

The section dividers I designed myself, with a verse relating to the section

Course Objectives section. This is where I'll write out our goals for each subject of study and ideas for fun/interesting activities or events.

 Course objectives sheet, one for each subject of study. Form is from the free curriculum planner at New Beginnings

The course objectives sheets also include a section for an end of year evaluation.

 Monthly calendar before each month's weeks of lessons
I was able to customize this calendar at

Lesson Planner section. I have 52 weeks of planning sheets so we can continue with year-round schooling. There's a monthly calendar at the beginning of each month. This is one area I made a mistake in, because of how I put together the planner sheets. I'll explain that next.

Class Schedule. Form is available on in a type-able PDF

Weekly Goals and Review. I adapted this form from one on New Beginnings

To help me with accountability, I also included a sheet that has Weekly Goals for each subject and a Weekly Review. I'll write down what we should accomplish that week in the goals section, and in the review I'll make note of what we actually did, where we missed the mark (just in case that happens lol), and any deviations from the goals and why. There's also an area to keep track of behavior as well. My husband will ask to see this every week to help me stay on track. I printed the class schedule sheets and the weekly goals/review sheets double sided, reasoning that I'll just put the sheets in alternating. That was fine, until I decided to add the monthly calendar sheets. So I had to take out a few and reprint them with the calendar on one side and the required schedule/weekly sheet on the other.

 Field Trip log sheet from

Extra Curricular section. This would include field trips, organizations and social enrichment activities, such as Girl Scouts, Keepers At Home club, etc. All of these section dividers were supposed to be in sheet protectors, but the employee at Office Max couldn't get the sheet protectors to punch right when he tried to put the holes in them for binding. So, I had to come up with another plan for that. This section was also to have extra sheet protectors and a baseball card sheet protector to hold memorabilia, brochures, and business cards we pick up on field trips or outings.

Support and Groups section. I have information for Friday School here and the homeschool group we belong to, plus an address section to record contact information of other homeschoolers we meet. 

 Mead Zwipes pocket, front

Mead Zwipes, back pocket

Zwipes pocket. I picked up several of these at a local Amish discount store a couple years ago, but haven't found a good use for them until now. You're supposed to stick them in a notebook, but I didn't like how the side stuck way out so we haven't used them. But it works perfectly in my planner! The pocket attaches to the coil. You can put a sheet of something behind the front and the back side is like a folder pocket. The marker is really neat, too. You write on the pocket, but it doesn't  smear or rub off like a dry erase marker. It won't go anywhere until you use the special eraser tip on one end (it's wet like a marker, but dissolves the ink) and then wipe it off with the dry-erase eraser style tip of the other cap. It works on regular plastic sheet protectors, too. I don't know if they still make them, I couldn't find them on Mead's website and searching on the internet didn't bring up much, either. But just as I typed that, I glanced down at the unopened package of Zwipes I had on my desk and found this web address, which does still work:

Since I couldn't add the sheet protectors like I wanted to (and there's some conjecture here that I most certainly could have had it done that way if a) the Office Max employee knew what he was doing or b) their equipment was properly sharpened. But, since I didn't have the time or desire to run around the county to find a place to do it that way, I decided to figure out something on my own. Since the cover of my planner is 11" x 11", I have plenty of room inside. I put 3 slits in the back cover and pushed brass paper fasteners through the slits. Then I put my sheet protectors in. This ended up being my Household Management section.

Daily Schedule from Dynamic 2 Moms.
It's also available in pretty colors, too!

 Morning-Noon Schedule from

Menu planner and shopping list from Money Saving Mom, part of a free download of 14 different menu planning forms

Household Management section. Here I have a daily schedule (I use the Zwipes marker to add or change things. I will have to do this every day, so hopefully it will become a habit!) I got this sheet from Dynamic 2 Moms. Some of the other sheets in the planner are from Donna Young, a great resource of free printable planners, schedules, etc. for homeschooling and organizing life in general. I also have a Morning-Noon schedule that I found on Donna Young's site. I'm working on tweaking it to fit our home and schedule. It's kind of like a Flylady plan, but all on one sheet of paper. Then I have my menu planner/shopping list, and extra sheet protectors.

Back cover, calendar laminated on 11" x 11" cardstock
Calendar is from the free curriculum planner at New Beginnings

Back Cover. I decided to put an extra yearly calendar there so I know if I ever need a calendar, I just have to flip the planner over and there it is. I don't have to turn pages and look for it. Call it lazy if you want. I prefer to call it efficient. I hate messing around looking for things! I spend way too much time doing that as it is, so if I can find a way to NOT do that, I'm doing myself a huge favor.

  Post-it Durable Filing/Divider Tabs

Another great product I used is the Post-it Durable Filing Tabs.  They are reusable, though I'm sure eventually they won't stick anymore, but I can take them out of the old planner and put them in the new one the next year. I can also change things as necessary without too much fuss. I love that!

So, there you have it. My new homeschool/family planner. It cost me less than $10! $5 and some change at Office Max for the binding and laminating, and a few dollars (maybe) more for the paper and ink I printed out at home. You can easily spend $20 or much more on a pre-designed planner, whether it's a PDF file you print yourself or one that is already printed, bound and mailed to you. I'm hoping it works well, and I'm already thinking of modifications and additions for next year's planner. There's no end to the possibilities for personalization (if I had found this sooner, I'd have done it a little differently, but I had to get it put together before we start school!) such as pictures and scrapbooking-styled pages, dividers, etc. It was a lot of fun, too!
FOR TODAY...Labor Day, September 6, 2010

Outside my window...cloudy, cool, reminds me of Autumn...
I am thinking...about what God taught me this weekend on enjoying my children
I am thankful for...revelations in the strangest of places
From the learning rooms...planner is done (put together and bound), need to get the rest of the week planned out
From the kitchen...dd is making pancakes...she makes really good "cake-cakes" as her little brother calls them
I am wearing...comfy clothes
I am creating...a plan of attack for dealing with the Room of Mathoms
I am going...nowhere today, it's a stay home and relax day (after the housework gets done!)
I am reading...Devotions for Homeschool Moms
I am in-laws  have a good trip back home to Arizona
I am hearing...the sounds of traffic, pancake flipping, and toddler demands
Around the house...lots of straightening up to be done
One of my favorite things...early morning snuggles with my little boy, good morning kisses from my (not so) little girl
A few plans for the rest of the week:  Start school Tuesday, ladies over Tuesday night, Friday School starts
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

The recipe is called The Best Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies and they're not kidding!

Blueberry Revelation


Ever feel like God just doesn't hear your prayers? I'm trying to be a better mom so I pray things like this:

Dear God, please help me
  • be more patient with my children 
  • speak more kindly
  • be more gentle
  • control my temper
  • not get so irritated by little things

Some days, it seems like God either doesn't hear my prayers or chooses not to answer them. Then I start whining to God "but God, I want to be a better mom, I need help in these areas...why don't you help me?"

Maybe I have been praying the wrong prayer...

Marshall County held their annual Blueberry Festival this year...something I usually avoid like the plague. I don't like being in areas stuffed with people who mostly don't even realize there are other people around them, say like a mom trying to navigate a stroller through the crowd. My husband works there every year, and this year his dad and stepmom were here from Arizona for a few days and we all went to the festival.

I had been up late the two nights before, which would set me up for a potential disaster. Not enough sleep, frayed nerves, gazillions (they expected 400,000 people this year over the course of 4 days!) of ignorant/oblivious/just-plain-rude people, other people who are just as ready to explode as myself...the makings of a Perfect Blow-up, really. I knew this going into the day, and so I prayed. But, for some reason, I didn't list all of the shortcomings and character flaws that I needed help with today. I just prayed a very simple prayer:

Dear God, please help me enjoy my children today.

The strangest thing happened...I really didn't get all that irritated by things. The people stopping right in front of me with no warning, the streams of people that would appear out of nowhere and cut the kids and I off from Grandpa and RaeAnn, even the person right behind me for a while that was screaming at the person beside them (but somehow it sounded like they were screaming right in my ear) was annoying, yes, but I didn't feel that typical, uncontrollable urge boiling up within me to snap at everyone.

OK, so I wasn't perfect, I must admit. My son, when not securely  restrained in his stroller, was all-over-everywhere-and-into-everything (he spent a large portion of our time there securely restrained in his and my daughter had some whiny moments that were starting to wear on me, but I didn't blow up like I usually would have. 

Later on, as I was reflecting on the day, I realized something.

If I actually enjoy my children, then being patient, kind, gentle, and self-controlled should be natural responses in my interactions with them. God reminded me that love is patient, it is kind, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (See 1 Corinthians 13).  Of course, in light of that, sometimes I have to wonder if I really do love my kids! I do, but love has not yet been perfected in me. It's a work in progress. 

I realized that I should be focusing on enjoying my children, because I do love them. When I purpose to enjoy the time I spend with them...even the trying times...then that love has a chance to become more refined. Another cut is made in the gem to reflect the light of Christ that dwells within me. 

I would love to believe that I could just ask God to help me enjoy my children every day and I would be instantly transformed into the perfect mother I want to be. I don't doubt that He will help me enjoy my children, but what I have learned about God and how he teaches me things is this:  He gives me a hand, shows me the answer/solution, then expects me to walk it out every day. So today, I have to choose to enjoy my children and do it. But I know that when I need help, I can call on Him and He'll be there to give me the grace I need to get through the moment.

Maybe I won't avoid the Blueberry Festival so much anymore. It was a bushel of fun and revelation this time!

Enjoy the moments you're in

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook for August 30, 2010

FOR TODAY, August 30, 2010

Outside my window...there is lots of sun
I am thinking...the wrong thoughts and trying to correct that
I am thankful for...tomatoes in my back yard
From the learning rooms...I am putting together our Homeschool Planner for the year and gearing up for the start of school in a couple of weeks
From the kitchen...the kitchen today will be transformed into a "pet spa" for my dd's stuffed animals, which will keep dd and ds busy for a long time so I can get some housework done
I am husband's robe
I am creating...a personalized Homeschool Planner...lots of fun!
I am going...nowhere until the housework is done and the weather cools down
I am reading...a stack of books: Conflict Free Living, A Mom Just Like You, Nurse Matilda (read-aloud to kids), All the Way Home
I am someday be the kind of wife and mother that I long to be
I am hearing...toddler wanting to go potty, big sister locking the bathroom door, tinkling of dog tags...
Around the house...are plenty of opportunities to practice the fine art of homemaking
One of my favorite when my toddler sleeps longer than I do, so I can have a bit of quality time with Abba Father before starting my day. I treasure these moments, for they are as rare as unicorns
A few plans for the rest of the week:  get the house cleaned before the in-laws get here, then enjoy the visit with them!
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
 My dd and one of our gorgeous, whopper, heirloom tomatoes.

Join in The Simple Woman's Daybook by clicking on the logo above this entry.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How to Extinguish a Pepper Fire

My friend Heather asked me to do another guest post for her blog. I realized I was suffering from a pretty significant case of "writer's block" as I tried to come up with ideas for something to blog about. It's been weeks...most of the summer, actually, since I've had any inspiration to write anything...or do anything, for that matter (oh thank you, Mitch Daniels and your Dumb Stupid Time...). I thought about writing something deep and meaningful, something poignant, something spiritually profound. Looked for examples in my every day life (life with a toddler is just fraught with potential blog posts, really...), but nothing really inspired me. Nothing, that is, until I decided to can some banana peppers without wearing the PPO...proper protective equipment.

Come on over to A Titus 2 Woman and learn how to find relief from hot pepper burns the easy way (I've done the hard part for you, isn't that nice of me?)!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How I've Been "Doing" Real Food on a Real Budget

...or at least on a budget like mine!  I've been learning a lot about "real" food, food that is nutrient dense and as close to its natural state as possible and not full of chemical preservatives, colorings, and flavorings. And thanks to A Peasant's Feast eCourse through The Nourishing Gourmet, I'm also learning how to do it on a budget.
Read more here: Purposeful Nourishment

Monday, July 12, 2010

Soleil 100 Days

Soleil 100 Days: "There are thousands of fun, sharable prizes in the BIC® Soleil® 100 Days of Sunshine promotion. Join now!"

Friday, July 2, 2010

How Much Didn't I Spend Today?

Jill Hale from over at CouponThrifty came to my house last night and did a coupon seminar. I had already attended one a few weeks ago, but I was so excited to host one and help my friends get a hold of this priceless information on couponing, CVS'ing and WAG'ing. And it was great to have a refresher course! If you're interested in learning how to do this, check out her website and send her an email. You can also look her up on Facebook.

Here's my deals today...

My first stop was at Walgreen's. First, I bought a Gillette Fusion Razor on sale for $9.89, used a $4 coupon from the Sunday paper a few weeks ago, and got $5 in Register Rewards. I used the RR to buy the Puffs (99 cents each minus 3 coupons from VocalPoint for 50 cents each), the Suavitel fabric softener (BOGO coupon in WAGS circular for $2.99) and the Dawn (99 cents minus a 25 cent coupon from the P&G Brandsaver insert at the beginning of June. My total OOP (Out Of Pocket) for this trip was:  $7.27...way better than the $19.83 without coupons!

Next stop, Target. I had several high value coupons to use plus some price matching:

FlameDisk ($4.99 minus FREE printable coupon thanks, DealSeekingMom!), three of the new Crystal Light Pure Naturals, $1.97 each minus three $2 coupons from VocalPoint (but Target only took off the $1.97), one Kraft Mayo with olive oil $2.64 minus FREE coupon from Taste of Kraft sampler package I requested, two Airwick Aqua sprays, $1.99 each minus two $1 coupons from Sunday inserts, and 4 Miracle Whips, $2.29 each, price matched to $1.65 (Dollar General circular) minus two $1.50 coupons from the Sunday inserts. My total OOP for this trip:  $7.15. Without the coupons and price matching, $26.68!

And finally, a stop at Meijer to use a couple coupons and pick up a few other items. Free bag of Green Giant Potatoes (came in the reusable shopping bag I requested on their Facebook page) made that $3.99 bag of spuds free! Plus, I found a Johnson's conditioner on clearance for $1.90 minus a $1 coupon I had for Johnson's products, and two packages of Oscar Mayer hot dogs, 99 cents each minus a $1 off of 2 coupon from the Sunday paper. My OOP for these items was $1.88, better than the $7.87 otherwise!. I got a bunch of Catalinas for diapers, hope I can turn those into some super deals before they expire.

All in all, I left the house today with $43 to finish the week's shopping for groceries and household items and came home with $54.38 worth of items, in addition to the nearly $20 I spent on other things. I only have one more to pick up, that will be a 14 cent tube of Colgate toothpaste (89 cents on sale at CVS minus a 75 cent coupon from the Sunday paper). I am beat! Went by myself and really enjoyed it, but I am very tired from staying up so late last night trying to plan my shopping trip today!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Christian Homekeeper's Journal ~ June 22

What’s going on in my kitchen this week … not a whole lot, really. I recently realized that I'm kind of bored with food, although this has not kept me from eating it. I haven't been making meal plans...supper time rolls around and I have no plan, nothing sounds good to eat...yet somehow, I manage to come up with something. The dishes seem to have a mind of their own and one minute the counters are clean, the next they are covered in dirty dishes...or so it seems.

This week, I have simply not been able to get a handle on ……housework, particularly of the kitchen variety. This is largely due to a change in some medication that I take for high blood pressure. The last several days, for about 3-4 hours after I take my pill in the morning, I am about worthless. So very tired and unmotivated. Today wasn't quite as bad, but I did end up going back to sleep after my hubby went to work instead of staying up and trying to get something done, like laundry and dishes.

It's so hot here …..I think I could bake a cake on my back porch. It's brutal in the late afternoon!

If I could have a pantry built to order ….. it would have lots of shelves, big windows to let in fresh air while I worked, lots of counter space for kneading bread or whatever, lots of little drawers for organization (I always imagine the pantry that Manly built for Laura Ingalls Wilder in The First Four Years (I think that's the book...the one where they house he built for her catches fire and burns down), nice cool tile floor, and everything neatly organized.

The one place other than where I am that I might like to live is …..a place that is partly sunny, 77 degrees with a slight breeze all year round. Nice hammock weather. But since that place only exists in my mind, I guess I might like to live in the mountains somewhere, in a little cabin that we build ourselves...with a gorgeous view of a crystal clear mountain lake. And no bears. LOL...

The most comfortable shoes I have ever had …..are the beat up old Eastland sandals I bought back in the mid 90's. I still have them....I refuse to throw them out, but I need to see if I can get them repaired as the one side of one of the sandals is coming apart. They've been everywhere with me, even hiking in the Appalachian foothills. My bestest friend since kindergarten thinks they are unsanitary, but I love them. They fit my feet just exactly right! I haven't worn them in a few years though (the lack of tread makes them slightly dangerous. I should just wear them around the house...) so I'm sure any germs have died off by now!

My favorite things about summer ….. well, since I can't stand the sun, the heat, the humidity, and Dumb Stupid Time (DST) that was forced upon our state (by a Governor who didn't give a hoot what the people of Indiana wanted) sometimes it's hard to remember there are good things about summer. I love tomatoes fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun. I love to make my family's legendary "California Salad" just tastes like summer, and it's only really good when tomatoes are in season, don't bother with store bought tomatoes! I love cool melons, fresh veggies and fruits...sunsets witnessed on bike rides with my daughter...and those wonderful, yet often rare, days where it's just perfectly warm enough, but not too hot, to take a nap under a big ol' shade tree.

I know I need to ……quit staying up so late. Stay on top of the housework. Spend more time with my Bible and its Author. Play with my kids more. Not beat myself up because I'm not getting it right all the time. Yah, relax a's ok really.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Playing the Grocery Game: Free Stuff!

Today was supposed to be the day that I swept through CVS, Walgreen's and WalMart and snagged up a bunch of stuff for next to nothing. I had planned to plan strategy Tuesday evening, but can't remember now why I didn't...something else came up I guess. And last night we had a really bad storm that knocked our power out from 7 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday...I tried to look through the coupons and sale papers by candlelight, but it was rather difficult. Not to mention that all the great Scenarios I tried to plan included coupons that were, apparently, in every other region's Sunday circulars except for ours. Like the $5 coupon for the Schick Hydro razor that, combined with CVS Extra Care Bucks and a Schick rebate, would have actually paid me about $9. I was quite perturbed.

I ended up deciding NOT to go to CVS, since I didn't have a very solid plan, and after waffling in my head for several minutes as I traveled in the general direction of places to shop, decided to brave Super WalMart. I knew I was going there with a stack of FREE product coupons...I was ready for a showdown! If you've never really used coupons much at WalMart, then you have been spared the icy animosity from certain cashiers as you hand over a stack of coupons...particularly when it means you get something for pennies or free. They don't like that for some reason...I think they suspect that you're trying to pull a fast one over on them since certainly companies would never send out coupons for free stuff.

Going against my better judgment, I did what I swore I would not do again...take the kids with me. And while it wasn't a complete disaster, it just did a lot to cement that decision. I am too new at all this to shop with them. I need to be able to think and that's hard to do when you're constantly interrupted by requests for junk food and a toddler with a lightning-quick telescopic reach going for the glass jars of pickles.

I am, over all, very pleased with my first official "couponing trip". Using several free product coupons  I snagged $17.87 for just 89 cents! Not a bad haul. Now, some of this stuff is stuff I wouldn't buy on a regular basis, but once in a while, and for free, I'm o.k. with that.

Hard to believe this would have cost almost $20!

Pictured above are Ritz Crackerfuls, Kraft 100 Calorie Packs Cheese Bites, Oscar Meyer Deli Fresh Chicken Breast (1 pound!), Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese, Beechnut Let's Grow Toddler Meals, and Genesis Today Goji Berry Juice. The Ritz, Kraft and Oscar Meyer coupons  I received the other day from a Kraft First Taste mailing. Goji Berry Juice from Genesis Today's Facebook fan page, and the Beechnut coupon was mailed to me when I signed up for something on their website.

Plus, when I got home I found this waiting on the steps for me:


I signed up for this just a couple days ago, but wasn't sure if it even went through or if I would get one. Came just in time for Father's Day! The $5 in coupons are definitely a plus!

So, I ended up with almost $30 worth of products today for less than a dollar. I'm so liking this coupon thing! Now, if I can just get the CVS thing started...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free Money from CVS!

I know you've heard the tales of people going into CVS and coming out with $153.97 worth of stuff for $1.09 (or something get the picture, basically free stuff). I know you're wondering how on earth they do it...and is it really legal? If you read my On a Mission: Using Couponing to Make the Budget Work post, then you know about the couponing seminar I attended and that I received some very practical and do-able instruction on how to "play the grocery game." And if you have attended one of Jill's Coupon Seminars, you know it is definitely possible and definitely legal when properly executed.

The title of this post and introductory paragraph are a tad bit misleading, since I haven't actually "done the CVS thing" yet, at least not in full force. I'm still putting my strategy together. But I was very blessed today:

I took my middle stepson to the doctor (a doctor's office copay was not necessarily in the budget...wonderful) today and she wrote two prescriptions (great...prescriptions weren't in the budget either.) BUT then I remembered that I had just received in the mail in the last week or so a mailing form CVS that included two free $25 gift card coupons for new or transferred prescriptions. I had two scripts, so that's $50 free from CVS!  Of course, you couldn't use the gift card to pay for the prescription, and I could only use one coupon that day, so I'll have to take the other prescription in tomorrow to get the gift card (and use the gift card I got today to pay for it!).

The doctor instructed my stepson to eat candy, specifically sour candy, like Sour Patch Kids, which happens to be his favorite candy in all the whole wide world. I looked through the CVS sale paper while waiting for the prescription and wouldn't you know it, the big bags of Sour Patch Kids candy was on sale for Buy 1 Get one for 1 cent. Only problem was, there was only one bag. So I got a raincheck for the deal, plus another raincheck for a bag of Sour Patch Kids candy for a penny. A sour situation turned ironic, that's just what the candy does! (There's a good reason for the doctor telling him to eat sour flush out his saliva gland, which is either blocked or infected. He was quite happy with that prescription!).

I was internally lamenting just last night that I just didn't have much to spend at CVS and it seemed like I would never "get this CVS thing going" and then today, I get $50 free from CVS. I'd say that's a good start! I'm so glad I didn't throw those out, which I almost did because we hardly ever have to get prescriptions.  I won't actually have $50 to get the CVS ball rolling as I spent $8 today of the first $25 gift card, and will need to spend $15 tomorrow for the second prescription, leaving about $2. But going in to CVS with $25 and a plan to procure as much free or ridiculously inexpensive stuff as I can sounds very, very workable!

Monday, June 14, 2010

ON A MISSION: Using Couponing to Make the Budget Work

Last Saturday I attended a couponing seminar presented by Jill Hale over at couponthrifty.  I really enjoyed it, Jill did a great job of explaining all that coupon mumbo-jumbo and the fine art of CVS'ing and bagging great WAGS deals. She is also a good friend of my friend The Dime Savin' Diva and I was really looking forward to meeting her. She's great!

Coupons are not a new thing for me, I've used them off and on for years. But there is a difference between the casual couponer and the Coupon Queen...a big difference...we're talking hundreds of dollars a year, if not more!  And the whole CVS thing completely escaped me...I've heard tales of ridiculous deals (ridiculous as in it's ridiculous that people can even DO this!) and have longed to score some myself, yet every time I tried to figure out a 'CVS scenario' my brain would literally lock up. I just couldn't get it, which is incredibly irritating as I consider myself to be of reasonable why is it so hard? It takes experience for one, and an ability to think ahead and around...not always my strongest area, to be honest.

Jill did a great job of explaining that though, and I am very excited to try it out this week. I plan on spending some time Tuesday during Li'l Man's nap to plan my strategy.

She had for sale some neat coupon binders, but I just didn't have any extra money so I didn't purchase one. I had never thought of putting together a binder and decorating it with scrapbooking materials! She has some very cute ones, plus inside are all you need to organize your coupons, a grocery list, and a reference sheet of websites and other information that is very helpful.

I decided I would make my own...I have binders all over the place, sheet protectors, and coupons. I don't really like to use grocery lists made by someone else simply because they shop and eat differently than I do. I haven't made up a grocery list yet, but I did print out some Pantry Inventory sheets from OrganizedHome. My project this evening is to go through the cupboards and shelves and make a list of what we already have (I think I said I'd do this, I haven't gotten to it yet LOL).

Jill uses baseball card sheet protectors to slip her cut-out coupons in, which is brilliant! You can see the coupon and expiration date (I had to get creative and fold some in certain ways to make them fit and keep the relevant info visible) at a glance, and you can organize them however you want. However, I have to be totally honest and say that while I do have access to 'slave labor' (she has her children cut them out and organize them into three general categories), I just don't want to cut all the coupons out...for one, when I go to those websites that tell you what's on sale where and what coupons to use with it, they say things like $1/2 (product name) RP 6-13. That's $1 off of two whatevers and the coupon was in the Red Plum Sunday circular on 6-13. My problem, then, is that if I cut them all out, how am I going to find them again later? I suppose I could just look through all the little pockets, but I don't want to do it that way.

The Coupon Mom has you keep the coupon circulars, write the date on the front in big Sharpie marker, and put it in a binder. Then you go to her website and look up the deals, which are cross-referenced to the corresponding coupons. Sounds great...yet then I have the problem of what to do with the coupons I already have cut out,  and the ones I get in the mail, on products or print out?

The solution for me is to use both systems...then I'm not cutting out every single coupon and waste time on coupons I won't use, yet I have a place for all the loose coupons I already have and the others I will no doubt accumulate.

I spent some time today putting together the binder in a 'logical' fashion. I may have over-complicated it...I often do that, but the way I put it together makes sense in my head.  I'll give it a test run for the next few weeks and if I like the way it works, I'll post pictures of it here later.

So for now, it's off to inventory all our stuff...

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Integrity is a Lost Virtue, but I Choose to: