Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lead Me to the Cross

On Sunday I was traveling to Franklin, NC to speak share my testimony about the OCC. I was looking forward to meeting new people, but was dreading to drive up the curvy mountain. By curvy I mean that you have to drive no faster than 30 mph. My trip started out just fine until I noticed a car was following me way too close for my comfort zone. At that moment I had to make a choice of either continue to drive normally or to pull aside and let the car pass me. I chose the latter one.

Because I chose to pull to the side to let the car pass me, I was blessed by a beautiful view of colorful trees and a reminder how majestic is the God that I serve. Each tree was different; some trees were covered with red leaves, others with yellow, brown and green. Needless to say the view was breath taking. As I attempted to take pictures of God’s beautiful creation, I was reminded that I serve artistic God who crafted you and me to be different. Some people are blessed with gift of teaching, others with gift of compassion and the list goes on and not one person is alike, just like not one tree that I was admiring was alike. But just as each tree radiated true beauty of nature, each human being radiates beauty of God’s perfect creation.

It never seizes to amaze me that I was so special to God that He knew me before I was born. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose.” God knew and numbered all my days before I was even born, isn’t it amazing? Psalm 139:16 says, “your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

My friend, I hope today you can take comfort in knowing that God carefully crafted you, because He loved you first. He has been plans for you, if you will only yield to His Sovereign will.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tightwad's Savings

I had a pretty good shopping week. We didn’t have to have anything in particular so I shopped at Bi-Lo and Ingles for sales items. I snagged a few boxes of muffins and a few boxes of dessert for $0.25 each. Because I was planning to make my very first dish of mac & cheese, I bought cheese and butter that wasn’t really on sale, but I didn’t care too much that I did not have a coupon for it. I was a little shocked at how much real butter cost nowadays.

Prunes were on sale B1G1 this week and after sales and coupons I paid around $0.25 a bag. We were out of rice so I bought Rice Select brand, which I love sushi rice (makes the best sticky rice). The rice was pricy, but it lasts us for a while. Oh I did also stop by Aldi and bought 2 packs of frozen raspberries. I think next time I will buy vanilla ice cream and mix it up with raspberries. Yum!

Total spent: $26.75

Total saved: $34.31

Friday, October 29, 2010

I am done with school!!!

(all the magazines that I will read on vacation)

It is done. It is over. It is complete.

After I graduated college, I had no plans of continuing my education. However, once Daniel and I got married, the word “masters” began to creep in our every day conversation. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to spend hours on homework all while working full time and being a wife full time. However, my husband encouraged me to consider, especially once we found out that my amazing employer will reimburse 100% if I maintain A average.

I decided to give a try and applied to Southern Wesleyan University located 45 minutes from our home. Class would meet 1 day a week for 4 hours. The idea seemed ok, considering we didn’t have children and my husband was still in school. I I would work 8am to 5 pm and would go to school 1 day a week from 6 pm to 10 pm. Plus we wouldn’t get further in debt with student loans, if I studied hard. So I applied for the program, was accepted and began my class in November 2008.

I have to admit that during the first class I was a bit nervous. On my way to school I wondered if I could juggle school, work and family. I also wondered if I will remember how to study again. But I met some wonderful people in my class and the fear quickly dwindled away. For the next two years I poured sweat and lot of hours into studying business. There were days that I wanted to quit, because I was exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually. There were days that I felt that I made a big mistake by going back to school. There were several days that I cried driving from school, because I had no life outside of studying. But there were also many days that I was grateful that my husband believed in me achieving my goal of finishing MBA program.

So today I am happy to say that this past Tuesday I took my very last MBA class. And I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders. Although my graduation is in December, I am so happy that I will have one month to relax and actually read non school related books. I am thrilled that I can start cooking and spending more time with my husband.

I just wanted to share with you what is going on in our lives.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Organizing and hiding your keys

I do not like when our house gets cluttered. In fact, I feel stressed out when I come home and items are not where they should be. Recently I have been aggravated with the fact that our kitchen counter is always cluttered with house keys and car keys. So I decided to do something about it.

Recently I came across a handy dandy tip that hopefully will help you to be a little bit more organized. I selected a kitchen cabinet that I wanted to be a hiding place for our keys.

Inside of the cabinet I attached 2 hooks.

I then placed all gazillion keys that we have on the hooks.

The beauty of this tip is that I no longer have to spend 30 minutes looking for keys. Plus they are hidden so no one sees them and we no longer have keys cluttering our kitchen counters. You can also hang measuring cups and other kitchen tools.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Steak, rice and gravy

I work with a friend, who always makes brings yummy looking homemade lunches. I noticed that her rice and gravy always looks wonderful, so I decided to ask her for a recipe. When I tried it at home, the results were great because my husband ate every single bite of steak, rice and gravy that I made.

I used 3 Chef Requested round steaks. I coated each steak in flour and fry them on the pan until each side was golden brown. Then I added enough water in the pan to cover the steaks. I cooked until steaks were done and the water was thickened and turned into gravy.

I took the steaks out and cut them up in small pieces. When the steaks were cooling, I added several spoons of flour in a bowl and added enough milk to dilute the flour. Since the steaks were no longer in the pan, but the brown gravy was still cooking, I added milk mixture in the gravy. This created yummy white gravy to go over rice.

I mixed gravy, steak and rice together, which created a delicious and easy dinner.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Swagbucks Prizes

When I first heard about Swagbucks over a year ago, I was very skeptical about making money by doing regular searches online. Thankfully I decided to try it for myself and today I want to report to you that in a period of 1 year I have earned $100 in amazon gift cards.

This week I received several items that I ordered for myself using money in my amazon account.

Since I have been dying to start making artisan bread, I was thrilled to purchase two buckets to mix my dough in. I also bough a timer to make sure that my bread won’t be overcooked or under cooked. The best part is that I didn’t have to pay a penny out of pocket.

What are you waiting for? Go sign up! To get started visit and because you will be going through me (oxinabox1), by signing up you will automatically earn 30 Swagbucks. Then if you refer a friend and they sign up, when they earn a Swagbuck you will automatically earn it too up to 1000 Swagbucks! Each day you can do your normal searches through and earn free point for something that you would normally do anyways. To make things easier you can download a tool bar, but if you don’t want to do that just make sure you sign in when you log on to By simply searching using swagbucks search engine instead of google, you will begin to accumulate swagbucks (points) that you can later redeem for prizes or gift cards.

Have you had much success with using swagbucks?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Can TV really drain your wallet?

Are you in the market for a new flat screen TV? Well, I have a tip for you, my friend! No, I am not going to give you a coupon to help you save money, but I will give you a piece of advice that I hope will help you save money years to come. This week I came across a very interesting article in a magazine that we receive from our energy provider. The article compared watts usage of a big screen TV and a fridge. Ok, so I knew that fridge, washing machine and dryer machine are the most energy sucking devices, however my eyes were opened when I learned that brand new high definition TVs use as much electricity as a refrigerator.

I re-read the article several time just to make sure that I read it correctly the first time. And yes, I was correct. For example, 42 to 65 inch plasma screen TVs consumes 240 to 400 watts, which is at much as a fridge. But LCD screens that are 21 to 49 inches consume approximately 111 watts. So next time you are at the store buying a TV ask a sales representative about watts usage and buy a model with the lowest watts consumption. You will be a happy camper, when you electric bill arrive in the mail.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lead Me to the Cross

Does God care about what seems to us is a small prayer requests? Absolutely! He reassured me of that this past summer. Right after Christmas we decided that my mom will come to the US for another visit during the summer time. We both were so thrilled that we would get to see each other again. As soon as we set the date, I looked at my school calendar to see what class I would be taking during my mom’s visit. And it was international business.

Since I majored in international business undergrad, I wasn’t too concerned with the subject. However, part of me still asked “what if”. What is my teacher would be so difficult, that all I would have time to do is to write papers and read the book during my mom’s visit. So I began to pray starting in January that God would place a teacher who would not overload us with homework. “Lord, I really want to spend my time with my mom and not with international business”, I prayed quietly each night. “Would you please place a teacher in our class that would understand that we all work full time and have families?”

I love that the Word of God says in Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking I will hear.” I continued to pray for the teacher as I was preparing for my mom’s trip. It was Tuesday, the very first international business class. I was nervous when the teacher stepped in to our classroom, yet was quickly relieved when I saw our agenda for the next 6 weeks. Our teacher was a retired pastor, who taught us scripture through devotions at the beginning of each class. Each night that I traveled to school, I couldn’t wait to find out which topic in the Bible our teacher would cover in his devotions. And to be honest with you, I was so uplifted each night when I left to go home, that I was certain that God placed devotion on our teacher’s heart just for me to hear.

One night I recall our teacher shared with us Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” The teacher asked us if we knew significance of why the Bible used eagle as an example. We all remained quite. Our teacher then proceeded to tell us that eagles have sockets that control their wings. When they take off, the bird trusts that the socket would lock the wings in place making eagle glide through the air without any work or effort. Thus eagles never grow weary or tired, when flying. The scripture promises a believer the same thing. That once we rely and place our trust in the Lord, we will never grow tired or weary. He will never let us down and will uplift us, just as the sockets will never let the eagle down allowing them to fry effortlessly.

So here you go. Not only did the Lord answered, what seemed to me a very small prayer request, but He also blessed me with a teacher, who was a constant source of encouragement through God’s Holy Word.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tightwad's Savings

This week I once again traveled out of town to speak about the Operation Christmas Child. Since I didn’t see too many good deals in the stores, I decided to enjoy my weekend writing my final paper, visiting with Daniel’s parents and speaking about OCC.

On Sunday morning I did stop before the church at CVS and purchased two razors. Since I had ECB and coupons, I only ended up paying in $1.40 taxes. I also made a quick stop at Earth Fare and purchased flour to make artisan bread and because I had a coupon for a free fresh pineapple, I ended up paying only $5.99 out of pocket.

Total spent: $7.39

Total saved: $24.75

Friday, October 22, 2010

What to do with extra fruit

Sometimes I struggle to pass a good deal, especially when it comes to apples and bananas. At Ingles near my work, I often find good (almost green) bananas on manager’s special ($1.49 for a bag) and bags of apples for the same price. So I buy apples with hopes of making apple sauce and I buy bananas to make muffins, smoothies and to freeze the rest of later use.

This week I was planning to make apple sauce with several bags of apples that have been collecting dust in the fridge. Unfortunately I got so busy that I never made time for apple sauce this week, but will try again next week.

However, I was inspired to cook, so I used up a few bananas to make muffins for my hubby. He was a happy camper.

I also froze several bananas for later use and make a yummy peanut butter banana smoothie using a recipe that my reader recommended some time ago.

What do you do with cheap produce?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homemade Biscuits

Daniel often has to get up at 4 am to go to school for PT (Army training stuff), so he enjoys a good breakfast. One breakfast item that he loves is whole wheat biscuits, which I sometimes buy from the grocery store if they are on sale. I was always shy about making homemade biscuits because I thought that it would be time consuming. Since I didn’t want to get up at 3 am to fix a hot breakfast, I let Pillsbury do all the work at 4 am. After awhile I decided that buying biscuits is sort of expensive, so it was time for me to put my armor on and a brave face to conquer my biscuit making fear. And can I just tell you that I was shocked how easy and quick it is to make homemade from scratch biscuits!


1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup butter
1 cup milk (I used buttermilk

mix all dry ingredients together and add chunks of butter

add butter milk
start working the dough (knead) so that all ingredients are incorporated until you can form a ball with the dough

Roll out the dough and use a cup to form biscuits

Bake biscuits at 350F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown

I love biscuits with jelly!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Handy Dandy Kitchen Tools

Over the past year I have developed a passion for cooking! Growing up in Belarus we didn’t have the option of grabbing fast food or going out to eat to a nice restaurant, thus I always enjoyed my mama’s homemade cooking. Every single meal that she cooked always turned out delicious and recently I began to desire my mama’s talent for cooking. I am a true believer that some people are just gifted (like my mama) at making a perfect meal the first time they try a recipe, but for me it sometimes takes several attempts before it comes close to looking like the recipe picture.

But with my picky eater husband, cooking is not always easy. Sometimes my meals are a hit to him and sometimes they are a flop (he is always nice about my flops). So to make my cooking time less stressful especially since I work full time and go to school full time (1 more week left of classes…woot…woot), I rely on handy dandy tools.

I make pizza pretty often around our house, because I found the best recipe and my husband loves it. I make the dough for several batches and freeze it, just as I freeze shredded cooked chicken. So to make meal preparation quick, I let all my ingredients to unthaw and use my handy dandy pizza roller that prevents formation of bubbles on the dough. I used to rely on fork to get the job done and now I roll the pizza dough with holes poking roller and never have to worry about bubble!

My next favorite item is a meat tenderizer. Growing up my mama would make the world’s best pork chops (she still makes yummy ones) and her secret was always to tenderize the meat first. So when I came across this lovely tool several year ago, I had to purchase it and have been happy with my pork chop results every since. By the way, it is an amazing stress reliever also!

Finally I have to let you in on Misto. Because my “too healthy for his own good” husband does not like too much oil in his dishes, I bought an empty spray bottle to fill up with oil. I was very disappointed with the results, because my bottle didn’t spray it right. Then I read a review on Misto about a year ago and decided to try one for myself. My Misto came from Bed Bath and Beyond, because I had 20% coupon. And can I tell you that I love it! I never have to worry about pouring too much oil on a frying pan anymore.

Do you have a favorite kitchen tool?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did you know?

GUEST POST by Jennifer Iseli
Fall is probably one of my favorite times. The air is crisp and the deciduous trees are in the height of their splendor! How I love spring and the promise of new life, but it is this time that I feel the glory of God and all of His majesty.

Did you ever wonder why the leaves change colors?
Leaves are like little food factories for plants. Through a process called Photosynthesis, they take water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight to make Glucose, a sugar that the plant uses for food and energy to grow. A chemical called Chlorophyll helps photosynthesis to take place.
There are always three pigments present in a plant’s leaves; Carotene, Anthocyanin, and Chlorophyll (the photosynthetic pigment). Carotene appears as yellow and orange, Anthocyanin as red and burgundy and Chlorophyll as green.
As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is a signal to the trees that they need to begin getting ready for winter. During winter, there is not enough light for photosynthesis to take place efficiently, so deciduous trees will drop their leaves and rest as they live off of the food that they have stored during the summer.
As they begin to shut down their ‘food factories’ and less photosynthesis takes place, the green chlorophyll starts to fade away. As it fades away, we begin to see the yellow, orange, red and burgundy colors which were covered up by the chlorophyll during the spring and summer!
Isn’t God’s creation AMAZING!

Thrifty Tip:

Use “found” objects as containers. An old boot, a broken wheelbarrow, baskets, anything that will hold soil will work. Just be sure the water can drain out. If you can’t drill a hole in something, try fitting it with a plastic pot. If you find something that has large holes (so big they won’t hold the soil, or soil washes out when you water) line it with a pressed coco fiber mat, or for odd shaped things, line it with bird netting or screen, then sphagnum moss. Soak the moss in water for about an hour, and then you can form it to almost anything.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Watch out for coupons...

Coupons, coupons, coupons! Oh how I love coupons. Before too long you maybe listening to me singing about coupons, but I must caution you first…I am not a singer! Now that we established that I was not blessed with beautiful singing voice, lets move on to my favorite topic about coupons. When I first discovered coupons, I was amazed at how much money one can save by simply matching coupons with sales. In no time I became addicted to the world of couponing. On Sunday morning I would drive to Walgreens before church to pick up “freebies” along with 5 newspapers and there have been times when I bought 8-10 newspapers. See, I wasn’t kidding you when I told you that I was addicted.

Although I was saving money, my addiction was not healthy. I was thinking about coupons nonstop and running to the store at lunch break to check out the latest deal. Then I found myself buying anything and everything that had a word “free” attached to it. What I didn’t realize is that even “free” items sometimes require out of pocket expense. Let me explain. When my mom was visiting us a year ago, she and I took at trip to Kmart to participate in double coupon promotion. I noticed that a certain brand of shampoo was on clearance and I had a coupon that after doubling would allow me to acquire a bottle of shampoo for $0.25. My mom stopped me from buying and our conversation went something like this…

Mom: Why do you need another bottle of shampoo? You already have 20 bottles at home.

Me: But mom, it is only $0.25! It is practically free!

Mom: It is not free if you have to pay money for it. Therefore you need to put it back and stop paying for items you don’t even need.

Me: Fine…I will put it back.

My mom was right, I didn’t need another bottle of shampoo even if it only cost me $0.25. Thankfully my mom was able to open my eyes that I was spending money on “free” items that weren’t really free. At Walgreens I would easily spend $10 on items just to generate 10 bucks in Walgreens money. Before my mom’s visit I considered all these items to be free, but after my mom’s visit I realized that I had to invest money in items that I considered “free” because they generated store money back.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I am a big advocate of anyone and everyone using coupons. It just my coupon strategy has changed since my mom’s trip. Now I only buy items that we actually need and I no longer buy items that cost pennies but I have no use for them. I no longer shop at Walgreens, because I found myself spending way too much money there just to acquire ”free” products. Instead I prefer shopping at CVS where the expiration date of ECB (extra care bucks) is much longer and my out of pocket expense for items that we need is very little. Some weeks I am even ok to skip shopping all together and eat from our pantry where as before I was addicted to driving to Target (1 hour away) just to pick up 3 items.
Even though I scaled back on hard core coupon shopping, I still get the thrill of watching my total go down thanks to coupons. I still giggle when my husband asks if I have a coupon for an item that he wants to buy. And I am grateful for friendships that I have created with cashiers because of coupons.

Share your couponing experience with us!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lead Me to the Cross

In the fall I stay very busy by traveling mostly throughout the state of South Carolina sharing my testimony about the Operation Christmas Child. One particular weekend I was invited to speak in Georgia at 3 different events. I was so thrilled and humbled that God would choose someone like me, a girl who falls short of His glory daily, to share a story that He has written for me with others.

On Saturday night I had the privilege of sharing my story with OCC volunteers and was blessed with meeting people who have the desire to serve the Lord through this ministry. Also I must say the food that we ate that night was delicious. On Sunday morning I had an honor of sharing my testimony with a church who participates in collecting shoe boxes. Afterwards I enjoyed speaking to people and must say I loved also receiving hugs from them! Before you know it was evening time and I was getting physically tired. I prayed that the Lord would hide me once again behind the cross that He would receive all the glory, honor and praise as I speak to a different congregation about the Operation Christmas Child.

People were very receptive of the message and once again I was blessed beyond my imagination by speaking to men and women after the service. Because my husband and I worked with youth at our church, these groups of young people have a very special place in my heart. So you can only imaging how blessed one can be, when a teenager comes up to you and ask names of your parents so he can continue to pray for them. Yep, that was my blessing when a young man came up to me with his grandmother after the service and asked for my parents’ names.

Just when I thought I have spoken to everyone, I noticed a shy young man (high school age) standing waiting to speak to me. We shook hands and briefly spoke to each other. When the young man walked away, I was told that he probably could relate to my story because his mother suffers with alcoholism (where as in my family it is my dad) and the young man always prays for his mom. The moment I sat in the car, I was burdened for the young man, whose name I later found out is Mark.

Perhaps because I know that as a teenager it is unbelievably hard to carry this burden what feels like alone. But it is unbelievably comforting to know that God promises in His word that, “My burden is light and my yoke is easy” (Matt 11:30). And the truth is that it doesn’t get easier as an adult to watch your parent suffer with substance abuse. But I continuously have to remind myself of God’s promises that He has given us in His Word.

God is faithful in hearing our cries and as soon as I had the opportunity to speak to my husband, I shared with him about Mark and asked Daniel to pray for him and his mom. Today I would like to ask you to pray for Mark’s peace and his mom’s alcoholism recovery.

How can we pray for you today?

"It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four solders each (that’s 16 soldiers for one person…crazy!!!! ~my comment). Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him". Acts 12:1-5

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tightwad's Savings

This week was fantastic in terms of grocery shopping! During the week I stopped by Ingles and picked up Chef’s Requested meat for $5.99 a pack. I had several $5 off coupons along with $3 off coupons, thus it made my meat super cheap. Bananas were on manager’s special, so I picked up a basket to make more muffins for Daniel and to freeze the rest for smoothies.

This weekend I traveled to Rock Hill to speak about the OCC, so I spent Saturday with my in-laws. On my way to Rock Hill I stopped by CVS, where I was thrilled to receive from the coupon machine $5 dollars off any Halloween item (X2). I picked up two candles ($4.99 each) and the sales associate told me that they qualify, since they were on Halloween decoration isle. I chose pumpkin scent! J

My mother in law and I stopped by Target, where I picked up 10 bottle of apple juice for Daniel. I divided my purchase in two transactions. I paid $8 + for first 5 bottle and received $5 gift card, then I paid $3+ for second transaction that included 5 more bottle of apple juice. I ended up paying $11+ for 10 bottles and still have $5 gift card to spend at a later time.

Since we don’t have Harris Teeter near my house, I stopped by the store and was thrilled to buy yogurt coated raisins for $0.60+ because Daniel loves to eat them. For some odd reason they are qualified healthy on his “no junk food” list.

At Bi-Lo I stocked up on Baby Ray BBQ sauce because it was on sale B1G1. I didn’t have a coupon but was happy to pay only $1+ for a bottle of our favorite sauce. I went a little overboard and picked up 10 bottles, because we will probably go through 10 bottles in several months.

On Sunday I made a stop again by CVS for free toothpaste and candy bars.

At Publix I snagged 2 packages of Burtolli pasta for $0.11 each!

Total spent: $70.05 (I felt good spending that much this week, because I haven’t been spending much in previous weeks J)

Total saved: $119.85

Friday, October 15, 2010

Will you help me?

At the beginning of the year I was asked to teach a class at the church on frugality. Every Wednesday night I would meet with a group of women and together we learned how to be good stewards of God’s riches. I was so passionate and excited to share everything that I have learned during my short tightwad journey. The Lord was so good to me and I always left the class feeling beyond blessed, because we were growing together in being responsible with what God has blessed us with.

Throughout the week I would send out an e-mail sharing a devotional as the Lord lead me. And after receiving positive comments (God gets all the glory for that) the idea of staring a blog was born. I had no idea how I was going to manage all the posts, since we do not have internet at home (and I learned this month that it would be another 3 years before we will get the service). But my passion of sharing all the tips and tricks along with sharing Lead Me to the Cross devotional kept me going as I drove to a fast food restaurant to use free internet connection.

It has been my deepest desire to serve you and to share with you all that I have learned. I would love to continue to do just that, but need your help. Would you be so kind and share with me what topics interest you and I would gladly research and write future post about it? I would be forever grateful for your comments!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No more clogged drain

Our bathroom sink was not draining properly so my loving husband spent some time cleaning out the tubes. Unfortunately our sink tubes needed more in depth cleaning and my husband was waiting for a free moment to tackle this task. But before my husband had to unscrew one billion bolts, I remembered about an e-mail that I received from my church friend months ago. I was unbelievably happy that I saved her e-mail just in case.

She suggested using the following ingredients instead of Drano or any other commercial unclogging liquids.

1 cup baking soda - pour down clogged drain

Follow with 1 cup distilled white vinegar

Wait 20 minutes

Pour a pan of boiling water down the drain (I used a 2 qt sauce pan)

At first I was skeptical that it would unclog the drain, but decided to try anyways. After consulting with my father in law to insure that I won’t mess up the tubes, my hubby and I began our mission to unclog our sink. I followed my friend’s recipe and in about 30 minutes the sink was operating like brand new…no joke. I was so excited and proud of myself and I could have issued a money saving/time saving medal to a creator of this brilliant recipe! Seriously, I couldn’t stop smiling the night we unclogged the drain in less than 30 minutes and very little effort, that I was wondering if other sinks around the house were showing the sings of clogging (unfortunately I found none).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Real Stories from Real People

Judith purchased all the items for $7.18!
Total spent out of pocket: $53.63
Saved: $121.16
Extra savings received: $22.00

Guest Post by Judith Yopp

After college, I moved back in with my parents (I didn't have a job in college so I had very little savings). I worked for about 2 years and got engaged. We bought a house a few months later so we could have it ready for when we got married, which we did last March. I had been very impressed by Oxana's savings on Facebook and I started to follow her blog. I had been wanting to start couponing but just hadn't actually taken the time to do so during all the wedding planning (though I did plan a really awesome wedding and came in $2k under my $10k budget so I did start on the savings early!).

About 2 months into our marriage, I decided that I was ready to start saving some money after a few crazy grocery bills (and of course when I moved into the house I had to buy all the cleaning essentials and looking back I cannot believe I spent so much!). With my savings gone thanks to the down payment on our house and all of our bills, I thought "there's no reason we should be spending more than we need to on necessities. We want to be able to save some money for trips while we're young and child-free!"

Oxana had sent me an email with some great tips. I started to buy newspapers and to send emails to companies for coupons. I also started to follow which is one of my favorite savings sites, I have to check it at least 4 times a day when I can :o)

So about 4 months into it, I can honestly say that I have had so much fun couponing and seeing how much I can save! I donate some of the things I can get for free, give some away (diapers, wipes, and baby wash are great for baby showers!) and have a major stockpile on toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, body wash, dish detergent, razors, etc. It's so much fun! And I know that if there comes a month where we are a little tight, we are covered!

I really see this hobby as a blessing and I know that if I stay faithful in my tithes and offerings to God, He will take care of us and make sure we have more than enough of the necessities as well as some left over for some activities the hubby and I can enjoy together!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Garden in October (Part II)

GUEST POST by Jennifer Iseli

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

• Once the vines die back, and before a hard freeze, harvest winter squash. You can cure winter squash for storage by placing in a cool, sheltered shady spot for about 1 month.

• Remove green tomatoes from the plants. You can ripen them in a brown paper bag!

• Enjoy harvesting your fall crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks and beets.

• Clean and put away empty ceramic containers or decorative items. A mild bleach solution should take care of any remaining diseases, etc.

• Clean and refill bird feeders. Also, keep bird baths washed and refilled – Bird migrations will be at their peak now. If you are in an area with frequent freezes, you may want to consider a de-icer or turn the birdbath over to avoid cracking.

• To minimize diseases and insects, after the first frost falls, rake up the leaves of roses and dispose of them (do not compost) Add fresh mulch to winterize.

• Start a winter herb garden – pot up a few plants of parsley, sage, thyme or chives and place them in a sunny window.

• Before herbaceous perennials are knocked down from the first frost, place markers by the pant so that they can be dug up and divided. BE CAREFUL… if plants have a hollow stem; do not cut them back until early spring. If water falls into these hollow stems and then freezes, it can kill the plant.

• Place Christmas cactus in an area that receives at least 13 hours of darkness a day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Abby and a blueberry bush

I was so thrilled the day I ordered a blueberry bush from Gardens Alive catalog. The best part about my bush was that it was free. Sometimes during the summer the company ran a special $25 off any $25 order coupon and I was able to snag a miniature blueberry bush for nothing out of pocket. However, I was informed by the sales rep that my bush will either arrive in late September or early October. Since I didn’t have to pay anything, I didn’t really care when I would receive my berry bush.

One beautiful Saturday morning, I checked our mail and was greeted by a postman with a big box. On my way home I was trying to figure out what could be in the box, since I wasn’t expecting anything exciting. Well, I totally forgot that several months back I ordered a blueberry bush so I was super excited when I opened the box. I decided not to delay and plant the bush right away in a huge flower pot. I filled up the pot with organic soil, nicely dug a hole and planted my soon to be fruitful bush.

Once the task was complete, I went inside to wash my hands. As I was glancing through our kitchen window, while wiping my hands, I notice Abby (our dog) sniffing the bush. I stepped outside and noticed that the dog tried to help me with the bush by digging around the plant. Sternly I warned Abby with “No”, but apparently silly dog though that I wanted to play with her. Note to myself…I need to work on my stern voice. I had to tell Abby several time to leave the plant alone and finally I thought she understood.

That same Saturday I had to drive to Atlanta to speak about the Operation Christmas Child. I had a fabulous 2 days meeting wonderful folks and sharing the story that the Lord has written for me. On Sunday we (my husband and I) stayed at the hotel and Daniel drove me to work on Monday morning. I totally forgot to tell Daniel about my exciting freebie, so on my way home after work I could not wait to show him our family blueberry bush.

Anxiously I waited to arrive home, but my excitement quickly went away when I saw this…

I saw an empty pot and the blueberry bush was gone. I gasped. Daniel thought something was wrong with me. Trying to keep serious face I told him all about the missing bush. He started to laugh hysterically, but it wasn’t that funny to me. Abby at that moment was jumping up and down wanting attention. And I was trying to figure out should I laugh it off or stay upset. Finally I shared my feelings with Abby, but apparently she once again interpreted my stern voice as invitation to pet her.

At the end of the day I learned a lesson. Life is short, laugh when you can and be glad that the blueberry bush was free (thanks to a coupon).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lead Me to the Cross

I was in Spain when I read about the tragic news of a woman who took her life leaving her son and husband behind. She attended the church and in fact was there the weekend before her death. Although I have never met this woman, my Spirit was grieving. I felt sick to my stomach as I lifted the family up in prayer for peace and comfort. This tragedy has reminded me of importance to minister to a church family.

I don’t believe that one can go out to minister to a stranger effectively without taking the time to minister to the church family first. There have been many Sundays that I would walk to church passing people right and left without really caring enough to stop and sincerely ask how things are going. We all talk to the same group of people and warm the same pew Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. If you take just one minute to look around, the church is filled what looks like happy people. But happy faces don’t always mean happy hearts. One can be hurting and is in need of encouragement, yet may feel that no one around cares enough to stop and actually listen.

As my husband has previously said, “What is the point of asking people how they are doing, when they don’t even stop long enough to listen?” And he is right, but why can’t we find 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour to stop and listen? Because we live in a busy society that tell us that time is money.

I recall a time that I was standing in the elevator with the stranger and we quickly exchanged “hi, how are you?” The stranger proceeded to tell me that he was not doing well, because his friend was dying of cancer. I was taken by surprise, because I was not expecting the stranger to tell me how he was actually doing. Shame on me!

Valuable lessons can be learned from mistakes and the Lord has impressed the following on my heart. Each Sunday I am to partake in pew hopping. This means that each Sunday I am to seat on a different pew next to people that I do not know well. Before the preaching starts I am to take the time to get to know people who are seating next to me. This challenge excites me and makes me nervous all at the same time. Do you want to join me in pew hopping?

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:34-35