Friday, July 20, 2012


So I haven't posted in a few days because me and the girls have been in Duck, NC with some family. It was fun, but we were all happy to get home and see daddy. :] I'll post some pictures when I figure out how to get them off my phone! Haha. I spent $35 on food/snacks for the girls, so I have to add that to my total for July. Fingers crossed that I don't pass the $250 mark!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Random Goodness.

This is amazing. They are great people! At church today the speaker used this passage so now this song is stuck in my head.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Book! [Read: I Am Going to Blog my Face Off.]

The hubs got me a new book!
See how happy I am about it? No? Maybe I should turn on a light or something the next time I take a picture. I'm no Ginny Corbett, that's for sure! ;]

Anyway. The book is "Green Living", by the editors of "E/The Environmental Magazine" and it is big! I love big books. I got to page 40 on the day I got it, and already have about 14 blog posts worth of stuff. I love information! haha. *nerd alert*

On page 40, I made my first dog-ear. This is what is on page 40:

Hazards in cosmetics to look for: 
Carcinogens. [FD&C or D&C colors. Formaldehyde. Diethanolamine, triethanolamine, and monoethanolamine, or DEA, TEA, and MEA]

Endocrine Disruptors. [phthalates {they don't always list these by this name, because people know it's not good!}, surfactants, parabens]

These toxins are easily absorbed by our skin, and can interfere with how our bodies are supposed to work. Possible side effects? Get ready for this-
infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, reproductive and breast cancer, and thyroid, heart, liver lung, and kidney damage.


Would you take a medication with these possible side effects? GoodNESS. This blew my mind. I already don't wear make-up, but this stuff is in shampoo, soap, perfume, and all kinds of other personal care products. It's getting harder and harder to avoid this mess, but it can be done. I will now be scouring the internet for some homemade personal care recipes to share. :] 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Just for Fun

I took this quiz over at [Better Homes & Gardens website] and it was actually pretty accurate! That's always fun. It's called "What's My Hosting Style?"

I got "Creative Traditionalist" which is right on. I love to make the dishes my grandma made, but usually try to un-southern them and health-ify them [a travesty, I know!! I can't help it]. Sometimes it goes over well, sometimes people look at me like I may as well have spit in their food. Oh well.

Anyway, hope this makes your day fun! And on a related note, I want to throw a dinner party now!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why I Don't Buy Canned Food (even though it's so cheap!)

Most coupon/frugal blogs will post great deals on canned food. Most people who eat frugally live on lots of canned food, because it's cheap and shelf stable. I used to get a lot of it too! It's so convenient. I read a lot of blogs about how it's usually cheaper to make the stuff in the cans yourself, but man - who has time for that?

I do, now. Because I found out about BPA , or Bisephenol-A. It reacts as a hormone in your body, very similar to estrogen. It's in EVERYTHING - plastic cups, food containers, canned food and drink, water bottles - and in little bits, it doesn't show much harm. But if you're using plastic sippy cups/bottles for your little ones, feeding them canned fruit or veggies with dinner made with sauce that came out of a can - then you're ingesting a LOT each day.

A study done in Sweden showed a 2000% increase in 2 days from eating only canned food.

But why does this matter? So what if your kid [and you] have too much of this fake estrogen in your system?

"Recent research most often conducted on animals has linked BPA to a host of health issues including reproductive problems, learning disabilities, cancer and obesity. Critics of BPA contend the chemical poses the greatest risk to children." 

This is from an article about Maine's governor opposing a ban on BPA, which is outraging scientists all over the place. Basically, where we are with BPA is where science was a while back with cigarettes. There's enough evidence to make science/environmental groups want to ban it, but the FDA won't do it because it makes so much money. The problem is, just like cigarettes, more and more evidence is building against it. 

"Inconveniently for the FDA, a new study published today found an association between BPA and cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities in adults.
It was the first large study of BPA in humans, and it comes on the heels of a Yale study that found monkeys exposed to low doses of BPA (the same doses the Environmental Protection Agency says is safe for people) experienced memory and mood disorders."

This is a quote from a great article about BPA's effects on adults - until recently, people only worried about its effects on fetuses and small children. But apparently it has some pretty nasty consequences for adults as well. 

All this is not to scare you, or make you feel bad about what you eat or what you feed your kids. You have to do what you think is best for your family. I just had no idea about this until a couple of years ago, and thought I was eating really healthily. Knowledge is power, right? :] 

So this is why, when I go grocery shopping and there's some sweet deals on canned food, I have to push aside the desire for convenience and ignore them. [And believe me - that was really really hard at first!!] I'm sure someone has wondered that before when I mention that I coupon or have a tight grocery budget but never see canned goods in my cabinets.

[Side note: the Hubs has thrown out the receipt from the shopping trip we made this weekend! But the total was around $38, so I've got $27 more left for the week. I scored some organic bananas for .42/bag on the clearance produce rack!]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All Natural Ant-Repellent

I read somewhere a while back [sorry I can't link to it, I can't remember where I saw it!] about a woman  who was sprinkling minced garlic in her yard to repel spiders. It did work for the spiders, but she also noticed that she hadn't seen nearly as many ants after starting the garlic treatment.

So a few days ago our house started getting attacked by ants. I sweep every day, and mop almost every day, but with two little ones, sometimes they just hide food places for bugs to find. We sprayed things down with some eco-friendly ant spray we had, but dang-it if they didn't come back anyway. When I finally found some in my kitchen, I got really mad and decided to try something else. We always have fresh garlic on hand [the Hubs likes Italian food!], so I diced it up and lined it around wherever I had seen them, and they have not been back! Not a single one. We even accidentally left the honey out and open on the counter this morning, and nothing.

This was great news to me - a relatively cheap ant repellent that won't hurt my kids even if they eat it.

[Tip: watch the clearance produce racks for big bags of garlic! I got  a large bag of it for a dollar about 2 months ago!]

Monday, July 9, 2012

Another Money Saver

Another way I save on grocery shopping without having to clip coupons is SavingStar.

 Basically, you link your loyalty cards from any stores [grocery stores, drug stores, etc] and you can click through their coupons to add them to your card. What they do then is NOT take that amount off when you shop - they put it in your Savingstar account, and once you reach $5 you can get that money - as a gift card, to your paypal account or even your bank account. You can also let it accumulate to a larger amount. I've already gone over the $5 mark without even trying to plan around it, and that's only shopping at Harris Teeter - you can probably add it up real quick with a CVS or Walgreens card. And the nice part is, you can use a paper coupon on the item as well, and still get the Savingstar credit.

I won't get anything from people signing up through that link, I just surprised myself at how quickly I earned credit and wanted to share. :]

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Yardsale goodness!

The hubs told me today that I have an eye for Ikea chairs at yardales. I am ok with that.
$2! Definitely shoved that in our trunk.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Do You Google?

One way that I stay on top of nutritional info/new studies, crafty/frugal ideas, and coupon match-ups is my Google Reader. If you have a google account [gmail or google plus, for example], you can just sign in using that. [If you don't, get one! Google is amazing.]

Under "more" on the main google page, click on reader and get yourself set up. Any blogs that you visit, you can click on their RSS feed button [it looks kind of like a wifi signal, if you don't know what I'm talking about], select "google", and then "add to google reader". Then all your blogs go to one place, and you can sign into your google reader and see everything at once, instead of wandering all over the internet!

You can also save things [by "starring" them] and add tags to your starred items so you can find them later. I've been using this for years, and MAN does it make my life easier!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Shopping Trip 6.2

Normally, I'll go shopping on Wednesday when the circulars come out, so that I know all the good deals won't be gone. But this is going to be a weird month for us, because we're switching around some administrative stuff with the Hubs's income. So we went ahead and shopped Monday, partly for this, and partly because I had an E-VIC special on organic milk [which I use to make yogurt] that ended on Tuesday.

So here's what we got, partly stocking up and partly for a cookout we're hosting today!

(2) Mrs. Paul's Grilled Tilapia
Luigi's Italian Ice 6pk
Frozen Corn on the Cob
Frozen Green Peas
Sargento 2% Provolone Slices
Athenos Hummus
(2) Dean's Heat 'n Eat Dip
Silk Almond Milk Single
Silk Almond Milk 1/2 Gallon
(2) 4pk Turkey Burgers
Organic 2% Milk Gallon
32 oz Bailey's Creamer
(2) Wheaties Cereal
(2) Cheerios
Whole Grain Croissants 3pk
Watermelon slice

Total before discounts: $76.97

VIC Discounts:
BOGO Mrs. Paul's (-$5.39)
BOGO Luigi's (-$2.00) [half price if you only get one]
Corn on sale (-.82)
Sargento Cheese on sale (-.89)
BOGO Hummus (-$1.50) {half price}
Dean's on sale (-.79 each)
Silk 1/2 Gal on sale (-.45)
Turkey Burgers on sale (-2.19 each)
Organic Milk EVIC (-$1.22)
Bailey's sale (-$1.49)
BOGO Wheaties (-$3.69)
BOGO Cheerios (-$3.29)

Coupons used:
$1 Mrs. Paul's
.50 Luigi's (doubled to $1)
.55 Sargento (doubled to $1.10)
.85 Dean's (doubled to $1.70)
.55 Silk Single
.60 Silk 1/2 Gal (doubled to $1.20)
$1.00 Wheaties
$1.00 Cheerios
$2.00 Bakery Coupon for Croissants

Total after discounts: $39.60

So added to the internet order from earlier this week, I'm up to $71.10 for the week.

I went over the $65 mark, but stayed in my $80 budget. This is because I bought the meat and dips for the cookout that I wouldn't ordinarily buy. Also, I'm stocked up for the month on flour and cereal, so that will reduce what I have to spend on the other weeks. If I can keep the month to $250, I'll be okay with that!

I'm amped to see if I can do this. :] If I hadn't had the girls with me, I probably would've done better, but that's alright.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

First grocery purchase of the month!

At $65 a week, I have a $250 a month budget [it sounds huge when I say it like that!! *thankful*], and last night I made our first "bulk" purchase for the month.

I used to order coconut flour, which was recommended to me by a very smart friend who is a nutritionist by trade. I'm trying out some gluten-free eating, because I've been reading a lot on the effect that gluten can have on the body. One of the side affects is bad seasonal allergies, along with some other things we've had issues with. So I'm going to try this and see if those things go away. If they do, wheat will be out for good!

Anyway, I got 5 pounds of coconut flour, and they threw in 5 free vanilla beans [those things are $3 a piece at the farmer's market here! Homemade vanilla extract anyone?!] and a 1 ounce packet of pumpkin pie spice. PLUS free shipping. So I spent $32 of my budget so far, but I should not need any more flour this month. Stocking up on staples can cost, but they last a long time so if you break it down between the 4 weeks of the month, it's only 8 of the 65 dollars. Plus if it helps with allergies, I'm going to save a FORTUNE on allergy medicine! ;]

Monday, July 2, 2012

Free Samples from Target

Did you know Target has a free sample section on their website?

From the home page, go to "see more", and then click on "sample spot". Right now the samples are Garnier Fructis, Starbucks K-cups, and some Shout color wipes. I've got some coming my way already!

[Make sure you say you haven't tried/bought it before when it asks you, so that you qualify!]

What I've Learned. What I do With It.

I do a lot of research on food, and clean healthy eating. I haven't always given it much thought, but after watching my grandmother die from diabetes complications just because she wouldn't change her eating habits, I realized just how much what we eat impacts us. It seems obvious, right? If you put mountain dew in the tank of a car [or anything other than the fuel it was designed to run on], it ruins the car. How much more, then, should we care about what we put into our bodies, and whether or not it's what was designed to go in them? Look around - just as the wrong fuel can ruin a car, the wrong foods are ruining our bodies.
My interest in this grew exponentially when I got pregnant with my Sugarbean. I knew what I was eating was going straight to her little developing body, and that was heavy for me!
So that is what got me started. Add to that the fact that my husband is in full time ministry and has to raise support, and you have the other half of my food interests - a tight budget!! And now we arrive at the blog.
I have heard so many people say that they would eat cleaner if they could afford it. People seem to believe [and man, does the media push it!] that eating healthy is so much more expensive than eating junk that only the super wealthy can do it.

That is not true!!

If we can afford to do it, pretty much anyone can. So this is what I'm doing.
The hubs gave me a grocery budget of $80/week for the 4 of us. I wrote some things down, looked at some prices at Harris Teeter [where I shop] and the farmer's market [where I shop for produce], and I think I can get it all for $65/week.

I'll blog how much time I spend prepping for the shopping, what deals I find, what I get, and how much I spend. I'll probably throw recipes in there too.

I hope someone sees this, and gets something from it. I hope you'll take to heart the fact that your body is a temple, and learn to treat it as such. Ask Jesus to show you how He would like you to eat. I promise He cares about what you put in your body!

Also, a disclaimer: we are not perfect! I am still learning, and hubs and I both grew up in the south eating southern food, so it has been a gradual shift for us. I am NOT an expert, and I am NOT judging how you eat. Just sharing what we choose to do. :]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recyclebank = grocery budget savior!

Wanted to share something that helps me out in a major way, budget-wise.

Recyclebank is a site where you basically watch little videos or make pledges or read short articles [all of it is very quick!] and earn points. I don't usually care for things like this, except that I discovered one of their prizes is a $10 off $50 at Harris Teeter coupon!! It literally takes me about 20 minutes, if that, of clicking through the earning opportunities to earn the 100 points it takes to get this. I've done it several times, and there are lots of other high value coupons, but I just can't drag myself away from that HT one. ;]

Seriously try it out! If after a few minutes you're not feeling it, then all you've lost is a few minutes. But if you like it, you could be saving some major money pretty easily!

[You can use other coupons with the $10 one too...just coupon your total down to $50 and then pull this baby out!]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Once A Month Cooking.

It has been luring me for years now. If I could just set aside a day to cook huge batches of healthy, unprocessed foods in advance, I could have...


...healthy, unprocessed convenience foods on the cheap.

Pinterest has re-ignited my desire, and I am going to step out on a limb and say...this is the summer. This is the summer I will get ahead of myself and have food available for my kids that doesn't make me cringe when they eat it [no more Little Caesar's after Life Group!].

So wish me luck. And send me tips if you've done this. And if you're still not on Pinterest, send me your e-mail address and I'll invite you! It is amazing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Little Mermaid

My Sugarbean is really into The Little Mermaid right now. As I type this, she is watching it intensely. Again.

Ah, well. At least it's not Sponge Bob.

Watching this with her recently, one scene struck me very deeply.
I can't find a clip of it on youtube, or I'd have it up here. It's pretty powerful.

At the final climax, King Triton comes in and tries to save his daughter. He attempts to destroy the contract she signed with Ursula, but He can't. He has to live by the law, it's part of being a respectable king. And Ariel agreed to this contract, knowing what it would cost her. She deserved the consequences. But he is a loving Father, as well as a king. So knowing he can't break the law, but wanting to save his daughter, he does what any loving father would.

He reaches out and signs his name over hers. He takes the consequences onto himself.

It's a quick moment that I missed as a child. But watching this with my daughters, I immediately got choked up and heard a whisper - this is what I did for you.

It's the gospel. We make the choice to sin. We make the choice to turn away. We make the choice to ignore guidelines given to us by a loving Father. And when it's time to face consequences, we deserve them. We deserve it all.

But then our Father steps in, and says "No. I love you. The consequences must stand - but let Me take them instead. "

Then He signs His name - His spotless, respectable, kingly name - over ours. And He saves us from the very consequences he tried to warn us about.

It's beautiful! I'll never watch that movie the same way again. I'd encourage you to find it and watch at least that scene.

:) That's all for now.

*** Want to see what I've been up to lately? Then check it out and let me know what you think! ***

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Free Organic Beauty Products!

So I don't wear make-up for my own reasons. BUT, a lot of people I love wear make up, and I like getting them presents! So here's the deal:

Go to The Pampered Chef's facebook page an say why you like your mom. Easy, right? If you're in the first 4,000 you will get a $20 code to

Go there and order away! I got three organic lip balms and 3 sample sized free gifts, and I only paid $3.95 shipping. The code applies to shipping too, so if you stay $5.95 under $20, it should cost you nothing!

Blessings Unlimited Spring Sale!

I recently became a consultant with Blessings Unlimited - it is an amazing company. Very Christ-centered and community-building. I'm pretty excited to be a part of it!

 Anyway, I got a flyer today for the big spring sale and it is incredible!! The link goes to my girl Rachel's page, so if you order online it will go to her [which is fine with me - she's awesome!]. If you'd like for me to get the credit for it, e-mail me at and we'll work out payment and whatnot. I've got an order form open just in case.

Hope you're all doing well!

Monday, April 30, 2012

(in)RL Greenville

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This weekend, an amazing event went down. An event that happened in hundreds of locations around the world, with almost 2,000 women. An event that I registered for MONTHS in advance. An event that I swallowed some fear to offer to step out and host in my city.

And I actually really enjoy planning events, so I was pumped! I invited about 20 or 25 women, got my house all set up, made a big table of food, and then...

                               sat here by myself as the start time for the event came and went.

As a very fearful introvert, this was kind of a blow. Everyone had legitimate reasons for not coming. And I'm sure some didn't even realize it was happening, since my only form of communication was a Facebook event. But even this turned into an accusation against myself. It was definitely a moment of weakness and vulnerability that I was not prepared for. {My mother being the only one who showed up, half an hour late, and only because her previous engagement got cancelled, was little consolation.}

And then, around lunch time, my mother-in-law and beautiful future sister-in-law came by on their way around town doing wedding shopping [so much fun!]. I had talked to them earlier and asked them to at least come by and eat some of the food since Matthew and I are vegan right now and none of the food was vegan, since I had made it for other people. 

So while the moms sat at the table snacking and chatting, Jaimie and I got to sit in the living room and talk. We normally just get to chat about wedding plans and current stresses and things like that. But on Saturday, we got to talk about Jesus. I got to hear what He's doing in her heart, and in my brother's heart. We got to know each other a little better and let our friendship get a little deeper. And through all the muck of disappointment and hurt and shame in my brain, a little whisper got through, and said, 

           "This is what today was for. This is why I put it on your heart to host this, and this is why no one else came. Because in what seems like your failure, My plan succeeded."

Why do I still have to learn this lesson? Shouldn't I have it by now? I'm sure Jesus wonders this about me too. When I'm focused in on my weakness in a situation, I'm missing out on seeing Him be strong. When I despair because my plan fails, I miss out on seeing His plan succeed because I finally got out of the way. 

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What a promise! What a loving God! This weekend was a beautiful reminder. Not to mention all the beautiful wisdom shared in the videos from the event. (in)courage is an amazing group of women who really love Jesus. 

What looks like weakness or failure in your life right now? Ask God to show you His strength and His plan, and move yourself out of the way. He is good, and faithful, and loving. He, if given the opportunity, will astound you with His great Love for you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I totally rocked dessert tonight.

Not a great picture. But you have to just believe is amazing.

Tbsp of Vegan Butter + 1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp cinnamon + 1/2 cup popcorn kernels

Pop the popcorn, melt the butter and cinnamon and sugar, and then stir together everything.

Almost fat free,  but without all the fake junk in normal desserts.

Plus, the girls love it.

Anyway. Matthew just called from the hall with our vacuum and said "Our vacuum sucks." Then he smirked at his cleverness. :]

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We're doing an extended fast right now, and I say that not to brag on our spirituality [we don't fast because we're awesome...we fast because we need something drastic to get our focus to stay on Jesus!], but to give a background for everything I may say in the next two months. If you've never fasted, you should try it. There's no substitute for it.

God has been uprooting what feels like every part of my core since this thing started. What's funny is that it took me a week to realize that was what was happening.
(See? I NEED to fast. I'm just plain dumb sometimes without it.)

A few weeks ago, I had hit what really felt like rock bottom. And I doubt anyone who has spent time with me even noticed. It was an internal disease, and felt like it was rotting my insides. What was I doing wrong? I was so miserable, all day, every day. I would just sit and watch my two incredibly lovely daughters and plan how to make sure they were taken care of so that I could commit suicide.
And for no reason!
When I talked to Matthew about it, that's all I could say. I was wishing myself dead, and had no idea why. Nothing new had happened. Nothing had gone wrong. Plus, I was fasting - wasn't I supposed to be getting closer to Jesus?

But I was.

Someone at our amazing church felt the need to invite me and Matthew to a leadership gathering [we are not in leadership in any it was a random Jesus thing!] where a man who is a speaker from our pastor's home church in Raliegh would be coming to talk and pray for the leadership team. I did not want to go. I had been dealing with stuff from my past all week for no apparent reason, and just wanted to curl up and be alone. But I went.

And when he prayed for me and Matthew, I was expecting the usual - the focus would be on Matthew, and his gifts, and his ministry potential, and I was going to be his helper. [This doesn't bother me...I think my husband's the jam!! And I hate being the center of attention. So the usual works perfectly for me.]

But he started praying for me, and this guy totally read me like a book. I started bawling immediately [crying in public - probably my least favorite thing]. He brought up the things from my past that God had been bringing to my mind all week and dealt with them. I had assumed that these thoughts had been attacks of some kind, just trying to torture me - but it was Jesus, making me look at the wounds so that I could see them get healed.

God's heart is unknowable, for sure, but it is full of love for us. I do know that.

This stuff had been eating me away, and stealing my joy, and I hadn't even realized it was still there! I'm still processing it, and working through it with Jesus, but I feel completely different now.

I feel content.

I walk outside and look at our yard with the fence almost done and my garden starting to flourish and the mulberries starting to ripen and the huge oak trees filling the woods behind us - and I have peace and joy. Not from stuff. From Jesus. I look up from the computer and glance around our livingroom and just can't not say "I LOVE our house!". It is our forever home [as far as I know - Jesus has surprised us before!], and I just adore it. I've never felt like this before. I've never felt so content with life.

I'd encourage you to try fasting from something - something you think is very valuable - and watch Jesus take its place and start to see the reality that He is the only thing that has any value. It's painful, and beautiful. But most good things are.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Being Humbled.

I'm in a place of transition, of maturing and growing, healing and learning...and mostly, being humbled.

It's really uncomfortable. Can I just be honest? It's incredibly painful.

But I feel more peace today than I have in a long time, because I know it's not a punishment or trial - it's a loving Father walking me through my hurts
and my past
and my flaws
to make me whole - to bring me closer to Him.
To make me more like Him.

I'm learning that there are some things that I treasure that hold no real value, and some things I have tossed aside that are priceless.
I am learning that my plans and His plans do not look exactly the same.
I know that He loves me, and that He is walking me through this out of love.

This has been my anthem as of late. God is good when it hurts. God is Love when everything is empty.

"Though the pain is an ocean, tossing us around, You have calmed greater waters, and higher mountains have come down."