What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, September 27, 2013

Financial Peace Friday

...In which I try to keep my head in the financial game by thinking on (and acting upon) ways to save pennies, make pennies and stretch pennies.

One big change (challenge) I have given myself is to stretch the shopping days out. Until last month my schedule included a weekly grocery shopping day~ usually on Mondays.  That trip takes 30 minutes up and 30 minutes back.  During the school year, that's a school day, which threw our whole school day for a loop.  And while I was uptown I would convince myself to step into several different stores, just to browse for sales.  Well, without fail, I would find SOMETHING to buy.  I am a bargain shopper to the core.  I don't wince at spending under $5.00 on something- in fact, I am kinda proud of it.  But nickle and dime-ing things can add up!

So as I was considering options on helping to tighten our budget, I realized that while many people clip coupons to save money, for me that might not be as beneficial.  Clipping coupons would have me uptown MORE often to get the bargains and since my temptation is to find good deals and buy them, I thought perhaps staying away from stores altogether would equal more savings in the long run.

By moving to a monthly grocery day, I have saved money in mileage, gas money (which is nothing to sneeze at these days) and plenty of moolah in the way of food.  I have also freed up our Mondays so we don't jam school in between the cracks of the afternoon and I go in the evenings so I can get done more quickly than when hauling four children along for the ride.

It requires a lot more forethought though- let me tell you.  I have to buy ALOT of everything, to make up for the whole month which means I have to know WHAT to buy which means I have to have a monthly food plan.

There is no way to buy enough dairy needs to accommodate a whole month of our families' needs- that would be about 14 gallons of milk!  So on our library days, I go to a small mom-n-pop shop right by the library to pick up the milk.  (By next summer though, when our Penny has her calf, I won't need to worry about that anymore!  Yay!  Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!)

So, that has been my first step to saving money.  And it is a biggie.

Other ways I worked to be a better financial steward this week:
  • I finally finished sorting all the winter/summer clothes.  I sorted clothes into "DONATE", "YARD SALE" and "CONSIGNMENT SHOP" bags.
  • I accepted several generous bags of clothes from church friends on Sunday- who single-handedly supplied my eldest girl and my youngest boy with all their winter needs!  What a blessing these ladies are!  I hadn't found anything for Corynn at yard sales this year and now she even has a winter coat! And Judah has some "new" shoes which his HUGE feet (that grow to new sizes within a month it seems) desperately needed!
  •  I cleaned up all the leftovers and almost-finished things in the fridge before they spoiled by making soup and smoothies, among other things.  I hate it when food spoils in the fridge.  That is SUCH a waste of money (and for gardeners: a waste of TIME).
  • I spent a bit of time, while sorting clothes, listening to this.
  • I paid bills on time.  
  • I paid the full auto insurance quarterly amount instead of paying in installments (saving the $5.00 per installment charge.)  
  • I harvested potatoes from the garden.
  •  I went to a free knitting class at the library.
And the best for last:
  • Here is a HUGE ONE that I am so thankful for:  I called the billing department of the hospital where I spent two visits in the emergency room a few months ago and asked if they would give me a discount if I paid my bill in full instead of in small payments.  I didn't grovel, I didn't beg, I just asked.  They gave me 20% off like it was totally no big deal!!!!  A HUGE savings for a 2 minute phone call!

Thursday, September 26, 2013


~ Pretty ~

You never have to look far for something pretty around here.

~ Happy ~

We have had such a wonderful year of garden fruit this year!  Must have been the torrential rainstorms this spring that almost drowned my garden (more than once).  

We've been feasting.  

~ Funny ~

A glance out of the kitchen window reveals this...

Wait a minute.  Is that a TAIL?

Sure enough, it is.  There is Skeeter, looking a wee bit sheepish, I must say!

What is he DOING under there?

Hanging out and reading apparently.  


~ Real ~

Boys and frogs- they have some sort of magnetism one toward another.  
Well.  Come to think of it...I suspect if  Mr. Frog and Mr. Toad had their way, the could do quite nicely with a safe distance from boys.

 Yes, that look pretty much says it all.  Doesn't it?

Judah's hands are enormous.  Matt takes great pride in it, I just sniffle because when I hold his hand, it is like holding Andrew's hand.  

My Hoss, I love him so.

round button chicken

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Finances and Failures

You remember the bandmill post, don't you?

Ah yes- but you see, the words and the pictures were just a teeny tiny bit of the big picture- blog posts usually are that...surface snippets. 

The backstory to that post is a long and unlovely one, which I will not go into detail except to say that:

 Matt really really really wanted to buy that bandmill for himself.

I really really really wanted to be able to buy that bandmill for him.

We have dozens of trees that would be nearly worthless to sell but would be incredibly valuable to saw up and use to rebuild and better this place around us.  Dozens of trees that, now that they are cut, will eventually rot.  Buying a bandmill would have been a wonderful investment. 

And yet, despite all these positives, there was ONE negative.  We didn't have 15 grand just lying around.

As much as we wanted one and as easy as it was to convince ourselves that is was a smart move to finance (It's an investment!)- still, buying something we can't afford in the first place makes a smart investment not an investment at all.  Just stupid.

But being financially disciplined is REALLY HARD when you want something REALLY BAD.  It just is. 

The end of the drawn-out saga is, of course, that Matt's brother bought a bandmill and we paid him to let us use it.  A temporary means to an end- and a somewhat painful one too- but we now have some lumber to work with to do some of the projects that need to be done.

One good thing that came out of this very painful time was that I was spurred to reevaluate our finances and refocus on our financial goals.  The fact is, I had gotten lazy this year.


Sure, I still use a cash-based envelope system.  But if I needed to take money from the 'preparedness' envelope to buy myself some shorts that actually fit me, I would totally do it.

We had unexpected hospital bills (thanks to me. argh.).  We had several car "situations" that we hadn't planned for.  We had a few necessary (but unbudgeted) household repairs that NEEDED to be fixed (windows, electrical). An unexpected tax bill.  The more unexpected things came up, the less money I had excess to save anyway and the less I cared about trying.

I had lost my momentum, lost my drive.  I had lost my fervor.  (I stopped blogging my financial goals for the year too, come to think of it.) 

So much for code orange.

Well, things have to change. 

Matt STILL really wants a bandmill and I STILL really want him to have one and we STILL have dozens of trees waiting to decide whether they will be put to use or rot on the ground.

I am now refocused.

I know that, despite our modest income, we could be saving more for things like...a bandmill... simply by living on less and being focused!  I know this because I have friends who do.  I know this because I started listening to Dave Ramsey's show online every now and again during kitchen work- and I hear real people say it.  And especially, since finding this blog (incidentally, about the same time as the whole bandmill situation happened.)   Boy, can that lady live frugally!

Here I am, shamefully admitting (just one of) my (many) shortcomings...I failed.  

  We Christians are good at that, aren't we?  Failing.  
But, I think, we Christians also have the upper hand by understanding the Truth of this- that Christ died for our sins and forgives our failures.  This leaves us free to move past our failures (forget 'em!) and  we are free to start anew at any moment we so choose.   

Fresh opportunity.  A new start.  Renewed focus. 

I choose that.

And you, my friends, are going to hold me to it.  Okay?

I am going to post some financial things at least once a month here for you to read.  Or skip. (Whatever you choose!). I won't know!  ;-)  It will likely be things I am doing to save money and/or make money.  Something akin to these, perhaps?

Consider yourself forewarned.

And if you are in the same boat I am in and in need of a good kick in the financial pants- I'd love to hear what you are doing and how it is working for you!

Friday, September 20, 2013




Rising early can be such a pleasure.  It changes your outlook and perspective on the whole day.  How could it not when you are so often greeted with dense fog, deer lifting their heads in curiosity, and gorgeous silhouettes.  When you are very lucky, you see the curtains begin to have an certain pink glow about them and you race outdoors to find the sky gilded with gold and tied in a pink ribbon.  Just for you. (Or so you tell yourself.)

This hasn't been the case THIS week, mind you.  Matt has been out of town in Maine this whole looooooooong week, and as I always do when he is away, I crawl into bed around 1am and then read until my eyes finally shut for good.  I can't sleep well without him and avoid the bed until I can do so no longer.  No pink sunrises for me this week.  Only a bleary-eyed beginning to another long day without Matt.

He comes home today!  YAY!


We made a new Hopestead improvement this month!  One that we had to hire out.  We got five new windows installed!  No more boarded up windows in childrens' rooms during the wintertime.  No more old broken windows that freeze you to death with the winds that blow through them while you sit on the couch.

We are doing this as we can afford and five was our lucky number this year.  I hope that we will be able to do a few each year until they are all done.  The five windows that we replaced were the worst of the windows.  I am certain that this will help retain more heat this winter.

FIVE windows replaced!  Only 20 or so to go....

I made cheese!  I finally did it!  Granted, it is yogurt cheese, and is super simple to make.  It doesn't even require rennet.  BUT.  It has the word cheese in it; it involves hanging to drain; it is made of milk and it tastes cheesy.  Therefore, it totally counts.  It tastes almost exactly like cream cheese only with a bit more tartness.  Cheesemaking, along with soapmaking, sewing, canning, yogurt making (and many others) was a major goal of mine that was put off and put off because it seemed too hard.  I do this to myself: convince myself that I cna't do it before I even begin.  Such a foolish way to be.  Had I begun to do the things I longed to learn to do waaaaaaayyyyy back when I wanted to learn them first, I would be experts at all of these things now.

Mozzerella is next.  When I finally get my hands on some rennet.


Our apple trees did INDEED survive my brutal trimming last year.  (May I take a moment now to flub my tongue at the Mister?)  One, in particular, is absolutely GORGEOUS with dripping apples!  Of the three apple trees that were here, this is the only exceptional one.  The one that looked the healthiest as a tree has brown and spotty apples, the other tree that was barely alive grew apples but they only got a bit bigger than walnuts.  I think that one just wants to die peacefully.  But THIS gorgeous one makes up for the others.  I hope to make some cider and dried apple slices this weekend.  If there are any apples left- the children eat about ten a day.  EACH.  


Judah has been potty-trained pretty much all summer.  In the spring I let him walk around in his skivvies so that I would have to wash fewer "accidents".  But then, I guess he just got used to walking around in his skivvies, even when no accidents were happening, and I guess I totally let him.  Because hey!  We live in the country for goodness' sake!  Nobody would see him anyway!  And because the boy gets dirty five seconds after waking up!  I could just save of the pants laundry.  (Though I did feel guilt knowing how horrified my Mom would be, knowing this fact.)  Now that the weather is colder, I am insisting the boy put his pants back on.  But I must admit, I will miss those adorable legs and tush.  Really, he has the cutest tush in.the.world.


My sister is coming over for lunch in precisely 24 minutes and here I sit blabbing about backsides and apples.  Really Rebecca.  

I must now go and scramble to tidy up this house and bake something yummy.  
Now it is 22 minutes.

Have a great weekend and 
thanks for always listening to my random chattiness.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First Frost

Well- it finally happened.  The first frost. 

In preparation, we took a "HARVESTING DAY" off of school yesterday  to clear the gardens of all the frost-tender plants.  Though, in truth, our start of school as been a bit "sputtering".

 I can't say I am sorry to see it coming. I am finally ready for the slower pace of fall- or at the very least- the same pace but a different focus of my time and energies than on garden/canning chores.  The fast-paced focus now will be on schoolishness.  (In an effort to thwart foolishness.)  

It is a funny feeling though- knowing that when our supply of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers are no more we probably won't be having anymore until next year and feeling disappointed by it.  All of a sudden, after a good month of being overwhelmed by cucumbers and tomatoes, wishing they would "JUST DIE ALREADY!" switches to "oh no- I won't have fresh tomatoes to eat!"  It's all very schizophrenic.

Along with the vegetables and tomatoes, we cut mounds of flowers and have vases (sometimes several) in every room in the house.   A season without fresh flowers is a long and dreary season indeed.  Must enjoy these last beauties.  My morning glories just nicely started blooming!  And my zinnia patch is so gorgeous.


SO cut, cut cut.  Grumble, Grumble, Grumble.

While some of the plants I am happy to see die (sort of) one patch that I am NOT ready to part with is the watermelon patch.  It is full of beautiful large watermelons- that are not quite ripe!  The problem with watermelons is that they do not ripen off the vine so if they die, they die.  And they don't like frost.  :-(

I was already to just give it up last night.  But I couldn't.  (Big surpise.)

Despite the fact that Matt is out of town so I didn't actually go to bed until after 1am, I dutifully got up well before dawn and sprayed the watermelons down with the hose.  And since I was already up- I did the marigolds and zinnias too.  And the morning glories.

Maybe I can have a few more flower bouquets after all.

Meanwhile- my kitchen and mudroom are in a state of emergency.

Still in the garden:

swiss chard

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Woodmizer Weekend

Warning: BOY POST!

It was rainy and dreary on all of Matt's days off, but that didn't stop him from getting some lumber cut. 
He and his brothers and his Dad worked tirelessly (doding raindroplets all the while) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Saturday evening, when they were all done for the day and packing things up, the sun finally poked its head out.  (That was just wrong.)  

In the end, an astonishing amount of wood was made into all different sized cuts of lumber.  

They sawed lumber for three different people.  Matt is using his lumber for different projects which you will be seeing in future "boy posts".  The first project, however, will most likely be repairing the haymow floor so we can store hay up there.   

If you've noticed, I might have taken more pictures of Matt than of the wood and bandmill.  There is a perfectly logical explanation for that.

The thing is:  wood...it doesn't really interest me all that much.  

Matt, on the other hand, interests me a whole lot.