I just read a great article by Wayne Greene, Editorial Writer for the Tulsa World.  While I usually don't endorse most editorials printed by the "Tulsa WorldLY" as we call them, this one had some rather interesting facts considering I'm doing the Pantry challenge.

Greene writes:
"One in five Oklahoma children is at risk of going to bed hungry tonight.

In November the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service said that 14 percent of Oklahoma residents are "food insecure," meaning they lack consistent access to adequate amounts of nutritious food. Of those, 5.9 percent are in the agency's most severe level, "very low food secure."

That means Oklahoma is the fourth hungriest state in the nation.
I really had no idea it was that bad here. And we have such an abundance, even with a limited grocery budget for the next few weeks!  So, I've decided that a portion of my savings from the Challenge will go to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, who according to the article cited above, used a large donation of wonton wrappers to make lasagna, which I had no idea could be done.  Talk about creative! (Here's a recipe link to a similar dish that sounds great, minus the pork.)

The menu here for the last few days has been:
Breakfasts of cereal with milk and fresh juice, or homemade pancakes with milk and fresh juice
Snacks of leftover Cranberry Orange muffins or oranges
Lunches of nachos or green salads with turkey
Dinners of homemade cheese/veggie pizza with salads and homemade beef stew with crackers.

We'll have homemade sausage balls tonight along with a cheese ball and crackers I picked up last week, plus fresh salsa (free w/ coupons) and chips and whatever the other partygoers bring. 

Have a safe and merry New Year's Eve!  I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone did this week with the wrap-up posts coming on Saturday!


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With the Pantry Challenge in full swing at my house, I'm trying to think ahead and be creative with new recipes.  I reread the Use What You Have posts from MoneySavingMom's blog, and found a link for a website that is going to be of great value to me in the coming weeks.

Supercook is an exhaustive website that allows the input of ingredients, and then chooses recipes according to what you have available in the pantry.  I'm looking forward to trying it!

Tuesday's menu includes the following:
Breakfast: cereal with milk or pancakes, fresh orange juice
Lunch:  cheese pizza & veggie pizza, green salad with cottage cheese
Snacks:  nuts and apple slices
Dinner: playing "Survivor" which means we eat whatever leftovers are in the fridge, and since there are quite a few leftovers to finish off, this will not be an issue!

There are several great coupons and rebates that expire on the 31st, so I'm going to use the last of my Walgreens Register Rewards to purchase some of the items, and will probably spring for the rest out of pocket, since I have $30 for the week, and haven't had to spend anything so far.


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So, I spent the day making an inventory of my pantry, freezer, and fridge.  I'm not completely done, but I have a good enough idea to start a basic menu for the next week or so.  Since I made playing games this week a priority, I spent part of my inventory time playing Phase 10 with my family, and then visiting with our dear friends who braved the snowy, icy streets to share a cup of tea and a Cranberry Orange muffin.  It was time well spent.

My husband is on vacation this week, so the menu for this week will be a little different than for the rest of the challenge, but I have officially begun the challenge anyway, instead of waiting until January 1.  This way, I'll already be in the "swing" when school and our regular schedule begin again next week.

My goals for the challenge are:
1. To spend a maximum of $30 per week on groceries for the family. I will still go to the grocery store but my only purchases will be dairy, eggs & produce and water, and anything I can get free with coupons.
2. To try at least one new recipe each week.
3. To use the small appliances I have, or let them go at the end of the month.  This includes my juicer, Foreman grill, and waffle maker.
4. To save all the rebates I receive during the month.
5. To send off atleast $50 in rebates during the month.

I'd like to lower my OOP for the per week spending, but I'm leery because we spend on average $7 a week in bottled water, which we purchase by the gallon.


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Redplum is currently offering a printable rebate form for Naked Juice, one of my favorite bottled juice smoothie brands.  For the form, follow this link.  The forms probably won't last long, so print one if you think you will use it. 


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I've discovered that with a view like this from my living room, I can spend the whole day in the easy chair, thinking about nothing in particular and watching the birds feast on seed from the many feeders we keep stocked.  While I know resting is important, sometimes I enjoy it just a little too much!

I've been doing some reading on homemaking, and have decided that joining MoneySavingMom's Eat From The Pantry Challenge for January is just the accountability I need to jump start some purposeful activity during the last of Christmas break.

I started the challenge yesterday, by cooking a pie pumpkin I had gotten free back before Thanksgiving.  I used it as part of a centerpiece, through the holidays.  I scooped the insides of the fruit, and will make roasted seeds tomorrow, as they have to dry 48 hours before cooking.  The three cups of pumpkin puree it yielded are in the freezer, and I put some of the insides and the rind out for the birds. 

This morning, I used my Champion juicer to make fresh orange juice, and I salvaged part of the pulp to use in Orange Cranberry muffins.  They were delicious, and I felt inspired because I had all the ingredients on hand.  If it was that easy to make something new from what I already have, surely I will be able to make a good plan for the next month's worth of meals from the pantry as well!  I'm hopeful, anyway!

Here's the recipe I used for the muffins:
Cranberry Orange Muffins
2 1/4 cup flour (I used a combination of oat, whole wheat and unbleached)
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix these in a large bowl.  Then cut in:
1/2 cup butter
In seperate bowl, combine by wisking:
2 whole eggs
pulp of 2 oranges
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp orange juice
enough milk to make moist but not runny (I used raw milk that was ready to expire)

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, and stir until moistened.  Add extra Tbsp. milk if needed.  Fold in:
3/4 cup dried cranberries ( you could use fresh, but this is what I had on hand).

I also added 1/2 tsp of McCormick's Chai Spice, but you could skip this step, or add cinnamon in it's place.

Bake at 350* in greased or lined muffin tins for 20-25 minutes.  Makes 18 medium muffins.

You could also add grated orange peel if you have organic oranges, but I didn't so I skipped that ingredient.  It would add greatly to the orange flavor.  This was a new recipe to me, and the first time I made muffins by cutting in the butter, but I really liked the flavor, so I will add this to my Heirloom Family Cookbook and make these again. 

Don't forget to serve them with the fresh orange juice or some aromatic hot tea!


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My friend Rhonda over at If You Do Stuff shared a great idea for reusing Christmas cards.  If you're like me, you hate getting rid of your old cards because they are so beautiful.  This is a great way to reuse them, and be reminded of the sweet thoughts and welll wishes from your loved ones. 

Her post reminded me of this collage I photographed last year at Philbrook's Festival of Trees in Tulsa.  (Sorry about the glare!)  Anyway, the artist crafted a Christmas tree with bits of Christmas cards and paper, then framed it in a beautifully gilded frame. 

It would also be beautiful to cut giant letters from the cards, and use them for banners and garlands.


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(photo from Country Living)
I had several things on my Holiday To-Do's 2009.  I'm happy to say I finished nearly everything, and some things exceeded my expectations!

Rest, relax and have fun! (done, but we haven't played enough games, so I'm making that a priority for this last week of break.)

Make Christmas menu (done and easily implemented with the help of the family!  Note to self:  assign your maidens their tasks ~ everyone needs to do a part, and everyone is joyfully willing to help.)

Finalize charitable giving plan (done, and much giving has already occurred.  Online giving can still happen before the end of the year, so any 501-c-3 organizations you want to bless would love to hear from you!)

Make New Year's menu (not done, but only because New Year's plans are not yet firm!)

Make a baking plan (done.  We had oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie and orange/cranberry muffins for Christmas Eve & Day treats, and they were great.)

(photo from Country Living)
Purchase pre-lit tree (post holiday! I'm glad I put this on my list, because I would have completely forgotten.  I'll need to look on Monday.)

Begin writing Christmas Cards (done. Not only are the Christmas cards done, but I have also just finished the Thank You notes.  Being organized really helps make this easy.)

Mom's Night Out (done)

Get kid's Christmas list (done.  Well, sort of.  The kids didn't really give me a "list" this year, which is sad.  It means they've grown up.  But, giving was super easy, because both the girls have developed particular interests and hobbies that make gift giving a joy!)

Choose co-worker gifts (done)

Decide on Angel Tree programs (done)

Make Teacher Appreciation gifts (done.  We didn't have to do much this year, because again, the teachers clearly favor certain things like Starbucks coffee, and homemade chocolates, and for the teacher that travels frequently, travel kits make shopping a breeze!)

Make a gift list (done)

Gather ingredients (done.  I will need to restock my supply of certain ingredients, like canned pumpkin, which were consumed during this baking season.  I was amazed to discover that I only had to puchase one can of pumpkin and almond bark for my holiday baking, because I had such a stockpile of everything else from last year!)

(photo from Country Living)
Make Thanksgiving menu (done.  I'm keeping a Holiday control journal again this year, as I have done in years past.  Since we used the Williams Sonoma brine again this year, I couldn't figure out how to make homemade gravy with the too-salty drippings.  I'll need to figure this out before I make another brined turkey, and I'd also like to find a homemade brine recipe like the WS Apple & Spice brine, which, at $18.50 a jar, is pretty pricey.)


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There are a few deals and reminders from JANE4girls that I thought were worth mentioning today, and you can check them out on her blog. One great deal is the $10/$25 ConAgra rebate available here, but be sure to check all her recent posts.  If you don't read Erin's blog regularly, you should put it high on your list.

She's the most amazing budget shopper, and her strategies have saved me hundreds of dollars this year!  Save her blog, JANE4girls as one of your favorites and check her posts often!

Thanks, Erin!


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(photo from the shabby chic cottage)
I had a private struggle this morning.  Actually, it began a few days ago.  I had gathered several high value free~item coupons recently, but after using a few of them, I noticed that they said "one per customer:"  I was convicted not to use the remainder of them, but really struggled with throwing them away!  It probably sounds silly, but I had a real battle with my flesh over obeying what I felt was a clear leading from the Lord.

This morning, during my prayer time, I threw them in the trash.  I was still struggling, but decided that obedience with struggling (and admitting that I was having a hard time being willing) was better than not obeying!

I asked the Lord to prove Himself to me today, and to give me a blessing to replace what I felt I had "lost."

He ALWAYS proves Himself, and goes beyond what we could have imagined.

Tonight, we celebrated "family Christmas" with our daughter still living at home, and with our adult daughter who will not be able to join us for Christmas this year.  It's always a special time for my husband and I, when we can all be together, since we only have the two daughters and we don't see our older daughter as often as we would like.

We decided to eat out because our plans were in flux until the last moment.  I didn't mind, as I knew the restaurant had a fireplace and I was hoping we would be able to sit near there to enjoy our meal.

(last two photos from getty images)

We arrived at the restaurant to find that the room with the fireplace was completely unoccupied!  We asked for and received a table in meeting room, where the light from the fireplace, Christmas tree, and a few wall sconces cast a cozy glow.  The wait staff provided excellent service, and even blessed us with complementary desserts after our delicious meal!

It was as if the room had been reserved for us alone.

The manager even came back to check on our meal, and make sure everything was to our liking.  She said that they thought the meeting room was booked for tonight, but realized that the room was actually reserved for tomorrow night!  We had the room to ourselves for the whole evening.

We had amazing favor and a truly special evening together.  I'm sure it's something my family will never forget!

Thank You, Lord, for the blessing of Your favor!  Thank You for proving Yourself to me once again.


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There was a real lack of beauty in this home office space before.  I was utilizing what I had, and really had no inspiration to guide me.  Without vision the people perish, you know.  So when I saw what Nester had done with her new space, I knew I could do something similar. 

I started by selling what I had, and made $140 towards my new furniture.  I kept watching Craigslist, and found the table, chairs and buffet (pictured near the end) for $150, so my net cost for those items was a whopping $10.  Easy peasy. 

I still had the problem of finding a printer stand, and when the china hutch showed up on CL for $65, I knew it would be functional and beautiful in the space, so I made a call.  The woman who owned it said she would deliver it, (an almost 2 hour drive!) for $20!  That had to be God!

I think the furniture is beautiful, and it matches this room, which is primitive and cozy. 

One of the main reasons I needed to make a change was that I had no place to effectively study my Bible.  I'm a book person, and have loads of commentaries, translations and also use my computer, so I needed something functional.

Now, what I have is functional AND beautiful!  The idea of using a table like a partner's desk where people can sit face to face is fabulous!  Remember this post?  It's also beautiful. 

One of the things I love most is that the whole family likes it.  We've had opportunity to sit together to work on projects, and there is room for everyone.  Best of all, we don't have to clear the table so we can eat dinner!  I love that.

Even the hateful cat seems to approve! 

Did I mention that when the china hutch was delivered, the woman offered me $50 for something she liked from my house, so my hutch was $35 out of pocket and delivered?  That brings my final cost for the transformation to $45!

Isn't God amazing?!


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Well the good news is I got into 2 stores this week and I'm a featured artist at the y2y Gallery for their event on Dec 19th! Things are going great and I hven't even crated a look book yet. I have a portfolio with no photos in it yet but I've basically been working off referrals.

When I was doing my first market at Trolly Square downtown I got bored with standing in my boooth so had the husband take over and I began to wander with Boston. We found ourselves in a store called Beloved Artisan Jewelry that features 15 (now 16) local artists and their talents. I recognized one of my friends work in there and commented to the cashier that I loved her work and asked how she was doing because I hadn't seen her in awhile.

It turned out the cashier was the store owner and before I left we were talking about my recycled accessories and especially my vinyl record jewelry. We were instant friends and even though I feel like they're taking a chance on me since my jewelry isn't nearly as detailed as most of their other stuff, it's still good. I brought in 12 pieces yesterday and  get the eye-level section of the back wall. It was all so casual and great. I signed the contract which was clear and easy: 3 months, rotate jewelry every month, and keep track of what I've given them. I really hope this turns into a lasting friendship and I can count on recieving a check from them on a monthly basis.


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One of my goals on my Finishing List 2009 was to put my den and office area back in order.  Remember this saying:

The beauty of the house is order...

If order is the qualifier, my den hasn't been very beautiful lately!  In fact, I've been pretty ashamed of the clutter that accumulated , BECAUSE MY ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT would kick in, and I would hold on to things that I knew I could sell on Craigslist to make a little money.  But I just didn't HAVE THE TIME.

After being reminded that there is beauty in order, I immediately set out to make beauty a priority!  It started with prayer, because I had issues with holding on to stuff.  So I asked the Lord to help me "be rutheless" in cleaning out my stuff and I asked my husband and daughter to pray for me as well. 

Next, I read several books by Lauri Ward, who has a blog with a "use what you have" focus.  Her books are now listed in my Bookshelf 2009 (in the right hand column beside this text!), so you can check them out from your local library.  Of the four books I read, my favorite by far was Home Therapy, because it showed the before and after layouts, and explained why things didn't work in the original configuration, and how to identify or fix the issues by simply rearranging with strategyVisit her business blog here to view before/after video of her work.  It's quite impressive to see strategy at work.

One of the issues I discovered was that some of my furniture was not functional, especially in my office area.  Sometimes you can't make it do, nor can you do without...  So, I got busy searching Craigslist and came up with an inexpensive solution.  I replaced my desk and printer stand, and added a storage piece and bookshelf to better serve my needs. 

Did I mention that this all took about three weeks, during which time we celebrated Thanksgiving and finished our preparations for finals in school???  Now you know that I've been really busy!  But, I think when you see the pictures in my next post, the results will prove to have been worth the effort.

Here's a sneak peek for the next post...


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Stacey has always been a HUGE part of my life. Even in times where we don't talk as often as we should, she's been there for me whenever I've needed her. When my family was about to disown me because I got pregnant out of wedlock (ridiculous) she was the only one to really stand up for me and the only reason I still have a relationship with my family today. When I was a little kid, she always gave the best Christmas presents and took me to theme parks and out to do cool things. I had my own bed at her house and my only memories of potty-training were with her.

Today Stacey has been battling breast cancer for a year and a half.

On Monday she'll have a hysterectomy to prevent the tumors on her skull, ribs, and spine from growing and hopefully kill them without radiation. Since the cancer feeds on estrogen, it only makes sense that if your body isn't producing it, the tumors will die.

Seeing her fight and still be there for me the past several months has been the most unbelievable act of love I've ever seen. She is my inspiration for doing the Susan G Komen 3 day walk this November. I'll walk 60 miles in 3 days and raise $2,300 for the cause. I'm a little nervous as to how I'm going to raise that kind of money but I'm sure I can if I start this early.

I just had to vocalize all this and really get it out there. Thanks for listening.


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Bookshelf 2009

Trade Secrets, Ward

Use What You Have Decorating, Ward

Downsizing Your Home With Style, Ward

Home Therapy, Ward

Inside the Secret Garden

Night Light for Parents

Tasha Tudor's Crafts

Tasha Tudor's Garden

Helen Keller's Teacher

Mere Christianity

PB Dining Rooms

PB Living Rooms

PB Bedrooms

PB Office

PB Storage & Display

PB Home

How To Be A Jewish Mother

Simple Abundance

Sense & Sensibility

Emnity Between The Seeds

The Giver

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Pride & Prejudice

Northanger Abbey





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