Friday, March 26, 2010

Easter Surprises!

It's almost Easter and what will we do about Easter baskets?  For starters, it should be noted that we downplay the whole Easter Bunny thing around here.  We emphasize the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We do, however, provide Easter Baskets.  In these baskets are a few candy treats but in the past we have purchased little gift items, as well.  This year those purchased gift items have to be off the table completely.  So, you ask, what are we going to do?  The ideas we have come up with so far include 1.  Free printable coloring Easter pages off the internet, 2.  Homemade peanut butter (and edible) play dough, 3.  Pet rocks that we paint and decorate, 4.  Fruit, 5.  Homemade cookies shaped like crosses.  Since my oldest loves to play Tic Tac Toe, I thought I might make up some ready-to-go Tic-Tac-Toe cards for him.  I also saw on one internet site some really cute little critters and cars made from egg cartons.  They painted them a solid color and then added little things to make them either an animal of some sort or little cars or trucks.  I suppose we will have to use real grass or pine needles in the baskets we have stored away. 
Last year I made some really adorable bunnies out of socks but since I did that already, I am not going to do that again this year.  Still trying to come up with just the right thing.  I did see some yarn eggs at that looked pretty neat.  You guys got any ideas for me?  Please share.  My email address for the blog is  so send your ideas and I just may share them with everyone else right here.  Thanks for reading and Happy Easter!

The Little Things

Hey guys!  It's the little things that make people nuts, isn't it?  My mother, bless her heart, has had one particular gripe with our shopping thin system.  She makes it a point to let us know about it almost every time she is in my home.  That's okay - everybody is entitled to their opinion.  Her complaint is that we are not purchasing zip-top baggies to store things in!  She will inevitably tell me that she wishes we would make an exception to this rule or that she is going to buy some for us.  We haven't purchased any since December 31, 2009.  We store our things in little bowls with lids, etc.  We still have aluminum foil from last year so we occasionally use this to wrap something up in.  But those things are not suitable to her when she wants a little bag to store something in. I think I will wait her out - she will either make good on her threat and buy some herself OR she will adjust and make do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Family, Fun and Frugality

Hi everybody!  So sorry it has been a while since posting - too many irons in the fire this past week.  To get right to it - I am glad we are on this shopping thin track now more than ever!  After seeing some of the changes headed to our country, I am convinced we need to be as careful as possible with our spending.  I need to address something we are spending money on.  The way we have set our system up, our spending limitations mainly involve tangible items - stuff!  We are allowed to spend money on family outings such as a trip to the movie theater or tickets to a show.  In fact, one of the reasons for embarking on this journey is to have the money to do more things together as a family.  So, in that vein of thought, we purchased tickets to a Roy Clark show.  You see, our 2-year-old is obsessed with the banjo and has been since he was about 18 months old.  However, I have been very careful with some money I received as a gift for Christmas and used it plus some birthday money to pay for half the cost of the tickets, which totaled right at $140.  We feel this is a worthwhile family outing that will allow us a great family memory.  The memory is worth a great deal more than the actual cost of it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Are any of you "shopping thin in 2010" with us?  One of the biggest hurdles to get past is the impulse to buy.  It just seems to sneak up on you when you least expect it.  One tip is to never go into a market or store without a list.  Follow your list as though it is a map to a place you are unfamiliar with.  Just as you will adhere to a map of a new town or end up lost, you must adhere to your list or you will get off course and buy more than you intended.  Another tip is to think ahead.  In the past, we would remember at the last minute that we needed a gift for a birthday or event.  Using a simple block calendar take a few minutes and jot down as many birthdays and events you know you will need a gift for.  Think about the individual and what you might like to make for them.  No ideas?  Take a stroll through the internet for hand-crafted gifts.  Look through all those magazines or craft books I know you have stacked somewhere.  By thinking ahead you won't be at a loss thirty minutes before you need a present.  If all else fails, it only takes 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees to bake pre-made cookie dough.  The key to making this type of gift extra special is in the packaging.  Once they cool completely, wrap them in white gift tissue and place them in a brown or white paper lunch bag that you can decorate with ribbon, buttons, a pretty picture from an old greeting card, etc.  You can get as creative as you want with this idea.  But a little planning goes a long way.  Strategize for success and you will find it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Okay, here we are in month THREE!  Surprisingly enough, we are doing very well with this.  We do have Easter coming up.  No new clothing will be purchased for Easter Sunday.  Easter baskets will be creatively assembled.  We can buy a little candy for the baskets but as far as "gifts" go, they will have to be handmade.  I have a few ideas up my sleeve that I will share at a later time.  In reference to a previous post where I declared a 'dessert fast' I would like to announce it is 13 days into the month with no dessert!  It's not that bad right now.  At first, I thought I would go crazy without it, but I suppose my body is adjusting to its absence.  However, on the subject of the Tic Tacs, I have faltered once or twice with these.  There are just those moments when the Tic Tacs are a necessity.  But hey - I've given up shopping and desserts so I hope you will give me a break on the Tic Tacs!  The boys are doing great with this - Kelby has asked more than once if we can do this 'no-shopping' thing again next year.  I am very happy to report that Quade has not given in one time to purchase a DVD or some hunting gadget that he found on sale.  It could be because he doesn't even bother going to that section of the store anymore!  So far, so good.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I met someone the other day who has seven children and an eighth on the way.  The thought of supporting a family that size sends my mind reeling.  Just think of the amount of milk, orange juice, paper towels, etc. you would have to buy on a regular shopping trip.  They are a very nice family and the mother of these children struck me as both pleasant and calm - neither characteristic would I be able to claim if I were in her shoes!  Speaking of shoes, let's get to the crux of the matter - I bet she could teach me a thing or two about buying non-depletables.  I don't know, because I controlled my desire to be obtrusive and ask her - but I would love to know how they handle the purchases of  "stuff."  Let's just say that I felt a bit humbled after thinking about this family for a while.  If they can manage with 10 family members, surely we can manage with four.  Granted, I have no idea what her husband does for a living - but still, there is really no excuse for us.  Little encounters like this one, along with everyone's support, serves as reminders to us that we need to stay the course, hold fast to our plan and keep pushing forward.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Growing Interest

I don't know how many of you have credit card debt.  We do.  It's one of our ardent goals to pay it off this year and we are working hard at it.  I suppose I've been living under a rock but for the first time I noticed something on my credit card statement that truly shocked me.  There was a warning called a "Minimum Payment Warning" with a box that showed how many years it would take to pay off our current balance by paying only the minimum payment.  I was stunned when it said 23 years.  Then, it showed how long it would take to pay off the same balance by adding an extra $80 to the payment - it was 3 years.   For several months we have been adding quite a bit extra to the minimum and when we get it paid off I am going to sit down and cry tears of joy.  We have not used the card in months and that is the other secret to getting it paid off.  As long as anything is tacked on to a burgeoning balance, no amount of extra payments will ever result in paying it off.   In 23 years my husband will be 65 and I will be 60 - to know this credit card burden could actually follow us into retirement, steal from our children and basically hold us back in all sorts of ways disgusts me.  I took the blinders off and faced reality when I read that statement.  If you dare take a look at yours - but sit down first.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sharing the Wealth

Don't let the title of this post confuse you - I'm absolutely, unequivocally not a socialist.  I'm a free market  capitalist all the way.  Nothing wrong with individuals helping each other out, though.  In fact, it's what we ought to do.  There are a lot of discussions about where our country is headed right now, but if we "do unto others as we would have them do unto us"  we would be a lot better off.  We can help each other out just fine in our own neighborhoods - we just have to have the "want to."  Recently I posted that someone sent some clothes my way.  Well, some of them worked for me and others didn't.  I thought about ladies at my church - would any of them be able to use them?  So, I took them with me yesterday for services.  Guess what?  I didn't bring any of them back home.  So it worked out great!  One of the ladies even suggested we do a clothing swap - we bring some of our things that don't fit or that we're tired of and have a trading day.  Talk about a grand idea!  We can find solutions to many of our problems if we start trying.  We don't always have to have something new.  Get rid of that way of thinking.  We don't always have to buy it from the store, either.  Think barter and trade.  I'll be willing to bet you've got something in the way of goods or services that someone else would like to have.  Let people know what you are looking for and what you've got for trade.  Imagine the possibilities.  You've got a friend that sews and you need shorts.  Your friend loves your homemade jams and jellies.  Work out a deal.   Another example - you want family photos made but it is going to be fairly costly.  You happen to have a business of your own of some kind - see if that photographer would be interested in what you have and make a deal.  No money ever has to leave your pocket!  The point is to share what you have when you are able, think outside the box for obtaining the goods and services you need and have fun with it. You might find yourself meeting new people and making new friends - and you can't put a price on that!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Strength in Numbers

I get so excited when I see I have a new follower to this blog.  You guys keep me on the straight and narrow.  You hold me accountable.  You all inspire me to look for new and creative ways to cut costs even more.  We were discussing accountability in our Sunday School class the other day and how important it is in our lives.  It's true.  If we didn't have support for this little experiment, it would be so much more difficult to stay true to it.  My Momma Fran (MIL) is on a getting-fit journey.  She was telling me that our shopping thin experiment has led to her being more committed to her exercise and healthy eating routine.  She joined a group called SparkPeople at where individuals can get connected to people in their own area and across the country who have similar goals with diet and fitness.  It is a very interactive site with tons of options for meal planning, goal tracking, weight tracking, community boards, blog posting and your own personal page.  I have even signed up myself.  The point is, we get more accomplished in life when we support one another and feed off of each other's successes.  Knowing our commitment to what we are doing has inspired others in their own journey is humbling and rewarding.  So, it matters when we know you all are out there, coming up alongside us, checking what we have in our carts at the store and weighing in on the blog posts.  I knew one day I was going to get committed in this life - just thought it would be to a rubber room.  This is much nicer.

Eating Thin?

I mentioned in a recent post that I may try a dessert fast for a month.  Someone who shall remain nameless challenged me on Facebook to go for it, and she would join me.  I have great difficulty in declining a public challenge; needless to say, I am going for it.  I really enjoy a cup of coffee with a sweet treat after lunch.  This will not be easy so I am going to try attaching my shopping thin philosophy to this. I need to think of this as 'eating thin.'  Don't know why but it seems harder to apply this type of mentality to food.  Perhaps its because I know I MUST eat and therefore justifying consumption of food is much easier than justifying consumption of stuff, for me. For some of you this is no big deal - you may not be a dessert eater, but I love chocolate and sugar and it will be one long month!

Monday, March 1, 2010

To Co-op A Coop

"Here chick, chick, chick."   Is that the proper call when you want to round up chickens?  We will find out some time this summer.  That's right - we're going to get chickens.  Actually, a young lady at church who lives in the city limits would like to have some chickens for a project.  We have wanted chickens for a long time and now that our 2-year-old is getting a bit more independent, we think we are at the right time to go for it.  So, we are going to 'co-op' a coop with this young lady.  We will supply the housing and facilities, she will supply the chickens and the care of them.  In our rosy little world, we envision an adorable chicken coop, a window on the side to provide sun for the hens and to hold a window box of fresh herbs growing in it, the chickens pecking at the ground on a sunny day and our boys learning about farm life.  Our dogs will lazily admire them from afar, ever-protective of the little brood should danger approach in the way of a raccoon or coyote.  And then, whenever the time comes, eggs will be plentiful and life will be grand.  For those of you who have lived on a farm, you may have noted that I am a little 'green' when it comes to raising poultry and you may be chuckling to yourself.  I'm wildly popular for my rose-colored glasses, though, and don't plan on taking them off any time soon.  Let me live in my little bubble of chicken perfection for now.  Later you can laugh if I end up with egg on my face.