Monday, April 26, 2010

Clothing Swap

The bidding began at 10:05 and the clothing swap was on.  I wrote in an earlier post that a lady at our church suggested we do a clothing swap, whereby a group of ladies brings in clothing items that do not fit or they just don't want and swap them with other ladies to get "new-to-them" clothing at zero cost!  We had about 12-13 ladies participating in the actual swap, but we had many more who brought clothes to donate to whomever might take them, and they were really nice clothes.  We had a good variety of sizes involved in the swap and everybody had a great time.  We made up bidding paddles just for the fun of it and showcased the items available, allowing anyone interested in that item to bid on it.  After the 'bidding' we had snacks and tried on clothes.  Anything that didn't fit went back to the pile for someone else to claim if they wanted it.  Otherwise, the new-found treasures were theirs to keep.  Many ladies brought in handbags and purses, as well.  The whole thing lasted a couple of hours. If you are interested in having a clothing swap, there are many suggestions online of how to operate one.  The key is for everyone to agree to have a positive attitude, be supportive with their comments of how something might fit and look on someone else, and have fun with it.  Another important point is to make sure everyone brings in at least five articles of clothing to swap out and make sure they are in excellent condition and freshly laundered.  This was great for me because I am attempting to lose some weight and I needed some in-between size clothing to get me by.  Of course you all know clothing is definitely on the 'no-buying' list so I was thrilled to do this.  Just another example of how we can help each other out if we put our minds to it.  If you decide to do one of these with a group of friends or relatives, please let me know how it turns out for you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pickups and Pride

From time to time I share little things my husband says about our shopping experiment.  He has been incredible about the entire process.  Although we decided to do this together, I really thought he would bail on me when he saw hunting supplies on clearance at Wal-Mart, but he has stuck to the whole program without a fuss.  As a matter of fact, he commented the other day that he hasn't missed out on anything.  He said, "We have enough stuff around here that we shouldn't have to buy anything next year either."  I am impressed with his commitment to this.  Not all husbands would be so supportive or readily inform people that he and his family aren't purchasing things.  Ego and pride might get in the way for a few of us - be it man or woman, but we have unabashedly told folks that we are simply not buying things.  He has made it known to his friends, family and even strangers.  I really think it takes some pressure off.  An example is when the guys get together and start talking vehicles.  Let me say that if any man deserves a new(er) vehicle, it would be my husband.  He has been driving the same truck for 20 years and has over 275,000 miles on that Chevy.  It has lots of cosmetic deficiencies but it gets him from place to place.  He would love a new truck and he is the one in our family earning the paycheck.  But, our deal is not to purchase anything that isn't depletable or edible. The extra money we are applying to our credit card would certainly cover a truck payment so needless to say I am grateful he has made the choice he has made - we have a goal and we are trying like mad to reach it.  This shopping experiment is certainly helping with that and gives him an excuse when the other guys start asking when he's going to make an upgrade - he has an 'out' in other words by saying that it isn't on our list of depletables this year. 

That doesn't mean he doesn't get a raised eyebrow from time to time, but we often get that same look when we let folks know we homeschool or that we don't give our children certain vaccines, so we have gotten used to 'the look' by now.  As with anything else, just because someone does something different doesn't make them wrong, it just makes them different.  Life would be so boring if everyone did everything the same way, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Benton County Gems

I know I have mentioned our wonderful library before, but I can't emphasize enough the benefits of utilizing your county library.  We are so blessed here in Benton County with an exceptional library and if you aren't taking advantage of it, you really are missing out.  For example, you all know we are unable to purchase flower seeds this year (not depletable), but this Wednesday from 3-5 our library is having a special earth happy hour, whereby free seeds will be available.  We don't necessarily know if they are flower seeds but sure are hoping for some - all free!!  Of course they offer countless art classes for children and adults, computer access, many, many books to choose from, videos, audibooks, etc.  Our library is up on all the latest technology.  They also now have a coffee bar and will be offering snacks in the future, as well. 

Another great area of free entertainment is our very own Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.  You've got access to hiking trails, playground equipment, and even a small sandy beach area right on the water for sunbathing and playing.  We spent a morning doing school work at Eva Beach one day - beautiful and pleasant.

Our City Park has also expanded its area of play in the past couple of years to include new playground equipment and a wonderful covered picnic area.  The children love it and it is very convenient to the ball fields if you have anyone on a team.  The walking trails available at the park are wonderful for a slow stroll or vigorous exercise. 

Look around your county - you will find many other beautiful areas to explore that I haven't mentioned here.  If you have a favorite, please share with the rest of us.  Entertainment and relaxation doesn't have to cost a dime - but the value of it is enormous!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Receipt Review

Wow - already mid April.  I can't believe it has been 3-1/2 months since we have purchased a DVD or a pair of shoes or even a simple T-shirt.  Those things really haven't been much of a temptation - as I said before the beautiful summer annuals have been torture to avoid, however.  For those of you thinking you could never do this yourselves, think again.  We had serious doubts before we began - we wondered if we would make it through the first month, in fact.  How would we handle birthdays?  What would we do for Easter baskets for the children?  And yet, a solution has always been found that did not involve buying some "thing."  We are, no doubt, a materialistic society.  Our family is no exception to stuffitis.  This is simply our effort to slow down the knee-jerk reaction of 'throwing it in the cart' just because it's cute, it's new, it's cool, etc.  I've heard myself say a hundred times, "it's on sale" or "it's only $3.00."  These bargains add up after a while.  If you have more month at the end of your money, take a moment to review your most recent purchases - look at the receipts.  You will surely see little items that costs a dollar or two.  Add all those up over a period of one month and see how much that totals up to.  You might be unpleasantly surprised.  But you have the ultimate authority over this.  You can change it.  If you can't commit to such a drastic change as ours, commit to one month.  If you can't commit to one month without purchasing stuff, commit to two weeks.  Start where you are comfortable.  Little changes can provide big rewards!  Even if you don't 'need' to save any money, wouldn't it be nice to know that you can exercise restraint?  That you can look at something, admire it, and walk away from it?  Try it just once over the next week or so.  Take the money you would have spent on the item - whether it is $3.00 or $30.00 and put it in an envelope.  Do this once a week for a month.  At the end of the month, take your secret stash and treat yourself or your family in some way.  Imagine if you did this for several months - depending on what you walk away from you might have quite a sum to use on a family outing, a special item or extra money for a trip.  But also, once you total up your stash, ask yourself if you even remember what it was that you had considered buying with that money but didn't.  Ask yourself how important that new book, or pants or sheet set is when you are laughing with your children on your trip to the zoo or sitting around a campfire at a state park you've always wanted to visit, or just splurging on a big steak dinner together.  Finally, ask yourself what that dollar is really worth to you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The boys have a camping trip coming up.  We have the basics like sleeping bags and a little Coleman grill/cooker thingie.  There are a couple of things the boys needed, though, that we cannot go buy.  We found that family and friends had all these things and then some.  They were glad to loan them out to us.  One item the 'other guys' will have that my guys won't have is a specialized hammock that closes up and allows a person to sleep comfortably in it all night - completely weatherproof and warm.  My guys are bringing a tent.  We are not trying to keep up with the Jones' so that's ok.  Tribal peoples have lived in less for generations.  I think my guys will survive in a tent for a couple of nights.  My littlest guy will not be going - just isn't ready for this kind of thing yet, but my oldest boy and husband should have a great time - on a shoestring budget and all.  Isn't that the point of going camping - take the bare essentials with little cost, encounter tons of trouble (ticks, mosquitoes, snakes, miserable sleep, etc.) - but with a few good stories to share and great memories to keep!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tissue Paper Carnations: Mother's Day Crafts - Easy Decorations for Kids -


Temptations Abound

What to my wondering eyes should appear, but beautiful flowers and all full of cheer! With trays full of petals, all delicate and bright, I knew in a moment my resolve could take flight.

A quick stop in Wal-Mart last night proved difficult.  I am allowed to purchase food-producing plants such as tomato plants, blueberry bushes, pepper plants, etc.  But, all those adorable vincas and daisies, waves of phlox and marigolds beckoned me closer.  I could pick them up and look at them, right?  I just couldn't put them in my cart.  The pansy, delicate in appearance but belying its name in hardiness, gently dipped their little heads revealing painted petals of yellow, deep purple and lavender.  And when one of the Mandevilla tendrils reached out to climb into my cart I gently curled it back onto its potted trellis, promising next year, next year.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Fever

Oh boy, now it's getting difficult.  This time of year I am usually picking out my favorite annuals and potting plants with bright flowers.  But cute little flowers are not on my list of edibles or depletables!  Yikes.  However, God does provide, even wants and not just needs.  Example:  The other day a couple of very nice ladies (sisters, in fact) were looking to get rid of some of their houseplants.  They loaded me down with beautiful plants - already potted and ready to go.  I am grateful for those. And, another lady gave me a ton of pots to use and chicken coop wire for our chicken coop (Thanks Ms. Shirley).  Also, I have started thinking about growing herbs.  They are certainly edible, quite fragrant and prolific!  However, I saw the cutest watering can, garden gloves and tool set the other day - just had to make myself keep walking, though.  This isn't easy for the boys either, I'm afraid.  They are noticing all the summertime toys in the stores - little wheelbarrows, pool toys, sand buckets - you name it!  And, I just know my husband is going to start talking about a new water hose any day now.  Can't wait til they all start asking for new summer clothes - Check out the list to the side for the new additions to our no-buying guide for spring/summer!  It's gonna be a tough one.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

GIVING UP!!!!!!!!

That's it - I've HAD IT with this saving money thing - I can't take it anymore!  In fact, I am going to go spend every last dime we have in our savings account right now.  I want clothes.  I want shoes.  I want movies.  This whole thing has been a terrible idea right from the start!  I am going to buy jewelry and then I am going to take my kids to the store and let them buy whatever they want.  I don't care what Quade thinks.  I don't care what anybody thinks.  I want to SHOP, SHOP SHOP til I drop!  And if you are 'buying' this, then you have been fooled quite appropriately I think - check the date.

Updates and Easter Blessings To You!

I have failed!  I failed the dessert fast I had going for the month of March.  I gave it up March 20th at our church's day retreat for women.  But I am happy about going 20 days without dessert.  Unfortunately, I can't say it made an impact on my waistline because it did not.  A reader of the blog challenged me on this and she was supposed to do it with me - she gave up before I did!  Oh well, we have learned something about ourselves - we are weaklings. 

On another front - the chicken coop.  I am excited to report that a very kind lady has offered us her old chicken coop - completely free.  My husband has been taking it apart slowly and is going to reassemble it on our property.  I have been told the chicks will be arriving in April but won't be ready for a coop for a little while after that.  This is very exciting for us because we didn't know how we would go about building a coop without spending any money at all and God has provided a way!

Lastly, Happy Easter everyone.  Beyond the Easter Baskets and the Easter Bunny, if you are spending time with little ones this weekend be sure to tell them the real Easter Story - Of Jesus, Our Savior, who died on a cross that we might live; but don't stop there - with great excitement, share with them the Resurrection of our Lord and how He can live in each of us if we only ask Him to.  Happy Happy Easter!