Friday, January 29, 2010


My blog has received an award this week! How exciting! My friend over at Rediscovering Domesticity has granted me the "When Life Gives You Lemons" award. I tried tracking down the origin of this award. While I was introduced to a number of interesting blogs, I couldn't find the primary source. I'm still excited for this honor and hope you all have a chance to check out her blog.

The rules are simple. I'm to share five things about myself with you. Then I get to share five new winners for this award. I must say that both of these are difficult for me and I've spent days trying to come up with five things to share and narrow my fave blogs down to five! 

Five Things About Lynnette
1. I grew up in Minnesota and spent time most summers of my youth fishing with my grandparents. While I can bait my own hook (with grubs, minnows, or whatever), I still refuse to take the fish off.
2. I started playing viola when I was eight. It consumed my life in high school and I even played in college for a bit. I don't play nearly enough anymore. I tried teaching my oldest, but he didn't think I knew what I was talking about!
3. We are currently taking Mandarin lessons as a family. I'm hoping that on the next trip to Asia, my boys will be able to translate for me.
4. I rarely measure my ingredients when cooking. When trying something new, I look at several recipes and hodge-podge something together.
5. I follow over thirty blogs in a reader and am thoroughly addicted to them. 

Five Really Cool Blogs

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deals of the Week

I love good deals. I love reading about them. I love seeing them. I love getting them! I am now following 33 blogs in my reader, most of them pertaining to deal-hunting. How does a person keep track of all the great deals at all the stores? It's easier than you might think.

I use a Word document. The name of the store is like a "heading" and I use a larger and bolder font. When I sit down to sift through the blogs, I simply open up my document and copy and paste the deals I'm interested in over. I'm afraid to admit that I actually do this several times a day. I only go shopping once or twice a week, though. When it's time to hit the stores, I open up my document (cleverly called "deals") and figure out which stores I'm going to hit. I print the printable coupons, pull out my from-the-paper coupons paper clip them to my shopping list and off we go! How do you keep track of all your deals? Leave a comment, I'm still learning how to keep track of it all!

One downside to doing it this way is that there are often printable coupons that I miss because it hits the print limit before I get to it. When I started my coupon madness, I printed way too many and ended up with lots of wasted paper. I'm sure there's a middle ground to printing coupons that I'll actually use without missing out, I just need to find it.

Another issue that has come up is that many of the blogs are not in my area, so a store may have different regular prices. Then I get to the store and the item isn't as cheap as I thought it was. So, I have to stand there and decide if it's something I still want.

Here is part of my trip to Wal-Mart this week. I did buy a few other things, too. My total for these deals was right around $10. I used $22 in coupons. How cool is that? Many of these coupons are still available, so print some for yourself and hit the store!

2 Digiorno 200 calorie pizzas reg. $2.50 each, paid $1.00 total
used 1 Free and $1.50/1 coupons from Kraft First Taste

6 boxes of Sunbelt bars reg. $2.00 each, paid $1.00 each
BOGO printable coupon from manufacturer

4 StarKist tuna pouches reg $.98 paid .$94
used BOGO mailer from Vocal Point and 2 $1/1 printable from Vocal Point (realized later I could have bought 3, used all coupons and they would have been free, oh well)

2 Reach dental floss reg $.97 had .06 overage
used 2 Reach $1.00 MQ's from 1/3 paper

2 Johnson and Johnson soap buddies reg $.97 had .06 overage
used 2 J&J $1.00 MQ's from 1/3 paper

Johnson & Johnson sterile gauze reg $1.56 paid $.56
used J&J $1.00 MQ from 1/3 paper

Johnson and Johnson band-aids reg $1.77 paid $.77
used J&J $1.00 MQ from 1/3 paper

Aquafresh Extreme Clean trial size reg $.97 paid 0
used free offer coupon (not sure where this came from)

Dove deoderant reg $2.47 paid $.47
used $2.00 printable

And I probably should have added the great deal on Coffee-Mate creamer at Walgreens that I did last night. BOGO at $2.49. Use two $1.00 printable coupons and get them both for $.49.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Works-for-Me Wednesday- the school crate

Since we homeschool our kids, there's the potential for lots of books to be all over our house. We turned one bedroom of our house into the "school room." Really it's a toy room with a table and some bookshelves, but it keeps us a little more organized. The problem comes because it's right next to the bedroom and it's hard to be in there during nap time. Once again, we had piles of books all over the house.

The problem came to a head after we had the baby last month. I couldn't go up and down the stairs as much (c-sec), but we needed to do something for school. Books were everywhere again. And when I sent them back upstairs with the kids, they ended up in a pile on the floor. (Does anyone else have kids that do that?) I think I have found a solution to our problem, and it has worked beautifully the last couple of weeks.

I saw a post last fall from a mom who had a basket in each room for their school books. So I modified that idea to fit our need. I took a crate and filled it with the books that we use on a daily basis. Throw in a pencil box with writing supplies, and we're good to go! The books are contained in one place, and we can carry them to whichever room we're working in. Right now we're focusing on just a few subjects- Bible, reading/language, math, and Chinese, so it all fits in one crate. Because I know someone will ask here is what I have in our crate: home organization binder, school planning planner, character building book, notebook, phonics book, Chinese lessons notebook, math books, Bible, language book, chapter book, wedgets cards, planner, pencil box.

Do you have a school organization tip to share? We'll be adding the rest of our subjects soon, and this crate isn't going to hold it all! Check out the links at Works for Me Wednesday for other great tips.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mail Call

I think that the best part about signing up for free stuff, is the fun of getting it in the mail. I usually forget what I've requested by the time it comes, too, so it feels like I'm getting a present in my mail box! This week, we didn't check the mail until Saturday, and our box was overflowing with goodies. Here's what we scored this week:

Kraft Maid ideas books
feminine hygiene products from
feminine hygiene products from costco
stickers from Disney movie club
Bible bookmarks from
Sample of green tea in a cute mesh bag from Lipton
granola bar from
Menards rebate check
SC Johnson rebate check
Free Digiornio pizza coupons from Kraft First Taste
Free tuna pouch coupon from Vocal Point

I honestly have no idea if any of these offers are still available, but have included the links if you'd like to check them out. As soon as I see a link somewhere for a free offer or special coupon that I'd like, I click it open in a new window. Often, I'll be reading through blogs and surfing the web and will get half a dozen tabs open for free offers to fill out. Later, I'll fill out all the forms and sit back and wait for my samples and coupons to come! Rebate forms are filled out as soon as the product is purchased and mailed off- I don't want to forget. I'd encourage you to sign up for First Taste and Vocal Point if you haven't, yet- I love getting coupons for free full-size products! Another great company is House Party. Sign up to host parties and get a box in the mail to help you host it. We got free Digiornio pizzas for a football party!

Menu Plan Monday- the breakfast plan

It's another cold and gray morning here in Nebraska. As I served my kids yet another round of cold cereal, I wondered what else we could have for breakfast that is quick and easy. Something that would warm us up and keep us going all morning long. Our breakfast options have stuck to just a couple basics: cereal, oatmeal, and bagels. So, today I'm rethinking breakfast and will attempt to try other things this week. Here is my first edition of a breakfast menu!

Monday- cereal, milk
Tuesday- scrambled eggs with cheese and ham
Wednesday- oatmeal with apples and milk
Thursday- cottage cheese and bananas
Friday- Cornbread and applesauce
Saturday- Sausage and cheese biscuits (made ahead of time)
Sunday- leftover biscuits, fruit

And this pretty much wipes out my breakfast ideas! Do you have any quick, nutritious ideas for me? Visit for other menus ideas this week.

Friday, January 22, 2010


SWAG- Stuff We All Get, at least according to I must say that definition makes more sense than "a suspended cluster," as in bunch of dried flowers hanging on the wall. At least as far as SwagBucks is concerned. Wait, what's SwagBucks, you ask? Well, let me tell you about it.

SwagBucks is a website that rewards you for using their search engine, for viewing special offers, for trading in old electronics, for referring friends, and for hunting for codes. I primarily use the search engine for earning Bucks. Every once in a while, a Buck or two will pop up on my screen during my normal searching. Friday is Mega Swag Bucks day. Today I earned four Bucks on a search!

The SwagBucks that you earn can then be traded in for prizes and gift cards. I signed up for this program in September. In the past four months I have redeemed $25 in amazon gift cards and have enough accumulated in my account to trade in for another $10. That's $35 for basically switching to a new search engine!

I'd encourage you to give it a try! Use my referral link, and I earn Bucks, too!

Search & Win

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wait for the Lord

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
~Psalm 27:14

With every lesson I learned through financial difficulties, I was ecstatic that this might be "the one." I was sure that these circumstances were upon us for a reason. If I could just figure out what I was supposed to learn, then we could be done with this lesson. That's pretty much the way that I've approached any struggle in my life- figure out what I'm supposed to learn and get out of the hardship. I was crushed if a similar circumstance ever came upon my life again.

I'm sure the Lord tried to teach me this lesson in a number of other ways. It took years of financial hardship before I could finally sit back and wait on the Lord. He answers in His own way and in His own timing. I could look back and see how He was there with money, friends, and great deals. He was working in my life- I just needed to open my eyes and see it.

My prayers slowly began to change. Instead of a new job with more money, I prayed that my husband would get a job that he could enjoy and utilize his education. Five years (to the month) after Greg was laid off, he was offered an engineering job at the company he had been working for. I prayed that I would draw closer to the Lord and learn to be content in my circumstances. I prayed that I would be able to provide the best life possible for my family within the means that He gave me. Gradually, my heart changed and I did become content. Of course, the Lord had a little chuckle, because Greg's new job did not come with the big pay raise that I had initially been hoping for. But I had found that place of contentment, and I was grateful for where the Lord had brought us.

The current economy had put a number of families into a tight financial crunch. But I'm not worried. I know He who clothes the flowers of the field, and He will make sure my family is cared for. We have learned a number of financial lessons over these years of difficulty, but this lesson has been by far the most important.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink' or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more imporatant than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" 
~Matthew 6:25-26

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Our baby will be four weeks old tomorrow. It's hard to believe she's that old already! God certainly grants grace to tired new mommies, but the sleep deprivation is starting to hit me pretty hard. So, I have no idea what the week will look like and I may actually be napping in the afternoons. The best plan for me in times like this is to utilize my crockpot since I'm more alert in the mornings by nature. However, I'm not very creative in this regard, tending to just throw in a roast or a whole chicken. Please share some of your crockpot recipes. My family will appreciate it! this week is a week of "options," and we'll match one of the following meals to the appropriate level of energy Mama has. :)

Breakfast Options:
Muffins, Oatmeal, Cereal, Eggs
Bananas, Apples, Milk

Lunch Options:
PB&J, Soup, Leftovers
Crackers, Popcorn, Fruit, Carrot sticks, Salad, Milk

Dinner Options:
1. Cheesy Chicken and Rice (freezer meal)
2. Frozen Pizza
3. Pasta
4. Grilled Chicken Breasts with potatoes and salad
5. Venison Stew (crock pot)
6. Pork Roast (crock pot)

Visit some other menus this week over at Organzing Junkie.

Friday, January 15, 2010


However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. ~Ephesians 5:33

Financial hardship is one of the biggest contributers to divorce in our country. It's essential that the lines of communication stay open during financial difficulties and that both spouses are on the same page. The family budget and financial goals need to be clearly started and adhered to by both husband and wife. In many homes, the husband makes the money while the wife is in charge of spending it. It seems a little lopsided :) It is important that a couple work together so that they can meet not only their immediate needs, but their long term financial goals. We women need to be on the same page as our husbands and make sure that we're spending the money wisely. There are many tips and tricks out there for doing this. More important than just sticking to the budget is having an attitude of love and respect for your husband, in all areas of life.

Men are funny creatures. I highly recommend the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldham. These are interviews and polls that share what men really think and feel about a variety of issues. Men were designed to be leaders and providers. When they are not bringing in an amount of money to feel like they are adequately providing for their families, they can get down on themselves and even feel shame. It is extremely important for the wife to show love and respect during this time to build her man up, rather than help the process that is tearing him down.

You may think that holding you've been holding your tongue and that's all that can be expected of you. But it's not just about the words we say. It's about the tone we use, and the looks we have, and the attitude we walk through our day with. It took a number of years for me to realize that my internal attitude towards my husbands work situation was coming across to him. I needed to trust that he would take care of our family. I needed to trust that God would lead him. God put us together and I needed to trust that God was still at work in our lives. It certainly wasn't an easy lesson to learn, and I'm sure it will take a lifetime to "master." 

The Lord calls women to grant their husbands respect in all areas, whether or not we think he deserves it. We certainly don't want him saying we haven't earned his love! We must take steps to show him (and ourselves) that we respect him. We must learn about our husbands and determine which things we say and do will convey the most amount of respect to him. If we first put into action what our heads knows is right, then our hearts will follow. 

Here are a few ideas that we like to get you started in acting on your love and respect for your husband. The Love Dare is a popular book from the Fireproof movie that offers one action each day that you can do to show love to your spouse. 

Run to greet him when he comes home from work. 
Race the kids to see who can hug him first.
Thank him for all the energy he puts into providing for the family- both at work and the things he does around the house.
Compliment him in front of others.
Don't argue with him in front of others.
Hold his hand- at dinner, in the car
Ask for his advice and listen to it!
Cook his favorite dinner or dessert
Tuck a note in his lunch bag or coat pocket
Pick up his favorite candy and leave pieces of it where he'll find it

When we love and respect our husbands, the ramifications will truly change our lives. 

In the words of a candy wrapper:
"Think lovingly
Speak lovingly
Act lovingly"

This is just one of the things I have learned through financial circumstances. To read about some of the other things, visit this page. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gratituesday- God's Provision

Every December my husband goes out into the woods and comes home with a deer. He skins it, butchers, and I cook it. One deer provides somewhere around a meal a week for our family. The cost of the hunting license is more than worth it for the amount of meat we get. The loss of my husband most nights for a month is still debateable :)

This year, was a crazy year. We had two major snowstorms (dare I say blizzards) in December. Plus, we had a baby. He was out a lot less often, the deer were hiding more, and he didn't get one this year. I was a little bummed, but knew that with my improved deal hunting skills from this past year the added cost of buying beef (gasp!) could be handled in our current budget. I had been looking forward to a little flexibility, but thought that maybe god had led me to these couponing sites for such a time as this.

What the Lord did next to provide for us has truly blown me away. Nebraska has a program for hunters to find people and give their meat to them. We did not sign up for it, but a guy Greg works with did. Apparently he had lots of calls and the last one (for a whole deer) was more than he needed. He wants people to call him next year, so he said he would take it. And then he gave it to us.

I was super excited that my husband was able to get us meat for a year even without shooting it himself. I was excited that God blessed our budget, figuring it was because I didn't freak about it. And I also found out that Greg thought it was great because he could improve his relationship with this co-worker through conversations and the taking of this deer. God has used this one situation to in both of our lives to teach us the things He's working on in our lives.

As I think about that, I'm more than amazed by how the Lord does that each and every second the whole world over. In Romans, it says that God works all things out for good for those who love Him. I got a small picture this week of how amazing that is.

And oh yeah- the Nebraska Deer Exchange Program is a great tool for families looking to stretch their food budgeting dollars. Is there anything you're thankful for today? Visit Heavenly Homemakers and see what others are sharing about.

Cereal Winner

When I received the coupons in the mail from General Mills and My Blog Spark, I was so excited. It's always fun getting stuff for free, and I was getting the chance to bless someone else with free things. I so wish that everyone could win! We used our two free boxes and purchased Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Multi Grain Cheerios. My kids love the apple cinnamon combo in other things, so I knew they would like that. But regular Cheerios seem a little bland to them, and I was concerned about the Mult-Grain variation. However, they think it's fun having different "colors" of Cheerios and there's just a touch of sweetness.

It was fun reading what others favorite General Mills cereal is. I'm looking forward to remembering old favorites and trying some new varieties I didn't realize were out there. The winner of the two free boxes of cereal goes to comment #4- Elisabeth! Congratulations! I'll send you an e-mail and get these coupons to you.

I'm looking forward to having some more fun giveaways. I can't wait to see what comes along next!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- Meals for Kids to Make

Last week we were so blessed to have friends bring meals by EVERY DAY!! I was feeling pretty good, and the baby has been doing great, so I felt a little guilty. Surely, I could be making dinner for my own family and my friends didn't need to be out in the freezing cold delivering meals for me. Then on Saturday I went to Target and on Sunday I was tired and sore. I realized that the only reason I've been feeling so good is because I'm not standing in the kitchen for an hour or more every day for cooking and cleaning. Thank you, friends!

It made me realize that once the meals stop, I need to have some quick and easy options. Whether it's because I'm sore or tired or the baby is wanting to eat during meal prep time, or whatever the case may be, I need to have some things that are ready to go at any time. In fact, it would be great if the meals were ones that my kids could make. Since they are 3, 5, and 6 you might thing I'd be relegating my family to cold cereal and microwaved foods. (check out my cereal giveaway!) Actually, all three of them have some basic cooking skills. As long as I'm there to read the recipe and tell them which measuring cup to use, they can pretty much make anything I can make!

Here are some great meals to start your kids out on. I like things that require minimal cutting and one pan- even when I'm the one cooking! The children need to understand the concepts of "hot" and "don't touch" and be capable of immediate obedience. The kitchen becomes a dangerous place during cooking, and we want to make sure that everyone stays safe. Their first helping experience comes in the form of stirring something at the table (about 18-24mos). Once they've demonstrated capability for following directions, they are allowed to help with quite a variety of things, as long as I'm standing right next to them- oatmeal, eggs, pasta (around 3). At first this is more work for me, but they quickly master the art of boiling water and stirring things that are browning and I can leave them at the stove (around 5) and work on another task while that's being taken care of. It won't be long and they'll be planning menus themselves!

Hot dogs, Mac and Cheese
Teach them that bubbles means boiling and you can make almost anything from a box! A great way to teach them about steam and water vapor, too. Hot dogs could be cooked in the microwave or in a frying pan. 

Sausage and Potatoes
Brown a pound (or two) of sausage. (There's a neat tool from the Pampered Chef for browning called the "Chop and Stir" (I think) that is great.) Add cubed potatoes, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. An easy one pan meal. Cutting potatoes is hard for little ones, so I tend to do that part while they taking turns stirring the sausage. Serve with something green!

If you have a mixer or bread machine, it's easy for the kids to throw in the ingredients for the dough. Or have some prepackaged mixes on hand. They can learn about measurements and fractions on this one, too. Of course, their favorite part is adding the toppings!

Not quite a one pot meal, but pretty close. Boiling water yields pasta and warm up some sauce in another pan. We've even browned hamburger right in the sauce pot to avoid getting a third dish dirty! It's even nicer if you've previously gone to the work of browning several pounds of meat for your freezer. Just hand them a bag and dump into the sauce!

What could be easier than throwing a chunk of meat in the crock pot? Add some potatoes and carrots and there you go!

Scrambled eggs are an easy first meal for kids to make. You can do breakfast for dinner and add some bacon or sausage. Or you could roll up with cheese and salsa in tortillas for a tasty variation of burritos. 

I hope this gives you some ideas for having your kids helping you out in the kitchen. What are some of the things you have your kids help you out with? Check out Organized Junkie's page for more menu ideas!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Whole Grain Goodness (and my first giveaway!)

Recently, General Mills announced that they are switching to whole grains for their line of breakfast. I'm so excited! We have been making the transition to whole grains for a couple of years. Bread was easy, pasta's a bit harder!

A couple of years ago, I was reading about sugar and children. It turns out, that our bodies treat white flours almost exactly like sugar! We have energy right away, but it doesn't last. Whole grains take longer for the body to break down, providing a source of energy for a longer period of time. My children are pretty active, and I have one who becomes incapable of sitting still for even thirty seconds after just one piece of candy. Cutting our sugars and white flours has been an adjustment, but I can totally see the difference in him when we are consistent with this. Read about the health benefits of eating breakfast cereal here.

So, back to the cereal... I received four free boxes of cereal from General Mills via My Blog Spark. I picked up two this week, and I'm glad to have a quick, easy, nutritious option for my children's breakfast. If you visit this link, you'll be able to get $1 off a box of General Mills cereal. I'd like to offer the other two boxes of free cereal to one reader. Here's how to enter:

1. Leave a comment with your favorite General Mills cereal, and e-mail contact.
2. Become a follower or subscriber and leave another comment. [How to become a follower: click the link on the right of the blog that says "follower" to follow using blogger. Click the link that says "subscribe to posts" to choose another reader.]

The winner will be drawn on Monday, January 11th and contacted via e-mail. Good luck!

Update: A winner has been chosen! View this page to see who won!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

(Doesn't) Work For Me

Having a two week old brings lots of joy, fun, and exhaustion! While I love snuggling sleeping babies that still curl up their legs, I'm not especially fond of the night-time feedings. Even without a bath, she has soft, touchable skin and smells sweet.

What Mama really needs is an afternoon nap. But, I also have a five and six year old (extremely active) boys that don't take an afternoon nap. They'll sit still and quiet if we turn on a movie, but I don't like them watching tv everyday. Coloring, puzzles, books, and games only keep them fight-free for so long. I usually haven't even had a good rest, yet, let alone fallen asleep. We have started a quiet Bible reading time in the morning. They've done very well sitting still, but they're not quite ready for the hour or so I'm looking for in a rest time.

So, my question to you is- how do you get rest or a nap in when you have active little ones around? What are your best tips and tricks for keeping a quiet house? What are the favorite activities that keep them calm and not arguing? Help! I need a nap!

Find more helpful hints at the backwards edition of Works for me Wednesday.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Some weeks, you just don't know what's going to happen. I've discovered that even the framework of a menu plan can help. Less than two weeks ago we had our fifth baby. This is my first week having all the kids in my house by myself. I'm a little nervous. I'm sure the baby will always want to eat when it's time to make dinner. So, my plan is to have a list of meal options that I can choose from depending on how the day is going. I am also being blessed by my friends and will have dinner delivered to my home a couple of times this week. Here's my list of meal potentials:

Breakfast: oatmeal or cereal, fruit and milk
Lunch: sandwiches or soup, fruit or veggies, crackers, milk
Dinner options:
Cheesy chicken and rice (freezer meal from a friend)
Sausage and potatoes (this is one the kids can make)
Pork or venison roast with potatoes and carrots (in the crock pot)
Pasta (another one for the kids!)
Frozen pizza
Grilled chicken with potatoes and salad

I'm hoping that gives us enough flexibility to get through the week! What are your easy go-to meals? How do you handle meals during tough times in your life (after a new baby, sick family, etc)?

Check out other plans at