Saturday, November 14, 2015

Crafts and Creations for November and December

I have been writing a lot about saving money and how we accomplished a No Spend October.  During the month we were able to save money, AND save time we would have been getting groceries/essentials.  We used our surplus of minutes to have fun as a family, read more and to accomplish things around the house.

For the business am currently working on crafts, sweets, classes and parties for this Holiday Season.

Here are a few of things I have been doing:

1.) Baking.  I am making pies, quick sweet breads, and cake bites to sell.  I envision these treats being shared at Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, given as gifts, and saving busy folks time without sacrificing quality.   The recipes themselves are special to me.  The pie crust, pecan pie, and banana bread come from my grandma and mama.  The cake bites AKA cake balls were a treat that Ms. Lana from Camden, AR shared at Christmas with us.  The apple butter bread is my own creation from a bounty of apples shared with us from the Hamiltons here in Fulton.  I love how baking warms my home and I hope my food can bless others too.

Pumpkin and Pecan Pies

Livi and John approved of the whipped cream :)

2.) Using my Nose.  We have had such a beautiful Indian Summer and the roses are still blooming!  My kids -even Baby John - have been plucking rose petals off for me to dry to make potpourri for sachets.  They also have shared their mint plants to mix with teatree oil for a refreshing fragrance.

3.) Learning.  In October I was given a HUGE piece of brand new high quality carpet.  I attempted to make a free-hand painted doormat.  I learned some limitations that day, and decided to try using a stencil.  Not only was I able to use premade stencils but I attempted to make my own.  I love them!  The pumpkin and all three Christmas trees in these pictures are from stencil I made.

4.) Upcycling.  Besides the carpeting, I have been reusing or "up cycling" lots of materials.  Thrifted shirts, lace, vintage ornaments, and even scavenged church bulletin fronts are being used in my products.  I hate to waste anything that can be reused.  Brad would probably call me a pack rat.  At least I'm sharing it through my business instead of keeping it all!

5.) Reading.  I have taken extra time to study what is popular right now and to learn how to make new things.  I have sought articles on how to promote my business without pressuring friends and family to buy from me.   If you are reading this and have felt that way, please let me know how to work on that!
         It has also been amazing to make the time to search the Bible  more for guidance on how to balance out elements of life and to honor God through my work.  I keep coming back to Proverbs 31.  The women in the story is called blessed by her children for her efforts.  I want that to be the way my family feels about me.

What are some ways that you can think of to improve/promote Classic Creations without coming across as pushy?  Please leave me a comment below or send me a message.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

7 McDonalds Savings Tips and Menu Hacks to do Without Getting Cranky

Overall we eat pretty healthy around these parts.  Processed food is at a minimum and chemical food dyes are missing entirely.  The kids and I have hummus or hard cooked eggs with veggies several days a week for lunch.   It works well and I believe we live better for it.

But sometimes....

when everything is perfectly aligned-or rather perfectly stressful/chaotic- I need salt.  And cheese. And above all I feel the need for special sauce.

I'm talking about a BIG MAC.

Specifically one with piping hot french fries and a fountain Coca-cola.

My friends know how much I love these.  So much that they save coupons for me and alert me of sales.  I have used them in health analogies, illustrations of food combinations and even in Bible study.  There is just something about that combination that exudes comfort food to me.  I think its my settler ancestors who lived on salt pork, bread, and sugared fruits as they travelled in a covered wagon.  I'm trying to justify it.  Don't get me wrong, its not healthy food.  It's a whole day worth of calories send you into a sugar spin food.  But once in a while, once a month, it is more of a need than a want.

As you know from my previous blog post, I am constantly trying to stretch and save our just-what-we-need budget.  So I thought I would share some of my best Mickey-D's savings tips with you to help weaken the blow on your wallet and your waistline.  Hopefully you will find some of these things helpful for when you indulge in this once in a while treat.

Big Mac hamburger.jpg

Pertaining to Mr. Mac
1.)  Opt for a <secret> name change.  The price for a Big Mac sandwich has gone up to $3.99 for the sandwich alone.  I have started ordering a double cheeseburger add Big Mac Sauce, add lettuce.  The double cheeseburger costs $1.49 and the add-ons can vary at each restaurant but on average the total for the sandwich comes to around $2.  The only thing you are missing is the middle bun and the sesame seeds, and while they are an important part of the Big Mac, you won't miss then that much.  You could even do the same thing to a regular cheeseburger or quarter pounder to create a similar taste.

2.)  Have a Big Mac Buddy  McDonald's often will offer BOGO deals on their Big Macs (and quarter pounders, and egg mcmuffins).  If you go halvesies on the bill you each get a Big Mac for $2!  And who doesn't want to enjoy their favorite junk food with someone who appreciates it just as much!  Note:  Do not attempt to purchase two Big Macs and refrigerate or freeze one for later.  I learned this the hard way- Sincerely, formerly pregnant Amanda.

General Savings Ideas
3.) Share, child, share  The last time we had McDonald's, Brad ordered a grilled chicken meal, and I had a coupon for a free Big Mac.  We split his drink and fries and saved the cost of adding on the side items for me.  We also have shared nuggets and sandwiches sometimes to save cost and calories

4.) Eat like a kid  There is no shame in ordering a kids meal.  You get the junk food that you like for less  and  the calories are more in line with a real meal too.  And a toy :)

5.) BYO sides  We will sometimes bring apples and carrot sticks with us when we eat fast food.  Take out makes this option a bit less awkward for folks who feel funny about taking food in to a restaurant.

6.) Look for Sales and deals  Every couple of months McDonald's sends a coupon sheet out in a mailer.  There are deals on the back of receipts from McDonald's its self and other stores.

7.) Sign up for the app and coupons Go to or the app store on your smart phone to download the McDonald's app.  After registering, you will be eligible for a free sandwich and lots of digital coupons.  Coupons include BOGO products, money off of purchase, and punch cards for McCafe drinks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Reflection on Spending Free October

I am counting Spending Free October as a success.  We are three days into November now and I still haven't purchased any groceries with no plan to until Saturday.  Our family had a great month without really feeling deprived.  Looking at our bank accounts compared to last month, we were able to save more than $550!!!!  That may sound low to some, but its a lot to us.  And that doesn't include generous monetary gifts from our church family for pastor appreciation month.  We are beyond blessed by the Lord regardless of our bank account. He will provide no matter what.

Cutting out spending for groceries and essentials, limiting gasoline usage, and other expenditures in October will help us get one step closer to owning a new-to-us van without payments.  I encourage you that anyone on any budget can do this with planning.

Here are few things I learned during our Spending Freeze:

1.) We have great people in our life.  Our parents encouraged us, visiting through this month as well as taking us out to eat -a big treat!   I hope that we will be like you in how we love our kids in adulthood.  First Baptist Church honored the pastoral staff with a banquet, cards and gifts.  They also humbled my heart by praying for us during a Sunday service.  Thanks to the Lord for these that love our family!

2.)  I kept track of everything.  I now know how much laundry detergent, hand soap, dish soap, etc we go through in a month.  I found out with cloth diapering most of the time, we can stretch disposables a long way.  I know how much produce we go through and how much meat.  This will help in future stocking up.

3.)  We didn't lack for entertainment.  We enjoyed time with church family, our families, camping, and visiting friends without spending extra money.  We had fun Halloween costumes and did lots of fall crafts with the kids.  And lots of outside playtime.

4.)  I was surprised what I didn't think of.  I ran out of nail polish remover and had painted my nails on Oct 1st.  Being ever stubborn, I let it wear off instead of borrowing.  I also got a little nervous about our toilet tissue supply, it was close, as I forgot to get that the last part of Sept.

5.)  My kids didn't miss it.  Livi asked why we weren't going to ALDI a few times.  Overall she thought it was fun to have creative dinners and more time to play together.  John's tummy was full and his cheeks kissed so he was good too.

6.)  I got more accomplished.  I have been able to keep up my house, and work on projects for the business.  This may or may not have been connected with the Spending Freeze, or just because it was needed.

7.) I missed cheese and Coca-Cola.  My "Vices"  On Sunday nights I usually do all of the laundry for the week and a few cleaning chores while having a 50 cent can of Coke.  I missed it a bit, but not enough to go buy one.  We ran out of cheese around Oct 18th.  I made some cream sauce pasta to substitute...not as good as eating a slice of cheese.  My mom spoiled me rotten last week by bringing us several slices of 5 different kinds of cheese.  We still have some in the fridge.  -Thanks Mom!

8.)  God is in Control  I have said it before, but all that we have is because God has allowed it.  This month has taught us about His generosity.  We have learned contentment in Him and His provision.  He works in our hearts to help us learn to give and trust.  Thanks be to God in all things great and small.  We thank Him for taking care of us through this month.