Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Delightful Day Trip... Old-Fashioned Charm

I'm so glad you've dropped in. My kids are at youth camp this weekend. On a whim, my husband and I drove down to Bentonville, Arkansas, a town about an hour from here. It was a fun new experience. I felt like I'd walked onto a movie set! It had a thriving square downtown with lots of specialty shops, businesses and the Walmart museum. It was beautiful. 

The spectacular aspect was that there were people everywhere taking advantage of the nearly 70° weather! They were walking dogs, biking, shopping, sitting on the lawn on the square talking, eating at outside tables at little restaurants— some people even had dogs sitting by their feet at the tables! It was amazing! Everyone I spoke to was so friendly, too.  

On a side street, we passed by a doggy bakery. Just imagine! Lowell dropped me off just so I could run inside and see what it was like. They had fresh baked pastries that looked like they were from a posh bakery for humans! 

What did I buy? Not a thing! I'm not that kind of girl. ~grin~ I did see a bin of dog biscuits by the pound for $5.98 and a five pound bag of dog food for $49.98. Oh how tempting! Not! I'm a thrifty gal and glad of it. My little dog enjoys pieces of her regular dog food as treats. It was truly fun to see though.  

We ended our time in Bentonville with a stop for lunch at one of my favorite places, Chick-fil-A. We enjoyed their chicken nuggets with a variety of sauces. It was a delightful trip.... Now, I need to go buy some dog food!

I would love to hear from you.
...doing what I can with what I've got where I am 
on a short shoestring budget!

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #52

Hello everyone! 
It's been another busy week that has just flown by!

~ I started my week by burning the ham and beans I planned to serve for Sunday supper. Not thrifty. I was so upset with myself. I wanted to order pizza. Not an option these days. Instead, I opened a few cans of different kinds of beans, a can of Rotel style tomatoes, and used a little taco seasoning to make a bean soup. It was good enough that the boys ate seconds.  

~ I received some wool dryer balls, two books, two shopping bags, and a lemon squeezer for review for free. 

~ I used the wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. 

~ My dog's eye has been bothering her. I cannot afford a vet right now. It doesn't look serious. I am praying and pleading the blood of Jesus over her. She is my property, and God cares about what I care about. I am praying for her healing. I am giving her a half dose of generic Benedryl that I had on hand to help treat the irritation.

~ We enjoyed a lovely dinner out in one of the area's finest restaurants for $10. I'd been holding on to a gift card for a couple of years with a balance that just almost covered one appetizer and one dinner. We shared both and drank water with lemon. We left the waitress a very nice tip. Being a saver has its advantages!

~My son's birthday was this week. We made an old family recipe of pork tenderloins and chips. The pork was on sale at a bargain price, the remaining ingredients were bought at Aldi.  The dessert was homemade brownies using a recipe I've had ever since I was a young wife. 

~ I gave Matthew an old wine bottle for his birthday that I've had for over ten years. My husband brought it to me filled with Bittersweet one Autumn. I also gave him 3 taper candles. He likes the look of the wax dripping down the bottle. I didn't spend anything on this. It was special because it was proof that I listen to him, and I remembered.

~ Matthew also needed some work boots. The kids wanted to help. We all pitched in and came up with $108 to help him get boots. That's family working together. 

~ We went to Walmart the evening of his birthday, and I got him a kitchen strainer for his rice and a big bath sheet. It wasn't a lot, but once again it showed that I'd been listening when he mentioned things he'd like to have.

Listening goes a long way to show someone you love them. I love it when I get a gift that shows someone has been listening or knows me so well, they know what I like.  It's so much better than asking for a gift. If you're a person who gives a gift for Valentine's Day, keep your ears open. You may get an idea for something your loved one will like. It may not be romantic, it may just be practical. Practical is good, too!

What have you been doing in your home this week?

...doing what I can with what I've got where I am 
on a short shoestring budget!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Winter Decorating at the Cottage

My husband of 29 years recently told me how much he enjoys the way I decorate for fall and Christmas. He loves how colorful it is, and wishes I'd decorate more for other seasons. Who knew?

We put our tree up late this year, so it came down early in January. It was replaced by a "winter tree" that is smaller. I put snowmen and snowflake ornaments on it. Many are homemade. I'll probably try to make more.
Most of the Valentine things I had were lost to moisture in our basement this year. We had several inches of water in our basement due to heavy rains. I'll use what I have and try to make more from what I have on hand. My big splurge was a tiny ball of cotton yarn from Hobby Lobby. It was $2.29 for 2 oz. I used a 40% off coupon, so it was inexpensive. I made two dishcloths which will be used only in February then put up for next year. I bought another ball, so I'll have a couple more to add to the stash.

...doing what I can with what I've got where I am 
on a short shoestring budget!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #51

Welcome to another thrifty week at Harvest Lane Cottage!

A lot of folks are dealing with way too much snow right now. My sister-in-law is stuck at her job at a hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. They gave her a room, and she's just staying there until things are better. Father God, I pray that you will cause the storms to dissipate, in Jesus' Name. I also ask you to send some snow our way. I want to make snow ice cream!

~ I made Candy Cane Cocoa using candy canes I bought on sale after Christmas, cocoa I had on hand, creamer leftover from the restaurant, and the $5 food processor I bought at a yard sale last summer. Out-of-pocket was probably less than fifty cents for a pint batch. It makes a thrifty drink mix that feels special. You could probably make a batch using Starlight peppermints.

~ I used the last few potatoes and an onion to make some fried potatoes. I used just a little canola oil and some butter. That's not something I usually make, but I'm using it up, wearing it out, making it do, and doing without. I served them with ham steaks that my dad gave me.

~ I received several products free for review from Amazon sellers. Somehow I crossed a threshold and became one of the top Amazon reviewers. I guess it was all the book reviews I've done over the years. A couple of weeks ago, offers started coming in nearly every week day. I've not been interested in many of the products, but I did get some nice things this week... some potpourri, a flying ball toy, and a flexible cutting board. Most likely I will just post the reviews on Amazon, but if I really like something, I may share it here, too.

~ We really needed a date night. We went out for queso at a favorite Mexican restaurant instead of going out for a whole dinner. $8 spent instead of $20.

~ I've been using homemade laundry soap all week.

~ We continued to eat out of the cupboards and freezer buying what we needed to fill in.

~ I just didn't go many places this week. That saved on gas. So did the $1.50 gas price!

~ I used a 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon on my husband's phone (no ink or paper) to buy a little ball of cotton yarn to knit some more dishcloths using Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth pattern.

Well, that's about it. What have you been doing in your home this week?

...doing what I can with what I've got where I am 
on a short shoestring budget!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #50

Hello! Another week enjoying the blessings of the Lord.
~ I made super quick super cheap laundry soap. I made it double strength because I wash a lot of towels and jeans. This is the easiest laundry detergent recipe you'll find.
~ Made soup from leftovers
~ Used a 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby to buy an inexpensive ball of yarn to make Valentine's dishcloths
~ Shopped with a grocery list and bought only 3 cans of salmon for our meat purchases this week.
~ Cooked primarily from the pantry and freezer
~ Shopped at Aldi for my veggies and dairy
~ Shopped at the Thrift Store and didn't buy a thing!
~ I decluttered two bags of stuff. That's real estate investment— two cubic feet for free!

Good news! All the money from the fraudulent bank charges has been returned! It took a lot of emails, but God blessed us! A hearty thank you to everyone who prayed for us. There will be an extra bean in the pot next week!

...doing what I can with what I've got where I am 
on a short shoestring budget!

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Winter Bucket List 2016


  • Write my Winter bucket list
  • Put up the Winter tree with snowmen
  • Sort through my Christmas decor for discards
  • Deep cleaning
  • Put out all my snowmen
  • Decorate the house for January 
  • Smile and spread good cheer
  • Curl up with a terrific book
  • Make new Snowman decorations
  • Drink hot tea
  • Enjoy candle light
  • Make chili
  • Make candy cane cocoa
  • Double feature movie night
  • Try a new soup
  • Spray paint an old metal cart
  • Set up a hot tea and cocoa cart
  • Invite friends for soup 
  • Make new Valentines dishcloths for February
  • Make new Valentines decorations
  • Decorate Winter tree for Valentine's Day
  • Invite friends for dessert
  • Use my new polka dot teapot, Thanks Dad and Annie!
  • Help Emily, Michael, and Amy practice hospitality
  • Bake some Trim Healthy Mama treats
  • Gaze into the fire in the woodstove
  • Bake cookies with my kids 
  • Finish my Emily's quilt (I worked on it!)
  • Read by candle light 
  • Make snow ice cream (It never snowed!)
  • Celebrate my son's 25th birthday
  • Worship Jesus under the winter stars

...doing what I can with what I've got where I am 
on a short shoestring budget!
Update 2/28/16:
Well, I didn't finish it. I did, however, do more than I would have if I hadn't made the list to begin with! Maybe next year. If it snows, I may pull this list out again!  

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #49

Dear Reader,

It's been a long week at Harvest Lane Cottage. Various forms of cold and flu have been circulating. I've not been very productive. I've had a cold— not a bad one, but it was enough to slow me down.  I didn't do my regular grocery shopping. A company I'd never used put through fraudulent charges on my bank account and took over a hundred dollars. That was my grocery money. In fact, my husband had to put extra money in the account to cover the charges. I'm still trying to get it back. Prayer appreciated— for the money to be returned and my attitude to be right. *Update, I have now received full repayment from the company that charged me. I also have a new debit card with a new number. Evidently the number was stolen during my on-line Christmas shopping. Thank you to everyone who prayed!

I did pick up a few items with money on hand, but I cooked out of the pantry. I'm so glad I could do that. This week in my little home I...

~ made a nice taco salad out of ground beef Dad gave me
~ bought little tomatoes on sale at Aldi $.99 box
~ used lettuce given to me
~ bought hams  7.38 lbs for $1.57, 8.29 lbs for $2.38, and 8.26 lbs for $2.35. That's over 18 pounds for just $6.30!  Just $.35 a pound! God is so good to me!
~ made french toast with leftover buns and four slices of stale bread
~ put maple flavoring in Karo syrup left over from the cafe
~ returned my daughter's college textbook to college so that she wouldn't be charged
~ took kids to the library
~ bought my eldest son lunch for $1 at McDonalds
~ cooked from freezer and on-hand food
~ didn't go or do anything extra
~ I followed up with Amazon about a refund I was supposed to receive last week. As it turns out, they hadn't processed it. I had the money in my account by the end of the day. I think Amazon customer service has been pretty good to work with this Christmas season.
~ used leftover Christmas money, along with a bit from hubby, to buy two large totes to store the Christmas tree in. The previous box was destroyed when my basement flooded a couple of weeks ago. This is thrifty because our tree is big and beautiful. My husband bought it sight unseen from a friend moving out of state a couple of years ago for a thrifty $25. It fills a big part of our little living room!
~ sorted through Christmas decorations etc and gave away 3 bags of misc. You might wonder why decluttering is thrifty. Simply put, every bag of items given away clears about a cubic foot in my house. That's real estate investment! That's thrifty!

Well, that's about it. It's time to help my daughter with history.

What have you done this week in your home to be thrifty?

God bless you!
Blessed to be a Blessing
Featured at Good Morning Mondays

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016... It Came to Pass

Still waiting for our first snowfall of 2016!
Dear Reader,

It's so good to write again to you in this new year, 2016. It sounds like a science fiction date to these fifty year old ears. ~smile~ I remember as a child realizing that I would be 35, gasp 35, at the turn of the century. It sounded so old. Now it sounds young. It's all perspective, isn't it?

Where are you? Does 35 sound old or young? I find myself wondering where the years have gone... then I realize that while I was busy with dishes, laundry, homeschooling, the challenges of living life on one income, helping with the Joplin tornado recovery, and with my husband's business, the children were growing from adorable little toddlers to children to teens and young adults. No one fits on my knees anymore. A kiss and a hug and a prayer and a cup of cocoa don't solve all their problems anymore. What's a mother to do?

Hold onto the memories, but embrace now. It too will be a memory soon. Whether you are potty training, teaching your child to read, or teaching them to drive, the time will go quickly. There are 452 verses in the King James Bible that state, "It came to pass." What does that mean?

Are you having a bad day?
It came to pass.
Are you having a good day?
It came to pass.
Out of work?
It came to pass.
Trouble with...
It came to pass.
It came to pass.

Get the picture?

Whatever you're doing today, whomever God has given you to love, embrace the now.
Love your husband, love your babies however big they are, love your parents, love your family, love your friends.
Be present in the now and enjoy it,
for it came to pass.