April 5, 2013
A few months ago, we purchased a home. You know how it is to move — you soon find things that you forgot existed. Each week I am unpacking more boxes and sorting through many years of accumulated possessions. Many things we don’t need and are put into a “get rid of” pile. Through all of the sorting and purging I found our Resurrection Eggs. I hadn’t seen them in a few years and was excited to share these with my children this year.
The Resurrection Egg kit comes with 12 plastic eggs that are easily stored in a plastic egg carton. Eleven of the eggs come with different items to help tell the story of Christ’s life, burial, and resurrection. The last egg is empty which allows us to explain the resurrection. (My kids loved this part!) Also included is a booklet with an explanation of each egg which includes scripture references.
Each box contains:
- 1 durable plastic egg carton
- 12 plastic eggs
- 11 unique objects to illustrate the Easter story
- 1 bilingual booklet (English and Spanish)
The Resurrection Eggs can be purchased through FamilyLife, Christian Book Distributors, or at your local Christian bookstore. Although some people have chosen to make their own kits, I find that $12.99 is a great value for the unique pieces and the booklet.
My children enjoyed the Resurrection Eggs and I plan to use these in the future with them. I have also used this at my church when we had an egg hunt. If you plan to use it for Sunday School or an egg hunt, I would recommend reading through the booklet first, as it is a bit lengthy and you might need to shorten it.
Have you ever used the Resurrection Eggs kit?
Disclaimer: These views are my own. This is not a sponsored post.
March 10, 2013
Everyone wants to have an attractive home. If you’re like me, you’re on a strict budget. Most of us cannot afford to redecorate our homes. Here are some tips for furnishing and decorating your home frugally.
1. Shop yard sales and thrift stores. I’ve been doing this for years. A few years ago I was at a yard sale and found a really nice living room couch and oversized chair. The person I bought it from had only used it for one year. She paid $1200 for it and I got it for only $120. Sometimes you can find some really unique items by shopping this way.
2. Check Craigslist. You just never know what you’ll find on Craiglist. Before purchasing our last home, the home inspector found some issues with the bathtub. My husband found a brand new tub with jets on Craiglist for 1/5 the price. It was one a contractor didn’t use. Another great find was a HE washer and dryer. We got an almost new set for 1/4 the price. The owners were moving to Hawaii and it would cost them more to have it moved.
3. Think paint. Paint is one of the least expensive ways to add warmth and color to your home. It really is amazing how $30 in paint can transform a room.
4. Repurpose what you have. Paint that old lamp or picture frame. Change your night stand into a bookshelf. Recover your old pillows with fabric. Use a sheet for window treatments.
5. Get an outside opinion. It helps to ask someone else’s opinion for ways to help your decorating space. Many times friends will see things you didn’t see and have ideas you had never thought about. They may suggest moving a piece of furniture or changing a wall hanging. Those small inexpensive tips can make a big impact.
6. Borrow furniture. When I first got married, I didn’t have any living room furniture. I ended up borrowing some things from my parent’s house. All you have to do is get the word out to friends and family that you need some items for your home. Some people have things in their basement that are just sitting around collecting dust. Some will let you borrow things and others will just let you have the stuff.
7. Be patient. You can’t expect your home to look perfect right away. It takes moving things around, searching for deals, and tweaking things a bit. It will all come together eventually.
8. Bring in nature. Consider filling jars with shells from the ocean. Fill a vase with twigs. Put some pinecones in a basket. There are many things that we can use from outside.
9. Do it yourself. I am not one for creating things but if given an idea, I can usually duplicate it. Thanks to pinterest, there are thousands of ideas at your fingertips. I have pinned many ideas for future use. Be sure to check out my boards “For the Home” and “DIY and Crafts”.
10. Update out of date pieces. Our last home was one of my favorites. It was loaded with charm. The problem was that the fixtures were outdated. Everything was brass. We didn’t have the money to purchase all new lighting and bath towel bars so my husband gave everything an inexpensive update with bronze spray paint. You can check out pictures of our chandelier makeover.
What tips do you have for low cost decorating?
image (c) Karen Weideman
March 9, 2013
K-Love is currently offering “Heartbeats” by United for free. I just found out about this download today. Hurry! This one expires March 10, 2013. K-Love frequently offers free downloads. I have 20 free songs in my iTunes account. Enjoy the free music!
February 5, 2013
Buying a store bought cake is not something that I normally do. Store bought cakes are so expensive and I find that homemade cakes taste better. Homemade cakes also offer a personal touch to the event.
When my children were very young, I was very fortunate that my mom would make their birthday cakes for me. Here is a Cars Movie cake that my mom made for my son’s third birthday.
My son wanted a Lightning McQueen cake for his birthday. I looked around in the stores and tried to figure out what I was going to do. Then I decided to buy the car figurines from the toy section. At $12 for three cars, I thought it was a bit pricey but it was cheaper than buying a cake and then at least he would have the cars to play with later.
First we started with a 9×13 sheet cake we made. If I remember correctly, we chose chocolate, but any flavor will do. We iced the cake with homemade white icing. Since I had a Lightning McQueen car that had mud painted on the side, we thought it would be neat to create a mud scene on the cake with chocolate icing. We even smeared the icing a little to make it look like Lightning McQueen slid through the mud.
Next, we dyed some of the icing green and used it to pipe grass on the cake. My mom used the rest of the brown icing for the border.
Finally, we placed the other two cars on the cake. My husband looked online and found a Radiator Springs sign to print. He taped it to two toothpicks and inserted it into the cake as a sign.
I thought this was a pretty cute cake and it wasn’t hard at all. I don’t have any cake decorating experience and I feel that I could recreate this cake myself. Sometimes all it takes is looking around for inspiration to trigger ideas.
Do you enjoy making your own cakes?
images (c) Karen Weideman
January 21, 2013
K-Love is offering a new song download. This one is “The Harvester” by Brandon Heath. I have enjoyed getting these free downloads from K-Love. I have over a dozen on them on my iTunes account now. Get this free download by Brandon Heath through 1/27/13. Enjoy the free music!
January 21, 2013
Planting Seeds of Biblical Truth
I was reading my Thriving Family magazine and found out about this freebie. Focus on the Family is offering 52 free family devotionals. These weekly devotionals focus on the fruit of the Spirit. These are a great way to get your year started off in the right direction. Click here for this freebie.
July 31, 2012
I enjoy looking over the stats each month. It is neat to see the things that interest people the most. Some of these articles have been around for a while and yet every month they are the top reads. There are some oldie but goodies here. I hope you’ll enjoy checking these out.
Tomato Casserole Recipe (Yumm!)
A Thrifty Way to Stuff Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse)
Which article is your favorite?
July 26, 2012
For many people, Christmas is a favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it can also be the most stressful. The costs of Christmas cards, Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts can really burden one’s finances.
You might be wondering why I am talking about Christmas today when it is only July. Both of my children’s birthdays fall in July. Once their birthdays have passed I begin thinking about the next big event, which is Christmas. Giving myself some time to think, plan, and prepare helps to save money. Hopefully, this post will encourage you to think ahead and plan too so that you can also save money.
Here are some ways to save money on Christmas gifts. Another day we can discuss ways to save money on the other parts of Christmas.
1. Get help from friends and family. Let them know what you’re shopping for. When I do this, other people let me know when they spot a good deal on something I need. It goes both ways. I have been known to text pictures to people at midnight on Black Friday with deals they might be interested in. It helps to have others watching out for what you need.
2. Ask friends and family what they want. Hopefully, this will avoid countless hours shopping, racking your brain, wasted gas, extra unwanted products in the environment, and the hassle of returns.
3. Try gift cards. Some people may think this is inappropriate, but I think it’s a great solution. Gift cards save time, wrapping paper, shipping expenses, and help avoid unwanted gifts. Let the person buy what they want.
4. Save your receipts. Get an envelope for your purse or have a special file folder in your filing cabinet. You never know when you’ll have bought the wrong size or something didn’t work. It’s really upsetting to return something without a receipt and not get the full value of the item.
5. See if your store offers a gift receipt. I think it’s nice when someone includes a gift receipt in the box. This avoids the uncomfortable situation of asking where they bought it or if they still have the receipt. I’ll admit that many times I’ve been left with things I couldn’t use or return. Gift receipts are great!
6. Be specific in your requests. If someone asks what to get your child, try to be as specific as possible. Tell them the exact name of the toy or their specific pants size. Before Christmas and birthdays, I have my kids write a list of the things they really like and want. Then when family asks for gift ideas, I have something to tell them. I like to have a variety of lower priced items on the list too (such as hair bows, stickers, etc.) so that people don’t feel like they have to spend a lot. This also helps with people looking for filler items.
7. Consider drawing names with co-workers or family. We did this with my husband’s family for several years. To make it more fun, we kept the names we drew a secret and were surprised when we exchanged gifts.
8. Buy just for the children. This is becoming a common practice in our families. We buy for our parents and the children. This has really cut down on spending and getting unusable gifts. It also makes for a more relaxed Christmas.
9. Consider playing a game instead of swapping gifts. Try a white elephant or dirty Santa game. Some games involve bringing a nice gift that someone would want. Other games involve bringing a funny or prank type gift. There is usually a gift maximum price suggested, such as $10-20. With the games, each person brings one gift and each person leaves with one gift. Be prepared for lots of laughter and fun.
10. Be realistic. While you’re out there shopping, you’ll probably find loads of great deals and things you want for yourself. Be sure to budget in some money for things that you want.
11. Make a budget and stick with it. NO CHARGING! If you can only afford a $20 gift then make those dollars stretch. There are deals all around so that you can make your purchase special.
12. Take those credit cards out of your wallet. It’s much more tempting to charge something and purchase something out of your price range when the credit cards are in your wallet. You don’t need a debt hangover in January.
13. Try making homemade gifts. With the new craft items, DIY tv shows, and Pinterest, hand crafted items have made a comeback and are more desirable. Do you have a nitch? You can make note cards, pillows, crocheted hats, wreaths, and many other different things that are nice. A gift doesn’t have to be store bought.
14. Instead of individual gifts, consider a family gift. You could purchase a popcorn bowl and fill it with microwave popcorn, candy bars, and a new DVD. Perhaps you could purchase the family a season pass to the aquarium or something else they would like. The key is to think about the family and what their interests are.
15. Keep a gift closet or special place for gifts. Years ago, I used to have a gift closet. I would purchase things throughout the year and put them away for later use. Now that I no longer have a gift closet, I have gift totes. It’s not as convenient but the concept is the same. I find things throughout the year that I think people will like (on clearance or not) and put them away for Christmas. Honestly, I think it is a more thoughtful process because I am able to think ahead and consider the person that I am buying for. I am also able to pick up a few extra things for teachers, co-workers, and extended family.
16. Don’t wait until the last minute. Shopping the week before Christmas means that things will be picked over and you’ll have to choose from what’s left. You may not end up with a nice gift like you had planned, or you may have to pay more for something.
18. Give the gift of service. Instead of you and your friend exchanging gifts, consider giving a gift of service. Everyone wants to go out on a date with their husband. Many of us don’t go out though because we can’t afford to go out and to pay a sitter. Give your friend babysitting services. You could also give other services such as housecleaning, gardening, raking, etc. Perhaps you could pick a chore that she doesn’t like to do. Use your computer or art skills to make a certificate for the services you are giving.
19. Consider giving something used. I remember just a few years ago my son kept asking for Rescue Heroes. Each of the figurines were around $10 each. Finally I did some searching online and found two huge lots on ebay. I got the two lots for around $50, including shipping. Something similar happened with Polly Pockets for my daughter. She soon realized that she could only get a few Polly Pocket pieces for $15 but we found a big box with buildings, figurines, clothes, and more on Craigslist for $40. Consider the person you are buying for and decide if they would mind something used.
20. Consider regifting. Regifting doesn’t have to be tacky or thoughtless. We all get gifts we have don’t need. Hang onto those gifts and try to thoughtfully give them to someone else. Perhaps you could give them to your neighbor, mail carrier, your child’s teacher, the person that picks up your recycling, or your favorite bank teller. Regifting doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just make sure what you are giving is considerate of what that person likes and that the gift is in good condition. Here is a post with regifting tips.
This is certainly not a complete list of ways to save on Christmas gifts. Which ways do you save?
This article was originally written by me in 2007. It has been revised and edited.
July 20, 2012
Just recently, I received a bill to renew my car insurance. I glanced at the bill and was getting ready to make a payment when I noticed something — this time there was a pay in full discount amount. I began to look over my bill more closely. Normally I pay a $3 monthly installment fee so that I can make payments for my auto insurance. Considering I don’t have to plunk out $450-600 at a time, I didn’t think the $3 per month was too bad. But when I factored in the pay in full discount, it makes a big difference.
By paying the full amount up front, I was able to get a discount of $39.90. Also, by making the full payment I avoided paying an extra $18 in monthly installment fees. This made my savings a whopping $57.90. Quite a bit a difference, don’t you think?
Here’s a few ways to save on your car insurance:
1. Ask for a pay in full discount such as the discount I received. If you can’t afford to pay the full six months, perhaps you could afford to make two payments – half up front and half later. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
2. Ask for other discounts. Some insurance companies offer discounts for military or students with good grades. Periodically we call our insurance company and ask for discounts. We have been with them for about nine years. When I call them I ask for a good driver discount. We’ve had no tickets or wrecks so we are considered safe drivers. Or you could ask them for a loyalty discount. There are all sorts of discounts available. You just need to ask.
3. Compare prices. It pays to shop around and compare prices of different companies. Be sure you’re comparing similar coverage though. It wouldn’t be a good deal to save $25 and not receive the coverage you need.
4. Ask about a higher deductible. Some financial advisers will tell you to always get a higher deductible. I would have to disagree with that one. Compare, compare, compare. We have a zero deductible and there wasn’t much difference in price. Don’t assume that it will be way cheaper to get a higher deductible, but then again, it could be. I would recommend making a list of companies you want to call and writing notes on prices for different types of coverage and deductibles and then comparing rates. An hour of your time could save you hundreds of dollars.
5. Check into a company’s reputation. With all of the online rants and reviews, it is fairly easy to research a company. Also, ask around to your friends and locals. Find out who they use and if they are pleased. It’s not a good deal if you are with a company that won’t answer your calls or help you when you need it.
6. Carry multiple policies with the same insurance company. Many companies offer a discount if you hold more than one policy with them. You could have your homeowners, renters, or life insurance policy with that company. Ask if they have a multiple policy discount.
7. Drive a low profile car. Some cars have a reputation for speeding tickets and trouble and therefore the premium for them is higher. Annual reports are available that list the most stolen cars in the country.
8. Keep your credit in good standing. Until recently, I didn’t realize that insurance companies check your credit regularly. A few months ago we received a letter from our insurance company stating that our rate would be higher because of an issue on our credit report. We did some investigating and found an incorrect claim that we had to dispute and get corrected. Without the insurance credit check, we wouldn’t have known about the error or that insurance companies check on people.
9. Maintain a safe driving record. This one seems like common sense, but a ticket or accident could really raise your insurance rates. Pay attention to speed limits and school zones. If you do get a ticket, see if you could take a safe driver course to reduce the points and insurance premium.
10. Drive less. Some insurance companies offer low mileage discounts for those that carpool or drive a low amount of miles each year. I once received the discount because I worked less than five miles from my house.
Making calls, comparing rates, and asking for discounts can save you hundreds each year. Make sure you have enough coverage and be safe.
What other tips do you have to add?
image (c) Karen Weideman