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Sunday, December 30, 2018

2019 Savings Stratgy

Five years ago, when we moved to Maryland, we had many future expenses that we needed to save monthly for.  Some of these were:  
  • Furnace Oil - two or three fill ups per year, depending on how cold it was, approximately $500 each
  • Dental Insurance - quarterly
  • Water/Sewer - quarterly
  • Summer Vacation
  • Used vehicle repair - $200 per month based on a history of what we'd spent in prior years
  • Pet Vet care - $100 per month - two elderly pets required more care
  • Annual memberships - Prime/Costco
  • House Taxes - that's a big one
We would save this money each month in a separate bank account called "Reserve" and pull the money out as it was needed.

After five years of discipline, it finally dawned on me that we were living so close to our budget, that we no longer needed to separate out this money in its own separate account.  I've decided to lump it in with our three-month emergency fund where as one bigger sum, it can earn more interest in a money market account.

I read recently from another blogger who had 17 different savings accounts to save for different things.  The time it would take to maintain that many accounts is daunting to me.  I fully believe we are finally disciplined enough to stick with our budget and not mistakenly use up these reserve funds and I feel better about putting it in one location where it's available but can earn more interest.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Giving Generously

I've learned to give generously as an adult, both through my Christian faith and heartfelt desire to help others.  I don't think one needs to be a Christian to have this desire, I've got many friends who are not religious and very generous, but for me it's a combination of both.

One of my favorite verses is this:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38
I don't attend a prosperity church, so I'm not of the mind that giving must be to the church, I feel it should be given to whoever you meet who is in need and you have the available resources to help that person.

We've gotten to a point where we give easily and without hesitation throughout the year but it still came as a surprise when this year, especially recently, we began to get many things in return!'

When we left Florida we gave away most of our furniture, some was old, some was fairly new but we were moving to my mom's fully furnished house and didn't have room or want to store things for years.

After moving to our new house, we had no chairs and living room furniture.  Family stepped in to give us a couch, recliner and chairs for our table.  These items felt like a huge blessing because we had so willing given away our own things 5 years ago!

A couple at church gave us three very nice high quality polo shirts for my son, just as I started thinking I needed to get him something that wouldn't need ironing.

In December, I noticed my daughter's coat was looking too thin for winter and started thinking I had better get her something warmer when suddenly an older girl decided to gift her a beautiful red coat that was just gorgeous and perfect.

We've wanted to get our youngest a beanbag as we only had 3, but 4 kids.  I'd looked but hadn't found any yet that were a color she might like.  Suddenly someone wanted to gift us a purple and white one!

Recently I started thinking about how much I loved macadamia nuts from my days of working at Bucks County Nut & Coffee company but thought they would cost too much right now with Christmas expenses.  Suddenly I got a bag from a co-worker who didn't even know how much I loved these!

This past summer we were given cowboy boots and a Wii system!  The boots were very needed as my husband's prior boots had a hole that we hadn't managed to get fixed.

My best friends from high school give us clothes their children have grown out of twice a year.

Recently we offered to help a school mom out by offering to let her child stay with us for the weekend while she went out of town to work and she dropped off what seemed to be over $50 in groceries!  Our fridge was filled to the max and we had more than enough for us and the child for the weekend plus the entire week!  We really didn't expect anything like that and had honestly offered with no expectations of anything. 

We live frugally, meaning we don't buy something the second we think about needing something.  This has helped in many cases that we think about a need, wait a few weeks and then suddenly someone gifts us that very item.

I don't give expecting to get anything in return, I'm probably the most surprised of anyone at how many things we've been given and sadly I feel that I'm forgetting a few things.

It's with a very grateful, thankful heart that I write this post and I hope this can serve as an encouragement to others to give freely; it feels good to meet needs and it feels great to have needs met in return!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Fired by Pinecone Research

At some point I stopped getting research requests.  I finally wrote to them to ask if I could be included in more surveys and got a vague respones saying from time to time they update their panelest and if I had been removed then I couldn't be reinstated.  I was kinda sad!  I liked doing their surveys but some were quite time intensive.  I see them constantly promoted in these blogs that like to suggest easy money making deals so just thought I'd put this out there that it might not be a long term gig.  Mine lasted about one year when I started noticing it taper off.  I think I made $23 in total and got a bag of free dog food for a review.

Friday, December 21, 2018

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

December is cranberry month!  Time for Cranberry Surprise Loaf and these awesome scones!!

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup non-salted butter cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
Use a food processor to chop the white chocolate chips into tiny bits and then pour these into a small bowl.  Next, put one cup of flour into the same food processor with butter and pulse until combined.  I then move the flour/butter mixture into a Kitchen Aid mixer and add remaining dry ingredients.  

Mix egg and buttermilk in a 1 cup container and add to the dry ingredients.

Add all ingredients together and mix on high until well blended.  It will be very thick, you may need to dig the mixture off the whip and then continue mixing to get everything blended.

On a floured surface, roll the dough 3/4" - 1" thick.  I use a 2" circle cutter to make my scones, you could also go the traditional triangle route if that is your preference.  I continue rolling until all dough is used up; there is no such thing as wasted dough in this house.  The last scone is usually hand balled and flattened into a scone patty, much like you would make a hamburger.

Place the cut scones onto a cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes at 325.  


Thursday, December 20, 2018


Embroidery is something I learned as a young child where we had no TV at home until we were teenagers.  I got quite good at it but stopped as a teen.

In 2016, I went to visit a friends cabin in the woods for the weekend with my children and it seemed somehow suitable to bring a sewing project so I went to Michael's and loaded up on supplies.  Since then, I've found it very calming to do during long conference calls and I seem to be able to participate without missing a beat.  I do wonder sometimes, if I could get away with doing it in person?  Maybe I'll try it someday.  There has been much written on doodlers processing information better during meetings, so I figure sewing is a similar process of keeping ones fingers busy while listening and participating in a call.

Here are the items I've done since 2016: