Friday, April 30, 2010

Saving for Christmas

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

I'm in desperate need of these money saving tips this week and I've found some great ones. I don't really have a whole lot to add, but this one little tip has been my LIFESAVER!

And it comes from something my pastor said during a series he did called Rethink Money. He was talking about how we all tend to go in debt shopping for Christmas gifts. What he said about Christmas was so simple but so profound.

"Guess what? It comes every December 25...without fail. Why do we let it sneak up on us? Start saving for it!"

So that's what I've done for the last 3 years now and I can't tell you the sense of peace I have when Christmas rolls around knowing I have ALL the money I need to pay for everything.

Here's whatcha do:

1. Decide who you're buying for and the amount you're going to spend on them.

2. Add it all up.

3. Divide by 12 (or however many months there are until Christmas. I always do it in December so I have a year to save)

4. Then I take that amount, in cash, from my paycheck and stash it each month. I know...real high tech. But having the cash forces me to stay on budget.

5. When December rolls around, I have no fret or fear of "how to pay for Christmas?" because it's all planned out.

6. More importantly, when January rolls guilt! Because there's NO credit bills coming in! Woo-hoo!

I have tweaked it over the years and now I also include money for all the parties where I have to bring a dish and gifts/money I give to charities. Change it to fit your needs.

Linked to Kelly's Korner: Show Us Your Life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Earth Day & GIVEAWAY


Earth Day is Thursday, April 22, 2010.  While I'm not an over the top tree hugging hippie, I DO think it's important that we are good stewards of God's creation.  He is an amazing artist and we can see that in His creation!

So here are some fun ways to celebrate God's creation on Earth Day.

That's right if you buy 3 Hanes products the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree.  Plus you'll also get a free Hanes Earth Day T-shirt. But because you're such a loyal reader, I have one to give you! 
Leave me a comment about what you're doing to celebrate Earth Day and I'll randomly draw for a Hanes Earth Day T-shirt.  Give away will end at 8:00 on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22, 2010).

5. Read The Lorax

6. Go see Disney's "Oceans"

9. "It's My Environment" video project

10. Create and eat a meal of stuff that comes straight from the earth!  Get the family involved and go to the grocery store or farmers market to pick out locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables. (Hey, I just made that one up!)

Go to OhAmanda for more Top Ten Tuesdays!

Hanes provided me with the T-shirt to give away as well as one for myself! 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Great Urban Race

I. Am. Sore.

My. Bones. Ache.

But I wouldn't trade it for anything!!  The reason for the tight muscles and throbbing pain was the result of The Great Urban Race.

My friend Amanda and I are huge Amazing Race fans, so when we stumbled across The Great Urban Race, we knew we just HAD to do it.  We had done our research on contestants who had run it previously and taken to heart all their tips.  We are fairly intelligent and were certain this was going to be a cake walk.

Boy were we wrong!

We met 2 hours prior to race time to get our matching shirts and load up our MARTA cards.  MARTA is the public transit system here in Atlanta.  We knew buying a day pass would save us tons of time instead of buying tokens each time we got on.

We arrived at the race site and checked in.  One hour to race time and we were feeling pretty good...nervous, but good!  We were chatting some strategies and discussing what we thought was ahead of us.  The race was to start at 12:00 and the course closed at 5:00.  If you were still racing at 5:00, you had to come back.  Ha! Are you kidding?  That wouldn't be us! (ahem...)
With one hour until race time, we began to scope out our competition:
Team Dinosaur Family

Team Where's Waldo?

Team Miss Piggy

Team Beach Bums/Business Suits

And I didn't even get a picture of Team Bumblebees (2 grown women wearing bee costumes complete with wings), Team Baby Girls (2 grown women dressed as babies complete with diapers), and then there was the fair share of superheroes, and just plain w-e-i-r-d!

Amanda and I quickly buddied up with one of the race staffers, Dominic.
He gave us the inside scoop and hooked us up!  We questioned him as to how the race would start because none of us had our clues.  He said that about 5 minutes before 12, all the staffers would have a huge stack and begin handing out clues.  There were 350 teams!  And maybe 15 staffers.  No way we were going to get lost in the crowd and be one of the last ones to get clues.  Dominic told us to find him right before the race. So you better believe we hunted him down.  He showed us that had one clue!  All the other staffers had stacks of clues...he had one...for us!

One of the staffers came on the mic and told the race staffers to hold up their hands.  All racers were to go stand near a staffer with their hand raised.  We looked around to blend in.  As we were looking around, he slipped us our clue and we were out!

We were off to a great start!  We had the envelope open and were beginning to solve the clues as the other teams were just leaving.  Racers ran by us and shouted "Cheaters!"

I beg to differ...we're just smart racers!

Turns out, our little head start didn't really help us.

The race was more of a scavenger hunt than an actual race.  There were about 12 clues on our clue sheet.  The first step was to solve the clues.  Each clue was a location in Atlanta.  The next step was to get to each of the places and perform the task there.  Most of the tasks were getting a picture with something at the location.
 Someone wearing white pants

Shaking a dog's paw

Someone with dreadlocks (ok, so technically those are probably braids)

4 people and us holding our shoes
Jumping in front of the Underground sign

A statue of some man with the middle name Winship and whose birthday is in December 1889

Someone on a segway

 Spoonfeeding each other Yogurberry.  This was my favorite clue!

What you couldn't see behind the scences was our Google team!  We'd STILL be roaming the streets of Atlanta without them!  Mandi & Becky were on call at home on their computers waiting for our beckon call.  We must have called Mandi about every 10 minutes barking orders at her:

"Look up the state motto of Alabama!"
"Name the countries of these 8 flags!"
"What's the address for the closest Gold's Gym!"
"Plug in these coordinate points and tell us what's there!"

Honestly, she was a huge lifesaver.

Four and a half hours later, we made it back to the finish line.  Our heads hung in shame.  Our pride hurt.  But our friend Dominic standing there cheering us on.

We decided that had made some mistakes.  Um...ya think?!

Upon evaluating our less than stellar performance, here's what we decided for next year (oh yes, there WILL be a next year):
  • Spend the time at the start of the race solving every clue.
  • Once all the clues are solved make a race route.  (This is where we failed)
  • READ all the clues!  It would have saved us time and money had we known we were to deliver a pair of socks to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Instead we had to go the Alliance Theatre gift store and buy a $9 pair of musical note socks.  Classy.
All in all, we had an absolute blast!  It was exciting when we were able to check off clues that we had completed
So I guess I need to start training now...although my body is screaming "leave me alone!"

Friday, April 16, 2010

One less stress this month...




Thanks to Tricia over at Once a Month Mom, my freezer is stocked with delicious food! Amanda, Becky and I made the April menu and so far nothing has disappointed! We made 15 meals! Yes, it's hard work, yes it's exhausting, but it is also really, really fun. And it's so satisfying to pack all that into your freezer knowing you always have an answer to that dreaded question: "What's for dinner?"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday Favorites - Great Urban Race

My favorite this week is something that I have never actually done before. My bff Amanda and I are signed up to run The Great Urban Race.

Think The Amazing Race...only on a smaller scale. We've got matching shirts. Amanda is "making" them so that should be interesting. I'm sure there will be lots of pics and interesting stories to come!!

For more FF, go visit Hilary at The Other Mama.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jesus is On His Way!

At church on Sunday, we had a guest speaker. Tony McCollum from Fusion Church spoke to us today about how to revive God's power in your life. He had us in stitches! But there were 2 things that really stood out to me.

The message was based on the story of Jairus' daughter being raised from the dead. But as He was on his way to Jairus' daughter, He decided to make a pit stop and do a miracle. You know, just your ordinary, run of the mill miracle.

Luke 8: 42-43 (CEV) While Jesus was on his way, people were crowding all around him. 43In the crowd was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had spent everything she had on doctors, but none of them could make her well.

So here's Jairus desperately wanting his own miracle, but Jesus delays his to give another lady her miracle. Do you ever feel like God is blessing everyone around you? Helllooo God! Have you forgotten about me and what I'm going through?

It can make you feel bitter. But what I was reminded of is that when God is blessing those around you, it should be an encouragement that Jesus is on his way. Wow! I've never looked at it through those lenses. For me, it's always been "woe is me".

Dear God, help me to be encouraged when everyone around me is getting married!

Luke 8:51 (NLT) When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn't let anyone go in with him except Peter James, John and the little girl's father and mother.

When Jesus was just about to do this big miracle, he brought in some of his closest friends. He could have just gone into the house with the girl's parents. I don't know why he brought in his friends, but the pastor made the point that when God is about to do something He will put certain people in your life. Some relationships will be emphasized and others will be de-emphasized.

So when you're waiting on that miracle, take a look at what's going on around you. Are relationships changing? Don't fight it. God is just getting everyone into place!

Dear God, help me not to get discouraged when things aren't going the way I think they should be going.

For the complete message, watch it here.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday Favorites - Skyping

I've recently gotten into Skyping.

And it's all down hill from there!!

I skype with my 1 year old niece and 4 year old nephew while their mom cooks dinner. They just think it's hilarious!

Then I get sucked into late night chats with these fabulous ladies:
Mandi from Its Come 2 This
Amanda from OhAmanda
Becky from The Violet Fig
Jill from Diaper Diaries
Jessie from Vanderbilt Wife
Tricia from Once a Month Mom
Jen from 4tunate
Christine from i Dream of Clean

We all met at Blissdom and instantly clicked! We spend many a late nights laughing our heads off!

For more FF, go visit Hillary at The Other Mama.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party '10

Ultimate Blog Party 2010
So glad you're here! You've just made your way down south into Georgia.

Welcome ya'll!

Is that vain that I just put up a headshot?! Oh well...I don't have any kids, a husband or a dog, so that's what you get! A giant picture of me!

You won't find me blogging about how to double your coupons, what to do if your child has a meltdown in the dairy section of Publix, or how to satisfy your man on a AIN'T gonna happen!

Mainly because I'm a single gal who's a teacher with no clue of how to really use coupons. So what you may actually find me blogging about are the weird things my students say, the joys of my life which are my 5 nieces & nephews, or fun stuff I do with my friends.

Aside from those, here are some of my favorite posts: (Warning--Randomness ahead!)

To add to the party fun, I want to introduce you to some of my blogging friends! There are nine of us who each have a word hidden in their post. These nine words make up a sentence. We will each link you up to the lady who has the next word in the sentence—but keep in mind that I might not have the first word in the sentence! Once you have the sentence, e-mail it to with "UBP10" in the subject line. Each person with the correct sentence will be in a drawing to win a $40 Target gift card! Winner will be announced on all of our blogs April 19 and the winner will be e-mailed. The winner has 48 hours to respond or we'll pick someone else.

Disclaimer: Some of us are slower than others, but we will all have our posts up by noon EDT on Friday, April 9.

So for your next clue, visit Christine at I Dream of Clean!

Here is what tickles my fancy on the prize page:

Blog makeover from Dawn Farias

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Alternative Easter Egg Hunt

Easter was a great time with my family. One of our most recent traditions has been my alternative easter egg hunts. Instead of hunting for candy, the hunts are some sort of activity.

The first one I did was a Puzzle Hunt.

The next one was a Lego Hunt.

This year, was a craft hunt. For the boys, I used this car kit.

And no I did not hide the cars in eggs! What I did was take all the accessories for the cars which were mostly sticker decals. I cut them up and put those in eggs. The kit came with 3 cars so that's what my 3 nephews did. It worked out great.

For my niece, she got a shrinky dink jewelry kit similar to this one:

For this one, I cut up some of the shinky dinks and put them in the eggs along with beads, and the accessories like chains and magnets.

Once the kids found all their eggs, then they all went to the table to open them all. The fun part is that I don't tell them what the activity is beforehand. So here they are opening these eggs with random, weird stickers. Some of them guessed, but then I showed them the box of what they would be doing. And we all got busy crafting!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Saturday Stumbles

~One of my New Year's resolutions is to my pantry! And I'm in love with these labels.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie of Steph's Blog

~One of my best friend's sister has started a recipe blog! Go give her some love!

~This raspberry frosting might make an appearance at our Easter dinner!

Photo courtesy of Something Shiny

~Fun April Fools prank that I want to remember for next year!

For more Saturday Stumbles go visit It's Come To This.

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