Created to Praise

Just me being me the way He made me

Brilliant or Insane June 20, 2009

Filed under: frugal — 6kids1me @ 8:53 pm

I’ve said that we want to be more frugal. What I should have said is that we want to radically change our lives. LOL That’s what is happening anyway. I should share with y’all what’s really in our hearts. Yes we do want to be more frugal, but there’s much more to it than that. We feel very strongly that we need to reduce our dependance on everyone else for what we CAN do ourselves. I don’t know if this is a basic human desire or if this is something that God has placed in the hearts of just our family. However, Rodney and I both feel it, so we decided to act on it.

I’m going to list a few of the things we’re doing. Some will seem like no-brainers to many, but some might be a bit shocking. Brace yourselves.

1. GARDENING We wanted to grow our own food, but we wanted to spend as little cash as possible on it. So we bought some seeds and a bit of miracle grow. Rodney turned the ground over with a shovel and a hoe. We watered, we fertilized with the Miracle Grow and we prayed. That’s it. Yesterday we harvested the first of our green beans. Yummy goodness given directly from God into our home! Yay! Because of our first little experiment with gardening, we can see that if we want to really produce a grand harvest, we will have to invest a bit more cash. So we’re learning all we can now in preparation for our next planting.

2. RETAINED HEAT COOKING This might be a forgeign concept to most. It certainly was to me! Basically, it’s just letting the laws of science cook your food for you. Here’s how it works: Tonight we wanted sausage and potatoes for supper. So I sliced them up and put in a tiny bit of water then brought them to a boil on the stove. I let them boil for 15 minutes and then shut the stove off. I then brought the covered pot to my living room where I had my laundry basket ready. Yep, you read that right…my laundry basket. In my laundry basket, I placed a super large, heavy blanket with a towel over it. Then I put in a trivet (hot plate). I set my pot on that. Then I covered that with the sides of the towel and placed another blanket over the top, tucking the sides in. Finally, I tucked in the sides of the big blanket all around it. I left it this way, covered, for about three hours. When we pulled it out and lifted the lid, we had perfectly cooked food that used only about 20 minutes total of energy! Scientifically speaking, if food is kept at least at 180 degrees, it is cooking. So insulating the pot kept it at a very hot temp and nature did the rest. Essentially, this is the same thing as crock pot cooking without the energy usage (and it didn’t heat up my house! Yay!)

3. BAKING I’m not a very good cook. In fact, I once gave all my co-workers food poisoning at a company picnic. But as it turns out, I can bake with the best of them! I started baking my own bread, breakfasts and sweets. It’s incredible the amount of money we have saved! I’ve already written about this recently, so I won’t go into great detail about it here. Just know that this saves lots of cash and is incredibly rewarding on a personal level.

4. HAND-WASHING/LINE DRYING Okay this is where most of y’all will decide that I’ve gone completely insane. We are now hand-washing and line-drying our clothes. Rodney hung a wonderful clothesline for us (total cost $38). We’re using plastic buckets we already had for rinsing and a large rubbermaid container for the main washing. Basically, we add a tiny little amount of soap to the water and plunge away. Then we rinse twice, wring out and hang to dry. I can wash three loads of clothes in the time it takes my washing machine to do one load. The coolest part is that the clothes are soooo much cleaner! I’ll post more about why they’re cleaner in a nother post.

5. UNPLUGGING IT We have been unplugging appliances when not in use for a while now. That alone made an impact on our electric bill. But now we’ve just outright decided to not use some appliances. The microwave hasn’t been used in weeks now. It’s serving as a shelf on my counter. LOL There are lights in some rooms we haven’t turned on in weeks (well lit rooms with lots of windows). Essentially, the idea is that before we turn anything on, we have begun to question whether there is another way to accomplish the same goal the machine would have done. If there is and if it’s feasable, we do that instead. Now, I admit, I’m still using my handmixer (I love that thing!) but still, there are lots of things we’re just not using anymore. For instance, hand washing the dishes. Stuff like that.

Okay now the result of all this….we’re happier. I know, I know. That’s nuts right? But I swear it’s true. It is DEFINITELY more work. I won’t lie to you about that. I am finding myself working more. But it’s a happy, satisfying work. I can’t explain it well, but when the job is done (regardless of what the job is), I feel like I’ve done what I was SUPPOSED to have been doing all along. Great satisfaction is coming from the job done. When I get the bills in, I’ll tell you how much they’ve decreased, but I don’t have that answer just yet.

Rodney and I were marveling over all of this last night and we came to a grand discovery. While modern conveniences free us up to do other things, they definitely have their deficiencies. It seems they do a substandard job (compared to a job done by hand) and take longer to do it! The clothes don’t get as clean, and only one load is done to my three. The crock pot/oven/stove heat up the house causing the air conditioner to work harder, costing more money, etc. The list goes on and on.

Okay so here’s the final analysis……I’m working a bit harder but am so much more satisfied! Everyone in the house seems more peaceful. I can hardly wait to see the reduction in our bills!

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Provision in Abundance June 14, 2009

Filed under: frugal,worship — 6kids1me @ 1:31 pm
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I’ve often heard people say “God helps those who help themselves.” I’ve been thinking hard on that lately. While I’ve never seen that exact phrase in the Bible, I’ve certainly seen the evidence of it. For instance, the Lord will provide you with food, but He does expect you to put some effort into the growing of that food (or the job that gives the money that buys the food). He will provide you with clothing, but it’s not going to magically fall from the sky (ok….He could do that if He wanted, but how often have you heard of it happening?).

So my point here is this…..

The Lord WILL provide. In fact, He already has. He’s given me all the tools I need to take in His abundance. He’s given me fertile soil in the back yard for planting and the miracle of seeds that grow fruit and reproduce themselves. He’s freely given me plenty of sunshine and rain to feed & grow those seeds. He’s given me a thinking mind, able to learn and retain new skills. He’s given me an able body AND a family unit to share the labor. Oh there’s that word….labor.

Yep, He has given me everything I need…..and then told me to USE those things to harvest the provision He has provided. I don’t have to worry about going without. The only thing that can keep me hungry…is me.

Okay let’s assume for a moment that there is no grocery store. Unthinkable, I know right? But for the sake of argument, let’s do it anyway. Now, there’s no grocery store anywhere. I still need to eat. If I’ve planted my vegetable garden, then I’ve got veggies for my family! Yay food! But if I didn’t, woe is me. LOL Okay but now I’ve got a new problem. I might have all the veggies I need, but I have no wheat to make bread. Small yard, no room for wheat. Uh oh.

Well the Lord made provision for this too! I may not have wheat growing in my back yard, but I’ve got neighbors! I’ve got the gift of community! If one of my dear neighbors has used their skills to plant wheat, I can trade some of my veggie abundance with them for wheat. Yay bartering!

Yes I realize that this is how towns, cities and economies have been built throughout the ages. But that’s not the point here. The point is that I don’t HAVE to worry about the Lord’s provision. I will be cared for….all I have to do is use what He’s already given to reap the harvest. And I know that if I were sick or infirmed, that He would still continue to provide for me using the gift of family and community.

And the big grand point of all this……

Just when I think I really do know just how awesome He is, I see a whole new example of why He’s so worthy to be praised. I worship Him because of Who He is, what He’s done and what He continues to do every single day. He has provided for us in abundance. Now it’s time for me to get out there and reap the harvest.

 

Burned Hand June 10, 2009

Filed under: frugal — 6kids1me @ 2:06 pm
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In case I haven’t already mentioned this…yes, I am a dork. Surely I’ve provided enough evidence of that in blog postings here. However, for those who still doubt, I will provide a new example of my extreme dorkiness.

I burned my hand. I’d like to say I burned it while saving a small child from certain death in a burning house, or something heroic like that. But no. It was just a stupid mistake. I was baking.

Remember I said I wanted to be more frugal? Well I went to Sam’s and bought 25lbs of flour, 20lbs of sugar, more vanilla than I’ll probably use in a lifetime and various other baking goodies. I wasn’t feeling very frugal while I was at the checkout counter paying the big bucks for these large quantities, but reminding myself that it was paying off in the LONG RUN helped ease the pain in the pocketbook.

I found a website with some fantastic recipies for bread here (tons of good stuff on that site) and very excitedly set about learning to make bread. It takes approx. 1 1/4 loaves of bread to make sandwiches for my family at 99cents a loaf from the bread store. If I can bake that myself at less than 25 cents a loaf, then I’m accomplishing a grand thing. Plus, home-baked bread just plain tastes better. It’s probably better for you too, now that I think of it.

So I made several quick and easy dinner rolls, muffins and desserts in no time flat. I was so proud of me! And the family was increasing the height of my pedestal. Yay! I had achieved mom greatness! I suppose I got a little ahead of myself. They do say that pride comes before the fall.

I got a bit ambitious and decided to make a bread that took more than 30 minutes from start to finish. So I found a recipe, mixed my batter and let my bread rise. I babied that bread dough for two solid days. Adding ingredients, kneading and more exactly when the recipe said I was supposed to. I was so proud! This bread was gonna be goooooood. Finally it was time to bake it.

So I preheated the oven & baking dish to 400 degrees, exactly as the recipe called for. I lifted the towel from the dough expectantly and savored the sight and smell of what was surely the most perfect dough ever created by human hands. I opened the oven and, using a pot holder, pulled the tray outward so that the baking dish could be easily accessed. Then I tipped the bowl holding that beautiful dough over into the baking dish. I realized the dough was going to miss the baking dish by about two inches, so I quickly grabbed the baking dish…

WWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’d like to say that it was instinct that made me grab that bowl. Sadly, it was not. There actually was a 1/2 second thought process that went into it. “Oh the dough is gonna miss the dish. I’ll just grab it and…” Yeah.

Ran to computer and w/ one hand typed in “burn treatment”, clicked first site and read “immediately put under running water.” Ran back to kitchen and put my hand under running water. No relief after several minutes. Ran back to computer and read next line on webpage…. “if burn is to your face or hands, you should go to the hospital immediately.” Ummmmmmmm Why was that the SECOND line on the page?!?!?! Seriously. Shouldn’t that have been the FIRST thing I saw?!

Okay so I call my mom, incoherently wail something about needing to go to the hospital (poor mom), run to back of house screaming “Rodney, wake up! Burned hand. Hospital. Back to sink!” (poor Rodney) then run back to the running water. And did I mention that all this happened around midnight? Not a pleasant way for Rodney or my mom to have to wake up.

I have never known pain like that. I’ve given birth (more than once), had kidney stones and more. Yet this pain was somehow much more intense and hopeless than anything I’d ever experienced. I moaned, groaned, wailed and outright sobbed like a baby…and I honestly didn’t care who saw. In the emergency room, I saw head wounds, chest wounds and someone who looked like they were missing part of their foot. Instead of being moved to tears with deep concern, as I normally would be, I couldn’t stop praying “Lord, make it stop. I can’t bear this pain.”

So they gave me a tetanus shot, some really good cream and some Loretab. Good stuff, that Loretab. Then they sent me home to enjoy the Loretab. Personally, I don’t like pain pills. They make me groggy and itchy. But I was so grateful for these pills.

It’s been a week and the pain has subsided. Now I have something weird going on with my fingers. They are in a constant state of “uncomfortable” which is fine. I can deal with that. The fire beneath the skin isn’t as intense as it was once. Now it’s only burning coals. I’m using that hand again, but when I use it too much the pain becomes significant again (but thankfully not even close to the pain of that first night). But there’s a weirdness that I can’t really explain well. The top layer of the pads of my fingers have no feeling. I can touch them and know they are there, but I don’t feel anything on that top layer. However, the uncomfortable layer beneath is very very present. I’m hoping there was no permanent nerve damage done.

Okay so here’s what I’ve learned….

1. The reason burns to the fingers hurt worse than most other burns is because there are tons and tons of capillaries in the fingers. Each of those capillaries is surrounded by many nerves. God made it this way for a good reason, I’m sure, but it sure hurts when you mess up His system.

2. The only thing that hurts worse than a burn on the hands is a burn on the face. I hope to never learn that by experience. I’ll take their word for it.

3. 400 degrees hurts.

4. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My hand is healing itself. The Creator impresses once again.

5. Potholders and oven mitts RAWK!

On a side note, this post took a long, long time to write. It took a few days of stopping and starting. It was also done with one hand. 🙂 So if you read all the way to here, thank you.

One final note: I am so very very very grateful for my Creator Who made my body to heal itself and gave me a husband who jumped in to help without question. He did dishes, cooked meals, took care of all the kids’ needs…everything. Rodney, I thank God for you every day. Once again, you’ve given me yet another reason to be thankful for you.

 

Frugal? What’s That? May 27, 2009

Filed under: creativity,frugal,Personal Life,Random Stuff — 6kids1me @ 11:38 pm
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Ooohhh! You mean CHEAP?! Yah that would be me. Or at least I thought it meant me. Then I started looking for frugal tips online. As it turns out, I’m the most wasteful person in America. Okay, that may be a bit extreme. But obviously, I’m not nearly so frugal as I thought I was.

So I’ve figured out how to give my kids a stellar home education for nearly free by using Ambleside Online as a major resource. I’ve reduced my electric bill in a big way by unplugging things (toaster, cell phone charger, microwave, etc) when they aren’t in use. I even map out and do all my errands at once to save on gas. We have no debt and even paid cash for our newest vehicle. Our only expenses are day to day living expenses. Gee, I thought that was great.

Well I got to looking at our budget and something’s gotta give. In the past year, our cost of living has increased a full 12% while Rodney’s pay only increased 1%. What’s a family of 8 to do? Well, we’re going to delve deeper into the frugal world, that’s what. For instance….reduce the amount of food we buy. According to the USDA the cost of food to feed an average family of 4 is $600 per month. My family is twice the size of an average family. So in that respect, I guess $800 a month ain’t bad but we still need to reduce it.

So to start, we’ve planted a garden. Not a huge garden by any means….but a nice little plot with 12 varieties of veggies planted in it. So far, it looks like only three things are growing. Gotta work on those gardening skills. Our next goal is to expand our garden and have more variety (and reduce our dependance on the grocery store). We have also started a compost heap. We’ll see how that goes.

My bestest girlfriend in the whole wide world gave me a Sams Club membership. Yay! I had a membership years ago when I only had one kid. It wasn’t worth it for me then. Boy is it worth it now! Just by using Sams and buying in super mondo bulk, we’ve reduced our grocery bill by about $200. Woot! It has also reduced the number of trips I make to the store for little things like toilet paper….thus reducing my gasoline bill. Double Woot!

Have I mentioned before that I’m a complete dork? Did you know I’ve been buying big containers of juice for my kids? Why oh why did it not occur to me to buy fronze concentrated juice? Or why have I been using regular milk to cook with when powdered milk is soooo much cheaper?! The list goes on and on.

Okay so we’ve reduced the electric bill and the food bill a good bit. But there have to be other things we can do. Below is my list of what I think would help and what I plan to do over time. PLEASE feel free to chime in and let me know what’s worked for you and what didn’t. Seriously, I want this information!

*buying compact tubular light bulbs (you know the ones I mean)
*hanging a clothes line in the back yard (I wash approx. 4 loads a day)
*clipping coupons (man, I hate doing that)
*menu planning (been doing it…sorta…but not really)
*making my own bread (gotta find the bread machine)
*expanding the garden (anybody got a tiller we can borrow?)
*getting large canisters and buying flour, sugar, etc in bulk (anybody got canisters they wanna give away?)
*learning to can veggies (this one scares me)
*learning to sew to repurpose old things (this one scares me too…I am not a good sewer)

Okay so that’s the list. Any other suggestions? Anything on there that you’ve tried with success or failure? Please please let me know. This is gonna be an ongoing process, I’m sure. So any tips are most welcome!