Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Seasons of Life

Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
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As I look forward to a new year starting I am reminded through scripture that there is a season for every thing! Although we want to have children (and Lord willing one day we will) I am learning to enjoy the season Mike and I are in right now. A season of focusing on God and growing closer to each other as best friends. I am loving my role as a helpmeet to Mike and will continue to work daily on doing what the Lord has called me to do, minister to my husband.

Caramel Pecan Cheese Dip

(Picture and recipe from Keebler.com)


Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 28

Ingredients:
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened*
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted**, divided
1 cup chopped apple
1 cup frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
Crackers

Directions:
1. In medium bowl stir together cream cheese and ice cream topping. Stir in pecans. Fold in apple and whipped topping.
2. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers.

*NOTE: Soften cream cheese in microwave at high for 15 to 20 seconds.
**NOTE: To toast pecans, spread evenly on baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring once or twice.
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I changed this recipe slightly and made it a fruit dip. Instead of putting apples in the dip, I served it with apple slices. It turned out great!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BBQ Chicken Dip

(Picture and recipe from Keebler.com)

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 18
Ingredients:
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened (microwave for 15 to 20 seconds to soften)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
3/4 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
Crackers
Directions:
1. In small mixing bowl beat cream cheese on medium speed of electric mixer until fluffy. Add cheddar cheese, milk, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Beat until combined. Spread cream cheese in 7-inch circle on serving plate.
2. Spoon barbecue sauce on top. Sprinkle with chicken and onion. Serve with crackers
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I saw this recipe and I altered it to make a delicious sandwich. I put the cream cheese mixture on one piece of bread, added a piece of grilled chicken and on the other piece of bread I put some BBQ sauce. Voila ~ a delicious chicken sandwich.

What a beautiful day

After getting rain every day for the past 2 weeks Betsy is truly enjoying her time outside today. It's a bright and sunny day so she was able to get out and play. She is so happy because she has been cooped up in our little house for too long.
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Store Coupon Policies

It is very important to familiarize yourself with a store's coupon policy.
Take for example Publix...they offer store coupons that you can use in conjunction with manufacturer coupons. You can tell a Publix store coupon because it will say LU#(followed by a number)

I was recently able to take advantage of a great sale at Publix that resulted in me going home with 6 free bags of Fresh Express lettuce. Let me explain how it all worked out.

Publix had a Buy One Get One (BOGO) free sale on Fresh Express lettuce bags. I had some manufacturer coupons to use but when I walked into Publix I picked up their coupon booklet and noticed a store coupon saving $2 when buying 2 bags of Fresh Express lettuce. So I bought 6 bags of lettuce, used 6 $1 manufacturer coupons and 3 Publix store coupons and got them all for free.

God has really opened my eyes to using money more wisely and also being patient with purchases. If you use coupons at the right time you can maximise your savings.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kroger Trip ~ After Christmas Sales and Others

Kroger had some really good sales this week.

I got 10 packs of Cottonelle toilet paper for free... it's priced at 99 cents for a 4 pack and I used 50 cent coupons which doubled to make the toilet paper free.

I bought 22 bottled of Fuze drink. I have never tried this drink before but I had 50 cent coupons and the drink was on sale for $1, so I got all those for free.

I bought some 6 bags of Bliss mint flavored chocolates that were on sale $1.50 a bag because of after Christmas sales. I had 3 coupons for buy 2 bags and save $2.50, so I got the chocolates for 25 cents a bag.

Two other great after Christmas sales were Graham cracker crusts for $1 and Mini marshmallows for 50 cents a bag. I didn't have any coupons to use with these but I thought the sale price was still a good deal.

Kroger is currently having a great Procter and Gamble sale. Buy $25 worth of P&G products and get $5 off at the register. This was exactly what I was waiting for because we needed to buy some dog food and I had coupons that expire today. A 20 pound bag of dog food was $19.99. I bought 3 of them so I could take advantage of the promotion twice and get $10 back at the register, but my savings didn't end there. I also had 2 $5 coupons and 1 $3 coupon along with a $3 coupon that I had loaded on my Kroger card from Shortcut. The P&G promotion sale is going on until January 10th, 2009 so if you have a Kroger store close by I suggest you take advantage of this great deal.

Menu Plan Monday - The Start of a New Year

Breakfast
  • Sausage Breakfast Casserole
  • Bagel and Fruit
  • Cereal
  • Loaded Grits
  • Tolts
  • Waffles
Dinner
  • Chili
  • Grilled chicken and baked potato
  • Spaghetti
  • Chicken casserole
  • Baked chicken and steamed veggies
  • Homemade pizza
  • Left overs

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cellfire and Shortcuts





Have you ever heard of Cellfire or Shortcuts? It's just another great way to save money.

I went to Kroger today, I bought 4-4pack Cottonelle toilet paper and 8oz Kroger shredded cheese and I paid 40 cents. How did I do this you ask? Well here it goes...

Go to Cellfire, sign up with your cell phone #. Browse the coupons and select the ones you are interested in and get them downloaded onto your preferred customer store card. I use Kroger but if you have something different in your area see if it will accept that store card.

Go to Shortcuts, sign up and register your preferred customer store cards. Select the coupons you want and have them added to your card.

When you check out and purchase these items, it will automatically give you the discount at the register as long as you use your preferred customer card.

I had four 50 cent coupons for Cottonelle (which Kroger doubles for me). The 4 pack of toilet paper costs 99 cents. So I got them all for free with my coupons but I also had a 50 cent Cellfire coupons and a 50 cent Shortcuts coupon loaded on my card so it took that off as well. Just to be clear, this is a legit way of using coupons. If it weren't ethical or even questionable, I wouldn't do it. I also had a Shortcuts coupon for 45 cents off 8oz Kroger shredded cheese.

The breakdown:
4 toilet paper packs for 99 cents each (four 50 cent coupons used ~ doubled makes them free plus $1 overage from loaded coupons on preferred customer card)
8oz Kroger shredded cheese $1.67 (45 cent loaded coupon)
Grand Total (with tax) is 40 cents

Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Christmas Traditions

This year we started a new tradition of making these delicious Christmas Morning Biscuit Twists.
I woke up this morning at 5 to take care of Betsy so I decided to stay up and make these special treats. Mike and I enjoyed some right out of the oven. Yummy!
I made them with fresh milled soft white wheat flour and they really turned out great. I'm looking forward to continuing this new tradition.
I also found this great idea on The Homespun Heart of making a birthday cake for Jesus, but not just any cake. This is a special cake, it reminds me of the wordless book. Next year I am making one of these cakes and starting yet another new tradition as we remember the birthday of a King.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Great Publix Deal & CVS Let Down

Before church this morning Mike and I stopped at Publix and got some great deals. We bought all of this plus 2 bags of lettuce (not pictured above because we ate it at church for lunch ~ I made taco salad with it) and only paid $13.31 and saved $68.91.
6 packages of Chinet napkins
1 box graham cracker crumbs
1 white grape juice (this was the mystery 1 cent item)
10 boxes of Betty Crocker brownies
10 boxes of Betty Crocker potatoes
4 boxes of brown sugar
1 box of powdered sugar
5 bags of croutons
2 bags of lettuce
Now for my sad CVS story - are you ready for it?
After church I convinced Mike to take me to CVS for a quick shopping spree because I have $35 ECBs that expire 12/26 and CVS has a great Sunday/Monday sale going on right now. Well I get to CVS look for my the first item on my list... out of stock... look for my second item on the list... out of stock... look for my third item on the list... out of stock... look for the fourth item on my list... guess what... you guessed it... out of stock. At this point instead of wasting any more of Mike's time, we went home empty handed.
Tonight I decided to call that specific CVS location and see if their shelves would get restocked by tomorrow so maybe I could go back and take advantage of this great sale but do you know what I found out? The employee I spoke with told me that they ran out of all the Sunday/Monday sale items last night. I asked her if it was a Sunday/Monday sale how could they run out last night. She said the items go on sale at midnight and things got really busy after that. I just couldn't believe it. So basically I had no chance of ever getting these great deals.
I am going to think about stopping my CVS shopping. I just can't keep wasting my time getting all my coupons organized and going to CVS and seeing that all sale items are out of stock.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Picture Tag Game

I have been tagged by Kathy to play a picture tag game.

Here are the rules of the game:
1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.
2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 people to do the same.

I am on my new laptop so I don't have many pictures on it yet. However my 4th folder is my Zizziecards folder that currently has some Christmas card pictures. The 4th picture in the folder was this card of a manger with the verse "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given... - Isaiah 9:6" I made this card last year but never got it loaded into my website. A few weeks ago I worked on getting my Christmas cards updated on my zizziecards site.



The 4 people I want to tag are Mike, Christie, Rebecca and McKenzie
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Find

Last week I went to a craft show with some ladies from church. We had some time before the show so we decided to go to some thrift stores. I love thrift stores but I don't like the system they have of organizing all their clothes in color order instead of size. For most normal sized people this may work out just fine but since I am not a normal size I end up spending most of my day going through all these clothes that wont fit me. I don't really care about name brands, for me as long as it fits, looks good and I can buy it for a good price I am thrilled.
We stopped at this high end thrift store called My Secret Closet, Inc. They only sell name brand items and they only sell things that look good. You know what I mean? You wont find any shirts from the 80's or anything like that. At first I just looked around. They had a nice wall of shoes that looked brand new but I really didn't need any shoes (thanks to Kathy). They had a wall of purses (Coach, Brighton and lots of others) but I didn't need any purses (thanks to Kathy). The clothes were all organized in sizes, which I love, but they didn't have anything my size. Then the owner of the store came and told us they had more clothes in another room. This was my room. I found some really nice things. I ended up buying Tommy Hilfiger jeans that were marked $14 but reduced down to $7. They looked brand new so I was really happy. I know the price is high for a thrift store but I can't buy jeans at Walmart for $7 so I thought this was a GREAT deal.
Kathy - maybe the next time you come out here we could go. If you wanted to sell any of your purses they would probably buy them from you also. I don't know how much they would give you but if you're interested it would be worth looking into.
Rebecca J. - once you get settled maybe we could go together and do some shopping. Call or email me...I can't wait to hear from you.
Christie - if you ever want to go just let me know. Girls shopping day sounds like fun to me.

As for the craft show, I was disappointed because the one vendor I was looking forward to buying from was not there this year. Last year I bought this awesome bowl for Mike. It was big, had a handle and a thick bottom so when I put something really hot it in I never got burned. I thought I would buy one for myself this year but wasn't able to.
I did get some candles from Ivy Mist Candles company. They make some great candles that burn a long time and the scent lasts throughout the entire candle. This year I got Candy Corn, Cappuccino, Pineapple and Harvest Apple.
The other thing I bought was from the Spicy Chicks. Their mixes are delicious. This year I bought Key Lime (sweet dip), Garlic Galore and Roasted Garlic & Herb (olive oil dip). I can't wait to make them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's About Time!

I finally started cleaning/organizing my craft room. I've been talking about this for a LONG time but I just always found something else to do instead. This morning I woke up and I realized I needed to tackle the craft room and stop putting it off. My goal is to get it all organized and easy to work in by the new year so I can focus on creating new cards and getting them added to my zizziecards website.

Here are some before pictures... the after pictures will probably be shared in next week or so. I got alot done today but there is SO much to get done that I wont be done until next week.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Being Inspired and Challenged

Last week at church someone brought a "stir fry" dish that I just loved. I didn't really know what was in it except cabbage, meat and rice but I was inspired to try to make my own version. Yesterday I bought a bag of coleslaw cabbage on sale, I had some sausage and brown rice so off I went to duplicate that dish as best as I could.

I started by cooking brown rice according to the package directions in a small pot. I got a pan and started frying up sausage, onion and garlic until the sausage was all cooked. I then added the coleslaw cabbage mix and cooked it down (I added some butter both for flavor as well as to keep the cabbage from sticking). I added red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. After testing it a few times I decided to add some soy sauce and some Worcestershire sauce. Once the cabbage was all cooked and the rice was done I added it all together and let it simmer until Mike was ready for lunch. Mike liked it so I am putting this down as a "do again" recipe.


My sister has challenged the readers of her blog to memorize Psalm 139 in the next 15 days. I have stepped up to the challenge. Will you join me?

Here is the schedule:
December 15th- Psalm 139: 1&2
December 16th- Psalm 139: 3&4
December 17th- Review
December 18th-Psalm 139: 5&6
December 19th-Psalm 139: 7&8
December 20th-Review
December 21st-Psalm 139: 9&10
December 22nd-Psalm 139: 11&12
December 23rd-Review
December 24th-Psalm 139: 13&14
December 25th-Psalm 139: 15&16
December 26th-Review
December 27th-Psalm 139: 17&18
December 28th-Psalm 139: 19&20
December 29th- Review
December 30th-Psalm 139: 21&22
December 31st-Psalm 139: 23&24
January 1st- Recite entire Psalm 139

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayer Request

Update - I am feeling much better. Woke up this morning feeling great. Thanks for your prayers!
Please pray that I don't get sick.

I woke up this morning with a horrible headache and a soar throat. I have alot of things I need to get done today around the house so I took some medicine for my headache to help it go away.

So far, not only has it not gone away but I am feeling alittle nauseous. I'm just praying that I don't get the flu or a cold (which is going around our church). Please pray with me. I need to stay healthy at least through Sunday night. We have our Christmas Cantata at church Sunday and although I know they would be just fine without me, I would like to participate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking Back

I read Kathy's blog this morning and it made me realize that I need to look back and see what God has taken me through. God has been good and merciful to me. He has blessed me with so much and I don't want to forget.

So here goes...
10 years ago I started my first job in the corporate world at Bell South Mobility ~ July 20, 1998. Throughout the nine years of working there I was blessed to work with some great people and God taught me alot about His timing and leaning on Him for direction of my life.

9 years ago we moved to Apopka, Florida which opened up many doors at work and allowed us to get back into a Grace Brethren Church.

8 years ago Mike accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior~ July 26, 2000

7 years ago I bought my first house and had the experience of stuffing the garage, living room, bedrooms and patio with 3 households of furniture and boxes while 6 of us lived in the house.

6 years ago Mike and I got married ~ May 18, 2002. We spent our honeymoon in California visiting Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Both were amazing and I would recommend for everyone to take some time to visit God's created beauty at both parks. We stayed in a cozy barn suite at Rancho Bernardo Bed and Breakfast. That was an awesome place and hope one day to go back and visit Barney and Kathy who run the B&B.

5 years ago I learned how to stamp and make greeting cards and http://www.zizziecards.com/ was started.

4 years ago Mike went through a series of hospital stays and surgeries. God protected him so many times during those months and He gave me the strength I needed to take care of him, work and drive myself wherever I needed to go until my parents moved up to Georgia.

3 years ago Mike and I started praying about adopting a baby. Through the past few years we have been told about specific babies who needed to be adopted but things never worked out to adopt any of them. Although my greatest desire is to be a mother I need to remember to focus on the Lord and allow for His will in my life.

2 years ago Mike turned 40 and we were able to celebrate with family and friends.

1 year ago we moved to North GA, resigned from our jobs with AT&T wireless so Mike could pursue a work at home job with Avaya.

Today I sit at the kitchen table of my little country home looking around at all God has blessed us with. We have learned how to live on a budget and shop with coupons to save lots of money. Mike is still with Avaya and doing a great job working from home, I am able to be a keeper of our home and focus on my role as Mike's helpmeet. We have a new truck in the garage, a hen house with 14 hens and a rooster, and one black lab named Betsy. Thank you God for supplying all our needs and many of our wants!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Tradition

A few years back Mike and I started a tradition of going to Cracker Barrel to get our Christmas cards ready to mail.
Today we woke up at 5 and headed to Cracker Barrel. We had to wake up early because the closest Cracker Barrel for us is about 30 minutes away. We wanted to make sure we were all done before Mike had to start work at 9 this morning.
We had a delicious breakfast and then we got our system set up to get all the envelopes labeled and stuffed with cards, pictures and business cards. Mike is a very organized person so normally things are very easy to accomplish.
All out of town cards went into the mail today.
Big lesson I learned this year is be careful how big and how much paper I use when making Christmas cards. We ended up at the post office this morning having to buy additional 17 cent stamps for most of our Christmas cards.
We had a great morning and got alot accomplished.
Thanks Mike for keeping me organized.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Official Chicken Farmer

It's one thing to feed, water, and clean after live chickens but it's another story all together when it's time to kill them. You reach a point when a chicken isn't worth keeping alive because it's not laying eggs like it use to. We have been at that point for over a month now. We were getting on average 8 eggs a day from 10 chickens. We decided to add 7 more chickens so we could start getting atleast a dozen eggs a day. Well our calculations never worked out. What ended up happening to us was little by little the egg count went down. We are down to an average of 3 eggs a day. Mike decided it was time so today he killed 3 chickens. I am very proud of him. He did an awesome job. He did it all by himself. So now I can officially say Mike is a true chicken farmer.
If you are interested in seeing some pictures let me know. I took a few today but didn't want to post them on my blog just in case someone wouldn't like to see them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas

Today is baking day for me and boy does it smell good in this little house. I haven't made bread in a while and these actually turned out great today. I hope they taste as good as they look.

I started the day by making Mike's favorite Christmas cookie ~ Meatball cookies. It's a very unique type of cookie and very hard for me to describe. I will share the recipe but it comes with a warning to try at your own risk. Seriously, if you try them please come back and share your thoughts. I make them each year at Christmas time just for Mike because I don't like them.

Here is everything you needStir it all together with your hands and then slowly add in the milk.
Make them into balls. I tend to always make them bigger than what the recipe says.After they are done baking, you roll them in powdered sugar and here is the end result.


Meatball Cookies

1 cup and 2 Tbsp shortening
8 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp clove
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 bag chocolate chips
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

Melt shortening and let cool. Mix all ingredients (except milk and vanilla) together with shortening. Add milk slowly - mix well with hands.
Roll into quarter size balls. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly but while balls are still warm, roll in powdered sugar.

Yield: 90 cookies

Note: I normally only make half a batch.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

90 Day Food Supply

Yesterday I read a guest post on Money Saving Mom about building a food supply. Although I know God would supply all my needs; He also wants me to be wise and be a good steward of what He blesses me with.

Here is a glimpse into the post I read. Take the time to read it yourself and tell me what you think.

"Syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey advises his listeners to set up an emergency fund that consists of three to six months of living expenses. The fund is for "just in case" situations like job loss and medical or auto emergencies--basically a source of cash for unexpected tough times.
Along this same line of thinking, it is also smart to consider setting up an emergency fund of food. Thinking of your long-term food needs is not only for "gloom-and-doom" situations. By systematically storing food that your family enjoys eating, you will be able to purchase the food on your plan when it is at rock-bottom prices, learn to plan and budget better, and give your family peace of mind. "

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Abigail Miller

Back in September when I attended Becoming a Woman of Spiritual Passion Conference I was introduced to Abigail Miller and her music. She provided the special music for the conference and she did a wonderful job. I bought 2 CDs from her that day. One I took home right away and the other one was her new release that wasn't even out yet.
Yesterday in the mail I got her new CD Unfamiliar Grace. If I had to pick a favorite I would have to say He Let Her Come and Unfamiliar Grace are my 2 favorite songs on the CD but really they are all so good I even hate to single out those two songs.
Check out her website www.abigailmiller.com. You can read all about her and you can even invite her to come sing at your church.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008


A Beautiful Monday Morning

I am sitting here at my kitchen table looking out the window and typing on my new laptop.

Mike woke up at 3a.m. on Black Friday, picked up my 2 brothers and went to Office Depot to stand in line. His efforts paid off because he was able to get a really nice laptop at a great price. Thanks Mike (Philip and Michael too) for sacrificing your time and sleep to buy me this awesome laptop.

It's snowing here today. I love it when it snows. The sky is clear and gray, the crisp air is so refreshing and watching the snow fall is so soothing to me. I just love it.

Later today I will try to post some pictures of our Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration with my family this past week.