Monday, November 17, 2014

~Inspired By Me Mondays!!! 9th Edition~


Welcome to this week's Inspire Me Mondays!!!
 I always look forward to this time of week & connecting with all sorts of new/old blogs of all sorts :)

Just an FYI: at one of our upcoming link up parties, we'll be featuring a special CHRISTMAS theme! 
All family-friendly posts will still be welcome, however we want you to bring out your old n' new Christmas themed --> DIYs, recipes, inspirational & advent posts for all to see and share. 
Keep an eye out for our special announcement :)

Okay, just a friendly reminder, that when you link up here today, you will be posting on a few different blogs all at once!

If you haven't checked out these amazing blogs, do yourself a favor and stop by & get to know these wonderful ladies :)

 parenting mommy wars

My Two Personal Favs From This Past Week:

This list has lots of great ideas for DIY gifts.  They're simple enough to complete in an hour or two and not break the bank!

20 Free Thanksgiving Printables for Thanksgiving Day

Please be sure to check them out & let them know where you found them!

 Remember, anything is welcome, as long as it's FAMILY friendly.

 Party on!!!




Sunday, November 16, 2014

No Matter Which Season You're In: Encouragement For The Storms Of Life

Encouragement In The Storms Of Life

I wish that everything in life went perfectly.
The way we all planned it to go...

Instead, often I should say, there are days, weeks or even months+ where life seems to have a 'will' of its own. Turbulent storms that cause your outlook to darken so much that you can't see properly anymore.

It isn't always for lack of trying. I have known many devout Christians, who have worked tirelessly for the Lord, yet their lives have faced many storms of various sorts. Ones that I have never, or would never hope to, come up against in this lifetime.

The reality is that storms come to all of us. Whether we would like to 'wish/pray' them away, and although some may be avoidable by altering our behaviour, and others may be minimized by pressing through, the Word does guarantee tough & challenging seasons for the righteous & the unrighteous. For all, regardless of who you are.

Matthew 7:24- (NLT) 24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Notice in the above passage, that the storm came to both homes?
Both of them experienced the torrents, floodwaters, and the winds beating down.
BOTH had a season of, what I can only imagine, would be unprecedented & unforeseen challenges to their original life plans.

The passage doesn't give us answers why. Although many biblical passages indicate that this is simply the result of a fallen & broken world, there are many MORE biblical passages giving us personal comfort, than there are trite explain-away-everything shallow arguments for the ongoing suffering & pain in our world.

A baby that doesn't live to see its mother's first hug...
A mother that leaves this earth far before her children grow up...
Car accidents that splinter beloved family members between the eternal & the here & now...

These are just a few that I know personally or through friends. Honestly, I could make this list of heart wrenching circumstances that people wake up to endless, and it would become downright depressing.

I myself have experienced my own deeply wounding life circumstances, that have left my soul bleeding, & searching out answers. Asking those I look to for spiritual counsel the most asked question on the planet, "WHY?"

As we read the passage above, we see that the one who built his/her life on the solid foundation still had a house standing after the storm's furor died down. No explanations were given for the storm however...

That the storm left & the home didn't collapse I see as a miracle.

I have personally found comfort in His Words; whenever read they can become 'building on the foundation' time for each one of us. 

Psalms. John 14. Even Revelation 21 can bring great comfort (where He will one day wipe away EVERY tear; restore every hurt & broken part of our lives)

If we come to Christ, He will not turn us away. Healing & strength for the here/now. Hope for our future. (see Isaiah 43:19/Psalm 27/John 6:37)

Wherever you are today, please know that you are not alone.
God sees your pain. He sees every tear that you shed. 
Often, moving past the 'why' of life's violently painful circumstances, can then help us move towards His inner healing. (sometimes a painstakingly slow process)

If you are personally still standing after life circumstances have beaten you down, we only have our Lord Jesus to thank for that.

However, if you are still in the middle of the torrents of waves, and feeling:
forgotten, alone, overwhelmed, discouraged, overlooked...

Do not give up.

I would encourage you to cry out to the One who loves you.
The One who is there waiting for you to run to Him with open arms.

Friday, November 14, 2014

10 Frugal Tips For The Christmas Season

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It's really only a month & a half away. I've already started my shopping list, checking it twice, and really, I am probably just as excited for celebrating this holiday as the kids are (or even more so!!!).

Hubs & I are already brainstorming what we're going to do this year in terms of gift giving. Most years we come up with a few different ideas.

Every year our family has one long standing tradition: travel at Christmas time as a family.
Usually it is only a short local hotel/water park getaway for a few days.
Other times we've gone away for a bit longer; last year we even had the opportunity to visit northern Ontario & stayed for an entire week.
It is really beautiful this time of year!

This year I've realized that with our family growing up, and with our budget a little more tight than last year (having experienced many unexpected bills these past six months) I've been brainstorming some frugal gift-giving & entertaining ideas.

Some I've done before; others are new to me.

And just a little teaser....on this blog coming soon: a HUGE Christmas post round-up of crafts, gift ideas, celebration ideas & more!!! Watch for it to come soon :)


  • Christmas Cards --> I used to send a huge batch of cards around this time of year. It was very time consuming, and although I'm sure it was appreciated, I just can't keep up with it anymore. I now do a combination of these frugal strategies --> use online cards (there are tons of beautiful sites out there, such as Jacquie Lawson), we also enjoy making handmade cards for those I can give in person; another cheaper idea is buy cards in bulk at various stores/online sites, or lastly one of my favs, have my children join me in creating a special Christmas personalized piece of 'artwork' (this usually means so much more than a regular card anyway!)

  • Wrapping Paper --> This one is hard, because the BEST way to save money is to buy after Christmas, and then store it for the following year. However, I also: buy in bulk to get the most savings (wholesale club, discount stores, etc.), make our own (another personalized touch!) & even use newspaper. Re-using pretty gift bags from last year is another way we save.

  • Christmas Gifts For Kids --> This is also about saving time, and money driving around from store to store...I have found the last couple years I get most of our stuff online, with a special emphasis on supporting companies that we find value family friendly products. Another fav place of mine to purchase little stocking stuffers & gifts is at our local Christmas Bizarres/Showcases. They're wonderful (often cheap!) places to get little homemade crafts (such as knit booties, hats, mitts, etc.), and even a baked goodie or two to freeze for entertaining...if it lasts that long!
Christmas at

  • Christmas Gifts For Spouse --> I probably save so much money in this area by the fact that we usually agree each year to NOT purchase a gift for one another! However, that being said, every year we do usually end up purchasing a few thoughtful little gifts...some ideas costing less than others. We are not a family that is against purchasing second hand items either (think games, puzzles, books, decor, even clothes if from a nicer thrift store, etc.). Other frugal ideas: make a homemade card/note that gives free gift 'certificates' (for massages, date night, promised candlelit dinner/dessert after kids in bed, whatever you can dream up here!!!), necessary & fav toiletries choices, fav cologne, lip balms, face creams, homemade craft made with the kids, or even a gift card to his fav coffee shop.

  • Christmas Gifts For Adults In General --> I always prefer receiving homemade thoughtful gifts myself. They are the type that I usually have around a lot longer than anything else. Depending on the nature of the relationship, I may also give items like: spice blends, teas, coffee, chocolate, cookies, basket of food/drinks, a fav author's latest work, holiday CD, ornament (homemade option too). For homemade/really frugal options think: plate of special home baked cookies/squares, caramel popcorn put in a pretty gift bag with ribbon/bow, $5 gift card to fav coffee/tea shop, invite them over for a home cooked meal, do a fun activity together or simply agree to not exchange presents, but instead give that money to a charity of choice :)

  • Holiday Baking --> I notice that our local bulk stores usually have some pretty amazing baking supply deals around this time of year, and it's a great investment to take advantage of them! If you're a baker, like I am, then you'll want to look for deals on all your basics (flours, sugars, baking soda/powder, etc.), and then purchase additional add-ins as needed. Baking a lot all at once (double/triple+ batching), although time consuming on the front end, saves time/energy costs in the long run, as you use the stove for only that short time period for many, many goodies at once. A couple more frugal ideas: invite a friend (or two, or more!) for a cookie/square baking exchange, OR do the baking altogether while pooling in money for the ingredients. Buy some pretty plates, wrap with a bow, and then voila! You'll have some more frugal gifts, or entertaining platters to freeze.

  • Holiday Entertaining --> I am such a social person that the most important aspect of Christmas for me, other than celebrating Christ's birth, is spending time with people. I love the memories made by having families/friends come & sit together by the fireplace, eating some appetizers or home baked goodies, and sharing some laughs/encouragement. Since I entertain quite a bit, my hubby & I have come to realize how costly it can be. Here are a few ways we've found to keep the costs down: consider serving only appetizers or desserts to your guests, make it a potluck (always a hit at either of our family's side for the large turkey dinner!), shop wholesale/club membership for entertaining treats, make your own goodies from scratch, skip food aspect & instead do a games/fun night, or even find a frugal Christmas activity to do together (see below)

  • Holiday Outings & Fun --> Some of our most amazing family Christmas memories, have also been our cheapest! Although free is the best price, even frugal pricing will do :) Some ideas: making snowmen together, snowball 'fight', go for a snow shoe hike (we did that last year for the first time; super super fun!!), visit your local church Christmas play/presentation, visit a Christmas themed museum, area Christmas light show (love these!), go on a cheapie night to see a Christmas movie, build tents in the living room by the 'fire' (real/fake) & have some fresh popcorn while watching a fav Christmas classic movie!

  • Christmas Decorating --> This one may not work for you if you're the kind that likes to turn your home into a mini display that could compete with the store departments, but I do believe that simplicity (especially when you're on a budget) can be just as nice beautiful. Some frugal decorating tips: use homemade Christmas tree decorations (pictures framed, ones your children made in preschool, make some pretty linking circles for garland, etc.), a few large beautiful candles can look very lovely on a mantle, wreath on front door could be homemade (or even second hand...shhh, won't tell!), a few nice centerpieces with matching table clothes can spruce up a dining room and/or kitchen, and in my opinion, less really is more in this area. If you do like all sorts of decor, why not save up one year at a time, constantly adding to your growing collection?

  • Christmas Travel --> I don't even mean the large trips (cruises, or flying somewhere) but all the gas money & effort put out hustling & bustling all the way through December! We go out a lot in December, and some cost is unavoidable, but a few frugal tips here: begin to map our your family's month of Dec. schedule by mid November (try to keep yourself from being double booked & running ragged...we spend more money when we do so); offer to host events (especially if you're the one with the younger children), offer to stop in to visit someone when you're already planning to be in that area for something else (i.e. double book two non-stressful events), fill up the gas tank all the way when the price is good, for those with friends/family over an hour away, consider meeting at a fun location that's about halfway, and overall, try to keep your running around to a minimum. Always think of what's really important at Christmas, in order to NOT over stress yourself. - Green Supreme Food - Gluten Free!


What are YOUR favourite frugal Christmas ideas?
(add in comments below)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links seen on my blog would be considered “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will add value to my readers. Thank you for visiting & supporting my blog!