Thanksgiving, Shopping and Ebates

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with your loved ones and were able to celebrate the many things you are grateful for.

We had a great Thanksgiving as we traveled to the north part of the state to eat dinner and spend the night with my Dad and Step-Mom.  I was very thankful that the whole family could be there.  My brother and his wife are on a visit from the Chicago area, and my sister was off work all day.  We were able to take a family picture with all 10 of us in it!  (I wish I could share it, but my sister has the pictures since I am still without my good camera right now)

If you decided to brave the black friday sales, I hope you got everything you were after.  I’m not a big shopper (I like shopping from my laptop), so I just slept in a little and enjoyed my visit with my family.  I will admit that I did make a run to Best Buy with my sister on Thanksgiving night for a TV she wanted.  Nobody wanted to go with her, so I went to keep her from having to go alone.  I’m pretty sure I will never do this again (but I do love you Amanda) as it seemed ridiculous to get in line outside to get a ticket that guarantees you the TV, only to stand in another line inside for well over 2 hours waiting to pay for it!

We spent our weekend by visiting a local festival, relaxing, cooking by fire and visiting the lights at a nearby botanical garden (we have a membership).  It was not only a pretty frugal weekend, but it was quite a bit of fun!  I mean who doesn’t like festivals, food, bonfires, s’mores and Christmas lights?

Today I did do a little shopping with some of the great Cyber Monday sales that were taking place.  I made sure to use Ebates to earn a little extra cash while shopping online.  If you have never shopped through ebates before, I highly recommend them as a great way to earn back a percentage of what you spend at many online merchants.  Don’t worry if you forget and get a cart full of purchases.  Log into or sign up for an Ebates account and search for your store.  When you click on the link through ebates, your items will still be in your cart.  So far this year I have earned $54.78 through ebates ordering things online that i was going to be ordering anyways.  You can still use coupon codes just like you would any other time.

ebates

*I do get a bonus for each person I refer to ebates that makes a qualifying purchase, but I promise I do highly recommend Ebates and use it regularly.  

I have my lists for each girl made out and I try not straying from them, because it will only lead to over spending.  Each year we tend to get a little more simpler with our gifts, decorations and plans, but we get a lot more back to the real reason for Christmas, so I tend to try to keep this in mind when thinking about and planning for Christmas.  It’s amazing how much these things can lower your stress levels.

I’m enjoying this last week with my brother and sister in law at our house, seeing some great sights, and cooking some great food for them.  I hope to send them home well rested, well fed and with loads of pictures and new recipes!

windrift hill soap

Before I go, I wanted to tell you about a product I recently purchased and fell in love with. It could be just the gift idea you were looking for!  Not long ago I went to a craft fair and purchased a couple bars of goat milk soap from Windrift Hill Soaps, hoping that the soap might help with the dry skin problems I have this time of year.  I also have sensitive skin and allergies to perfumes and strong scents, so I was weary of many of the soaps at the craft fair.  I thought these soaps might be great for me because the scent was not so over-powering and artificial, but more natural smelling.

Now all I can think about is getting some more of this soap!  I recently used the last bit of the last bar, and I can say I love this stuff.  The scent is great, it doesn’t make me itch and it seems to not dry me out like many soaps do.  I had purchased 2 bars of the Montana Huckleberry and the girls each purchased a bar, but I can’t remember what scents they got.  So if you think this might interest you, take a minute and check out the site.  I think you will enjoy their product just like I did, and I’m not being paid or reimbursed to tell you that :-)

How was your Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

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The Blog Article That Got Me Thinking

It was just a couple of weeks ago that I read Dear Mom on the iphone and then Feeling Pepless (somebody was feeling just like me) and I instantly knew that I had to make a few changes.  These articles seemed to be speaking to me, and even about me.  They made me cry!  It was like somebody knew exactly where I was at the time.  Two articles had spoken to me so personally on the same day.  A wake up call of sorts.

Think

photo credit

I don’t have a problem with my phone; I have a problem getting easily distracted.  I have a problem managing my time.  I have a problem trying to multi task (and it doesn’t really work).  I want to spend quality time with my family.  When it’s school time I want to be doing school. I want to be less stressed so that I can be more productive and a much more relaxed person.

I had tears in my eyes when I read these articles.  They both summed up how I want to spend my time with my family.  They are really growing up so quick and I want to create more and more memories with them.  I love my family and enjoy all the things that we do. I want to make sure I am not that mom with the “iphone” or some other distraction.  I want to be all there for my family.

I was in a bad place at the time.  I just couldn’t seem to get anything done, and didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I could however manage to sulk over not getting things done and feeling like I was failing my family.  I just had to have a little time to me, a little time to feel sorry for myself (or my family) and most of all a little time to pray for His guidance.

It helped.

I spent the past couple of weeks thinking about things I could change to make me feel better about things.  I have thought about changes to blogging, our schedule at home, commitments and how much I will expect myself to get done each day.

Blogging has been one of my biggest challenges.  I love to blog, love sharing with you guys, and love hearing from you guys, but I often stress myself about getting blogs posts up, or getting the right blog post up.  I am sure it’s a common problem among bloggers, but I am working on my solution.

I don’t like to write my blog posts ahead of time (I very rarely do this), as I like to blog about what’s on my mind today, or something I just recently did.  It’s just the way I work.  Since I came to this conclusion, I have decided to do my blog post writing in the evening.  Many evenings my girls are with their Daddy practicing softball (they play on competitive teams), so I have some quiet time to myself.  This will be my blogging time.  I probably won’t get a post written every day, but I know you all can understand that.

I have also decided to write more about myself and my family.  Things we do, things we try, things we learn and things we experience will be the topic of many more posts.  I have often worry that people may not want to read about us all the time, but as I was watching one of my favorite shows (Alaska: The Last Frontier) the other day, I realized that I like to see what The Kilcher’s are doing, how they do things and how they make do, so maybe my readers will enjoy more of that as well.

As far as my school time, that was easy.  I decided to not allow myself, or plan for myself, to do much more than fold clothes or cook while the girls are doing school.  This has made things so much easier and less stressful for me.  It also allows me to be all there for the girls.  We also can get school done in a more timelier manner.

I am learning to trim my “to do” list down (and not assign myself more than possible for a day) and not get disappointed if I cannot get something done.  I just move it to the next day and go on.  The winter months will also make it easier for us to get caught up around here, which in turn will shorten the “to do” list.

I find things each day that lessen my stress and help me become more relaxed, which in turn makes me a better person.  I am very thankful for the little wakeup call I got.

I hope everyone will take the time to read both of these blog articles.  Think about that “iphone” that may keep you distracted.  It may not be a phone, it may be something else. Could this be you?  If it could, I encourage you to make some changes in your life.  It will make you a much happier person.  At the same time, know that things will get better. Tomorrow is a new day.

Have you been the mom on the iphone?  What did you do to change?  What has worked for you?

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Getting Things Done, Going Places and Free Fall Printables!

I really didn’t intend to leave you guys for 2 weeks, but I’m really glad that I got a little break and came back to you today refreshed with many new ideas and projects for future posts.

Hubby had his last vacation for the year, so we decided that this was the time to tackle a couple larger projects around here as well as catch up on a few other routine chores.  We managed to do all this in between softball, appointments and mom’s part time job.

The first week started with appointments, but we were able to get the yard cleaned up (it was in desperate need of attention) and get ready to start our big project of replacing our laundry room floor (all the way down to the floor joists) on Wednesday.  The floor was finally complete Friday and the washer and dryer were put back in the laundry room until a later date when we will put new ceramic tile in.

We spent the weekend with both little girls playing softball away from home.

war eagle mill

The second week was filled with more appointments, softball and a short little trip to North Arkansas for a visit to the War Eagle Craft Fair.  I had wanted to visit the fair for a long time, and am so glad we went.  This fair is the largest of its kind around here, and has crafters from all across the country.  Not only that, but it’s located in one of the most beautiful parts of Arkansas (Rogers).

You may have seen the War Eagle Mill recently on an episode of 19 Kids and Counting, where the Duggar children hosted an anniversary dinner for their parents.  The mill is a beautiful place to visit, see the stone buhr mill operate, eat at the Bean Palace Restaurant and even buy flour, grain, mixes and more.

chain saw art

My Dad graciously drove the girls, my step mom and I the 4 hours to the fair and enjoyed the crowd and booths with us.  We had a great time on the trip, enjoyed some beautiful scenery and bought a few neat things.

Fall is the perfect time for a fair, and the weather did not disappoint.  It was cool enough for a light jacket and ear warmers in the morning, warming a little as the day went on.  The cool weather just added to the scents of fair and fall.  The leaves are also in the midst of change in this part of the state, so it added so much to the trip.

vintage stools

I managed to bring home these vintage stools (for our plants), a swirlgig outdoor decoration, some kettle corn, cheesy onion dip mix, goat’s milk soap and a Christmas gift.

I may paint the stools at a later date, but for right now I will give them a good cleaning and get them in the school room/dining room.  I was glad to find these stools unpainted, because I like to add my own touch to vintage items (or just leave them be).  I always hate to find vintage items coated in multiple coats of an unattractive paint (to me anyways).

I’m so happy that we were able to get a few things done and enjoy ourselves a little bit too. Now it’s back to school and back to work for all.  There are more things to get done after our last weekend of softball this weekend and more fun to be had.  I just love fall!

I hope you all have a great Monday!

Want some free printables to frame or display for fall?  Here are a few of my favorites:

Eighteen25

Simple Crafter

The Kurtz Corner

Creative Cain Cabin

Thirty Handmade Days

Antsi Pants

Hoosier Homemade

What things do you love about fall?  

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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Summer Trips: Where I Have Been and What I am Doing Part 2

July was a crazy busy month for us here at practicing frugal.  We were busy, and always on the move, but we had some great times and made some great memories.

If you missed the first post about our trip, you can read it here.

Since this is a frugal blog and big vacations are not always frugal, you can read how we save for trips and other big purchases.

Were you able to figure out where we went for the second part of the trip?

Well first let me warn you that my nice big camera had some mechanical issues and became non-usable (this made me quite sad) towards the end of the trip, so you will find a combination of iphone and camera pictures from my camera and K’s camera.

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deer

John Oliver Place

This is the John Oliver Place at the start of Cades Cove Loop.  We had a blast on this loop.  We drove it, hiked from it, rode it on bikes (it’s 11 miles long and hilly) and one of us (not me) ran it!

rainy window

mountain overlook

Such a beautiful view.  I loved looking at views like this all week.

cable mill

Cable Mill at Cades Cove Loop.

sky lift

We had a blast riding the Sky Lift at Gatlinburg.

bear

We saw a momma bear and her cubs on our bike ride.  They were so cute.  We also came upon one on a hike one day too.  I have never seen K run so fast as he came up the trail towards her.

baby bear

trail riding

This was the first ride for the last princess (in the very front) and big girl (behind the camera).  I was so proud of the last princess, she was not scared at all.  Now big girl ….. that’s another story.

ripley's aquarium

The aquarium was a lot of fun.  It’s expensive, but there was so many things we had not seen before.

Abrams Falls

We hiked 5 strenuous miles round trip for Abrams Falls.  It was well worth it.

ripley's davy crockett mini golf

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We took family pictures while we were in the Smoky’s too.  I figured you couldn’t get any better views to take pictures.

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Of course I forgot to take off the glasses after setting the timer on the camera and running to get in the picture.  (I eventually got one without glasses)

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This is how we managed to do all the things we did ….. we camped.  We camped with the bare minimum.  This means tent, cots and air mattress, sheets, blankets (we did need these), dutch oven, small gas grill (like the size of a big cake pan), and ice chest.

We had a blast and can’t wait to do it again.  After spending the first week in a hotel, camping was very welcomed the second week.  It not only saved quite a bit of money, but it created much more memories and a ton of pictures.

You know you didn’t even see a sample of the pictures I took.  Hundreds I say!

What kind of trips did you take this summer?  

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Summer Trips: Where I Have Been and What I am Doing

I’m pretty sure by now many of you have realized that I have been absent from the blog for a couple weeks (at least I hope you noticed).  Our two weeks of summer trips combined with extra work to help fund said trips kept me pretty tied up.

I had full intentions of blogging while I was gone, but our hotel our first week had a very week internet connection which barely allowed us to get on the internet much.  Of course I had planned to put up posts during that time for the second week, during which I knew we would have no access to internet.  Obviously that neat little plan did not work out very well for me.

I’m back now and ready to talk about frugal living and more.  I have so many projects to get to work on (and share) and school gets started around here in less than a month, but first I must dig myself out of the after vacation laundry pile.  You know the one that just keeps on growing?

Everyone chipped in and we managed to put up most of the “other stuff” from around the house and the vacation unload pile.  It was a great feeling to get that done yesterday.

Now I am sure you are probably wondering where we went on our trip?

We spent the first week at Branson, Missouri.  K had a World Series to play in with her softball team.  They competed with 16 other teams from several states and won the whole tournament undefeated.  It was so very exciting.

We also did a little bit of sightseeing/attractions while we were there.

dixie stampede

Dixie Stampede is always so much fun and you can’t beat the generous portions of food.  I think this is a great show when you factor in the fact that you get a meal included.  The show is a must for the whole family.

ds family

Many of the team players/parents wanted to attend the show before the tournament started, so one mom was able to call and get great prices on the tickets by buying our tickets and attending as a group.

At the beginning of the show, they called out our group by name and welcomed us.  This was a big deal for the girls.

lamberts

If you have never been to Lambert’s, you must try it sometime (we have been to all three locations….. we love it that much).  Be prepared to wait a bit, as Lambert’s is a favorite of many.  Our girls got warmed up for the game by catching some rolls.

It is a bit pricey, but the meal prices include the rolls, and pass around’s you get at the table.  You can find Lambert’s at Springfield, MO, Sikeston, MO, and Foley, AL.

bass pro shops

Bass Pro Shops is a great place to visit, and you don’t even have to spend any money.

bass pro bear

This bear is always a great photo spot at Bass Pro Shops.

k pitch

I didn’t take many pictures during the games, but here is one of K pitching.  The tournament had a photographer taking pictures which you could purchase for $4 a shot, so I opted to purchase a few good pictures and enjoy the games.  Oh yeah, and it was hot! Very hot, so trying to stay cool, drink enough water and keep the last princess hydrated was enough to do.

tournament family

The team got the big trophy on the ground for becoming USSSA 9 & under world series champions.  The team members each got the clear trophy that K is holding in her right hand.  K also got MVP for pitching (the silver frame).  This was a big deal to her since this was her first full year of pitching.  Last year we played on pitching machine.

The team did amazing and they all deserved an MVP for their performance and desire to compete.  Although my child got an MVP, I am not a real big fan of this.  Yes she was pretty much the only one that pitched for our team and her MVP was for pitching only, but of the other MVP awards that are often given, it’s too hard to pick out just one or two players.  It takes the whole team working together for a win.

rocky ridge farms

On the way out of town (on the way to our next destination) we rode by Rocky Ridge Farms.  This is the house Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in when she wrote the Little House books.  We didn’t stop and take the tour, as we needed to get on down the road, but we got to see where she lived.

mississippi river bridge

We took a really scenic route from Missouri where we crossed the Mississippi river…..

ohio river bridge

and the Ohio river within a couple minutes.

kentucky

On into Kentucky we went.  Such a beautiful state.

corn field

This picture reminds me of what I grew up looking at instead of trees.  Corn fields everywhere…..

ky hayfield

and pretty hay fields too.  Kentucky had obviously had much more rain than Arkansas, because things were still remotely green and not brown and dead.

tn sign

On into Tennessee we went.  Can you guess where we went?

I think that’s enough for today.  I don’t want to overwhelm you with our trip and tons of photos.

I’ll save the rest for another post.

Are you traveling this summer?  Can you guess where we went the second week?  Have any questions or comments about our travels or travel budget?

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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Our Week With Daddy

Life has been pretty busy around here, which would explain my absence from blogging the past couple of weeks.  First we had our wonderful company and then we had Daddy home for a week off work.

Of course we didn’t get much school done, which means we are working on finishing things up the next couple of weeks.

We did manage to get some appointments, projects and fun outings in.

antique cars

Our first project was to organize the antique cars we are getting ready to sell.  This involved matching up parts and pieces to their respective cars.  We expected this to take a couple days, but we were able to complete it in one day.

Now it’s time to market these babies!

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We had one day full of appointments, lunch together and a ball game for the last princess.

Another day we took the boat out to the river and caught some fish and had a picnic.  We had a really good time.  The girls really enjoyed seeing 5 alligators and 2 eagles on a nest as well as catching fish..

garden

We spent one day working on the garden and mowing the yard.  The garden is coming along pretty good.  We have a couple cucumber plants that are looking pretty sad right now, but otherwise everything seems to be coming along well.

tomato plants

These tomato plants have quite a few tomatoes on them already.  It’s exciting to see progress!

blueberry bushes

We added some blueberry bushes this past week.

We have some things to plant this week, but it appears to be making progress.

We also visited a botanical garden that is 1 1/2 hours from our home.  It was really pretty and a bunch of fun.  They had an activity sheet for the kids to put stickers on to earn a prize.  We all enjoyed looking for the things on the list and learning about them too!

ear piercing

While we were out the last princess got here ears pierced.  She had finally decided that she wanted to get this done, so we took her for her special trip.

We had a great couple of weeks off, but now it’s time to get back to our routine.

making a habit out of living frugal…..

Spring Break Week at Practicing Frugal: Part 3

Day 3 of our trip to Memphis included a visit to Graceland.  I had been there before, but hubby and the girls had not.  It is really a neat tour, but can be a bit pricey.  We were able to use this coupon I found to save a bit on our tour.

For those that want to picnic, there are picnic tables on site near the entrance to the tour.  The restaurants on site are pricey and the food isn’t really that good.

There is a really good Italian restaurant named Coletta’s, (S. Parkway is clode to Graceland) that has a lunch special (until 4 pm) that includes 6″pizza, spaghetti or Lasagna, salad and cola for $7.80.

graceland sign

Graceland

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jeep

This is the Jeep from the Blue Hawaii movie that Elvis purchased after making the movie.  I just love it!

There were some really neat cars in the car museum.

Graceland souvenirs

The girls spent their own money on souvenirs.  K is going to start collecting some magnets.  We are going to make a board for her to display them on out of a cookie sheet.  Sounds like a future blog post doesn’t it?

Gotta love that look on K’s face.  I think the sun was hard on the eyes after coming out from the dark.

Graceland was fun and very interesting.  The girls really enjoyed it too.  It was interesting to see all Elvis had done and all the things he had that are now completely out of style.  It was also neat to see that he didn’t live in  “mansion”, but rather a large house.

The last trip we made on our spring break journey was to Historic Washington Sate Park in southwest Arkansas for their annual Jonquil Festival.

We had a great time looking at the many crafts, antiques, demonstrators and food.  The weather was absolutely beautiful for this trip too.

corndog

fun with horse

antique sign letter

My purchase for the day was this antique metal sign letter “R” that will soon grace a wall in my house.  I can’t wait to paint and get it hung!

I also got some great ideas for a couple other crafts I will make myself.  I am on the hunt for some of the parts at thrift stores, and then I will be ready to make them (and of course share them).

bow and arrows

The girls spent their money wisely on these bows and arrows.  They are cute, functional and somewhat indoor proof.

girls

k with horse

last princess

k

Hope you enjoyed following along with our trip.  We really had a good time and saw so much.   

When planning trips, keep in mind that state and national parks are cheap or free to visit, and are usually fairly well maintained.  They also provide beautiful scenery and educational opportunities.

Stay tuned for tips on saving money while traveling or planning a vacation.

making a a habit out of living frugal…..

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