Showing posts from January, 2009

January Saving Summary

For the first time, I am trying to keep track of how much I am saving using coupons, shopping sales, and submitting rebates. This is partially for myself, but it is also to encourage others that clipping coupons, matching them to sales, and submitting rebates are really worth the time! In addition, the end of each month is a good chance for me to check how we are doing as we work toward our 2009 financial goals.

Here are our January saving numbers:

Coupon Savings: $98.83

Coupon/Sale Shopping Combined Savings: $643.14

Rebates Sent In/Pending: $73.49

Gift Cards Earned: $40.00

Our grand total of money saved in January is: $756.63

I am amazed by this number! A lot the saving came through sale shopping and buying items ahead. This includes buying gifts ahead. I am looking forward to updating these totals each month! For more stories of saving, check out Super Savings Saturday!

Frugal Friday: Five Free Reading Resources for Preschoolers

As a former teacher, current librarian, and new mom, reading has long been a passion for me. I believe reading is vitally important to a child's academic success. Parents are their children's first and best teachers and the influence that parents have on their children becoming readers is enormous. The good news is, reading with your kids and helping them to acquire early literacy skills is simple and enjoyable for you and your children. I hope to write more about what is meant by early literacy skills in later posts.

For today, I want to share with you five of my favorite (free!) reading resources for preschoolers. The sites range from places where you can get information on early literacy and language development to sites where your child can play reading games and participate in reading activities.

Zero to Three: Early Language and Literacy
The Zero to Three site has a variety of articles and helpful tools on many different topics for ages birth through three. This part of the…

Chinese New Year: Reading Theme Challenge

When I was at the library today, I picked up the book My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz so we could participate in Teaching Tiny Tots' Chinese New Year: Reading Theme Challenge. In addition to reading the book, we colored a dragon coloring page (My little one is starting to enjoy using crayons!) and I found some great resources at's Chinese New Year storytime page. There are lots of craft ideas there! On a side note, I really like Karen Katz's books especially for toddlers and younger preschoolers.

Teaching Tiny Tots also has all of the reading theme challenge books for February selected, so stop by and participate!

On My Bookshelf

Here's a quick peek at what I'm reading this week!

The Centurion's Wife (Acts of Faith, Book 1) By Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

I have read a number of books by this pair of authors and have enjoyed them all immensely. This book is intriguing and thought provoking. It is historical fiction, but set immediately after the crucifixion of Jesus. Some of the characters in the book include Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas. It is so interesting and has made me ask lots of questions about the Biblical account of these events.

Simple Steps By Karen Miller

In my continuing quest for activities to work on with my daughter, I checked this book out from the library. So many books are really geared for older toddlers and preschoolers. This one has a wide variety of activities that are developmentally appropriate for younger children. It is organized in chapters by the type of learning the activity promotes. (Fine Motor, Cognitive, Sensory, Early Literacy etc.) I am looking forward to trying some o…

Storytime Fun: Animals in Winter

I love doing the animals in winter theme with my storytime kids (and now with my daughter). There are so many fun books that talk about what animals do in the wintertime. The best part is, even though the books are fictional, they are a great opportunity to talk with older preschoolers about hibernation. Here are a few of the books I'm using for this theme.

Snow By Manya Stojic
Large, clear illustrations, bold simple text, and a variety of animals make this story wonderful for younger toddlers and preschoolers.

Bear Snores On By Karma Wilson
This is one of my favorite books and series of books. While bear is sound asleep in his cave, his friends are having a party right outside. The rhyming text and detailed illustrations make this an especially enjoyable book.

Little Fern's First Winter By Jane Simmons
Fern is playing hide and seek with a cousin when Fern's first snow ever begins to fall. Lovely illustrations depict Fern's first encounter with snow.

Old Bear By Kevin Henkes

Praise Baby Giveaway

You may have seen me post about one of our family's favorite CDs right now, Praise Baby: My Father's World. Praise Baby makes awesome Christian praise and worship CDs for kids. Right now, they are holding a giveaway on their new blog. They are giving away one of their CDs to 10 different winners. Stop by the blog and leave a comment with a song you like to sing with your little ones and you're entered!

Nonfiction: Cloth Diapering

I never thought I would even be one to consider cloth diapering. I don't know why exactly; I just thought disposables would be fine for me. I never thought about how much fun I might have with cloth diapers. Fun, you ask? It's true! I do not have a huge stash of cloth diapers, but I enjoy perusing the choices, picking out cute ones, and even finding some deals. Here's a little bit about our cloth diapering journey so far...

When my daughter was about 8 months old, a friend mentioned she was going to cloth diaper her new baby. I listened to what she had to say, but didn't think it was for me. Within a few days of this conversation, Baby Cheapskate held Cloth Diaper Week, full of posts telling everything you'd ever want to know about cloth diapers. I was hooked. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of diapers - prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones - it was amazing! And they were so cute...Even the care of cloth diapers didn't seem so daunting after this week…

Recommended Reading: General Muffin Recipe

This week at Common Sense With Money, this general muffin recipe was posted. I was excited when I saw it because: 1. It called for only one egg (and I only had one the house) and 2. I had some blueberries I wanted to use up. I decided to give this recipe a try and was very pleased with the results! I used margarine for the fat and sprinkled a bit of brown sugar on the top of the muffins. I froze most of them to use for future breakfasts and snacks. Check out the recipe and give it a try!

Deal: Play Kitchen at Wal-Mart

Our daughter is currently 14 months old, and we have been looking around at play kitchens for her. Over the Christmas season, there were a few deals, but none that stood out as stellar. Last night, we went over to Wal-Mart to use some coupons to get a few free deals, look for these $5 scarves I heard about, and just see if we found anything to spend our giftcards on from Christmas. We came across a bunch of toys on clearance. We were so excited to get this Custom Kitchen for $49! We think we are going to hold on to it until her second birthday in November. I hope I can wait that long! Check out your local WalMart and let me know if you see any more of these kitchens on sale. If you have this kitchen, what do you think of it?

Recipe: Fudge Crinkles

It's been a long time since I've baked. We have been trying to finish up the Christmas goodies in the house. But when my dear husband said, "Oh, those sugar cookies (that were frozen after Christmas) aren't too stale.", I knew I needed to make him something. He's never met anything chocolate he didn't like, so I set out to use my chocolate fudge cake mix to make these Fudge Crinkles. The little one even napped long enough that I had a chance to finish them! Now the house smells great, too. I'll try to only have one. What are some of your favorite cake mix/cookie mix recipes?

On My Bookshelf

Here are a few books I'm reading or looking at this week:

by Laurie Halse Anderson
I have been trying to get an idea of what books are contenders for the Newbery and Caldecott Medals this year. The awards are to be announced on Monday, January 26. This one seems to be a front-runner for the Newbery, so I decided to read it ahead of time to see what I think. The book is compelling; the language is rich. The novel is steeped in history and the characterization is marvelous. My only concern so far is that I find it to be more of a young adult book due to its content and subject matter. If it is awarded the Newbery Medal, that would indicate it is a book for the 12 and under set. We will have to see!

A Promise for Spring
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
This author has a series of contemporary fiction books depicting a woman who returns to her Amish roots after many years. This book is a historical fiction novel set on a Kansas sheep ranch. It was a very nice, enjoyable read.

Other than these book…


So, I didn't get this planted in time to bloom at Christmas. I did get it planted, however, and have been waiting for its appearance. So, here it is...

Spring is getting closer, isn't it?

Super Savings Saturday: Meijer, Target, and Old Navy

This was a fun week for deal hunting! First, we were able to combine coupons and sales at Meijer to spend about $75.00. We saved around $44.00 there for a savings of about 37%! I use Mommy Snacks for my Meijer coupon matches each week.

Then, we got some 75% off toy deals at Target and some extra 50% off clearance at Old Navy. We bought a few things for our daughter for next year, but we got a bunch of stuff to give to our local Salvatian Army's Angel Tree next Christmas. This is the third year we've gotten these items at this Old Navy sale. The savings there is usually 75% off or more! The extra 50% is good through Monday, January 19th and is online also with the code EXTRA50. Stop in to your local store or online and see what kinds of deals you can find!

Stop by Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday to see how others did this week with their shopping and saving!

Storytime Fun: Snowballs and Snowmen

It's cold and wintry and snowy here, so I know the kids will love reading snow stories this week! Here are a few of my favorites as well as links to songs and fingerplays that you can use with your kids at home to celebrate the snowy weather!

By Lois EhlertEhlert's illustrations and simple text work well for the youngest children, but her books always have additional details to discuss with older children. This book about making a snow family is a great choice!The Snowy Day
By Ezra Jack KeatsThis classic picture book was the winner of the Caldecott Medal in 1963. It takes children on the adventures of a little boy in the snow.The Mouse That Jack Built
By Cyndy SzerkeresThis cumulative tale is a spinoff of the classic "House That Jack Built". It has darling illustrations and rhyming text.Snow Surprise (Green Light Readers Level 2)
By Lisa Campbell ErnstThis book about snowmen is designed for beginning readers, but would work as a read aloud book as well.For songs…

Growing a Vegetable Garden

I really enjoy my flower gardening and landscaping. I am thinking about trying a very small vegetable/fruit garden this year. I have no idea where to start. Here were our thoughts:
PotatoesLettucePeppersTomatoesStrawberriesBlack RaspberriesHow hard are these things to grow? Any resources I should take a look at? Any suggestions to add to my list? I guess in this cold (freezing!) weather, I am dreaming of spring!

Frugal Friday: Library Resources

I'm a librarian, so it goes without saying that I love libraries. I love to read and I visit libraries whenever we go on vacation or even a short trip anywhere. To me, they are fantastic places full of so many wonderful resources.

I did a quick tally and found that I have at least $150.00 in books, magazines, and other materials checked out right now. Granted, I'm too frugal to ever buy all of those items, and defininitely not at full price, but the library allows me to read and review so many different things for free!

In addition to books and magazines, libraries carry DVDs, CDs, CD-ROMs, book kits, and more. Some libraries might have teaching resources, totes of materials to use for teaching your kids...the list goes on and on. If you can't find an item, try using interlibrary loan to get things from another library in your library's system. It usually doesn't take terribly long to get an item, depending on the number of items available and the demand for the item…

On My Bookshelf

These are the books I'm reading/taking a look at this week.
Rebecca's Reward By Lauraine Snelling I just finished this book. I like Christian historical fiction, and this is a nice turn of the century historical novel. It is part of a series of books, but could stand alone if you haven't read the others.

The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style By Kim France and Andrea Linett
I enjoy looking at Lucky magazine, so when I saw this at my library, I had to pick it up. I'm hoping for some fashion inspiration...hopefully something I can create by "shopping" my closet or looking at some of the end of the season sales.

Kiplinger's December 2008 I especially liked the flowchart in this issue that helped to outline how the current economic situation came to be. It was clear and helpful.

What are you reading this week? Drop me a comment and let me know what I should take a look at next!

Music Mondays

One CD that we all like is called Praise Baby: My Father's World. This is the first CD we've listened to in this series. It is a collection of different well-known praise and worship songs. The arrangments are pleasant and enjoyable, but not particularly babyish. I love that we can expose our little one to wonderful Christian music using this CD. I am excited that Praise Baby will be starting a blog soon and I will get a chance to write a guest post for it. Look for the Praise Baby blog button on this blog soon! Do any of you have any experience with any of the other Praise Baby CDs or DVDs? Leave me a note about your favorites!

Nonfiction: Ways of Saving/Earning Extra Money

Over this last year, I have become an avid blog reader. As I've mentioned before, frugality has always been a part of my nature, but reading all kind of frugal blogs has greatly expanded my awareness of ways to save and earn more! Here are a few things that I have had success with over the last several months.

1. Coupons - I've always used coupons, but now I am much more strategic in my use of coupons combined with sales. There are so many great blogs that do a wonderful job of matching coupons to sales for you. Check out some of the blogs on this page for some great places to start. I'm tracking my coupon/sale savings for groceries this year, and I hope to post some updates here.

2. CVS - I am by no means an expert on CVS shopping, but I have been able to learn how to successfully roll my ECBs to regularly get free items for our family and also to be able donate items to other people.

3. Seller Central - All of us know we can buy on, but this year, I le…

Frugal Friday Fun

We are in the midst of an old-fashioned snowstorm. The snow is beautiful and coming down so peacefully. Here are a few things that have made this a fabulous Friday! Visit Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood for more!
Playing in the snow with my daughter for the first time. She loved it!
Finding a set of three frames that I had been watching at Meijer for 90% off - only $2.49! What do you think? Put it up as is for winter decor or try to change the words in the middle?
Finding a lovely winter plaid dress for the little one for next Christmas - another 90% off find for only $2.19!
Making a mini photo book for my little one using pictures of family. She doesn't get to see many of them very often, so I want her to have a chance to learn to recognize each person.I'm off to have some hot chocolate! Have a wonderful weekend!

2009 Financial Goals

In this post, I put down some of my general goals for 2009. After reading Money Saving Mom's post here asking us to share our 2009 financial goals, I thought I would be a little more specific about our financial goals as well. We have been setting goals financially for several years. This year's goals are:

1. Reduce gift spending by approximately 1/3, but not our gift giving.
2. Continue to prepay mortgage.
3. Create a CD ladder for savings.
4. Continue to save for daughter's college fund and general savings account.

We tend to add to these goals as the year goes by, but we are starting with these! I'm enjoying reading everyone else's goals as well. They are all so inspiring and motivational! Who knows, I might use a goal that I read for our list, also!

Storytime Fun: Hats, Scarves, and Mittens!

With wintertime upon us, one of my favorite themes for storytime is winter clothing. There are so many great books for young children on this topic. Here are a few that I am using for this month:

Under My Hood I Have a HatBy Karla Kuskin

This simple rhyming tale is perfect for young children. It tells about those cold winter days when you are so bundled up, you can barely move!

One Mitten By Kristine O'Connell George A girl enjoys playing inside with first one yellow mitten, then both of her mittens before going outside to play in the snow.All You Need for a SnowmanBy Alice SchertleChildren love to help with this story. At first, the author tells the reader that only one snowball is needed to make a snowman. Everyone knows it takes three! Have your child help you with the steps to make a snowman during this story to practice sequencing and retelling.

Snow Day!By Lynn PlourdeCome along on a snow day adventure!

Frozen Noses By Jan CarrThis simple story is full of rhyming words and fun in…

On My Bookshelf

Here are a few of the books I'm currently reading!

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

I'm rereading this book for a book discussion group at the library. I am really enjoying it! It is a great fantasy tale for children in grades 3-5 and would make a good read-aloud book for younger children. It won the John Newbery Medal in 1972.

Toddler Play By Dr. Wendy S. Masi

I have a 14 month old daughter, so I am always looking for new activities to try with her. This book is full of activities for children ages 12 months - 24 months and is organized by age level.

Let's Knit: The Beginner's Guide to Knitting By Monette Satterfield

One of of my teen book discussion girls taught me to knit last month, and I haven't had time to practice! This book has illustrations to help with various knitting stitches and simple project ideas. I'm going to try a scarf first!

What books are on your bookshelf (or bedside table) right now? I would especially love to hear about…

Music Mondays

We love music at our house. My husband is a part-time organist for our church and I sing. It works out well to have a built in accompanist in the house for weddings, church, etc. In my work at the library, I like to incorporate a lot of music into my storytimes. I thought it would be fun to share what we are listening to at our house. Right now, we are enjoying Laurie Berkner'sCDs. My daughter seems to really enjoy listening to her music while playing her musical instruments or dancing. She keeps adding new dance moves which is a lot of fun. The music is very rhythmic, involves a lot of different instruments and styles, and is catchy and singable. Some of the songs are adaptations of traditional children's music, while others are original pieces. Here are a few of her CD titles, in order from newest release:
Rocketship RunUnder a Shady TreeWhaddaya Think of That?What other children's music do you recommend?

Frugal Door Decoration

I like to have a seasonal door decoration on our front door each season. I realized that I didn't have one for winter, so I set out to look at after Christmas sales to find something wintry. This is what I came up with. The "Snow" sign was $3.74 at Kohl's and I embellished it with ribbon from WalMart for $0.25. What Christmas clearance items are you using now instead of waiting for next Christmas?

January 2009 @ Faith, Family, and Frugality

I decided a new look was in order for this blog, so I found a 3-column one I like. It is still a work in progress, so I plan to continue to refine it over the next few weeks. I wanted to give you a sneak peek into what to expect here during the first month of 2009.
Each week, I plan to provide you with some of my favorite picture books for young children. Often, these will be seasonal titles, but I plan to highlight a specific picture book author/illustrator each month as well. On My Bookshelf will be a way for me to share with you what I am currently reading.Once a week, I will highlight a recipe, frugal craft project, or family activity.Expect additional posts this month on ways I've been able to earn extra money for our family, websites that focus on reading resources for preschoolers, our cloth diapering experience, and a monthly re-cap of our saving and earning for January 2009.

Nonfiction: Fat Burnin' Friday

Andrea over at Mommy Snacks has been keeping us updated about her weight loss journey throughout the last year. I have been very impressed with her progress and all the tips she has shared with us along the way. After having my daughter in November 2007, I made it my goal make it back to my pre-baby weight within a year of her birth. I didn't really get motivated to do so until May of 2008. I was (thankfully!) able to get down to my weight goal right around Thanksgiving of 2008 and have been able to maintain this weight throughout the holidays. Winter is tough for me as I gained around 7 pounds last winter. I know this was compounded by the loss of my grandmother 3 days before Christmas last year, but I still want to be careful not to overindulge in winter comfort foods! Right now, here are a few things that are helping me to maintain my weight:

1. Each day, I try to do some kind of exercise. We don't have a treadmill in our smallish (just over 1000 sq. feet) house, so I altern…

Welcome 2009!

We are already have one day complete in 2009! I'm not a big one for setting actual resolutions, but I do have ideas and goals constantly running through my head. I loved this post today at Simple Mom that had a set of questions to consider in planning New Year's goals. After reviewing her questions and giving some thought to my own ideas, here are a few goals for this year, in no particular order.

1. Read the Bible more. I even found this blog that lays out a framework for reading the Bible in a year, with devotions to accompany each reading. My husband and I may give this a try!
2. Maintain my 2008 weight loss by continuing to exercise and pay attention to portion sizes and food choices. I had a baby in November 2007. My goal was to be down to my pre-baby weight by around her birthday, which I did. However, last year, I gained 7 pounds between November and April, which I had to re-lose. I'm hoping to maintain my weight this winter, especially. More on this coming up!
3. Cont…