Newest Family Member

Well, we are thrilled to announce that we have a new member to our extended family. Isn't she lovely!!! Cricket is her name...do we now call her our 'Grand Dog'. I think we should....

Proud new owner, our DD.

Cricket is 2 1/2 years old and our DD rescued her from a shelter. She is in the process of getting adjusted to her new home and life with her new owner.


Free Mazagines

Shhhh, keep this quiet....

I just have to tell everyone about a little secret that I am kinda' apprehensive about sharing. But it's been so much fun, that I thought you might want to get in on the action also.

I have found that this website is excellent for getting postings for really nice free magazines. What is the catch, right? No seriously, they are free and they have been wonderful, I am currently overflowing with free magazines. I love all of them, I would never in a million years subscribe to them, too expensive, but I love the beautiful pictures and the awesome articles.

I am presently getting about 8 magazines for free with no harassing phone calls, emails, subscription notices, etc.

What I have found out is that certain magazines sometimes need to boost their readership numbers and therefore for limited times they will open up prescriptions to additional members for free, no catch, no harassment and I find that I get them pretty swiftly after signing up.

What I have done is added the budget helpers blog address to my google reader as a subscription then when I see that she has posted a new free magazine, I quickly click and sign up. No more than that.

Check it out. I just signed up to start receiving 'The Magazine Antiques' yesterday for a one year subscription. Here is the link. I think it is closed now, but go ahead and see....http://budgethelpers.blogspot.com/2008/09/another-magazine-antiques-free-sub.html


Band Booster Mom Goes Crazy!!!!

Check it out. This is our local newspaper and they are great about uploading pictures of events and are very timely. If you click on the link of photos, review the Maize Days photos, especially page 2 or specifically #28 of 135, there is one certain very handsome young man, or otherwise known as my DS!!!

Gotta' love that band!!!

Frustrated with Teachers

Just wanting to ventilate a little...

I am very frustrated in the inability to find a private alto saxophone tutor for my DS. He is a junior in high school and is very determined to make it to the state band this year. He is very skilled and has advanced to the All Area level over the past two years, but just hasn't been able to get to that last level for state. Unfortunately, to reach the state level, it pretty well requires him to have private lessons.

I have contacted six local schools and even have called schools nearby in an adjoining state. I have also called, emailed and begged a couple of well known alto sax instructors in nearby colleges and universities.

Either no response after two to three varied methods of attempting contact or they are too swamped to take on another student.

When my DS requests something, I am always quite determined to try and make it happen and I am not able to get this latest request even off of the ground.

I guess you could say that I am angry as well as very frustrated. I have even sat down with his local high school director with no help or further suggestions for steps to be taken.

Is that all I can do????!?!???!!!!
I have to let you know about how amazing persistent prayer is...I had posted this vent blog two days ago, I have learned the useful tool of scheduling postings...in the meantime, I have received an email from the Director of Bands/Symphony at WTAMU in Canyon, Don LeFevre.
I had previously sent him an email over 6 weeks ago, called and left messages, emailed and called his secretary, etc...with no response. He is an excellent alot sax player and highly respected as an instructor, in this part of the country he is the cats meow ( too old for most of you?!?). He has agreed to take my DS on as a private student!!!! Whoop, whoop, whoop, (do a little dance!!!)
We are now in the process of working out a schedule for sessions.
Did I mention, that I know exactly who to thank for this....Praise Jesus!!!
Did I also thank and praise him even when I wasn't getting the responses that I wanted, yes...I am learning to praise him at all times, not just when I get what I want, but realising that I have handed my life over to him and allow him to be in charge of everything.
Is it easy to praise him during the bad and difficult times, previously I would have said no, but the more you realise how he works in your life each moment of each day, it is not difficult to do. It is called 'surrender', I surrender everything to him.
Have you?!?
F - Forgiveness. We cannot have a relationship with God without forgiveness
(Ephesians 1:7a)
A - Available. Forgiveness is available for all (John 3:16)
I - Impossible. It is impossible for God to allow sin into heaven (Romans
T - Turn. A person must turn away (repent) from sin and follow God (Luke
H - Heaven. Heaven is the gift of eternal life now and in the hereafter
(John 10:10b: 14:3)

I would be happy to share my personal testimony with you and pray with you. Please contact me via plnewhou@msn.com.

The Cutest Blog On The Block

Don't ask me how I ever discovered this blog link, but it was a lifesaver. I have tried and tried and tried to find a blog background that I liked for free, I have also downloaded free photo design programs to try to design my own blog background to great failure.

This blog site, thrilled me!!! http://www.thecutestblogontheblock.com/

It has so many current, cute, free and fun blog backgrounds and it only took me less than 10 minutes to figure out how to upload the html code and preview my changes.

Try it and see...


Pick Your Own

In light of the recent economic changes that we will probably all be facing, I have happened upon a wonderful site. It will help you identify local farms, orchards, plots where you can pick your own produce, Christmas trees, etc.

Not too many around my area of the country, but I will see what might pop up here and there.

Several of the farms make it a family affair and you can really score some terrific fresh produce, veggies, fruit, nuts, etc.

It also has some great links on home canning, gardening, etc.


Exercising Your Rights

Sometimes I feel so frustrated with what is going on with our government. We are fortunate that our national representative makes quarterly visits to our townhall for public discussions, but what to do in the meantime???

I take the time to send brief email messages to the president, senators and representatives when I wish to strongly express my opinion. You should also take the time...

Also, make sure you keep yourself educated and up to date on the concerns that are dear to you.

I like to use the following link for my emails, check it out....http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/

I just had to get my viewpoints posted on the President's economic bailout plan.

Please express your opinions also.


God's Blessings

I talk about looking for God's blessings each and everyday.

DH and I have been praying about our littlest son. He is Mr. Social and is at a critical stage in his life, where he needs interaction with other little ones. There aren't any little ones in our neighborhood for him to play with. He loves Sunday school and sees his church friends on Sunday mornings, but they typically live 30 miles away or go to daycare during the day because their moms work.

DH and I were looking for extra sources of income for a possible 'mother's day out' and let him go to a local daycare for a social day.

I picked up our local paper last week and saw an ad 'Childcare Needed for 2 1/2 year old on Fridays and Monday'. I called my DH and asked what he thought. I am not one to think about daycare (honestly, I love my own kids, but I have never been known to be the most nurturing person on a consistent basis with little ones). But this just seemed to be too perfect. The child ended up being a little girl about 32 months, potty trained and talking up a storm. Her mom was reluctant to place an ad for someone to take of her, but felt like she had no option. The grandmother who was watching her on the odd days suddenly took ill.

I have been blessed to have taken care of her for two days and can't tell you how we have been blessed. Our littlest is so happy and we can already tell. It hasn't been without challenges, he is having difficulty with trading and sharing things, but she is just as headstrong as he is, so he has met his match.

Some might not think this is a blessing, but I think it is. I have the pleasure of a sweet little girl playing with our littlest and instead of having to pay someone for overseeing his social time, we are getting paid and our son is loving it....I would say that is a triple blessing, but her parents feel a tremendous weight of relief as well. Pray that this continues to work out positively for all involved!

Recipes Galore...

Good morning, I know it is not Fall yet, but the mornings are getting cooler and the shadows are getting longer... I am getting happier! I love Spring and Fall, plus being a super homebody during Winter, my DH quite the opposite, can't get enough of the brutal Summer, the more brutal the happier he is.'

I did finalize my four cooking plans for the local Lions Club. I use http://allrecipes.com/ for a tremendous source for recipes, if I don't have the recipe already. I like the site, because you can research the recipes and I tend to categorize them by the ratings. So far, it has proven to be dead on as far as I am concerned.

The four menus are:



Greek salad

Italian bread rolls

Brownies with fruit compote

American Classic

Fried chicken

Mashed potatoes w/cream gravy

Green Beans

Homemade rolls

Cobbler w/cream

Everyday Favorite

Individual Mini Meatloaves

Twice Baked Potatoes

Broccoli Salad
Lemon Sheet Cake


Beef/cheese enchiladas

Mexican Rice

Refried Beans

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


I have to highly recommend this recipe for the pineapple upside down cake, it was wonderful!!!
I haven't made a pineapple upside down cake in probably 18 years, but this was easy and wonderful. I did not use an iron skillet, just my regular cake pan and followed the recipe with the following revisions. I used pineapple chunks and took the suggestion of one of the reviewers and used the pineapple juice from the can in place of some of the water needed from the cake mix directions, also picked up a pineapple supreme cake mix in place of the white from the recipe.

Take a look at the site and see if you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Bon Appetit!!!


Budget...Why Do We Think That Is A Four Letter Word?!?

I can get obsessive about details:

Budget Guidelines Established in 2006
Housing 36%
Food 13%
Auto 11%
Health Insurance 5%
Ent/Rec 8%
Clothing 7%
Savings 5%
Med/Dental 4%
Misc 6%
Investments 5%
We set these guidelines up from reading and reviewing Crown Financial Ministries recommendations.

Current 2008 Budget Actual

Let me also explain that this is a budget based on 61.67% of our gross income, 22.44 % of our gross income is absorbed with TRS/taxes/medicare/health insurance and the final 15.89% is dedicated to debt payment and tithe. We pay all our bills on the day we are paid, set aside our savings and live off the rest, so sometimes our food/auto/misc is less than the planned % is or we have an unexpected expense and this always happens and we eat off of our food stash.

We have a goal to have our home paid off in 5 years. This is realistic for us, we initially took out a 15 year note and are 4 years into our mortgage. Our goal is to establish an emergency fund of savings equivalent to 3 months gross salary and then the excess will all be put towards our mortgage payoff. Some would not agree with these priorities, but this is what we have established, there is a tremendous ease with having a house that is paid off.

Becoming More Green

DH and I are reading and looking for ways to be more "green". Isn't that the latest catch all term. Really we know that we have not done our part towards recycling, etc.

We first read and reviewed books on living off the grid, moving to a small farm and living off the land, etc. There are still books that will tell and show you how to butcher a hog, cow, etc....(DS was thoroughly grossed out....)

Yesterday we received Money magazine September 2008 and it was really helpful.

  • Think before you build: it's green to reuse and remodel. The house you fix up will probably be much greener than anything you build in its place, no matter how cutting edge the new design or how much recycled material you use. (Do you know that landfills are taken up more with debris from building projects than anything else.) So DH and I are happy to look at staying in our modest older ranch home and working to improve what we have. That means bye-bye to my secret desire to build a new home eventually...:(
  • A roof should overhang walls by at least one foot. We are blessed to be in a house where this is true. It keeps the sun off windows and exteriors which helps the house stay cool in summer. We also have our larger room with a southern exposure of windows which helps to heat our home in winter.
  • Size of a home does matter, don't pay for wasted space. A bedroom is for sleeping and a kitchen is for cooking. So they recommend having no more than 4 feet distance between your counters and an overall footage of 20 feet or less for a kitchen. My small kitchen fits this optimally. I guess no big expansions planned in that area.... and our bedrooms have a little spare room for the boys...
  • Opt for standard ceiling heights. It will save you lots of money in heating and air costs. We have standard 8 foot ceilings. Compared to new homes it seems cramped but we are adding in crown molding to visually add to the height of the rooms. Also we have a long term plan about changing the ceiling in our great room to a trayed ceiling to be more visually attractive, but that is way down on our home improvement list, but it is there...
  • Insulate, insulate, insulate....One of our more immediate home improvement plans is to add tons of additional attic insulation and a storm door to our front door. Our front door opens up directly to our living room, so when the cold wind is blowing and the door is opened it takes awhile to recover. We also have a longer term plan to add an enclosed small entry to our front porch area, thus minimizing the impact on the house with opening the front door. A longer term plan is to also have all of our current home windows replaced with double pane windows in the future to help minimize our energy drains. We also have an attic fan that helps pull out the hot air in our attic area in order to minimize our AC use.
  • Buying used and using till they are dead. Cars, that is, this is a major accomplishment in mine and my husband's thinking. What could be more green than keeping your current car and maintaining it and driving it for as long as possible. Luckily, my DH is skilled at car repair and maintenance, so this makes it more realistic as a goal. We currently have a 98' Cobra Mustang and a 2003 Explorer. These cars are really old, during our previous life we would have replaced these already...but we are determined to do good maintenance and repair and keep them as long as practical.
We will consider the energy ratings on our future appliance purchases. It is possible that we might be able to get either a rebate or tax incentive...

We are going to replace our light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs with our next payday. My DH has found that the GE bulbs are the most energy efficient and it looks like the best deal is to purchase them at SAMS club, so I am supposed to add up the lights in the house, in order to know how many to purchase.

Other actions, we need to recycle plastic/paper/glass. It is going to be a challenge, our nearest recycling units are about 40 miles away, but we need to do something...even if it takes more effort on our part. So I will look to find some large containers to store items in that will fit into our Explorer and find a place in the house or garage to store in order to stock them as needed.

Plans are to also add in a gas fireplace to our greatroom. We know that we are dependent on electricity for heating and running our home and want to establish some more sources for gas systems. We have explored changing our electric stove to a gas unit, which I prefer anyway, it shouldn't be too hard since we have a pier and beam house.

DH is also reading on steps for storage and use of rainwater.
Family is setting a priority to design and build a square foot garden system to be less dependent for our vegetables from the store.
We have considered installation of solar panels, but the expense so far is too great and the units would only be paid for after 25 years of use, so not a realistic option at this point for us.

Budget 101

Taking steps to get your budget and financial plans in correct order are a big deal and trying to get this established between a couple can be very trying. Maybe one of you is a spendthrift, you could each have different ideas about what your financial priorities are....so much to talk about...

We also agreed to Bruce Ammons http://www.conqueringdebt.com/

'Demonstration of Fearless Faith'

We, the undersigned, make a solemn vow to obey God from this day forward in
the area or tithing.

We understand that tithing
Commanded by God. (Leviticus 27:30)
Commended by Jesus.
(Matthew 23:23)
An opportunity to prove we really love God. (John
10% of our gross income. (Malachi 3:10)
"First fruit giving."
(Proverbs 3:9)
A demonstration that God has first place in our lives. (Deuteronomy
To be given to our place of worship with no strings attached.
(Malachi 3:8-10)
An expression of our gratitude to God.
An acknowledgement
that everything we have was given to us by God. (Deuteronomy
The biblical prescription for turning our hearts
wholeheartedly to the Lord. (Matthew 6:21)
A habit. We will tithe like
clockwork whether we are present or absent.

The intent of this vow
is not to limit our giving. It simply forms the foundation
for our
giving. We will remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading in the
area of giving offerings above and beyond the tithe.

We choose to
make this vow obediently and expectantly!

By becoming faithful
tithers,w e are trusting by faith that God will provide
for the needs of our family and help
us in our war on debt.

Signature______________and _________________Date__________

Seems simple to read, but to commit and do as a couple takes alot of prayer, commitment and discipline.

Then DH and I established a list of goals that we have continued to review and pray specifically for... Without going into too much detail, we have been blessed abundantly since we have being praying and seeking the Lord's guidance and correction in our finances.

Our attitudes have changed significantly about how we view our blessings and what our financial goals are...This did not happen overnight and I am sure that we still have alot of areas to grow and change.

Speaking about tithe. Since I have been a stay at home mom, I took over the responsibilities of overseeing our bill paying and budget. I must admit, that I always had the goal of giving 10% of our net (that is what David and I had committed to previously) but if I believed that our expenses for the month were too much, then I would wait to pay the tithe and see what was left at the end of the month, sometimes, there wasn't anything (especially during the summer) and I was okay with that.

Since our commitment on November 12, 2007 we have been committed as a couple to give our tithe (10% of gross) first and foremost as a 'first fruit' offering to our local church. We have been able to do this unceasingly since our commitment and have also been able to contribute more in offerings to other charitable organizations and missions that we have ever done previously. Has it been easy, no, it forces you to review and rearrange your financial decisions. We have learned to live on less and amazingly we are also realizing our long term financial goals better than we did when we had a six figure income between the two of us working full-time.

When we are not agreeing on a major purchase or expense, it has also been helpful, to pull out our commitments and review them, it reminds both of us what our long term goals are. Amazingly it has gotten these purchases in order. Sometimes we have put them off, other times we have decided that we need to complete the purchase but then look for ways that we can accomplish the purchase without using credit.

Would everyone agree with our decisions, probably not, but that is what we as a couple have decided to do. Am I working with a dishwasher and washing machine that needs to be replaced because they are beyond repair, yes. We are working diligently to find the funds and are praying that they will be provided within the next couple of months, or an amazing sale/clearance comes to our attention. Have we had unexpected expenses that have set us scrambling, yes. Have we had to tap into our savings when we would have preferred to leave it alone, yes. To be quite honest for us to have a savings account to consider in all of decisions, is amazing in the least for us...

So in reference to "Staying At Home and Loving It", it takes an adjustment more than I would have expected...but the blessings are abundant.

Budget...Why Do We Think That Is A Four Letter Word?!?

My husband was able to attend a christian financial planning seminar, I had hoped to go, but we ended up having a small son sick with allergies and fever... I was so looking forward to the session.

"Conquering Debt God's Way" by Bruce Hammons

His web site is pretty good, but I got to tell you that his booklet is powerful.

My DH and I both committed to his 'Declaration of War On Debt'

We, the undersigned, choose this day to declare war on debt by making a
solemn vow to God, regarding our future financial direction.

We do not take this lightly. We understand that, "It is better
that you should not vow than that you should vow an not pay." (Ecclesiastes 5:5)
Yet, we choose to make the following vow in order to formally and publicly
declare war on debt. From this day forward, we resolve to:

  • No longer accept just getting by from paycheck to paycheck
  • Make rapid debt elimination our primary financial objective.
  • Commit ourselves without reservation to CONQUERING DEBT GOD'S WAY.
    We will apply every step of action that pertains to our circumstances with
    complete follow through.
  • Attack debt with a passion.

We believe that God may choose to miraculously cancel our
debts. However, we also realize that it took time to get into debt and it
will most likely take time to get out of debt. Whether by miracle or by
"dogged determination," we will be debt free!

Signature _________________and ______________Date_________

We completed this commitment on November 12, 2007

Staying at Home and Loving It!!!

I'll be the first to admit, this is not always true...

I miss:
abdundant income
interaction with professional peers
professional challenges

I am learning to:
live within a budget
deny instant gratification of my wants and desires
cook more from scratch
look for bargains
pray more
be happier with simpler pleasures
realize that God is my holy spirit (counselor and corrector) and not other's opinions of what I should or shouldn't do
say "no" more...

I wouldn't trade:
my extra time with my family everyday
seeing my son and husband off to school
being there when they come home from school and work
having the house smell of fresh cooked bread/home cooked meal, etc
having a new little one in our family
learning to look for the little blessings received everyday
being less stressed
the abundant way that God has provided for our financial needs and the suprises that he has provided in increasing our income
feeling like I do have my priorities straight

What are my priorities:
relationship with God
relationship with my husband
relationship with my children
relationship with my family
relationship with my friends
learning to let go and trust

I guess that sums up that I tend to be a control freak...so I am learning to let go and trust God

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