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9 May 2011   ·   10
Money Saving Mom

Reader Testimonial: “I was chosen as one of the HopScout editors!”

I was so thrilled to read this email from Jill this morning:

I just wanted to write a quick email to say a HUGE THANK YOU to you for posting about Hopscout’s Stay-At-Home-Millionaire campaign. I found out about it because you posted about it on April 11th. I submitted a video, got into the top 20, and then actually was chosen as one of the new SAHM editors!!!

I’m still on cloud nine from the news that was announced yesterday! This is a huge blessing in my life and couldn’t have come at a better time. Your site was a major step in the process for me and I wanted you to know the role you played.

Thanks again for your informative, helpful site. It literally changed my life! 🙂 -Jill

Congratulations, Jill! I’m incredibly excited for you!

7 May 2011   ·   22
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday

I stopped by Dillon’s on Thursday and got the following:

1 Silk Pure Almond (half gallon) – $1.99
Used $1.25/1 Silk coupon
$0.74 after coupon

1 Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal – $1.98
Used $0.70/1 Raisin Bran coupon available when you register (“doubled” to $1 off)
$0.98 after coupon

5 American Beauty Pasta – $0.49
Used 1 $0.55/1 American Beauty Quick Cook Pasta coupon (“doubled” to $1 off) plus 2 $1/2 coupons
Free after coupons + overage

2 Ronzoni Pasta — $0.99
Used 1 $1/2 coupon (there are also coupons in the 4/10 SmartSource insert)
$0.49 each after coupon

1 Dannon yogurt — $1.50

2 bunches of marked down organic bananas — $0.29 per pound

1 quart of half & half — marked down to $0.99

2 Uncle Ben’s Rice $1.25 each
Used 1 free coupon, used 1 $0.75/1 coupon that came with the free coupon (“doubled” to $1 off)
Free and $0.25 after coupon

My total after coupons was: $9.27

I also made a stop at Dillon’s earlier in the week. See the full details on that shopping trip here. Plus, Jesse stopped at Aldi to pick up fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk and butter.

Would you like to know what the best deals and coupon match-ups are for your local stores? Be sure to check out the Store Deals section of our site where we post the best deals and coupon match-ups each week for over 100 different stores across the country. You can sign up to receive the top deals in your email inbox each week as soon as they are posted!

Find

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

6 May 2011   ·   131
Money Saving Mom

Monthly Financial Check-up

We’re excited because, after we paid our taxes a few weeks ago, we had some extra money in our tax savings account to throw towards our savings goals. This allowed us to be able to fully fund the amount of educational savings we’ve decided to set aside for Kathrynne. Since she’s our oldest, we’re setting aside the most for her as she won’t have as much time for the interest to compound on the money.

So now we just need to save for Kaitlynn and Silas and then we can move onto our final two financial goals for this year. I have no idea if we’ll actually be able to hit both of them, but we’re at least going to try!

We also have been doing a lot of talking about our upcoming goal of saving to invest in real estate. We were initially planning to invest in commercial real estate, but the more we’ve studied, read and talked, the more we’re leaning towards residential real estate. We’re hopeful we might be able to pay cash for our first piece of real estate by the middle of 2012. We’ll see!

Our Family’s Financial Goals for the Summer of 2010 through December 2011

1. Significantly increase our giving to needs in our community and around the world. This is an ongoing goal, so we’re keeping it uncrossed off from the list.

2. Pay cash for a replacement washer and dryer for our very used set.

3. Pay cash for a replacement for Old Blue Van.

4. Pay cash for a couch for our basement family room.

5. Pay cash for bunk beds for the girls.

6. Fully fund our IRAs (for 2010).

7. Bump up our retirement savings to 10% of our income.

8. Fund our children’s educational savings — Kathrynne’s is finished

9. Double our Emergency Fund Savings (Instead of having around six month’s worth of expenses set aside, we’re planning to set aside a year’s worth of expenses.)

10. Save 40% towards our real estate investing goal.

We’d love to hear about your recent financial goals and successes! You can post about it on your blog and leave your link in the comments. Or, just share about your progress/goals in the comments. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of our resources!

6 May 2011   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash:: Belated Honeymoon Cruise

We paid cash!

A testimony from Emily

Background

My husband and I were married on April 12, 2008 and moved to a new city 200 miles away the very next day! Our “honeymoon” was spent unpacking, getting to know the city and working. Not at all romantic, I must say!

My parents surprised us with an all-major-expenses-paid family (their children and spouses) cruise in January, 2010. We were stoked! It was my husband’s first cruise, and he came away hooked!

Our Goal

My husband turned 30 this year, so for his big day I wanted to do something special. Since he was now hooked on cruising, I (with his help, of course) decided to book one for just the two of us as a birthday celebration/belated honeymoon. We paid cash for the deposit in March and then devised a plan to pay the rest of the cruise with cash, by that October.

How We Did It

My husband picked up as many “over time” shifts humanly possible! He sometimes worked seven days straight, for several weeks at a time. I agreed to babysit for a few friends to make as much extra spending money possible.

We cut back on things we really didn’t have to have: monthly hair appointments at $40+ a pop (appointments every two months work just fine), NFL package with Direct. etc. We transferred money from each paycheck into our “cruise fund” and did not transfer back a dime no matter what! (This was really hard — especially when other “things” pop up!) We also continually talked to reassure each other that we were on the same page, and to remind each other that paying with a “card” wasn’t an option!

The Result

After working extremely hard and saving every dime possible, we paid cash for the $1200 (plus tax/fees) cruise fair, $600 (plus tax) air fare and $500 for onboard expenditures! We had the time of our lives that trip and it was made even sweeter by only having memories and not debt to come home too!

Emily and Ben live in the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee. She is a pre-K teacher and he is a Police Officer. They have two dogs and hope to soon become parents! They are striving to be completely debt-free (minus house) by the end of 2011!

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

6 May 2011   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

3 Inexpensive Ways to Make Exercise Fun For Your Children

Guest post by Kristin at Children’s Church Ministry

I’m always looking for fun and inexpensive ways to encourage my children to be active. Here are a few of my favorites:

Roll the Dice

I made “Fitness Dice” set by taping cardboard with clear packing take on large blocks we had on hand. One block contains the numbers 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14. The other has exercises listed on each side: crunches, push-ups, arm rolls, jumping jacks, squats and toe touches. We take turns rolling the dice and doing the number of repetitions of whatever exercise we roll.

Play With a Parachute

Remember those fun parachute games we used to play in elementary school and at summer camp? I ordered a six-foot parachute from S & S Worldwide for our family, but an old flat or fitted bed sheet would work for most of the 39 different parachute games detailed here.

Pick a Card

We have a really fun set of Superman Fit Deck cards with activities listed on each card. Each child can pick a card and then we do the activity/exercise. You you could easily make your own deck of fitness cards. Just use 3×5 index cards and write out lots of exercises and fun little activities that can actively be done in an enclosed space (leg lifts, lunges, bunny hop, back extensions, “swimming,” etc.).

I don’t want my kids to struggle with laziness or obesity and the character and health problems that are accompanied by those, so I am trying to overcome my own bad habits and instill in them a love for great health and fitness. The biggest points I try to emphasize for myself are to set a good example, do healthy activities with them (not just watch from the sidelines), and have fun!

What are your favorite ways to make exercise fun for your children?

Kristin McPherson and her husband Chris head up the children’s ministries at Union Baptist Church in Florien, LA. They have six kidlets of their own, ranging from six months to eight years old. Kristin runs the website Children’s Church Ministry.

photo credit

5 May 2011   ·   179
Money Saving Mom

Why You Don’t Need to Pay for Cable

Guest post by Jenae at I Can Teach My Child

How much do you spend on cable each month? Stop reading this post, go get your last bill and say it out loud. Now, multiply that number by 12. Wowza…that’s a lot of money in a year’s time, huh?

Let’s just say that it’s an even $50 each month (which is probably a very conservative number), if so, this means you are spending $600 each year on cable. That’s money you could have saved to pay off your house, to pay for your kid’s college or to spend on a brand-new dining room table!

There are so many alternatives to paying lots of money for cable each month. Here are three we’ve found to be helpful for our family.

High-Definition Antenna

What if I told you that you could still watch most of your favorite shows for free? ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS and even a few other random channels can all be received for free in most areas* with a high-definition antenna. After a little upfront cost, you can watch these channels for the rest of your life. All you need is a converter box (if your TV does not already have an HDTV tuner — every new TV has one) and a high-definition antenna (which can go in your attic, wall or outside).

High-definition antennas range from $40-$150. You can purchase them at your local home-improvement store (Lowe’s or Home Depot). You can also go here for more information and to purchase one as well. And if you’re really handy (or you know someone who is), you can supposedly even make your own HDTV antenna for less than $10! It might be worth a shot!

If you own a TV that was manufactured after July 1, 2007, it should already have an HDTV tuner. You only need a converter box if your analog TV is older than that. Converter Boxes start at $40 and go up from there. Go here and here for a few converter box options.

*I realize that good reception depends in large part due to where you live. If this isn’t an option for you, you could still opt for the cheapest plan from your cable or satellite provider and implement the other two suggestions.

Netflix & Redbox

Many of you know that you can receive unlimited DVDs in the mail for about $10 a month from Netflix. But did you also know that they have thousands of movies on instant play as well? We’ve watched entire series of very popular shows instantly. You can stream it to a Blu-Ray player, XBox or Wii, or you can just watch it on your computer. Netflix is also a great resource for children’s television shows. The best part is that there are no commercials.

Redbox (a $1-per-night video rental kiosk that can be found outside many McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Walmarts locations) offers at least one free rental each month (usually the first Monday of every month) when you create an account on their website.

Borrow

Libraries are not only a great resource for books, most libraries also have movies as well! And the best part is that it’s free! You can browse most titles on your library’s website. Another option is to borrow movies from friends.

We’ve gone without cable for our entire married life (almost seven years). At first, we simply couldn’t afford cable and opted for bunny ears. Now that our income has increased and we could afford if we really wanted to, we still choose not to. We enjoy enough television and movie time without spending all that money every month!

Jenae is a wife, mother of two boys’ ages 3 and 15 months, and former first-grade teacher. She loves spending time with her family and sharing fun and educational activities for young children on her website, I Can Teach My Child.

Do you have an idea for a guest post? I am always looking for high-quality, original (i.e. not published anywhere else online) content with tips and ideas Money Saving Mom® readers can use. If you would like to submit a guest post, please follow the Guest Posting Guidelines.

4 May 2011   ·   122
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Necessary Traits of Successful Bloggers

photo credit

I did a series on Blogging for Profit a few years ago, but as things have changed a lot since then (and I’ve also learned new tricks and tips!), I wanted to re-post the series with updated information. This series will run each Wednesday for the next two months. Enjoy!

One of the questions most often emailed in to me is, “How do you make money blogging?”

The short answer is: it’s easier and harder than you may think. It’s easy because it requires very little cash outlay upfront, you don’t need a degree or certification, the field is wide open and the profit margins are high. On the other hand, setting up a successful blog that makes a part-time or full-time income will only be the result of massive amounts of effort, determination, consistency and perseverance.

If you want to be a successful blogger, here are five qualities you must posses:

1. Successful Bloggers are Marathoners, Not Sprinters

Anyone can be a successful blogger, but unless you’re already a celebrity, there’s no such thing as overnight blogging success. It takes hard work, sweat and more hard work. It may be a few months before you ever see a penny from your hours of labor invested into your blog.

2. Successful Bloggers Have Incredible Passion

If you don’t think you could write three posts per week for the next two years on your chosen blog topic, you need to choose a different topic or a different work-at-home idea.

3. Successful Bloggers are Self-Starters

It’s great to learn from others, but if you want to be spoon-fed, you won’t succeed. Roll up your sleeves, start digging and researching: read books on blogging, read articles on blogging, read blogs on blogging, watch bloggers who are successfully blogging and do your own experimentation.

4. Successful Bloggers Are Creative

In a market that is already saturated, fresh and unique voices and approaches are those that will stand head and shoulders above the rest. How are you going to be different from all the other bloggers in your niche?

5. Successful Bloggers Are Consistent

Readers come back when they can count on you having regularly-updated content. It’s much better to post three times per week every week, than to post thirty times one week every few months.

Next week, I’ll share how to set up a blog and produce content that readers are going to want to flock to. In the mean time, do you have any specific burning questions you’d like for me to cover in this series? Drop me an email or leave them as a comment. I can’t promise to know the answer or have space to cover it, but I’ll definitely try to address as many of your questions as possible.

3 May 2011   ·   78
Money Saving Mom

Moving Beyond the Vegetable Garden: Foundation Gardening

Guest post by Nicole Cross at Plain Graces

It’s that time of year again, and many of us are planning our gardens or landscaping. We coordinate our flowers to bloom at certain times of the year and we fuss over how their hues will bring out the house’s trim. I know several people who spend hours fussing about at the nursery center or researching what plants to buy.

I am all for a beautifully landscaped yard or lush flower beds, but I think that people often neglect using edible plants in their landscaping. A friend introduced me to the idea of a “foundation garden”. Her family frequently extends their garden into different parts of the yard, along the foundation, and hides them among flower beds.

The plants masquerade as ornamentals, but are valuable food sources. Vegetables often sport a cheaper price tag than annuals or perennials. Why throw away all your money? You should be able to get more than beautiful scenery for your sweat.

I was inspired by their foundation garden two years ago. So last spring I followed her lead. I chose plants of varying heights and thought about their blossoms, fruits, and durability. Let’s face it, I didn’t want a sprawling and smelly tomato plant in my front yard cuddling up to my roses.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I added fertilizer, ground bone meal and compost to the dirt near the foundation of the house. Sometimes, the soil near your foundation isn’t fertile enough to support proper growth.
  2. I decided to use hot peppers for height and color. The little peppers popped with greens, reds, and yellows. Very beautiful and interesting.
  3. I filled spaces with leaf lettuces and colored Swiss chard.
  4. I used crawling acorn squashes in spots that I wanted to keep down weeds, but didn’t want to spray with weed killers.
  5. I seeded asparagus among my phlox and crocuses. That way I could utilize the space for something beside flowers. The asparagus ferns also added texture and interest later in the summer and fall.
  6. In shady corners of the house, where nothing grows, I attempted to use cauliflower and broccoli. They were protected from the heat and frost. I picked my last cauliflower in October!
  7. I implemented herbs. I planted chamomile, inserted lavender and added basil among my roses. Thyme and rosemary also graced my planters near my front steps.

I found that these simple additions to my flower beds and foundation plantings really added up. I harvested about 15 squashes, made batch after batch of spicy salsa, and dried countless herbs. They helped me feed my family of five without us resorting to tilling up more of our yard or spending a lot of money on flowers.

Plain Graces is a place where the graces of everyday, plain items become deliciously blessed. She is a mother of three boys and runs a daycare in her Nebraska home. She has a background in education and includes posts on story telling, baking, crafting and the occasional Monkee snippet.

Do you have an idea for a guest post? I am always looking for high-quality, original (i.e. not published anywhere else online) content with tips and ideas Money Saving Mom® readers can use. If you would like to submit a guest post, please follow the Guest Posting Guidelines.

3 May 2011   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Dillon’s Shopping Trip

The girls and I went out today for a special outing while our mother’s helper was here to watch Silas. On our way there, we ran by Dillon’s to pick up the $0.50 Goldfish crackers since today was the last day of the sale. Here’s what we ended up getting:

4 packages of Goldfish crackers — on sale for $1 per bag, used 2 $0.75/2 coupons “doubled” to $1/2 = $0.50 each after coupon

1 Luna bar — $1, used $0.50/1 coupon (doubled) = free after coupon

1 Glade Spring Collections Air Freshener — used free coupon

1 International Delight Creamer — used free coupon

1 bag of peanuts — clearanced to $0.89

My total, after coupons, was $3.16.

3 May 2011   ·   82
Money Saving Mom

Ask Jesse: What should my financial priorities be in this economy?

In this economy, which would be better? Pay off debt (loans, credit cards, etc.) or save 3-6 months worth of living expenses? -Megan

This is a great question, and it evokes my favorite response: it depends :).

Generally, I would recommend that you first build up a little savings for an emergency fund just in case emergencies happen when you are paying down consumer debt. Then, in most normal circumstances, I would say it is best to pay off your revolving debt and other liabilities before making substantial contributions to your savings, emergency fund or otherwise. This is because you will have so much more momentum built up after paying off your debts and more money to work with than you would if you were trying to save and make minimum payments at the same time to keep from falling behind and going into default.

After you’ve paid off your consumer debt, put the money that was going out in the form of minimum or extra monthly payments towards beefing up your savings. Use the same focused intensity you did to pay off your debt to also build up your savings.

Now for the “depends” part: if there is a major event looming in the not too distant future, I would not work on reducing my balances until I had enough to cover that event or good insurance (coupled with a bigger savings acount) that would cover it. If there was a good possibility you are going to be losing your job or if you are going to be having a baby in the next six months, if you know you might not get severance pay or you don’t have maternity coverage, than it would be best to save up for possible unemployment or to pay for your baby’s delivery. You’ll want to consider possible upcoming “major events” on a case-by-case basis and then decide what you feel most comfortable with in your own unique situation.

Notice that I never said anything about the economy? The reason is that it is only your home economy that matters when making this decision. Each home economy is going to be different and one person’s priorities or circumstances may not be the same as another’s. Some people are going gang busters in “this” economy and others are really struggling.

Evaluate your own situation, get sound advice and move forward with a plan. It is when people don’t have a sound plan and stick to it that they get burned.

I would love to hear what you would do. Would you go ahead and beef up the emergency fund or get down and pay off debt?

Jesse Paine is a licensed attorney who owns his own law firm. He’s married to Crystal and is the numbers nerd of the MoneySavingMom.com team! If you have a question you’d like him to answer in a future column, you can submit it here.

The content of this column intended for informational use only and is not to be construed as providing legal, investing, accounting or other professional advice. Your situation is factually specific and you should accordingly seek qualified professional counsel concerning your specific legal, investing or accounting needs.

3 May 2011   ·   40
Money Saving Mom

Free Customizable Stock-up Price List

So many of you wrote in to request I offer a downloadable Stock-Up Price List after I shared my stock-up prices.

Well, Joy from FiveJs.com did one better than that! She put together a fabulous detailed list that includes all my stock-up prices broken down by their unit cost, plus a customizable Stock-Up Price list you can download and use to create your own Stock-Up Price List. There’s a pre-filled one or a blank one — depending upon which works best for you.

How to use the Stock-up Price List

  1. Download the Stock-up Price List here (4 pages, 1.1MB pdf)
  2. Open the file in a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader, which you can download for free.
  3. Use your TAB key to tab through the customizable fields of each form. Two of the forms have numerous fields in which you can enter your own information.
  4. Click on the section(s) you’d like to fill in.
  5. Type in your text.
  6. Print out the document when you’re done typing in your text.
  7. Save your document if you’d like to save your changes. You’ll be able to open the document again to add different text at any time.

Be sure to check out all our free customizable Household Management downloads.

2 May 2011   ·   91
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu

(My usual menu-planning set up: coffee, recipe clippings, grocery list, home management binder and laptop.)

It’s been five weeks since I’ve planned a real menu. While I finished the book manuscript, we just subsisted on super simple meals and mostly ate from our pantry and freezer. I didn’t even bake at all for four weeks — except for a few batches of waffles — and I’ve sorely missed tinkering around in the kitchen.

So I’m thrilled to be back to menu-planning and cooking and baking again. Here’s what’s on tap for this week:

Breakfasts
Waffles with Strawberries
Egg-in-a-Hole
Energizing Smoothie (new recipe — I’ll post it if it turns out well.)
Steel Cut Oats with raw sugar and milk
French Toast
Scrambled Eggs and Fruit
Mango Lassi

Lunches
Leftovers x 3
Peanut Butter & Jelly, Carrot sticks
Tuna Salad, broccoli
Mac & Cheese, peas
Cheese Quesadillas, Apples

Snacks
Brownies
Popcorn
Fruit/Veggies
Fruit smoothies

Dinners
Southwest Roll-ups, corn, fruit salad
Barbecue Meatballs, mashed potatoes, frozen veggies, fruit salad
Strawberry Spinach Salad, Cinnamon Sugar Muffins (recipe coming soon!)
Steak on the grill, Sliced Baked Potatoes (recipe coming soon!), frozen veggies
Church Mother’s Day Banquet (We’re doing a build-your-own salad buffet, so I’m bringing four different salad toppings for this. The boys are fending for themselves and getting takeout.)
Fettuccine Alfredo, Marinated Chicken, steam broccoli, fruit salad
Bread Machine Pizza (new recipe — I’ll share it if it turns out well.), tossed salad

Have you made any fabulous new recipes recently that you think I’d like to try?

2 May 2011   ·   107
Money Saving Mom

Paying Down Our Principal

Guest post by Brandy at Team Chandler

Thanks to Crystal’s post about paying 100% down on their home I was encouraged to participate in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. The idea of owning my own home in my 30’s seemed like a foreign idea — something that just couldn’t be done.

At the same time, I began reading couponing blogs at night while I stayed up with our newborn to learn about how to save money. And, it all made sense to me! I was literally wasting money on things that had a temporary value rather than investing long term in my home and in the lives of my children. Quickly that “value meal” or that nice outfit didn’t hold as much value as assigning those dollars to the principal on my home.

You see my goal is to pay off my home so that I can work less and spend more time with my children. The idea of being able to focus solely on the role of a true “stay-at-home” mom is exciting, but to do this we have to set our mind right and be good stewards of the money the Lord has given us.

Around June of 2010, we started to make some drastic changes. We had already started Financial Peace University, and it was time for change! We began implementing some strategies:

1. Search for a better deal on home mortgages.

At the time we had a 30 year mortgage at 5.875%. I had been casually watching the rates, but as they dipped, I started calling around. I was able to get a 15-year mortgage at 3.875%. This change alone saved us $30-40,000 in interest from decreasing the years.

2. Make changes in our spending habits.

We really wanted to scale back our spending and throw any extra money at the end of the month at our mortgage. Once our cable/landline contract was up, we cut that expense completely. This saved us about $100/month at the time not including the increase we were fixing to have once the promotion ended.

3. Increase our coupon strategies.

I was already seeing good savings from my couponing and tried to be disciplined in this area. My savings at first were $500-1,000 a month. Once I had my stockpile in place, I was able to drastically reduce our grocery bill.

4. Keep records of our budget.

I used a spreadsheet to track every penny that comes in and out of our house. At the end of the month, I literally total them up and we make an extra “principal” payment toward our house.

5. Change from credit cards to cash.

I had been sold on the idea of using my card to earn points to pay down my mortgage. After listening to FPU, I realized that I was probably spending more as I was earning those points than if I would just set aside $20-25 a month to send in as an extra payment to principal.

It has been about six months since we started to actively make additional payments towards principal. And, I am amazed at the results! In the 8 years of our 30-year loan, we had only paid off 14% of the principal. Only 14%!

In the last 6 months, we have been blessed to pay off 6% of the original mortgage amount. It may not sound like a lot, but compared to only paying off 14% in 8 years, I am ecstatic!

Brandy is a working mom of two. She enjoys spending time with her family, couponing, running, writing, and homeschooling. She also enjoys documenting their life’s adventures at Team Chandler.

Do you have an idea for a guest post? I am always looking for high-quality, original (i.e. not published anywhere else online) content with tips and ideas Money Saving Mom® readers can use. If you would like to submit a guest post, please follow the Guest Posting Guidelines.

30 Apr 2011   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

It’s finished (well, sort of!) + some favorite posts

Did you hear that huge sigh of relief coming from Kansas today?

I finished my manuscript and it’s now ready to head to the editor at my publishing house. There’s still plenty more work to be done before the book is actually published, but this was a huge step in the whole book-writing process. And I’m so excited about the book and can’t wait to tell you more about it soon!

For now, I’m just thankful to have it done and submitted and am looking forward to getting back to a more normal schedule after a few weeks of having to focus all of my extra time and energy on completing the manuscript.

Thank you so much for your patience while I stepped back from my usual blogging in April. I’ve missed interacting and writing here and can’t wait to get back to our scheduled series and topics. Plus, I’ve got some fun new ideas brewing for series and features that I hope to be unveiling soon!

In the mean time, here are a few posts I read recently that I really enjoyed or was challenged by. Some of these are off-topic, but I’m sharing them because I thought they might bless or encourage some of you. Enjoy — and have a restful Sunday!

Somebody Else’s Passion Can’t Fuel Your Dream — “One of the greatest ways you’re guaranteed to fail eventually is to chase someone else’s dream instead of your own.”

Own It — “Often I’m so busy worrying about what people think of a particular choice that I don’t really put everything I have into what I chose. I spend too much time apologizing rather than just saying ‘This is me.  This is my calling.’ I don’t own it.”

You Choose When You Refuse — “If you have debt and you refuse to change your lifestyle to get out of it, you are in essence choosing debt.”

How Hurting Women Can Help Each Other Heal — “…No one tells you that the shields you carry to keep you safe, become the the steel cages that keep you alone.”

photo credit