Hi! I hope this letter finds you all doing well. I love spring! It is one of my favorite seasons. I love the sounds, the smells, and the sights. I could drink spring. ~Smile~
There's another thing I love about spring. I feel like deep cleaning! I
don't know why, but it just comes over me this time of the year. I think
I am getting ready for the heat of summer. I feel like taking something
apart and giving it a good cleaning. So I took our bed apart, among other
things, and vacuumed everywhere in our room. The couches were next. I
took those apart and vacuumed everything. Then I covered them with spring
covers. Now I keep looking at the walls and feeling the compulsion to
paint something. I go through this every year. I just love it.
We just learned that my son, Quincy, has been accepted to a Bible school
in Jerusalem for the fall semester. Needless to say, he is thrilled. Art
and I? Well, I think you can imagine how we feel. Israel is definitely a
place of unrest, yet it is the country most of us would love to visit. I
know if the LORD wants Quincy there, He will take him and be His strength
and shield. We wouldn't want to stand in his way, so we are joining in
his joy. But will we be praying? You bet! Now Quincy will be working all
summer as an intern for the junior highers at our church, teaching his
piano students, and working side jobs to pay for his flight, books, and
tuition for next fall.
My son, Brady, just got his first full time job with full health and
dental benefits and vacation pay. We are so happy for him. He is only
seventeen, but he has been working three jobs for quite awhile now. This
new job will enable him to continue on in Bible school as well. God is so
I've been enjoying my time in the Word so much. I thank the LORD every
day for bringing me to His Feet each early morning. So many times I get
up thinking that life is just too overwhelming (especially with all the
bad news in our world lately), and how will I ever do what I need to for
this day. Then I sit alone with the LORD; pour out my heart to Him;
listen to His Intimate Words to me; and then I am up and moving for
another day. It's just amazing. I always pray for Him to let me walk in
joy with Him through the day at His pace. I just love His pace and His
joy. It is indeed my strength!
"Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your Truth
and teach me, for you are my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long."
"His God instructs him and teaches him the right way." Isaiah 28:26
Well, that is all the news from my area of the world. Here's what's been
happening in my home recently:
1~ My son, Gabe, made the most delicious pie the other day. We found
fresh strawberries for $1.49 for a three pack. My husband loves
strawberry pie, so I taught Gabe this one. My husband raved and raved
about it. Now he wants to bring home more strawberries for Gabe to make
another pie. Gabe is eleven years old. I've been teaching him to cook
since he was very young.
Fresh Strawberry Pie
One cooked pie shell.
Spread the bottom of the cooked pie shell with softened cream cheese.
Fill the cooked shell with two pints of whole, uncut strawberries
arranged prettily. Then make this topping:
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
Bring to a boil. Add 1 c. mashed strawberries. Boil one minute. Cool a
bit and pour over pie. Put in fridge for at least three hours.
2~ I've mentioned before that we have holes in our linoleum in the
kitchen. They look "old world" to me, but they are multiplying to my
husband's chagrin. So I found a beautiful, large carpet on sale for $5 at
my local grocery store. (Can you believe it!) I brought it home, put it
in the living room, and moved the living room carpet to the kitchen to
cover up some of the holes. My husband really liked it.
3~ As I've written before, I am making a book of recipes for my son,
Quincy. Well, I have gone into my second book now. I am writing lots of
details about herbs, vitamins, nutrition, housekeeping, and homeschooling
in this book, among more recipes. I'm really enjoying this! I reach for
those books many times in one day. Now everything is at my fingertips
when I need a recipe. I just can't tell you how much time this saves.
Much like the Control Journal as taught by the Flylady at
I reach for my Control Journal many times. I have so many things in it,
such as all our important numbers and accounts, social security numbers,
shopping lists from each store with prices, menu plans, addresses and
phone numbers, e-mail addresses, zones and the work in each one (as
taught by Flylady), my household budgets (monthly and yearly), all my
mother-in-law's recipes, fire list in case of emergency (the things I
need to grab and where they are located), some Flylady directives that
motivate me, a vacation packing list, and some financial/frugal
information that also motivates me. I find a Control Journal invaluable
for managing my household.
4~ Speaking of the Flylady, it's been one full school year now (we're on
summer vacation by the end of this month), so I can give a full report on
what it was like to be on her system during the school year. It was the
best! Each month my housework got more and more stream lined as I learned
to simplify things and do a little bit each day. Yesterday I gave the
living room/parlor a good going over. It looks wonderful. My kitchen is
getting easier to clean, too. I feel so encouraged. Basically, I follow
her plan every day. I've already written a letter about this which is on
our website, so I won't go into it here.
5~ Abbie was sick with a sore throat and such. I gave her Vitamin C,
echinacea tincture, usnea tincture, colostrom, supertonic, and olive leaf
in capsules. She took everything twice or three times a day. She's doing
well now. Supertonic is the first thing my kids reach for when they are
sick. I make it a couple times a year. Here is the recipe:
Supertonic (from Dr. Schulze)
1 part fresh chopped white onions
1 part fresh chopped garlic cloves
1 part fresh grated ginger root
1 part fresh grated horseradish
1 part fresh chopped cayenne pepper (I use dry powder, the hottest available)
1 part dried echinacea
Put all in a glass jar and fill with Bragg's apple cider vinegar to
cover. Close and shake vigorously. Let sit 14 days or longer. Strain and
keep in a glass jar. Take four or five dropperfuls in a glass of water or
juice several times a day when first ill.
6~ Abbie got a sty in her eye. It was getting red and a bit swollen. I
gave her a little eyebright tincture mixed with water in an eye cup. She
washed her eye several times a day with this. She also took olive leaf
(great for infections and such) by capsule two or three times a day. I
gave her eight capsules a day. Her eye is looking good now. A trip to the
doctor (with insurance) is about $40-$45 a visit now for my our family,
so the more I can doctor my family at home, the better. I am constantly
reading and taking notes to help them any way I can.
7~ I love learning how to make vegetables last longer to stretch my food
budget even more. So I buy bananas when they're 25 cents a pound and
freeze them for smoothies and baking. I turn my cottage cheese, yogurt,
and sour cream upside down in the fridge as it will last a lot longer
this way. I wrap my celery in tin foil for it will stay nice and crisp a
long time this way. I put my mushrooms in a paper bag, which also keeps
them fresh a lot longer. I keep my fresh parsley and cilantro in a glass
of water in the fridge. And if I make a salad, I put it in a glass bowl
with a tight plastic wrap on it (no dressing). The salad will keep for
days this way. Just a few keeping secrets!
8~ I found a large pork loin at Costco marked down to 1.99 a pound. I
made three recipes out of that $11 pork loin. It was so great to have a
really tender piece of meat to work with, too. First, I made a pork loin
roast. My husband made the gravy. The next day I cut half of the pork
roast into cubes and put it in the rest of the gravy, and we had this hot
over homemade bread. Lastly, I made my mother-in-law's recipe of Pork
with Cactus or Green Beans (recipe is on our website at
www.lainesletters.com). Here is the recipe I used for the pork loin:
Roast Pork Loin
Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil all over a pork tenderloin,
then sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper, and rosemary and thyme (I
used fresh) on top.
Roast at 500 degrees for 20-30 minutes for a small one, and 40-45 minutes
for a large one.
9~ I store my grated mozzarella cheese in the freezer. I buy it in a big
bag from Costco. This way I have it pizza ready, and I don't have it go
bad on me. I also keep bread on hand in the freezer. It comes in handy
when I need it. So I make four loaves at a time, and pop two into the
freezer. I can do the same thing with pizza dough.
10~ On the inside of my cupboards I keep three menus for inspiration. I
have one from a tea place, an Italian restaurant, and a Chinese
restaurant. I read them when I am trying to think of something I'd like
to make for dinner. Also the prices help me to stay home. ~Smile~
11~ I taught Abbie the art of an omelet this week. She made a delicious
one. Here is the way to she did it:
Chop some onions, bell pepper, and slice some mushrooms.
Saute all this in a couple tablespoons of butter or olive oil for about
three or four minutes in a nonstick skillet.
Mix up about three or four eggs in a bowl with a teaspoon of water, and
add to above. Cook until just a bit dry.
Put some shredded cheese over and flip one side over. Cook just a bit,
then flip to the other side. Season with salt and pepper, and slide onto
a plate. Delicious!
12~ Butter has gone up in price in our area. It almost doubled overnight.
So what I've been doing is to use half butter and half olive oil in many
of my recipes. It helps to stretch the butter, but you still get the
butter flavor. The olive oil is so good for you, too.
Another delicious alternative to butter is to put some olive oil (good
quality) on a plate, season it with pepper or parmesan cheese and serve
it with fresh bread out of the oven. I had it in a restaurant, and it is
so delicious that I tried it at home.
13~ Gas has really gone up! We're paying over $2.00 a gallon in my area.
Yesterday at the pump we paid $2.39 a gallon (diesel for my husband's
work truck). I stay home as much as possible and make every trip into
town count. For me, town is twenty minutes away, so that is a lot of gas
for a 40 minute round trip plus all the running around. When I do go into
town, I have my list in hand so that I won't forget anything. I pray all
the time for the LORD to help me stretch Art's income. It's more of a
challenge, but the LORD shows me the way. Which is what I try to share
with you all here.
14~ Presently I am working on saving 3-6 months of my husband's monthly
salary in case of emergency. I have 3 months so far. As I mentioned
before in previous letters, Art does not have vacation or sick pay, so we
must plan in advance for this. I just finished a book called, Priceless
by Dave Ramsey from our church library on finances that interested me a
lot. His website is www.daveramsey.com. Dave says that personal finance
is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. Here are his seven baby steps to
Step 1: sock away $1000 in an emergency fund. ($500 if your income's
under $20,000 per year).
Step 2: Pay off all debt. (He gives guidance to doing that in the book.)
Step 3: Beef up emergency fund with three to six months' expenses in
Step 4: Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRA's and pre-tax
Step 5: Save for your children's college fund.
Step 6: Pay off your home early - yes, he's serious -he says.
Step 7: Build wise investments, such as mutual funds and real estate.
We have done many of the steps, and I can attest to the wisdom of his
I love how he gets a "free" car. Check out the book, it's on page 31. It
might be on his website as well.
15~ We've already hit 100 degrees in my town for a couple of days during
this month. That's very hot for us this time of the year. Abbie made a
homemade air conditioner that really worked. We shut all the windows,
draped dark fabric outside the windows to cut out the sun, and then set
up the fan with a stainless steel bowl of ice in front of it. We faced it
towards us on the couch while we read. It was wonderful!
A friend was telling me that her brother used to put up cold, wet sheets
over the windows, so I'm going to try this the next time it's really hot.
She said it cooled the room down considerably.
When we lived in our apartment on the third floor in Kansas during the
summer, we never turned on our air conditioner. We just couldn't afford
it. So we kept the tub filled with water, then we'd dip into it in our
bathing suits, and keep our wet suits on under our clothes. It was so
refreshing. I also used the crock pot a lot, rather than heating up the
apartment with the oven. I still do that.
16~ I've made some flavored coffees recently. They are so good. My
daughter thought I bought them. I made a cinnamon coffee. I just added a
couple tablespoons of cinnamon to a pound of coffee stirring well. I also
made a chocolate coffee today where I took some sweetened cocoa and added
it to a pound of coffee along with a bit of chocolate flavoring. It was
17~ My friend gave me a bunch of decorating magazines. I've been having a
good time ripping out the pages I like for inspiration. I keep a folder
for decorating with all my inspiration in it. There's nothing like a
photo to help you get an idea for a room. I love color in a room. I
especially love lavender and light green. I am thinking of doing
something in those colors soon. I got the inspiration from one of my
18~ Not all walls need painting, but they do need sprucing up. So in my
bathroom, I just put a little Comet on a rag and wiped down the walls in
the areas that were scuffed. It worked great, and I can put off painting
another year. I only do it on light colored walls that won't be affected
by the bleaching of the Comet, rather it will be cleaned. Now my bedroom,
living room, and bathroom have been deep cleaned for spring.
19~ I haven't had to buy cotton balls for a long time, because I save the
cotton from my vitamin jars and keep adding it to my cotton bag in the
bathroom. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned! My grandmother would
be proud. ~Smile~
20~ We vacuumed all the dust off the coils of the fridge and gave it a
good going over. This will help keep our electricity bill down this
summer as the dusty coils cause it to run more often. It also extends the
life of the fridge, so we try to do it once a year.
21~ I have been keeping a price book of my regularly bought items. It's
so helpful in tracking good deals and knowing when things are going up. I
just realized last night that three items which I regularly buy at Costco
now cost ten dollars more! Coupled with a forty dollar increase in gas
for my husband's vehicle for work, that brings us to a $50 increase just
in four necessities. Unbelievable. The three items are butter, milk, and
mozzarella cheese. I really can't find the prices better anywhere other
than Costco for these three items (unless I have a great coupon), so this
is a big price increase for my food budget. But it helps me to know where
our money is going. So the price book has been a big help.
Today I saved $21.80 in coupons, and my bill came to $24.12 for 2 boxes
of cat food, a pound of shrimp, a large cantaloupe, 16 yogurts,1 BBQ
sauce, 1 hot sauce, 1 smoothie yogurt drink, 1 large toothpaste, 2
shampoos, 1 hairspray, 1 teriyaki sauce, 1 cream cheese, 6 mangos, 1
pound of butter, 1 unbleached flour, 1 large corn oil, 5 pounds sugar,
and 3 pounds bananas. That comes to about .60 per item. It takes me
awhile to save money at the stores, and it takes organizing and list
writing at home prior to going out, but I save money each week. This adds
up to big savings each year.
I've also learned to build up a pantry, as I've written about in previous
letters. (You can check it out at our website at www.lainesletters.com) I
believe you can also read about the pantry principle in the Tightwad
Gazette books. Each week I build up our pantry with the specials that are
available to me.
I heard Dr. Chuck Missler on the radio last week. He said that he felt
all that Y2K learning by Christians was not for naught. Rather we would
be realizing in the coming years just how much we needed that learning,
because God always prepares His people for what is coming. I can see that
just with stretching my food budget. I am so thankful for the many ways
I've learned in this area. Check out our website for many recipes that
might be of help to you.
22~ I accidentally threw away my brand new $20 phone card and kept the
old one. Can you believe it? Fortunately, I realized my mistake before
the trash man came. I keep thanking the LORD over and over for letting me
realize that card was missing. He is so good!
23~ I've learned to pay our bills on the same day. Thursday is my day for
this as this is the day my husband gets paid. I also keep a note in my
wallet of what I need to remember to pay for that month. These are the
unusual things that come up that I don't want to forget. This month I
have to buy certain outfits for my children as they are all in my
nephew's wedding in June. I find that now that I am in my forties, I have
to write everything down or I might forget it. I have a daily planner to
help as well, or I'll forget to make the phone calls that I need to make
and things like that. It's amazing what happens to you when you get into
your forties! ~Smile~
24~ Speaking of being in your forties, I am still experiencing menopause
problems. Two herbs that really help me are Dong Quai and Chasteberry. I
especially like Dong Quai for the emotional difficulties. But I have
heard others like Chasteberry for this. It's just so good of the LORD to
put these herbs here for our help during this difficult time.
25~ I haven't had a car for five weeks, as one of our cars has been out
of commission and needed a total engine overhaul. My sons have learned a
lot during this engine rebuilding, so it was worth it all. (It's amazing
how much you have to learn when you don't have much money and have to do
things yourself.) But it sure is nice to have my car back. I figure each
time I don't have a car, I'm learning how to use my time more wisely when
I am down the hill and how to stretch gas more wisely. So there is a
reason for everything. For I am praying for the LORD to teach me
everything that I need to know for what might be coming up, so that I
might be of help rather than a hindrance. I do know that my husband is
right. Organization saves us time and money. I really pray that this
summer I will learn more while I have time off from schooling my kids.
26~ I love to curl my hair, but I have to be careful not to damage it. So
a trick that I have is to make three long braids, then braid those three
braids when my hair is wet. I wear this style until it dries, then I can
unbraid it and have curly hair without damaging my hair with hot rollers.
Another trick I have is to rub the ends of my hair with a mixture of
olive oil and rosemary oil after I get out of the bath. It smells great
and helps my dry ends so much.
27~ My son hurt his back working out. I gave him MSM and grapeseed
extract for pain and inflammation. I also rubbed his back with the deep
tissue oil I made some time ago. You only need a little to bring comfort
and relief. We reach for deep tissue oil for this kind of pain. Here is
Deep Tissue Oil (recipe from Dr. Schulze)
32 oz. wintergreen oil
16 oz. extra virgin olive oil
12 oz. menthol crystals (get at the pharmacy)
1 c. dried arnica flowers
1 c. dried St. John's Wort
1 c. marigold flowers
1/2 c. cayenne powder (hottest, 180,000 H.U.)
1/2 c. grated ginger root
Put all together in a glass jar covered for 2-3 months in a warm place.
This makes a lot, so unless you are going to share it with someone, I
would cut the recipe in half. It will last you for a long time.
28~ When I have trouble with my stomach digesting what I've eaten, I
reach for chewable enzymes. They help so much. I also love Swedish
Bitters for help with digestion as well. Swedish bitters are also so good
for your liver. I found them both at my local health food store.
29~ I save all my coins in a pretty covered jar in my room. It's amazing
how much you can save. This is the money I use for garage sales, thrift
shops, and antique stores. I have $17 saved so far. My kids and my
husband also have their own separate jars for coin saving as well. It's
just a really good practice in learning to save a little which can add up
to a lot. Sometimes I use this money for my egg gal when I am in a pinch.
30~ Recently I discovered a store in my town that sells all its clothes
for $5. Name brands such as Gap, Old Navy, Mervyns brands, etc. I found a
wonderful pair of black pants for my son, Gabe, for the wedding for only
$5. It pays to talk to your frugal friends to keep learning about such
places in your area. I found out about this place from my aunt.
31~ We increased the amount being taken out of our income each month for
retirement as Dave Ramsey describes in his book. We're going to make one
more increase by this summer. It's easier to do it little by little, but
so important as the Word of God says. For the wise man saves for his
32~ Sometimes I just want to cook something new. That's when I pull down
my cookbooks and boxes of recipes to pull out new recipes and tips to
try. It's so much fun. We did that yesterday. I hope to do a lot more of
that this summer when I have more time.
Well, I better get back to work. It's been so nice chatting with you all.
I hope you're enjoying your spring as much as I am. The weather is back
to being beautiful, not too hot yet, and I am just soaking it up. After
the house is done, it's time to get my hands in the dirt outside.
God bless you and keep you!
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