This blog is basically just a collection of my "random thoughts". I must warn you, though. I have been told that "I write like I talk", so if you don't understand what you are reading... chances are, if you met me... I wouldn't make much sense to you! Feel free to comment if you care to. Or not. I'm good either way!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vacation Destination #1 - Revealed!!!

Many thanks to those of you that are playing along with my little guessing game!! Congratulations to "Thisisme" over at Southhamsdarling for finally guessing our destination!

We will be flying to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!!

Photo Source

Photo source
This is where David was born and raised. He left in 1981 to go to college in Florida and never moved back!

Check back tomorrow for NEW hints as to what we will be doing on our first day in Philadelphia!


Vacation Destination(s) - Hint #2

Well, I had a few "guesser's" at my little game! Claudia from The Story was heading in the right direction, at least!

When we get on that plane in Atlanta, we will be flying to the NORTH EAST.

Clue #1 was:  We are flying out of the Atlanta, GA airport. Our flight time is about 2 Hours. The city where we are going to, is a pretty big city. It is the city where David grew up. You were to guess which city we are flying to.


Here is your Clue #2: The city that we are flying to, is the largest city in it's state and the fifth-most-populous city in the United States. It is NOT the capitol of it's state. This city was the social and geographical center of the original 13 American colonies. It was a centerpiece of early American history.

Here's a "skyline" photo of this city, as a BONUS clue!


Photo is from bigskyline.com (sorry that it is so small)


What city is it??

If no one guesses today... then, I will post some VERY easy clues (with pictures!) and see if you can guess our first destination!

Have fun!!






Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vacation Destination(s) - Hint #1

Hello!

I've been waiting patiently DYING to start giving you HINTS about our family vacation!! I won't be giving hints every day, as I had trouble coming up with the ones that I did come up with! We are about a month away from our departure and I am SO EXCITED!!!

Your first clue is this:


We are flying out of the Atlanta, GA airport. Our flight time is about 2 Hours. The city where we are going to, is a pretty big city. It is the city where David grew up.

What city is it???

If no one guesses the correct answer by tomorrow... then, I will give another clue!

Monday, June 27, 2011

What I learned

Last night, I attended a class called COUPONING 101 at my church. The lady that taught the class teaches this same class at the college that my girls attend. She also teaches two other coupon classes. The class that she taught to us, was her "basic" class for beginners. The other ones dive a little further into the couponing world. I was just happy to get this basic class for FREE!


There is no way that I can begin to tell you EVERYTHING that I learned, but I will share with you a few tips that I DID learn.

First of all.... I live in the state of Georiga, in the USA. Couponing, individual stores and store "policies" may be different where you live.

Buy ONE Get one FREE (BOGO) sales

  • always take advantage of these sales.
  • At Publix, you do NOT have to buy both items. If you only buy one of the BOGO items, you can get it for HALF PRICE!
  • Then... you can also add coupons to this item and get it even cheaper!
  • At Publix you can "stack" coupons. This means that you can use a manufacturer's coupon along with a store coupon together! This makes your savings even BIGGER!
  • At most other stores, you have to buy BOTH items in order to get one free. (But, you are really only paying for one.) But, you can still add coupons to this sale for bigger savings!
Fact: Shopping at discount stores and dollar stores will not necessarily save you money.
Fact: Generic products are not always cheaper than name brand products.

Where to find coupons
  • Sunday newspaper
  • Blinkies -- machines that are attached to store shelves, near product
  • Peelies -- coupons that are attached to products
  • Hangtags/winetags -- hanging on the neck of wine bottles or other products
  • Tearpads -- coupons that are attached to store shelves, near product
  • Store lobbies -- look for coupon books there or at the customer service desk
  • Free Samples -- Websites: Walmart, Twisted Branches, Facebook, Vocalpoint
  • Internet printables -- http://www.coupons.com/ (This is THE best site for printables) - You can only print TWO per computer!! - You can NOT photo copy them!
  • Magazines -- "All You", "Family Circle", "Good Housekeeping"
  • Store Coupons -- Walgreens, CVS, Target, & Publix
  • Home Mailers -- Mailed directly to your house (Target)
  • Manufacturer -- Home URL
  • Store clubs & Programs: Baby Clubs
  • Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter ("Like" a certain product in order to get coupons)
The Basics
  • Coupons can be used only ONCE.
  • No 2 coupons on 1 item (the same TYPE of coupon on 1 item)
  • Read the wording on the coupon & ignore the photo (it may be different)
  • Photocopying coupons is ILLEGAL!
Storing Coupons
  • Binder with baseball card holders - file them by exp date or category
  • File box - file them by exp date or category
  • Accordian folder
  • Envelope
Know EACH store's COUPON POLICY!

Great Coupon Sites
Stockpile
  • Start slowly -- it won't be built overnight
  • Buy for the future -- (only buy up to 6 weeks worth)
  • Know how much you use
  • Donate
Stores rotate their sales every SIX WEEKS. --- This means if Chex Mix is on sale this week, you won't find it on sale for another six weeks. If this is something that you use often... buy enough for 6 weeks.

This is nowhere near everything that I learned!! There was SO MUCH information! My suggestion would be to check in your hometown and see if there are any classes being offered. The website http://www.southernsavers.com/ does have a button that you can click on that gives some helpful information as to "how" to coupon. 

Good luck and have fun! I'm off to the dentist, the gym, and to the grocery store!!

Happy couponing!!  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

eBay & Me

To help pay for our BIG VACATION... (click to see my last post).... I have decided to try my luck at selling a few things on eBay. My BFF (Best Friend Forever) uses eBay quite a bit and is helping me. She recently bought a Barbie doll at a garage sale and then looked it up online to see if it was worth anything. She found out that it was a collectible Barbie and could be worth hundreds of dollars!!! She then listed it on eBay and sold it for just over $200!!! Pretty cool!

So... I decided that I would dig through my attic and see if I could find "my" Barbies. I did and I have been researching how much they are worth. I haven't seen any prices anywhere near what my friend got for hers, but I may be able to get a little bit.

I have listed several Barbies, including a Ken doll, an Allan doll, and a couple of Skipper dolls. I have also listed some clothes that I had for them. We'll see what happens! Wish me luck!! Here are some pics of the Barbies that I listed....

1962 Ken

1964 Skipper

1964-1966 Allan (Ken's friend)

1971-1972 Malibu Francie

1972-1973 Skipper "Pose N Play"

1960's & 1970's Ken Clothes

1970's Barbie Clothes

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vacation Planning - YAY!

WOW!!! I am BEYOND EXCITED!!!!

I get to plan a HUGE family vacation!!!!!!


We haven't been on a week long FAMILY vacation in a LONG time!! And.... we have NEVER been on an airplane all together, as a family!! WAHOOOOOO!!!

I am keeping my destination(s) a secret for the time being.... just to keep you wondering!! Hahaa!! The vacation is over a month away, but as time gets closer, I want to start putting HINTS on my blog as to where we are going and what we will be doing each day. I think that might be fun!

**** IF you are a close friend of mine, and you already know where we are going on our vacation.... Please play along and "pretend" that you don't know! ~ Thanks!

I've already given you a couple of hints.

1 - We are FLYING somewhere!!
2 - We will be gone for a week!!

Right now... I have travel books from the library that the girls and I are reading. I am also beginning to make lists.... LOTS of lists!!!  LOL!

I am SOOOO EXCITED!!!  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tryin' to Catch the Coupon Bug

Have any of you seen the show Extreme-Couponing on the cable channel, TLC??



Well, this show intrigues me so very much! I have never been a big "coupon-er", but with the rising cost of just about EVERYTHING... I am seeking ways to save money.

The people that are featured on this show are like the title says... "extreme"! They have the art of "couponing" down to a science, and are apparently able to buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries and walk out of the store, only paying a few dollars!!

From what I gather... these thrifty shoppers collect coupons from any and every resource that they can. They then organize them in binders such as this ---


Most of the people that are featured on the show have storage rooms where they stock-pile their purchases for future use. Many share their items with other family members or friends. Others donate a lot of their "extra" items.


As for me.... I just want to save money!!

Yesterday, I decided that I would give this "couponing thing" a try. Just so you know... I have no skills or prior knowledge of "how" the couponing system works. I was just "winging it"! **Smile**

I went through our local newspaper and cut out all the coupons that interested me. I then went to a coupon website that a friend had told me about -- Couponmom.com. From this site, I printed out a few others that I would use.

I also went to the Publix website and looked at their current sales ad so that I could see what the Buy-one / Get-one (BOGO) items were. I also looked at the sales ads for a couple of the drug stores in my area.

From the coupons that I had, and from the BOGO items... I made my grocery list.

I went to FOUR different stores in order to purchase my items, but they were all pretty close together, so wasting gas was not really an issue.

Here's where I went and how much I saved!!

Walgreen's -- I spent $2.15 and saved $9.49
  - Here, I had a BOGO coupon and the items that I wanted to purchase were BOGO in the store!

Walmart ----- I spent $35.47 and saved $3.60
  - Here, I used 3 coupons that were $1.00 off and one for .60

CVS --------- I spent $13.27 and saved $13.36
  - Here, I used 1 coupon for $1.00 off and I saved on the other items by using my CVS Customer Card. I also got $3.00 in "extra bucks" that I can use when I go again!

Publix ------- I spent $22.07 and saved $28.14
  - Here, most of the items that I bought were BOGO items. I only bought one of each, which meant that I only paid half the price for the one item! I also used one or two small coupons, and I had a coupon for a FREE carton of Publix ice cream!!

TOTAL Spent -- $72.96
TOTAL Saved -- $54.59!!!!!

This coming Sunday, my church is sponsoring a class on "couponing". I am excited about it and hope to learn more about this money-saving hobby! I'll have to keep you updated on what I learn!

Friday, June 17, 2011

VBS and Me


I have always had a LOVE / HATE relationship with VBS.


When my girls were little, we lived in Atlanta (Gwinnett County) and attended a pretty small church. I was heavily involved in the children's program there. I co-lead our Vacation Bible School along with several other ladies for many years. Each of us had a "part" and together, we made VBS happen. On VBS week, we probably had about 150 kids each summer that I was there. It was a LOT of work, but it was so much fun and I loved every minute of it!! Of course.... I was much younger and I had young kids of my own!

When we moved to the Columbus, GA area... it was in the Spring of 1998. We were visiting a certain church in the area and I figured that one way to get "plugged in" would be to volunteer to help with their VBS. --- At my old church, we started recruiting volunteers in January for our Summer VBS! --- Well, when I went and talked to the Children's director at this new church... she said that they had not even BEGUN to plan their VBS!! I told her of my experience in "leading" it at my old church and I even VOLUNTEERED to head it up at this church! But... she wasn't intersted in my help. --- This (among a few other things) was the reason that we did not continue attending that church! Who would turn down someone VOLUNTEERING TO HELP???? I know that my current church wouldn't have!!

Anyway... we DID find a church by May of that year and I was able to help with VBS with no problem. This is the same church that we are members of now. It is our 2nd home and we love it!

Once again... for many years, I was either helping to direct VBS or I was involved with helping in some way.

As I have gotten.... ahem..... "older"... tho, and our church has grown so big!!!.... for the past few years, I have found myself reluctantly signing up to help with VBS. Our church starts asking for volunteers in January, and I have found myself waiting longer and longer to sign up to help. I just don't have the patience that I used to have and anxiety fills my body, unlike when I was... ahem.... "younger".

This year, I did NOT sign up to help. I figured that our church is now SO BIG and there are PLENTY of new, young moms out there who I knew were just DYING to help with VBS!

Well.... 2 weeks ago... I got an email from GOD..... I mean, my pastor.... (It might as well have been God, himself!)... asking me if I would PLEEEEASE help. They still needed more volunteers to lead "crews" of kids to the various "stations" -- Crafts, Movie, Games, Snacks, Bible Story. Who can say "no" to God???? I HAD to say, "yes".

The feeling of "dread" overcame my body as VBS week got closer and closer. Monday came and I dragged myself to the church, wondering how many kids I would have in my crew and what kind of "behavior" they would have! (It could go either way!) When I got there, I had 9 kids on my list!! WOW!! That was a lot! Thankfully, I had a teen-age helper!

The first day went very well. I had a couple of boys that were a little reluctant to stay... but, they did and they had a great time! By the end of the day, I was glad that "God" had asked me to help. I had the perfect little group of kids!

Tuesday came and a new little girl was now part of my group. This little girl did NOT want to be there and was NOT willing to participate in anything that we were doing! My perfect little group was no longer, and I was back to having that feeling of "dread" each day!

As the week has gone by, I have come to love each one of "my kids"..... even the little girl that does not want to be there. No, she has not cooperated very well. And no, she still does not want to be there. But, I have been praying for this little girl and she has stolen my heart in a way that I did not expect.

It brings me to tears to just think about how her reluctance to be there was a lot like MY reluctance to be there!! I did not want to be there, but now I know that I was MEANT TO BE THERE!

I pray that she will be there today so that she God can change her heart, like He changed mine!

~~ Thank you God, for not giving up on me and for sending me a message through my pastor and these beautiful children!! I LOVE YOU, LORD!!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coffee Frustrations

I only started drinking coffee within the past few years. I could never bring myself to drink it. Then... I learned that with enough flavored creamer and some sugar... well.... it tasted pretty yummy!! LOL! Now, I am hooked!!

I have toned down the amount of cream and sugar that I use now that I have acquired the taste for this wonderfully delicious drink. My way of making it is to first, pour just enough creamer (fat-free!) into my cup so that I can no longer see the bottom. Then, I pour in my coffee. Then, I use only one packet of sweet-n-low. I've tried using "real" sugar... but, I can never get it to taste "just right" without pouring dumping a bunch of sugar in! Ummmm.... now I have my yummy cup of coffee!

David has been a coffee drinker since I met him. I would assume that he started drinking it in college. But, I'm not sure.

For years and years, .... since I did not drink the stuff, myself.....I had no idea how to "work" the cheap coffee makers that we have owned. David would always have to do it.

Then, when I finally learned to like coffee, I HAD to learn because David wasn't at home during the week.

We have always had cheap coffee makers. Nothing fancy. But... recently... while strolling thru Sam's, we got sucked into buying one of the new-fangled coffee makers --- the Keurig!!


We REALLY like it!!! It is so easy to use and can make a fresh cup of coffee in seconds! I love how you just "pop" in one of the little cups into the machine, close the lid... and..... WALAH!! You have a cup of coffee! The machine that we bought came with a huge variety of different coffees to try. It has been fun trying different ones!

Now, comes the frustrating part.

We are all out of the little "cups" of coffee and now have to buy more. Unfortunately... these cute little cups are not very cheap! When we bought the coffee maker, we calculated the cost of each cup of coffee and compared to our old, cheap coffee maker.... and the results were about the same -- 50 cents a cup. The hard part is forking over the $30+ to buy the big box of little cups at Sam's or $10 for a small box at Walmart (or somewhere else). The big box is the better deal.

Right now, we are in a budget crunch at our house and really can't afford the $30.

Fortunately, this new-fangled coffee maker WILL make coffee by using coffee grounds, too. So... that is what I am doing this week. It's not as easy as using the little cups, tho! I got spoiled by just "popping" one of those little cups into the machine! Haha!

Anyway.... I am enjoying my cup of coffee this morning and that's all that matters! **Smile**

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A New Backyard to Enjoy!

I wanted to share with you how pretty my backyard looks now!

We have grass now!! You gotta' love sod! It's any easy fix!


Here's the retaining wall that David worked SO hard to replace! He had built the wall with landscaping timbers about 12 years ago when we had our pool put in. With the timbers now "rotting", they needed to be replaced. Doesn't it look great now?!! 

We planted Lantana here, along with another rose bush to match my other one. 


After 12 years, we finally have a beautiful patio set! I realize now that the cushions are not on the chairs. Oops! We love it and spend a lot of time out there, now!


We bought these two chairs as well. Since this picture was taken, we now have a small table between the chairs. Our plan is to get a free-standing umbrella to go in this area, as well.

The hammock is new, too! Ashley has always wanted one. She bought this with her birthday money. Thankfully, we ALL get to enjoy it!

The flower bed is new, too. There WAS a very BIG palm tree here. Actually... there was one on each side of my pool! But, the trees were planted too close to the pool and they grew too big. The roots were cracking our cement, so they had to go. David built flower beds in their place. I planted some Marigolds and Saliva.



If you look closely... you can see my two puppy dogs. Chester is my youngest. He is only a year old. We had to make a separate yard for the dogs because Chester was eating all of my plants and digging holes everywhere! They are mostly spoiled "house dogs", but it's nice to have the fenced in space for them to run around in and Chester can chew on anything he wants and dig as many holes as he wishes!! LOL!


I am so happy to now have a yard that I can enjoy!

I am joining Debbiedoo's Outdoors-Color Newbie Party! Come visit me there!

Sunday's Lesson

On Sunday mornings, I lead the College & Career Sunday School Class at my church. Each Sunday, I have to blast my brain with ideas on what to discuss in class.

Today's topic was ---

Is it possible to have a "best" friend??

Photo source -- Lucy & Ethel were Best Friends. So were Fred & Ricky.

I usually start out the lesson with a FUN activity. Today's "fun" activity was for my class members to guess which movie or TV show the characters that I named were from. The characters that I named play FRIENDS in the movie or TV show.

For example --- I named "Harry & Sally", and they called out "When Harry Met Sally". The one that I stumped them on the most was the easiest... "Thelma & Louise"! It was fun!

Some of my questions were --

"What qualities make for a best friend?"

"What can break up a friendship?"

"What can break up a friendship?"

"How can you make a friendship last?"

Some of their answers were....

A best friend is someone that:

- you can "vent" to and they will listen to you and offer you advice.
- shares the same moral values that you do.
- you have things in common with.
- is reliable.
- is trustworthy.
- you can be yourself with.
- is honest with you.

The bests ways to keep a friendship lasting are:

- to keep in touch.
- to make an effort.

We all agreed that it IS possible to have a BEST FRIEND.

The scripture references that I used were:

The friendship of David & Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18,19 & 20.

Other scripture references I used were...

Proverbs 18:24 -- There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 17:17 -- A friend is always loyal.

Proverbs 25:19 -- Putting confidence in an unreliable person is like chewing with a toothache or walking on a broken foot.

Proverbs 27:10 -- Never abandon a friend.

John 15:13 -- The greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.

My best friend lives about 2 hrs away, in Atlanta. I don't get to see her as often as I would like to. I miss her very much! She has all the qualities (above) that make for a best friend. In fact.... if you looked up the description of a best friend in the encyclopedia... I do believe that her picture will be on the page!

Speaking of "picture"... I need a picture of my best friend and I together!  Hmmm.......

I have learned, over time, that having a best friend is very important to me. I have also learned... the hard way!... how friends can hurt one another. Usually it is unintentional, but it still hurts.

I want long for the kind of friendship that Oprah has with her best friend, Gayle King. They have been best friends for a very long time and are... to me... the best example of "Best Friends" that there is.


What about you??

Are there any other qualities that we may have missed that a best friend should have?

Do you have a best friend??

What keeps your friendship going strong??

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beach Trip - June 2011

David and I had a good time at the beach. I missed my girls, tho. They had school and couldn't make it to be with us.

We stayed at St. Andrew's State Park, which is in Panama City, Florida. We have a "pop-up" camper. We were down there with several of our camping friends, who we also go to church with.

This was our first time camping at St. Andrew's. We weren't sure if we would like it or not, but as the days went by.... we decided that we really did like it and would love to go back and take our girls with us!

Here are some photo's from our trip and a description of each one ---


When we arrived, this was our view of the lagoon from our campsite. Not long after, tho... campers moved in and our view was no longer there.


These pictures were taken early in the morning. My camera lense kept fogging up!



This oil tanker was out over the water's horizon for our whole trip. It never moved until the last day.


David took this picture of me and my friends, reading our "trash magazines", as we call them!


These two pictures are of the jetty that separated the beach from the lagoon & bay. The water was calm on the other side and a great place to snorkel! I didn't do that this trip. Maybe next time.



Tuesday morning, we had some visitors at our campsite!


Tuesday evening, we drove down to Pier Park. This is me (in pink) and some friends waiting in line to ride the ferris wheel.


David and our friend, Richard, opted out and waited instead. We couldn't help but laugh at them as they sat together on that bench. Richard is holding his wife's purse and David is wearing a silly hat that he bought that makes him look like he has "spikey hair"!  LOL!


Cindy & I rode the ferris wheel together. It's been a LONG time since I have ridden one of these! I had forgotten how much fun they are!! Except for when your friend tries to look DOWN and the seat starts swinging back and forth!!! Yikes!!! LOL!


I rode The Scrambler with my friend, Kim. It is my very favorite carnival ride!!


This boat was a fun touring boat. It passed by several times a day, taking passengers on a tour of the coast.


On Wednesday, it stopped... along with some other boats... to let the passengers swim with the dolphins and feed them. This was right at the end of the jetty. 


Our friends girls, enjoyed digging a gigantic hole! (This was just the beginning of it!)


Later, the kids made a soccer field in the sand and played soccer!


I couldn't help but take a picture of this little girl that was on the beach with her Mama!! She reminded me SO much of Miranda when we took her to the beach at that age!! Miranda's hair was much more blonde, tho! -- What a cutie!!


Our group.... hanging out under the shade tents!


David enjoys a "trash magazine", too!


It was fascinating to watch this HUGE frieghter emerge from the bay side of the jetty as it was going out to sea!! This picture does not do it's size any justice! It really was HUGE!!


Everyone stops what they are doing to watch the frieghter.




Photos of the lagoon from the campground.




The campground section that we stayed in. David & I enjoyed riding our bikes all around!


Our campsite was very shady, but we did not have a good view of the lagoon.


These pictures were taken from the fishing dock that is inside the State Park, and just down the street from the campground part. This big guy was waiting around for the grab the fish from the fishermen on the dock!


To the left, you can see the campground through the trees.


To the right, you can see the opening that goes to the ocean.


We enjoyed watching the boats cruise by.


It was extremely HOT and HUMID, but we did have a few storms that cooled things down for the evenings. 

The first night that we were there.... we had a HUGE and HORRIBLE storm to come through!! The lightening and wind was very bad! The power even got knocked out for a few hours!! David and I were up, watching and praying that our awning and camper would not blow away!! 

I am anxious to take my girls to this campground and beach. I think I will have more fun!


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