Thursday, January 28, 2010

Head Over to Melissa's and Win!

Giveaway: $50 Gift Card to P.F. Chang’s

by Melissa on January 28, 2010
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Looking for a romantic dinner for 2 around Valentine’s Day? My recommendation is to head to P.F. Chang’s for great food, wonderful service, and a perfect atmosphere. I’ve been enjoying P.F.Chang’s for over a decade, and can definitely say that it is one of my all time favorite restaurants, which is why I’m very excited to have a giveaway for a lucky reader!
If you haven’t checked it out lately, make sure you take a look at the P.F. Chang’s For Two menu, which includes a four-course meal for only $39.95. You’ll get a cup of soup, a starter to share, 2 entrees, and 2 mini desserts
. Another plus to P.F. Chang’s is their menu options for customers: Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Kids Options, or Allergen Sensitive. They are very accommodating to customers, and will help make your meal perfect for your needs.
Val Button copy Thank you to P.F. Chang’s, one lucky reader will receive a $50 P.F. Chang’s Be Our Guest Card (to be used in one transaction).
FIRST: Leave me a comment letting me know your favorite (or soon to be favorite) item from P.F. Chang’s.
EXTRA ENTRIES (You can do one or ALL of the following):
  • Subscribe to Saving Cents with Sense in a Reader or Email to stay up-to-date on all the deals, store savings, and money saving tips
    . Once you confirm your subscription, come back here and leave me a comment. If you are already a subscriber, just leave me a comment!
  • Promote this giveaway. You can tweet it, blog about it, share it in your favorite forum, or just email some friends. Just come back here and leave me another comment letting me know what you did.
Please make sure you leave a comment for each entry! This giveaway ends Sunday, February 7,  2009 at 11:59 PM MST. The winner will be chosen using U.S. Residents only.


Father ~ Daughter Retreat with Vision Forum

Interested in attending?  Please follow the link above to Vision Forum.

Please join us March 26 - March 28, at beautiful Callaway Gardens for our 2010 Father and Daughter retreat. Callaway© is an award-winning, 14,000-acre gardens, resort and preserve nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, in Pine Mountain, Georgia.
Attendees will be able to enjoy The Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center  , Birds of Prey shows  , Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center  , John A. Sibley Horticultural Center  , Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden  , Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl  , Overlook Garden   and miles of nature trails showcase the beauty of nature.
When you attend the retreat, you will enjoy accommodations in the Mountain Creek Inn with access to all the delights of Callaway Gardens. The convention center, where all events will be held, is conveniently located steps away from guest rooms, and the lovely patio area features a water garden, tables and chairs, and a coffee shop.
Some of the amenities included with your room are two double beds, a private dressing room, telephone, newspaper delivery, in-room coffee, and free admission to all the attractions. During breaks between retreat events, you can enjoy the beautiful walking trails, visit the Butterfly Center and other garden spots, and take time to visit with other attendees.
Registration includes all things necessary for a lovely picnic on the Grand Lawn followed by a delicious ice cream social, two scrumptious breakfast buffets and a noon time High Tea with out equal.

Killing the Fizz

Well, it finally happened.  I'm giving up soda.  I was well on my way to phasing out drinking sodas altogether when Pepsi reintroduced their Pepsi Throwback and I found myself buying at least one 12 pack per week.  I was buying it because I loathe, hate, and vehemently protest high fructose corn syrup and support/ purchase products made with real sugar.  Now, I know that a Pepsi Throwback does not count as "real" food and that it is still full of empty calories that make me fat, fat, fat, but I've been addicted to the demon, calcium sucking carbonated beverages for years.  So, what was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back?  The economy.  We can no longer afford to buy foods without nutritional value (not that our bodies could afford it in the first place).  Without sodas in the house, I will be drinking more water and iced tea, which gives me more control of my sugar intake.  I'm hoping that what's good for our pocket books will also be good for our belts. :)

Check out these facts from The Green Earth Institute:

1. Soft drink consumption rates among children have doubled in the last decade.
2. Soft drinks are currently the leading source of added sugars in the daily diet of young Americans. The
average teenager gets 15 to 20 teaspoons a day of added sugar from soft drinks alone.
3. Adolescents (aged 12-17) get 11 percent of their calories from soft drinks.
4. Carbonated sodas provide sugar, corn syrup, caffeine, and water and have been shown to cause
a decrease in vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium consumption in children. Juice and milk
provide important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, D, B-12, calcium, magnesium,
protein, and folate.
5. Frequently drinking or eating carbonated beverages, sweetened fruit drinks, fruit punches, and
high carbohydrate, starchy foods predisposes children and adolescents to tooth decay. 7
6. Scientists have suggested that caffeine – which is added to enhance the flavor of soft drinks -
induces nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, and headaches, factors that can adversely
influence a child’s readiness to learn.

More Sodas Mean Less Calcium
1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that American teens drink twice as much
carbonated soda as milk
2. Girls who drank more sodas got less calcium in their diets – a situation that could lead to
osteoporosis later in life.
3. A Harvard School of Public Health study of ninth and tenth grade girls found that those who
drank colas were three times more likely to develop bone fractures, and five times more likely
if they were regularly physically active.
4. The percentage of U.S. youth who met dietary recommendations for calcium intake has gone
from 88 percent in 1988 to 52 percent in 1994 for boys and 79 percent to 19 percent for girls.
5. School-aged children in the highest soft-drink consumption category consumed less milk and
fruit juice compared with those who do not consume soft drinks.

More Sodas Lead to Childhood Obesity
1. Research has shown that for every additional serving per day of soft drink consumed, the risk of becoming obese increases by 50 percent.
2. Obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the last two decades. One in seven young people are obese and one in three are overweight. Obese children are twice aslikely as non-obese children to become obese adults.
3. The prevalence of obesity among children in the United States increased by 100% between 1980 and 1994. Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has been identified as a factor that
could contribute to obesity.
4. Between 1989 and 1996, children’s calorie intake increased by approximately 80 to 230 extra calories per day depending on the child’s age and activity level.18 The increases in calorie intake are driven by increased intakes of foods and beverages high in added sugars.
5. Obesity contributes to increases in diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol during childhood. Overweight and obesity can also result in negative social consequences, e.g., discrimination, depression, and lower self-esteem.
6. School-aged children who did not consume soft drinks took in an average of 1,830 calories per
day, while those who consumed an ave rage of 9 ounces or more of soda per day took in an
average of 2,018 calories a day – almost 200 more calories.
7. From 1979 to 1999, annual hospital costs for treating obesity-related diseases in children rose
threefold (from $35 million to $127 million).
8. A study by Boston researchers suggested that public health efforts aimed at limiting
consumption of soft drinks in children may help prevent and treat obesity.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Dirty Little Secret

Has anyone noticed their clothes not looking as clean as they used to???  I have bought white towels for years because it was always easy to keep them looking new and clean, but lately I've noticed they look dirty even after laundering them.  I've noticed the same problem with some of my husband's golf shirts.  What confused me was that some of my older items still looked clean and fresh while my newer ones looked like I hadn't washed them.  I talked with my mom about it and she claims it's because the products are not made in the USA and are made with a much cheaper and less desirable grade of cotton.  Has anyone else had this problem?  My mom has always reminded me that you "get what you pay for," but even some higher priced, supposed high quality items have fallen into this dirty category.  Any thoughts????

My First Giveaway!!!!!

Here it is; my first giveaway!  For a description of the book, please follow the link above.  Future giveaways may require a little work on your part, but my first one is easy.  Simply comment below and tell me what your favorite season of the year; that's it. :)  Deadline is February 13th @ 6:00 pm est.  The winner will be chosen by using  Please feel free to invite others to join and be sure to look for next month's giveaway!

Try it Tuesday ~ Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

This recipe is adapted from a Southern Living magazine (@1986?).  My family went crazy over it!

3 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tblspn plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 Cup milk - at least 2% if not whole
3 large eggs
 Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting
1- 6 oz package of semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 Cup butter, softened - the real thing, please
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 1/3 Cup creamy peanut butter

Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl & mix well.  Add butter, peanut butter, and milk.  Beat.  Add eggs & beat.
Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9 inch cake pans.  Bake at 350' for 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, and cool completely before frosting.

~I hope you haven't done like me and not realized your oven isn't quite large enough to properly accommodate three 9 inch pans and wind up with one layer not quite done in the middle! :)

Melt chocolate morsels in microwave or double boiler.  Combine with butter, powdered sugar, and peanut butter.  Beat until smooth.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sabbath Mindset Throughout the Week

I love having a Sabbath mindset that prepares for worship on Saturday evening.  This morning I started thinking about the rest of the week ahead and how much smoother things would run if I kept that mindset of evening to morning being the day rather than morning to evening.  When our daughter was small, we ran our household with that in mind, but as she grew older and life became easier, we backslid.  Now, I frequently find myself disorganized or harried because I have been caught off guard by something that would have been foreseen if only I had looked at my calendar in the evening before or made sure everything was in order for the next day.
So much of my little stresses are due to poor planning on my part.  So tonight (after dinner because if I wait too late, I'll have no brain left), I will look at the day and week ahead.  What appointments do I and other members of my family have?  What will our meals be and who will be there for each one?  What clothes will we need to wear tomorrow.....oh this one is critical....there is nothing like your husband being late for work and suddenly realizing that an article of clothing he needs is still in the laundry basket! 
I know this all seems so simple and it's something so many already do, almost instinctively, but I find myself needing to be reminded of this periodically.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ginger - Culinary Uses, Preserving, Storing Nutrition

Ginger - Culinary Uses, Preserving, Storing Nutrition

My daughter used a stir fry recipe tonight that called for fresh ginger; not knowing how to store it, I had to google it. In case you've been wondering as well, here's a link for you. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Natural Living an Idol????

Please follow the rest of this wonderful post:

I recently encountered two stories that have challenged me in the motivation and out workings of my pursuit of natural living. The first account began with a friend desiring to throw a baby shower for an expectant mother in her church. This friend was expecting her first little one. The hostess simply wanted to bless and encourage this new mother in her pursuit. When she asked for gift ideas, the new mother stated that she only wanted organic baby clothing, wooden natural toys, organic cloth diapers, and the like. Half of the guests could not afford these products. One lady missed the memo and came with a few plastic toys....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Romantic Bedrooms

I believe master bedrooms should be romantic but not necessarily frilly. This bedroom, which can be found at, is warm, inviting, and sophisticated. It has all the elements I would want: a fireplace, books, windows, a place to sit & read, luxurious linens, and rich colors. I would definitely remove the TV and replace it with art; in my mind the bedroom is no place for a TV or a computer. There should not be anything which is not restful and inviting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Cup of Tea

Miss Jen at Blessed Femina reminded us that January is National Tea Month. What better way to calm and warm us. Thank you, Jen!

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea
Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.
There is magic in its fragrance,
There is solace in its taste;
And the laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.
The world becomes a lovely thing!
There’s beauty as you’ll see;
All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

Meaninglessness of Words Today

Today, there are more ways than ever to communicate with each other, and yet we seem to understand one another less with each new form of communication. It's no wonder; people do not say what they mean and they do not mean what they say. Words themselves have become almost meaningless as we skew them into forms and tenors for which they were never intended. It's no wonder that trust is such a rare commodity; we cannot even communicate with each other on a trustworthy level.

  • In particular, the over use expletives (and one wonders when they are ever appropriate) has saturated our conversations and, upon careful examination, usually in ways which do not fit. For example, while a girl I know was watching a video clip of an amazing basketball shot, she exclaimed, "Dang!" Of course, I promptly questioned her as to why she should want to damn a young man or his athletic ability like that, because that is exactly what was uttered. As I'm sure you know, this was not her intent; nevertheless, that is what was spoken. Minced oaths are common today, and most haven't a clue as to the roots, origins, or true meaning of the words they utter.
  • How many times have we heard the word "awesome" in reference to something that in no way evokes a sense of awe? Remember in the 70's how "bad" was really "good?" Adjectives such as "cool" and "hot" in reference to a person's attractiveness are unfortunately still floating around in conversations as well as many more explicit forms of inappropriately describing a person's desirability.
  • Then there's texting and instant messaging and many of have typed out "lol" when we didn't actually laugh out loud? I don't even want to imagine what the spelling of the next generation will look like!
  • How about the overuse and the overabundance of definitions of love? Or, the term "best friend" in reference to more than one person. I hate to inform my readers, but by definition there can only be one "best" friend. One may have many better friends, but only one best friend. When someone is awarded a "Best in Show" ribbon, I can assure you this is in reference to one and not multiple winners.
  • Then there are the words which have been made up, such as gfunk, props, frack, ragemeister, and the like which fill slang dictionaries and widen the gap between generations and classes.
My goal for the day: to choose my words carefully

Monday, January 18, 2010

1940's Makeup Tutorial Video :)

Feminine Stance

Please visit our daughter's new blog, linked above. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mental Stuggles

There comes a time in nearly everyone's life when they must wrestle with their emotions. Sometimes those internal struggles spill over into the external world and morph into squabbles with others. In some cases, it can seem as though you're having an out of body type experience and as you watch your interactions with others play out before you, you are left to wonder, "Who IS that person who's being so cranky?" In all honesty (which may be a bit too much honesty for some readers), I am having a lovely hormonal imbalance for the first time since my hysterectomy this past fall. This has been growing steadily for the past month, and now it is to the point that I MUST do something about it. I am desperately hoping for an appointment with my doctor tomorrow (my family is also eager for me to see the doctor lol), but in the meantime, how am I handling this difficult time?
  • Prayer, prayer, and more prayer
  • Talking back to my inner self and reminding myself that this is just hormones and things aren't really as bad as they seem
  • A certain amount of isolation---sometimes it's better to just be alone & quiet
  • Peaceful atmosphere....clean room, books, hot tea, beautiful music....things that relax
  • Recalling to mind Scriptures memorized
All these things help my moods tremendously and bring calm back into my life. Of course, the headaches, the tiredness, and mental fog (which can become dangerous) scream that I need a hormone adjustment as well; and those things on top of the mood swings are quiet bothersome....

Hopefully, soon the crazy lady will leave me, and I will be able to return to my self again. :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Speak No Evil

Lately, I have been very disheartened concerning the misuse of language and how it reflects upon the individual and society as a whole. I believe it points to an escalating level of disrespect or disregard for our fellow man and/or God. It is not my intention to go into detail about expletives, minced oaths or vulgarity because I am certain that your own imagination or past experiences can fill in the blanks more than is sufficient, nor is it my intention to lay ultimate blame on any one facet of society as there are many culprits involved. My concern is what should our reaction to this misuse be as Christians and how much of our own language needs correction or polishing. I believe that we are long overdue in taking a stand to not participate in any unwholesome conversation (Ephesians 4:29) and, in the very least, confronting those who take the name of our precious Lord in vain by politely asking that they refrain from doing so as it offends (or should offend) us. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Economy is so bad that.....

1. I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

2. I ordered a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asked, "Can you afford fries with that?"

3. CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

4. If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

5. Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

6. McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

7. Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

8. A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico .

9. Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

10. Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.

11. The Mafia is laying off judges.

12. Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

13. Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh, Great!! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!


14. I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Lifeline. I got a call center in Pakistan , and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Budgeter Beware!

Yesterday, after reading a magazine article about using gift cards and reloadable visas as budgeting tool, I was excited to try this new technique and vow to never use the embarrassing envelope system again. My plan was to purchase of grocery store gift card (which can be reloaded) for our monthly budget allowance, and then purchase reloadable visas for such things as dining out, clothing, gas, etc. (one for each category). I went online this afternoon and purchased a gift card for Publix, and then started to look for the visas. Unfortunately, I was unprepared for the small print on reloadable visas and debit cards! Please read the fine print in terms and agreements and thoroughly research the possible fees! I've attached a helpful article on the matter. If anyone knows of any "good" options for these cards, please let me know. It was a wonderful idea, but too good to be true.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Word is My Bond

The following is a facebook note written & posted by our daughter:

I've been learning a lot in recent days as you may have noticed from a recent status that I posted on how much our actions can reflect not only on others, but on God. I used a selection of a quote that I read from Thomas Manton, quoted here in full: "Men are apt to think of God by his worshippers, and by the people that profess themselves near and dear to Him; therefore it concerns us to walk so that our lives may honour Him." This passage really hit home for me as I know recently my actions and even my thoughts little reflect what I'd want others to view as a representation of Christ. This also brought to mind the question of what values we as followers of Christ /should/ be focusing on. Love and outreach to the community are fantastic examples for others, but what about how we treat our fellows believers and close friends? What qualities are we presenting to them in our day to day lives? Two qualities that have really come to my attention lately are those of communication and dependability. After all, much of faith in God grows just through communication with Him directly to provide reassurance, comfort, and even lay our problems on Him. Why do we do this? Because we can depend on God.

There was a time when a handshake or a man's word would be enough to secure a deal, but in today's world, one must have a signed and notarized legal document in which one or both parties can sue if the other does not fulfill their end of the deal. People have become so forgetful of their commitments in day to day life that these contracts could come in handy when scheduling appointments and a person's word is meaningless. The frightening thing is when Christians are the ones who are failing the most and regret to see the importance of these things. To quote Manton again, "We seem to exalt God much in our talk and profession; yea, but we throw Him down, when we pollute Him and deny Him in our conduct." I know even I am prone to do so, but many are afraid to commit to minute things today by utilizing the phrases "maybe", "we'll see", or "if nothing else comes up,". How does this come across to someone who is observing you from a distance as you leave a safeguard, afraid of the initial commitment in case something better or "more important" comes up. Not to mention, whatever person, albeit a friend, relative, significant other, or acquaintance, how do you think that person you're brushing off feels when you're reluctant to give your word? These little lapses in faithfulness may seem small or insignificant at first glance but points to what we may become in the future. One little lapse, once dismissed, leaves so much room for it to become a pattern as "it was just one mistake" and then leads to a reputation as such. Do we, as Christians, really want to be known for not being dependable when we're supposed to follow the Ultimate One to depend on? If we can't honor God in the little things, how can we honor Him on the larger scale?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Twist on Chore Charts

Chore charts have always seemed to have the potential for becoming messy and haven't seemed to work well for us in the past. Today, I started working on chore baskets. You need two baskets; one for chores to be done and another for chores already finished. Since I love retro ads, I decided to make each chore card using retro ads found on the Internet. Not every chore will have a good ad, so some improvisation will be necessary. It's a work in progress, but here are my cards so far. Enjoy!

The Friendly Village

Yesterday morning had somewhat of a rough start for me. As I was making omelets, I dropped and broke one of my bowls from my favorite dish pattern and spilled raw eggs all over my freshly mopped floor and on the dog that hates baths the most. (That was just the beginning of a series of mishaps yesterday, but the day ended well.) I love those dishes because they remind me of my grandmothers blue Currier & Ives dishes. I loved eating off those plates as a child because my mind wandered to imaginings of the places pictured. It always seemed so warm & cozy. I use these dishes from Epiphany until the first day of Spring, as they always warm my heart when I see them. I suppose I'll be visiting or soon to replace my beloved bowl. Have a wonderful day!

The Task at Hand

This morning as I was reading through my blog newsfeed, I was completely blown away by the creativity of this blog: I wanted to immediately jump right back into creative projects. Then I remembered that my house is currently bursting at the seams. In 2002, we voluntarily and happily downsized into a house 1/2 the size of what we were living in. It took a lot of purging to fit into our little bungalow, but it felt wonderful and cozy. Eight years later, we find ourselves overrun by a clutter of books (which we dearly love but for which we have no space), papers that need a home, and clothes worn or outgrown. My task at hand for the present remains to be that of eliminating whatever is not beautiful, useful, or practical. I am sure much would be gained if I applied the same principles of elimination to things which fill up my "spare" time. We are a home that thrives on organization, order, and cleanliness, and I'm afraid that when my health was suffering that those three things were greatly lacking. Once I regain those things, I am certain that creativity and inspiration will once again flow happily and freely. Please do visit the blog linked above; it's a wonderful site!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Survey - combs & brushes

One of my new year's resolutions may seem a bit odd to most; it's to be cleaner. I'm not dirty or unsanitary, mind you; but my eyesight has recently changed so that I really need my glasses almost all the time, revealing .... well, dirt in my home. Therefore, I will wear my glasses while I clean from now on. The subject of cleanliness in the home has my tiny mind a buzz with projects and goals and questions. One question I have for you is:
  • How often do you personally clean your combs & brushes? Ideally, I would like to clean mine once a week, but I tend to forget.
  • What method do you use? I've always used Lysol in hot water, followed by a cold rinse.
  • How long has it been since you've cleaned your combs/brushes? Be honest! It's been about one month for me.....who knows how long for our