Saturday, October 31, 2009

Energy Savers: Install a Timer and Use Off-Peak Power for Electric Water Heaters

Energy Savers: Install a Timer and Use Off-Peak Power for Electric Water Heaters

The Frugal Fashionista- 20 Ways to Save Money on Fashion and Clothing

This is a thorough post with great ideas! Click here.

In addition to the ideas shared at the above link, you can shop online via places like the back) search engine, then pull together an outfit by using Polyvore's clipper from your toolbar. This clipper plucks items (price and location included) and saves it to your Polyvore site. You can then drag them into the style box to mix and match your own style. It's so much easier to window shop this way; you can see everything together, ponder, and reduce your chances of mistake buys. Some shopping sites provide helpful customer reviews for clothing items. I like to see everything I find online in one spot. It's also a good way to comparison shop.

Even if you shop thrift stores, Polyvore is a good tool for researching current fashion or style. I've gotten a few modest fashion ideas from style combinations that others have put together and shared at Polyvore. Veteran thrift store shoppers know that you have to work with what you find, so it helps to have some creative ideas filed away in memory.

Clark Howard Work at Home Help

"Clark gets tons of calls from people who would like to do database or customer service work out of their homes. The problem is that there are many ripoff work-from-home outfits that claim they will find you work for an upfront fee. They are just trying to make a quick buck off you. Below are some sites Clark has checked out and determined to be legitimate. Of course, you should check them out thoroughly yourself before getting involved." Read the rest here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Southern Foods: Easy Hoppin John's Casserole Recipe

I was feeling uninspired about dinner today until I came upon a can of healthy Margaret Holmes  Hoppin' John at the grocery store. Even better, the can had a recipe on the side. So I picked up some sausage, and made a very easy, but tasty recipe tonight.

Hoppin' John Casserole:

2 cans of Hoppin' John
One TB vegetable shortening
Hot sauce
Ground sausage(less preservatives and junk) or thick bacon
Brown Sugar
Seasoned salt(Adobo)

Melt vegetable shortening on the bottom of casserole dish, add two cans of Hoppin' John's, spread sausage on top, lightly salt with Adobo, sprinkle with brown sugar and hot sauce, bake at 400 for about 30 minutes.

Typically this is served over rice, but I served mine over sour cream muffin tin biscuits, Paula Dean style(substituted with vegetable shortening, rather than butter). It is a very filling meal. I had mine with only half a small biscuit.. This was plenty!

The only thing I might change next time is to add a can of succotash.

I use vegetable shortening very rarely. Some dishes or baked goods just aren't the same without it though, biscuits and pie crust especially.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homeschool Freebie: Fanciful Tales by Frank Richard Stockton

Fanciful Tales
Authors Frank Richard Stockton, Julia Elizabeth Langworthy
Editor Julia Elizabeth Langworthy
Publisher C. Scribner's Sons, 1904
Length 135 pages

As recommended by Special Method in the Reading of Complete English Classics, 1904. Recommended for fourth grade, but great for read aloud for younger and older elementary aged children.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

William's Wife by Jean Plaidy

William's Wife (The Queens of England Series , Vol 9)

I'm continuing to read through Jean Plaidy's historical fictions. I've been reading Plaidy's books written about the women of the families of  Charles I and Charles II. This particular book is about King James II's(brother to Charles II) Mary who was married to William of Orange(Netherlands). She later went on to rule England as  Mary II and as co-regent with her husband William. The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was charted in 1693, endowed and named in their honor.

I feel like I know these families so well now. Plaidy has a very sympathetic balanced way of portraying her characters, and many of her books are written in first person.

This book has been recently republished under a new title,  The Queen's Devotion: The Story of Queen Mary II (A Queens of England Novel).

I hope to finish this soon so that I can go on to read about Mary's sister, Queen Anne: The Queen's Favourites (The Stuart Saga #7), the last regent of the House of Stuart. Neither Mary or Anne had any surviving children.

From Wikipedia: "Mary's life from her childhood to her death forms part of the BBC drama series The First Churchills (1969) " I've got this on queue at Netflix.

Holiday Gift Giving: Heifer International

HT to Lola for making me aware of this organization. Much like Samaritan's Purse, Heifer International mails out a gift catalog for needy people in developing countries. Heifer International was founded by The Brethen Churh, German Baptists, much like Mennonites, and part of the "peace churches." Heifer International does not evangelize, but rather does Christ's work, providing simple Christian witness through their works.

Grade "A" from Ministry Watch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holiday Giving: Catholic Relief Services

"We ask that you bless...
the families who must struggle each day beneath an unbearable yoke of poverty,
the farmers who toil in the fields to ease the intense hunger of their children,
those affected by disease or sickness,
the people rendered homeless by the ravages of storms and the brunt of war.
Amen. "

Per Ministry Watch: Five out of five stars for efficiency rating and a grade A for transparency.

Mission Statement:

Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity and justice, and embody Catholic social and moral teaching as we act to:
  • Promote human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies; and,
  • Serve Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.
As part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church, we work with local, national and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organizations, to assist people on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality.

Browse Catholic Relief Services Gift Catalog(online only).

Samaritan's Purse Christmas Shopping

We received the Samaritan's Purse Christmas shopping catalog today. It is filled with wish lists for people in developing countries. Some of them are very affordable such as $4.00 for milk, $7.00 for a hot meal, $6.00 for blankets, or $14.00 for baby chickens. There are gifts which help people earn a living, gifts for medical needs, gifts for compassion, and gifts of faith. My oldest was able to read through the catalog and select his own gift for a child; in the process, he began to understand the nature of life in developing countries, and the impact of his help. A very small amount can mean a huge blessing to a family.

Ratings for Samaritan's Purse at Ministry Watch

Loneliness of Soul

There are three schools of suffering, each with its own special blessing to bestow: physical, mental, and the inner school which lies behind them both: loneliness of soul. Physical suffering makes for tenderness of heart and a patient judgment. Mental suffering gives a deepened sympathy, an active influence that, when "lifted up, draws all things to itself."

But loneliness of soul does more than this; it gives independence and strength. Even in the natural plane, it secures liberty of spirit, it develops clearness of judgment, and it enforces power of will. But this is by no means all....Loneliness of soul gives wisdom– that breadth of vision that belongs to him who sees the entire valley from the hilltop. Loneliness of soul gives understanding– that further power of seeing beneath the surfaces of life. Loneliness of soul gives counsel to sustain another, and fortitude to endure its own burden. All the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit come through and are fostered by loneliness of soul.

~ from Spiritual Excellence by Alban Goodier

Shared from Elena's blog, Fountain of Elias.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Polyvore Fashion Helper

Search, select, and drag clothing from across the web with Polyvore to create an outfit or collection. This was my first attempt, and it was fun. You can adjust the pricing, the backgrounds can be customized, and you can browse other people's creations. I enjoyed searching sets by clothing piece and color.

and another:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friday Night Movie: Ostrov (The Island )

I finally saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and then Friday I received another unusual movie from Netflix, Ostrov (The Island), NTSC version with English subtitles (2006). It is a Russian "Art House" movie with subtitles, and I thought it would be too heavy(dark and cerebral) for a relaxed Friday evening. It was actually a very good movie which kept my interest throughout. If you are Catholic or Orthodox you'll identify with the monastic themes of purgation through suffering, the dark night of the soul, redemption, and freeing oneself of all earthly desires in order to become one in the spirit. You'll get all the heavy deep stuff on a deeply personal level. This would be a nice movie to view during Lent.

Overview from Netflix:
"Father Anatoli (portrayed by former Russian rock star Pyotr Mamonov) lives a hermit like existence in a remote Russian Orthodox monastery, where he's visited by people who believe he has the power to heal, see the future and exorcise demons. But Anatoli's odd behavior confuses his fellow monks, who are unaware that he's tortured by a past sin and considers himself an unworthy fraud. Pavel Lungin directed this poignant parable." The filming location was the city of Kem, Karelia on the shores of the White Sea.

The next movie in my queue, Slum Dog Millionare.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homeschool Freebie: Children's Vintage Illustrated Autumn Reader

There is no mention of grade, but I think it may be advanced second grade, early third. These books are free to read online, download, or print(right click on image of page). Pages are printable as long as you have them set on HTML(bottom of Google Book pages). I've linked the pages defaulted to HTML. The standard mode allows scrolling through the pages, but excludes printable pages.

Peter and Polly in Autumn by Rose Lucia

American Book Co., 1918
Length 176 pages

Also see:

Peter and Polly in Winter

Peter and Polly in Spring

Peter and Polly in Summer

Peter and Polly Dolls, not related, but cute vintage craft activity for the lower grades.

Kindness Gathers Love

"A tree is known by its fruit;
a man by his deeds.
A good deed is never lost;
he who sows courtesy reaps friendship,
and he who plants kindness gathers love."

St. Basil

Sharing from Micki's blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bathroom Remodel Progress

It's slow going, but the wallpaper is down, walls have been prepped, seams caulked, and today we got some paint.

Sears has some quality paint, so we went with their Easy Living brand. I found some paint chips that I liked at Walmart, and Sears was able to match the color with the paint chips. We are going with some contemporary  neutrals. The walls and the dark stained wood cabinet are going to be painted. I thought about keeping the dark cabinet color(Pottery Barn comes to mind), but they are pretty old and grubby looking. The wood is solid, and they have some nice drawers which you don't find in modern cabinets. A fresh paint job should make them look new again.

The next big step is to replace the floor with some simple white or off-white tiles, which should be fairly easy with only about 20 square feet around the cabinet and in front of the tub, and replace the toilet. I know this is chuckled at by some, but I've always wanted one of those Lucite toilet seats with stuff embedded in them. When I was a child I remember some lady friends of my grandmother had them in their 'Boca Florida homes, so there is a nostalgia factor there.

They also had pink homes, wore boutique pant suits and rhinestones in their glasses, but I draw the line there(giggle).

Then early next year, we'll fix the fiberglass tub which will cost over $300.00 to get it done properly, or risk paint peel.

Sears on Easy Living paint: "Mildew and stain resistant low odor formula with low spatter. Washable finish. Limited lifetime warranty with one coat coverage guaranteed." It has good reviews online as well.

Some Sears paint deals:

If you are purchasing plain white paint from Sears, it's less expensive to order online via rebate). It's also $4.00 off when purchased online at

Discover Card rewards has a $5.00 bonus when you redeem points for a $45.00 Sears gift card, and 5% Sears cashback online at the Discover shopping portal. also offers Sears gift cards for redeemed points(low point threshold). If you sign up for Sears emails, you'll get coupons and discount notifications.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Family Rules

The 21 Rules Of This House
by Gregg Harris

1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another's interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept
the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Shared from Anne's blog.

Decorating with Drop Cloths

 See frugal and creative decorating ideas using painter's drop cloth here. Read the comments at the link for more ideas.

We recovered a sofa and used drop cloths for drapes; however, I really like the way they pinch pleated these drop cloth drapes. I draped mine over the rod and created over hanging billows with pins, but I've been thinking about using the ring clips for a contemporary and updated look.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homeschool Writing Skills e-Curricula and Freebies

Free e-curriculum offered at CurrClick, "Your one-stop shop for electronic lapbooks, affordable curriculum, and homeschooling resources. Unit study, novel study, bargin home study online downloads for home education!"

Also at CurrClick, although not free, it looked interesting. We might try this: Ignite Your Writing: "Multi-level writing curriculum offers 24 lessons covering 6 areas of writing skills needed for any kind of writing. Each lesson has 3 levels: Startup, Intermediate, and Advanced. Choose the level based on the student’s writing ability rather than age or grade." On sale for $10.00. See the preview at the link. I liked what I saw, and it seems to complement what we are covering in Rod & Staff's English(sixth grade).

Free ebook over at Google books for developing writing skills: Lessons in English 1 and    Lessons in English 2 by Fred Newton Scott and Gordon Augustus Southworth.

Homeschool Freebie: Fish Migration

My son was required to write a short essay about fish migration for his Rod & Staff reading lesson today. Here are a few resources that I found for his assignment today. All are free to print, read online, and download.

The Natural History of Animals: Of Migration of Fishes Pages 124-125

The Origin of the Seasons Considered from a Geological Point of View: Migration of Fish in European Waters. pages 274-275.

St. Nicholas Magazine, Nature and Science for Young Folks, The Winner.pages 650-651.

The World Book: Salmon pages 5173-5174

How Salmon Live and Die, short paragraph.

Classics Old and New: Salmon by Rudyard Kipling
pages 53-56.

The New Century Third Reader (easy and quick summary): SalmonPages 47-50.

Story Hour Readings, Book 8 (advanced reading): The Story of Salmon by David Starr Jordon pages 13-21. Fifth grade version, fourth grade version.

Photo and blurb about a flying salmon.

Photo of flying salmon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homeschool Ebook Freebie: All the Year Round: A Nature Reader : Part I : Autumn

All the Year Round: a Nature Reader : Part I : Autumn
Author Frances Lucia Strong
Publisher Ginn & Co., 1896
Length 102 pages


Free and in public domain, downloadable and readable online. Individual pages can be saved(right click, save).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Remodeling Our 1970's Bathroom

We are tackling this project a little at a time. On my husband's day off this week, he took out the rusty medicine cabinet and sealed up the wall. I took down the wall paper last week, and I plan to paint the walls soon. I have a gift certificate coming for Lowe's which I earned with purchase points, so the paint will be free. We'll replace the light fixture and paint the sink cabinet. Last year we replaced the counter and sink with an all-in-one unit, so that much has already been done. Come January we'll tackle a new tile floor, and a new water saver toilet with more earned gift cards.

The only part which will not be free is some plumbing and a fix to the fiberglass tub. We decided against replacing the tub insert, opting for some minor - moderate repairs by a local refinisher. After this, we have a powder room to update/repair. The original 1972 counter in that powder room is way past its expiration with a sagging area behind the sink(rot).

Older homes are a lot of work. We also need to replace carpets and windows. Energy Saver windows will at least reduce our energy costs. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. This should be the last(almost) of any updates or repairs for a long time. We've got a water heater that is past its prime, but it's still functioning well. When it goes, we'll probably replace it with an Energy Star tankless water heater.

If we didn't have some plumbing and fiberglass repairs, this remodel would be completely free using our earned credit card points. We use our credit card like a debit card, never keeping a balance, always paying it off in full. It takes discipline to charge only that which you need(regular daily living expenses), but after many years, keeping to a budget has become old hat.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Handy Free and Cheap List

From savings guru, Clark Howard from The Clark Howard Show: The Free and Cheap List 

A sampling: - Transport someone else's car and pay no rental fees - Free private worldwide Wi-Fi network - Free download that uses up to 20% less ink when printing ( I use this) - Free alternative to Microsoft Office(I use this, very handy) - Free alternative to Microsoft Office

Free Education - Search the web for courses - Prepare and file your federal tax return for free -- regardless of high income

See his show notes here. 

Clark Howard's Greatest Hits

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Swagbucks: Search and Earn

I joined Swagbucks about a month ago after I saw it mentioned on a blog. It's a Google powered search engine which credits you points for searches. These points(Swagbucks) can be turned in for merchandise or gift certificates. I use a search engine almost every day, so this was perfect for me.

I really thought it would be a lot more difficult to earn enough points for a gift certificate, but so far it has been very easy. I keep Swagbucks bookmarked to my toolbar, and use the search engine every time I need to search for something, which is almost every day. So far I've earned 28 Swagbucks. I'm shooting for a $5.00 Amazon gift certificate(45 Swagbucks).

Hint: Swagbucks seems to kick in when you do multiple searches. I've noticed that one search has not earned me anything. It may be the quality of my searches, but if you are not earning, try at least two searches. I have been getting credited with one or two Swagbucks with at least  two searches.

They have a search toolbar you can download, but I haven't tried this. I think it would slow down my computer.

If you refer people, you get matching bucks, although I have figured this out yet.

Between this and, I've managed to earn a little extra for the family simply by searching and reading emails(

Monday, October 12, 2009

Homeschool Freebie: Everyday Birds, Elementary Studies

 I thought I'd share this free online children's book about birds:

Everyday Birds: Elementary Studies by Bradford Torrey, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1901

We used a section in this book for a short informational about Hummingbirds for Rod & Staff (6) . We needed a little background information before writing a short essay. It's free and in public domain. You can download the entire book, or just save individual pages(left click on image of page) for viewing or printing.

You must view book in HTML(bottom of main page) in order to save and print individual pages. I've linked to the book in HTML, so you shouldn't have to change it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Latin American Study Helps

Click here. Only $2.70, great for elementary school studies.

Happy Days with Pablo and Juanita, ages 8-11.

History and Geography Freebies: Mexico

We are studying contemporary Latin America this year for social studies using Rod & Staff's Understanding Latin America(sixth grade). The first unit covers Mexico. Here are a few free printables referencing Mexico. These resources are very old, vintage textbooks from public domain; however, they are still relevant for the study of the history, cultural influences, and geography of Mexico. All are in public domain, and are free to print or download.

Our American Neighbors by Fanny E. Coe: Mexico

An Easy Introduction to the Study of Geography: Texas and Mexico

The Fifth Reader: Mexico as First Seen by the Spaniards

The World and Its People: A Bird's-Eye View of Mexico

Old World Background to American History: Spanish Conquests in America

Story Hour Readings: Storming the Temple of Mexico

School Reading by Grades: Sixth Year, How Cortez Entered the City of Mexico.

The Guyot Geographical Reader and Primer: The Warm Countries of the South.

I didn't add this one to our reading because it was a little much for my eleven year old, but I couldn't help chuckling at this portrayal from A Child's History of Spain(1894):

"In these temples, which were called Teocallis, prisoners of war were sacrificed to the Mexican gods, and their flesh eaten by the chiefs and priests. The victim was led to the top of the Teocalli, where he could be seen from afar, was laid on a convex slab of stone, and held there by five priests, while a sixth cut open his breast with a sharp knife of itxli, and tore out his quivering heart. There were hundreds of such Teocallis in the cities of Mexico, and thousands of such victims sacrificed in them every year.

Apart from this savage custom, the Aztecs were a civilized people..." Never mind the dramatic heart pounding description in the previous paragraph, they were okay chaps because they had proper towns and such. lol

Manuel in Mexico

Roy and Ray in Mexico

New Geographies: Countries South of the United States

Map Studies of Mexico


Heroism of Boyhood: Heroic Devotion of Two Mexican Youth

Viva La Mexico!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Free Homeschool Stuff: History Ebook

Historic Boys Their Endeavours, Their Achievements, and Their Times by Elbridge Streeter Brooks, Blackie & Son, 49 & 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C. GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN, 1886. Reading level appears to be mid-elementary - early middle school.
Marcus of Rome -- Brian of Munster -- Olaf of Norway -- William of Normandy -- Baldwin of Jerusalem -- Frederick of Hohenstaufen -- Harry of Monmouth -- Giovanni of Florence -- Ixtlil' of Tezcuco -- Louis of Bourbon -- Charles of Sweden -- Van Rensselaer of Rensselaerswyck.

Free and in public domain at Gutenburg Books. Readable online and downloadable.

Also see Historic Girls.
Zenobia of Palmyra -- Helena of Britain -- Pulcheria of Constantinople -- Clotilda of Burgundy -- Woo of Hwang-Ho -- Edith of Scotland -- Jacqueline of Holland.-Catarina of Venice -- Theresa of Avila -- Elizabeth of Tudor -- Christina of Sweden -- Ma-ta-oka of Pow-ha-tan.