Thursday, June 26, 2008

Frugal Friday Tip: No Secrets!

One day this week I was in an elevator with two other women who obviously knew each other. One of the women was excitedly telling her friend the following:
"I have my children trained. Now, when we pull up to our house, the kids check to see if Daddy is home. If he's there, we leave most of our shopping in the car and only bring in the essentials. If my husband is gone, the kids quickly bring in all the shopping, and we put it away as fast as possible so that he doesn't see it!"

As they laughed this little story off, I thought about how damaging this scenario is to this family. Mom feels that she can't share her shopping with her husband, and the children learn to hide things from their father. At some point, I'm sure Dad will see that he cannot trust Mom so much with financial issues. It's a vicious cycle.

However, I believe it may be more common than we'd like to admit. I know women that leave their shopping bags in the trunk of their car until the house is empty, as well as have secret credit cards and bank accounts. Now, I am not on a high horse about this. I, too, am guilty. When we first got married, I had a credit card to a certain lingerie store that I didn't bother telling my husband about. I didn't use it a lot, but when I did use it, I made sure to go to the store and pay the bill with cash so he would never know. I did this for about 3 months, when I began feeling very convicted about this. Not only was I essentially lying to my beloved husband, but I know that God was not pleased about what I was doing.

I thought, "If I do this about something "little" now, what will I lie or hide from him later?" This was NOT a good way to start off our marriage. So the very next day, I called up the company and canceled the account and cut up the card. Let me tell you - it felt so good!

Some couples deal with this issue by including some "discretionary spending money" in their weekly or monthly budget. Each spouse gets a certain dollar amount to spend without having to tell the other spouse what they spent it on. We don't do this in our household, but I'm sure it works great for other people. I'd be interested to hear if any of you do this or have ideas!
How does this apply to Frugal Friday? Well, if you are thinking about buying something that you are ashamed to tell your spouse about, you probably should not be buying it in the first place. This will not only be good for our bank accounts, but, even more importantly, strengthening to our marriages! I can't tell you how good it feels that I don't have to worry about hiding anything!

This is a great way to not only be frugal, but also to "build up our homes", as the Bible says:

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 14:1

Go to Biblical Womanhood for more great Frugal Friday ideas!

Graphic courtesy of

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Positive Posts on our Pain at the Pump

It seems everyone is talking about it, as it has affected almost every American - young, old, rich, poor, etc. I've heard the usual rants, worries, strategies for dealing with this situation. However, in the past week, I have come across two very refreshing posts on this topic that I'd like to share. These ladies greatly blessed me with their outlooks, and I hope that you are blessed as well!
Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Graphic courtesy of

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And the recipe for Chocolate Soup with Chocolate "Croutons"...

Much to everyone's great enjoyment, Beth has sent the me the link to her now-famous recipe. It actually was a recipe that she saw on the TLC show "Take Home Chef."

Let me know how it goes! Happy cooking!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Parasha Shlach Lecha "Send for Yourself"

This week's portion is Shlach Lecha, Numbers 13:1-15:41, in which we read the story of the spies whom Moses sent out to get a good looksie at the Promised Land. My first question is, "Why would they need to spy it out?" God told them to go, so why not just go?

Honestly, I think it was a test. God gives them to us all the time. We all have had instances in our lives, situations that we have been given promises or hopes of a "personal promised land," and yet when it comes to actually getting there, we hesitate. We want to "search it out first" or "wait on the Lord." Don't get me wrong, it's not good to rush into anything. But it's when we know something is from the Lord, and we turn back or get scared that we fall into "wandering in the wilderness" just like the children of Israel.

Last night I was listening to a song from the new Bible Study resource pack I mentioned on here a few days ago, Feast. On it was a song by Sara Groves, and the lyrics tell perfectly not only what is going on in the portion, but in my own life as well. It's been a trying time, and I have been "Painting Pictures of Egypt" just like the song says. Here are some of the lyrics to this beautiful song:

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt Leaving out what it lacked

The future seems so hard And I want to go back

But the places that used to fit me Cannot hold the things I've learned

And those roads closed off to me While my back was turned

It's true. We all do it. The future looks scary, and the past is comfortable. We begin to reminisce and think, "If only I were still (fill in the blank - young, skinny, had taken this major in college, etc...)" Last night as I listened to this song, I realized that God was whispering, "Please just trust in MY plan for you. You don't have to worry and wish for the past or your comfort zone. I have had all your days planned for you from before you were even born!"

I feel so loved. I know He does have the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, in store for each one of us. We simply need to rest and let HIM show us the way!

Shabbat Shalom!

Cartoons appearing in this post are Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc -

Our Family's Frugal Summer Fun!

My family loves to play Mexican train!
This year for Father's Day, instead doing the usual restaurant thing, we decided to make our own version of a nice luncheon for our dear Dad. The meal was so colorful (and tasty too!) that I wanted to share it with you!
Here's the presents sitting on the table beside the flowers from Shabbat dinner. Every Friday night, it's traditional that either the husband or a guest bring fresh flowers to a home for the special Sabbath meal. Our lovely guests brought these on Friday evening...
And now for the meal! WARNING: These pictures may cause your mouth to water! Here are the beef and chicken skewers before they were grilled. My sister and I had so much fun assembling them. We put the meat, cherry tomatoes, green pepper, red pepper, red onion, and pineapple chunks. Grilled pineapple is the best! After assembling them, we let them marinate in teriyaki sauce and minced garlic for about 30 minutes before grilling.

Here's the skewers on the grill....
And here's the yummy finished product:
Here's the table. We also had Mom's special yellow rice with mixed veggies and my hubby's famous fried plaintains! I love when they're hot and fresh, with a little kosher salt sprinkled on top...yummmmm!
And for dessert....WOW!
Beth made erupting chocolate souffles with chocolate soup, served with vanilla ice cream dusted with dark chocolate shavings! Beth is the gourmet of the family! Maybe I'll get her to share her recipe with us on Tavita's Purse...

I hope you enjoyed these yummy pictures! Between Publix sales and coupons, this meal cost us much less than what eating out would have cost us, and we had so much fun cooking together. It really was a blessed day!
Head on over to Biblical Womanhood for more great Frugal Friday ideas!
Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Attenion Publix Shoppers!

Yay! I finally found these booklets to get the $25 Home Depot gift card!
If you haven't heard about it yet, check out this post on Fiddledeedee.
I just got my new Publix ad for the sale 6/19-6/25 and Hebrew National Hot Dogs are on BOGO this week (in Florida), which are one of the products that count for this deal! Yay!

Good things are coming...

Hello my gracious friends....I want to say a sincere "I'm sorry" for being a little out of the loop lately. I have been doing a lot of thinking, praying, spending time with my family, but I wanted to let you know that good things are coming on Tavita's Purse! Here's a few posts that are on their way:

1) A review and interview with the author of the above-pictured Bible Study, Feast by Derek Lehman. I am just received this in the mail yesterday, and am already really excited about this resource distributed by LifeWay. It looks so good, and I am so ready to delve into this!

2) Frugal Father's Day Feast pictures! My sister, my mom, my hubby and I spent a good part of Sunday making a really nice (and beautiful) meal for our beloved patriarch! As soon as my sister sends me the pictures, I'll share them with you (hint, hint Beth!).

3) My Weight-Loss Progress...Yeah, it's a little embarrassing, but I know if I share my progress on here I will be more motivated. My goal is to lose 15 pounds...frugally, of course! I'll let you know how it goes! I've never had to lose this much weight, so if you have any suggestions please let me know. At first I was a little discouraged that I had done this to myself and that I might not be able to do it, but then this verse from Zechariah came to my mind, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD." I know that "I can do ALL things through Messiah who strengthens me!"

So these are a little of what is to come, so please don't stop checking back! I'm not sure if I'll be CVSing this week, but if you want to see the deals head on over to The "Cent"sible Sawyer.
Be blessed...

I also need your input!
Let me know what you like, what you don't like, or what you would like to see more of on Tavita's Purse...Thanks!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Frugal Friday: Giving Thanks

Today I was reflecting on a somewhat odd idea. Who invented scissors? I mean, seriously. Who knows the answer to that? In my seventeen years of formal education, I did not once, that I can remember, learn the name of the person who invented scissors.

Yes, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, George Washington led our brand-new country, and Dr. Martin Luther King fought for freedom for all. But who invented scissors???? You may wonder why this weird question is on my mind, and why I even care. Well, think for a minute about how many times a week you use scissors, especially if you are a coupon junkie like me! Every time you have a thread hanging on your skirt, get a hair cut, need to open a stubborn package...the list goes on and on! Most of us probably use scissors at least once a day, yet how many of us stop to think of the person who gave us this awesome invention?

There is an idea taught in Judaism that we should bless God for everything. There is a blessing for wearing new clothes, a blessing for seeing a rainbow, a blessing for a taste of the new season's first fruit, a blessing for the new month, a blessing upon awaking, a blessing before eating, a blessing after eating and even a blessing said after using the restroom! Imagine! But think about how our lives would be different if we didn't experience those things? There's even a prayer that says, "Thank You, God, for inspiring us to thank you..."

How does this relate to being frugal? Well, honestly, this is something that I have had the learn the hard way. God has been showing me that when I don't have a thankful heart, I tend to worry and complain and focus on what I don't have rather than the bounty that is sitting right in front of me. Then I end up spending even more money on things I don't really need because of my heart.

When I find that I am getting into this unthankful mode once again, I pray for God to fill my heart with thankfulness. After praying, I MAKE myself give thanks, even when I don't feel like it. Try smiling when you are really mad or's crazy how it can change your insides! We don't always encounter grateful people in our daily lives, but try saying "Thank you" even when you don't feel like it. Many times, a heart of thankfulness will follow. My mom used to always say, "I'm going to CHOOSE to be happy." It's true, the attitudes of our heart is a choice that we alone can make.

Those of you who know me personally know that my husband is working very diligently on remodeling our bathroom. I have complained (if not out loud, inside I sure have!) about how inconvenienced I have been with all the dust flying all over everything having to share a bathroom. I know, I know...I feel awful that I felt that way, especially when I heard my husband's prayer this evening at our dinner table. He praised God in this midst of all of this for our beautiful home and for providing us with a cozy place of our own. As he said those words, my heart overflowed with adoration for our Heavenly Father, as well as for the man of God to whom I am married.

There is a poem that has circulated in e-mails, author unknown, but is so true and I think of this whenever my mind starts wandering toward the ungrateful:

"Thank you God, for all I have to do today.

Thanks God, for this sink of dirty dishes,

It shows we have plenty to eat.

Thanks God, for this pile of dirty, stinky, laundry,

It shows we have plenty of clothes to wear..."

Head over to Biblical Womanhood for more great Frugal Friday ideas!

P.S. I still DON'T know who invented scissors, but I thank God for creating the person and giving him or her the intelligence to do so!

Thanks to for the lovely picture!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

CVS: Cheap Cereal this week!

I just bought 6 boxes of General Mills cereal for $3.13 at CVS (plus two other items)!

Here's how I did it:

The deal for cereal this week is "Buy $20 worth of certain General Mills products, get $10 Extra Bucks back."

Transaction 1:
5 Boxes of Assorted GM Cereals at $3.33 each
Used $1 off any 3 from this week's Red Plum insert, and then a $3/$15.
Used $10 Extra Bucks (from last week), and paid $2.67 out of pocket (OOP).

Transaction 2:
1 Nivea Extreme Comfort Shave Gel $3.99
1 Nivea Extreme Comfort Post Shaving Balm $7.99
1 Box of Nature's Valley Granola Bars (included in GM deal) $3.33
Used $1 off Shave Gel, $4/2 Nivea products, $3/$15.
Used $6.99 Extra Bucks (from last week) and paid 46 cents OOP!

All in all, it was a pretty good deal. Don't forget it's Father's Day this Sunday, so maybe some Nivea would be good to buy!

Head on over to The "Cent"sible Sawyer for more great CVS deals this week!

$1 makeup from e.l.f. or at Nordstrom's!

Just thought I'd pass along the good deal:
Nordstrom is changing the logo on their makeup, so they're selling everything that says "e.l.f." for $1!!!
(You still may have to pay shipping, but it's SO worth it!!)
If you use the coupon code below, and your order is less than $15, that basically pays for the shipping!

e.l.f. Website

**Also, use coupon code: CAROLINA to get $7.50 off your first purchase off $15***

[Edit: Per, Nordstrom is NOT changing the logo on their makeup, and the makeup on this website is ALWAYS $1 each. Sorry! Lesson learned: always check these things out before posting them!]

Congratulations Are In Order!

Congratulations to Monica for winning this book for our Shavuot Giveaway! Thank you to the other entries as well...I wish I could give everyone something! I think giveaways are very fun, so look for more of them on here. I love sharing the richness and deepness of God's Word with others, as we encourage each other as "iron sharpens iron."

The above-mentioned book is a great one, that teaches what the Bible means when it says to "write them [God's Words] on the doorposts of your houses and upon your gates." (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9) I remember when I was young, my father put a big, framed placard containing these verses right beside our front door. He promised my sister and I that if we learned the entire thing and could recite it to him, we would receive a prize. We studied very hard, and by the end of the week we both recited it to him. What a great memory...and I still know these verses by heart!

As I just reached my quarter of a century birthday, I see that more and more the verses I learned as a child drift into my mind at precisely the right moment. It shows me that not only is Shabbat School (or Sunday School) majorly important in the lives of our children, but more importantly, what is taught in the home. I'm not a parent yet, but at this stage in my life I can't believe how much my Biblical upbringing still surfaces in my life each and every day. I am so thankful to my parents that they made God the center of our home, and that worship wasn't something simply reserved for one day a week but every single day. No one has a perfect life, so for those of you who did not have such a childhood, do not feel bad. God gives us all different trials and tests, and makes each life beautiful with whatever we are given. We only are resposible for what He gives us. Sometimes I used to feel embarrased that I didn't have this "great" testimony, such as I was a "drug-addicted prostitute" and then I came to God. However, recently God has shown me that we all have a story and that story is beautiful and precious to Him. So today, I simply want to thank God for my story, and YOUR story too, because it's all of our stories combined that portrays the vast array of God's grace in our lives.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Shavu'ot (Pentecost) starts Sunday night!

So we've been counting the days from Passover to God's feast of Shavu'ot (also called Pentecost). Like all of the Biblical holy days, this feast can be found in Leviticus 23, as well as Acts 2. I am super, super busy this week, but I wanted to a least give my readers some links to learn about this awesomely spiritual, as well as fun festival.

Here are some links to learn more about how to celebrate:
Prepare Yourself for Shavuot
Shavu'ot by First Fruits of Zion
Feast of Weeks by Biblical
The Fulfillment of the Covenant by

Also, here's a little giveaway: If you leave a comment by midnight (EST) Tuesday, June 10th on this post with your name and either your blog link or an e-mail address PLUS one fact that you learned about Shavu'ot that you did not previously know, I'll randomly select a winner to send a free copy of one of my favorite First Fruits of Zion books! Comment away!

Image available from Flickr.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I'm back in the [CVS] Game!

After taking a brief respite from playing the CVS game, I am happy to say, "Jenny's back in the game!" The above picture contains everything I got yesterday, except for the Chex mix that I ate already...hehe. (Sorry the picture is kind of crooked, I took it when I was half asleep!)
Here's the breakdown:
Transaction 1:
2 - Listerine Smart Rinse at $3.49 each
3 - CVS Brand Bandages (40 ct.) at $1.99 each
1 - CVS Brand Cotton Swabs (500 ct.) at $3.19
2 - Gold Emblem (CVS Brand) Candy at 99 cents each
1 - Chex Mix at $1
Coupons used: $3/$15, $3/$10 CVS Brand, $1 off Listerine, $1 off Chex Mix, $1 off two bags of CVS Brand candy (printed at card scanner), and $10 ECB's.
OOP: 12 Cents!
ECB's earned: $15 (so I "made" $5!)
Transaction 2:
2 - Dawn Dish Soap at $1 each
1 - Charmin Ultrastrong at $4.99
1 - Listerine Smart Rinse at $3.49
1 - Oral-B toothbrush (2 pk.) at $6.99
1 - Brut Deodorant at $2.69
Coupons used: $3/$15, $1 off Listerine, and $15 in ECB's.
*There are coupons on the Dawn, Charmin and Brut but I forgot them!
OOP: $1.33 (Didn't do as well this time.)
ECB's Earned: $14.48
Total OOP for everything in the picture (plus Chex Mix): $1.45!
Stay tuned...this is going to be a multi-trip week!
Check out CVS Superstars at The "Cent"sible Sawyer for more fun savings!