Friday, October 31, 2008

Keeping Lean (and Green!) on a Lean Budget

Yesterday I read a slightly disturbing article on MSNBC entitled "Surprise: Lean times may actually make you fat." Basically the article was saying that during times of economic slowdowns, Americans tend to rely more on "comfort food" and low-quality food, such as "dollar-menu" fast food. Well, after reading it, I thought more about it and how by reading some wonderful blogs I have actually begun eating healthier and less expensively. Here are a few key ideas I've learned recently:
1) At the grocery store, shop mostly from the "perimeter." Think about it, most of the natural, whole foods are located around the outside walls - fruits, veggies, dairy products, fresh meats. Most of the processed, "unnatural" foods are in the middle.
2) Look for seasonal produce that is marked-down. This goes without saying, but right now in the end of October is probably not the best time to be buying tomatoes. However, apples are so cheap around here right now. Be flexible with your taste buds and try new fruit and vegetables!
3) Find a farmer's market or similar place to get really cheap produce. I always used to buy all my produce from the regular grocery store. But a good friend has been prompting me to try a local farmer's market, which I finally did. Wow! Not only were the prices good, but the quality was even better than that of the grocery store produce!
4) Check out sales and coupons for Organic products. You can find coupons for many organic products at Mambo Sprouts and Sarah at Fiddledeedee always has great organic deals posted on her blog.
5) Be creative with "comfort" foods. Just gotta have some homemade cookies? Throw some whole grains (oatmeal, flax, bran, etc.) and some fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.) in there INSTEAD of chocolate chips. Make baked apples or grill some fresh pineapple. I have the worst sweet tooth ever - but now I am learning to satisfy it in much better ways. Better yet - don't run to food for comfort at all...crack open your Bible and pray to your Heavenly Father. He knows what we are all going through at this season.
Just because our budgets are tighter (or we are simply starting to budget!) doesn't mean we are left to Mac N Cheese and Ramen noodles! We just have to be a little creative and resourceful.
Anyone got any other tips? I'd love to hear them!
Want more Frugal Friday ideas? Head back to Biblical Womanhood.
Picture available at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Foolish Man Builds His House Upon the Sand

This picture was taken a few days ago on the island where I grew up. It is still amazing to me to think that I lived my entire life on this tiny little barrier island that is less than a quarter mile wide in some places.
When I was a little girl, my mom taught me a little song that goes like this:
The wise man built his house upon the rock.
The wise man built his house upon the rock.
The wise man built his house upon the rock,
And the rains came tumbling down.
The rains came down, and the floods rose up.
The rains came down, and the floods rose up.
The rains came down, and the floods rose up.
But the house on the rock stood firm.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
And the rains came tumbling down.
The rains came down, and the floods rose up.
The rains came down, and the floods rose up.
The rains came down, and the floods rose up.
And the house on the sound fell down. CRASH!
After singing this song a few times, I got to thinking..."Mom, why is our house built on the sand like the foolish man? If a hurricane comes, our house could go CRASH???" My patient mom would then try to explain how the "stilts" that our house sat upon actually were dug very deep into the sand, so our house shouldn't go anywhere.
Well, as I was reading the Torah portion this week, I was struck by how much I feel like Noah's family at this time. There's so much going on around us - the economic crisis, a crazy election process for our nation, a "holiday" that exhorts witchcraft and paganism, just to name a few. In the midst of all this confusion where even fellow believers seem to be "going with the flow" of society, following God's Word can definitely make you stick out like that proverbial old sore thumb.
However, as we read about Noah and his family, it's comforting to know that most of the time the people who ARE following the Scriptures ARE different. And that is simply because the Word of God has not, does not, and will not ever change. It is that Rock spoken of by Yeshua in Matthew 7. Yes, in this world it is popular to be flexible, to be fluid, to be like "shifting sands." "The Constitution is living," they say. "It is to be interpreted differently with the times."
It's time for the people of God to be unpopular. To do hard things. To be different. To be built on the Rock and not on the sand. I will not apologize for offending anyone. I'm not being judgmental. God is the Judge of all. He alone judges me and everyone else in the world. However, we can know how to please Him - we just need to look in the Book!
As you read the Torah portion for this week, be sure to check out Matthew 7 along with it.
Shabbat Shalom!
In case you were wondering, read "Do Jews Celebrate Halloween?" here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone

...But by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God!

This week was the celebration of Simchat Torah, which means "Rejoicing of the Torah." We take the Torah scroll out of the ark and lay it out for all to see. Then it is reversed and the rolled the opposite way so that we can start all over at B'resheit, Genesis.

Simchat Torah is one of the most joyous holidays, and for that reason, one of my personal favorites. As I watch people dance around in ecstasy carrying the Torah, it is a feeling that I cannot even describe! It's a fresh feeling of starting all over, that as we march through God's calendar again this coming year and read through the Torah as a community, things will change. That somehow next year will be different, better. It's knowing that God's Word is His love letter to all of us. It's the complete feeling of trusting in Him.

Yes, storms may come - hurricanes, economic downturns, political unrest...but the peace of knowing God and trusting in His Divine Providence will see us through.

Would you like to join us this year as we read through the Torah? This week's portion is B'resheit (Genesis 1:1 - 6:8). is a wonderful new website that always has all the information on the weekly portion as well!

"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV)
Picture available at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When You Don't Get What You Deserve...

Question for my wonderful blogging (or non-blogging) friends...

What would do you do when a merchant does not deliver what was promised?

Back in late May of this year (2008), my husband and I booked a hotel room with a major online travel agent. When we did so, we used a coupon code (advertised on the travel agent's website) to receive a $50 gas card back in the mail.

Here's the actual terms and conditions of the coupon code from my confirmation email:

1. Offer valid only for bookings of a stand-alone hotel stay of at least three (3) nights made between May 19, 2008 and July 6, 2008, with stays completed by September 1, 2008. A "booking" is a stay of consecutive nights in one room at the same property, booked at the same time on the same credit card. Package bookings are not eligible. 2. You must book and prepay on or through the Contact Center at 1-800-246-8357. Offer is not valid for bookings made on any non-U.S. domain, including, but not limited, to or . 3. Offer only applicable for those properties covered by the Price Match Guarantee located at Bookings at the following brand is not eligible: Marriott. 4. $50 gas card will be mailed to the billing address used for the booking within 30 days of your completed stay. 5. $50 gas card will be mailed to US and Canadian addresses only. 6. Limit: one (1) gas card per booking. 7. Not valid with any other coupon offer. 8. Not redeemable for cash. 9. Offer good while supplies last. 10. Offer may be revoked without notice at any time. Void where prohibited.
As you probably guessed, we still have NOT received our gas card despite at least 3 phone calls and 3 emails to customer care. Every time I communicate with them, they assure me that my gas card is being expedited. I'm very frustrated.

However, I also believe Romans 8:28 - "In ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." I pray that whatever He is trying to teach me through this situation, I will learn. Patience and longsuffering, perhaps?

So, I'm interested, what would you do?
Picture from

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Modesty Survey The Modesty Survey

Hello everyone! It's been so long! Well, as you have probably assumed, I have been enjoying a very "full" life during this wonderful holiday season. I hope to get back to our regular schedule here very soon!

I was doing a little reading today, and I ran across The Modesty Survey. Let me tell you...very interesting stuff. Modesty is something that is very near and dear to my heart, although I have shyed away from talking about it a lot on here. I feel like I tend to get "preachy" when I talk about it, since the "rules" of modesty are not hard-and-fast rules at all. However, the survey has very interesting results, and I just wanted to give you the link in case you might be interested! Enjoy!

I'm over at my parents' house for the weekend, enjoying their sukkah, but I'll be back soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) Links...

Hey folks, high holiday season is a doozy isn't it? Whew! Well, I'm headed out to our congregation's opening service for the Feast of Tabernacles, but I wanted to give you a few links to click through while I'm gone.

First of all, read Leviticus 23. Tonight (Oct. 13) at sundown is the first day of Sukkot (Tabernacles).

Here's the links:
Introduction to Sukkot (Messianic Jewish Musings)

Gimme Shelter (Searching for Bright Light)

Camping Out (Tammy's Recipes)

Sukkot: A Feast of the Lord (Femininity in a Feminist World)

Download a Free Torah Reading Schedule for 5769

Be back soon!

Picture courtesy of Yeshuat Yisrael.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Creating/Maintaining a Kitchen Stockpile

The number one most important thing I have learned from my year of becoming a frugal shopper is to create and maintain a stockpile. Now, don't think that I mean you must have a large amount of room and you have to have enough canned goods to last you for two years. My husband and I live in a 2 bedroom condo that has just enough space at the present. However, I have learned in the past year to keep my kitchen (and household!) running smoothly, it really helps to have a small stockpile.

First: Create a list of the products/recipes you use most.
For example, here's some of ours:
- Whole grain Pasta
- Brown Rice
- Beans
- Tomato sauce
- Chicken
- Frozen vegetables
- Taco shells
- Almond milk
- Oatmeal
- Raisins
- Extra virgin olive oil
Et cetera...I think you get the point.

Second: Make a habit of collecting coupons for those items.
Whether you subscribe to the Sunday paper or have your neighbors and friends give you their leftover inserts, find a way to get coupons for cheap.

Third: Begin to watch the grocery store flyers for sales of those items. Try to match coupons with sales.
I have to be honest. I am pretty much stuck on one grocery store (Publix). Usually, I do not venture outside of that place; however, I do keep my eye on the sales of other stores. Why? It teaches me what really is a good price for something and what is not. Publix has a great number of Buy One Get One Free products every week. When my stockpile items are on BOGO, I grab my coupons (always use 2 coupons for BOGO's!) and "stock up!"

This "mini-stockpiling" has saved us in the long run, and cuts down on the number of trips to the grocery store. Gone are the days of, "We don't have anything for dinner!" Also gone are the days of paying full price for items that were on sale just last week. If I want something and ran out, most of the time I make myself wait until it's on sale again. Publix seems to run the BOGO's on a fairly short cycle (I'm assuming the other stores do too).

For more great Kitchen Tip Tuesday ideas, see Tammy's blog.

Picture from Healthline.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Floating Bagels

"Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

This past week we celebrated Yom Teruah (the Biblical name for Rosh Hashanah in Leviticus 23). One of the traditions of this day is to hold a "Tashlich" service, which is based on the scripture from the prophet Micah (7:18 -19) above. In this service, the participants throw stones or bread into a body of water to remember that God does essentially the same as He forgives our sin. It's usually a very short service (at least the ones I've attended) and is usually not belabored because there is a traditionally a mouth-watering holiday dinner waiting at home.

This year something a little unique happened at our service, and I thought I would share it with my precious readers. Usually on Shabbat (Saturday) we have bagels for oneg. Tons of bagels. So on the Shabbat preceding the holiday, I decided to save some of the bags of leftover bagels for the Tashlich service. When Tuesday came around, those bagels were quite hard. So I thought they would be a good mix of rocks and/or bread!

When I got to the water, I started handing out the bagels to the people who hadn't brought anything to throw. Now, it had never entered my mind that people would throw the entire bagel into the water. But alas, that's what everyone did. When I got to the water's edge, I couldn't believe my eyes...about a dozen bagels floating on the water! I wish I could have taken a picture to share with you; it was quite a sight!

Of course, there is some spiritual application to this story. Sometimes I pray and repent of a certain sin, but I don't forgive myself. I accept God's forgiveness of my sin, but I leave it floating there on the top of the water. The sight I saw this Rosh Hashanah was one that will stay with me for some time to come. We have to remember that when God forgives's over! Let it go! The Scripture says He throws into the DEPTHS of the sea. Don't allow the enemy to trick you into "floating your sins" so that you can live in guilt. God has forgiven us much, so we must do for others...including ourselves!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Favorite Publix Deal this Week: Almond Milk!

I know this isn't a weekly deal at Publix (it's an Advantage Buy special that's good for a few weeks), but it really is exciting for me (it doesn't take much!).

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk is on sale for 2 for $5. Add in the abundant $1 coupons (recent inserts, blinkies in Publix) and you've got yourself a half gallon of almond milk for $1.50!

My husband and I found that we LOVE this stuff, even more than soy milk. The half gallons are refridgerated in the organic section of Publix.

Give it a try!

For more Publix deals, be sure to check out Fiddledeedee. Sarah is one amazing woman!