Kathryn and I, as co-owners and writers of this blog, are sponsoring a contest for everyone who subscribes to our newsletter email list. We will give away a $25 dollar Amazon gift card.
Everyone who has joined our list from day one of our blog until September 11th will be entered into the drawing for the gift card. You will have to go to our webpage and subscribe to our newsletter email list. You must enter a valid email.
We welcome you to our blog webpage. You will be a member of our online family where we will share with everyone bits and pieces of our lives through blog posts. As we grow our website, we would like you to join us for this journey.
We will not share your email address with anyone, period. Our goal with this contest is to gain subscribers so we can offer additional content via our newsletter.
Please share with friends to come to www.livingandlovingourlives.com and subscribe to our newsletter and enter our contest to win a $25 Amazon gift card. We will draw the winner and make the announcement on the blog and Facebook page. We will contact the winner with details on how to receive the gift card.
Kathryn and Patricia
Serve one another with the gifts you have received
The Atlantic Hurricane season started on June 1st and does not end until November 30th. If you live in the coastal area along the Atlantic coast it is a good idea to make preparations for the tropical season.
Have you completed your preparations and have supplies on hand for 3-5 days after the storm passes your area? Do you have evacuation plans and know your routes to leave if hurricane gains strength and puts you in harm’s way? Do you have means to protect your home and property from winds, flooding rains and storm surge? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself and answer to be fully prepared for the 2016 season.
There are numerous sources on the internet that can help you with making preparations that are best for your family. A good resource is www.redcross.com that I use for a checklist on things to do. Beginning in June I begin purchasing batteries for flashlights and lanterns to use during power outages from hurricane force winds that knock out electricity. Next on my list is keeping a stockpile of bottled water. Normally I will purchase 4-6 cases of water and when a storm is forecasted to impact our area I want to have at least 10-12 cases of water on hand to drink and use. Make sure you have enough can goods on hand including canned meat to prepare after the storm and you have no electricity. I buy canned ham and peanut butter and jelly are other staples that we keep on hand in our hurricane supplies.
I purchase extra toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags and cleaning supplies to use for clean-up after the storm. I keep non-perishable snacks on hand too. My husband is a generator mechanic and he usually is called out to work before the storm passes and works long hours until all power is restored to the area so I have snacks on hand for him to take with him to eat while he is working.
Extra extension cords, tape, and gas with gas cans are important if you will be running a generator after the storm. Please follow all safety rules when storing gas to use. I cannot stress this enough. If you have a Yeti-type cooler, purchase ice and keep it on-hand for longer than a normal cooler. This is important if it gets hot after the storm and there is a lot of clean up to do. Nothing like having a cold bottle of water to stay cool and quench the thirst.
Personally, I will tell you that preparation before the season gets active is imperative. Nine years ago we were hit by Hurricane Ike. Donny, Chasity and I were without power for 17 days. We learned to cook a lot of food using a charcoal grill and ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had purchased my supplies early that year to be ready for the season but still purchased more supplies when Hurricane Ike was in our direct path. We survived on a small generator that kept the freezer and refrigerator running during the day and at night ran the window unit a/c.
If you can’t purchase your supplies early in the season, at least make a list of what you need and purchase when the storm is forecasted to impact your area. Do not rely on anyone to come and help you. Make plans to take care of your family and you for at least 3-5 days. This will allow officials to access the damage and begin making repairs. Also, as during Hurricane Ike, there were pods opened up for folks to get water, ice and MRE’s. Sometimes the wait in lines for these supplies was hours long. Be prepared and make sure to take care of the elderly and your pets.
Here is a list of websites for tropical weather preparedness.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though it’s waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3)
I am a southern girl – born and raised in Texas. Growing up, one staple in our household was grits. My mother didn’t get too adventurous with it – we ate it for breakfast with eggs. But, I loved grits and always looked forward to eating it. My mother and grandmother always made a perfect bowl of grits – adding a little salt to the boiling water and when it was done scooping a huge helping onto our plate. With just the right amount of butter placed in the middle, melting quickly into that steaming, savory pile of grits sitting next to a beautifully fried egg along with sausage or bacon – it was something hard to resist!
When I married my husband, I found out he did not like grits! Oh, the horror!! His family is from up North, so I couldn’t really hold it against him. So, if I wanted grits, I would have to eat it by myself. I could never order grits at a restaurant because they don’t prepare them correctly. Usually, they don’t add any salt and that makes all the difference in the world. Adding the salt afterward just isn’t the same. A few years ago, we went to a local restaurant for dinner and they had grits on the menu as a side dish – I was intrigued, especially when I saw it was mixed with andouille sausage and cheese. I had to try it and I am glad I did. It was wonderful. The next week, I made some at home for breakfast and even my non-grit loving husband said it was good.
I thought I would share my recipe for Sausage and Cheese Grits with you today. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Be adventurous – try it with different sausages or meats, spice it up – make it your own!
Sausage and Cheese Grits 1/4 cup cooked breakfast sausage 1 cup water 1/4 cup grits pinch of salt (you don't need much since you are adding sausage and cheese) dash of pepper (more or less to taste - use red pepper or other if you like a little kick!) grated cheese Place the cooked breakfast sausage in a small pot. Add one cup of water. Add your salt and pepper. Bring this to a boil. Remove the pot from the burner and add the grits while stirring. This is important, otherwise, the grits may not cook correctly and will be lumpy - yuck!! Turn your burner OFF and place the pot back on the burner and cover it with a lid. Turn on a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir the grits. Put the grits on your plate, or in a bowl, and add the cheese. EAT AND ENJOY!!
If you have something that your family loves to eat, share it with us in the comments below.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalms 34:8
What is the one chore that all of us do that just never seems to get completed? For me, it is doing laundry. I will do one load every day just to keep dirty clothes getting out of hand. Laundry is a three step process for me which includes gathering and sorting, washing and drying and finally folding and putting away. Sometimes the last step does not get completed and clothes are worn straight from the laundry basket. Does this happen at your house?
The following is my list of my 5 best laundry tips that I use to see my laundry basket empty and all clothes cleaned and put away.
1. Every day I pick up all dirty clothes throughout the house and put in a laundry basket together. This will keep things looking less cluttered and more organized. My laundry consists of all the clothes just what my husband Donny and I wear, but add workout clothes and my husband’s work clothes, it can get overwhelming at times for me. My husband has a habit of leaving his clothes where he takes them off so I just make it a point a gathering all the clothes every evening.
2. Sorting laundry, yes this is still a necessity and needs to be done to ensure that clothes are properly washed and not accidently damaged. I separate light colors and dark colors with our clothing. I separate out Donny’s work clothes because he is a generator mechanic and his clothes are always dirty with grease, grime, and diesel. Last but not least is bath towels, wash clothes and kitchen towels. These are washed together because all my towels are dark colors and I have no white towels.
3. Laundry detergent and stain remover, these items are very important to ensure clothes are clean and stay clean. Take the time to pre-treat stains and use extra detergent for heavy soiled items. I use less detergent for dress clothes. I have used homemade laundry detergent and purchased detergent, I have front loader machines so lately I have been using purchased detergent for washing. I have found that some detergents are very strong and have cause my skin to become irritated. Here is my personal laundry detergent recipe.
Patricia’s Laundry Detergent recipe
1 Fel-Naptha soap bar – grated
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (yellow box) – not baking soda or detergent
4 cups of warm to hot tap water
½ cup of Borax
½ cup Blue Dawn Dishwashing soap
2-3 drops of lavender essential oil (optional)
As stated above, grate the bar of Fels-Naptha soap or Ivory soap. Place grated soap with water in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Stirring constantly until it is dissolved. Take a 5-gallon plastic bucket that is clean and fill with 2 ½ gallons of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda, borax, Dawn dishwashing soap and essential oils. Mix well with a wooden rod for at least 50 stirs. Then cover laundry detergent and let sit overnight. In the morning you will get a liquefied detergent. I use ¼ to ½ cup in a load of laundry.
4. My next tip is an important one and it is removing the clothes from the washer when the cycles have completed immediately and put in the dryer or hang outside. If you don’t, your clothes will become stagnant in the washer and start having an odor. I have had to wash the same load several times when I leave them overnight or even all day. The extra cost of laundry detergent, water and electricity are not financially sound. The best thing is to set your complete chime as loud and long as you can to notify you the washer is finished. Also, keep a mental note of when the timer will go off and check. Put clothes in dryer immediately.
5. This is the most difficult tip for me to achieve but I have been working on this in 2016 and have been successful at it. That goal is folding and putting away all the laundry as soon as it is finished drying in the dryer. I have a small table in my utility room with a small hanging rack where I fold my clothes and separate to be either put in drawers or hung up in the closet. I keep extra hangers so I can immediately do this step. Once all laundry is folded, I take to the appropriate room and put away.
After completing these five steps I have the satisfaction of knowing my laundry is all completed and all our clothes are clean and put away.
What is your process for handling laundry? Please share your tips in our comment section.
7 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Volunteering is an important part of my life. Over the years I have volunteered with different organizations and groups. For the past few years, I have worked with Angels of Destiny. Angels of Destiny makes ribbon angels to give to people facing life-threatening illnesses. Some of the angels are mailed to people across the country and others are delivered in person to hospitals and cancer centers.
I met the founder, Linda, over twelve years ago at an event with a motorcycle ministry with our church. At that time Linda made ceramic angels and painted them by hand. A few of our ladies at church volunteered at one of her work days and painted angels. At that time she lived in another town, but would come deliver the angels to patients in the Houston Medical Center. Linda moved closer to Houston a few years ago which gave me the opportunity to volunteer more often with her.
I had to get out of my comfort zone when I started volunteering with Angels of Destiny on a more regular basis. Linda sent a message to me one day letting me know that the person who went with her to the children’s hospitals was not able to go. This person would dress up as a princess and hand out angels to the children. She asked if I would consider taking her place. Without really thinking about it, I said yes. At that time, I was in between jobs and had time to spare. I had to find an outfit suitable for a princess. It was not close to Halloween and costumes were not readily available, so I got a hold of a friend who I knew had a pink dress that would be perfect. Well, the rest, as they say, is history. Each time we went to the children’s hospitals in Houston and Galveston, I would dress up and hand out angels. One time, we went to another hospital and I didn’t have time to change, so the adults got a visit from a princess that day! Even though I don’t dress up as a princess anymore, I still enjoy the visits.
Our group has made several different kinds of angels over the years. From ceramic angels, cardboard box angels, pillow angels and now ribbon angels. We get together a few times during the year and have work days to make the angels. We have people who live in other cities and states who make angels and send them to us. There is a video we posted on YouTube showing how to make the ribbon angels. Local children’s groups get together and make cards for Christmas and Valentine’s Day for us to hand out. Also, during Christmastime, we go “caroling” through the hospitals. We definitely make a joyful noise, but everyone enjoys it. It is great to see the nurses and doctors enjoying the songs along with the patients joining in and singing along.
We have met many wonderful people during our visits. Young children facing cancer treatments; a teenager living in a hotel with his mother, hundreds of miles away from most of their family waiting on a phone call to receive a heart transplant; middle-aged women battling breast cancer; men and women who served in the military; retired priests; severe burn victims from other countries; average, everyday people not knowing what tomorrow may bring; and the list could go on and on. They all had something in common, a strong will to overcome the obstacles they faced. We have been blessed to meet them and hear their stories.
I wanted to tell this story to not to brag about what I do, but to encourage you to consider becoming a volunteer if you don’t already. In this day and age that seems to be centered around self, it is refreshing to see people doing good for others. There are countless ways and places to volunteer. Local and national organizations, churches, shelters, civic groups, schools, libraries, youth athletic groups, and many others could not do what they do without volunteers. Visit the Angels of Destiny website to learn more about what we do – I encourage you to join us!
Do you volunteer? Let us know what you do in the comments below.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)
While on vacation several weeks ago, I enjoyed a relaxing time at Galveston beach. Great times with my husband and friends Kathryn and Roger. We rented a two‑story house which was on stilts, therefore we were walking up three flights of stairs every time we went outside. This is leading up to my realization that you have to do cardio daily to obtain weight loss.
During the five days we were at the house, I walked up and down those stairs at least 5–10 times a day. The first two days, I was so sore and exhausted. But by the time we left, I was speeding up and down the stairs and feeling stronger. I know my trainer, Chase, will be glad that I am finally getting that if I want to lose weight, I need to do three or more days of cardio for at least 30 to 45 minutes, along with working out twice a week with him lifting weights and doing some cardio.
My husband Donny and I have decided we want to start running, which is the best cardio I can think of when you do it on a daily basis. We are both beginners in the running department and want to start off slow and easy to build up our strength and endurance. We live just down the street from a racetrack that has a large parking lot we’ll use to walk and start our running program. Starting on Monday, we will be doing 1 minute of walking and 30 seconds of slow jogging for 1.10 miles, which is one lap around the racetrack. Each week, we will add more running and less walking and we hope by the end of November, we will be able to do 3.30 miles in a reasonable time. Our goal is to participate in a local 5K event and run, jog, and walk the event.
Our trainer is working with us to strengthen our leg muscles to enable us to be better runners in the long-term. I will be periodically updating here on the blog our successes and failures in running to add more cardio to our exercise program and assist us with achieving our weight‑loss goals.
Running is one of those things either you like it or you don’t. I don’t mind running but my trainer is helping me strengthen my legs and knees so they don’t hurt. We started this week on the treadmill at the gym because running in the 100 plus degree heat will not work for us. Donny is running up to seven minutes now and I am doing three to four minutes at a time.
We are going to continue to add more running to our cardio every week until we can run over three miles and then participate in a local 5K. Continue to follow my blog posts as I update our progress.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27
“Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”
Our Financial Success – Paying off our Mortgage
This past month, Donny and I accomplished a major financial achievement in our marriage. We paid off our mortgage 14 years and 9 months early. It is a feeling I cannot begin to describe.
We started this journey of home ownership back in 2001, two years after we got married. Our income at that time was nowhere what we are making today. The house we purchased was 20 years old and a starter home. When we purchased our home, we knew what we could afford for a mortgage note with our salary.
Fast forward to Tropical Storm Allison that hit the Houston area with massive flooding in June 2001. We had only made a couple of house payments, which we were able to handle in our budget. But were we in for a surprise. After the flooding on Allison, our homeowner’s insurance skyrocketed when it was up for renewal. The reason for that was the all the flood claims during TS Allison. This one event increased our escrow payment to increase by $400 a month due to the additional cost of homeowner’s insurance. We struggled with making our mortgage payment and paying all the other expenses we had in our budget. This event made us realize we wanted one goal and one goal only, and that was to pay off our mortgage early.
Each year, we tried to pay one additional house note to pay down the mortgage more quickly. But year after year, life seemed to get in the way of our making any headway with this goal.
Fast forward to 2014. Our daughter had graduated high school and was out on her own. My husband and I were empty-nesters, so we focused all our extra funds to pay off the house.
We paid down the principal to within a reasonable amount where we felt we were making progress. Then, this year, we received some extra funds due to severance pay from my being laid off and we combined it with money I had been saving for this one goal. July 2016 was the month we paid off our house.
This is a feeling that we still have a hard time wrapping our heads around, but it is true. We received confirmation from our mortgage company that our account was paid off in full and our account was closed. It does feel different living, eating, and sleeping in a paid‑off house. It is our home.
With this achievement, we are making adjustments to our budget, because we no longer have a mortgage payment. First and foremost is putting funds aside for taxes and insurance that were paid by our escrow with our mortgage. This is an automatic deduction from our checking account that goes into a savings account we will not use except for payment of taxes and homeowner’s and wind insurance. The rest of the amount we used to send to the mortgage company will be used for savings mostly; some will be used to make improvements to our thirty-year‑old house that we own now.
I recently decided to change up my kitchen decor and wanted to paint my cupboard/pantry with chalkboard paint. I got the cupboard for a steal a few years ago when I was helping a friend do some work at her resale shop. The person who was going to buy it decided they didn’t really want it, so I was at the right place at the right time and I snatched it up. I have a very small pantry and knew it would be perfect.
This was an easy project that only took a couple of days. I had all the necessary materials, so I jumped in and did it! I figured if I didn’t like it, I would just paint over it. But, I am glad that I liked the way it turned out – I really didn’t want to have to paint the whole thing. As for the rest of the kitchen, I still haven’t decided on what I am going to do, so that will be another blog post.
I used basic acrylic chalkboard paint and a regular bristle paintbrush found at any craft store.
I taped off the edges of the doors on the pantry. After that, I lightly sanded the area I wanted to paint. It does make a difference – so I recommend not skipping this step. Then, I wiped down the area with a damp cloth and let it dry before painting the first coat. I let it dry completely and applied a second coat.
I let it sit for 24 hours to completely cure. After that, I peeled off the tape.
To prepare the chalkboard for use, I used a piece chalk and completely covered the board. (Follow the directions found on the bottle of chalkboard paint) Then I wiped it off with a damp cloth.
With that done, the chalkboard was ready to use! I am not much of an artist, but I gave it my best shot. I am working on my lettering and hope to get better at it. I plan on putting scriptures on one side and our daily dinner menu on the other side.
Tell me what you think about the project in the comments below. If you try a chalkboard paint project, share a picture with us – we would love to see it!
I grew up in a household where my parents were frugal. As I grew older and got married, I tried to incorporate frugal tips into my lifestyle to help us save money. I worked full time in a corporate atmosphere, which means I was on the road and at work for 12 plus hours a day earning a paycheck. During the course of our marriage, I succeeded at some of the tips and failed at others. This list is 8 of my top tips that saved us money while not living the fully frugal life.
8. Brown-Bagging Lunches: I did this most of the time while working because I didn’t want to pay $10-15 for a lunch five days a week. I would, most of the time, take leftovers and heat them up in the microwave at work. Other times I would eat sandwiches or make a salad. This tip can add up over the course of just a month, saving $180-$260.
7. Shopping with a Grocery List and By Yourself: This is an important tip because I will usually only purchase the items on my list and save anywhere from $20 to $100 unless my husband comes along and puts what he wants in the shopping cart. I have gone grocery shopping without my list and end up buying items that I do not need or even use just because I didn’t have a plan and purpose. Save money, shop with a grocery list and go by yourself.
6. Dry Cleaning Clothes: I used to spend $20-$50 dollars a week on dry cleaning my business work wardrobe. Included in this were my husband’s Wrangler jeans and shirts. All it took was one time with my budget being stretched to the max and not having funds to take my dry cleaning to be done that I tried washing several of the articles of clothing myself. I used the delicate cycle of my washing machine and just hung them to dry. I realized what a savings this was to our budget, so I gave away or sold several of my clothing items that could not be washed and replaced them with machine washable pieces. Another frugal tip that adds up over time.
5. Late Fees on Bill Payments: When we first were married 17 years ago, the internet was just becoming a household item and there was no online bill pay or even banking. I would pay all our bills the old fashioned way, by U.S. Mail. But I was one who couldn’t remember and incurred late charges. I have forgotten to pay the electric bill and it was disconnected. Yes, I only did it once and it hasn’t happened again. Then along came the internet and bill paying with online banking. This has saved me anywhere from $40–$80 a month because I have all my bills on auto pay. Yes, I routinely look at all my bills/statements online to review my charges and make sure I am not paying unexpected charges. It saves money, but it also gives me peace of mind.
4. Using Cash: I am a strong believer in using cash to pay for purchases. This has helped keep me from purchasing extra stuff knowing I only had “X” amount of dollars for this purchase. I notice using the debit card or credit card that those little extras sneak in on the purchase and can be a budget buster.
3. Home Cooked Meals: I will be the first to say after working 12 plus hours a day, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook a meal. Being tired, not having prepared for the meal, we would routinely take the easy route and order out, go through the drive-thru, or have pizza delivered. At $20 a meal ($60 for families), this can quickly add up and break your budget. Kathryn (friend and blog partner) and I prepared a week’s worth of slow cooker meals for each of our household freezers. Take the meal out the night before and let it thaw and the next morning, put it in the slow cooker and let it cook all day. Once home, dinner was done and we could eat and enjoy a home cooked meal. In upcoming blog posts, we will be sharing our recipes and freezer meals.
2. Homemade Laundry Detergent: In the Herman household, laundry is something I do every day and the cost of laundry detergent is high on the name brands that I use. I found several recipes to make my own detergent. I experimented with the recipes and made it for our household use. I will share my recipe in an upcoming blog post.
1. Overdraft Banking Fees: This is the number one frugal tip for the Herman household. No matter how diligent I was about checking our account balance online, we would have overdraft fees. This, over the period of several months, could be very expensive. My frugal tip is to put an extra $1000 in the account and do not ever spend that money. I took the money from our emergency fund and padded our checking account. I never used that amount for my budget. It was always excluded. This tip has saved me so much money that I suggest everyone use it. If you spend any amount of this $1000, immediately replace it when funds are available.
These are just a few of my frugal tips for the not-so-frugal household. They can save money in your budget and do not take a lot of time to implement. As I am unemployed, I am tweaking these tips to get more savings in our budget. I will be adding more tips to our blog posts in the future.
Please share with me some of your frugal tips that are successful in your house.