Behind the Scenes of One Mama's Life

Masking Challenge

This is my first time posting a card that I have made, so I am a little nervous. I am posting this in response to Lolly Chops, who issued a masking challenge after her latest tutorial for Prima Marketing. In this tutorial, Lolly used a Prima mask to decorate her tussie mussie and she challenged those of us watching to make something using a mask.

Since I didn’t have the type of mask she used, I did some more traditional masking using a rubber stamp.

I stamped the center jar first. Then I stamped the same image onto a scrap piece of paper and cut it out…

I placed this mask over the center jar and then stamped the image on the right and on the left. You can actually see where I stamped them on the mask itself. The masking allows the viewer to see the jars as if the center jar was in front of the other two.

After the images were stamped, I colored  each jar in with copper ink. Using a ruler, I drew a rectangle around the image and then stamped my sentiment. This focal image was backed with colored card stock and then adhered to a white card base. The stamps and card stock are from Papertrey Ink – the jars are from their Asian Fusion set.

As this is my first time, please feel free to offer constructive advice on how I can improve on things in the future. Thanks for looking!

UPDATED to add: I won this challenge in a random drawing – thanks, Lolly!

Great Shopping Trip

My son rolls his eyes & asks if he can stay home. Why? Because I’m going shopping. I have my notebook, my ads, my canvas bags, and – of course – my coupons!

I know, many people think couponing is a waste of time. But I paid attention this time. The whole thing – looking at the ads, reading the money-saving blogs, making the lists, gathering the coupons, traveling, and shopping took a little over 4 and a half hours. So, I will make the math easier by saying that it was five hours.

I subscribe to four main money-saving blogs and get their daily digests. They are (in alphabetical order):

So, I get my Sunday paper (usually two of them) and take out the ads and coupons. I get my notebook and check out the blogs for my weekly trip. My printer is nearby so that I can print out the coupons I need right away. I used to be a skeptic when it came to printing my own coupons, but after trying it, I have found that it is well worth the ink and paper. I usually spend around 30-60 minutes on the list-making and coupon-gathering steps.

This week, I went to Walgreens, CVS, and Shoprite. I think the most difficult thing about couponing is learning the different rules each store has for using coupons. I have made many mistakes at Walgreens because their policies are a little more involved and a little more restrictive than CVS. However, I still get really good deals there, so I just keep trying.

At Walgreens this week, I went in with two Register Rewards (RR) certificates – one for $10 and one for $1. They only allow you to use one certificate per transaction, so my daughter and I each had a separate transaction. They also only allow you to have as many coupons as items, so you can’t buy one item with a coupon and a RR. So, we just break down our list accordingly. Together, we purchased Arnicare Gel, two packs of razors, Purex and a newspaper. Because these items were on sale, right off the bat I saved $11.50. Then I used some manufacturer’s coupons and my register rewards. That saved me an additional $18. I saved $29.50, but what did I spend?

I spent $4.80 and I received another $8 in register rewards for me to use later. Basically, Walgreens paid me to take these things off their hands.

Next, it was off to CVS… Now this one is not as spectacular, but it’s still worth my time. I bought shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste and I used a coupon for each item. These items were on sale and combined with the coupons, I saved $6.61 and I spent $7.35. This would have been a much better deal had I not forgotten my Extra Care Bucks from my last shopping trip. You see, I had $5 in CVS cash hanging on my refrigerator and I forgot it. I would have only paid $2.35 otherwise. Oh well, that just means I have $5 more to spend the next time.

Even though I spent $7.35 on the above, I walked out with $6.79 in Extra Care Bucks to spend next time (unless I forget them!). So, it was still a great deal.

Now on to the groceries. Another common complaint I hear about coupons is that there are no good food coupons. While I agree that meat, dairy, and produce coupons are not as easy to find (they are out there), there are some really good deals out there – and I found a few during this trip. I do go to multiple grocery stores, depending on the sales, but I tend to shop more at Shop Rite. They allow you to use up to four of the same coupons during a single transaction. So, I did hit two different Shop Rites this day, as they were both on my way home. At the first stop, I only bought pasta. They were having a great sale and I had some coupons! They have a limit of four of each variety of a sale item, so I bought 12 boxes of pasta; four each of three varieties. Shop Rite also credits you $0.05 for every canvas bag you use, so I got $0.15 additional cents off just for bringing my own bags! Anyway, my savings from the pasta being on sale was $4, but my savings from the coupons was $15. So, I saved $19 and spent…

$2.73 on twelve boxes of pasta!

Then I went to the second Shop Rite and got a little more. Yes, I bought more pasta. I got milk, bread, yogurt, cereal, toothpaste, air freshener, and more.

On this trip, I saved $12.51 because many of the items were on sale and then I saved an additional $27.02 with my coupons. Buying all of this…

I spent $26.80! When I combined both trips to Shop Rite, I spent $29.53 and I saved $59.53.

If I go back and add up everything I spent and saved, I would come up with:

Spent: $41.68

Saved: $95.64 (plus, I had $8 to spend at Walgreens and $6.79 for CVS which will translate to free or almost free products the next time around)

Now back to my original reason for paying more attention this time… Was it worth my time? I have heard people say that I’d do better if I just got a part-time job. Well, let’s think about that. I spent about five hours total on this trip. If I worked five hours at a part-time job, and I earned a generous $10 an hour, I would make $50. Then Uncle Sam would take his cut, leaving me with around $35-40. Given that, I would have to respectfully disagree with anyone who tells me that a part-time job would be better than clipping coupons. You see, I would have earned $35-40, but I saved over $95.

In addition, I got to spend time with my children instead of paying for childcare (which I didn’t even figure into the equation above). I know it’s not the same as playing with them, but we did have some fun and got to listen to a really good book on CD in the car.

Is it worth it to clip coupons? A resounding “yes” ~ and it can be fun too!

Do you have any favorite money-saving  or couponing tips?

Who Am I?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted… Back in October, just one day before I was to move, my computer broke. It took forever to get it fixed and then I couldn’t seem to get internet access. So, I have spent most of 2011 trying to play ‘catch-up’ with everything internet-related; in addition to everything else in my day.

So, when I read Linda’s post over at Prairie Flower Farm I thought it would be a good opportunity to get started again. Linda asked a series of five questions to help her readers get to know each other a little better. Here are her questions with my answers:

1. Would you rather be knitting, crocheting, hand stitching doing embroidery, sewing using your sewing machine or all of the above? I think I would prefer to be using my sewing machine as I am not really very good at the others. In fact, just today I was unpacking and arranging my patterns and fabric. I got an itch to begin working on some sewing projects. I know my daughter is waiting for a skirt or two, as is her doll…

2. Do you have any kind of crafty or sewing thing that you are working on now? My biggest project right now is making my house a home for my family. Then I will begin working on some cards and the above-mentioned sewing projects.

3. Do you like to cook from scratch or do you use prepared food? I prefer to cook from scratch. We decided a while ago that we wanted a healthier life style and eliminated artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. We also have a lot of food allergies, so it just makes sense to prepare everything from scratch and really know what’s in it. Unfortunately lately, I have not been as creative as I usually am because my health has made it a bit difficult. I have trouble doing many things that baking requires, so I have had to keep it at a minimum for a bit. I am praying that will change soon.

4. Will you have a garden this next summer……what will you grow and will you start your own seeds? I hope to have a garden this year. We moved to a place that does have a little land and our landlord gave us permission to have as big of a garden as we wanted. However, we may not be able to do all that we want. We don’t know anyone with any farming equipment and we’d have to start from scratch by digging up all the grass. We just might not be able to handle it this year. Though, I will at least get some things in pots, if nothing else. I guess I should get started with some seeds soon.

5. Do you live in the city or on a farm which would you rather if you could? Neither. We live near a small town but do live on about a half an acre and are about an hour from the major city near us. We do have a big town about a half hour away. All that said, I would prefer to live on at least a farmette. I’m not sure how I would do with a lot of animals, but I would like a larger garden plot, some chickens and maybe some goats.

Hop on over to Linda’s to get to know some wonderful ladies – thanks, Linda!

Happy Birthday

Today, October 9th, is a special day in our house. Nine years ago today, I gave birth to my first-born son. To say it was a traumatic experience would be an understatement. I was due on September 30th and they finally brought me in on October 8th for an Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI). They found absolutely no fluid and told me that I would have to stay. I asked them to tell me how big my son was, but the technician told me that she wasn’t allowed to check as it was not on the doctor’s orders. I was induced shortly thereafter and was then in labor for 25 hours. Toward the end of that time, the doctors tried to assist my son with forceps – boy was he stubborn! At that point both my blood pressure and my son’s began to drop. While I didn’t want to do it, I was told I had to have an emergency c-section. When I was finally able to hold my son in my arms, I was informed that he was 11 pounds, three ounces; and 23 1/4 inches long. His head circumference was over 15 inches! The doctor told me that even if they had been able to get his head out that they would not have been able to get the rest of him out without breaking his collarbone. So, I am very grateful for the way God worked it out to protect my son. The nurses told me that he was the second largest child to ever be born at that hospital! Now, if that technician had just looked at his size during that AFI…

But fast forward nine years… He has continued to grow, just coming back on the charts last year, but still in the 95-98th percentile in height. We’ll see where he is officially next week at his annual appointment. He is an intelligent, happy young man who makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis. Though we struggle with allergies, asthma, Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, none of that gets him down. He smiles, he laughs, he imagines, he creates – he absolutely amazes me.

I love you, my son, thank you for making me a Mama.

I love, my God, thank you for blessing me with my son. Thank you for trusting me with his upbringing.

Happy Birthday!

Prairie Flower Party

Today, Linda over at Prairie Flower Farm had some great news. She had her cookie recipe published and she won a second place prize. Congratulations, Linda! In order to celebrate, she’s having a party on her blog. You can hop on over and enter to win a copy of the magazine ~ Create and Decorate ~ as well as a homemade snowman cookie by Linda herself.

Thanks Linda!


I know – two posts in one day when I have only posted sporadically in the past!

I was recently over at To Love, Honor and Vacuum and Sheila is doing a month-long challenge on simplifying one’s life. Like my last post, this is something that has been time perfectly (isn’t God good that way?) for me and my family. As we organize, pack and move (then do the same in reverse order) simplifying is something we need to do. We began with yard sales and actually raised a little money while de-cluttering the house. Now that the move is imminent, we have begun donating truck-fuls to a Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. It feels good knowing that our things will be helping others in addition to helping us pare down.

So I thank Sheila for doing this during the month of October – Simplify Your Life Month!

Fall Challenge Week One

Today begins Week One of Courtney’s Fall Challenge to Make Your Home a Haven. The challenge for the week was to get a candle and light it each day this week. Every time you see your candle’s flame say a prayer for peace in your home.

We are in the midst of a major transition at our house right now. One morning about two months ago we received a phone call from our landlord informing us that a realtor was coming over to photograph the house in order to list it for sale. Needless to say we were a little shocked by this news. However, we figured that we had plenty of time, given the economy and the asking price of the house. On September 20th we were told that we had 30 days to move.  Anyway, later that day, we were asked to try to find a new address by October 1st, but that we would still have the remaining three weeks to move out. It has been a very busy and stressful two weeks. We just confirmed our new home last night and will sign the lease tomorrow. Talk about cutting it close!

So, our house is not much of a haven right now. We have empty shelves and packed boxes. We have limited closets and no decorations. We have a tired Mama. I have two children who don’t understand how much work is involved in this move. Haven is not a word I would use to describe the house in which we currently reside.

But I have faith that that will change. We have a new beginning awaiting us – a new chapter in our lives. I am a different person moving into this new house than I was when I moved into this one. I have new tools, techniques, that I can put to good use in making my new house into a haven.

That being said, I knew which box was holding my candles. I didn’t go out and buy a new one, but I used one I had in the box. I placed it on the mantle this morning. As I was running around cleaning and packing today, I saw that candle’s flame dance frequently. I kept praying that my new home would be a peaceful haven. I look forward to lighting more candles in my new home.

Come along and light some candles with me…

Dear Younger Self

Today, Lynn and Dineen over at Spiritually Unequal Marriage began a series called The Intentional Marriage. While I was unable to view the first part of this series (long story, but no audio and very little data usage), I wanted to take a moment to participate. The challenge this month is to offer advice to our younger selves – before we were married.

Well, I wasn’t so young when I got married; at least not like brides used to be. I waited until I was in my 30’s to tie the knot. I had even known him for many years before we married. However, ironically, my advice to my younger self would be to wait a little longer and get to know him better. Had I done that, though, we probably would never have been married at all. So, what do I mean by this seemingly conflicting advice?

Ok, so maybe we wouldn’t have married… I can look at my younger self and honestly say that I wanted to be married. I was in my 30’s and had no prospects. I had grown out of the typical ways I thought one would meet a husband. I look back and know that I had already overlooked a few red flags. We got married, and even though we had known each other for years, we really hadn’t spent much time together.

Now older and, theoretically, wiser, I would highly recommend courtship instead of dating. I would suggest spending more time together learning about how each person handles conflicts, how he or she relates to family members, and how arguments are handled. These are all important as these situations will surface in every marriage.

Ok, Lynn and Dineen also requested that we post a picture from the wedding – keep in mind that we didn’t have digital cameras so this main be a bit grainy.

The Next Sherwood Movie…

From the makers of Fireproof comes…


Honor Begins at Home

ALBANY GA – Nov. 15, 2009 –
Sherwood Church, home of the hit independent movies FLYWHEEL (DVD only), FACING THE GIANTS, and FIREPROOF (2008’s top indie film), at its Sunday evening service tonight, announced the theme and title for Sherwood Pictures’ fourth movie.  Senior Pastor Michael Catt, Executive Pastor Jim McBride, and ministers Stephen and Alex Kendrick—collectively the leadership team of Sherwood Pictures—made the announcement.

     “The movie is about fatherhood and the title is one word:  COURAGEOUS,” Alex Kendrick said, briefly outlining the plot.  “Four fathers who are all in law enforcement—who protect and serve together—go through a terrible tragedy,” he said. “They begin looking at their role as fathers . . . and they begin challenging one another to fulfill God’s intention for fathers.”

     That single-word title, Pastor Catt said, echoes God’s call for men to “rise with courage” in their homes and as leaders.  This at a time when 4 of 10 marriages end in divorce* and more than a third of all children live away from their biological fathers.

     “The statistics on fatherless children are devastating,” McBride said. “And because the family is the building block of society, one important place to rebuild families is through fathers who stay and lead and love.”

     “God led us,” co-writer and producer Stephen Kendrick said to the audience of church members, many of them volunteer crew, cast, or catering in earlier Sherwood movies.  “We believe God is calling men to rise up with strength and with leadership in their homes, with their families and with their children.”

     “For more then a year we’ve prayed to be sure that we’re pursuing God’s idea and not our own,” Catt said.  “With action, drama, and humor, this film will embrace God’s promise in the Bible to, turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.”

Focusing on Fatherhood     “We focus on the crucial role of father; it’s not just to be a father who loves his kids,” said Alex Kendrick, co-writer/director of COURAGEOUS.  “It’s to be engaged with a purpose—to be a father on purpose.”

     All four leaders of Sherwood Pictures are husbands and fathers.  Pastor Catt has two children; Pastor McBride has four; Stephen Kendrick has four; and Alex Kendrick has six.

More Than a Movie     Sherwood movies entertain as they touch audiences where they live, and they show the means to live more fully through faith in God.  FLYWHEEL focused on compromise and business integrity; FACING THE GIANTS on despair and hope; FIREPROOF on a dying marriage rekindled.

     With previous Sherwood movies, fans, churches, and organizations across the country (and world) became “partners” in the movie’s impact—giving prayer support for production, distribution, and the movies’ messages. Ministries and outreaches used the films in creative ways.  Churches built series and group studies on the topics; Sunday schools seized the momentum of good entertainment that emphasizes life-changing truths.

     “It’s been the Bible’s story of Jesus multiplying the boy’s fish and loaves,” Alex Kendrick said.  “God has multiplied these movies beyond our wildest dreams.”

     Principle filming of COURAGEOUS begins March 2010 in Albany.  Like the previous three Sherwood films, COURAGEOUS will be marketed by Provident Films.

     Sherwood Pictures is a ministry of Sherwood Church of Albany, Georgia, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Michael Catt and Executive Pastor Jim McBride.

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