Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A different kind of Christmas

Tomorrow is December and the shopping has begun, but before the madness sets in we wanted to share with you another way to give this season and also feature some really great blogging hearts. Last week a giveaway took place at oneblessednest (Taylor's Mom's Blog). For the second year, Tina has posted the Advent Conspiracy video followed with a little giveaway. To enter you have to share how you plan on doing Christmas differently. Last year was fun, and I won one of the prizes.- But this year takes the cake!

I did not enter this year, because we were not really sure how Christmas was going to work this year, and we were way too busy last week. But I did make it a point to go back and read the comments and it was so encouraging to hear so many people saying things like...

"We want more time together, not more stuff!"

How great of a statement is that? Last night on our drive back to Houston, Taylor and I were talking about our decision to not participate in one of our family's gift exchanges, and how bad we felt for not taking part. But to us it wasn't about family or even the gifts because we would just exchange gift cards. So we wanted to take a break from the game and decided that this year we would just be there to see people. After reading the comments posted on Tina's contest we feel like this was a really great idea. Mostly because we are not alone in wanting more for Christmas. More then a present can give. More then a gift card can hold. More then our own hearts desires. We want more!!!! More time with family, more memories, more game nights, more sugar cookies, more smores, more hugs, more lunches with friends, more movie and popcorn nights, more ice cream dinners, more of life. But not just for ourselves, we want more children to find families, we want more families to have clean water to drink, we want meals to feed the hungry, and blankets for the homeless, we want work for the unemployed, we want good health for the sick, we want love for the lonely, we want more to give more this year. Give more of their time, of their talents, of their stories, of their mercy, of their cheer, of their compassion, and more of their hearts. Put a stamp on that and mail it to Santa!

We are not talking about giving up gifts but just a reminder about what is really important. And looking at ourselves and wondering if what we have and what we want is what we need. Thanks to everyone who entered the Oneblessednest Giveaway for sharing your hearts and ideas to have a truly meaningful Christmas this year. You can read all of them at the link above.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Monday

This week we made our list and only picked up items for one week and a few days, because we will be home enjoying turkey with family this week! So here is what we got...

The cereal said FREE so we got it, and after a mail in rebate we hope that the box isn't lying... :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Shoeboxes

It's getting closer to the most wonderful time of the year! That means shoe boxes must be prepared! Each year Journey Fellowship posts photos of children and workers at two orphanages that they sponsor and invite the church to chose one or two or three to take home, pray over, and pack a box filled with soap, toys, clothes, and love. Then we send the boxes with a team to deliver them. The video that we get back is so worth the time and effort to share some love with children that could use a little extra.

This year we got to help by signing everyone up who wanted to participate. We also took a few boxes home. Guerby- a boy we had last year, age 12, Rodney- an interpreter for the Oak Hills Church team at the orphanage and his wife, Ketline. Three boxes!

Because my wife is amazing, we did most of our shopping from our closet- toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorants, cologne and perfume, toys, books, pens, calculators, and more... just waiting to be put to good use!

After a few more shopping trips we had our boxes all ready!

Last year Guerby's information said he like music so I got him a harmonica, around the same time I got mine. This year there wasn't much info into what he liked so I got a bunch of stuff- a football, a skateboard, a pop ball, some clay, cards, plus the school and hygiene stuff... Hope he likes it! :)

Rodney reminds me of myself, so I took all the things that I want and bought them and then I send them to him! ;) Every Man Jack body wash (I entered a contest to get that bottle free), a cool vintage tee (I have the same one in blue), a pretty dandy compass/watch/carabiner, a multi-tool with built in flashlight, and moleskin notebooks (I really want one, but Taylor won't let me buy one because I have a suitcase of empty notebooks and sketch pads at home.)

Taylor had so much fun picking out all kinds of girly stuff like jewelry, hair pieces, perfume, a mirror, chapstick, sunglasses and more! It was fun because Rodney and Ketline are a young married couple like us so picking out the stuff was easy! Taylor also loves filling shoe boxes by finding great deals like flip-flops for only $1.50 and a pile of bracelets for just over $2! The perfume was free during Christmas sales last year and almost nothing was bought at full price, but will still be fully exciting for Ketline!

Good Job Journey Fellowship!

This weekend we will be assisting in preparing the boxes for take off which includes removing the cash for shipping, checking that liquids are bagged, and taking out any candy (not because we don't want the kids to have candy, but because it gets given personally from those who deliver at the appropriate time! lol!) We also check that the boxes are full so we go prepared with extra goodies to fill any gaps! Fun stuff!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Monday

We have had a couple people asking us lately how we eat off of $10 a week. So in this Menu Monday we thought that we would share with you our process in addition to the next two week's menu!

We always make a list before we go shopping. This week we made ours while driving back to Houston. We talk about what we have coming up (lunch meetings or parties) and if we will be at home (driving to San Antonio) to figure out how many meals we need to plan for.
Then we remember what we already have. We made a batch of beans last week that needs to be eaten and we have half a bag of rice. So we decided that tacos and enchiladas were good choices. We can make tortillas so we just need to add cheese, a tomato, tomato sauce, and some meat to our list. We know that we can make this last us for four dinners.
Because we are buying meat we also know that we can get by with just half of the package for tacos and we can use the other half for spaghetti. So we add pasta, and pasta sauce to our list. This should last us another 4 dinners.
We add items that always stay on our list, things like bread, fresh fruit, and peanut butter and jelly (if we don't have any but at this time we do).
We also like to get some kind of snacks or chips because we're munchy like that.
Breakfasts are kind of random and since milk costs so much we really haven't been buying cereal much lately. For now we have some oatmeal that we bought for around $.10 at CVS on clearance. There's eggs, bread, and the occasional chocolate chip cookie from the lobby. ;)
Lunch is almost always PB&J, with fruit, and some chips or pretzels.

So here's our list!

Next we look to see if we know we can find coupons for our items (we know what items often offer coupons but you can check for all your items on sites like coupons.com) but we almost always buy store brands because they beat even the coupon prices. We look for combo deals in paper ads but most of the time those cost too much. Sometimes we find promotions like 10 items for $10 and match some items with coupons to get super low prices and stock up!

Another rule we use is: Shop with your calculator! We add everything together as we put in items in the cart so we know we are staying within budget. Often times we have to put things back to even out the total.

This week we grabbed everything on our list with some extra money left over, so we bought butter (we have been out for awhile) and yeast (just finished our last bit last week!) and our total came out to $16 even! We had to add $1.17 for flour that we bought at SuperS with a coupon, so a total of $17.17! That leaves us with $2.83 to save for a rainy day. :)

This is what it take to feed us for two weeks.

Day one (and two)!

And it's so good!!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunny Saturdays - Parade!

This weekend we went to Devine and spent the morning at the Devine Fall Festival and Parade! It was so fun! And what a beautiful day!!!
When I grow up I want to be a firetruck!

My old Boy Scout Troop 72! And our friend Mickey with the troop dog!

Fall Festiveness

Devine Warhorse Band!

There was a funny sounding crow/kid on this float...

Mom's Hometown

Stanley from Cars

The Calvary bringing up the rear.

On to the Festival! Shops, food, friends, and fun!

And of course the rides!


We went to Lytle for lunch because Lily of the Valley Church was having a free Turkey dinner outreach! Then we went thrift store shopping and missed our exit to get back home and found something really cool!

Boy Scouts! Out for a bike ride! One of them was riding my old bike too! We donated just for this purpose. I didn't ride it anymore and it was just taking up space, so happy it is being used now!

We ended our Sunny Saturday with a candle light service for the Women ACTS retreat in Castroville. Mom was a coordinator and I have two aunts and a cousin who were on the retreat. We had a great time showing them some love and singing a songs.

What a great Saturday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

October Giving ~ SA Food Bank

Since I am in San Antonio for the rest of the week our giving for October will go to San Antonio Food Bank.

"The San Antonio Food Bank is committed not only to providing emergency support, but also to working to address the systemic issues that cause hunger and poverty. We strive each and everyday to do our part in feeding the hungry and providing support to the many families that live throughout our sixteen county service area, but... we cannot do it alone."

We love San Antonio, and Food Banks are great resources in desperate times. Not only will we be donating and helping feed families, but we get to do it in a fun way! Our friends over at Bless Your Heart are hosting a food drive from Nov 2nd to Nov 20th and if you bring in 5 items to donate you get a $5 giftcard and if you bring in 10 items to donate you get a $10 giftcard! So, I'm super excited about giving for October! ;)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's getting closer!!

Christmastime is just around the corner! As we pack Manos de Cristo Shoeboxes and shop for Angel Tree gifts, we begin to think about how we will celebrate with our loved ones. Both of our families will be in Texas so that makes traveling easier, but the big question is what to do about gifts... This is our second year participating in an Advent Conspiracy Christmas. If you haven't heard, AC it is just a different way of celebrating, based on four simple principals~

Worship Fully

Spend Less

Give More

Love All

The first year, we stuck our toes in and asked for water donations along with the usual video games, CDs, and new clothes.

Last year we changed our giving method- we made or found a less expensive gift that was meaningful to the receiver and paired it with a donation to a charity that matched.

This year we talked about not doing gifts at all... just spending time and maybe starting some new traditions. We have decided to opt out of the normal gift exchanges this year, until we feel that we aren't just playing the "I'll buy you a gift card to Target if you get me a gift card to Old Navy" game. Taylor also had a brilliant idea that got me thinking. It went along the lines of, there is nothing wrong with buying people gifts, gifts are great! But Christmas is Jesus' birthday, not yours. So instead of blowing the budget on gifts for everyone we know who really don't have needs, we should be getting Him what He wants!

Like we said we still don't know for sure what we are doing this year, but we know we have to do something and we want to make it meaningful. We will post our official TaylorFrankie Christmas List soon for those of you looking for great gift ideas that do good as well as bring a little Christmas cheer. In the mean time take a look at the video and let us know what you are doing this year! We'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Campaign '10

Our latest adventure involved a full tank of gas, a vacation day, and two sneaky kids. We decided that the best place for us to be yesterday afternoon was home with our family waiting for the results... but that wasn't until 3:30 of course... So we packed up and headed out of town and surprised everyone! Most importantly my Dad! We were happy to be there to support him in his adventure. Now, the election is over and it's not good news for our write in campaign, but we gave it our all and that's all we could do. Thanks everyone for your support! Dad we are so proud of you!!!

A few pictures from the results party...

It surely was a fun night with family despite the results of the campaign!

Now I am back to work and Taylor got dropped off in San Antonio for the rest of the week! We'll meet up again for the weekend and for some more adventures!