Category: Simple Living

How “A Simple Life Too” Almost Became A Beast

A_Simple_Life_Too_Almost_Became_Beast

I have lost my way.

Somehow, over the past year, my blog went from being about how I can help others’ live a simpler life, sharing what my journey to simplify has been like, and what God is doing in my life, to being about how to make money with my blog.

A Simple Life Too became a “Beast” when I stopped blogging about my heart and what I wanted to write about and it became about “how can I make some money.”

I am sorry.

So, I am sort of starting over again.

No, I won’t get rid of the content I currently have, as some of it really is useful. But I am going back to why I am writing in the first place – by making sure everything I post is because I want to post it, because I hope it really is something that might be useful to others, and / or it is something that truly brings me joy.

I also am not going to fight my life to post more often.

I have a baby. I have three other children. I homeschool, nurse the baby, clean the house, spend time with my husband, and have quality time and  conversation with the folks in my church community.

I live, then I write. I can not continue to live to write.

I will write about our homeschool experience, from the humble perspective of what I have learned so far and what God is showing me WE should do.

I will write about what God is doing in my life and speaking truth. I will probably write about the Biblical holidays.

I might write about how I am working with my children and trying to encourage them. I might also write about our issues with food and how we are trying to eat healthier… and sometimes failing miserably.

I might write about how I really want to go to Disneyland / Disneyworld or some other aspect of my desire to travel. I might still write about trying to work from home… and what has worked and hasn’t worked for us there so far.

I might even come up with something new. We will see…

I would love to hear from you. What did you like and/or did not like from A Simple Life Too this year.

Simplifying: How Do You Want Your Closet To Look?

Do you want your closet to look like this or this?
Do you want your closet to look like this or this?


Can you walk into your closet right now and, with a 5 second glance, find a great matching top, skirt and sweater? How about being able to find your best dress for church or a date with your spouse? Or do you stand there, overwhelmed and unable to find anything that goes together, at least with out digging through for minutes or more? Maybe you are somewhere in the middle?

Look closely at the photo of the two closets? Which does yours look more like? A pile of clothing, all shoved together with no order? Or an ordered set of clothing with room in-between each thing so the clothing can “breathe?”

Now, you might be saying, the disorganized closet looks like men’s clothing and the organized one looks like women’s clothing. Yes, you are correct. One is my stuff and the other is my husband’s. But this post is not to dis on my husband. He likes his way of doing things and that is fine. BUT if you would like to be more organized, here is your chance to learn how. I have laid out three simple tasks that will get your closet in order quickly.

If You Can’t Fit It In, You Have Too Much Of It

Task #1: Stand back and look at your clothing. Is it all smashed together, almost on top of each other (see the photo below)? Unless you have a very small closet that more than one person is trying to use, you probably have more clothing than you need. If you really want a simpler life, you don’t want to have more than you need and more than you have room for. Decide what you want to get rid of, then what you should get rid of. Task #2 might help you clear more stuff out.

Is your clothing all smashed together?
Is your clothing all smashed together?

If You Haven’t Worn It, You Don’t Need It

Task #2: Go through every item in your closet. Have you worn it in the last 6 months? No? It is a seasonal item (i.e. only for winter or summer)? No? Then sell it or give it away. Do not hold on to it with the thinking, well, I might wear it again or I need to loose 20 pounds to wear it, etc… If you haven’t worn it, and it isn’t the wrong season, then you aren’t going to wear it! It is causing clutter and excess that is not helpful to you.

If It Isn’t Organized / Ordered, It Will Be Harder To Find It

After sorting through and eliminating some of your clothing, you then need to organize your clothing so it is easier to find. Looking again at what not to do (above), here are two photos of my closet:

100_3242

Ordered and organized
Ordered and organized

The first photo is my skirts and dresses. They are organized by color – brown, green, blue, purple, pink, off white, white, grey, black. The second photos are my tops and sweaters. They are also organized the same way. I can look in one area, see that I have a black top with some print, then turn around and look at my skirts and see that I have a solid black skirt available. Time – 5 seconds. If it is cold, I can turn back to my tops and see that I have a solid black sweater available.

It is so quick and easy to find my clothing every day!

Let me know if I can help you more or if there is anything in this post that you aren’t clear on.

Save more at Get Organized-Shop our Clearance

10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10: #4 – Public Pool and/or Lake

10 Things Summer Swim
We love to swim!


So far this summer we have: started the summer reading program, played at the park, and done some arts and crafts during a rainy day. Now comes one of the best activities of summer – swimming.

Unfortunately, swimming can add up quickly – swim suites, floaties, the cost of lessons, etc… However, if you can get some inexpensive suites (think Walmart), or reuse what you have from last year or accept hand-me-downs (some people prefer not and I do understand), and not have to have all the other stuff, you can do summer swimming on a few dollars.

We have found for myself and our 3 children, it is $7 or $8 to take them to the local, public pool. If we add dad, then we come up to the $10 threshold. If you family is bigger, then the public pool could become expensive quickly.

Which brings me to the other option – public lakes. We have a couple of lakes within a 30 minute drive and it costs either $5 or $10 for day use for one vehicle (depending on the lake). Some are even free. We made it really frugal last year by going with another family in their cargo van. They paid gas and I paid the day use fee at our favorite lake.

We also know of a family who has built a pond on their property. They allow families to book a day or half day, for free, to swim there. What a blessing!

What is your most frugal way to go swimming?

A Simple Truth: Why Do We Keep Doing What Doesn’t Work?

A_Simple_Truth_Why_Do_Keep_Doing.jpgThey say the the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So why are you still doing it?

During a session with our counselors, my husband was told the above quote to something he is working through. Of course, my first response was, yea, why aren’t you making the changes that need to be made. However, the correct response that I needed to make was to look at my own life and see what things I was continuing to do that weren’t working, and figure out what needed to change.

The first thing I realized was I needed to change some things with my interaction with my children, They have a routine they are supposed to do every morning – yet they don’t do it w/o me reminding them to do so – every morning! So what do I need to do, to change this?

1) I need to get up when they get up. I have used my pregnancy as an excuse to sleep in, in the morning. If I get up when they do and I tell them to do their routine, it will be done before breakfast, not after.

and/or

2) I need to tell them today, that from now on, they are to do the routine every morning after they get up, whether or not I am up, and that they will be disciplined if they do not. The consequence should be that they miss out on something “fun” that day.

The next thing I realized was that I was not spending enough time / days in devotionals. Maybe one or two days per week. I don’t do well in the morning, usually falling back asleep, so I have to do them later in the day. What do I need to change so I can do daily or near daily devotionals?

1) I need to make devotionals a priority before I work on my blog or do afternoon projects. I am not allowed (with rare exception) to start working on my blog business or project until after I have spent time seeking what the Lord wants for me. And if He wants something different that day than my plan, then I need to be prepared to do it.

One more thing that I was seeing is that some interactions with my husband were getting strained and that I was trying to “get” from him instead of give.

1) To change this, I needed to change how I was dealing with him daily. When he gets home at night, no matter what I have been doing or how I feel (did I mention I was pregnant:-)), I choose to greet him as he comes in, ask what I can do to help him settle in for the evening, and what he would like to do tonight.

2) Anytime I feel I want something from him, I take it to the Lord instead. If what I need really is something I need and is good, the Lord will work through him or someone else to provide it, whether it is changing a faucet or just needing some affirmation.

I hope these examples will help you stop what you are doing today and examine what you are doing over and over again and are getting results you don’t like / want / need. See what you could do differently instead. I would love to hear your stories!

Blessings!

Blog Sabbatical

The good news is that I am pregnant!

The bad news is that I am not having an easy 1st trimester (or start to my second trimester now). Therefore, I have not written in over a month. I have decided to take a little time to nurture my baby and my children and this blog will be on Sabbatical for a couple of months.

Want to reach a few 100 readers? I am accepting guests posts, even during the sabbatical.

10 Things For Children To Do This Summer Under $10: #2 – Play At The Park

10 Things To Do This Summer - Park
What is your favorite park like?

Last post, we talked about the free summer reading program. Item number 2 on our top 10 list – playing at a local, public park.

Update 2017: Oh! They were so little! But now we have a new little one and even though the others are older, they still love park days!

I sincerely thank whomever first created the concept of the public park – bless them!!! The park is this frugal families’ saving grace each spring, summer and fall. We make a bi-weekly trip during the summer, especially since we currently have a park within walking distance.

We also try to visit a larger park a few miles away – it is huge and has water features open between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This park was mostly paid for by the city’s recycling program.

I always spend the first part of the park visit with the girls on the swings. This is not only their favorite activity, but this is my time to spend directly with them. After 10 minutes or so, depending if people are waiting, the girls are then sent off to the rest of the playground, and mom rests while keeping an eye on them.

Sometimes I chat with other moms and sometimes I just enjoy a few minutes of quiet pondering. The children are all pretty outgoing, so we usually make a new friend or two each visit. If anyone ever wanted to know how homeschooled children could possibly have social skills, just watch my girls in action at the park!

Please share your favorite park and why your family likes it.

10 Things For Children To Do This Summer Under $10: #1 – Summer Reading Program

10 Things Under $10
10 Things Under $10
What is your favorite free or frugal summer activity?

Update for 2017: Our girls STILL love the summer reading program and we are doing it again this year!

The first item on our 10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10 list is not only free (or nearly if you are like me and have the occasional late fee), but most summer reading programs also give the children stuff – just for reading!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Our local library’s summer reading program lasts from June 1st – July 31st. There are 3 levels of prizes, which usually include free meals @ local restaurants for the children and free skating, bowling and/or other activities. At the end of the program, the children get a shiny new book. Last year, my children picked out Boxcar Children books.

As you can see in the photo, the girls are excited for the program again this year! As a bonus, my older girls sometimes read the required 20 minutes to the younger one. More reading, less TV, real quiet time, and prizes – this is our families #1 thing to do this summer under $10.

Now go ahead and read the rest (yes, I know there is only 5. I promise someday to get to 10):

10 Things To Do This Summer #2

10 Things To Do This Summer #3

10 Things To Do This Summer #4

10 Things To Do This Summer #5

Super Simple Menu Plan: One Week Of Meals For Less Than $100

Menu

Our goal for a family food budget is $450 per month. This means that we have $100 or less to shop on each week (since there is 4 ½ weeks to almost every month). We eat fresh, healthy, whole, homemade food, which means very few coupons are useful to us. So how do we do this?

The following is our menu for a week, which I plan Thursday to Wednesday, since Thursday is my usual shopping day:

Thursday –

Breakfast: homemade whole grain waffles with maple flavored agave syrup.

Snack: ½ orange

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese and tortilla chips

Friday –

Breakfast: ½ banana, oatmeal with non-dairy milk and honey

Snack: store-bought cheesy crackers (with whole grains and real cheese)

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread, ice cream

Saturday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cold cereal (whole grain, low sugar), non-dairy milk

Snack: store-bought ginger snap cookies (natural, no artificial ingredients)

Lunch: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread

Dinner: mixed veggies and pirogies

Sunday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with berry mix, honey, non-dairy milk

Snack: ½ orange, ¼ protein bar

Lunch: mixed veggies and pirogies

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, Panda black licorice

Monday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: cheesy crackers and peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)

Lunch: veggie salad and tortilla chips

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Tuesday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: ¼ orange, whole wheat crackers

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Wednesday –

Breakfast: cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack:  gingersnap cookies and ice cream

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: veggie stir-fry with rice noodles

If you would like to see any of the recipes, please post a request. I would love to hear your healthy, simple menus – post a link if you have one!

Blessings and healthy eating.

 
YWAM

How to Feed A Family Of Five For One Week With $25

Learn to eat simple / cheap from other countries!
Learn to eat simple and cheap from other countries!

No, this is not an extreme coupon challenge. We recently had a situation where we only had $25 to shop for the week and feed our family of five. With a very limited pantry and no coupons or stockpile, I had to quickly seek the Lord and ask Him to show me what we would do. And, He did – during the past week, through a series of events, I had learned about Ethiopian Food. Due to their very limited economy, Ethiopian’s have learned to make inexpensive but flavorful and filling food.

What follows is the menu we followed for the week.




  • 5 breakfasts of oatmeal

  • 2 breakfasts of peach muffins

  • 3 lunches and 2 dinners of Injera bread and lentil stew w/ tomatoes and spinach

  • 2 lunches and 3 dinners of fried rice

  • 2 lunches and 1 dinner of mac and cheese with mixed veggies

For total disclosure, the final dinner was pizza when we finally had money in the bank again:-)

Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links.

This is what we had in our pantry:

  • Whole wheat flour

  • Brown rice

  • Cane sugar

  • Tomato paste

  • Vinegar

  • Soy Sauce

  • Olive Oil
  • Canned peaches

  • Salt and Spices

This is what we purchased for $25:

  • Oatmeal

  • Lentils
  • 1 qt of almond milk

  • Butter

  • 5 pack of mac and cheese

  • 2 bags of frozen veggies (one mixed, one spinach)

  • 1 – 18 count eggs

  • Carrots

We honesty ended up enjoying the food and did not feel that we were going without for the week. We are so encouraged by this, that we have decided to take up this challenge once a month and only have a $25 budget for one week every month. Our normal food budget runs about $75 – $100.

Oh, and another positive note is that I lost two pounds during the week. There really is something to be said about simple living, including simple eating.

What would you do if you only had $25 for one week to feed your family?

 

How Some Families Are Successfully Going Outside The Health Insurance System

Read the post from Money Saving Mom about the Samaritan Health Care Ministry:

http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/10/how-we-save-money-on-health-care-costs.html

I believe the Samaritan’s Health Cost Sharing ministry is a great idea and is working. However, the following is my response to the post:

We would like to join Samaritan, but we can’t afford $370 per month.

Currently, my husband and I go without health insurance and God has been faithful to take care of us. My husband currently has a cellulitis infection and we are treating it naturally as we have done in the past.

We treat colds and flues all naturally and ask for God’s will and intercession before we see the doctor.

My children have Medicaid for their once a year visit.

If we were to be in an accident, there are many ways it could be covered, including by charity from the hospital because of our low-income.

God knows how hard my husband works to support our family (over 80 hours per week), and where we are at financially, and meets us there. Until the fines for not getting insurance exceed $4000 per year (what it would cost for us to join Samaritan or get “regular” insurance), this is where we will live.