Monday, April 27, 2009

More Birthday Pics

My mom got me exactly what I "suggested." Arch Support socks and a black backpack purse, as well as a new pair of workout shorts. :) Thanks, Mom!
Me and my fabulous girls

My dear friend, Jean'Elle, who shares her birthday with me (I'm 28 years older)

New cross-training shoes from my husband

My favorite birthday card ever! I'm not a huge fan of arcade gams, but I love Ms. Pac-Man! :)

from my sister, Cristi, who manages a Mark's Hallmark store

Birthday Treats

Last week I used most of my free birthday treats that I've posted about a few times, now. I enjoyed a free meal at Rubio's; on my birthday, I had my free lunch at Daphne's - I only paid $1.95 for my soda; and on my birthday evening, we ate at HomeTown Buffet; and I got my dinner free with the purchase of an adult meal. If you haven't done so already, head on over to Free Birthday Treats right now and sign up to receive your goodies in your inbox!
Flowers from my husband, courtesy of Trader Joe's
Family pic at HomeTown

Love from the girls

Gyro and Steak Kabob combo plate from Daphne's

Staci, modeling, in the parking lot at Rubio's. I thought she looked so cute and grown-up, like Auntie Becca, in her jean skirt, boots, and purse on her shoulder.

Retro Pepsi can ~ enter to win

One of my dear friends is a true Pepsi lover - her email is lovinpepsi! So, I first thought of her when I saw this blog post by Denise over at The Centsible Sawyer.

Check out her post and enter to win a "Pepsi Throwback" gift pack.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Survived My First Visit to the Chiropractor! :)

Last Tuesday morning I woke up with a very sore back and a right hip that was lower than my left hip. Yes, you read that right - I was CROOKED! And in pain! :) As any of you with back problems know, sitting puts the most pressure on your back. It's kind of hard to avoid sitting when you work a desk job. I think what bothered me most about this incident is that I was just getting into the swing of things with diet and exercise. I'd been going to Curves on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and then doing yard work, gardening, or my elliptical machine on the off days. This whole back thing has put a wrench in my workout plans!

The first time I ever threw my back out was 7 years ago when our firstborn was about 6 months old. During that episode I was on my back, bed-ridden, for a week. Literally - I could not move at all. After the week was up, I went to Kaiser, and was referred to a physical therapist. He suggested I purchase an exercise ball and work my back and stomach muscles daily. I promptly went out and got the exercise ball - but have I used it for exercise? Of course not - the girls just think that it's a giant beach ball. :)

I was hoping that if I just walked around a lot, the back problem would go away on its own, as it's done in the past. The next day, my friends from work picked me up to take me to lunch for my birthday. Victoria took one look at me and the way I was walking and said "you've got to get that fixed." I told her I was scared of going to the chiropractor, because I've heard stories of people who "once they've gone, have to go for the rest of their lives." Victoria assured me that Dr. Heidi of
Sierra Valley Chiropractic was a very good doctor, and that the most times she's had to see her is about 3 times to be fully adjusted. I got back to the office and called Kaiser to verify my eligibility for chiropractic visits, and then promptly made an appointment for that afternoon.

When I first got to the office, Dr. Heidi conducted a visual examination of my back. She informed me that yes, I was definitely crooked, and that the muscles on the right side of my back were having spasms, and extremely tight. She did "stem and ice." "Stem" refers to some sort of electromagnetic massaging type thingamajig. :) I wish I could explain it better, but basically, it felt like Dr. Heidi put smooth stones on my back, and that it started massaging me similar to a heated massaging chair pad. She also put a giant frozen gel pack on my lower back. After she let that work for about 20 minutes, she came back into the room and was ready to do the "adjustments." Adjustments consisted of me laying in certain positions (almost like special stretches), and taking a big breath in; upon the "exhale" movement, she pushed really hard on my muscles to "adjust" them. She did about 5 or 6 adjustments, and told me to come back on Friday (2 days later).

For my Friday appointment, Dr. Heidi stated that I was still crooked, but not as bad as Wednesday. She then did "stem and heat." After that, she did only 3 adjustments, and told me that I was much easier to adjust that day compared to the first time I saw her. I'm scheduled to go back tomorrow (Monday, which is three days later); so we'll see what she says then.

I am still crooked, and in pain; however, the pain is less in my back, and now feels more like it's pain in my right hip.

I just wanted to let you all know that if you're in need of chiropractic care and am nervous about it, if you have a friend who can give you a good recommendation, I would suggest you try chiropractic care, and not be scared.

P.S. Victoria, my friend who recommended Dr. Heidi in the first place, has not had to see her for chiropractic care in about a year. Since Victoria has been doing yoga and strengthening her core muscles, she has not had a need to see the chiropractor. Dr. Heidi told me that once I'm fully adjusted, not crooked, and back to normal, she will give me some exercises to do to strengthen my back and abdomen muscles. Guess I better do the exercises if I don't want to see her again, huh? :)

Self-portrait of me as I'm laying on the table, while the "stem" massager does its magic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things I'd Do Differently the Next Time I Get "FREE manure"

A few weeks ago, inspired by one of my facebook friends, I started looking on craigslist to see if I could find some free manure to help with my plans for a garden. (After checking out several books from the library, I've learned that the cold wintertime is actually the best time to get manure for your lawns - you just need to dump it, and it will do its work during the winter). Oh, well - we'll see how my garden turns out this year.

I found this ad on craigslist and thought how wonderful - they'll load it for you ~ my friend who inspired me had to do her own shoveling into her truck, so I figured I was "ahead of the game" so to speak. I wanted to share this funny post with you and perhaps give you some pointers in case you want to get your own free "gardener's gold."

**AGED HORSE MANURE** "Gardeners Gold" (Fair Oaks)
We have tons of FREE aged horse manure\fertilizer ready for your garden. Great compost!! We can load your open boxed truck and\or trailer or for smaller amounts please bring your bucket & shovel. Please call prior to coming out to ensure the tractor operator is available to load you up. We are located off Hwy 50 & Hazel Ave - where Sunset and Main dead end. Shadow Glen Stables 4854 Main Ave, Fair Oaks 916-989-1826. thank you and happy gardening.
Things I’d do differently the next time I get “FREE Manure”

1. Go earlier in the day as opposed to the 4:00 pm Sacramento heat.
2. Line my husband’s truck bed with the free landscape fabric we have in our side patio before going to the stables (would have been SO much easier to just “drag” the stuff out of the truck, and not have to worry about sweeping, hosing, and washing the truck afterward).
3. Not stop and unlatch the tailgate before backing up to the tractor that would load it (this would have avoided the embarrassment when the tractor-operator told the ranch-hand – “the tailgate needs to be up, otherwise it will just fall out”).
4. Not be upset when the tractor-operator said “that’s all she can handle” after dumping only half a load of manure = he’s right – that’s all the weight the truck could handle, AND it was all that I could handle when it came to unloading it once I got home.
5. Move my car to the other side of the driveway, so there would be less distance to haul the buckets of manure between the truck and the garden area.
6. Ask for a wheelbarrow for Christmas so that it would only take 4-5 trips to get the truck unloaded as opposed to the 25-30 trips with the bucket.
7. Start working out months before, rather than just two weeks before, to build up those arm/shoulder/back muscles before attempting such feats. :)

Hope that brought some smiles to you! Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Burger-Day from Red Robin

We very rarely go to Red Robin because it's so expensive. Since I signed up for my Free Birthday Treats I received my "Happy Burger-Day email from Red Robin." With that email, I would receive a free gourmet burger of my choice for free; no additional purchase was required. I also have my free birthday meal coupon from Rubio's - this one is not on the list at Free Birthday Treats, so if there are any other restaurants that you like to eat at, be sure to check if they have an e-mail club you can join. So, yesterday after church, my sister asked me if we were going out to lunch, and I said either Red Robin or Rubio's. I wish you could have been in the car with me - both girls were screaming "no, we don't want to go to Red Robin - it's too expensive! I'm not eating there!" I finally told them to hush, and if they wanted, they could "go home and eat toast and water." "Fine, we'll go to Red Robin."

It is expensive! :)

Here's what we ended up ordering:
Shauna - kid's pepperoni pizza meal with melon slices (she received two slices of cantaloupe; of which Staci wanted to steal one).
Staci - kid's hamburger with mandarin orange slices. I kid you not, there were probably only 6 slices in her little condiment cup. (This kid can eat a whole can of fruit if she wants to). The kid hamburger consists of bread and patty; Staci said she didn't want lettuce and tomato; so she got it plain. Then, she only ate the meat patty. Shauna's pizza was a lot more food compared to Staci's - if we ever go back, I won't let her order the kid's burger next time.
I got the California chicken burger that comes with bacon and guacamole. The guacamole was spciy! :) I am a wimp when it comes to spicy, so I wasn't quite expecting that. :)
I also ordered a DietCoke, which tasted flat - I should have just ordered water.

This was our bill:
Soda $2.39
Rad Beef $4.59
Pizzeria Pizza Pepperoni $4.79
CA Chicken Burger $9.79
BDayBGeclub (9.79)
Subtotal $11.77
Tax $1.03
Total Balance Due $12.80

While we were eating, our server surprised me with singing, a balloon, and a hot fudge sundae (of which the girls fought over the strawberry on top). If we had ordered the sundae, that would have been an additional $2.99 charge.

I always want to leave a good example for my kids and leave a good tip. I know that you're supposed to tip on coupon amounts, so I got out my cell phone and calculated what a 20% tip would be if my burger wasn't free. It came out to $4.32; so I left a $5 tip.

So, all told, I spent $17.80. If we'd been charged for the birthday burger and sundae, the total out of pocket would have been $32.00 ~ do you see why I think Red Robin is expensive?!

NOTE: If I'd gone by myself, and ordered a soda, I would have spent $5. If I just had water, I could have gotten by with just a $2 tip.

I was pleased with how well this photo turned out ~ you can see my pink birthday balloon in the background.

I love the USA, I'm very patriotic, and I like baseball "America's past-time" - so this baseball flag was one of the highlights of the restaurant.

The girls both really like the Statue of Liberty with the burger! We had to ask another little girl to move so that we could take this picture - I felt bad, and I offered to take a picture of the girl and email it to her mom, but she declined.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Frugal Friday ~ Hand-made Birthday Card

Happy Friday, all!

Today I want to share with you the beautiful card Shauna made for her teacher's birthday this week. Granted, this is not the prettiest card, and is not embellished with ribbons or stickers, the handwriting isn't even neat - it's just cardstock and pencil, but the heartfelt note makes up for what it lacks. Shauna created this all by herself (after bedtime), the night before her teacher's birthday - which somewhat explains the lack of embellishments. When she showed me what she had created, I almost cried. I tried to get a good picture, but my OLD camera wouldn't cooperate! :)

The front side of the card reads "I hope your birthday is filled with lots of fun"
The inside reads "and I hope your heart can BEAR my love."

Of course I was shocked and asked her if she came up with that quote all by herself - of course, mom. :) And then she said "oh, I forgot to draw the bears," so she then proceeded to draw the two bears hugging each other. I'm confident that her teacher appreciated this card more than a $3.95 Hallmark card.

Frugal Friday ~ one day left for these Walgreens Deals - 4/18

My favorite Register Rewards deals at Walgreens this week:

Scunci elastics - 18 count - on sale for $2.00 ($2.00 register reward)
Colgate max*white toothbrush - on sale for $3.29 ($3.50 register reward)
Edge Energy shaving gel - on sale for $2.99 ($3.00 register reward)
I purchased these three items last night - total with tax was $9.00. Received $8.50 in Register rewards; so I actually will have spent 50 cents for a good toothbrush, ponytail holders, and shaving gel! Woo Hoo!!!

* The best part: if you have the time and patience, you can break your sale up into different transactions.
For example: you can first purchase the elastics, and pay $2.16 out of pocket. Then for your second transaction, you can purchase the other two items, and use your $2 RR from Scunci. Since the RR's (which are basically manufacturers coupons good only at Walgreens) are from different manufacturers, you will still get the RR from the toothbrush and the shaving gel.

This scenario also works vice versa - you can purchase the toothbrush first, and then use the RR from the toothbrush to pay for the elastics and shaving gel.
* If you're lucky enough to have newspaper insert coupons, you can also use those and still get the RR. For example, if you have a 50 cent coupon for a Colgate toothbrush, you can purchase the toothbrush, hand over your 50 cent coupon, and still get the RR!

I hope you're enjoying shopping at Walgreens as much as I am. Since us Northern Californians don't have CVS, I'm glad to have three Walgreens that are super close to my house!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ThankfulThursday ~ I Love My Girls!

God has richly blessed us with two beautiful daughters! Shauna, our eldest, is 7 and a half years old, and is constantly cracking me up. Staci, is 5 years old, and is always in competition with her older sister over everything ~ constantly fighting, but ready to stick up for each other if they feel someone else has mistreated their sibling. Today I want to publicly say how thankful I am that God brought them into our lives; they are true treasures! I love you, Shauna & Staci!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jesus of Nazareth ~ Easter Drama pictures

Our (FAC's) first Easter drama in about 15 years was a huge success. Everyone worked together as a team, and there was a LOT of hard work, toil, time, and money spent - but it turned out great. Since I was in the cast, I was unable to take pictures. Combine that small fact with the poor image quality of my OLD camera, and you won't have a good recipe for success regarding quality pictures. Of the hundreds of pics that my mom and friend graciously took for me, there's a handful of good ones. Here they are, for your viewing pleasure. Thanks to all who were able to attend, those who wanted to attend but were unable, and those who live miles away, but were with us in mind and spirit. Hope your Easter was as blessed as ours was.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Freedom" worship song

Recently, ANONYMOUS left a comment on my freedom post asking where to find the best version of this song. Up until today, I had not been able to find the song anywhere online. Just now, I searched, and was able to come up with three versions that are on YouTube I am still disheartened though, that I cannot find any more information on this song. I'd like to know the song writer, the official lyrics, the copyright date, and if it's been recorded on an album? Anyone know?

My personal favorite version is from the Pentecostals of Alexandria:

The other two versions I found, are:
Indiana Bible College (IBC) October 2008

New Destiny Worship Center, Clearwater Florida

What to blog about?

I've been thinking a lot lately that if I'm going to have a successful blog, that it should be more than just an avenue to post photos for Grandma and Grandpa to see. Although that will still be a big part of my blog, I just think I should spend more time writing stuff. I know it's been a while since I posted, and I felt like I was overdue. While trying to think of what to write, I came across this great blog post from Rather Be Shopping Rather Be Shopping which made me feel better about my blog in general. I really like the ideas presented here, and his comments on commenting.

Happy Monday!

P.S. A special thanks to those who've started following my blog... if I don't personally know you, welcome to my world! If you have any questions or ideas for things you'd like to see me blog about, I welcome them all! Thanks again for being a follower.

P.P.S. I recently stated that the first three followers would get a prize from me. I'm still trying to recover from severe fatigue related to drama practice, but am working on your prizes. For my current three followers, please send me an email with your mailing address so I can get your prize to you in the next week or so. :) My email is

Monday, April 6, 2009

Have you visited Free Birthday Treats yet?

Since Matthew’s Birthday was last Friday, he's received all of his email coupons for the goodies he selected (well, actually, I enrolled him) from Free Birthday Treats. My birthday is in a few weeks, so I'm looking forward to receiving all of these emails for myself! ;)

Black Angus – free steak dinner (choose any steak up to $19.99) with purchase of an entrée – expires 2 weeks after birthday

Offers expiring one week after his birthday
Cold Stone Creamery – coupon good for one FREE Like It Crete Your Own Creation (ice cream + 1 mix-in) served in a cup
Daphne's Greek Café - Free Plate; no purchase necessary
Fresh Choice – 35% off coupon – valid for a party of up to 6 people on the same check (discount applies to adults only, not children's meals, since kid's meals are already discounted). Do the math before you go in case the cashier doesn't know how to enter the coupon - this happened to us, we had 3 adults, so we should have gotten 3 discounts at 35% - instead we got two discounts at 25% - the manager reimbursed us the difference, but it was a small hassle).
Hometown Buffet - buy one adult meal, get one free
Marie Callender's - $5 off entreee’ AND a FREE slice of pie (excludes fresh fruit pies and cheesecakes)
Orange Julius – buy one get one free coupon for 20 oz smoothie or $1.50 off one smoothie
Red Robin – free gourmet hamburger; no purchase necessary

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Matthew & Frugal Birthday Posters

Yesterday was Matthew's birthday, but with all of the extra work we've been putting in for our drama practice, I did't get to plan the kind of birthday celebration that I wanted to. I would like to share just a few ideas for frugal birthday celebrations that we used.

From the Dollar Store, we purchased a world map and a foam poster board sheet, along with a helium balloon and one of the small plant balloons.

I was so proud of Staci and how great she is doing at school. I told her to write "Happy Birthday to the Best Daddy in the World." I then proceeded to give her the spelling, and she said "no - I know how to spell it!" And she did - she did a great job. Here are the pictures of the special birthday posters the girls made. Shauna was especially proud of her "smiley face" balloon she drew.

Although not quite so frugal, we also celebrated by going to dinner at Black Angus. We used the certificate from The Prime Club through Black Angus to get Matt's steak dinner free. He's also gotten a lot of other great birthday freebies through Free Birthday Treats. Check it out if you haven't done so already.

For the extended family, here are some pics of the girls and Daddy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

A friend posted this on facebook, and I felt it was well worth sharing.... something to ponder on this terrific Thursday.

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique. However; after they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

May we all be COFFEE!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Joke of the Day ~ April Fool's

An atheist was quite incensed over the preparation for Easter and Passover holidays and decided to contact the local ACLU about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while the atheists had no holidays for them to celebrate. The ACLU jumped on the opportunity to once again pick up the cause of the downtrodden and assigned their sharpest attorney to the case.

The case was brought up before a learned judge who after listening to the passionate presentation by the ACLU representative, promptly banged his gavel and said,

“Case dismissed!”

The ACLU lawyer stood up and objected to the ruling and said, “Your honor, how can you dismiss this case? Surely the Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. And the Jews, why in addition to Passover they have Yom Kippur and Hanukkah … and yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!”

The judge leaned back in his chair and simply said, “Obviously your client is too confused to know about or for that matter even celebrate the atheists holiday!”

The ACLU lawyer pompously said, “We are aware of no such holiday for atheists … just when might that be?”

The judge said, “Well it comes every year at the same time … April 1st!”
Psalm 14:1 - The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Psalm 53:1 - The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
James 2:19 (King James Version) - Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.