Monday, December 2, 2019

No.323: Intentions for December

"Advent is synonymous with hope, not the vain waiting for a faceless god, but concrete and certain trust in the return of him who has already visited us."
- Saint Pope John Paul II


  • say the Saint Andrew Christmas novena
  • attend the local Christmas parade
  • lay wreaths on veterans' graves at the cemetery
  • address and mail Christmas cards
  • bake three new kinds of cookies
  • keep up with a December Daily album
  • decide on outfits for Christmas Eve Mass
  • use up the wrapping paper I already own before buying new rolls
  • SLOW DOWN and enjoy this time of year

I have a few posts to publish this month, but will mostly be busy preparing my home and heart for Christmas.  I'll be back to regularly scheduled programming in the new year!  Wishing you a peaceful Advent season. XOXO

Friday, November 29, 2019

No.322: My Latest Reads // November

This post contains affiliate links.
P.S. I highly recommend Book Outlet!  Use my link to receive $10 off your first order of $25 or more.  And be sure to check out their Black Friday sale - 30% off sitewide!

#67. THE BORROWERS by Mary Norton
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Our school read aloud for October.

#68. UNOFFENDABLE by Brant Hansen
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Yes, the world is broken.  But don't be offended by it.  Instead, thank God that He's intervened in it, and He's going to restore it to everything it was meant to be.  His kingdom is breaking through, bit by bit.  Recognize it, and wonder at it. (p.40)

Unoffendable takes an interesting look at anger, especially in the age of social media.  I think some of his reasoning was a little too simplistic, but as whole, we can agree that it's universally beneficial to allow others to have differing opinions without feeling disgust/offense.  This is one of those books that would have made a great article, but loses its effect when it's draaaaaagged out into 200 pages.

My Rating: ★★☆

He knew what it was then that Liz had given him; the thing that he would have to go back and find if ever he got home to England: it was the caring about the little things - the faith in ordinary life; the simplicity that made you break up a bit of bread into a paper bag, walk down to the beach, and throw it to the gulls. (p.91)

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold has so many great I'm thinking I maybe just didn't understand it?  Well written but not what I was expecting.  (This was also my 1963 pick for my 20th Century Reading Challenge.)

#70. THE A.B.C. MURDERS by Agatha Christie
My Rating: ★★★

I really, really liked this one!  Agatha Christie had such a gift for writing about crime, but without all the gore.  This story line was interesting and had a twist at the end that I never saw coming.  So good.

#71. WOMAN ON THE EDGE by Samantha M. Bailey
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Woman on the Edge was an intense psychological thriller with a harrowing premise: What if a woman on the subway platform hands you her baby, then jumps in front of a train?  The first half of the book was strong and I couldn't tear myself away.  Unfortunately, I found the second half to be too far-fetched and the ending a little too neat.
(And thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.  Woman on the Edge will officially be released on March 3, 2020!)

#72. SIMPLY TUESDAY by Emily P. Freeman
My Rating: ★★★

If they don't know who you are, then you have been given the gift of obscurity.  Let this not be offensive.  Let this be a relief.
When I celebrate my smallness and receive the gift of obscurity, I am free.  I have hope.  I can give generously.  I can be who I am rather than either who you think I am or who I want you to think I am.  When I resist smallness it's because I'm afraid it means invisibility. (p.104)

May we be sensitive to the ways our words land in the hearts of others.  May we be quick to turn to you when the words of others land heavy in ours.  Show us the people you ask us to love and give us the courage to be loved in return. (p.130)

My first thought as I started reading Simply Tuesday: Emily Freeman, you're preaching to the choir.  A lot of what I write about here on my blog follows her idea of small moment living.  She had many good points and even a few that spoke right to my heart and got me all choked up.  My only critique is that it was a little repetitive, but otherwise a really good book.

My Rating: ★★☆

I signed up to read and review a book from Netgalley before realizing that it was a sequel!  I quickly found a copy of the first novel to get up to speed.  Felicity Carrol and the Perilous Pursuit is about a feisty independent young woman in Victorian times who investigates the murder of her beloved mentor and friend.  There's something about the way that it is written that really bugs me, although I can't put my finger on it yet.  Maybe with book #2.


Books Read: 73
Pages Read: 21,665
Fiction: 47  //  Non-Fiction: 26
Kindle Books: 23  //  Paper Books: 50
Original 2019 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 424 // Current "to-read" total: 416

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

No.321: The BWF Super Specific Gift Guide // Science

This post contains affiliate links.

I know, I the Internet needs another gift guide.  I'm posting this one anyway because I think it serves two purposes: these are all tried and true things that I believe are worthwhile purchases and it almost serves as a time capsule since Sophie's favorite subject this past year has been science!  So forgive me for pushing more stuff this time of year, but if you're interested, here are some of her best-loved things:

Sophie got this lab set from Learning Resources two Easters ago and it was a great way to introduce her to chemistry.  The pieces of the kit are all heavy-duty plastic and even include a handful of laminated experiments.  Her favorite was cleaning old pennies with lemon juice!  For her birthday this year, we got her a color chemistry set, which was also a big hit.

Another birthday gift was a white lab coat, because you have to look the part, right?  It's not the best quality, but it definitely keeps her clothing clean.  I embroidered her name above the front pocket for a little something extra.

3 // BOOKS
Look I'm a Scientist is a nice beginner book - we've done a handful of the experiments with good results.  Another zoology favorite is Encyclopedia of Animals.

The latest addition to our collection is this circuit clay kit. I like that it combines artistic creativity with science!  The only con is that the clay in our kit was a bit crumbly.  I plan to replace it with this clay soon.

Sophie's other love this year has been the solar system.  Her favorite book on the subject is the First Big Book of Space - it has beautiful pictures and is easy to read and understand.  Other space favorites: this puzzle and this DIY solar system set.

Do you have a little scientist?  What are some of the favorites at your house?

Thursday, November 21, 2019

No.320: A List of November's Frugal Accomplishments

My Goal: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.  
And if you have to spend money, do it with intention.

+ I sewed the button back on my wool coat.  A two minute fix and it's as good as new!

+ Instead of hiring a photographer, we decided to take a family photo ourselves.  We used a tripod and lots of bribery...and it was worth it!  We got a decent picture and saved at least $150.  I also ordered Christmas cards from Basic Invite while they had a promotion for 30% off, saving us around $20.

+ I have been keeping and reusing almost all of the boxes and packing material I receive in the mail.  I've been selling a lot of items on ebay for my 1,000 Item Declutter Challenge and this has kept packing supply costs down to a minimum.

+ I used Rakuten (formerly ebates) for cash back on my online purchases.  Each little bit counts and it adds up!  The sites I used: Chewy: 3%, Fat Brain Toys: 4%, Carter's: 1%, Old Navy: 4%, Book Outlet: 5%, and ebay: 2%.

+ I invested in "Iron Knee" leggings (affiliate link) from Lands' End for Sophie.  They are more pricey than the Target ones I usually buy, but I'm hoping the reinforcement will help keep them in one piece a little longer.  I waited for a coupon and got 2% back with Rakuten.

+ I gave my son a haircut and my daughter a trim.

+ I borrowed and read a book from the library.

+ We filled up our propane tank while the company had an early bird promotion.  It feels like an exorbitant amount of money to spend, but it's at least $300 less than what we usually pay. 

+ We made it until November 9th before turning on the heat.  This was three days earlier than last year, but waking up to 59° in the house forced my hand.  Still so grateful for that small 36-day relief on our electric bill!

+ We paid off our cell phones.  Our cell phone bill is just ridiculous (and we don't even have fancy phones!) so we decided to pay off our balances early and look into a different carrier.  Currently in research mode!

Your turn!  What did you do to save a little money this month?


Previous Frugal Accomplishments: