Wednesday, July 30, 2014

~ Discount Diva ~ Breaking it Down ~ Session 3 ~ Stockpiling ~ What is it & Why should I do it ? ~

The Faith Journals will be doing two series of posts through out the rest of the summer and possibly into Fall . The topics of " Breaking it Down " & " Quick Fixes "  on varied money saving , stress lowering , and life bettering subjects will be shared . Both series have the purpose of helping make life a little easier and a little less expensive . My thoughts are that we are all in this together , we might as well share our secrets on survival . That is also why you will see some guests posts in these series . Today ' s  " Breaking it Down " will focus on the topic of  " stockpiling " , what is it and why should you do it ?

Some fellow couponers hear the word stockpile and automatically think of a mini - mart in your basement . I am not to that extreme , though when I watch extreme couponing on TV I do envy their never ending stock of movie candy !! As you read this post there are going to be a few words you should know . To start and to answer the question of  " What is stockpiling ? " I shall lean on my old friend merriam-Webster and per the definition of  "Stockpile " is as follows....

a :  a reserve supply of something essential accumulated within a country for use during a shortage
b :  a gradually accumulated reserve of something

Words you need to know per the Stacie dictionary ....

Deal Dash : a : going to a store or from store to store simply for the sales , coupons , discounts and savings . b : a sale / deal that is worth the fuel / time of not purchasing everything in one location .
aka : store hopping
Store Hop : Going from store to store in succession . Kinda like a pub crawl , but different . Plus , you will more than likely remember how you got home , not be found lying on the floor screaming " I LOVE THIS SONG!! " or wonder where your other shoe is . Bonus !!
Clearanced : Not a real word . Totally made it up . Verb : The action of having been reduced to a final price .

Store Coupon : a coupon that is specific / can not be used at another retailer . EX: Coupons that are often printed at the time of your receipt as an attachment or found only in retailer circulars / weekly ads or are located near the entrance of the store . They are usually marked with the stores emblem or symbol .

Manufacturer Coupons : a coupon that comes straight from the maker of the item . EX: Secret , Revlon , Yardley's , Tide . It is usually printed next to the expiration date that the coupon is from the manufacturer . Can be found in Sunday News papers , online or in store isle dispensers (kinda like the take a number machine at a butcher or pharmacy ) .

Behind the Counter Coupons : Coupons that are sent to the retailer with the product for display or for the purpose of handing out . Much like with samples , stores tend to keep them behind the counter for the sake of a neat display and saving space . Unless you ask or the cashier offers up the info you will not know these are there . Gotta ASK !!

Side Note : Most stores will allow you to combine store and manufacturer coupons ! But be sure to read the store coupon policy before counting on those doubled savings .

This is a Coupon Care Package that I sent to one of my
former RA's while she finished up her degree . The coupons were
sectioned off for cleaning supplies , date night , and beauty products .
 College students are resourceful & truly are some of the best
at  stretching a dollar . When made aware of the savings coupons
can bring it is almost as good as sending them actual money / products .
Almost ! Definitely cheaper to ship than a bottle of shampoo !
Now , we are not in a situation where we " need " to stockpile due to shortage , but I do believe that stockpiling items you regularly use is financially wise and a way of being a good steward . That is one of my main concerns when couponing , deal dashing and stock piling . I want to respect what I have and make the most of it . Not everyone thinks that way and that is TOTES O.K. ! I hear a lot of people say that they don't coupon because why would they want to have 4 bottles of shampoo ?! Here is the answer to " Why should I do it ? " ; for me if it is going to be a future purchase , it is on sale now ,  I have a coupon now , and I can afford it now , then why not go ahead and stock the fridge / medicine cabinet / cub bard / linen closet / etc . ? Personally it has always proven cheaper in the long run , saved me some time and stress . I think we all hate reaching for something and not having it when we need it . Now , please take a moment to think this through . If it is going to put you out , into debt , cost you more than it saves , or ruin/go bad quickly than that is simply counter productive . The goal is to lower the stress and save a dollar not pull our hair out and go broke . One more thing to consider as you read , I live in a small town . So , for me to " deal dash " is not difficult or costly . I can go to CVS and in  one - two minutes be across the street and in Walgreens .

When planning a deal dash I think you should consider several things . 1 . As they say in Hollywood , it's all about Location ! Location ! Location ! Competing chains are often located across the street or beside one another . See example of CVS & Walgreens in paragraph above . If you will be spending more money on fuel to hop from store to store then it is best to do the home work early and see which store will give you the most for your money prior to hitting the road . 2 . How long will you be out ? If you are going to be out for a while or live a good distance from the store you might want to consider taking a cooler or cold lined lunch box with you to store certain items . 2 liters do not do well in heat so , leaving them in the car while you store hop can lead to a soda explosion.....not a fun kind like on the science channel . Cosmetics / certain hygiene products do not hold up in heat either .  3 . Like a boy scout , you must always be prepared . <-- See also #2 . Know the coupon policy or be willing to ask when you are in the store , look at the current weeks circular , know what coupons you have prior to going in and filling your buggy , don't be afraid to ask sales associates if you have a question or a item isn't marked as it was advertised and last but not least have a goal / budget in mind . I have found that if I go in with out having a budget / goal then I will spend more and end up with things I don't or won't really need .
I keep reusable grocery bags in my car
so that they are always handy . Some stores such as Target
will giveyou a discount when you use a reusable bag instead
 of using their plastic bags . To me a nickel saved is a nickel earned ! :-)
One of my examples is going to be this weeks CVS circular . SIDENOTE : It is important to keep in mind that some retailers circulars vary depending on state and city . So , again ,  it is important to review your local ad prior to heading out for a deal dash ! In my location , with my CVS Extra Care Card , this is a free service provided by all CVS stores to help w/ discounts & to accumulate
" rewards " for the customer . Break it Down : You simply sign up , are given a plastic card and key fob for handy scanning and every time you shop there you " earn rewards " for being a customer . It is also used for their in house coupon machine . Today I scanned my card at the in house coupon machine and received three coupons . 1 . A free reusable grocery bag (as seen in weekly circular) and 30% off of selected CVS items . 2 . Thirty cents off certain 2 liters and 3 . $ 2 . 00 off selected vitamins . For this girl anything that helps me to  ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Repurpose ~ , is a bargain . Sadly my store was out of the advertised reuse bag , but when I asked a sales clerk she let me know they are giving customers a different CVS reuse bag in place of the advertised one . The one I got was prettier so I was happy with the trade .  Breaking it Down : On this visit I didn't use any  "store " coupon other than the free bag , but they had a buy 1 get 1 50% off ( with CVS Care Card ) on the deodorant I use . I came prepared and had on hand a buy 2 get $ 4 . 00 off manufacturer coupon .  Combining the bargains I was able to purchase 2 boxes of deodorant for $ 9 . 48 . This item is normally $8 . 99 per box @CVS , making my savings $ 8 . 50 not counting tax . I basically got a second box for 49 cents . Yes , I am a high maintenance kind of chick when it comes to certain beauty products so , this was a real deal for me !! . To help you compare , at another local non - drug store - esq store (aka box store) the deodorant was $ 7 . 99 a box . At a glance that looks like a good deal and if you only want to purchase one box , are in a hurry or don't want to deal dash then yes , it is cheaper , but when you compare it to getting 2 boxes for $1 .49 more , it really isn 't much of a bargain .  Deodorant is a product that doesn't exactly expire and I will always need . Making this a stock pile worthy item , plus I got a FREE reusable bag !
Todays CVS Deal Dash !
My second example is going to be at Walgreens . On my list was mascara , eye liner ( according to you should toss your tube / stick every " 3 months if used daily or every 6 months if not " ) , page protectors ( random I know ) and possibly nail polish . I had a rather unfortunate spill causing me to lose my most used polish . I know . It was way sad (said like a valley girl ) . I also have an abnormal fear / boarder line phobia of getting a sty in my eye so , I am RELIGIOUS about knowing when to toss / replace eye products . For other cosmetic expiration dates , you can click on this link ---> to .

Back to the deals ; as I mentioned before , a deal dash in a small town can totally be worth the time since it isn't really costing you much fuel . Having already compared weekly & regular ad prices I decided that with my coupons , Walgreens Rewards , and the hope that my favorite sales clerk was on duty , going the one block distance across the street was my best choice for purchasing these items . I don't know if I have mentioned this before , but being cordial to sales associates can really be helpful as you shop . Especially if like me you are in a small town where you start to recognize faces or more importantly they start to recognize yours . I have raved to several of my friends about one Walgreens sales associate in particular that is always more than helpful to me . She can usually be found at the cosmetics counter , faithfully greets everyone with a smile and a hell-o while offering her assistance . I think that this is one of those associates that has started to recognize my face too . Walgreens is my favorite go-to for discounted /clearance quality brand nail polish and other varied cosmetic / hygiene items . They can always be relied on for a buy 1 get 1 %50 off  on my favorite brands , plus at the moment you can earn 50 reward points with every dollar you spend , you still earn normal advertised " bonus points " , and it can all be combined with store coupons and manufacturer coupons . Incase this is new to you , Walgreens has a " Balance Rewards " system that is free to all their customers . Break it Down:  You sign up , are given a plastic card and handy key fob so that you don't have to lug a wallet full of discount cards every where . With most purchases you earn " points " and those points turn into dollars . You can use them as soon as you have $ 1 . 00 or you can let them accumulate . At the moment I am letting mine accumulate . So , with coupons in hand , circular reviewed and goal / budget in mind I headed toward the cosmetics when my friendly associate gave me her familiar greeting and offered her assistance . I let her know that I had a few items in mind and coupons I was hoping to make the most of . She immediately noticed the brand I was perusing ( L'Oreal ) and offered to see if she had any " behind the counter " coupons she could offer me . I replied with a " Great ! Thank You ! " and continued my hunt when she gleeful spouts that not only had she found me $ 5 . 00 worth in coupons for the products I was purchasing  , but she also had some free samples to give me ! Now THAT is service !! I was able to get my above listed items for a total of $ 20 . 94 . I also purchased some flavored waters on clearance .
Testing a new mascara and eye liner . I'll
be sure to report back to you on them .
Breaking it Down : Eye Liner normally $ 8 . 99 (  I probably would not pay that for eyeliner on most occasions , but this promises to be 16 hour long lasting and I tend to laugh off my eye make up so with the discount I had today I am gonna give it a try . I'll report back . ) , Mascara Normally $ 7 . 99 with each having a $ 1. 00 off  from the " behind the counter " coupons combined with the buy 1 get 1 deal they end up costing , Eye Liner = $ 7 .99 + Mascara $ 2 . 99 = before tax  $ 10 . 98 . All my girls who love cosmetics and beauty products can tell you that a GOOD tube of mascara all on its own can cost close to $ 10 .00 or more depending on the brand . As mentioned I was also hoping to find a replacement nail polish . I came with a $ 3 . 00 off Revlon brand manufacturer coupon knowing that 1 . this brand is buy 1 get 1 %50 off this week . 2 . This is a brand that is frequently  found on Clearance at this store depending on the color / season of the polish .

Once again letting my friendly cashier know what I was on the hunt for she came from around the counter to help me search . She also had a store coupon for $ 3 . 00 off two Revlon nail polishes that could be combine with my manufacturer $ 3 . 00 off  ! I found the polish I needed to replace ( they only had two bottles left so a special display hunt away from the normal brand placement was required ) since the polish is currently buy 1 get 1 % 50 off and I had a coupon for buy two get $ 3 . 00 off I basically HAD to find another polish to get . I mean , it just makes financial sense , right ?! . If nothing else I could us it in a future " Mistle Toes " gift this holiday season . Breaking it Down : Normal price of Revlon Gel Polish $ 7 . 99 , Normal price of second Revlon Polish  $ 5 . 99 . With deals , discounts & coupons Revlon Gel Polish = $ 4 . 99 + Second Polish @ buy 1 get 1 deal $ 2 . 99 + "behind the counter " coupon of $ 3 . 00 off  = 2 Bottles of Revlon Polish for $ 4 .98 not counting tax . Technically getting one bottle for free and the other for half off  when comparing to the original single bottle prices . Nail polish doesn't expire , but it can get dry and gross .  Any one with a caboodle full of polish can tell you that . ( If you don't know what a caboodle is I'm not telling you ) . However , one good thing  is that polish can sometimes be renewed with a little bit of nail polish remover or polish thinner . Sites like have a section where you can call in to Skype w a representative or send in a e-message for more details / tips .

Break it Down :Something to keep in mind when cruising clearance products . When companies begin a campaign for a " new " product they will often clearance their own previous product if the items are too similar / competing . I. E. Revlon " Color Stay Gel Envy " vs . the previous " Color Stay Nail Enamel " polishes . With a new Gel Campaign out to meet the recent trend of gel manicures there are new names on familiar colors . For example : The picture below is of two bottles that I purchased in January 2014 . See that blog post here .  The blue color is called " Indigo Night " . It has since been remade and re-released into the Gel Envy Collection and given a new name " Wild Card " . Knowing that the Gel Envy collection would be a Spring / Summer release the company clearanced the similar color from the " regular " Color Stay collection in Winter at this retailer . So , as I ( LUCKY CUSTOMER ) come across a discounted item what I need to know is that 1 . There is nothing wrong with it ( otherwise it wouldn't be on the shelf  ) . 2 . It could possibly be discontinued so if I like it I need to grab it up . 3 . If I miss grabbing it up there is a great chance a similar color will be back on the shelves soon possibly in a newly designed bottle , with a special scent or new / improved chemical make up . I.E. Gel polish . The same is true for cereals , seasonal coffee , and varied other items . If a brand comes out with a new box / container design then the previous one will either be removed from the shelves , discounted or clearanced . Still , it is always good habit to check expiration dates no matter if a item is sale , discount , clearance or normal price . No use stockpiling something that has already expired . Does that all makes sense ?! I hope so ! This bonus info given to you courtesy of my Advertising Degree and Retail experience . I am glad to be using both to help you make the most of what you have .

Todays purchase of a gel top coat will hopefully
extend the use of these awesome colors !
Nail polish , shampoo , soap , deodorant , coffee , canned goods , paper products and boxed dried foods such as noodles are all great things to stockpile . When stored properly these items can last a very long time ! You may not use the exact brands that I do , but I am sure that these breaking it down theories can apply for the brands that you do use . Deal dashes / couponing / stockpiling does sometimes require looking twice , looking through sales papers , comparing prices , and reading coupon policies in order to get the most from your store , product and coupons , but for me it has always been worth the extra five minutes of review / math . Don't forget these methods can be used online as well especially when you shop through sites like . I hope that these break downs and explanations have helped you to know what to get and when to get it . Again , the goal is to help one another out . To lessen the stress and save some money .  Do you have any stress relieving or money saving tips you would like to share ? Do you have any questions / comments ? Please feel free to leave them in the comment section ! You can also click on any highlighted words / links through out this post to find more information , previous posts , and related links to the products / places mentioned .

Happy Store Hopping and Deal Dashing !!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

DIY Desk ~ Quick Fix ~ Guest Post

I have been very excited to share this latest Guest Post " Quick Fix " with you . My friend Kelly (aka Melly ) as an amazing eye and great taste when it comes to home decor . Especially when it comes to DIY home décor . Melly and her hubby are coaches at a private school in Florida . I think everyone understands a phrase like "teachers salary " , which is the kind a of budget most coaches I know are on as well . Well when Melly did her first set of home DIY's I encouraged her to blog them , but she did not . So , when she started this second set I requested permission to blog them . They are so awesome it simply isn't fair that she keep them to her self . So , here is her second post in the " quick fix " series , you can find her first post here .

~ DIY Desk ~

When you don't have a lot of money because you just spent it all moving into an awesome apartment , it can be pretty depressing ! Especially when that apartment is empty ! In order to furnish our new apartment , we had to get a little dirty . We found the nearest salvage place ( Echo Relics , for those in Jacksonville ) and loaded up on old wood , which we were able to negotiate a price for .
One super easy project we just finished was our desk for our office . We found a solid piece of ply wood , had them cut it at the salvage yard and were lucky enough to find the brackets we needed as well . We had the wood cut into 4 , 3 foot pieces , and the leftovers we had them cut into 4 , 2 foot pieces and we had two , one foot pieces left over after that . We used the mighty drill ( very fun to use ) to make a solid square with the 3 foot wood and then used brackets ( also can be found at a salvage store or hardware store for pretty cheap ) to prop it on the wall . We wanted to make it look like it was floating . With the 1 foot pieces , we made a box style shelf inside the desk . It was very easy to do , but you will need two hands !
Not a pic fr a magazine !! Mellys actual
project . I think it's AMAZING !!
With the leftover wood , we made floating , zig-zag like shelves to hold our records on . These are still a work in progress , but the same concept applies . The drill is your best friend ! And brackets will secure anything to your wall...even drywall like ours !
The total cost of our project was about $30 for the desk and shelves . We would never have found anything that cheap that we didn't make ourselves !
~ Melly
Thank you so much Melly for sharing this awesome DIY . Melly has several other great DIY home projects that I am hoping she will share on her blog or with us via guest posts . What are some DIY projects you have gotten into lately ? Anything you'd like to share with us ? Keep a eye on for future guests posts , quick fixes and varied other musings .
You can click on the high lighted links through out this blog for other "Quick Fix" posts through out the Faith Journals . We all could use a little help making life a little more simple .

~ Summer Reunions ~

Summer is that time of year where we give ourselves permission to stay out a little and wake up a little too late . We throw our hair in top knots instead of doing the work to wear it down and wear sunnies instead of make - up . We do just about anything so that we can maximize our relaxation / vacation time . Another thing about Summer is that we find ourselves with opportunities to catch up with friends . For some reason the rest of the year just seems to make it impossible . I blame the holidays . Yup , August to May it's the holidays fault that we do not have time to meet up . This summer has allowed me several meet ups with good friends . I said it here before , but I am truly grateful for friends who are willing to do a " meet in the middle "  kind of trip so that none of us are traveling too far or spending all our cash on gas .

My most recent meet up was when a few of my former roomies traveled to Gatlinburg for a girls trip . I wasn't able to spend the week with them , but I was able to go back and forth from my place to their cabin to spend some time . For me , something is better than nothing , especially in these situation . I of course would have loved to spent their entire stay with them , but it just wasn't possible . This girls trip was a tad different than our trips of the past . Back in the day it wasn't unusual that five or six of us would cram into Jessica's Malibu (aka Club Bu) and drive to the beach , DC or any city worth while for a few days . But , alas times have changed and our trips require more planning , more vehicles and more space . Mainly because we are now out numbered by children . 
Ebe's 30th in DC

VA for Jess's Wedding .

This trip was fun for many reasons , but for me one of them was the fact that six years ago we had one of our meet ups in Gatlinburg . Jessica had just had Sophia and was the first in our group to have a baby . We all took turns carrying her around (Soph not Jess just to clarify :) ) , taking pictures of her , dressing her up and just really enjoying being together ( as we always do ) . Obviously when you are in the land of clogging , Dolly Parton , and home made everything , you ARE going to take the opportunity to play dress up with your friends children . That first trip we all kind of thought of Sophia as a living doll . This is merely one of many outfits we put on her . Six years later and we still enjoy treating her like a baby doll .
Sophia @ " Lidl ' Dollys Dresses " a factory outlet
for those frilly dresses your mom put you in as a child.......
.....Was that just me.......
.....and Aubrey ?!
The reason we went back to " Lidl ' Dollys " was not just for a recreate , but for Aubrey . When her mom told her she was getting a new dress , her reply and I am not exaggerating one little bit was , " OH Momma thank you so much !!!" . I . Can't . Even . Handle . The . Cuteness !!!! Once BB ( aka Aubrey ) got to the dress section she just could not choose . Clearly a child after Aunt Stacie's own heart . When we asked Sophi if she wanted one she simply replied in her 6 going on 16 tone with a eye roll and a " no " . She did however allow for me to do that recreate of her holding a dress . Another difference on this trip is that three more kids have been added to our group with one more on the way . I didn't manage to get as many pics of the boys . They move quickly and often making them difficult subject to photograph .
Griff , Pax , Soph & BB
Ripleys Auquarium of the Smokeys

Munchkins in a row .
Photo Cred - Aunt EBE
Our time pool side , the way we travel , and what we now find entertaining may have changed with the years , but one thing that has not is our love and true enjoyment of being together . It could be my favorite thing about my friends . We can be apart for who knows how long , but AS SOON as we are in one another's presence it is as if no time has passed at all . Wearing make - up is pointless , not because of the heat , but because we are going to laugh it all off . Fixing our hair perfectly is a waste of time because someone's child is more than likely gonna wanna play hair salon . And going to the pool with the hope of a tan is just silly . Pool time is now spent helping the kids to jump , play and swim (another reason hair and make up is a waste ) .
Me and my girls in our swimwear .
JK - Pinterest Pic
For me my friendships have always been what is most important to me . Those relationships and of course my family are the most valuable things I have . My family has always said that the Lord blessed me with some really good friends and I agree . If I never make another friend I already have been given more than I deserve . Love you girls and can't wait till our next gathering .

How do you and your friends / family keep in touch ? Do you have summer rituals / traditions ? Where is your " meet in the middle " ? Please share with us in the comment sections . Also ,  feel free to click on highlighted words/links found through out this post to see previous /related posts from The Faith Journals .  
Sophia being " attacked " by a bear . It didn't fit in
the story of the post , but was too amazing not
to share with you ! If she wants to be a actress
when she grows up it is all our faults .

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

~ Discount Diva ~ Breaking it Down but Not Breaking the Bank ~ Wedding Showers ~ Session 2

It would seem that everyone I know has something big going on this year . Between weddings , babies and birthdays a girl could go broke . You know through reading past posts that I truly enjoy gift makinggiving and receiving . It is obviously one of my main love languages . And I KNOW that I am not the only one in the position of requiring a little creativity , resourcefulness and having to always keeping an eye open for a good deal in order to keep up with all the celebrations . So , this series of  "Break it Down " posts is going to focus on creating/purchasing thoughtful , useful , and fun gifts with out breaking a sweat or the bank . I plan to address bachelorettes , weddings , baby showers and birthdays through out the next several weeks .

First let me start by saying that I LOVE Shutterfly and have used them many , many times to create items not only for myself , but for loved ones . Past projects have included a portfolio of events photo book from my time as an event planner , personalized note cards using a picture from my trip to Washington State ,  Christmas Cards ,  shutterfly prints that I turned into post cards , calendars , magnets , Christmas ornaments , and several other great things . I always have wonderful results when using Shutterfly and have always been able to make products with out spending too much . Shutterfly is the kind of company that rewards their customers by sending them occasional discounts and freebies . This is the kind of company I like to work with !! Not only are they allowing me to be creative and thoughtful with my gift giving they are helping me to stay on budget . Side Note: If you are wanting to check out Shutterfly discounts prior to becoming a customer then follow them on Instagram , Facebook or Twitter . They are great about posting deals to their social media about once a week or so . It is a great way to try them out with out spending too much hard earned cash . With that said I of course want to start this post with one of my most recent Shutterfly projects , a cook book !

One of my former RA's and sweet friend is getting married to my former co-worker and  Cuban bff  , this November . I no doubt wanted to do something to celebrate the marriage of not just one , but two of my favorite people . I had done several photo books for friends in the past , but really wanted to  make something creative , meaningful and different for them . While brainstorming I finally came up with a Cook Book idea . This cook book would have recipes from her friends , family and former team mates . I thought it having recipes she grew up with or had made with friends would make it extra special and extra fun . At first I wasn't too sure how it all would work so I enlisted the help of the MOB ( mother of the bride ) to help me get a hold of family recipes . This is one of those times when social media really comes in handy . With the MOB helping me to attain family recipes I reached out via FB private message to friends who would contribute to the project . Warning : This kind of project will take a bit of time . Gathering that much info from varied sources is never quickly done . Once I had gotten what I thought would be enough recipes for a 8x8 - 20 page photo book I started working on design , editing , and special touches . The "title" of the cook book was " Made with Love " . The thought being that 1 . All these recipes had come from people who love the bride and groom . 2 . the bride would be making these recipes with such excitement and love for her new groom . 3 . The bride and groom could look at all the contributors and feel encouraged that these people are there for them as a resource as they travel on the marital journey .
Chevron Cover ~ Colorful Recipe Pages w/ coordinating
graphics and special personal touches specific to
the bride and groom (i.e. Mr & Mrs. ) .
Binding : Titled and Addressed to the Bride Making sure
this book stands out amongst others .
I had originally planned to add pictures of the bride and whoever the recipe was from , but that would have taken a lot of room , plus it was just not possible to get all those pics . I wanted the book to be personal inside and out so , I added touches through out the recipe pages that would make it very "Mr & Mrs " . For example : I placed the bride and grooms initials (carved on a tree style ) on varied graphics . I was also sure to add their Mr . & Mrs . titles as well , like on the coffee cup graphic seen below . Every bride LOVES seeing her new name on things !
I love the K & P ~ it's almost as if it was doodled
into a note book .

The groom is a huge coffee fan so a at home
specialty coffee recipe was a must !
After finishing all of the online design elements I was very proud of my work . I saved it and waited for one of those awesome Shutterfly deals I mentioned earlier to order it . Normally a 8x8 , 20 page photo book costs around $19.99 plus tax and shipping . I hit it lucky and only a few days after finishing my project I was sent a FREE Shutterfly Photo Book code through the " My Coke Rewards " program . I was ecstatic , as nerdy as that may sound ! I was able to order the book for free and pay only shipping which cost under $9.00 . I found this to be a very reasonable price for a cook book , much less a personalized cook book . Once I received the book I still had some additions to make due to the fact that sadly I was not able to get in touch with everyone who might want to send a recipe . In trying to think of a solution a friend suggested adding recipe cards to the empty back pages of the book . I love how it turned out ! I think that the added recipe cards and envelope will allow the bride and groom to add things as time goes on making the book even more special . I loved this project so much that I am sure I will make it again in the future !
To add the cards & envelope I used stick glue AND
mounting corners . I had both on hand from all
my scrapbooking supplies . I also had the cards
on hand from a past purchase at the Target dollar spot . #WORTHIT
After all the design elements were finished I added a personal note to the front pages & wrapped it . Had I been able to attend the upcoming bridal showers I would have added some cooking utensils (from the Dollar Tree ) or the couples registry to the packaging , but since I will be unable to attend due to distance ,  I had to prepare it for mailing as is . To do so I simply " flipped " the box it was shipped in and addressed it . I received a video message a few days later from the bride and groom . I think this picture depicts perfectly the bride vs . groom feelings about pre-wedding rituals such as showers , registering , etc .

Congrats Mr . & Mrs . Laso !!!!

Another fun , inexpensive gift for brides is address labels . Again , another Shutterfly project ! I have been giving this gift for over a year and it never fails to be a great one . Shutterfly frequently offers free address label codes via their social media , leaving only tax and shipping . A page of 24 address labels normally cost between $7 . 99 and $9 . 99 + tx/shipping . When you use a freebie code they tend to end up being only $3 . 27 . I repeat , a bride LOVESSSSSSSSSSS seeing her new name/address !!! So , even if you gave her nothing else this would be an AMAZING gift . I plan to add some inexpensive " Thank You " cards to this gift in the future ( something that can also be found at places like the dollar tree ) . A little something to help the overwhelmed bride feel not so overwhelmed . But , in the past I have combined the labels with a "pin-did " as a gift . My " pin-did " is a home made ornament based off an idea I found on pinterest . com . Unless you live with out internet access I am sure that by now you have heard of Pinterest . I love making ornaments and usually paint one each year for children of my besties . It has become something some of the kids expect and I love getting creative each year . Plus the fact that the kids know those are their special ornaments when decorating the tree makes it even better . Back to the couples , another thing that new couples seem to love is their first Christmas . I have seen new couples use all their gift cards received at the wedding to purchase Christmas decorations , which I think is a great idea BTW .

Hobby Lobby is my go-to store for most craft supplies . They always have great deals and if it isn't on sale there is usually a coupon on their ap , online or in the sales paper . For the ornaments I make I usually purchase clear glass round ornaments in a box of 12 . The normal price is $8 . 99 , but they are almost always on sale for 50% off . A 12 ornament box at half off is $4 . 49  and breaks down to $0 . 37 cents a ornament pre-tax .  I keep these ornaments on hand year round . For the wedding gift ornament I take the wedding invitation and cut it into strips ( be sure to have written down all the important info you need for attending the wedding prior to this step ) . The strips are which ever way will allow the information to still be legible through the ornament , i.e. the bride and grooms names , the church name , the date , etc . I then curl the strips as I would a ribbon for wrapping décor and then place them inside the clear ornament . Depending on the couple and the invitation I will add glitter , ribbon , or something that goes with the décor of the invite to accent inside the ornament . I then hot glue the part of the ornament used for closure/hanging back onto the ornament , tie a ribbon for hanging and I'm done ! I think that this ornament is a unique and fun way to keep your wedding invitation with out having to pay to have it framed , hidden away in a scrap book/photo album or work it into your every day home decorations . It can become a highlight of holiday decorating and something to " show the kids one day " .
This is a pic a friend/bride sent me of the
ornament I made her .
So , the ornament and address labels or the labels and a pack of " Thank You " cards can cost just under $4 . 00 . Now that is a number I can deal with . Especially considering it is personalized and a memento from their special day ! I possibly would even add in a few holiday odds and ends found at Hobby Lobby or The Dollar Tree such as ornament hooks , gift bags , or a roll of cute wrapping paper with some tape . MAY I REPEAT MY MOTTO : It doesn't have to cost a lot to be worth a lot !!! These little things can really help out a new couple .

These are just a few ideas that I hope spark your creative fire on how you can survive wedding season with out going broke . Please check back for later posts on baby showers and birthday gifts ! How do you celebrate friends big days ? What are some special gifts you have given or received ? Share with us in the comment section below !!

Please feel free to click on highlighted words/links found through out this post to see past posts or links to couponing , quick fixes , deals , bargains , phone aps , stores or companies that I use , etc. 

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

~ Quick Fix ~ A Big Zit on a Big Day ~ Guest Post

The second guest post in my " Quick Fix " series is from one of my favorite former RA's , best haunted house PIC , and original Team Logic member - Kelly Mills Brindley . I call her Melly . You can too . Melly is one of my favorite people to talk fashion and make up with . It isn't unusual for us to go several weeks with out chatting and then randomly send one another a text about a t.v. or movie personality that has some jacked up bronzer on . It's how real friends do . Today Melly's Quick Fix is a cosmetology fix . Each of us struggle at one point or another with concealer and the reason(s) we need it ! Whether it is to hide some under eye luggage or to cover a surprise red alert on our face that just happen to appear on the day of a big interview , we all know what it is like to try and cover it up . Here is some great advice from the Beautiful Melly !!
Melly and myself at her wedding . As you can tell by
her amazing dress and hair accessory her
fashion/cosmological advice can be trusted . In my opinion anyway !
The dreaded zit on a big day!

In the past few years, after giving up on birth control because of crazy side effects, I have had pimples galore ! I have also had interviews , meetings , pictures , and other things that I needed to put my best foot forward for . Here is the best way I have learned to quickly fix the huge inflamed zits on my face . First use tinted moisturizer , then add either a purple or green concealer . Yes , the colored ones ! Blend it really well , and yes , it will be that color on your face . Then apply skin toned concealer and blend . Add your powder or foundation as normal. It's the best that I have found so far!

~ Melly

I will add that I have tried this method in the past and agree that it is amazing how those purple/green concealers can help . I also use tinted moisturizer as apart of my normal make - up routine for under eye baggage and eye brightening . Stay tuned for future guest posts from Melly . I can not wait to show you a few of her DIY projects that she has been working on . I promise it is worth checking back for !!

Thanks so much for sharing with us Melly !

Feel free to click on any highlight words or scroll through the Faith Journals for past " Quick Fix "  posts . What are some of your " go-to " make-up tricks ? Share them with us like we are your little sister in need of a make-up lesson !

~ Donut for a Doughnut ~ Not a Quick Fix ~ How God Showed Up for Me ~

I have several posts in the hopper just waiting for your viewing , but before I get those finalized and posted I needed to share my day with you . It's been a rough few days for me . I had a "flare up" of my RA and have just been man down . So , I was very much looking forward to meeting up with a good friend today to get my mind off it . She is visiting family and friends in Chattanooga while her hubby (another good friend) works on a few classes in the UK . We decided to do a fun meet up somewhere "in the middle" . Neither of us had time or fuel money to do a complete trip to one or the others location . I am very grateful that I have friends who are willing to travel . It has been definite blessings at just the right times .
Today Lauren and I met up in a small town called Sweetwater . It is a couple of red lights , Mexican restaurant , Big K and a few fast food places kind of town . We had a great Mexican lunch and then did a little exploring . Turned out there wasn't all that much to explore so we found our selves searching a fun antique shop and a sock outlet .Yes , no Wal-Mart .  No food city , but , they have a sock outlet . Anyway we came across a lot of fun stuff that if we had the resources would've come home with us . One of those fun and random items was this cool bunch of old campaign buttons .
Sorry for the sideways view . I didn't realize when
I was taking/downloading it that I didn't have it angled proper .

I would have loved to brought these home , placed them in a shadow box and hung them with some of Papaws military medals . But alas , they still sit in that shop.....for now . Anyway , after such a fun time with a good friend I had to say good-bye , run a few errands , visit family and then headed home . My RA flare up has had me in serious pain the last few days and this evening as I headed home it decided to once again remind me who is boss . Considering the drive isn't that long I kept telling myself just to keep calm and relaxed . Did I mention that my A/C had gone out earlier in the day ? It does that now and then , but the "silver bullet" has over 100,000 miles on her so I just take the going in and out of my A/C with the mentality that at least she runs . Window's rolled down ( cause it was 90 degree's INSIDE my car) , radio on , and my mind 100 different places I started to hear that oh so stomach dropping noise . A flat tire . I learned long ago to never have the radio so loud that the beat of a tire could be confused the beat of the music . All that time traveling/working with bands/ensembles taught me a thing or two .

I am (not to toot my own horn , toot toot) so proud that I did not panic . I calmly pulled over to the side of the interstate , turned on my emergency blinkers and called the people I pay an yearly fee too for such situations . I proceeded to wait about 10 minutes for someone to answer , after talking to a very kind operator for close to 20 minutes I was told that in about 45 minutes a tow would be there to help me figure out what I needed to do ( Because at that point I wasn't sure if I had a spare . I am a girl !! Stop judging me!!! Andddddd I did have on a glittery top . STOP . JUST STOP ! Glitter is WHO I AM !!  ) . The idea of 45 minutes of waiting in the heat and then however long it would to take to fix or tow my car was about to send me into a ugly cry .  While I waited for instructions from the operator I sent a text to a parental unit letting them know where I was , what had happened and to prepare to possibly come claim me in a parking lot somewhere . After getting the final word I hung up the phone , and I don't know that I had even prayed at that point over the situation , but I got out of the car to take a pic of the busted tire (cause that just seemed like the right thing to do if only for the purpose of documenting the day ) and to search my trunk for the spare (which I was hoping desperately that I actually had ) . I rummaged the trunk , moving my cans for recycling (yea , that's how I roll....or don't roll ) , moving jacks crate , and trying to figure how the heck I get under that dadjim carpet liner thing .  I literally sweated it out , debated crying and repeated to myself that " this is o.k. " , " that someone was on their way " , and that I am prepared for this kind of situation . I am a independent woman after all .

After giving up on the carpet liner thing for a moment I looked up to a car pulling off the interstate behind mine .  A kind stranger who just so happen to be a MECHANIC pulled over to take time out of his commute home and change my tire . His cap , no joke , was a Michelin Tires cap . PRAISE THE LORD !!! The guardian angel of  "all the single ladies " (no Beyoncé did not change my tire ) was watching over me and sent the MICHELIN MAN !!! LITERALLY !!! The man began to offer his help and I immediately let him know that I didn't have any cash to give him for his service ( yes , I know that not having ANY cash on hand is not wise ) . His reply , " It isn't all about money ma'am . I just wanna help you get off the side of the road  " . I was so surprised (sadly) by this act of kindness and so ashamed that I didn't have anything to offer him in return . Finally , ironically , I remembered that I did have ONE donut I had gotten for free with a coupon (of course ) so , I immediately forced him to take it as my only form of thank you . A doughnut for putting a "donut " spare on my car . Seems right .  He gladly took it , followed me to the closest gas station , proceeded to make sure the rest of my tires had enough air in them and then went on his way .

I was home before the sun set ,  able to do a few things to calm down my RA and am still going over in my head the idea and the truth that He goes before us . Praise the Lord that there are still kind strangers out there . Praise the Lord that He goes before us in ALL situations . Praise the Lord for His calming hand on us in overwhelming times . Praise the Lord for such a fun day prior to a stressful evening . Praise the Lord that being a " single " doesn't mean having to be alone or self sufficient in all situations . You may have to be a single female to truly understand that last one .

How has God showed up for you lately ? Do you have any situations where He has so clearly gone before you ? Provided exactly the right person/thing at exactly the right time ? Please feel free to share in the comments . It is encouraging to all of us !!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday to The Faith Journals !!!
When I started writing The Faith Journals it was a beginning to an end . I was preparing to leave Chattanooga and return to my home town . I needed an outlet for all that was rushing around in my mind . I had no real plan for the blog/myself and didn't really know if I'd even be able to keep up with it . I had friends that blogged , but this was my first foray into it . Over the last three years I have grown more and more grateful for this little outlet that is the blogging community . It has truly been a safe space to share ideas , worries , concerns , and simply a document of my faith as I walk through this unexpected time in life . When I left Chatt I had no idea how the Lord would move and how He would be still . I could've never predicted it . Not one day of it . I have , in some rather rough ways had to come to realizations in my life of harsher truths . Things that will never be , like Dancing With the Stars , which wasn't an idea of mine by the way .  To more real , painful truths and the idea that sometimes painful truths lead to good things . I have clung to the thought that not all who wander are lost so , while I am still wandering , I am not lost .
I wouldn't trade the last three years . It has been a wonderful time spent with  family and friends . I have had time to rest . Though there are some days when still I wake up just as exhausted as I did that first day after everything was finished in Chatt . I have been able to help out loved ones with varied things , visit friends , work here and there but most of all see how very much God is in control of my life . He is so swift to remind me of how little say I have in His timing . I think it has made me more appreciative in some ways . None of us grow up easy . That is simply the truth and when we are in that process of growth we have all these ideas that someone else has it better or easier . SO . FALSE . Everyone is fighting a battle . That thought makes me appreciative for this outlet of blogging . We have the ability to reach other "soldiers" all over making sure each knows they are not alone in the fight . I am also appreciative of time . Time that I've been allowed to go to school , work , go to countries I'd only read about , and to rest . I am appreciative of everyone in my life . Even the people that have made it a little harder . With out them I'd have no idea how tough I really am.....or how clever . (said with a wink and a smile)

I am appreciative of all I have learned about myself .The ability we all have to fall into the dark part of ourselves . The ability we have to come out of that , even if it is little pieces at a time . I am appreciative for companionship . As foolish as it can sound to some people , having Jack Davis around is a true God send . My list could go on and on , but don't be deceived . I am still a giant work in progress . Perhaps that is the thing I am most appreciative to realize . We are never done . As defeating as that can possibly sound it has the possibility to be just as encouraging . However rough it is today , however horrible I am today , whatever , wherever..... I am still in progress and there is hope in that progress that (I) it will get better . If it isn't already .

I'd love to say that The Faith Journals will behaving a huge 3rd birthday that involves a ball pit and bounce castle ,  but we are not . Though you are more than welcome to celebrate that way....or any way actually . LOL !!! I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge the work that has been done in the last three years . Not by any writer . Not by any particular post . But by the Lord . He has met my expectations in blogging and furthered them more than I had considered . Here is an excerpt from my very first blog post "To Blog or Not to Blog " .

" The idea that what God has for my life just might not be for only myself, but more for others pushed me into the blogasphere. So, here we go, The Faith Journals. My desire is to share about the journey the Lord is leading me on and has lead me on in my life. To share what He has done and is doing so that perhaps there is one less out there wondering if they are the only one. If they are the first to take that step of faith, to ask that question, to say to God, "I know you are there with my mind, but today I don't  always feel you there with my heart". And to know He has reached out to someone, somewhere and reassured them that indeed He is there. Giving a hope that He will reach out to someone else, somewhere else reassuring them that indeed He is there. And here we go misspelled words, in proper punctuation, and a English teacher or editors worst nightmare..... "
My desire remains the same and that is comforting to me . The purpose of The Faith Journals is to share a persons step(s) of faith with hope that it would help someone else who is debating a step(s) of faith . To help someone somewhere to not feel alone in their triumphs or their trials . Whether that is through a gut wrenching post on a new job that is killing me one toe at a time , a post that lights your creative fire when it comes to coupons and care packages or even a post or several about Jack Davis the best dog a gal can have . The topics , life stories and writers will vary , as does life . But at the beginning and end I hope that one thing remains for us both . For us all . It's all about faith . Sometimes it takes a step of faith and sometimes that step is for more than just ourselves . So , I shall continue to share until lead otherwise . Thank you all for your continued friendship and for following The Faith Journals so very faithfully !!
 Faith - [feyth]  noun
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability. 
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact. 
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims. 
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty. 
5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

Journal - [jur-nl]   noun
1. a daily record, as of occurrences, experiences, or observations: She kept a journal during her European trip. 
2. a newspaper, especially a daily one.
3. a periodical or magazine, especially one published for a special group, learned society, or profession: the October issue of  The English Journal.
4. a record, usually daily, of the proceedings and transactions of a legislative body, an organization, etc.
5. Bookkeeping.
a. a daybook.
b. (in the double-entry method) a book into which all transactions are entered from the daybook or blotter to facilitate posting into the ledger.
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