Comparison Shopping ~ Brand Name vs Generic Label

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I am the CEO of the home, I pay all the bills, buy all the food, manage the budget, etc.  The other day I needed to buy some cream of mushroom and celery soup.  I normally buy Campbell’s but I looked at the price of one can of soup and decided it was time to do a little comparison shopping.  I looked to see where the generic label soup was and here was the difference ~ Campbell’s was $1.79 and the generic label was $1.00.  I looked at the labels on each and there wasn’t a difference, so I purchased the generic or store label.  The ingredients were basically the same and I honestly couldn’t see why I would pay so much more for Campbell’s.   I do it for the sake of peace at home.

 

Soup comparison

Let me give you a little history…

When I was a single mother, I would buy generic can goods and some food from Aldi.  I tried a little bit of everything, scratch & dent sales, coupons.  You name it I tried it.  Finally I decided to shop the weekly ads and that started working for me.  I would do the weekly ads and Walmart.  A co-worker came to me with this concept her church was promoting, it was a monthly program that you pay $25 and you get a box full of food, mostly staples, all of it generic label.  I did it two months and paid it forward for a friend that was struggling.  You had to pay in advance and on the first of the month, went to the church and picked up your box of food.   This worked for a while, but I didn’t like that you weren’t able to pick your food and some generic food just isn’t good, no matter how much you season it.  

Then I met my husband…

He does not buy generic anything, not one thing.  I explained to him when you are a single parent with two children, a mortgage, car payment and other bills, you budget, budget and budget.  I can remember eating peanut butter & jelly sandwiches which was fine as long as my girls were able to eat a decent meal.  He called me cheap, I told him whatever.  I agreed not to buy generic for his sake and my sanity, but at times I can’t help it.  

It’s tough out there right now, gas in our area is reaching the $4 per gallon status, groceries are expensive and it’s more expensive to eat healthy.  I keep working that budget, rearranging things and try to make the best of what we have.  I’ve cut back a lot for the sake of the budget. 

What about you, do you shop generic or brand name?  Please share.

 

 

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Closet Cleaning

It’s time for me to purge my closet again.  This time because I have a lot of clothes that I just don’t wear anymore due to several factors, my style has changed and you can guess the other.    I have a more casual, relaxed way of dressing.  I have business attire and “church clothes”, I never was anywhere near First Lady status.  I’m a classy, stylish woman, my taste has just changed a bit.  With that, I’m gonna gather my clothing and look for a consignment shop for plus size women.  I have some very nice pieces, a suede suit, several pants suits, after five wear and much more.  I just don’t wear them anymore and some are too little.  Okay I got that out.  I have several pairs of shoes that I want to sell as well.   

My rule is if I haven’t worn it in two years, it has to go.  These items are way past that time, I just didn’t want to get rid of them because I wanted to hold on to a certain time in my life and I paid good money for some of the items.  One outfit I wore in a fashion show only, never got a chance to wear it out.  

Here’s part of my dilemma, I would actually prefer donating the clothing, but would like to raise a little money from some of the items.  I know someone would benefit from the suits for job interviews, church or whatever they need them for, but I have to admit I spent a pretty penny on some of the clothing.  I may do just a few items consignment and find a group where I can donate clothing for women in a shelter or a place like that.  I’ll be researching this soon, as I want to have the clothing donated before spring.   The pictures really don’t do the outfits justice, especially the off white one, it’s an after five, has sparkles all on the top.  These are just three of the outfits that I plan to giveaway or put on consignment.   

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Working from home has cause me to reinvent myself.  I have reinvented my style, well sort of.  It has to be functional and comfortable at the same time.  You won’t see me in moo moo’s,  or all polyester pieces.  I’m at the point where I don’t care for wearing jeans anymore.  I have three pair that I love and I’ll keep them.  I don’t wear 4 inch heels anymore, that’s as high as I would go.  I can’t walk in them and I’m not risking twisting my ankles any more for the sake of keeping up with my younger counterparts.  I’ll let you all have them.  I will continue to like them and put them in my Pinterest board, Lover of Shoes.   

So now it’s off to find a consignment shop in my area for some of the higher priced pieces and I’ll donate the work and play pieces.  I think that’s a nice balance.  How often do you all clean out your closets and do you donate, sell or do consignment?

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Loving Yourself

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Love ~ an intense feeling of deep affection.  Do you feel this way about yourself?  I do.  

Loving yourself is the best gift you can give to yourself and anyone you come in contact with.  A love that allows you to live your life without apologizing or fear.  Letting go of something or someone that is no longer healthy for you or your lifestyle.  Yes…loving yourself means at times to put your needs before the needs of others.  It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.

Sometimes it means being alone, giving yourself time to work out a situation, gather your thoughts, spend time praying or meditating.  Allowing disappointments, heartache or simply life to just be, not define you.  Love yourself enough to pick things up, sometimes allowing others to help when you need it.   Love will allow us to recognize when we need help.   It doesn’t mean you are weak, it’s shows your strength and how you are being honest with yourself. 

When you look in the mirror, I mean seriously look in the mirror, can you say to yourself,  I am beautiful….without saying the word BUT my dear sista?  I’m not saying don’t improve you life or health, but can you love yourself first?  How many women do you know that needs healing from this act of self-hatred?   I see them everyday on social media, sometimes I say something to them to try and encourage, other times I’ve sent an private message to them, and other times I let it go.  We change one person at a time and it begins with self.  How we live in real life and online, not appearances and what we think people want to see.   We must stop the self hate for ourselves and begin to heal our relationships with one another.

The way that God us is the way we should love ourselves, and it will reflect in our relationships with each other.  Love yourself mind, body and soul.

 

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My Word For 2014

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This is my word for 2014.  I know that if I keep this word in the forefront, I will be able to see the end and achieve goals that I’ve set for myself this year.  I get things done, take care of business but because I failed to organize a lot of things, I would forget, postpone and eventually get burned out.  I started with purchasing a planner, although I do that every year.  I have to write things down, I use my calendar on my computer but I need to have it open and sitting on my work space when I go to my office every morning.

Between my family responsibilities, keeping everyone organized and together, taking care of our home, cooking, laundry and cleaning, I’m very busy from the time I hit the floor at about 6:00am.   Once everyone is out, I get started after reading my bible and spending a few minutes praying and meditating, I turn on computers and look at my calendar.  Then I read emails, business and personal, do my morning social media accounts and do a little work for my contracted job.  Part of organization is cutting back on my computer time, gotta cut back a little here and there.  I love social media and depend on it for business, it’s very necessary.   Organization means using Hootsuite more to schedule posts for my accounts,  I know it will help.  

I’m also researching and writing for my blog and for Kokoa Magazine, working on my Etsy shop, looking for things I want to make and what direction I want to take it.  Then it’s time to start dinner and prepare for everyone to come home.  I have no time to relax, take a nap or anything like that.  Let’s not think about a day I have to throw running errands in the mix.  After dinner, I try to spend a few minutes with my husband, he’s usually in the bed around 7:30 and falls asleep paying solitaire on the iPad.  I go spend time with the girls, talking and check on their day, making sure my kitchen is clean before they go to bed.  I will wake a teenager up to clean my kitchen.  Then I settle down, grab my yarn and crochet hook and watch some of my favorite shows.  I can’t stay up past 10:00.

When I put it in writing, this is a must in my life, mostly to help me keep my sanity.  So far, so good.    Did you set a one word goal for 2014?  Please share with me….

Have a marvelous weekend!

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2013 Roundup

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Whew, it’s that time of the year again…out with the old and in with the new.  What can I say about 2013?  It’s been good & bad, rough & smooth, accomplishments & disappointments.  It’s been a plethora of everything.  It’s called life, I can’t dismiss it or say good-bye, glad you’re leaving.  I sit back, think about the year one event at a time, what achievements I’ve made if any, what improvements I need to make and plans for what I want to accomplish in 2014.  

I’ve learned a lot about myself, I need to organize my different activities.  I have too many things going on not to do this.  I already have my 2014 daily appointment book.  Every evening before I close up the shop, I’m gonna detail everything I need to do the next day and have my appointment book opened on my desk ready for me the next day.  I write for my blog, Kokoa Magazine, I have my contract work and my crochet business all which includes a certain amount of social media.  I will utilize Hootsuite more and schedule post for the blog, Facebook and my other social media accounts.  One of my social media accounts I’m going to work on is Pinterest.  It is a bloggers and small business owners haven, don’t sleep on Pinterest.   

Making changes to the blog, this may be the last year of the design.  I love it because it’s clean and easy on the eyes, but I want something that represents me a little more, my style and revolve the changes in life I’ve made.  I want to include info on working from home because I’m becoming an expert at that.  I want women to know there are options out there for us and if you are growing tired of working outside the home.  It’s not for everyone, but I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years and I’ve adjusted.  It was hard this year looking for work outside the home.   This was a struggle and I want to give my expertise and help anyone wanting to transition to working from home.  

I was reading my recap on Diva’s With A Purpose ~ Divatude Challenge 2013 and I’m very satisfied with my achievements for this year.   I’ve discovered a new love for crochet, something I’ve known how to do since I was 10.  I would crochet things occasionally but never considered doing it as a business.  I find myself crocheting everyday and feel I’m missing something if I don’t have yarn and a crochet hook in my hand.  At this time, I want to take my Etsy shop and concentrate on a what sells well for me and what people like most.  I have a series of accessories that I will be introducing for spring, excited about things.  I plan to change the name of my crochet business, to keep it with the brand I’ve worked t build.  I’m still learning the concept of having a crochet business, I’m following and have met some wonderful women who are willing to share their information.  I actually wouldn’t mind teaching a beginning crochet course, something else I’m considering adding to my already busy schedule but I love it.

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My word for 2014 is ORGANIZATION.  If I balance all my activities and keep myself organized, then I can get the things done that I need to accomplish on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Family life ~ I have a lot going on with the girls.  Graduation and prom is the same weekend which is good…I guess.  Everything can happen all on one weekend and we can get everything taken care of.  It’s time to start applying for community college, we are going to start there see how she handles it and go from there.  She also wants to work, she wants to do it all.  I can understand wanting to work and earn your own money, but I need her to understand that we need to take everything in small steps.  I don’t want her overwhelmed and having a meltdown.  Pray for me please.  

The youngest, I plan to find some theater for both of them but especially my youngest.  Band camp and other extra activities to keep her busy.  She’s addicted to Instagram, no Facebook & Twitter for sure.  I monitor it so nothing crazy going on.  She does this roll play thing on there with people and they tell stories.  She has a great imagination, I bet she’ll write, not sure what, but I can see writing in her future.  The hubs is fine, working hard and being himself.  Wouldn’t have it any other way.

 We spent time with our families this past summer during our trip to Chicago and Omaha.  I love spending time with family.  I hope we get to go to Texas this year to visit our daughter and son-in-law who moved here from Germany.   My husband hasn’t seen his daughter since 2001 when they last visited the United States.  Can you say road trip????

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I know this was a long post, it was hard to roundup my year in 500 words or less.  Out with 2013 and welcome 2014 with me!  Love you guys and see you next year!!!

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Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Still need to get a few Christmas presents?  I do, but I’m just about finished.  We have class trips, graduation ~ which includes class ring, announcements, portraits.  The list doesn’t end.  So budget is the key for me.   I’ll be honest, gift cards are in the mix, they can get what they want.  Here’s a few ideas on some last minute gifts. 

Bath & Body Works ~ They have candles 2 for $22.

3-Wick Candles > 2 for $22

Macy’s ~ They have PJ’s on sale.

DSW ~ I would take a gift card so I can pick out my own shoes.  Love these boots.
Dolce Vita Beryl Wedge Bootie
Last but not least if you can’t find the perfect gift, buy a gift card.  I realize some think they aren’t very personal but it’s better than not giving a gift at all.  I prefer gift cards or cash.  Good luck!
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Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

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Image courtesy of  stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Everyone is out and about busy shopping and preparing for Christmas.  Let’s remember a few safety tips while out, especially if you are out after dark…

  • Have your keys in hand when going to the car, don’t wait until you are at the car to start looking for your keys
  • If possible, carry a small purse or wristlet.  Now if you have a hard time keeping up with something that small, then stick to your purse.
  • Try to keep credit/debit card info out of plain sight, you never know who’s looking over your shoulder. 
  • Don’t leave your packages in your car for people to see.  If possible, put them in the trunk or in the back if you drive a SUV or minivan.
  • Please, please don’t leave your purse in the car all open for the world to see.  I have never been able to understand why women do this one.
  • When it’s time to leave the mall or shopping area, try to go with others, especially if you are shopping alone.
  • I try to make sure someone knows where I am when I’m out shopping.
  • Make sure you keep all receipts or have them email them to you.  Some retailers offer email option for receipts now.

Here’s a few others, not safety related but things to keep in mind.

  • Be comfortable while shopping but decent.  You don’t want to run into Sis Oh No She Didn’t at the mall looking like you just rolled out of the bed.
  • Make sure you eat before going shopping or have a little lunch while out.  You know how some of us are, excited about shopping but won’t eat.  I’m not one of those.
  • If you normally shop alone, do your Christmas shopping alone.  No sense of ruining any relationships or getting mad at someone right before the holiday.
  • Have fun but remember to stay within the budget you set.
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Thanksgiving Roundup

The holidays can be very entertaining.  Ours was that  to say the least.  I got started at 7:00 yesterday morning because I didn’t do my baking the night before like I had planned because my husband and I were running errands.  Soooo, got up and started cooking, two sweet potato pies, a white cake, cabbage, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and macaroni and cheese.  It took me all day to cook, because we listen to our old school music, call relatives and just clown around.  The girls were in their rooms being teenagers, coming down every hour or so to check on the progress of dinner.  

I was done about 3:30 and it was time for my husband to do his thang, fry the turkey.  He put the peanut oil in the turkey fryer and decided it wasn’t enough and set out on a mission to purchase more peanut turkey at 4:00 on Thanksgiving day.  I tried to get him to change his mind, telling him that he wasn’t’ gonna find anything today.  He said Walmart has it, so he headed to go to the closest Walmart to us which was about 7 miles away.  They didn’t sell peanut oil.  Side note….I would have called a few more Walmart stores to see if any of them sold peanut oil.  My husband went to the 3 different Walmart stores, each one further away from where we live, one in the next county.  Bless his heart, because we had canola oil at home but he didn’t want to combine them.

I purchased all the groceries on Tuesday for this dinner, including a gallon of peanut oil.  The turkey was small, only about 8 pounds.  My dear husband is the one that brought in all the groceries when I got back, he commented on the peanut oil, asking me is this all I bought and how much was it?  It was about $18, the most  expensive item I purchased, $8 cheaper than the turkey mind you.  He asked me why I didn’t go to Sam’s Club or Costco?  I totally ignored that comment, wasn’t about to go to either one of those stores, as a matter of fact, I won’t be going to either one until after the holidays.  If I MUST go, it will be when they open, get what I need and get out.

After being out in traffic for two hours and I’m sure saying some choice words, he finally makes it back home.  I couldn’t help but laugh, because he ended up using the canola oil we had.  I posted to Facebook around 7:45 that we still hadn’t eaten our dinner yet and I was almost rolling on the floor by now.  The girls kept coming downstairs, I had to tell them to eat whatever was in the refrigerator until dinner was complete.  He ate about 3 bowls of cabbage and I was tired, so I started crocheting.

 

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This is not a complaint at all, we had a great day.  Finally at 8:00, we blessed our food, ate and my tired husband went to bed, because he had to work today.  I’m still laughing this morning….

 

I am participating in a blogger Holiday Gift Guide on Huckleberrylove.com, the concept at this blog is 11 kids, 5 moms and 1 blog.   Today is shop small business day, give small businesses in your area some love,  shop small today.   The big box stores are extremely crowded now anyway.  I also have a discount if your order and remember to use the holiday code to receive the discount.  It’s not on my post, but it’s HOLIDAY13.  Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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Holiday Shopping Craze

I was out this weekend picking up a few things at Costco.  All I can say is online shopping!  It was pure craziness Saturday, no place to park and people everywhere.  I love the holidays, the sense of family, giving and merriment, but I am no longer good with crowds.  What was I thinking, running errands on a Saturday?  I run 80% of my errands during the week.  I went to Costco to get Listerine, coffee and water, that’s all.  We were out of and I only buy those items in bulk.

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Normally I would have spent about 30-60 minutes there, going through the isles, taste testing all the food and end up spending about $100.  I couldn’t take it, shopping carts all over the place, people knocking you over to get the the taste of food they are giving away.  The checkout lines, I just couldn’t so I went to self checkout and they were just as long.  My mind was running, get outta here girl!!!  Finally, I check out my three items, pick up some lunch at the food counter for my husband and I and get out of that place.  I was so ready to get home I didn’t even stop at one of the craft stores I like to frequent.  I’ll save that for my weekly runs.  

On the drive home, I see men in their yards cleaning up leaves, testing lights and getting ready to decorate.  Children in their cute winter hats, running around not aware that it’s cold outside.  I love how children can play outside year round, enjoying themselves no matter the weather.  My girls used to love to play in the cold weather especially when the snow came.  I love those memories from my children.  I’m ready to put our tree, we didn’t decorate last Christmas because of moving last year.  We are gonna put the tree in my office/space this year, the girls and I always make a big deal out of decorating for Christmas.  

Shopping for the holidays will be limited, plus I have my plan on what the girls are getting.  My youngest just told me the other day that she wanted some Beats headphones by Dr Dre.  Ummm, do you all know how much they cost?  I wanted to get them a pair of Ugg boots, they have them for a discount at the Air Force Exchange and I’m also going to the new outlet mall, they had them pretty reasonable there at the Ugg Outlet store.  My oldest wants a new laptop, she needs one and will put it to good use with school and all.  I can do all of that online.  The only need to go out is to purchase a few outfits for them.

UGG is offering specials in this winter.A great deal ! Just click it !

I love the holidays, really.  I don’t when I became so anti-crowd, but it really hit me on Saturday.  No Black Friday for me, I never got into getting up at 3:00am to go push and fight over two TV’s.  I’m gonna shop with the seniors and other day timers during the week and be home by 1:00pm.  Good luck to the rest of you and let’s share those holiday shopping stories!

 

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Where I’m Meant To Be

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Where are you at this very moment?  Is it a place where you want to be?  I heard a young lady on the radio the other day say she wished she was older because of her love for old school music.  No dear, you were born exactly when God planned, not a minute sooner.  I wish I could help so many women realize that, but we have to all take that journey and find out where we need to be for ourselves.  As a mother, I can live by example, teach, preach, cry and show them everything they need to be the women they are destined to be, but I can’t tell them who and what to be.  

I worked for the phone company for 11-1/2 years.   I loved the money, made life long friends while I was employed there,  but disliked the job.  Funny thing is, I learned a lot on that job, how to speak to customers, how to tell by your conversation with a customer if they are buying or just getting what they requested.  I understand why I worked there and spent the 11-1/2 years in the same department.  It took the last 3 years for me to understand it.  I appreciate everything I do and how I make my money so much more now because if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.   I don’t have 3 weeks of vacation time to fall back on, I take off, I don’t make any money.   Every dime I make now I work for it by using my skills, talents and my professionalism.   I hope that makes sense to you all, I know it sounds the same, but my level of appreciation is different because I’m self employed.

How amazing is it to have the mindset to work for yourself?  It’s not for everyone, it’s hard work and in my case seems I’m on the computer 24/7.  Blogging has taken me places I didn’t think I could be, allows me to share with people I wouldn’t have normally met in real life.  I write now when I have something to say, I don’t really set a schedule.  I try to blog 2-3 days a week, work my contractor job and crochet and make jewelry.  In between all of that, I have idea after idea rolling around and I will get out my journal or put a note in my iPhone.   On top of that I take care of my family and run a tight ship (pretty much).

I no longer try to explain what I do, I just do it and to the best of my ability.  I’m a nurturer by nature, love to listen to music, watch anything on MSNBC, HGTV & DIY networks and social media addict.  I can create with beads, baubles, crimping tool, yarn and crochet hooks.  I would rather sit around the house with sweats on and my hair in two strand twists, but will clean up on Sunday and when I go out.  I have my own style, but will appreciate and respect yours.  No time for hating and drama, just encouraging and lifting people I come in contact with….that’s where I am right now.  

 

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