Penny Pinching Peach

A place for those of us without the time or inclination to be "extreme" to indulge in a love of couponing & cooking, family & frugality, creativity & craftiness.


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Creative Comfort

Comfort Coloring

Comfort Coloring

If anyone has noticed my silence the past three weeks, it’s in the largest part due to a sudden death in our family. My husband’s mother, my children’s Ganna, unexpectedly passed away shortly after her 60th birthday. The last while has been a whirlwind of the overwhelming aftermath such a sad and sudden event leaves behind. This experience is not entirely new to me, having lost my own mom far too early and quickly in 2006 when she was only 44 years old. Every loss is different, though, in the same way that every person is unique and every family dynamic is all it’s own. Anyway, going through this loss with small children of our own has given me another perspective on grieving, loss and the process of laying a loved one to rest.

When a friend loses someone close to them, we are often left wondering what we can say or do to make things better. Truth is, there is nothing that can take away the sorrow or fill the void left by death. There are some things that can bring a measure of comfort, help the family feel less alone, and let them know you truly, actively, deeply care about them in a way that words alone just can’t express. You may never know the impact your small gesture made in helping a grieving person make it through. You don’t have to have a lot of time or money to let the bereaved know you are there and care. I’m going to share some ideas of ways you can help ease the transition into life after loss. Some are pretty conventional, some not so much. Hopefully you will find something you can use.

Children: I’d never been through the loss of a close relative as a parent of small children, so this opened my eyes to some ways to bless the grieving that I hadn’t thought so much about previously. Offer to help with the children in the immediate family. It may be babysitting while they make arrangements, keeping them occupied during visitation, letting them sit with you during the funeral or just offering to be on standby in case the parents realize that they do need help at some point. Busy gifts to occupy children quietly. Give the little ones “busy bags”. Some parents won’t realize how hard it is for little ones to behave through all of the tedious rituals they don’t truly understand, and won’t come prepared. Things you could include: crayons or colored pencils, coloring book, sketch pad, stickers, candy or packaged snacks that are not messy (super important detail, so I’m repeating: NOT MESSY!!! ;) ), a small stuffed animal, or any small quiet & clean activities. My daughter literally colored almost the entire time we were having visitation, and gave a picture to nearly everyone who came. She said it was to make everyone feel less sad about her Ganna going to Heaven.

Pictures: Pictures are such an important thing when you are remembering someone who once lived life with you. Many people now do a photo montage at the viewing. If they need help scanning or copying photos so that they aren’t leaving originals with the funeral home, this is a way you could help. If you have a great picture in your personal collection of the recently departed, that would be an extremely meaningful gift to include with a sympathy card or just to give to them. When someone has passed away, you will never be able to take another picture of them, so this is a way of getting a new memory when you thought there were no more.

Music. If the family is going to use recorded music and you have a knack for finding and burning just the right version of that perfect song, offer your services to help them. Chances are that they are overwhelmed and don’t really have the time to search it out. Just make sure that you communicate clearly and definitely have the songs they really want played.

Food. Families who just lost someone dear to them often forget to eat, and certainly don’t have the desire to cook. If there is good food sitting there, they are likely to eat it just so it won’t go to waste, and it will keep them going. See where they need it most: At home, during visitation or after the funeral. After all, everyone needs to eat, whether they feel like it or not.

Financial: Something we rarely think about is the financial burden a death can bring to family. It’s not only paying for the funeral, but lost work, gas money, and other incidentals that are unplanned. This is not a big deal if you are financially secure, but can be an added devastation if you are barely scraping by to start with. Ways you can help with this when you know the family is struggling? Let them know you included money, a gift card or a gas card in your sympathy card. Buy a small potted plant to hand deliver instead of a big arrangement from a florist, and give the difference, if you feel you still want to give flowers and can’t do both.

Sharing memories. In the weeks and months following a loved one moving on, the family settles into their new life without a significant part of their daily existence. Everyone else moves on, and often forgets they are still grieving and adjusting. Write a letter about a fond memory of the person who is no longer with them, and send it to them. Write a card letting them know you’re thinking of them. Dig out the pictures I mentioned before and share them. Visit and talk about the good times. Remember.

Death is never easy. Grieving is complicated. Noone should have to go through it alone. If you are reading this, you know someone who has lost someone dear to them. If you haven’t already, you will most likely lose someone one day yourself. We will all have our turn to move on. Show compassion, be a blessing, do what you can for others while you still can. Live life while you are living, and love on those who are still here with you. Peace!


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ABC Fun, Find and Food

Amazing A Sound Hunt

Amazing A Sound Hunt

I am always looking for ways to make learning fun for my munchkins. Lately, one of the things I am doing with my daughter is reviewing the alphabet, making sure she can write each letter well and knows the phonetic sound that goes with each one. She’s not crazy about repetitive copy work, so I am having her do that part first so she can get to whatever fun game or activity I have planned with it.

Here is my lesson plan, if you can call it that, for the “Fun, Find and Food” theme for the letters A, B and C…

Letter A:

  1. Color the A page in her book, then fill in the practice page for writing the letter A.
  2. Attach the coloring page to the lid of a shoebox, as shown.
  3. Have her make the long A and short a sounds, and tell her to search the house for anything starting with those sounds.
  4. Watch as she runs excitedly around the house hollering out words for items to see if they start with the letter A.
  5. Give her a snack starting with an A, in this case, an apple.

Additional snack suggestions: Apricot, Apple Pie, Almonds.

In the above picture, she found: ape, apple, apron, antlers, animal, alligator, angel.

A is for Apple

A is for Apple

Letter B:

Repeat steps 1-5, just for the letter B.

Snack suggestions: Banana, Berries, Burrito, Blueberry Muffins.

Letter C:

Repeat steps 1-5, just for the letter C.

Snack suggestions: Carrots, Cookies, Crackers, Cucumbers, Craisins.

If you want to do all three letters in one day, you could have them collecting the ingredients for their snacks over the course of the three letters, then eat the snack at the end. For example, you could do a fruit salad with chopped apples and/or apricots, sliced bananas and shredded carrots or some craisins. You could also do a fruit trail mix with a mixture of any or all of the following: dried apples or apricots, almonds, dried bananas or berries, and craisins.

Here is an adorable Alphabetimals coloring book that would work well with this activity, if you need a new one: Alphabetimals Coloring Book (Dover Coloring Books)“>

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”


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First Child, Second Child

Cherish the crazy life!

Cherish this crazy life!

 

I am a different parent the second time around. The first time I was nervous, worried about what people would think & what society said I was supposed to do, and more insecure & unsure of my decisions as a parent. The second time my child and I almost didn’t make it, which in turn made me realize the little things didn’t matter nearly as much as I’d thought they did, and I didn’t give a flying flip what anyone thought or what current parenting trends said I should do. My first child was an amazing gift, and she’s a beautiful, vibrant, one-of-a-kind little person, but the first time parent jitters caused our start to be a wee bit more difficult. Our family is not typical, my kids are individuals, and as long as we are a happy & healthy little family, it’s alllllll good! If someone thinks my second child method of parenting isn’t up to par, I’ll listen, smile, and generally continue with life as usual.

Sleep.

Sleep is a big issue for parents of small children. My baby right now is two, and he still comes calling for Mommy at some point in the night over half the time. First time around I was blessed with a baby girl who inherited her mommy’s wonderfully interrupted sleep problems and tendency toward insomnia. Not only that, I tried to fight to sleep train her, because everyone said that would make it all better. HA!!!! We moved her from the bassinet by our bed to her crib in her own room at six weeks old. Attempted to let her cry it out, insisted on her staying in her own crib regardless of how many times she got me up and other conventional methods of sleep training, none of which ever worked. The result? We were exhausted, grumpy and loopy, and I spent most nights for the first two years and beyond in an insanely frustrated attempt to make her sleep like a “normal” child.

My second child was born premature with undeveloped lungs, and spent time in the NICU before we could bring him home. I was scared he would stop breathing at night for a long time. He spent many night sleeping on my chest while I was propped up, since it seemed to be the easiest position for him to breathe in. He also stayed in the bassinet by our bed (propped at an angle until his breathing troubles lessened dramatically) until he outgrew it around six months old. Once we did move him out, he slept okay in his crib for a few months before he started thrashing around and whacking his head and arms on the rails. I moved him to the futon in the living room because he napped so well there, and I lay there with him when he doesn’t sleep well at night so my husband can get some rest before having to head in for a 24 to 48 hour shift at the fire department. The result of this more relaxed approach? We are all better rested and less cranky. This method has extended to my daughter, in a compromise now that she’s older and more reasonable. She is allowed to come snuggle in Mommy’s bed after daylight, and if she sleeps through the night without waking me until then, she gets a sticker on her sleep chart. Once she gets five stickers, she gets a small prize (we started with three stickers). Guess what? We all sleep better than when I was fighting it out trying to follow normal expectations. Relaxing works, y’all! ;)

Sleeping Booties

Sleeping Booties

Breastfeeding in public.

Most first time breastfeeding moms are self conscious. My husband was more self conscious than I was. I don’t know that he had ever seen a woman breastfeed before our daughter was born, covered or not. It’s not that common to breastfeed for any extended period of time in our area. I was nursed, and always knew that’s how my babies would be nourished, but he was even more self conscious about people seeing it than I was, in spite of being extremely supportive and proud of my choice to breastfeed. When we were attending church, I never made it through a service without having to go to a back room to cover and breastfeed our little girl. I had to nurse her in the back seat in parking lots, back rooms everywhere and all sorts of things. At work with my dad, though, I just did my work as I fed her, with a covering, as when we were visiting with other family. Otherwise, breastfeeding made me feel very isolated, but I still happily breastfed for 17 bonding months with her.

Our second child could not stand to have anything over his head or face, maybe as a result of his time covered with tubes and contraptions in the NICU. My give a *bleep* had busted on all things ridiculous by this point, and my husband was completely comfortable and on board with whatever kept his wife and babies healthy & happy, so if my munchkin didn’t want covered, I sure as tootin’ wasn’t covering him. I used strategically placed toys and carefully draped blankies to prevent embarrassing nipple flashes, and if anyone had a problem with knowing that my baby was eating as God intended him to…well, let’s just hope they weren’t crazy enough to say something about it. ;) We had an openly happy nursing experience for 21 months.

Ouchies.

As first time parents, we were more likely to fret about all the little booboos and bug bites. Honestly, my husband couldn’t imagine a bug biting his little princess’ tender skin, and would get mad about it. My response generally being something along the lines of a drippingly sarcastic “Yes, honey, I should’ve told that mean ol’ skeeter that it didn’t have permission to bite your little darlin’.” LOL By the time our son was born, we’d both calmed down a lot about it, and realized that bruises, bumps and bites just happen, and they’re okay.

Getting dirty.

This one was all me. Hubby never minded our daughter getting dirty, but I was not too keen on her smearing mud in her curls or messing up her pretty outfits. I’d allow it, but I’d cringe at the thought of the mess. After nearly not being here to enjoy my little piggies wallowing in the mud, I am able to focus more on their happy grins than on the big whoppin’ disaster they’ve made of themselves. Well, unless they decide to take off running through the muck in their Sunday best, because then manic mommy is coming out to play! ;) As you can see from the picture, they find plenty of dirt around these parts. I didn’t even have to suggest a bath, though. From the adorably horrified expression on his little face, can you tell that right after the shot he took off running to the house hollering “Yuck!! Bath! BATH!!!!”? I’m so glad I didn’t freak out, because that, my friends, was priceless!!! :)

Muddy Mess

Muddy Mess

Life.

The point of all this? It’s normal to be a bit uptight and insecure and worried about what other people think. We all do it sometimes. Don’t let it get so out of control that you can’t just let loose and have fun and enjoy childhood with your munchkins. You won’t regret having to wash that laundry, kiss that booboo, hide that nipple, or let that kid sleep in a weird place that makes him feel comfortable. You will regret it if you miss that dirty grin, the joy of running freely outside with a giggling child, snuggling up to that nursing child or just letting them be little. Embrace the crazy! Don’t be afraid to adapt to your own unique family situation and each child’s different needs. If people judge you, that’s their problem. Don’t waste energy worrying on it, as long as your life is truly working for you. Childhood goes by so quickly, but the moments can be so long at times. Don’t get so caught up in those frustrating details that you miss the magic of life with your kids!

I’m glad I got the chance to relax by the second time around. :)


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Vamping It Up With Vivacious Savings at Vistaprint

Vivacious Vistaprint Savings

Vivacious Vistaprint Savings

Here is a great deal from Vistaprint! I just ordered some adorable little business cards for my blog from them. From past experience, they have nice products at very reasonable prices. I’m excited to share these terrific deals with you.

First, choose a code for the product you are most interested in purchasing:

Free shipping on your entire order: VPSHIP341

30% off customized t-shirts and 15% off all other products: VPSHIRT30

40% off the highest priced item in your shopping cart: VPDEAL817

25% off invitations and cards: VPINVITE25

20% off and free shipping on an order of $25 or more for new customers only: VPFIRSTORDER

You can also get 250 free basic business cards without a code through their site, as well. Just look for “Free Business Cards” under the Business Cards tab. I did that, then added 250 for just over $3 when that option popped up after my order went through. :)

Next, use my link to get $10 off the finest business cards, stationery, invitations, and more at Vistaprint.com. Make an impression.

http://vistaprint.tellapal.com/a/clk/1mKG13

What would you like to order from them?


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Canny Canning

Canny Canning

Canny Canning

Most folks who are avid canners also appreciate the art of saving a buck. I have gathered together a few ways for myself and other savvy food savers to preserve their food and pennies at the same time. Read ‘em and whistle! ;)

Outdoor Cooking is running a special through August 18, 2014, giving you 20% off of canning stoves and canning supplies when using the code CANNING14. This code only applies to items in the Home Canning category, but it is a fantastic savings!

Amazon has some wonderful bargains on canning items right now, as well, such as this less than half price Granite Ware Water Bath Canner and this Back to Basics 286 5-Piece Home Canning Kit at 35% off and a Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker at 29% off!!

Ball has a coupon for 10% off using the coupon code C88367. If you need me to explain who they are, you probably have never seen a shiny new mason jar in real life! :)

I found something that says you can get a free jar scraper with any online order from  Canning Supply using the code CS2013JS or a free set of four wooden corn on the cob holders with any online order using the code CSS812A.

Please note that I haven’t used any of these bargains. I discovered all of them through sources I have found accurate and useful in the past, so I have every reason to believe that they are valid, but I certainly can’t guarantee anything without having used them myself. Please let me know if you try them out!

 

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”


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Re-sharing About Birthday Free Goodies

August is a huge birthday month in our extended family. We have about 10 birthdays this month between both sides of our family. In honor of all of them and the ensuing birthday shindigs, I’m re-sharing an older post I made about birthday freebies. Check it out, y’all! :)

Happy Birthday Freebies


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Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Want a quick & healthy dish for a summer lunch? Try my Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad! It’s super simple, and was a hit with my kiddos and I. I made it the night before while I was making baked mac and cheese for supper, and let it chill overnight to marry the flavors better. It really did blend the tastes together even more strongly by morning.

Here’s how ya do it:

Boil two cups of macaroni noodles to al dente.

While the noodles are boiling, chop up two medium cucumbers and two medium tomatoes. Toss in a medium sized bowl with a bit of salt and pepper.

When ready, drain the noodles and rinse with cold water until they are cooled off. Dump in the bowl with the chopped veggies.

Pour in ranch dressing to taste and stir well. You can eat it then or chill overnight.

This would be good with sweet onions, shredded carrots, chopped olives, tuna or shredded chicken stirred in, as well. It’s a versatile sort of “dump salad”, and oodles of fun for the palate to play with a variety of ingredients. I love to use fresh veggies from my garden for light and refreshing lunches in the summer time, so it varies what I make according to what produce is on hand.

This would be great for packing in something like these World Kitchen Pyrex 6-Piece Food Plus Storage Set for lunches, if you have a cooler to carry or refrigeration available wherever you’re headed for work, school or play. Just pop one open on your lunch break and dig in! :)

What are some of your favorite lunches? What splendid summer veggies do you have an abundance of to gobble up?

Peace, smiles, and good vittles for all! ;)

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

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