7/1/11 - 8/1/11

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Is it true that French women don't get fat?

I'm sure you are wondering, why in the world I would bring up this topic. Is it true? I don't know that for certain, but I've always thought so. No doubt I'm not the only one who has had this impression.

One of the few French women I've ever gotten to know on a very 'small' scale, Diamond Berger, was a quilter from France. I met her at a talk at the Houston Quilt guild on French quilting or 'boutis'. She certainly was NOT fat. Neither were any of the young women with her who showed off their pieces of fabric art. She was in her 50's and looked lovely...just as lovely as her younger students.

Funny how a post is born.

I'm sitting here typing a way while the teenage boys are sleeping in after an all night birthday party including funny movies, games, shooting their guns (they can't do that in town), and just having a great time. This included ridiculous amounts of pizza and soda. (One of them ate the salad..I think..)  I plan to feed them a healthier breakfast IF they actually get up in time.

So I'm checking my emails and get a post from my friend, Maria Killam, asking the question, "If Gray is like Skinny Jeans, then what is brown?  (Mom jeans?)--Very interesting read for sure! All of her posts this week were fabulous!

One of the readers commented on how at least Mom jeans covered our tummies. This is true. I don't like seeing people where their tummies on full display when they aren't just cute little 'bumps'.  I DON'T think badly of them of course, I just feel a little embarrassed for them. In my day, you held your tummy IN if it tended to bulge..and ate a little less food for a week or two.

So I did a search and came up with the most LOVELY and INSPIRING website I've seen in a long time--French Women Don't Get Fat.

"Americans have the highest obesity rate maybe because food equals diet, to each its own. For the French it’s more about eating good food together, and conviviality and PLEASURE are key. We are still the least fat people in Europe. Witnessing school kids (6-12 yr-olds) eating lunch in a Provence village (not one obese or even overweight) was a true pleasure, and knowing that the next meal, dinner, will be home at the table with the entire family (like breakfast) and that more and more men are enjoying cooking is always an additional pleasure. Could pleasure be one of the factors protecting us against obesity?" Mireille Guiliano.

Mireille is a lovely woman and her whole desire is to 'inspire' we American women to be our best... She knows that many of us American women don't know why we struggle with food..and she's here to help, by showing us a different approach.

She talks about food and fashion...and more.  I loved her "French Woman's Manifesto". Here are a few things from it...
  • French women eat three meals a day.
  • French women adore fashion.
  • French women are stubborn individuals and don't follow mass movements.
  • French women avoid anything that demands too much effort for too little pleasure.

  •  French women balance their food, drink, and movement on a week-by-week basis.

  • French women care enormously about the presentation of food. It matters to them how you look at it.

  • French women choose their own indulgences and compensations.  They understand that little things count, both additions and subtractions, and that as an adult everyone is the keeper of her own equilibrium.

  • French women don't care for hard liquor.
  • French women don't diet.
 If you would like an interesting and inspiring read today..I highly recommend Mireille Guiliano's website or perhaps even her book...French Women Don't Get Fat.

Sometimes, ladies, it's good to take a peek in the mirror.... I know I need to do that!  Have a lovely weekend...


Introducing The Grocery Game...


Hey everyone! I'm off to a totally forgotten 'girly visit'..the last one for a while, I'm afraid, with a friend in Houston. I will be altering the other daughter's prom dress before she heads off to college..and then we'll just have a good long chat. 

This evening we will drive together to our weekly square dancing lesson for the teenagers and I'll be bringing two racks of GORGEOUS square dance clothes for our 20 or more teen girls. They are all so excited!  

Peggy called this morning at 8:00 am..and was surprised I was still sleepy. Gee..this appointment definitely slipped my mind! (We were up late SKYPE-ing with the kids in Washington and the grandkids. ) :o)

So here I am, not doing the post I had planned..but instead am going to throw a quick intro to my favorite game--The Grocery Game. (I'm not sure if quick is something I'm actually capable of doing.Ha!)

If you have not heard of this, you are in for a lot of fun! If you get addicted..and this IS a possibility...it could also mean a lot of WORK. (Don't blame me--I warned you.) But what you will get most, is tons of savings.

For the last two years or more, I've just been buying all my groceries 'enmasse' at Sam's (similar to Costco) and buy picking 7-10 recipes for the month, I can buy bulk ingredients and make almost (though not quite) as much savings as The Grocery Game. We just were too busy to do the game.

This method works great for big families..but not so good for those of you who have small families or are retired. The Grocery Game is a MUCH better idea for you. :o)

But Rebekah and I are ready to jump in again...and it was just SOoo fun! We are very good at this so it didn't take much to get going. We clipped a few coupons since we only have one newspaper's flyers. But we still saved on average about 40% off of everything.  I always forget how much groceries you bring home for the same amount of money that you normally spend. And it shocks me!

I can't wait to show you more but for now, this will simply have to be an introduction. My frugal friend, Jaime of Life and Love in the Country, does this regularly and she wrote several posts on how fun it is and how much she saved.
The total bill was 22.35 at CVS...I saved 15.11..that's a huge savings!

The grocery game is simply buying only items that are ON SALE for which you also have a COUPON. The sale price automatically saves you money. If you only bought items from every store near you each week and stocked up, you would naturally save tons of money.

But if you could COMBINE those savings with COUPONs.  Well, you are going to save much more!  The more you play the game and keep stocking up, the lower your grocery bill gets.  It's that simple.

But matching up all of those circulars and your coupons is a lot of work. Instead, just go to either The Coupon Mom (which is free) or The Grocery Game (small monthly fee) and they will publish the lists of matches for you. They do a FABULOUS job and save you a ton of work.

I recommend that if you are new to this, that you pay the small fee and use the grocery game first. Then when it starts bugging you about paying the fee, you can cancel and start using the coupon mom. Unless you are really pretty savvy and have the time. It isn't rocket science to use the Coupon Mom. 

The advantage of the Grocery Game is she makes sure you get the best bargain from each store without overlapping. (In other words, you could use the same coupon at several stores who might also have sales on that product..but whose combined savings is the best?  She'll sort that out for you.)


 The lists include not only all the major grocery stores but also Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, Target, and even dollar stores.

The Simple Way to Play the Grocery Game
  1. First Go to Coupon Mom and find my state's drop down list. Select a grocery store..i.e. Kroger.
  2. Click on all the items I want to buy.
  3. Click on any printable coupon links and print those.
  4. Now go through the properly dated coupon flyers (Smart Source, RedPlum, etc.) and find the coupons referenced.
  5. Cut them out and staple them to the list.
  6. Go shopping!

You will want to start buying your Sunday paper. We pull out the coupon flyers from each paper (we usually buy two) and file them in file folders with the week's date at the top. We put these files in an accordion file for easy reference.

Well..can you believe this is the short version? I've gotta go..but do 'weigh' in and share your expertise in the comments section. I know we'd all love to read your testimonials..good or bad.

BEST BARGAIN OF THE DAY~ I got two free gallons of milk at Krogers while buying four boxes of cereal ON SALE and I used a $1.00 off of two coupon for two of the boxes, plus .50cents off of on box of Cheerios.  Total savings on the cereal?  $7.50   Cost of the cereal on sale $8.00.   So for four boxes of cereal and two GALLONS of milk I paid $0.50.  Now that's a savings!

Have you tried something like this before?  Do you like using coupons or have you always thought, like I once did, that coupons were a waste of time because we didn't buy 'brand name'?  If you are experienced at this, can you share some of the pitfalls...yes--there are a few. :o)  Have fun shopping!


Wordless Wednesday.... Courage

  Linking with Wordless Wednesday  



Tuesday Tea ~ Could a Budget Save Your Marriage?

doves and budget

No, there’s nothing wrong with my marriage..or our budget for that matter. :o)  I’ve just been working on the budget this week and will be chatting over our financial plans for the month at a date night with Dear Hubby this evening, so naturally the topic is on my mind.

Debt Snowball
A sample debt snowball.

I was also working on our ‘debt snowball’  yesterday using a debt snowball calculator from What’s the Cost.com. The chart above was just an example. It’s a great tool recommended by my financial hero, Dave Ramsey. 


Putting a little extra  ‘sparkle’ in our marriage has also been on my mind. (I think my mind needs to go on a vacation—tee-hee!) I found a great used book on this topic, 52 ways to Re-energize Your Marriage, while killing time at a coffee shop/book store.   Voila! A new post is born. :o) 

I found it interesting this morning, to discover that conflicts over money were listed as #2 on James Dobson’s list of 12 marriage killers…..  Curious what #1 is?? Read on….


Welcome to Tuesday Tea! I’d love to have a chat with you over a nice cup of tea..perhaps poured over ice.  Both Amy of Tea Girl in a Coffee World with her post Heat Wave Tea and Wanda Lee of the Silken Purse, whose friend hosted an International student ‘tea’ with iced tea in tea cups decided to skip the ‘hot’ part. So I’m in good company. :o)

I so enjoyed everyone’s tea posts last week. Thank you so much for linking up. The comments you left were so insightful! That’s what makes our chat so fun—your input on the ‘topic’ whatever that might be. Please feel free to link up here.  


So….how can a budget improve your marriage?  I think it’s pretty obvious, but I mustn’t assume. I’ve had friends who never even thought to have a budget.  Not to worry, you can find some great ones right here.

Yesterday we talked about the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness.” It showed, in stark colors,  how financial pressures can destroy a marriage. 

will smith

The main message of the movie, which was based on a true story,  was to show the courage of a man who was determined to provide for his family against all odds. Sadly, his wife grew tired of waiting for the solution. And who could blame her?  She worked double shifts while hubby tried to sell outdated computer equipment. She brought in money and he was unable to at the time. Bill collectors can sure kill romance!

Some of the things that can cause financial stress in a marriage are
  • One of you is a ‘spender’ and one is a ‘saver’….or some milder version of this... and you have trouble seeing ‘eye to eye’ on money matters.
  • Excessive debt which puts a heavy burden on Hubby or Wife.
  • Overspending without regard to the lack of finances.
  • Being discontent with what you have.
  • Financial Reverses
  • Using spending as a way to ‘get back’. (Getting to the bottom of the barrel here.)
  • One of you is very focused on saving for the future…while the other is out bargain hunting for immediate needs.
  • And there are many more…
Our Property 116-3000  Looks like Christian needs to retire these shoes! LoL!

One thing is for sure, a budget is a GREAT solution…as long as you are both using money for it’s proper purpose—meeting material needs...and you are on the same ‘side’. :o)

If your marriage is to the point where money has become a weapon or is a constant source of fighting…it’s probably a good time to seek some counseling. Most marriage problems come down to a lack of mutual love and respect rather than the problem itself. This is where you need to start.


A couple who cares about each other faces their problems together..whether it’s money, depression, rebellious children, job loss, in-laws or health problems.  

First..build your relationship and work to grow closer. THEN tackle your problems..rather than each other! You are in this for the long run not the short-term.  You need each other. Together all of your problems will seem lighter.   

Blogging 050

It’s important not to blame each other, but rather discuss the issues and try to hear each other’s perspective on money. Rarely is it a one-sided problem.   If one spouse is having severe problems, however,  and they are open to discussing it, you can help them work through it rather than condemn them.  

One of the best ways to say, “I love you” to your spouse is to spend money in a way that is mutually acceptable.  A budget helps you ‘pin down’ what needs to be spent and when, taking into account both points of view.

Since I have a hard time with ‘impulse spending’, Hubby and I have put some ‘checks and balances’ in place to help me stay in the budget. These were my ideas mind you. :o) 


Tim and I both get  a daily email alert telling us what our checking account balance is and what transactions have taken place.  This puts some accountability in place  (and I need that!) and also makes sure that we both know how things are going financially regardless of how crazy our schedule has gotten.

We’ve also put some ‘spending money’ in the budget so I know what the ‘limit’ is on spending for projects or home improvements. As far as Hubby was concerned…you just quit spending on anything. (Sounds a lot like the idea of dieting by just not eating any more—LoL!) 


For Tim, this was a great solution. He has a ‘far reaching’ perspective. He doesn’t EVER want anything that money can buy. He just wants to save for the future.  His focus is on our ‘future’ security and happiness.

For me, as a mom surrounded by active teens, the immediate needs  of our family are the focus. I’m thinking about today, tomorrow and perhaps next week and what needs to get done. I’m focused on details and what needs to be done NOW.


We had to find a middle ground. We often joke that Tim is part ‘monk’ and I’m not.  The kids, being kids, didn’t care for that approach much either. To ignore immediate needs for future security is no more realistic than spending all your money with no regard for future security.  

With a mutually agreed upon budget, we make allowances for both perspectives. We’ve set aside money for immediate needs and even wants, and put a lot of money on our past debt (much of it medical), plus we put a decent amount of money into our emergency fund every month. We even have a small retirement fund.  Now we are ALL happier.   

If you would like more help on this topic..be sure to check out Dave Ramsey’s website. I think taking the Financial Peace workshop is one of the best things you can do for your marriage..and what a perfect wedding present for a young couple!


Why do I talk so much about marriage?  Because, if you really think about it, is there anything more integral to your lifelong happiness than a good relationship with your spouse?  It’s worth working at.. We need to nuture our marriage...just like you would a flower.   If we don’t take care of our marriage relationship..it could wither!

I’m working on ‘me’ and on ‘us’. It’s an investment worth making. Learning to spend within our agreed upon budget, getting out of debt, saying NO to unnecessary expenses--these are great ways to say “I LOVE YOU” to our Dear Hubbies.

I’m so grateful to good friends like Christi L. and her hubby who hosted a Financial Peace class in their home. Our older kids attended with us…and I learned how to discuss financial matters with hubby in a constructive way and to say NO to ME (and the kids) through this class.


Perhaps, like me, you would like to make a quiet promise to the Lord, to “honor your husband’ in your spending..each time you walk into the doors of a store (or online). :o) 

The heart of her husband trusts in her. 
He shall have no lack of gain. Proverbs 31:11

How about it?  Are you a saver or a spender? (I’ll tell you right now—I’m a spender. Yipes!)  

PS. Still wondering about No.1?  The No. 1 marriage killer is over-commitment and physical exhaustion. Read more here.

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The Pursuit of HappYness


I know..it's spelled Happ I ness... I should know. I was once the 7th best speller in Collin County, Texas. I dreamed of some day being a National Spelling Bee winner. That never happened, but I did win over the entire middle school body 7th and 8th grades two years in a row. I also won a poetry contest...and did well in an essay contest.

All the while, our home life was difficult. Little funds...abusive father...terrible self-esteem..orphanage homes...foster homes..... small income...

But..I had a dream....

My dream...the one thing I had, that kept me sane..through life in an orphanage home...(I remember it like it was yesterday).. inspite of a father, who, instead of protecting us little girls, was our worst enemy, was that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me....and I knew I could do WELL...very well..IF I set my mind to it. And I did! I knew I could 'rise above my circumstances' with God's help..

This is what the movie, Pursuit of Happyness' is all about.

By the grace of God, at the tender age of seven years old, I BELIEVED...
  • that there was a God
  • that I was a sinner (how well I knew that at age seven--I won't fill you in on the details)
  • that Jesus loved me (this I know)
  • that right was right and wrong was wrong.
  • that his WORD was true regardless of my feelings 

God, in his infinite grace, and foreknowledge, chose to rescue me...
 He chose to fill me with FAITH.. when I had  no earthly reason to believe in Him.
  • He gifted me with many talents and a strong desire to achieve.
  • He bestowed on me a love for others and a tender heart for those who were wounded.
  • He saved me by his unremitting and unconditional love and the sacrifice of HIS life for mine.
  • He gave me the courage to stand up to those in authority if they asked me to compromise and tell them WHO I was in Christ and WHAT I believed.
  • And He gave me a wonderful step-mother to be my permanent cheerleader in the 'race of life.  
  • (And a dear grandmother and relatives who have always loved us and whose hearts have been filled with compassion for us and our plight.)

At the age of seven??   Can you even begin to imagine that a child of seven must be able to do all of that? This was who I was. Alone..yet not alone.  Jesus was so near me..and I knew that..without a doubt!

The power of God's grace and love is beyond comprehension. My life is a testimony of that fact.  He gave all of that to me.  I witnessed to Catholic nuns at the age of seven...and defended my protestant faith in a Catholic orphanage home.

Are Catholic nuns bad? Hardly....  I'm not the judge, nor do I wish to be..of any one of traditional biblical faith. I believe God's word...100% and do my feeble best to obey it in everything.  That is my faith. Pure..and simple. But from my childish perspective, I was called to defend my faith (denomination-ally speaking) so I did.

So why do I mention a movie entitled  the Pursuit of Happyness?  It is a movie, in which Will Smith portrays a single father who wants to do things differently.  He wants to make sure his son grows up knowing his father, unlike Will..who met his father at the age of 28.And he doesn't just want to survive. He wants to pursue the 'American Dream'. He was always 'gifted' or smart..from an early age, and he knows that, given the chance, he could succeed..and do something better than just bare survival. He too...'had a dream'.

The first time I watched it, I must say I cried..all the way through. Never had I watched a movie (based on a true story)..that so related to my own.   Being 'poor' has been a way of life through most of my growing up years. But I wanted my future to be different..and I knew I had the 'wherewithal' to change my destiny.

First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. Proverbs 30:8  NLT 2007

Funny, looking more closely at our marriage,  Dear Hubby's family was NOT poor...and there was quite a gap between his life experience and mine. I had to learn to 'think rich'.  Don't by the cheapest product...save your pennies and buy quality. Invest in the future.  Such a foreign concept!

But what I taught Tim was ~ forget the label..jump on the clearance rack...use the thrift shops.--they are your best friend when striving to make ends meet.. Life is more important than appearances or brand label.

Both of our families treasured 'experiences' over status.

What we ended up with was quality of life..at a relatively low cost without being spendthrifts.  We've had the most wonderful 24 years I can imagine any couple having, in many ways. Every day I thank God that we had less than we really needed to make ends meet. It taught us to cry out to God for what we needed... to EXPECT answers to prayer...and to treasure things of REAL value..rather than things that wouldn't last.

We had so very little money. When we first married, I literally COUNTED the slices of meat in a packet of lunch meat to make sure it lasted the whole week for Tim's lunches at college.  We measured a can of spinach (three servings per can) and never wasted one serving.

We bagged up our bag of chips into tiny baggies to make sure we only ate one serving per meal. And we were so happy!  Tim graduated with flying colors. I was so proud of him that day. :o) And he knew it was as much MY accomplishment as HIS. We were in this thing TOGETHER.

  All of this, so I could stay at home and raise our first child (actually MY first child--I was five months pregnant when I met Tim)  ...rather than both of us work.  Tim wanted me to stay at home and invest my talents, heart, and energy into loving and raising our son (whom he adopted seven days after 'our' first son's birth--Thank you Grandma Brune for the money for adoption fees!).

Why? Because for us at least..relationship was more important...than money..or clothes..or shoes. We cared about Matthew's soul more than our personal comfort.

The movie, "Pursuit of Happyness" with Will Smith as the star, is the absolutely most perfect movie about "Man against Economics' that I have ever seen.  Want to see a Father's perfect love for his son? Want to see a Father who anguishes over the disappointments of life and yet keeps going?  Want to see a poor man strive for the 'American Dream' against all odds and win while treasuring the lives of those he loves? 

This is MY movie.

And I wonder how many other men and women can relate?  We don't look at the world through the average person's glasses.  We don't take lunch money, and a new dress for granted- because for us..they are hard earned privileges--Miracles..really.

One of the reasons that Jeff Yeager interviewed our family for his book, "The Ultimate Cheapskate Next Door" was because we had chosen quality of life over money.


Is there anything wrong with luxury, ease, and a steady paycheck? Hardly...  But you can't trade it for the character building element of having to live without...or to live within a budget...or to learn to value things that have no monetary value.  We wanted to LIVE and money would truly and honestly... only get in the way.

Of course, as Reptevia said, "If money is the world's curse...Please strike me Dead Lord,...and may I never recover!"  In no way am I down playing the liberating blessing of plenty of income.  How I'd love to be able to say that of our home! But the Lord has seen fit to give us 'enough' rather than more than enough. So be it. We are content.

But as the bible says...
The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, 
and he adds no trouble to it.NIV(©1984)

Perhaps, one day, like Will, we will hit it big..and won't have to 'pinch' for money. But like so many of you, right now...we have to work hard and be very creative to 'make ends meet'.

In many ways, that is what Comin' Home is all about...choosing quality of LIFE over appearances..even though it means less ease or income.  Like Jeff Yeager..we've decided to take  a different path

Have you ever want to 'chuck it all' and pursue some dream regardless of the financial sacrifices?  What is more important to you than money?  Have you ever seen the 'Pursuit of Happyness?" What did you think?

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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