Monday, May 21, 2012

Coming back, and changing.

After a busy, busy semester of seminary, I've decided to come back to the blog.  The inquiries of friends, family, and requests for pictures of our garden this year have encouraged me to get back to blogging as way to capture our journey of everyday life. 

Blogging at Married Living on a Single's Budget has helped me to identify what I like about blogging, and what I don't like so much.  I love writing about things that can help other people, and sharing new ideas with others.  But I also love being able to use blogging as an outlet - a personal form of thinking and seeing my thoughts on paper (actually, screen...).  It is a personal endeavor for me rather than an enterprise.  So I've decided to merge the things I love about blogging and move back to my Rewards of the Simple Life blog.  I've realized that sharing how we try to live frugally on one budget is also living simply, and enjoying the rewards of a pared-down life.  This topic feels more true to me and the original reason that I started blogging. 

So I hope you'll join me over at Rewards of the Simple Life and let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Get Rid of Stains on the Cheap

Stains...the bain of my existence.

Ok, that might be a little dramatic.  But seriously, who couldn't use a few easy and cheap ways to prevent/get rid of pesky stains?

1 - To prevent underarm stains on white shirts, sprinkle a little baby powder on the underarms of shirt and iron.  That should set in the powder to prevent yellowing.

2 - To get deodorant marks off a shirt, use a baby wipe to more easily remove marks and be ready to wear.

3 - To get out a darker stain like wine, stretch the shirt over a bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Then pour boiling water over it to lift the stain.  Then wash as regular. 

4 - This is one of my favorite tips.  To remove stains from couch cushions, use a toothbrush to lightly scrub regular laundry detergent into fabric.  Then wash in cold water and air dry.  This trick prevent bleach marks or rough wear to the fabric. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: Money Management for the Time-Pressed

This article by Real Simple magazine is perfect for anyone time-pressed and "just too busy to deal with it right now".  It is especially great for 20-somethings like myself who need to be reminded and taught about basic money-saving and financial tips. No matter how time pressed you are, take the time to read this article - it even breaks down their 12 easy ideas by how much time you have to work with: 15 minutes, an hour, or 2-3 hours.

My favorite tips?

If you have 15 minutes: Find a great shopping app like My Sherpa or Coupon Cabin to find coupons and lowest prices before and while you shop.

If you have an hour: Have a date with your spouse.  Look at and discuss your cash flow, savings, and expenditures, and take time to talk about financial goals and dreams.  Work on prioritizing three of those goals and start making a concrete saving plan to make it happen.

If you have 2-3 hours: Work on your will.  If you have children, you really should sit down with a lawyer to do this more extensively. For young couples, begin with downloading Quicken’s WillMaker Plus for $35 from

To read this article and pick up tips of your own, go to Real Simple's Money Management for the Time-Pressed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DIY Natural Spring Beauty

Spring is the hardest season for me to ease gracefully in to... allergies, dry skin, and a lenient routine can be difficult to bounce back from.  I'm committed to choosing one thing to do better with in taking care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually, and this year for my physical routine, it's to moisturize.  I found a few natural, easy and inexpensive skin and hair routines to help ease into this wonderful spring weather.

For your hair: 
1 - Use coconut oil to moisture dry hair: it seeps into the hair's follicles and absorbs better than other types of oils.
For between $6-10, you can find coconut oil online at Walmart, Amazon, or

2 - Heat a small amount of olive oil in a dish and use a brush to slowly comb oil into strands.  Wash out in shower as normal.
Olive oil can be found at any grocery store, but particularly cheaply (for about $6.99) at Walmart or at

For your hands:

1 - If you're like me, dry hands = hang nails = ripped skin.  To prevent infection and redness after tearing a hangnail, soak finger in a mix of 1 tsp white vinegar and 4 oz warm water for 3-5 minutes twice a day.  Then apply ointment and a bandage to keep skin protected.  Repeat for 3-7 days.
White vinegar can be found in any grocery store and at the Dollar Tree for $1!

2 - After showering, applying olive oil to your hands, feet, and knees for a moisturizing sheen.

3 - Use olive oil at night to moisturize cuticles.
Olive oil can be found at any grocery store, but particularly cheaply for about $6.99 at Walmart or at

For your face:

1 - To exfoliate dry skin, mix 3 parts baking soda with one part water and rub in a gentle circular motion into skin, avoiding eyes.  Rub off with a warm washcloth.
Baking soda can be found everywhere - even Lowe's!  Its average price is about $1.

2 - To remove makeup, dab a little olive oil under eyes and wash off with a warm washcloth.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Views from Unpacking

Our living room - settled, but in the works

Our catch-all spot

My desk

Upstairs Bedroom - Ben's "command central"

My side of the bed

Our new kitchen with so much more floor space! We are still waiting for the landlords to install the new sink unit that matches the upper cabinet - should come in next week!

A gift from our new neighbor, Sarah - so sweet!

Kitchen - Vintage sign from eBay

Our little table for 2 - the new sink unit to be installed is sitting behind it

Study looking into our living room

Monday, April 2, 2012

Moving In, Starting New

This weekend we moved into a new house in our same little city.  It is amazing how much work goes into packing all your belongings up, and then how quickly it is time to unpack them all over again and find their new place.  It can be quite overwhelming!

Thankfully, we had so much help on our moving day.  Friends, family, and a big box truck showed up to help us move all our things in only 2 trips.  They stayed the day and helped unpack, rebuild, and settle us in, at least a little bit.

So much change is good, and even welcome, but it is overwhelming.  The sheer time it takes to feel settled again can be daunting, especially for someone like me who likes to know what to expect, how to plan for it, how long it's going to take, etc., etc., etc....  Change requires a degree of grace with yourself, the kind of grace you hope others will extend to you when you need it, the grace that you usually do receive.  Grace can be much harder to give to yourself, but it is an important lesson to learn, to embrace the messiness and change that is inevitably a part of real life.

I'm thankful for having to learn, change, and rethink our space.  We already love the home-y-ness of our new place, its much more open layout, and the chance to get rid of a lot of clutter we had accumulated in our closets, shelves, and in the nooks and crannies.  I would almost move just for the satisfaction of getting rid of the unnecessary and starting again with the revised list of what you want to live on.

I ask you, readers, to have grace with me as I try to balance moving in, resettling, schoolwork, and intermittent blogging.  I'm going to try to have that same grace with myself.

Pictures to come soon!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: 12 Things You Should Never Buy Full Price

This week's Wednesday Wisdom: 12 things you should never settle for paying full price for from Business Insider.

 12 Things You Should Never Buy Full-Price

                           · Posted by ·

           We're thrilled to present this smart Business Insider story here on Savvy!
With the Internet, helpful mobile phone apps, and retailers scrambling to keep consumers in their shops, there's no need to pay full-price for much of anything these days.
To give you a boost, we tapped a few savvy shoppers for their tips on all the ways you can save.
Theater tickets
"One of the greatest savings areas recently has been the theater ticket business," says Anna Aronovich, CEO of
Even if you're not going to be around NYC to score discount Broadway tickets this month, there are opportunities in nearly all cities to see shows on the cheap.
Related: 15 Things You Should Never Waste Your Money On
Some rewards programs like Optimum Rewards cost nothing to join and offer discounts on shows.
If you're looking to stock the fridge for your next poker night, don't hit the liquor store until you've checked out
The company's been featured on a host of deals sites lately as one of the best ways to find discounts on brewski, says Jennifer Davidson, director of operations. (See some incredible uses for beer.)
Read on for more.
"At any given time we have over 250,000 deals online, polling over 50,000 stores," she says. Just type in your zip code, and the site will pump out the best discounts in your area.
"Everyone knows you should 'never pay retail' (for a car)," says senior editor, Phil Reed.
Check's free True Market Value price check, which tells you the average price of a car in your region. That way you'll know if your dealer's sales pitch is generous or not. (See eight questions every couple should ask before buying a car.)
"TMV figures are based on the actual sales of other cars of its kind in your area," Reed says. "The figure is then adjusted further for accuracy using sophisticated calculations designed by mathematicians at"
Legal advice
There are a slew of new sites on the web that are offering legal advice from actual professionals at a deeply discounted rate.
Check out a few of our favorites:
All three sites offer access to attorneys from across the country. Just search their site for a lawyer in your price range and start saving as much as 30 percent off traditional rates.
Anything that comes with a plug
"From HD to 3D and built-in WiFi, television manufacturers are constantly creating new features and releasing upgraded models that create a rapid depreciation," says Julie Vlahon of
If you're not dead set on having the latest version on the market, look to older models to save or scope out deals at warehouse stores for affordable package bundles that come with extended warranties, she says.
Laptops are also a steal during the busy back-to-school sales season, and you'll score a ton of deals throughout the holidays.
Dealnews does a great job listing the best products to buy on a month-to-month basis. Looks like February is prime time for TV lovers.
Just remember to skip the extended warranty.
Gift certificates and gift cards
If you haven't cottoned on to the secondhand gift card marketplace, you're missing out. and CouponSherpa are great sources to nab discounted gift cards for hundreds of retailers. They're a also a favorite way to save, according to personal finance expert Andrea Woroch.
"You can score huge discounts for yourself or for a gift," she says.
These days, nearly all retailers offer some sort option to deliver your purchases to your doorstep without additional fees.
Rock stars like Zappos and L.L. Bean are among the rarest breed of businesses offering free shipping on every single purchase, says NerdWallet CEO Tim Chen. But most companies will demand a minimum purchase before letting you off the hook.
To help track down deals on shipping, is an excellent source.
Patio furniture
"Spring is when retailers heavily promote their summer merchandise, and among them are expensive patio sets and outdoor furniture," Woroch says.
"Hold off until after Summer to enjoy huge sales of up to 80 percent off. Otherwise, head over to a local home consignment shop for discounts or check Craigslist for gently used alternatives."
Don't turn up your nose a garage or yard sales, either. Chances are your neighbors might want to get rid of their old furniture to make way for something new.
Yes, e-books are basically a discount in and of themselves, since they're far cheaper than the real thing.
But there are still more ways to save.
Many libraries have started to offer free e-book rentals from their websites. You can also check out books library-style from Amazon's Kindle store.
Video games
Check out, a group-buy marketplace that lets users sell off older versions of their video games online.
You can even pool your resources with friends if you can't afford some of the pricier games on the market, and eBay's another great source for finding discounted games. You can trade unwanted games on as well.
Your college education
College tuition prices don't appear to be trending down anytime soon, so do all you can to find the best deals out there.
Don't stop hounding your student aid office until you've exhausted all your federal loan aid. Trust us: you don't want to have to turn to private student loans, which carry variable interest rates that can leap into the double-digits after you graduate.
If you're thinking about getting your degree online, check, which publishes comparisons of online degrees nationwide.
Printer ink
Per technology consultant James Beswick:
"Manufacturers' markup on brand-name ink cartridges is very high. There are local and online services that will refill your cartridges and toners for up to 80 to 90 percent off, and I'm not sure anyone can tell the difference in the final printed product."