I have been making efforts here on the homefront to control spending, save money, and get money back when I can. Between couponing, hitting up sales and doing everything that I can, even though I am working less hours outside of the home, we are still making all of our bills on time.
That is a big change from last year, when we were barely scraping by!
I will be posting some home crafts in the next few weeks about Christmas projects that we will be doing for gifts for family and friends. My total expenditure for the people outside of our direct household is going to be less than 100.00 for more than 20 people. Can we do it? Watch and see!
Back to TopCashback. This is not a sponsored post from them. I was watching YouTube videos on how to save money, and one of the places that everyone talks about is the Dollar Tree. I love the Dollar Tree. It is quick, convenient and easy to get in and out of. For everyday staples. this one is a no brainer.
As I was watching one of the videos, a YouTuber mentioned TopCashback. Then another. Then another. It seemed like a good deal, but then several of these people mentioned that TopCashBack gives a 4 percent rebate at Dollar Tree! Did you just tell me that my savings got even bigger?
Of course, I had to sign up! That is money in the bank. literally. They will literally deposit money into my PayPal account after I do online shopping with over FOUR THOUSAND online retail sites.
I signed up.
I hope that you will use my link and sign up, too!
I like to wear makeup. It conceals flaws and helps to create a look that I like. With that being said, sometimes it can be a hassle to take the time to properly remove makeup. I have resorted to using makeup remover wipes and even baby wipes. It is very rare that I will sleep in my makeup, I try to avoid that at all costs.
With that being said, there are a few makeup removal techniques that I find myself getting the best results with. The upside is that your skin will thank you if you take the time to cleanse your face properly. The downside is that it will take about five minutes of your life. (Gasp!)
Use proper tools.
I use a makeup remover and a brush. I wet my face, drop a pea sized dollop onto the brush head and get to work.
The brush that I am currently using cost me less than $10.00. It runs on a couple of AA batteries. Yes, I am aware that there are brushes out there that do a lot more things, and cost a lot more money. I need my brush to break down and remove my makeup. Nothing more, nothing less. It does a perfectly adequate job of that.
After I have wet my face, I remove the makeup by moving the brush over my entire face except for my eye area.
When I am through, I thoroughly rinse with warm water and cleanse the eye area separately using Micellar water. I then add a moisturizer and call it done. The result is that in the 2 months I have been doing this, my skin looks much healthier.
Autumn is a lovely time of year. The cooler weather for parts of the world that experience very hot summers is a welcome relief. The rains that serve to cool the earth are also a relief, even driving in the rain is a blessing.
I recently had the opportunity to do a themed board for our break room where I work, and it was there that I had the chance to play with some really fun color combinations. I found the choices to be inspirational for home decor as well.
Here are the combinations that I did.
Orange, copper and pink. A tribute to the beautiful colors of fall as well as acknowledging the research for Breast Cancer.
Adding pink to the mix made me find different places where pink was hidden in the traditional fall palette! Let me tell you, it is everywhere. Most turning leaves have splashes of pink in them. Pumpkins can have a pink cast in the right light. Additionally, by adding copper, which is a natural for fall, I was able to easily incorporate this year's white hot color for the year, rose gold.
I will be adding some photos this week of the elements that I chose. Wait until you see how these colors together work so well for fall, and with a few small tweaks, they will work for November, too!
Share photos of your Fall/Autumn and Halloween decor. I can't wait to see it!
Grandpa's Pot of Gravy
Grandpa was not a kitchen guy. He was not in there cooking. He was not in there making sandwiches. He was just not that type of person.
My uncle Billy got the flu that was going around. He laid in his bed, sick as could be except for going to the bathroom. Dr. Phipps came out and examined him.
(Dr. Phipps had me convinced that he delivered Jesus because he was so old.)
"It's the flu, for sure, like half the people I am seeing." He sighed, washing his hands in the very bathroom sink that I washed in.
Grandma handed him a towel and waited for the news of what to do.
"Food and drink if he is hungry. Don't force it. If he gets an appetite, keep it light."
Dr. Phipps asked to see all of us while he was already there to avoid traveling the highway after dark. Grandma got him set up in her bedroom.
When it was my turn, I brought my doll with me, because she might be sick, too. We were both told that we had the flu. My poor ragdoll, Neva. I was told that she needed bedrest and I had to make sure that she was in bed by setting a good example. I protested, saying how fine I felt, but Dr. Phipps made me a promise. If I got hot and steamy baths when asked to, ate and drank what was asked of me, the next time he saw me, if I got well, we would draw a picture together. I could barely contain my excitement. I took off my day clothes and set me and Neva down with night clothes. Vicks was rubbed on my chest, and Neva got the Vicks on a cloth.
The next few days were misery and sleep. My poor grandparents with all of their children, and then my coming along, making them grandparents when they were still raising children. Poor them!
I woke up one morning to the smell of warm biscuits and gravy. Coffee was made. It smelled good. I fell back asleep to the smell, so comforting and wonderful. I pulled the heavy quilt back over me and my baby doll and drifted right off.
I woke up to my shoulder being shaken gently. "Wanna plate of biscuits?" Grandpa asked, holding them under my nose and waving them gently around.
"No. I wanna sleep." I said, not wanting food.
"Baby, Doc says you gotta eat something. You little lips are chapped. Your little eyes are sunk. Please eat a little for Grandpa. I even made the gravy you like."
Even Grandpa's gravy? Was I crazy? He made the best brown gravy for biscuits known to man.
I nodded my head and he broke off a piece of biscuit and put it in my mouth.
A glass of juice was brought to him, and in the hallway, I heard someone say "He got her to eat a little!" Apparently, I had been refusing food.
It took a while, but he got all of those 4 biscuits into me. Never pushing, never yelling, just gently loving me to eat. I drank the juice and he carried me to the bathroom and back, keeping my feet from touching the floor.
Every meal after that, Grandpa would bring in a food tray for he and I. He would take a bite, then offer me a bite until it was gone, then carry me to the bathroom. It was a lot of work, I am sure, but he never complained.
When Dr. Phipps came to see all of us a few days later, I was still in bed, too tired to do anything and still miserable.
Dr. Phipps told me that I had to eat, and I had to get better. He said that tomorrow, I was to eat at the table, and go outside and sit on the porch in the swing for a while.
The following day, I did as was asked, and fell asleep outside on the swing. Grandpa called Dr. Phipps and explained that I was not getting any better, in fact, everyone else was better, and now I seemed to be worse. Dr. Phipps told Grandpa that I better be taken to the hospital in case it was something serious.
We got to the hospital and I was put in a wheelchair. I fell asleep in the wheelchair. I was placed on a stretcher when the doctor examined me.
"Strep and Mono" is what came back from the tests. I was put in the hospital for a few days, and Dr. Phipps came to see me.
I don't remember this, but my Aunt said that I flew into hysterics when he entered the room, because I had not gotten well, so we could not draw a picture together.
"I tried, Dr. Phipps, I tried!" Is what I have been told I said over and over again.
By the time I was discharged, I had over 20 drawings by me and that country doctor, now gone on to his reward in heaven.
When the doctors came in to my room to talk to me and my family, they asked me if I knew what made me better, getting ready to tell me about the antibiotics that I still would take at home. I beamed a huge smile and said "Grandpa's Pot of Gravy!"
No Chores for Me- Water Pails and Yard Chickens
My grandparents had 2 horses. Buckshot was the male and Candy Kisses was the female. I have no idea what they did to get the horses, because they sure were not rich.
Every day, one of the girls would haul water and oats down to the barn, and the boys would let the horses out and muck the stalls. They would pet and fawn over the horses while we little ones mainly watched from a milk crate.
One day, my Aunt Linda- who was notoriously lazy- was hauling the oats and water. She turned to me and said that I had to help, or else.
I dug my heels in right then. Grandpa said that "littles" didn't do chores outside, unless he or Grandma said to, because there was too much that could happen. Just "littles" chores. We were not allowed to even touch those horses without a grown-up around, let alone get close to the feed.
"No, Ma'am, Aunt Linda. I am not going to do it."
She turned to me and her face grew red. "Oh, you will. I am your elder. I am 16 years old and you will mind me or I will switch you real good." She yelled, motioning for me to pick up the water pail.
"No!" I yelled back, running to the rabbit hutches where grandpa was cleaning them out.
She ran after me, but fear gives your feet speed. I reached grandpa, crying and huffing and puffing. He knew something was up.
Aunt Linda was soon there, too. He asked what happened and she forced out a tale that was a whopper of a lie. He looked at me. "What happened, Sis?" I told him exactly what happened.
"Littles don't do chores. She is not even 5 yet. She can't haul them buckets. You'll pull her spine out of her skin with the strain."
Linda protested, and Grandpa got red faced himself. "You don't ride a horse till they are grown, you don't breed a cow till they are grown, and you don't yoke a baby to an adult's chores. Feed and water the horses, Linda!" He then called Uncle Billy to make sure that the horses were fed, watered and mucked out. I got to stay behind and scoop ladles of water for the rabbit bottles.
Grandpa looked at my little tear stained face. "We all pull our own weight here. Someday, you will be doing big girl chores, too. Right now, you just need to be my little girl. You don't go any further from the house than the yard chickens, unless me or Grandma or Mama or Daddy says it is okay."
"Can't I watch them water the horses, Grandpa?" I asked, hoping he would say yes.
"No. Them girls won't watch to make sure you are out of the way, and the boys don't care if you get kicked in the head. Only where the yard chickens go. No farther."
I nodded. It was through that instruction that I learned how to make chickens follow you all the way to the tire swing.....but didn't get in trouble because the yard birds were there with me!
Share your stories below, don't forget to share!
Fast For Fathers!
Father's Day is here, and I have 5 fast questions so that you can ask the fathers in your life!
1. How did you find out that you were going to be a father?
2. What has been the best part of being a father?
3. What is something you never expected about being a dad?
4. What is a bond or shared interest that you have with your children?
5. What would the perfect Father's Day be for you?
That's All folks!
Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers out there. Especially to my father! My father is an awesome dad. He adopted me when he did not have to. His family was grown and complete, and then I came along and he and my mother adopted me. I could not have asked for better parents. My father and I did not always get along. I was stubborn and he was not wanting to put up with my stubborness.
Just as heat tempers metal and makes it stronger, time tempered us and made our relationship stronger.
When my grandmother was alive, my father was a flawless son in law to her, even having her move in with her and my mother to make sure that she was safe and cared for. When my grandmother's health was failing, he would sometimes go alone to the nursing home where she resided so that she had a visitor every day.
My father is also a gourmet chef level cook. When a family member or guest comes into my parent's home, he will make sure that they are comfortable, well fed and welcome. He knows that I adore his deviled eggs. Most times when I come to visit, my dad will make sure that they are on the table. The same for my sister and her love of my dad's macaroni and cheese that he makes from scratch.
When my mother was injured, it was my dad who provided the care for her that was exemplary. She is a retired physician, so for her to say that it was good is saying something.
When my sister and I lost our biological mother, my mom and my dad stepped forward and accepted her as another daughter, and her children know them as their grandparents. They are great as grandparents because they love their granddaughters.
A conversation that I was not present for is one that has warmed my heart everytime that I think about it. My sister and my Dad were talking about me, and my sister said that Dad told her "All I care about is that Dixie is happy. That is what I want for all of you. For you all to be happy." What kind and touching words from a man that is not into huge displays of emotion. Yet, he will hold my mother's hand in the car, and they say "I love you" to one another a lot.
When I got married, my parents became grandparents to my stepdaughter and stepson. My stepson insists on calling them when he does well on a paper, or when he gets his report cards in. He loves to talk to both of them because they actively listen. My stepson feels a special bond because they both wear glasses, and they both like to do things together, like feed the donkeys.
This photo was taken when I was visiting at Thanksgiving, and I took one with each of my parents. Every time I look at this photo, I smile, because that is my dad and me. Even though we are not related, we both have green eyes. We both love to read. We both love poking around on the computer, we both love the hidden object games, and a lot of other things. I am blessed indeed to have him in my life. I love you, Dad.
Mamaw's Upright Piano
Mamaw had an upright piano in her small house. When you walked in the front door, the piano was to the right of the front door, right up against the wall. There were many books in the seat. Everything was church songs. Nothing else. When I was 6, I got to spend the summer with her. One day, doing dishes, I was under her feet a little too much. "Why don't you go and play on the piano?" She asked, pulling me to the upright.
"I don't know how, Mamaw." I replied.
"Just plink along and figure out a song." She said, lifting the cover to the keys.
I banged along the keys, looking for where a song was hidden. Nothing wanted to be found that day.
Everyday after that, Mamaw would wash our dinner dishes after her stories played. I would cause all of the great pianists of the world to roll in their graves as I massacred the keys on the keyboard.
For weeks this went on. As soon as the dishes were washed, she would sit next to me and play the songs that she was going to play on the organ at her church. Sometimes, she would move my fingers and show how to play a few notes. It was amazing to watch her play with no book in front of her, just the memories of the song strongly in her head.
"Let's play Amazing Grace, baby." She said one day. I got so excited. I knew this song from my church with Mama and Daddy.
Mamaw played the notes. Then she began singing. She sang a line. I sang a line. With mistakes I never knew were mistakes. (Read below)
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I be
Mamaw: Through many dangers, toils, and snares
Me: I've already done
Mamaw: 'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
Me: And grace will lead me home
Mamaw: When we've been there ten thousand years
Me: Right, shining as the sun
Mamaw: We've no less days to sing God's praise
Me: Than when we first got done
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw kept her cool. She did not scold. We sang it one more time, and she was laughing, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Where did you learn that, baby?" She asked.
"At Grandpa's church where Daddy goes to." I answered, afraid I had made God mad.
"Well, today you get a special treat. We are going to learn lyrics."
She stood up, put me on the floor as well and lifted the lid of the bench seat at the piano. Thumbing through the books, she found Amazing Grace. Sitting us both back down, she settled the book onto the stand and got back into playing, wiping her eyes and clearing her throat.
"Am I wrong, Mamaw?" I asked, still not knowing what happened.
"No, baby. Not wrong. You didn't know. Now, we can both learn. I might have forgot some of them words, too."
I bless her for teaching without taunting. I miss her terribly.
Happy Birthday from Trains and Trucks
I was so excited that I could hardly wait to get out of the bed that morning. My birthday was here! Could you believe that I had been waiting for it a whole year?!?!?!?!?!??!
Mamaw made me 3 boiled eggs and biscuits with butter and jelly. I ate as quick as I could. Billy Ray's cousin was going to take me with him in his fine 18 wheeler to the loading docks to watch them put in strawberries! After that, we were going to get cantaloupe for me and Mamaw! This was going to be the best year ever. I was 5 years old and ready to go!
Billy Ray pulled up in his big pickup truck. I was ready to run out the door, but Billy Ray walked in. "Mornin', Miz Ida, here to pick up a passenger." He said, looking at me and smiling, his missing tooth looked funny to me and I laughed.
She made him a plate for breakfast and Billy Ray talked between bites, barely stopping to breathe.
"Go to the bathroom and pee. Wash your hands and face and brush your teeth." Mamaw said to me, motioning for me to get my morning "deeds" done.
I scampered off, hearing them laughing and talking in the kitchen.
When I came back, Mamaw had cleared the table, she sat me down and braided my hair into two long braids that she formed into a headband that went over the top of my head, set in place by bobby pins.
She pulled off my sundress and fitted me with a pair of tiny overalls and a t-shirt. "You can't wear your sandals and dress today, sis. You are gonna be climbing all over stuff. Aunt Dotty sent over one of the boy's overalls and shirt for you to wear. Plus a pair of their boots they outgrew."
I looked down. These were like what the men wore. I had pockets galore! I had on boots! I was a worker bee!
Billy Ray scooped me up. "Alright, Ida. You've dolled her up enough. She's cuter than a box of puppies. See you after a while!"
"Mind your manners!" Mamaw called after me. I waved and before I knew it, I was in Billy Ray's big truck, bouncing along the road, singing with Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves.
We reached the truck yard, where Clive was waiting for us with his friends. "Sis! Sis! he called out, scooping me up into a hug. "Happy Birthday, Sis!" He sat me on his hip. Billy Ray left, telling him to run me back to Ida's when we were done.
We went into the office, where I was introduced to everyone. I had the best day ever. Clive took me out to his big truck. He showed me where to climb. Before I knew it, I was up in the truck, looking down on the world.
My heart soared. When the "roach coach" came for the truckers, Clive bought me a sandwich and we sat with all of the truckers.
Bo, who was with the trains would tell story after story. I crawled down from Clive's lap and sat on the dirt next to him, where everyone else was crowding him, listening to his every word. I was completely unnoticed. Bo would pause at the end of a tale and everyone would erupt with laughter.
I didn't understand his stories, but he seemed so likeable.
When he was done with one of his stories, I pulled on his cuff. "Excuse me" I said, as I had been taught to do with grown ups. "Excuse me. I didn't understand the story." I said, looking at him. Bo's face went red. "Well. Well. Um. You'd have to drive a truck or a train to get it."
"Can you tell the one about the 3 little bears? Or the one about the 3 little pigs? Or the one about the Princess and the Pea?"
He put out his big hand for me. "I am Bo. See the train over there? When the lunch whistle goes, I will take you on the train before it is ready and give you a tour."
I nodded and found Clive, who was amused that I had embarrassed Bo.
"You got Bo good, sis!" He said, chuckling as we finished off our lunch. He took me to the bathroom and cleaned me off, and when the whistle blew, I found Bo.
"Time for the grand tour." Bo said, telling Clive that he would bring me back in time for college.
Bo walked me around the train, pointing out parts and telling me what they did. Every 3 or 4 parts later, Bo would test me. If I got it right, he would clap his hands together and say "there goes a bright girl."
We climbed into the front of the train, I was lifted up and Bo showed me different things. As were were touring, a man came up to Bo. "All ready, tracks clear."
"We go in 5." Bo said, looking at his watch.
Bo walked me back to Clive and looked down at me.
"Happy Birthday, Sis! Be good!" Bo said and walked back to the train.
Clive walked us over so I could see the train leave.
As they pulled off, Bo played the 6 notes from Happy Birthday on the train horn! I was in awe. The train sang to me!
Clive drove me home with a basket of strawberries and other produce for my birthday. I was asleep in my own bed when I woke up. Mamaw asked me if I had a good time. "Even the train knew it was my birthday, Mamaw! It sang Happy Birthday to me!"
One of the hardest things in doing research is the reality vs. perceptions that a lot of people have about research into their family tree.
For some reason, we like to think that all women in our family are prim and proper and sweet little virgins when they met the men in our family.
Let me assure you. Not true. Not true today, and not true back in the day of our ancestors.
My mother was never married to my biological father. I have never laid eyes on him, although I know believe that I know who he is. (It is either him or one of his brothers, but his brothers were never in the part of the world I was born in.)
Do I believe that my mother was a sweet, virtuous angel before I got here? Of course not.
She had desires. She had attractions, crushes, encounters. All of the things that normal people have. Sex drive is not something that is limited to men. Women have urges, too. The only difference is not what they do with those urges, but instead, how they are treated for having those urges and acting upon them.
My mother, when it was obvious that I was looking for my biological family threw me on a trail of bad information and lies. To protect me? Perhaps. To protect herself from rejection and judgement? Of course.
I belong to a lot of different groups on social media. Repeatedly, adoptees who are looking for their biological families will have so much more luck with their paternal family than they have with their maternal family. It is so contradictory of everything that we see in movies, etcetera. But it is the truth. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, that goes without saying.
In one of the groups that I belong to on Facebook, the ratio of paternal family being open to meeting and knowing is about 3 to 1 compared to maternal family.
I know that when I had my son and placed him for adoption, it was deeply instilled in me to make sure that I did not interfere with the adoptive family or the child that I placed for adoption, after all, they were doing me a huge favor.
Wasn't I doing them a huge favor as well? Isn't having a baby and giving it to the adoptive parent to raise a big favor as well? I would think so, but the adoption agencies of the time did not really address that angle. Another reflection of women being punished/held accountable for her sexuality.
That leads me to DNA testing and reunions being made outside the parameters of the adoption agency.
Adoption agencies made the promise to people that they need not worry about being contacted. That their little secret was safe within the walls of the agency and the sealed birth certificate. With the event of at home DNA testing (Ancestry, Heritage, 23AndMe, Family Tree DNA, etcetera) becoming so affordable, more and more people are turning away from the agencies and the archaic laws of sealed adoption records. They are instead choosing to take tests that cost less than 100.00 per test. In less than 2 months typically, an adoptee can find their birth family on both sides. With social media being free and open, with a few clicks of the mouse, an adoptee can look at the faces of biological family.
The problem about this is for any member of the adoption triangle that does not want to be found. For the birth mother who wanted the secret of her pregnancy and childbirth hidden, her privacy is no longer assured or guaranteed. For the birth father who may not even know that a child was conceived, his life can be thrown into hell if he has never told his family of the existence of a child.
An adoptee that has never been told that they were adopted, or does not want to know their biological family and finds themself facing issues they were not prepared to handle can be a disaster.
Am I against DNA testing? No, not at all. I support open records. I support the right of people to know where they came from as an adoptee. I support the right of birthparents to know their biological child is well and cared for. Open adoption removes all of the mystery from adoption and allows for open communication. In medical emergencies, if the biological family is available for contact, information can be exchanged that is literally lifesaving.
As long as we continue to have a one sided stigma of women having sexuality, of women expressing their sexuality and of women having sexual relations, we will continue to have shame for an event that needs to have no shame.
As I continue to know my paternal family, I am greatly saddened by all of the years that I was denied these relationships. I have aunties and cousins and grand cousins. I had grandparents while I was alive on my father's side. From all that I have heard, they would have been very loving and kind. I have pictures of people who I look like. Who I share the same body type. Who I have common interests. I would still be searching for these wonderful family members if I had not taken a DNA test.
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com