Summer Vacation and our Contest Winner

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by Liz

Summer is just about over, many schools are back in and the weather isn’t quite as hot…well, I assume that is the case in the majority of the country.  Here in Texas, the weather will continue to be summer-like until Halloween.

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The majority of us have taken their summer vacations, I know we finally did and MAN was it great! Although we tried our best to schedule and plan appropriately, unfortunately, due to work schedules, the entire family did not get to come. We spent a week at Pensacola Beach, Florida.  I would love to be able to write a post about all the ways we saved money on the trip, but we hadn’t taken a vacation in over 2 years and we budgeted and saved for the last 2 years for some extravagances, like enjoying many meals out that included “grown-up” drinks. And we enjoyed renting a pontoon boat for the entire day to enjoy over at Crab Island, Florida and of course the souvenirs, let’s not forget those. 

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We did manage to save some money; it wasn’t a total “open wallet” experience.  For instance, we drove from Fort Worth to Pensacola with a fully stocked cooler of sandwiches, snacks and drinks.  We rented a condo on the beach that included amenities that allowed us to cook and prepare some of our meals; (we ate all of our breakfasts and at least 3 dinners here) and the ability to do laundry (what a God send!). We went to the Naval Aviation Museum that does not charge admission hoping to catch the Blue Angels practicing, but alas, they were not practicing that day; and of course we spent lots of time in the ocean, playing like kids, jumping waves and getting sandy and many long walks along the seashore collecting seashells.

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Now that our Pensacola vacation is behind us, we will start saving for our next vacation, not sure where that will be yet, but nonetheless, we will start our savings.  In addition to that, it is time to get back to work, and as promised, we have chosen a winner of our first ever Fort Worth Homemaker give-a-way.

Congratulations to Sergio N. of Austin, Texas.  He is the winner of the August, Fort Worth Homemaker give-away!

We reached out to Sergio N. to ask him which of the items he would like to receive for his prize, either our elegant coffee cup or our decorative journal to help organize his days.  Sergio N. responded in kind:

“I love my coffee, especially on early morning weekends when I get time to sketch, draw or research for future artworks. With that being said and the colors of the beautifully styled Fort Worth Homemaker coffee cup noted, I’m more than sure it will make people do a double-take when they see me sipping my coffee from it, or sitting on my drawing table next to my current work in progress art.”

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Thanks so much for the compliment Sergio N. of Austin, your coffee mug is on its way! (Sorry Sergio, breakfast scones, not included).

Be sure to check out my blog page, and feel free to share with your family and friends as we will continue to bring you money saving tips, easy and delicious recipes and words of wisdom from this experienced homemaker!




It’s Almost Give-A-Way Time

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Don’t worry…there is still time left for the first The Fort Worth Homemaker give-a-way! Summer may almost be over, and you may have spent your time this season taking care of your home and family, but now it’s time for a little “you” time and reward yourself for all that hard work you put in this summer.

Since recently launching my site, I thought I would invite you to come and visit. And so, to say thanks, on August 18th, 2017 I will be giving away some of my custom merchandise.

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How can you be a part of this?  All you have to do is subscribe to my FREE mailing list to be entered.  Don’t worry, The Fort Worth Homemaker will never use your email information for spam, nor will we share your information with any third party companies.  One winner will be chosen at random on August 18th, 2017 and announced on both my website and Facebook page , https://www.facebook.com/Lizthefortworthhomemaker/ on or about August 18th, 2017.

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If you have not checked out my site as of yet, feel free to browse around, there are tips, recipes, money saving advice and my real life experiences when it comes to managing a family of 7.  Don’t forget to check out some of my archived posts as well, I think you will find them informative as well as entertaining.

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So if you haven’t already done so…subscribe for FREE to the Fort Worth Homemaker to be eligible to win one of my Fort Worth Homemaker pieces of merchandise, either a cool coffee mug to enjoy your favorite beverage or a blank, 80 page, lined journal to help with all your organizational needs. Please feel free to share with all of your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well and GOOD LUCK!!!




The Fort Worth Homemaker’s Day

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By Liz

You might be asking yourself, what does a day in the life of this homemaker look like?  I get emails wondering what it is I do all day and we now have such amazing technology that keeping house must be a breeze, so I think many of my readers think I have plenty of time that gets wasted on a daily basis.

Unlike many other homemakers, I don’t home school any of the 5 kids .Regardless of the fact that they are much older, honestly this was never in my wheel house, I know my weaknesses and frankly I was not equipped with the patience level to home school.

Also, like many other homemakers, I don’t do many DIY projects.  You will probably never see a post about how I turned an old sock into an adorable stuffed animal, although you will see mentions of me using old socks as dust rags.

I also don’t have a long reading list. While I agree that reading helps one broaden their minds, helps you relax and is some pretty cheap entertainment, I just never seem to have enough time.  Kudos to all those other homemakers and blogging moms that are able to read 40+ books in one year, because it usually takes me months to get through just one book.




So exactly what does a day in my life look like?  Here is a schedule of a typical day:

6:00 – 8:30 Read, answer emails, compose posts.

8:30 -9:30 Exercise, shower, dress, hair.

9:30 -10:00 Dust and sweep all of the downstairs of my house. (This gets done daily due to dog hair tumbleweeds that drive me crazy).

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10:00 -10:30 Prep and put on a pot of homemade dog food in the slow cooker, then prep and marinade chicken for evening dinner.

10:30 -11:00 Fold and put away 2 batches of laundry.

11:00 12:00 Proof read, edit and photo shop for upcoming posts.

12:00 – 1:00 Make and enjoy my lunch hour, (eating does not take me an hour, but if there was anything that stuck with me from my days in corporate…it was enjoying the respite of the lunch hour before delving back into work).

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1:00 -1:40 Make a batch of egg sandwiches for the freezer.

1:40 – 2:00 Played with puppy and other dogs outside giving them some exercise.

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2:00 – 3:00 Blanched, pureed and freezer bagged all garden ripened tomatoes (to be used in sauce at a future time).

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3:00 – 4:00 Work on homework assignment from the Saturday class I am taking (I had mentioned this previously, I am working on keeping my CPP certification as a Payroll Professional).

4:00 -4:15 Empty dishwasher.

4:15 – 4:30 Bagged up dog food from slow cooker.

4:30 – 5:00 Judge Judy and coffee break (Guilty pleasure, hey!…I am only human).

5:00 5:30 Dinner prep (slicing veggies, shredding cheese, etc…)

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5:30 -6:30 Grilling dinner outside while periodically coming in to check on side dishes.

6:30 – 7:30 Eat with family, package leftovers, wash dishes.

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7:30 – 8:30 Take dogs for a walk.

8:30 – 10:00 Downtime…finally!!! (Usually this time is spent either watching a movie or talking with my hubby and kids).

10:00 BED..it’s been a long day and I am tired!

For those of you who might be wondering, NO, I did not embellish this schedule.  This is a typical day for me, other days also include errands, grocery shopping, scheduled appointments at the doctor, dentist, vet, mechanic, etc…

I do try to make a habit of doing less on the weekend, but with the class I am taking on Saturday’s this summer, that has me out the door at 7:00a.m. and not returning until 2:00p.m. I still have homemaking items that I accomplish on the weekends, but these tasks get done on a less stringent schedule.

So there you have it, a day in the life of The Fort Worth Homemaker, I did not write this post to complain, I just wanted to let the public know that homemakers far and wide generally are not sitting around watching daytime T.V. talk shows; shopping and spending money all day; or taking naps for hours upon end.  And if you are a homemaker that does exactly those things…please let me know your secret, cause who couldn’t use some of that?

 


It’s Give-a-way Time!

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by Liz

So here we are smack dab in the middle of summer.  July 4th has come and gone, the stores are stocked with lots of back to school items already, maybe you have already taken your annual summer vacation. You may be asking what is next because there is still plenty of summer left. You have come to the right place.  The Fort Worth Homemaker has some exciting news…we are having a give-a-way!

Since recently launching my site, I thought I would invite you to come and visit. The Fort Worth Homemaker site is my little slice of what it takes to manage a family of 7 plus 4 dogs all on one income. My articles are written based on our real life experiences so I am sure that many of you can relate to our everyday situations, even though your household may not be as large.  And so, to say thanks, on August 18th, 2017 I will be giving away some of my custom merch. 

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How can you be a part of this?  All you have to do is subscribe to my FREE mailing list to be entered.  One winner will be chosen at random on August 18th, 2017 and announced on both my website and Facebook page, on or about August 18th, 2017.

If you have not checked out my site as of yet, feel free to browse around, there are tips, recipes, money saving advice and my real life experiences when it comes to managing a family of 7.  Don’t forget to check out some of my archived posts as well, I think you will find them informative as well as entertaining.

So if you haven’t already done so…subscribe for FREE to the Fort Worth Homemaker to be eligible to win a give-away of one of my Fort Worth Homemaker pieces of merchandise, please feel free to share with all of your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well and GOOD LUCK!!!

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Is it Right to Play God?…Sasha’s Story

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By Liz

Is it ever right to play God? I know I am not the only one who has ever been posed with this question. My faith and my religion, tell me NO, it is not ok; however, when it comes to another living creature suffering, what is the right thing to do?

Just recently we had the agonizing task of choosing to put our aging, ailing dog down. Sasha was our first rescue dog and when we got her, she was a year and a half old that was back in 2005. Sasha was a Shiba Inu, a distinct Japanese breed. Shiba Inus are alert dogs that are intelligent with fiery personalities, well tempered and affectionate. Sasha exhibited all of these traits and more.

Like most breeds, Shiba’s are also prone to health issues, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and hip dysplasia. As Sasha aged, we watched our once vibrant, happy and energetic dog start to struggle with age and some health issues. The past two years have been exceptionally bad.

Sasha used to love to go on walks, the first few years we had her, she would accompany me on my endurance walks up to 3 miles; 3 to 4 times a week.  Sasha would also love running around in our then back yard that was on about a ½ acre of land.

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Sasha loved to hunt, and unlike a typical dog’s prey, her penchant was for reptiles; and that yard had plenty of them.  She would spend much time out in the back yard looking for turtles, frogs, lizards and geckos. If she found any, she would pin them down with her paws.   She wouldn’t kill or eat them, she just liked to hunt and trap them.  In fact, you could say that Sasha had refined taste; she was very particular about what she ate. Her favorite treats were gourmet dog cookies, but if we really wanted to spoil her (and occasionally we did) she would indulge on wine infused salami and aged, smoked gouda…the other dogs could not have cared less, they would have been just as happy eating cat turds off of our front lawn.

Sasha was a great family pet, she loved and watched over the family, like great guard dogs do. So about two years ago, when we noticed her walking distance was becoming harder for her to handle, on the walks that she loved so much, we knew she was starting to age and starting to slow down.

Her walks and activity level became shorter and fewer, however, her trips to the vets had increased.  The vet had prescribed her inflammatory and pain pills, low and short doses at first, but over time, those had changed and increased as they were having no effect on her.  About a year ago, Sasha’s whining and crying had started to become noticeable and we knew it was due to the arthritis she was suffering in both her front and back legs. At this time, I personally had to have a full knee replacement, because I could not deal with my own physical pain, so I can imagine what Sasha was feeling. 

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We watched Sasha suffer from arthritis, knee and hip pain as well as cataracts; and over a two year time span, these conditions were becoming increasingly worse. We had now reached a point where watching Sasha stand up, sit down or try to crouch to relieve herself was excruciating for her. Her legs were severely stiff as she would try to walk across each room in our house. We were now taking Sasha to the vet approximately every two weeks not only due to her intolerance of pain, but now also the constant medications were wreaking havoc on her digestive system and stomach.




The final breaking point came at what was to be her was her last trip to the vet. She was suffering from dehydration and our vet prescribed her another round of medication to help her stomach, however, when we would try to administer the doses at home for the recommended upcoming week, Sasha refused. She spent the next day or two refusing her medications, even after my husband did his best by getting down on the floor and trying various methods and trickery to get her to take it, but Sasha was to smart and stubborn to take it. Heartbreaking as it was, we could see in her eyes and in her face…she had, had enough.

Failing after many attempts of trying to get her to take her medications, and now she had also stopped eating and drinking, my husband and I knew the moment and the decision that we never wanted to make was upon us. With many tears and heavy hearts, we chose to put our beloved Sasha down.

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We had chosen a vet that performed pet euthanasia at home.  While at first, we were not entirely sold on this concept as it was a little out of our comfort zone, we came to realize that not only would this be more comforting to Sasha, as she would not have to have her final impressions of this world, in a cold, sterile vets office but it would also help bring closure for our other 3 dogs. Them being able to see and smell her body, they would not constantly be wondering…”Where did she go?” and “When is she coming home?”

As heartbreaking and gut wrenching as this process was, I would like to think that Sasha would suffer from physical pain no more and that she was assured that we loved her and that we were present in her final moments.  As both my husband and I, feverously tried to hold back tears of grief, we hugged her and told her we loved her and that we would see her again one day and expected to see her running and playing in all her youthful doggy glory as she once was. My husband sat on the floor at her bedside, kissing and stroking her head as she peacefully transitioned to The Rainbow Bridge.

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When it was over and the vet took her away to be cremated, both my husband and I were consumed with regret and wanted nothing more than to have our Sasha back.  This feeling of grief and pain went on for days and had me questioning what kind of a Catholic am I?  A bad one if you would have asked me, because this act of “playing God” went against everything that I had known and believed in, but on the other hand, I would remember witnessing the pain Sasha would endure, getting up from her bed to be let outside, the constant crying; and what I can only describe as “diesel truck engine” like panting due to her pain. What kind of Catholic would I have been to let her suffer? The answer to these questions, I will never know, until God himself tells me on my judgment day.  Until then, I will live with the both the guilt of taking another life and the acceptance that I have relieved another soul from physical suffering.

 


Peanut Butter & Jelly Proper

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By Liz

This article is really a miscellaneous article for me, because, let’s face it…it’s peanut butter and jelly, who doesn’t know how to make this age old, beloved sandwich?

I had recently gathered one evening with a group at my church that gets together once a month to make sandwiches for a local homeless shelter. I watched this well oiled machine of about 20 people make up almost a five hundred sandwiches in about 20 minutes. One of the sandwiches they make is PB &J, I noticed however, they were not making this simple sandwich correctly.



When I came home that evening I happened to be watching the news and during one of the breaks was a commercial for a kitchen design store…I think, and the well, cinematographed ad depicted a girl in this beautiful kitchen making a PB &J sandwich for her mother. As the camera looked down on her making the sandwich, I noticed again, it was being made incorrectly.

This may sound like rantings of a crazy woman, who has nothing better to do with her time than obsess over how one makes a PB &J sandwich, but in today’s world of “foodies” and endless streams of reality cooking shows, I figure the least society can do is learn to make a proper Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

What you need:

A clean, dry flat surface.

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Two clean butter knives.  You don’t want to “cross contaminate” your condiments.

Your favorite creamy peanut butter.  You could use chunky, but it tends to be harder to spread and you are more apt to rip the bread while spreading.

Your favorite jelly. Grape is best and the most traditional, but you could use strawberry as well.

Sandwich bread. Plain old white bread is customary. Wheat, sandwich bread is acceptable too, but please, no tortillas, bagels or any fancy shmancy artisanal bread, let’s not re-invent the wheel here people…it’s PB&J for pity’s sake!

Directions:

1. Place 2 slices of bread on your clean, flat surface.

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2. Take 1 clean butter knife and scoop out about 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and spread on one slice of bread. Repeat with other slice of bread. (This creates a barrier so the jelly won’t soak through the bread, making your sandwich really soggy, really quickly).

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3. Take the other clean knife and scoop out about 1 tablespoon of jelly and spread on which ever slice of bread you desire.

4. Close sandwich by marrying the condiment sides together.

5. Eat, and enjoy this childhood favorite!

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And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen; Peanut Butter and Jelly Proper.

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*Just a side note to my New England peeps…the same application is to be applied to a Fluffernutter sandwich as well. Just replace Marshmallow Fluff for the jelly.



Affording to “Pay it Forward”

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By Liz

My life and circumstances have not always been easy and like most people I have had struggles and hardships at different times in my life.  However, whether the strain was emotional, physical or financial I have always known that I have been blessed.

You see, like you, I have been chosen to be a child of God and He has given me the greatest gift of all: free will to choose him as my God, my Father and my Creator, so I have always felt the desire to give back and to help others, after all, it is what we were created to do.

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But what happens if you feel like you can’t afford to give back?  Society has perpetuated a notion that, “giving back” has a monetary value to it and only by this avenue alone will we make a difference. This is entirely untrue for both the giver and the receiver. Giving of one’s time is just as valuable as money, if not more so.

We have all seen and heard ads for the conglomerate types of charities asking you to give financially; tugging on our heart strings making us feel guilty if we don’t whip out your checkbook at that very moment to help their cause. Now, I am not trying to bash some of these worthwhile causes, many of them do much needed research and work and many use the funds wisely and efficiently, however some larger and well known charities are operating on a “for profit” budget, so a large portion of our dollars that we donate go to paying their sometimes hefty salaries and go to throwing large, garish parties to bring in even more profit.

When I left the corporate world, it didn’t take me long to feel the restlessness of extra time on my hands. Don’t get me wrong, managing a household of 7 people and 4 dogs takes up a lot of time, but unlike before, when I did not have the time to donate physical time for a cause or charity that was close to my heart, I now found myself in a position to do so.

The question before me was: with so many needs for local volunteers and charities how did I want to make a difference? I started to investigate some of my local organizations that were looking for help. I had approached this as if I were researching a large purchase for my home.  I felt deep down, if the cause did not resonate with me, then both myself and the organization were not going to benefit.




I was not having any luck with my search, until one day after Sunday services I mentioned to my priest my dilemma. He actually pointed me in the direction of one of the community’s food pantries. Later that week, I gave them a call and they were more than happy to have me come and help out. They had told me that if I wanted, I could volunteer a few times to see if it was going to be something I would want to continue doing before they added me to their permanent roster.  I went and volunteered for an afternoon shift of 3 hours of work in the back room of the pantry, packing up food for families in need. My fellow team mates were in their retirement years and older, and at first I thought this was not going to be a good match for me, but when the 3 hours were over, I had really enjoyed the work and the people enough to come back and do it again. I am happy to say, that I have been volunteering at this food pantry with the same great group of folks a few times a month for the past 3 years and I genuinely   look forward to each time it is my turn to help out.

So while we as a family do tithe to our church on a weekly basis, we have also given back in ways that may not be considered when thinking of charity.  Some examples of how we and you can give back without making a huge impact on your wallet and making the “for profit” charity organizations wealthier:

1.We have donated clothes, household items and furniture to Goodwill or Salvation Army that we no longer want or use.

2.We have donated old blankets, towels and a bag or two of cat or dog food to the local animal shelter.

3.We have purchased an extra bag or two of groceries for some of our neighbors that had fallen on hard financial times.

4.We have made extra batches of food or cookies for family, friends and neighbors that have had suffered a loss.

homeless5.We have collected items such as toiletries, socks and blankets over a year’s time and donated them all in one shot to the local shelters.

6.We have volunteered at charity walks and 5-K runs as staff members that pass out water or food, help people sign in and other organizational tasks.

7.We have given bottles of water, cups of coffee and bought lunches for people who were in obvious need as we passed them while we are out and about.

8.We have helped seniors play bingo at a retirement home.

9.We have read to children at “story times” at libraries and schools.

10.We have packed backpacks full of supplies for kids going back to school.

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Some have argued that giving back is purely a selfish act, that it makes one feel better about oneself or that they are waiting for a glorified pat on the back. Giving back is rewarding, I believe that Jesus gave of himself to us, over and over again and I have come to realize I have been blessed in so many aspects in my life; whether it be my health, my family and friends, the comforts and necessities that help me sustain my life, my intelligence, my patience and compassion, and the list of blessings and gifts that have been bestowed upon me goes on and on.  I am grateful and happy that I have the luxury to “give back” and I gladly look forward to doing and giving more of my time and efforts for many years to come.




Five Frugal Friday

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By Liz

This was an odd week here; the weather took on a very bi-polar tone.  The beginning of the week we saw severe storms with tennis ball size hail, mid week we pushed a 90 degree, muggy day, then the next day the weather was cloudy and we did not break the 60 degree mark. The household seemed to be in tune with the weather as well, the week went by pretty quickly, although it felt like I did not do much or get much accomplished.

Well despite the instability of the week, I still managed to do 5 frugal things before Friday:

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1. I  went to the library and checked out a book “The Color Purple”, by Alice Walker and the movie.  I finished the book and was able to find time to re-watch this wonderful movie. (Maybe this is part of the reason I did not get much accomplished this week).

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2. My husband came home from the grocery store with 4 boxes of discounted Ghiradelli, dark chocolate, cake mix. They had been marked down to 75 cents each.  So I pulled up my recipe for 3 ingredient muffins and used one of the mixes to make a batch.

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3. As much as she hates, it; I hate it even more….I trimmed my dog, Sophie’s nails instead of taking her to the groomer to do it.  Sophie has black nails, so it is really hard to see the quick and I am always afraid I am going to cut her.

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4. Gave myself a pedicure.  Every 2 to 3 weeks (depending on how long the color lasts), I make a fresh cup of coffee, (sometimes have a glass of wine) put on a movie, and get my nail bag out and settle in to pamper my toes.

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5. I had managed to come under my cash budget for groceries. I still had a whopping $17.00 to spare.  I know this does not sound like much, but whenever this happens, the remaining cash goes into our “secondary house fund”.  Scoff all you want but, it adds up over time.

So that is my fiver for the week, what did yours look like?