French Pastries Delivered to Your Door

Looka PastriesWould you do this?  If you were having a special gathering of important people, would you like to have Delicious, Fresh Pastries delivered for the occasion?  If you did it,  what would you do with the extra time?  Clean? Spruce yourself up? Think of ways to make your guests more comfortable?

Sunday Lunch

We had a chance to find out.  Our guest was a young friend over to play with Dub after church.  Our pastries were a box of Macaroon cookies (vanilla, chocolate, raspberry and pistachio)

Macaroons

A Box of Key Lime cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake

and a box of Chocolate Mousse cake.

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They came packed in dry ice and thawed to a texture as fresh as if they were just baked and picked up from the bakery down the street. The kids were especially excited about the dry ice since their scientist uncle showed them how to use it to make homemade soda pop.

Frozen French Pastries

Here’s where my true character unfolds….

I hid the boxes of cake (since they had 2 servings each.)  Then we cut each of the cookies into 4 pieces and passed them around so everyone could taste every kind.  (Yes, we were that family you saw at the fair sharing a single funnel cake among 8 people.) Then I expressed amazement and delight over what a delicious and lovely treat we just had and dismissed all the children from the table.

Mousse Cake

When they were completely out of sight, I brought out the cakes.  And savored lingering bites with my husband.  When our two girls sauntered back into the kitchen, we shared a taste with them, and swore them to secrecy.

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Guilt got to me an hour later, so I baked chocolate chip cookies for the rest of the kids. Then I read the back of the boxes for the cakes and was amazed at how great the ingredients were.  It was pure, fresh, stuff that I would bake with in my own kitchen.  Except nothing that came out of my kitchen ever tasted this good. That didn’t mean the cakes were calorie free though and I ate well more than 1 serving….should have shared.

All of this was before my allergy free diet and I’m glad I had the experience. They were delicious..but the macaroons were our favorite. Especially the raspberry.

Would you consider having something like this delivered for a very special occasion?

If you’d like to know more about Looka pastries you can visit their website or Facebook page.

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Tough Decisions

It was one of those mornings. Brandon was screaming for a half an hour, because he couldn’t find his backpack.  No one could find the backpack, and I was asking him to move on, “Make your lunch.” He’s in first grade, his backpack is empty.  We have other bags. Seriously.  But it was super important to him.  Important enough that he screamed for a half an hour, kicked everything he could find and went to school with an apple for lunch, because I handed it to him on the way out the door.  And he still didn’t have his backpack.

Brandon's Dinosaur Backpack

He’s cute when he’s not screaming.

I could have made his lunch, but the rule in our house is “Nothing good comes when you’re screaming.”  We don’t negotiate with terrorists, ever. That was hard.  Right now his class is eating a decent lunch and he’s hopefully munching an apple. I’m praying for him and hoping his teacher doesn’t bail him out.  I want him to see that actions have consequences and if he can learn it now, the rest of his life will be better.

Right now, my brother-in-law (45) is in ICU after suffering a massive stroke.  He has 2 sons and a loving wife and has been active and fit his whole life.  In a few hours they have scheduled a surgery to remove part of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain. When I think about that situation the other decisions I’m dealing with don’t seem relevant, but they are.  (Just throwing that out there in case you might say a prayer for Greg and his family Gayla, Jordan and Brayden.)

I went to IKEA yesterday.  Our local store has been open for 12 days and I was hoping I waited long enough for the crazy crowds to be over.  It wasn’t too bad.  The show room was mesmerizing.  We only set aside an hour to shop (definitely not enough) so went home empty handed.  This sounds random, but it relates, bear with me.

I had a garage sale last week and sold the rest of my baby stuff and everything else I could put my hands on.  I cleared over $600 and still have a generous pile to donate to Disabled Veterans and clothes to pass on to friends. My plan for the garage sale money was to buy a rug and an Ektorp love seat and chair (now on sale) for the attic sitting room in Dub’s new bedroom.  Right now the room has a cedar chest in it–that’s it.  I threw some pillows on top to make it more of an inviting seat, but it’s not awesome.

With Brandon’s outburst this morning, I’m thinking the money might be better spent building an organizational system for backpacks and such.  Like this: ⇓  And a working garage door opener.Mud room

Decisions. Decisions.  Darren said, if I could scrape together a bit out of our budget, he would start building our bathroom.  That is very tempting too.  (How soon I forget the pain of no kitchen for 9 months and no flooring for 12….and am ready to start a NEW project.)

AND–if you follow me on Facebook, you already know I found a doctor to treat my strange illness.  She confirmed it to be adrenal fatigue, plus food allergies, plus thyroid stuff.  We are waiting on test results to pinpoint how bad it is and exactly what to do to make it better.

For now, I’m on an allergy free diet.  Which is mostly protein free, since most allergies are to food proteins.  It’s a 180 turn from the way I’ve been eating for years, the way I’ve felt the best.  I have toxins coming out through my skin, my tonuge and other places it isn’t polite to talk about.  She said I would feel even worse for awhile, and she was right about that.  After 4 weeks of this, they will reintroduce one protein at a time and see what happens.  I’m hoping eggs end up on the ok list.  But I digress.

The bottom line. I can spend my garage sale money lots of ways: garage organizer and opener, beautiful sitting area for the kids in the attic (and it’s on sale!), one project in the master bathroom, or beef up the emergency fund for the medical bills that are likely to come in.

What would you do?

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Frugal Weekend Shopping from Your Sofa

A friend of mine shared a gift card with me to ThredUp.  I’ve been hearing about them, but never checked it out before now.  I looked around their site and was amazed at the selection of stylish stuff for thrift store prices.  Some of the items are brand new, some are gently used.  Each description is clear on what you are buying.  If there is a flaw, it’s clearly described so you can make an informed decision.

I picked out 2 dresses, a pair of studded skinny corduroy jeans, and a tunic top with a fun leaf print.  After my gift card savings it was shipped to my door for around $35.

Now here’s the part I wasn’t expecting:

polka dot box

Polka Dot Box

Polka Dot Promise

Cute little note on the inside flap.

Enjoy sticker

Tissue gift wrapped and sealed with an enjoy sticker.

Stuff Thred Up

There’s my stuff–it’s clean, inspected, and tagged.  Definitely not a thrift store shopping experience. (Ever feel like you need a good hand washing and maybe a shower after shopping at a thrift store?)

Thred up Tag

Thred Up Tag Back

Part of the reason why I ordered a few new clothing items is I’ve gained 20 pounds since I became ill last December.   I chose things that would fit me now and still look nice when I find healing and get my body under control.

Black Lace Dress

This is a stretch black dress (I brightened it and messed up the color so you could see the cool detail.)  The star burst style is Very figure flattering and the stretchy fit means it will still look great even if I get smaller again.

Studded Courderoys

Navy Blue Studded Corduroys.  I heart studs right now.  The low rise cut means they still fit in my old size (because of my hormone imbalance I’m only gaining weight in my middle area and my thighs and hips are staying the same size.) These are probably the highest quality pair of pants I’ve ever owned.

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This leaf top was listed as a dress, but it is just a few inches longer than my bum.  It is an adorable tunic top to wear with my white skinny jeans and a belt to accentuate what’s left of my waist.

Sun dress with yellow belt

The last item I bought was this yellow belted strappy dress.  I thought I would be a safe choice since it is an empire waist, but it wouldn’t zip :(.  This is tucked in the back of my closet as inspiration to keep making healthy food choices.  Heidi might borrow it while I’m working towards being able to wear it.

Overall, I’m thrilled with my whole experience with ThredUp and will definitely shop there again.  If you’d like to try it, here’s a $10 gift card to get you started.  If you shop with that link, not only will you get $10, but they’ll send me $10 too :).

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Are you Cheap?

Cheap.

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Growing up, I didn’t know that word was an insult.  If someone said, “I like your shoes?”  I’d reply, “Thanks, and they were cheap!” Like it was the their best feature.  And if you looked interested, I’d probably tell you how much they cost and where you could snag your own deal.

It wasn’t until I became part of Mary Kay that I learned that telling people how much an item cost was not very classy.   Not that they wanted us to pay a lot for stuff, just to make it our secret.  I’m destined to be unclassy.  It’s hard to break a long standing habit, especially when I think I’m really just helping people with good info, lol.

When Extreme Cheapskates called me up to do the show (which you can see on Netflix if you missed it,) I didn’t think much about the name. Then I watched the first episode.  Oh My!  They really went out of their way to emphasize the extreme, no?  They were making fun of us a little.  I’ve heard of some of the other people on the show. (The guy on after me was a famous NY Times best selling author.) They made him look a lot weirder than he really is. Shocking to me, there’s a culture out there that looks down on frugal people and values paying lots of money for stuff….go figure.

I think there’s a difference though between cheap and frugal.  I didn’t look this up; I’m making this up. Both words mean not spending a lot of money, but in addition they might mean:

Cheap: Poor quality, low class, low value, breaks easily, loose morals, trashy, stingy

Frugal: Hard working, savvy, patient, responsible, DIY, generous, faithful, conservative

Retail industry has a vested interest in making us love spending and judge quality by price.  When you think about it, their advertisements run our newspapers, magazines, TV, radio… the media that is shaping our culture. They tell us our clothes are out of style the minute we cut the tags off; our homes should be redone every season; and everything is subject to fad,  even our food.

It’s gotten so bad that people are drawing their personal worth from what they drive, where they live, and what they wear.  Some even measure other’s peoples love for them by the price of their gifts. Let me tell you something.  You are valuable.  And worth just as much even dirty, naked and homeless.  Simply because you are created in the image of God.  He paid a dear price for you and you belong to him.  And then, He set you free.  If your house is a mess or decorated in some other fashion than blogger style, so what?  If you rock mom jeans, no worries.  If you have peanut butter on the front windows of your door–it doesn’t change anything. You are priceless.  And when you look in the mirror you see a piece of God staring back at you—You are in his image!  Don’t tell me THAT isn’t beautiful.

What do you think?  Is there a difference between cheap and frugal?  Are they both bad, both good?  Is your favorite color blue? (Just to see if you’re still reading….)

(FYI if you want that shirt it’s for sale on zazzle.  Click the photo to go there.  But I’ll have to warn you–it’s not cheap….)

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How to Get Your Husband to Budget with You

couple calculating their domestic bills at home

Hi Ladies! Long time no see. I’ve been back in bed for a bit, except to teach choir and maybe another hour or two.  Technically I could blog from bed (like I’m doing now) but sometimes even that takes too much energy. I don’t want to dwell on that, though.

I want to talk about manipulation.  Wait.  What?  What I mean is getting your husband to do something he really doesn’t want to do.   We should call it motivation instead.  That sounds better.

Sometimes we get on the saving money kick and our other half doesn’t get it.  If we save money while he spends it.  That can make for a rough relationship.  So how do you get a reluctant husband to budget with you?

1.  Budget naked.  Put the kids to bed.  Find a location behind a locked door and have a naked budget meeting.  He’ll show up at least, and that’s the first step.

2.  Have snacks.  Good ones.

3.  Do most of the work ahead of time.  Draw up a rough draft budget and have a short explanation of each category.  Then ask for his input.  Let him change stuff and don’t get your feelings all hurt if he does.

4.  Talk less than you want to.

5.  Make the budget meeting a safe place.  He needs to be confident you will not yell, cry, or question his manhood or his character.

6.  Cheer him on.  Tell him all the things he does that you appreciate and never follow up with BUT.

7.  Have a common goal together.  When you both believe in the destination, you’ll both be willing to sacrifice to get there.

8.  If all else fails, let Dave Ramsey tell him what needs to be done.  That’s easiest done at  Financial Peace University class.  If he doesn’t want to go, do your own class at home….naked.

My husband does most of the budgeting (being an accountant and all) but sometimes it’s hard for him to set the time aside and get it done or include me in the process.  Seriously, the naked tip is the only one I need to motivate him, lol.  The keep it short and talk less than you want to, is what makes me show up.

What about you?  Does your husband like to budget?  Do you have any tips for making the budget meeting more fun (or at least happen?)

And yes the alternate title of this post was “Budget Naked.”

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Free Printable Lunch Planner

Free printable Lunch menu planner

How do you feel about school starting again?  I love my hour I spend with the High School choir every day, and I love that my kids go to school in a place with small classes where the scriptures are woven into every subject.  One the other hand, we trade a little bit of peace and calm in the mornings and evenings for that privilege (vs homeschooling), and all day alone with a 3 year old is harder than it sounds.  Last year was so stressful and the summer was so awesome, that I’m not ready to let go of that yet.

Part of what made last year so hard was our level of disorganization at home.  I love being organized, but half of last year we didn’t have a functioning kitchen.  There wasn’t a room in our house untouched by the chaos of remodeling. The kids were going in all different directions and every night had an activity of some sort. I craved a quiet evening at home. We were often late or forgot to show up places, stayed up all night to finish assignments that were assigned long before, tried to dress when there were few clean clothes (We own 10 red ties and you can’t even find ONE?!!!), and THIS:

“Ring, ring”

“Hello, This is Angela.”

“Um, Mom…..Were you going to pick me up?”

I became “That Mom.”

So instead of freaking out about doing that again, I’m getting organized.  I <3 labels.  I just bought these from Amazon, and have been using Power Point to print Business Card Size labels on cardstock to slip inside.  Here they are in action.

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Labeled Laundry Basket

Next I will be putting labels on each shelf so the baskets end up in the right spot. Don’t hate me because it’s beautiful.

And yes, we labeled both sides, so no matter which way you put the laundry basket away, it’s still labeled.

In honor of not freaking out because school is starting, I made a little printable lunch planner gift for us.  I printed mine out on cardstock and then laminated it to use over and over with a dry erase marker.  You can download your own here: Brown Bag Lunch Plan.

Lunch Planner collage

 

It comes with several different background choices.  But they all have cupcakes and cookies (over the top of headings like produce and protein) just because I’d rather look at a cupcake than a carrot–true story.

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The one thing we did well last year was the kids made their own lunches every day.  It’s the only way we got out the door on time.  Even my kindergartener made his own lunch.   The only thing more stressful than packing 5 lunches every day is paying an extra $300 a month to buy them, lol.

Sometimes the kids are late/lazy or forget their lunch in the car.  Then they borrow money to eat a school lunch and pay back the cafeteria from their own piggy bank.  Yes, it feels really mean and I’m sad when this happens.  But if I helicopter mom in every time my kids are irresponsible, they’ll never stand on their own.  (Ok, I did go back a couple of times when I saw it in the car before getting all the way home.)

Snack Baskets

Here’s how we do it: After dinner I pack leftovers into lunch containers and stick the in the fridge..  In the morning, the kids choose from those or make a peanut butter or meat sandwich instead, then choose a couple of side dishes from their snack basket.  They drink water, so no juice boxes for us, unless it’s a special occasion.  The school provides silverware and napkins and has a couple of microwaves to use.  Though sometimes the line is so long, there’s no time to eat once they get their food warmed up.

This year, I plan to cook the packable lunch dishes from the GSP menu with Grant at noon.  He and I can eat together and then have the leftovers ready to go for everyone else the next day.

How do you stay organized for the school year?  Seriously, I need ideas, (especially if they involve labels.)

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A Look at Contentment Part 1

you'll have what you want

During a long illness last winter, I watched every episode of “Say Yes to the Dress.”  It was shocking.  I couldn’t look away.  These brides willingly dropped half an annual salary on a dress they would wear once, for a marriage that was likely to end in divorce within the next 5 years.

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Many girls would turn down beautiful dress after beautiful dress only to see a dress across the store that they had to try on.  Their consultant would discourage them.  “Don’t do it; It’s not in your price range…”  The determined bride would try it on anyway, and then nothing else would do.  Any sacrifice necessary to have that dress was made, or the bride went home disappointed, unable to settle for less once she tasted real luxury.

It’s easy for me to look at this situation and see the utter ridiculousness of it all.  In my sub-culture weddings were about the marriage.  The months of planning before the ceremony centered on pre-marriage counseling and preparation for a commitment that would last a lifetime. We had cake and punch receptions; a modest dress, often handmade bridesmaid’s dresses and pew bows crafted in the maid of honor’s basement.  A friend of the family sang a song or maybe played an instrument.  It was simple, affordable.  No one was trying to prove anything.

“Say Yes to the Dress,” kind of ridiculousness can bleed into many areas of life:  Our cars; clothing; home decor; schools.  At the end of the day, being content with what we can afford to have is what brings happiness.  And here’s how we get it:

1. Being grateful.  Recognizing our immense blessings.
2.Not comparing. What someone else has doesn’t minimize what we have.
3.Putting value on eternal things: Our faith; our family; our friends
4.Knowing where our value comes from:  We are valuable because we are created in the image of God.  He valued us enough to sacrifice His Son’s life for ours.  Careers, the car we drive, cool clothes, a fancy house… nothing can change our inherent worth.

I’ll be honest, I’ve caught myself getting sucked into the trap.  We are remodeling a house that was barely inhabitable, and I find myself wanting to use this ONE shot to make it as stylish and trendy and beautiful as possible.  When, really, it’s all fleeting.  Styles change; stuff gets “broken in.” Things get dirty.  Wanting to do a good job with the remodel isn’t wrong, but what is wrong is getting so caught up in the decisions and slowness of it all that I let it steal my peace.   In the midst of it all, I’m learning a deeper lesson in contentment.

How about you?  How have you been learning contentment? Has it helped you stick to the budget?

P.S.  There’s still 2 days left to enter the Plexus giveaway.

 

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Plexus Giveaway

Have you been hearing about an amazing pink drink?  I was curious about the reports of energy, weight loss and better sleep from those taking it, so when Laurell offered me a trial week’s supply in exchange for a review, I was pumped.

When she gave me the sample I was in a downward health spiral into adrenal fatigue from stress.  I volunteered for too much this summer right after a very stressful school year.  My body just couldn’t handle it.  I gained 6 pounds in 10 days at the height of the problem.  I was so exhausted I spent 18-20 hours a day in bed and was constantly sick.

GlassOfPinkSmall

I started taking the drink and the accelerator the week I taught music at Bible school.  I was expecting it to be like a protein shake, but it isn’t at all.  It’s more like a Crystal light packet that you pour into a bottle of water, except it is sweetened with stevia and colored with beet juice, nothing artificial.  It tasted fabulous like pomegranate juice and had a slight aftertaste of chocolate.

The first day, I didn’t notice much.  The second day, I noticed a significant decrease in my morning appetite.  The Bible school staff brought me MM trail mix for snacks, and I didn’t care much about it.  That was a definite change in normal behavior.  My afternoon appetite was still pretty strong and I felt like a second pink drink would have helped with that.  The company does say it’s ok to take a second drink then if you need it.

I finished the whole week sample without any weight loss to report.  That’s not abnormal since it can take more than one week to see results, and my body was fighting a major system error that was blocking weight loss anyway.  It is going to have to heal before it will be willing to let go of fat.

BUT the next week after taking Plexus I went outside with a chainsaw and cleared a forest out of the last 20 feet of my backyard.

From this:

Backyard before

To this:

Clearing brush

That was significant.

Would you like to try it for a week yourself?  Laurell is giving that opportunity away to one lucky reader.  You can enter through rafflecopter below.  If you are too excited to wait on the 7 day trial, you can Sign up as a preferred customer here and order the plexus slim. Then you will be entered into an extra giveaway to win a month supply of plexus boost or accelerator to accompany it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s Laurell’s personal story.

Ogle family

This is my Plexus story – I’m going to step WAY outside my comfort zone and share about how I’m feeling. It’s not really my cup of tea but here it goes… I got stuck, I lost the baby weight and stopped losing weight. I added in some awesome workouts and tracked my food and still nothing, the scale would not budge more than 3 lbs one way or another. To be honest, it’s been this way forever. I weighed this after getting married, before getting pregnant with baby #1, lost all that baby weight (55lbs) but got stuck at this weight, repeated that process with baby #2 and stayed stuck at this weight. I also felt constantly tired and irritable and kind of sad – I chalked that up to having a baby who got up 6+ times a night and a mommy who never got a full night’s sleep but once 9 months hit, that sweet little boy started sleeping through the night but this mommy didn’t feel any better. So I drank more coffee and still felt exhausted and then I read an article on The Better Mom called “I don’t want to be an angry mom, so I threw away my coffee pot”, so for no real good reason other than I read an article about a mom that threw away her coffee pot.

Fast forward a couple weeks, a friend from High School posted on her facebook about Plexus, it wasn’t a meal replacement or a miracle pill (I don’t believe it those anyways), it was a drink that helped stabilize blood sugar levels, helped decrease sugar cravings, and helped people have more energy and lose weight, so I thought sign me up!! Okay, so not really – I was actually very skeptical, we had really changed our diet over the past year and I did not want to go back to artificial fake stuff so I did a little reading on it because I felt like I was at a point of desperation with feeling stuck and I read literally hundreds of personal experiences, read some independent studies, went through the ingredient list and thought so what do I have to lose? And I decided I’m going to make my husband take it with me and give it a try (I made my husband take it because I read a handful of testimonies where it helped people with pain and inflammation – He will come home at night from a 12 hour shift and be limping from wearing 30 lbs of gear on his waist and his knee and joints will hurt) so we decided to take plexus slim and the accelerator (to speed up weight loss) and in two weeks, I was down about 6 lbs, which is amazing because I had been stuck here for almost 6 months with no scale changes! So to see those numbers on the scale move was huge! But – bigger than that is the way I feel. I can’t even put it into words but I felt like a new person (and a better mom). My biggest testimony to plexus is that I feel like myself again, happy, healthy, and full of energy. I’m even sleeping better at night and waking up refreshed in the morning and feeling fantastic. But my favorite part of all of this was that husband’s chronic pain was significantly reduced within 3 days. In all seriousness, three days into drinking plexus – he said, “I don’t hurt at the end of my shifts”. This is a guy that was in constant pain that pain relievers, ice and oils didn’t help much (and I LOVE my essential oils) I have NEVER seen anything work like this for him before.

So this is me being real – I wanted to share because it has literally made me feel like a new person. And I’ll say it again, I don’t believe in a “skinny pill” and I believe that health and weight loss are achieved through a healthy lifestyle including good food, exercise and…now plexus. And I am excited about it, just plain excited because we are real testimonies to how Plexus has helped us feel better!

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*Plexus update – So here is another BIG step outside my comfort zone! Not a big fan of personal pictures but here is the difference in me from April to June…I’ve lost pounds and inches but some the most important things are what you can’t see on the outside which is that I feel amazing! I have lots of energy with no crash! I’m getting up in the mornings to work out and sleeping better than I have in years! I don’t have these crazy sugar cravings anymore, the awful “mommy brain” or brain fog I used to get is so much better and for the first time in forever I have clear skin (and that’s what happens when you get your gut healthy) I am loving this journey I’m on!

What is Plexus Slim?

Plexus Slim is a drink mix that was originally designed to help people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar. When it was originally being tested it was noted that all the subjects also lost weight and had significant improvements in other areas of health. The pink powdered drink mix comes in individual serving packages. You mix it in a glass or bottle of water, drink it once a day and that’s it! This is something that can be a snowball to good health. There are no stimulants or addictive factors in Slim.

 

What does Plexus Slim do?

Plexus Slim is the most natural, healthy solution to help you lose weight and inches by burning fat, no muscle. Slim also helps keep blood sugar, cholesterol and lipids at healthy levels. In addition, Slim helps reduce binge eating and increases your willpower over food. Simply pour into a bottle of water 30 minutes before a meal, drink, and enjoy the results!

 

Who have I observed that seems to benefit the most from Plexus Slim?

*Those with blood sugar control problems (diabetics and pre-diabetics)

*Attention/focus problems

*Those with fatigue (very connected to blood sugar balance)

*Folks who want to lose weight

*People with low energy

*Anyone with inflammation issues

*Ladies with low thyroid issues

*People who want help with cholesterol and blood pressure issues

 

What is in Plexus Slim?

Proprietary health blend consisting of: Chlorogenic Acid (plant extract), Citrin K (Garcinia Cambodia), Alpha Lipoic Acid, Chromium (Amino Nicotinate GTF), Polydextrose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors (pomegranate), Beet Root and Grape Skin Extract, Stevia Extract, Lo Han Extract.

Plexus Slim has no added caffeine and other stimulants.

 

60 day money back guarantee! So, you have nothing to lose by trying 2 months’ supply of Slim. On the other hand, you have everything to gain! You and YOUR health are worth it! Just visit my website to order. In addition, Plexus offers a few other products to promote good health. You can learn more on my website. Feel free to call, email, or text me with any questions! I am here to help you improve your health.

Laurell Ogle

Independent Plexus Ambassador #264707

816-308-0823

kansascitypink@gmail.com

www.kansascitypink.com

 

 

 

 

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Teaching Kids to Handle Money: The Trip Envelope

My parents have 8 grandchildren. Two years ago, they started an annual tradition to build personal relationships with each of the kids in small groups. Every year, they take 2 of the kids on a road trip to see some national treasure like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or Pike’s Peak.

Lion Country Safari

 

For the year leading up to the trip they have those 2 kids over for trip planning meetings to involve them in the process. Every meeting builds anticipation and excitement. Also during that year, my parents host several work days. Heidi and Caleb painted the fence (a LOT of fence.) The next year, Heather and Dub did yard work. Because of the rough, long lasting winter, they didn’t get quite as many work days in. My parents paid them in cash in an envelope for their trip.  It worked so well, that my folks recommended we do the same thing for our kids on our drive to Florida.

Lion Country Safari 2

We had envelopes for each of them with 20 crisp new one dollar bills. I forgot to pass them out at first so when we stopped for gas I gathered them around in the filling station for a chat. “I have an envelope for each of you,” I said. Their eyes got wide as they saw me take out the bills from one envelope and spread them. “Everyone has the same amount to last for the entire trip. You can spend them any way you want, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. We will provide the food for your meals, your clothing, and pay to get you into Lion Country Safari, but if you want snacks or souvenirs, it comes out of this envelope. Whatever you don’t spend is yours to keep when we get home.”

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Brandon, who is 6, took his envelope from me with a knowing look. He elbowed his brother, Dub, and said, “It’s a money test. They want to see if we are going to be wasters.” I heard a snicker and looked up at the cashier who quickly turned away and pretended to be uninterested.

A few of the children chose a frozen drink and timidly handed their money to the cashier. He paid the sales tax for them from his own pocket so they wouldn’t have to break a second precious dollar.

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It was interesting to watch the different personalities of the kids. My oldest, Heidi, saved her money and when it came time to buy a souvenir she left the store empty handed. On the way back to the car she mentioned there was a shirt that was really cute that she loved. “Why didn’t you buy it?” I asked. She shrugged. I dragged her back to the store so she could show me the shirt. It was on the clearance rack for $7 and was adorable! It was a flattering feminine cut in her favorite color and had the name of the park down the side in a tasteful but not typical fashion. “You are a super shopper, girl. Buy the shirt.” There’s a personality type that can feel guilty spending ANY money at all, even when it’s a time they should spend. Part of parenting our kids to be smart with money, is to help them find that balance.

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My second oldest was always thinking of others. He would look for packages of things that he could share with the group and rarely bought something just for himself.

All of my kids saved most of their money for their trip out and bought tasteful souvenirs at the park. But on the way home some of them went crazy with spending. It was like they thought the money would self destruct if there was any left when they got home. We had several whispering gas station conversations that sounded like this, “That $2 piece of candy is only $1 at Dollar Tree at home. Are you sure you want to spend your money that way?” Usually those kids made good choices, but when we got home, they begged for a trip to Dollar Tree to spend the rest of their money. My older ones set theirs aside for future possibilities. When the younger ones think of something they’d really like to buy in the future, they’ll get a lesson in opportunity cost (now that their money is gone) and the value of hard work.   Those lessons are harder to learn from a lecture.

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What You’ve Wanted to Know About MomCEO…

..but been afraid to ask.

Let’s talk a little about the MOMCEO ad button in the right hand side bar.  The one that looks like this:

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Some of you have clicked it and some of you have been curious but afraid to click.

I want you to know that I personally just signed up with Sandi, the Mom behind MOMCEO. I took a few years to think about it, but it just makes sense for me right now.

It all started with a box in the mail that Sandi sent me awhile back as a thank you for allowing her to be an advertiser on my blog.  I was making my own cleaning products at the time, but gave hers a try and they worked.  In fact, they worked better than my homemade ones.

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Here’s Sandi and her children.

One of my best friends in my hometown also used the products and shared a few more with me.  Everything I tried was impressive.  For example, I’m a lazy cook.  I’ll put a pot of noodles boiling in milk and water on the stove and walk away.  It usually boils over and burns on the stove top and the bottom of the pan.  Cleaning that up was really hard until I tried one of these products.

This summer I had a chance to try a product I had never used before.  I was teaching the children’s choir at reunion “camp meeting” and it was the night for all the children to bring their special music. My daughter, Heather, dressed up in her brand new pure white dress, which matched her friend, Colette. They went into dinner together for the early shift with the other choir members.   Our campground has an ice-cream machine with 3 different flavors.  That night Heather chose a chocolate cone and enjoyed it outside.  By the time I caught up with her most of the chocolate ice-cream had dripped all over the front of her white dress while she was blissfully unaware.

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There were tears when she realized what had happened.  It was her only dress.  She was embarrassed to show up to sing in front of hundreds of people dressed inappropriately.  I helped her back to the room to find her dressiest pair of shorts and t-shirt, reassured her that she was more important than any dress,  promised to seat her towards the back and we headed out to our final rehearsal.

That night a little girl knocked on our door.  She had a bottle in her hand with a note attached.  I thanked her and read the note:  “I heard what happened and thought you could use this.”  It was a bottle of gel stain remover that happened to be from the same company that Sandi represents.  I rubbed it into the stains. Mind you this was HOURS after the accident and with our responsibilities and time constraints we hadn’t even soaked the dress in water yet. We had just counted it as a total loss. The next afternoon I decided to run a load of laundry and threw the dress in with the rest.  I hadn’t done anything besides the pretreatment the night before.

When it was time to switch everything to the dryer I checked the dress carefully so I wouldn’t set in the remaining stains. To my shock and delight the dress was SPOTLESS!  I was blown away.  As a result, I’ve signed up so I can keep this product on hand at all times along with all of the other products that I’ve learned to love.

The best part is that most of the cleaners come in concentrate bottles and have spray bottles with the appropriate mixing lines on them so the cost of the products is less than what you would pay for a similar but inferior product from Wal-mart.  The product line isn’t limited to cleaners though, they have health items, food items, cosmetics too.

Of course, there is a personal business side to this as well.  If people you come into contact with fall in love with the products or business opportunity there’s money in it for you.  Several of the readers here have already contributed to their family income by taking advantage of this opportunity.  Of course, it’s not for everyone.  If you are curious, Sandi is the perfect person to talk to, to find out if it’s right for you.

 

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