Makes Cents to Me!

by Tammy Trail

Our reality is we have no savings. We are rich in debt, and poor in cash flow. Can anyone else relate? My husband and I  struggle to save money. We have taken the Dave Ramsey course–Financial Peace University–our antelope has broken legs. Dave teaches that we should all have $1,000.00 emergency fund. Typically, when we can get a nice sum saved something happens. A car needs big repairs, an appliance goes on the fritz, or my husband’s commission check goes up in smoke.Our savings account may be bare, but we do manage to find ways to save money. It allows us to treat ourselves to a movie, or a nice meal in a restaurant.

I recall in my youth, our family would spend Sunday dinners seated around my Grandma Quigley’s big dining room table. My mother and I still marvel over how she fed all those family members with the meager salary my Grandpa brought home. Grandma sure knew how to make the food stretch, and I think she passed that gene onto me.

When my darling husband complains about spending too much at the grocery store I know it’s time to go back to my habit of making menus. It is a time-consuming task, but someone has to do it.

The family helps by giving meal suggestions. I take a blank calendar to give each day a meal. Then I pull out my box of recipes and begin making a list. I make columns for my list–one for meat, one for dairy, canned goods, produce, etc. Once I have my list done,   I make sure to have a quarter, and my own shopping bags for a visit to Aldi’s. The quarter is used to rent a shopping cart. You bag your own groceries. I usually buy all my produce, dairy, and canned goods here.

Next, is a stop at Sam’s Club. Here is where I purchase meats  in bulk, frozen vegetables, and frozen items the teenagers will eat for their lunches. After this trip, I spend a bit of time separating the meat to freeze. For instance, I buy a very large tube of ground beef and separate it into one pound zip lock bags for future use.

The plan is not to go back to the store for the month, unless it’s absolutely necessary. I will need to replenish paper goods, bread, and milk.  I try to restrain myself from buying anything else. Do I save money? Every time I go to the store without a plan, I spend $20.00 to $30.00 more. So, yes. I think I do save money.

I remember a time when we had no money for food, days away from a pay check. I took every leftover we had in the refrigerator and mixed it together, tossed cheese on top, and baked it. It was actually pretty good! My kids also know what happens when I tell them it’s the “end of the month slump”. That means beans and rice for a few days.

Click to tweet: Our savings may be bare, but we do find ways to save money.

Writing Prompt: Share your favorite money-saving trick when you go to the grocery store. Consider adding it to a story you’re working on.

Will You Find Treasure This Year?

By Tammy Trail

Spring is the time for new beginnings. The birds are out tweeting. Barnyard animals frolic through the grass with younger versions of themselves in the warm sunshine. Humans tend to frolic out of doors also. Yard work calls us into labor. We’ll wear shorts in 60-degree weather because we long for the warmth of spring days.

Cleaning takes on a new meaning in the Spring. Have you noticed any ” Yard Sale”  signs out yet? Not to worry, they’re coming. You can be sure that folks will be going through those closets soon and setting gently used merchandise in the “for sale” pile.

Most likely, there is a community of people in your town or city who love to yard sale. They will either have a sale of their own, or wake up early on a Saturday mornings and drive to them. That old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is surely their motto.

Websites, blogs, and even Pinterest share lots of tips for setting up your own yard sale. Here are a few:

  1. Make your signs attractive and visible to the car passing by your yard. There are some cute ideas on Pinterest with catchy phrases and decorations.
  2. Prices should be easy to read. Putting them on the top of an item is better.
  3. Make sure you have enough cash to make change. Chances are everyone will want to pay with a $20 bill.
  4. Ask a friend or neighbor to help you. While you are distracted, someone could walk off with a potential sale. Another set of eyes can help discourage a thief.
  5. Selling cold beverages will add to your sales.

If you are an early riser on Saturday mornings and love to bargain, here are some tips for you as well.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. You may need to park some distance away from the yard, or stand in line before taking your treasure home.
  2. Check the box before purchasing an item. There may be something entirely different inside when you get home.
  3. When buying something electrical, ask if you can plug it in to check it. If it takes batteries, make sure the battery compartment is not corroded.
  4. Never buy used car seats for babies or toddlers from a garage sale. Once they have been involved in an accident they are useless.
  5. Purchasing your items with smaller bills will make your seller smile. She or he won’t need to worry about making a lot of change.

My favorite garage/yard sale item was found by my parents. As a young girl, I had a portrait of Jesus hanging on my wall. I talked to him every night before I went to sleep. When I grew up and moved away, I left that picture behind. Through the years, I assumed my parents had gotten rid of it, or it was lost in a move from one house to another.

Last year, I went to visit my Mom to help her get ready for a yard sale. In a corner of her basement, behind a couple of boxes, I found my old friend. He is with me now in my home. One of these days, I will get my picture of Jesus re-framed and hung on the wall in my bedroom.

Click to tweet: Have you noticed any ” Yard Sale”  signs out yet?

Here’s a good prompt: Free puppies today.

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A Little Bit of Heaven in West Virginia

By Tammy Trail

I can’t think of a single family gathering that did not involve food. My earliest memory of eating apple pie was during a trip to West Virginia to visit my Dad’s family. He was very close to his grandparents, and we were invited to eat dinner with them one evening.

After dinner, my great-grandmother laid a freshly baked apple pie in the middle of the table. Even at the tender age of five, I could tell this was no ordinary pie. This pie did not come from a cardboard carton with a cellophane top, and there was no shiny tin “pie plate” that could later be used as a play tambourine. Nor was it once frozen to be thawed and baked later. This pie lay in an aged pie plate, one that must have seen years of sweet confections. Its crust was golden and flaky, made by loving hands. The aroma of apple and cinnamon was too mouthwatering to ignore. It was a smell that reminded one of heavenly perfection.

apple-pie-1229076__180As a child, I was a very picky eater. I was given the name “Inspector Jones”, because if it didn’t smell right or looked funny, there was no way I was going to eat it. But, this pie begged to be eaten. I think my Dad would have been disappointed if I had turned down Great-Grandma’s pie.

Once the piece was laid in front of me, I notice the layers of apples stacked between sticky syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon. I took the first bite, and fell in love. It was all that my eyes had promised it would be and more. To tell the truth, I haven’t tasted another apple pie like it since that day.

Once I tried making a pie from scratch. We had a neighbor who became disabled after serving in the Army during the Vietnam war. He was mowing his yard one day and just decided to go ahead and mow our lawn, too. I was so grateful that I baked him an apple pie. I didn’t do the lattice pie crust on the top like my great-grandma had, but instead I did a crumble top with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and a bit of flour. Turned out great. I made one for our wee family too.

He absolutely loved it! And I was so happy that he was pleased.

photo-256887_1280Recipes are like old pictures handed down from one generation to the next. I wish that I could ask my great-grandmother how she made her pie crust, but it most likely would not have turned out the same.

There is something to be said for women who love to cook. The most important ingredient is LOVE. Love of cooking, of sharing your art, and a love of seeing others enjoying it too. Here’s a pie recipe you’ll want to try from Pillsbury https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/perfect-apple-pie/1fc2b60f-0a4f-441e-ad93-8bbd00fe5334

Writing Prompt:

What are some of your favorite dishes handed down from an older generation?

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Grand Prize Winners of Our Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

OnceUponaChristmas
Wow. 2016 is here. And nothing is more fun than announcing winners to kick off this new year.

Let’s start with Lori Stanley Roeleveld’s book Red Pen Redemption. The winner is…Phee Paradise. Congrats, Phee!

Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

We offered three sets of prizes for our grand prize winners.

Readers giveaway – $25 Barnes and Noble card, Books: Tessa and Clara BessWarm Mulled Kisses box set, Crooked Lines, Plum Pudding Bride

Writer’s giveaway – $10 Starbucks card, Books: The First Five Pages, The Time Keeper,  Heart Seekers box set, Tsunami 2004

Shopper’s giveaway – $10 Walmart gift card, bracelet, necklace and earrings, Books: Glimpses of the Savior devotions, First and Goal (football devotional)

Now the moment you are all waiting for:drum roll

We are happy to announce three big winners:

(1)Reader’s giveaway-Caryl Kane.

(2)Writer’s giveaway-Sparks of Ember.

(3)Shopper’s giveaway-Deborah Dunson.

Congratulations to all our winners! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon so we can send those gifts to you!

We’ll also be having another big giveaway to celebrate our blog’s 4-year anniversary. Our Blogaversary!

Make sure to leave comments on our Monday and Friday posts in 2016 to be eligible for more great prizes throughout the year…and don’t forget our weekly 3 Questions Wednesday interviews.

We’d also like to give a big shout out for our top four commenters of 2015:

Hip Hip Hooray to Deanna, Sparks, Amy, and Caryl!

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Christmas Roundup – The Writing Prompts Crew

December seems like the best time to take a few moments and introduce you to the Writing Prompts Crew. We’ve added and subtracted over the years, but always end up with a really good group of writers. You can find more information about each of our writers, along with information and buy links for their published books by clicking “The Crew” tab above, or the link provided at the end of each bio. And please read to the end of this post for important information and details about the Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway!

Jennifer HallmarkJennifer Hallmark is co-founder of the Writing Prompts blog. She’s a writer by nature, an artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet. Through the Writing Prompts blog and her personal website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, Jennifer focuses on her books, love of the South, and helping other writers. For fun, she loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max. Read more about Jennifer here.

betty owensBetty Thomason Owens is a multi-published author who writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers–this one! Read more here.

TammyTammy J. Trail is a wife, mother and grandmother. Residing in Kansas where life is a never ending joy ride as “taxi driver” for two teenage boys. She learns something new every day, and once in awhile it’s useful information. A lover of historical fiction in any time period, her favorite is the American Revolutionary period.

Betty Boyd 1A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. She has a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services. She active in her church, and community. She is currently working on her first non-fiction book. Read more here.

anne evansAnne Garboczi Evans has been biting off more than she can chew ever since she entered the world with a splash at 10 lbs 1 oz. Marrying a military man and moving six times in four years was just a continuation of that process. Anne’s favorite things to do are take long walks with her husband and little boy, “Joe-Joe,” and get addicted to Netflix TV shows with her husband. Their latest guilty pleasure is Fox’s House.  Read more about Anne here.

Holly MichaelHolly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at www.writingstraight.com. Read more here.

Karen JurgensKaren Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. As a lifelong writer, she has written stories since her elementary school days. As an adult, she wrote Christian fiction for her church’s newspaper as well as non-fiction that was published in a national magazine. Since retiring from teaching in 2014, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry. Read more here.

RobinMasonHeadShotRobin E. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

Tessa and Clara Bess are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print.

The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in 2016.   Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well. Read more about Robin here.

HarrietMichaelNew to the Writing Prompts crew, Harriet E. Michael (no known relation to Holly Michael) was born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries. Harriet is a writer, gardener, substitute teacher, wife of over 36 years, mother of four, grandmother of one and soon-to-be grandmother of two. She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions. Read more here.

From all of us, to all of you, may your Christmas be blessed!

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV


OnceUponaChristmasOnce Upon a Christmas Giveaway Details!

Three chances to win!

Here are the categories and the prizes:

Readers giveaway – $25 Barnes and Noble card, Books: Tessa and Clara Bess, Warm Mulled Kisses box set, Crooked Lines, Plum Pudding BridePrize-1

Writer’s giveaway – $10 Starbucks card, Books: The First Five Pages, Heart Seekers box set, Tsunami 2004Prize-2

Shopper’s giveaway – $10 Walmart gift card, bracelet, Books: Glimpses of the Savior devotions, First and Goal (football devotional)Prize-3