DIY-“Glass” Table Cover

Back when we were fortunate enough to have a Pottery Barn outlet in California, I found all sorts of great treasures. A few of my favorites included a velvet Christmas tree skirt for $13, a set of floor-to-ceiling curtains for $20 (regularly $200, and matched my bedroom perfectly!) and a kid’s school room set–a bulletin board, desk, and bookshelf for around $100 total.

Since Stinker was just a toddler when I purchased the table, it was an art table for a while, and I sought to protect the wood from the disastrous effects of errant paint and over zealous glittering by covering it with a vinyl tablecloth. Messes wiped off easily, and it worked well. Until this year.

Now that Stinker is in school, I was looking for a way for the desk surface to be more accessible to allow for easier writing, (and more of a school desk feeling), but would still protect the table from scratches. 

Initially considering glass, I consulted my grampa (an former engineer and woodworker with his own little workshop), who suggested I look into plexiglass for the project. Not only was it significantly cheaper, but it also was safer for the kids…no shattering if it were to fall.

I measured the table (multiple times to ensure a perfect fit), and purchased a sheet of plexiglass from a home improvement store slightly larger than the table so I could make it fit (it cost less than $40). Then I found someone with a table saw (my awesome grampa!), and he cut the plexiglass sheet to fit the table perfectly. (My gramma and I helped. It was a team effort :))

Since plexiglass is lighter than glass, it doesn’t sit on top of the table as easily, so I purchased a few wood-safe velcro strips that hold the edges of the plexiglass down without the use of adhesive.

I put paper under the plexiglass, and Stinker can use dry erase markers to practice her writing and letters without wasting paper.

Simply erase when done! I love our new table, and Stinker has enjoyed sitting at a “big girl” desk.

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Book Review: Damascus Countdown

Waaaay back in ancient history (the year 2000 to be exact), I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Israel. It is an amazing country wrapped in more history than we in the US could ever fathom. I strolled along the same dusty paths walked by Jesus. I gazed at ruins in the city of Jericho, stones that Joshua’s men could very well have touched.

I hope to return to the Holy Land someday, but in the meantime I’ve enjoyed reading books that involve Israel and imagine myself there. So, I was very excited to have the chance to read Joel C. Rosenberg’s latest thriller Damascus Countdown, the third book in the Twelfth Imam series. 

You know those books you start and can’t seem to stop reading, even when it’s late and you really should be sleeping because the baby will be up in 4 hours, and you keep promising yourself “just one more chapter”, and fall asleep drooling into the book because you never put it down? That’s how this book was for me. It was like the Left Behind series meets Tom Clancy.

The main character, David Shirazi, is a CIA plant in Iran and his team’s mission is to find two nuclear warheads missing from the Iranian arsenal after Israel strikes Iran in a preemptive attack. Intelligence shows that the Iranians are going to launch both warheads at Israel, and it is up to David and his team to stop them. David is a likeable character who has recently become a Christian, and there are many references to Biblical prophecy that have already come true, as well as what prophecies have yet to be fulfilled before the second coming of Christ. The tale follows David and his team, as well as the entourage of the Twelfth Imam, the Islamic messiah who is hellbent on destroying the Jewish nation. Several other characters, such as David’s childhood-friend/girl-next-door/potential-love-interest Marseille Harper and blind Islamic teacher turned Christian Dr. Birjandi play sizable roles.

Damascus Countdown has many action scenes, a lot of Biblical reference, scenes of political tension, some emotional scenes and it was eloquently written as such that I could imagine the faces and personalities of each character in each scene. It was riveting and I was actually kind of sad when I finished which, in my opinion, is the sign of a good book.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Damascus Countdown from Tyndale publishers. All opinions and comments regarding the book are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Unglued Devotional

I had the opportunity to read the Unglued Devotional: 60 Days of Imperfect Progress, the companion to Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Both the book and the devotional are aimed towards helping women conquer the negative emotions that sometimes pop up, and rather use our emotions to encourage, uplift, and show compassion.

Lysa is a talented story teller (if you’ve ever heard her speak, she has this fabulous Southern accent that really makes you want to listen!), and her stories are very relateable. Each day during this 60 day journey, the devotional presents a verse, a thought of the day, introduces a relevant story about emotions and not allowing them to get the best of us, and finishes with a prayer towards fulfilling the goal of the day. I really enjoyed this devotional, and it gave me a lot of points to consider, and small goals to work towards. The book is even subtitled: “60 Days of Imperfect Progress”, which took a lot of the pressure off. I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to have a heart that is willing to change my habits.

One of my favorite devotions was regarding something I’ve written a few blog posts about, and have been trying to cultivate daily in my own life: an Attitude of Gratitude. My favorite line really spoke volumes about the source of true joy. When we praise God, despite what our emotions or circumstances dictate, we “stop being blind to all that’s right and see so many more reasons to praise God. And when my heart is full of praise, my emotions aren’t nearly as prone to coming unglued” (TerKeurst 100).

Lysa’s book is full of Biblically sound advice, and was a very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the stories, and realized that some progress is better than no progress in controlling our emotions. My kids still know how to push those buttons, but now I have some tools and encouragement to help me overcome my first reaction of letting that temper show. 

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Unglued: Devotional from Zondervan publishers via BookSneeze. All opinions and comments regarding the book are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

When a Good Deal Isn’t a Good Deal…

I have a confession to make:
I throw away way too much food. I’m ashamed to say, but sometimes I’ll purchase food because it’s a great deal and end up never using it. Past it’s expiration date, I often end up chucking it.

I have another confession to make:
I just donated a bunch of unused “clearance” toys that were a great deal, but I never had anyone in mind to give them to. So they sat…and sat…until they were given away.

Last confession:
I have 14 tubes of toothpaste that will expire in the next few months…all picked up because they were on sale, yet will need to be given away because no human being brushes their teeth 34 times a day!

It’s not a good deal if you never use it!

Here are some tips for getting the most of your money:

1. When buying food, have a plan for using it.
Try to work it into your weekly menu plan. If it is a pantry item that you’re stocking up on, make sure it’s versatile enough to use often. Here are my favorite pantry items with ideas for using them.

2. When buying a gift, have a recipient in mind.
I don’t know very many 8-year olds. I haven’t had to purchase anything for an 8-year old in years. So why did I spend $10 on a clearance toy that’s geared for 8-12 year old boys? Because it was marked down 75%. Yep, said toy was recently donated. I didn’t save 75%; I wasted $10. Having a recipient in mind will keep you from buying for the sake of buying.

3. Give Yourself Limits
You don’t need 50 bottles of mouth wash. Five bottles bought on sale will last you just fine before the expiration date. We were cleaning out my husband’s late-grandmother’s kitchen cabinets several months ago. We found 6 unopened jars of almond and vanilla extracts that expired in the 1980s. We won’t discuss what was in the freezer…

4. Know the Difference Between Stocking Up and Buying for the Sake of Buying
Stocking up is purchasing items you know you will use within a set time period. Buying for the sake of buying is picking something up you may not use, just because it’s cheap. The latter option often costs you money, as the “good deals” turn into an unused heap of donated or trash items.I love stocking up on items we use…I’ve saved a great deal of money doing this! Unfortunately it is sometimes offset by purchasing items I don’t need just because it’s a good deal. 

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Birthday Freebies and Offers

Last week I celebrated another birthday, and have been enjoying all sorts of free food and drinks!
Sign up for these great offers to get freebies for your birthday! Some offers are good your entire birthday month, some the week of your birthday, and some valid only on your birthday itself.
Rubios: Free Meal up to $7
Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes: Buy 1, Get 1 Free Meal with Purchase of 2 Drinks
Baskin Robbins: Free 2.5 oz Scoop
Cold Stone: Buy 1, Get 1 Free Creation
Daphnes: $5 Credit on Pita Points Account
Einstein’s Bagels: Free Breakfast Sandwich with any Drink Purchase
Red Robin: Free Burger and Fries
Fuddruckers: Buy 1, Get 1 Free Burger
Smoothie King: Buy 1, Get 1 Free 20 oz. Smoothie
BJ’s Restaurant: Free Pizookie Dessert
CPK: Free Dessert with Any Purchase
Jersey Mike’s Subs: Free Regular Sub and Drink (valid only on day of birthday)
Melting Pot: Free Box of Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Meal Purchase
Swagbucks: 50 Swagbucks (450 gets you a $5 Amazon Gift Card!)
NFL and MLB Team Shops: 15% off coupon
Old Navy: $10 off $50 purchase (Go through Ebates and get cash back for an even better deal!) Scroll down to “Sign Up and Save” and enter email address.
Lofthouse Cookies: $2.00 off Cookie Box (Lofthouse Cookies are $3.49 at my Target, so only $1.49 after coupon.)
Toys’R’Us: Kids up to age 10 receive a Toys’R’Us Coupon
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