Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vintage Tablescape Thursday

This is my first time to participate in Tablescape Thursday, and I think it more than qualifies for Vintage Thingie Thursday, as well!

It's not my own, but the dining room at the restored Chief Vann House near Chatsworth, Georgia, circa 1804. You can see some pictures of the outside of the house here, and some of the separate kitchen on Secrets of a Southern Kitchen here.

Some of the pictures are a little dark--there was a lot of natural light coming through the huge, stately windows, and I didn't really take the time to adjust everything as I would have like. We just happened to go on a special event day, and there were lots of visitors that day. I was trying to take pictures without just getting the backs of heads of people who walked in and out of shots. So I just pointed and clicked the best I could; I would love to go back and take more pictures at my leisure!

As always, click on each picture to see it in detail, then hit the back arrow to come back.

The dining room table, set with period wares
A closer shot of a place setting

All of the food on the table was fake (of course) except for this--I thought maybe it was supposed to be a big piece of dark chocolate, but it's a cake of compressed tea--it looked like it had been pressed into a patterned mold of some sort.

Dining room fire place

Over the sideboard

Silver tea and coffee service

An assortment of forks--this early tableware fascinates me for some reason.

Crackers and cheese; tea service; decanters--the after dinner station?

Now this is a window treatment!

Portrait of Joseph Vann, son of the original owner, he inherited the house at age 11, when his father was murdered in 1809, and lived in the house until he was forced to move West, along with thousands of other Cherokee Indians along what became known as the Trail of Tears.

For more tablescapes, see Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch

For more vintage and thrifty finds, see:

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of a much earlier time as much as I did.

Until next time...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Trip Back Through Time

This week I'm participating for the first time in a new meme--Metamorphosis Monday, hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch, to show off "before" and "after" pictures. I have a thrifty remake project that I'm planning to work on when we go home to Louisiana in a couple of weeks, but I couldn't wait, so I'm sharing simething a little different.

This weekend was supposed to be a 2-3 day road trip, sort a last hurrah of the summer before taking our son back to Louisiana for his next semester at college. We unfortunately had to cancel our plans for this weekend, but we decided to take a day trip to see some historical Cherokee sites in northern Georgia.

We went to see the Chief Vann house near Chatsworth, Georgia. This house was completed in 1804 by Joseph Vann, a wealthy business man and Cherokee leader. He established what became the most prosperous plantation in the Cherokee Nation. After his death, his son Joseph inherited the house, and became even more wealthy than his father. Many influential people stayed in the house through the years, including at least one US President. Joseph Vann and his family owned the house until the 1830's, when almost the entire Cherokee Nation was forced to move west by state and federal troops along what became known as the Trail of Tears.

The Dill family owned the house for a time--this was taken in 1898
(click to see an enlargment)

This is what the house looked like in the early 1950's, before restoraion.

And this is what the same porch looks like today, after restoration!

Joseph Vann was wealthy enough to send his household goods west on the riverboat that he owned, where they were later lost to fire in the new house he built in Indian Territory, in what's now Oklahome. The furniture on display is a combination of period and reproduction pieces, true to the era and matching written discriptions of what the rooms looked like. This huge mantel, however, is original to the house, and has been restored to it's authentic colors from many layers of paint. The colors are symbolic--blue for sky and red for the red clay dirt--and the green and gold have escaped my memory for right now!

I have a few other shots from the interior, including the dining room, which I'll share for Tablescape Thursday!

Until next time...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blog Hop '09

Welcome to Blog Hop 09 visitors!

For my non-tweeting, non-blogging readers, Blogher 09 is a conference being held in Chicago this weekend that "everyone" in the blogosphere is buzzing about. In reality, there are only about 1500 women in attendance, but in our niche of women bloggers, it seems as though everyone in the world is going to Blogher--except us!

There are several "I'm-not-going-to-Blogher" blog parties this weekend, and Blog Hop 09 is the PG rated version (!). Many thanks to Pensieve and Musings of a Housewife for sponsoring this.

For first time visitors, I am a Christian woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. We have a house in rural small town Louisiana that we seldom live in, and spend most of our time in a corporate apartment in Georgia (for now). I've been a working-outside-the-house gal for most of my adult life, but have had the privilege for the last year of being able to stay at home for the first time in years. And because of that, I'm also a couponer and deal chaser, and have recently become a frequenter of thrift shops and flea markets.

This blog started out to chronicle my struggle to become a true chayil woman of strength and virtue, and it evolves in different directions according to what I'm doing or thinking about.

In addition to A Virtuous Woman, I have a food blog, Secrets of a Southern Kitchen, where I share simple, easy recipes for everyday foods.

I appreciate you stopping by for the 2009 Blog Hop! Pull up a chair and look around, I hope your find something to your liking!

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Where I Get My Coupons, Part 2

For information on internet printable coupons, please see Part 1 of this series. (Since I first published Part 1, I've added some additional information)

Newspaper Inserts

My next step in my couponing journey was beginning to buy the Sunday newspaper for the coupon inserts.

There are usually two weekly inserts, one from RedPlum, and one from Smart Source, on occasion one from Vlassis. In addition to these, Procter and Gamble has an insert every 4-6 weeks for their products. Sites that do coupon match-ups for sales list these as SS, RP, V, and P&G.

There are websites you can visit which will tell you which inserts are coming out which weeks, and even what coupons are possibly included in the inserts. One of these is Taylortown Preview.

Why do I say "possibly included"? It didn't take long for me to figure out that not all newspaper inserts are created equally. Smart Source, RedPlum, Vlassis and even P&G inserts are completely different in major metropolitan markets than in smaller cities. So you may read in a preview that there's a high dollar coupon coming for a product you like, only to open your paper and find either a) no coupon at all for that product, or b) a smaller dollar value. Or not.

That's one of the reasons I seldom buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper as some couponers do. Occasionally I buy 2, usually the weeks that there's a P&G insert so that I'll have two coupons for products that may come up often on B1G1 sales, or items that I buy frequently.

Do I miss some deals at times, because I don't have multiples of the "good" coupons, or because I had 1 or 2 and I've already used them? You bet. But even yet, I manage to do quite well and have quite a stockpile built up of the things we use regularly. Could that change at some point? Sure, if I had access to a newspaper from a major metropolitan area, I might totally rethink my position.

But that brings me to another point. Many of the coupons in the inserts are for products that I don't buy, ever, at any cost. I don't mean just different brand of something I use, because if I can get something for free, I'm willing to at least try it. But there are some products that we just don't use in our household, and I don't want to have to handle multiples of those coupons, not to mention the trash it would generate.

So what to do if you want the "good" coupons (which means good for you and your household) but don't want to have to chase down a big city newspaper that may or may not have the coupon you want?

That brings me to another source of coupons for me.

Coupon Clipping Services

There are several different coupon clipping services out there--the one I've use with great success is the Coupon Clippers. You can click the link or the button on my left hand sidebar to go there from here. Once you're there, you'll need to register. Then you can search for coupons alphabetically, by what's "hot", what's new, etc. They list the product, the face value of the coupon, the cost to you for the coupon, when it expires (important!) and if there is a minimum number required for purchase. You fill in the quantity next to the coupons you want--be sure to click on the "add to cart" button before you go the next page. You'll also see a box on the left that shows the next ship date and what the order deadline is to make that ship date. Coupons are mailed out by 5:00 pm on the ship date, and I've always had mine in my mailbox by two days later. (e.g., ship Wednesday, I have them by Friday). I've been very happy with the coupons and the service I've received from there.

There are other services available around the web, including e-Bay. Many of the bloggers I follow have had success with getting coupons from e-Bay, but this is not something I've ever done.

You may be asking how it's a savings to pay to get coupons? The service I use charges a very small percentage of the face value of the coupon, and a small handling charge. The amount of savings I get more than makes up for the amount I spend to get these clipped for me. The same thing seems to apply to other clipping services.

Note on paying for coupons: Whether through "coupon clippers" or e-Bay, you are not buying coupons, which is illegal. You are paying someone for their services to clip coupons that they obtain legally from acquiring multiple copies of the inserts. That's why I made sure I use only a legitimate service that I've seen recommended by bloggers I trust.

Mail Freebies and Samples

In Part 1 of this series I mentioned going directly to manufacturer's and brand websites to look for printable coupons. Another thing that you can find at many sites are offers for free samples. I've gotten all kinds of freebies in the mail, from cereal to snack bars to shampoo and even a free full size, non-disposable razor. My favorites are the ones that come with coupons--and many of them do.

So where do you find these free samples? Again--evvvverywhere!

Wal-mart has a Free Sample page that updates regularly with new offers.

Right at Home for SCJohnson

P&G Brand Sampler can be requested seasonally

Vocalpoint sign up and visit this site regularly--I've received multiples of coupons from them--usually one for a free product, then several others that are $ off to use or share with others.

Start Sampling is another site that offers multiple samples and coupons

Frugal Shopping and Deals Blogs

I get alerted to lots of these good sources for freebies, samples, and coupons by following several frugal shopping/deals/couponing blogs. There are lots of them out there--click on the links on some my Mission Possible posts, or try the blog roll (under Blogs I Love to Read) on my lefthand sidebar.

And that brings me to the final (I think!) source for coupons:

In Stores and on Products

I'm honestly not sure if it's just because I coupon that I notice these now, but there seems to be a lot more in-store and on-product coupons than I ever seem to remember. I see these everywhere these days!

Tearpads are pads of coupons, usually attached to the shelf at eye-level right in front of the product or a related product. Recently there were a lot of internet coupons for Kraft product--bbq sauce, mayo, Miracle Whip, etc. On the shelf in front of the Kraft bbq sauce was a tearpad of coupons for $2 off any fresh meat product when you bought two Kraft products. I used my IP Qs to get two free bottles of bbq sauce, then used the tearpad Q to get a package of chicken thighs for next to nothing.

Blinkies are similar to tearpads--on the shelf at eye-level, except the are in little black coupon dispensers, usually with a little red light that blinks--hence the name!

Peelies there are coupons found on the product itself, usually stating "save $ now" and have to be peeled off to be used. The very first completely free thing I bought when I started couponing and watching sales were four tins of Altoids mints that were on sale $1.99, B1G1, and had peelies on them for $1 off--I used the four peelies and paid nothing but the tax OOP (out of pocket)--i was so excited, you'd have thought I'd saved $100!

And so, between internet printable coupons, newspaper inserts, coupon clipping services, free samples, and tearpads, blinkies, and peelies--I think I've about covered it!

If you know of or can think of any sources I've missed, leave a comment a let me know!

Next in this series--how I organize my coupons.

Until next time...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Where I Get My Coupons, Part 1

  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

When I first started blogging last year I shared a bit about how I got into frugal shopping, drugstore wheeling and dealing, and couponing. I thought I'd share just a bit about how I coupon and where I get my coupons.

The short answer is: from everywhere!

And the long answer is: from evvvvverywhere!!

I know, it's a pitiful joke, right? Sorry.

I do get coupons from everywhere. From places I never knew you could get coupons, and from places I never noticed coupons before. Once you start, you'll start to notice and find them in places you've never even thought of!

On-line IP (Internet Printable) Coupons

The first place I started getting coupons was various on-line sources, some of which are listed below.

Things you need to know before you start printing internet coupons:

  • Some of the internet printable coupons require that you sign up, giving your name, email, etc. Whatever you do, don't give them your personal email! Set up a separate account, you'll start getting tons of emails from all of these sites.
  • Besides name and email, some request an address, and many also ask for a birthdate--some say it's be sure you're over their minimum age, some will send you extra coupons during your birthday month, etc, but in these days of identity theft, I would never use my real birthdate. I use the same wrong date for everything I sign up for, that way I don't forget what date I've used at what site! Don't be scared, just be careful.!
  • Online coupons come in a couple of different formats. While there are still a few companies that use a static pdf. format, most use a coupon generator and will require a download and install of software the first time you print coupons. There are two or three different coupon generators that various companies use, the most common of which are Bricks and Smart Source, so you may be asked to download software more than once, depending on which coupon generator a site uses.
  • Most coupon generators will allow you to print a particular coupon twice per computer. If ou have access to multiple computers, you can print additional copies if you choose to, and these are still legitimate coupons. It is NOT legitmate to make copies, even high definition color copies, of an internet coupon. Remember those coupon generator/printers you downloaded--every coupon printed legitimating will have a unique barcode on it. Don't try to cheat the system--it's not only illegal, it's unbecoming to a woman of virtue.
  • Some stores do not take internet coupons--because of the fraudulent activity I mentioned above. Many are just now becoming educated about the unique bar codes--know your store's corporate coupon policy. You can read about experiences with Walmart here and here. I've never had a problem since that time, but I carry a printed copy of the Walmart corporate coupon policy in my coupon binder at all times.

And now, on to the good part:

  1. can be accessed from the blue widget on my right sidebar. These are updated regularly, at least monthly, sometimes more often. Generally these are good for 30 days after the date you print, and can usually be printed twice per computer. Some manufacturer's limit the number that can be printed daily, weekly, or monthly, so if you read about a coupon that isn't there when you look for it, it may have reached it's print limit. There are also coupons that are only available in certain locations, so it also makes a difference which zip code you use. You can sign up or "join" the site, but it isn't necessary in order to print the coupons.
  2. do have to sign up or "join" cool savings in order to access the coupons. The first time you go to the cool savings site, you will see page after page of free offers and things you can sign up for. If you aren't interested, just make sure you click "no" or "skip" on each page or offer. These will seem to be never ending, but persevere, it's a one time thing you have to go through. Once you get to the end, from then on when you go to the site, you can just click a tab marked "printable coupons".
  3. and If both of these names seem familiar, it's because both of these companies put out regular newspaper inserts with advertisements and coupons--the coupons on line at their sites are usually different from those printed in the inserts--neither require sign up to use.
  4. Individual product/Manufacturer's website--If there are products you use that you like, enter the product name in a search engine and find their website--many manufacturer's have newsletters that you can sign up for, and offer coupons that are updated and reset regularly--meaning that if you printed it twice you may get a "print limit reached" message, but they may reset monthly or quarterly. Some will send you extra coupons during your birthday month, and some will notify you when they run contests, sweepstakes, and other promotions. Watch the sign up form, too--you can often print the coupon and still opt out of getting on the mailing list if you "uncheck" the boxes asking for email updates. And if not, you can always unsubscribe later if you want to.

Some of my favorites in this category are:

Ann at Coupons Deals and More keeps an excellent list of links to manufacturer's coupons--bookmark her site, you'll want to come back to it often!

There are other coupon sites out there, most of which are legitimate, these are just the ones I use the most.

Coming soon--part 2

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's Thrifting "Deja ju" All Over Again

  • She is like merchant's ships, she bringeth her food (and other things!) from afar
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

I'm so excited about my second "deja vu" thrift find! Remember the cute little J&G Meakins red (or pink, according to the source) vine bowl I found for my first thrift store purchase? After my last "thrifting" post about looking over local thrift shops, I had two different comments telling me I needed to take a little road trip to Opelika, Alabama and visit Harvest Thrift and Angel's Antique Mall and Flea Market. So last Saturday hubby and I decided to take a drive and look things over.

And guess what I found at Angel's Antique Mall and Flea Market? (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them for details)

Aren't they beautiful??

And I almost missed them.

These and a few others were tucked in on the bottom shelf of one of dozens and dozens of booths. I went down this row front to back once, and was intending to come back up the next one, but I confess--I was trying to avoid a family with some very over tired children who badly needed naps that seemed to be dogging my steps--so I zigged when they zagged and came back up the way I had come, trying to follow a different flight path through the store. But if I hadn't done that, I would have never spotted these!

I was so excited I screeched squealed like a little girl! I grabbed the only cup and saucer they had, and stood in indecision over the rest. There were a few dinner plates that were in really bad shape--stained and badly discolored, and a stack of the fruit bowls and bread plates. I finally choose the best three of the fruit bowls, and four of the bread plates. Along with the bowl I already have, that will make four of each of these.

The bowls and bread/dessert plates were $2.50 each, the cup and saucer $3.50.

The fruit bowls and the saucer have the same mark as the bowl I already have.

The bread/dessert plates have a larger mark.

We had a lot of fun, but didn't see even half of what they had at Angel's. There were a number of things I'd like to go back and look at again, plus there are rows and rows of booths that I didn't even get to look at. I want to go back to Harvest Thrift as well--I did find one thing there that I'm saving for another post--and we never even made it to the Salvation Army thrift store at the end. By that time we were hot and tired and hungry, so it will have to wait for another day.

I'm linking this to:

Thrifty Thursday
at Tales from Bloggeritaville

Today's Thrifty Treasures
at Southern Hospitality

Check out some of the links to see more thrift store goodies!

Until next time...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Virtuous by Intent

  • Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

Not long after I started this blog, I wrote a post about what "virtuous" means, in life and in this verse. While there is an element of "goodness", it's better defined as being a woman of strength, honor, valor--and yes, "goodness", or moral excellence.

Of late I feel that I've failed miserably at being a virtuous woman. Strong, brave, honorable--these are hardly words I'd use to describe myself these days. And lest you misunderstand what I mean, no, I haven't begun a life of crime or immorality. But lately I find myself drifting through my days, with no goals or purpose, other than the necessary mundane tasks of daily living, and with little or no accountability for how I spend my time.

For a while I was doing a little better. Participating in the "Philippians 3:14 Fridays" at Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman? gave me some incentive to set some goals, and a little "virtual"accountability to get some of it done for my weekly update. Unfortunately, that weekly meme died for lack of participation, and my "pressing toward the goal" in that sense died with it.

To be honest, I've had a sense of restlessness and lack of something for quite some time, but it's been getting worse and worse, and the last couple of weeks have been--well--not fun. Not for me, and certainly not for my family, poor things.

One of the things I've discovered about myself the last few years is that, while I like a certain amount of spontaneity and adventure, I really, really, really, need a sense of security and structure to hang it on. And while the important things are there--faith and family--I've allowed some of the peripherals--those less important, outside-my-sphere-of-influence-things--to loom larger and larger in my life and in my psyche, until misperceptions about that underlying structure have robbed me of my sense of purpose and security.

And so, on to what to do about it--it's one thing to realize that I've let myself go, in so many ways, and to know that I need to do something about it--but still another to know where to begin. Those peripheral issues are still there, are not in my control, nor or they changing. All I can hope to change is myself, and those things over which I do have control. One thing at a time, inch by inch, step by step.

I read a post by Jen over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam about how changing two little things that she could control--the color of dishwashing soap she used, and the container it was in--helped lift two things she couldn't--the color of the lilies growing in her yard, and the necessity of doing dishes--from mundane to magical.

And in that short post about an everyday matter, I stumbled upon two words which for me speak of those things missing from my life lately--intent and accountability.

The definition of intent is this:

The determination or resolve to do a certain thing, or the state of mind with which something is done.

I think that's what I've been missing lately--I tell myself all the time that I intended to do this or that thing that I didn't do, but did I really start out to do them with intent, with determination and resolve? I don't think so. As a matter of fact, I know so. For all intents and purposes, I've had no intent or purpose.

And that's the part that I want to work on. Living with intent.

As a Christian, as a woman, as a wife and a mother and so much more, I want to do what I do with intent. With determination and resolve, and with a purposeful state of mind.

So far, all I have is the resolve. I'm not sure even what direction this may take me; I just know that whichever path I take, I want to follow it with intent.

This post is linked to A Beautiful Life at The Inspired Room.

Until next time....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Three or More--Places I've Been

I've been wanting to participate in the "Three or More" meme (blogger-speak for a bunch of blogs all doing the same themed activity/post). Most of my "three or more" things are at home in Louisiana, not here with me, so I decided to share three photos of favorite places from our travels.

I'm basically a country girl from small town, rural Louisiana. I didn't grow up traveling or even going on vacations much. My maternal grandparents, who traveled the US extensively, took me along on a trip to Montana to visit relatives the summer after 5th grade. The highlight of that trip was getting to go into Canada for a day, so I could say I had been in a foreign country. That whole trip was BIG in my young life. Later on I met and married a man from a really exotic place. California. Let that sink in for just a minute with appropriate silence. I proceeded to basically turn him into a Local Boy. So it was with great joy and trepidation that I embraced the opportunity, once our son graduated from high school and went away to college, to accompany my husband as he travels for his job. Since that time, I've lived for a time in Alaska, Colorado, and Georgia, and have had the chance to do lots and lots of driving and sight seeing to my heart's content.

These are three of my favorite places that I've had the opportunity to visit.

First up is the Arctic Circle, where it intersects the Dalton Highway in Alaska. This was a memorable trip. A little scary, as this is way off the beaten path, but it was exciting to know that I've been someplace that not a lot of people get to go.

Second up is the Bonneville Salt Flats, west of Salt Lake City, Utah. This is where the world land speed record is set. There is nothing but flatness for miles and miles, and you can see the air as it shimmers with heat and minerals.

And last but not least, cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, Colorado. I can't fathom how the builders knew just how to build these so very long ago--low enough to catch the sun for heat in the cold of winter, and high enough under the overhangs to be protected from it during the heat of summer.

The pictures really don't do these places justice, but if you click on the pictures you can see them in a larger format in much more detail. Afterward just hit the "back" button on your browser and it will bring you back to this page.

Want to see what other bloggers are sharing? Check out the links at Three or More Tuesday at the Gypsy's Corner.

Until next time...


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