The Frugal Catholic: “15 Thrifty Ways to Date Your Mate” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.– July 2016

In September of 2015, my husband of 35 years and I embarked on a new phase of our married life, retirement! We took off together in our little 19 foot trailer and lived there together for six months within its confines while we renovated our first son’s mobile home. During that time, we rediscovered what it meant to “date your mate,” and we reaffirmed what Catholic author and speaker Matthew Kelly says we must incorporate into our lives—a monthly day of carefree timelessness. From that period we experienced the knowledge that marriage is indeed one of our seven Catholic sacraments, but monthly dating helps keep it sacred. So if you want to add some romantic spark to your sacramental union, give a few of the following a try. The only thing you will need is a journal to write down your thoughts and the knowledge that each date will only draw you closer.date your mate #3

  1. Dream Together— Check out some travel videos from your library like Rick Steeves. Imagine together.
  2. Get Season Tickets— Invest in season tickets to whatever activity you both enjoy. We have been going to the Seattle Symphony for twenty years now and sitting in the cheapest seats. It is our six-times-a-year dating insurance.
  3. Unplug the Drug— Turn off the TV for an evening and together brainstorm for one fun activity to do. Try one of your kid’s games or cards, or give each other a leg massage or a hair brushing and talk as you go.
  4. Celebrate Sabbath Rest— Really take Sunday off, after Mass of course. Go for a stroll or enjoy an activity together like gardening. And have an easy breakfast meal for Sunday dinner.
  5. Create Your Own Wine Tasting— Purchase two or three wines (or beers), and from the comfort of your home savor and describe and journal them. No need to worry about driving home!
  6. Enjoy the Music— Music sets the mood for love so share the songs you both enjoy and discuss why.
  7. Go Family Camping— That’s right. Dust off the  tent and bring the crew. Your date time begins around the campfire when you get the kids to bed.date your mate #4
  8. Try a Round of Miniature Golf— It is still as much fun as it was when you were a kid.
  9. Do a MU— Take each other to a museum like Seattle Art Museum (SAM) then visit the museum gift shop and choose a small item together as a remembrance.
  10. Enjoy It Conjointly— Experience something together like ping pong, Frisbee, hiking or Sunday walks.
  11. Plan a Picnic— Pack it up and go to your local park for a meal. Kids really enjoy this too.
  12. Remember— Pull out the wedding album and reminisce. What would you keep the same? What would you have done date your mate #5differently?
  13. Read a Book— Get The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman out of the library and read it together. Take the test to determine your love language and begin employing it. This has really helped our marriage.
  14. Be a Tourist for a Day— Together visit your town like a tourist would. See places you’ve always wanted to explore but haven’t taken the time to do so.
  15. Lunch on Love— Meet your spouse for lunch. It is less expensive than dinner and often more enjoyable.

Marriage is a sacramental gift, and with any sacrament, it has the power to change us. So make some changes in your schedules and reschedule in marital dating. You’ll be glad you did.date your mate #1

 

The Frugal Catholic: “Frugal Tip #1–Frozen Candles” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–June 2016

You want to have a lovely dinner, something magical.   What is one of the easiest ways to create magic?   Candles of course.  small candle in open hands lit #5 But what do candles, especially frugal candles purchased at The Dollar Store usually do?   Well, they drip like crazy and get wax all over the table. And when you blow them out, more wax ensues.   What to do? Try this simple old trick for Frugal Tip #1– store them in your freezer!

Yes, to get drip-less expensive candles from tapered candles (long ones)  out of Dollar Store ones, simply put them in the freezer for a few days.   No need to remove them from their packaging.   Then after they are thoroughly frozen, put them unopened back into your candle drawer, and enjoy them when you want to produce a romantic or magical dinner.   You will be thrilled that messy drips are a thing of the past.

I first learned of this tip from my older sister, Marjorie, who lives in Mississippi where she has hosted her share of lovely dinners.candle and pretty table #4  It seemed a bit odd, but after dealing with so much candle wax on my nice dining room table, I felt it was worth a try.   So I took my dollar candles (two for a dollar), threw them in my freezer, and left them there for several days.   Evidently, freezing them does something to the wax which prevents dripping.   And you don’t have to re-freeze them again either.   One freezing does it all, and then you use the candles as you normally would.   Freezing seems to curb “the drips.”

So go ahead and create magic, flickering and all.  candle and cross #2 And do it at a much cheaper price than expensive drip-less ones.   And don’t forget too, that a lighted candle is a wonderful reminder any time you say the Rosary, read Sacred Scripture, or pray that God’s light overcomes the darkness and His light and love are always with us so that we can pass that light on as Matthew 5: 14-16  (NRSV) tells us:

You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.lighted candle #3

 

The Frugal Catholic “Living Small: Part I Food” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.—April 2016

   Truthfully,  I don’t know when I decided to embark on a smaller existence.  It must have been a night I was in an adventuresome mood and recommended to my husband that we investigate purchasing a 19 foot trailer or “caravan” as they say in Europe.  He had dreamed of owning an American-made design called an Airstream, which is made from shiny aluminum. He now describes it as bear food because it looks like a large can of green beans. But the “silver bullet” became ours after much comparison-shopping. We purchased an older model and had our tiny house.

   It took about four more years until (after Michael’s retirement) our lives were in a position to pack up and go where we wanted in our Airstream. That is where this “Living Small Part I” adventure starts.  Because living in a 19 square-foot home for six months taught me much about downsizing.

   The transition from our 3000 square foot house to around 120 square feet in our trailer (and that includes beds and built in tables AND about 24 square feet of actual walking space) began in October 2015 when I left our home in Washington (WA) state and traveled to Bellingham, WA to live with Michael who had moved there with the Airstream to do renovations on our first son’s newly purchased used mobile home.  I would be there to help Michael; and although I had never done construction before, Michael, an expert in renovations, was going to teach me his passion. Not only did I learn how to use power tools and conquer black mold and dry-rot, but living in our Airstream provided me with a glimpse of how so many in the world live everyday—in simplicity and smallness versus in consumption and possessions. So with that background in mind, I want to share in Part I what I have learned about “Living Small—Food.

the frugal catholic tiny homes kitchen space
My tiny kitchen space

   Our Airstream has a kitchen with a stove, an oven, one small sink and refrigerator. My total kitchen counter space amounts to approximately two inches, and I am not exaggerating. That is not a lot different than most people around the world. The normal kitchen size of most North American homes is often large: not so for the food preparation space of many others in this  world. Thus, food downsizing became a constant theme, for there was really no place to prepare victuals, and after preparation, one needed to store leftovers, and that was my biggest challenge. So each trip to the supermarket came with much forethought.

   I had to learn to think “Small, Rich, and Real” (somewhat like last month’s blog entry). Small because the refrigerator and freezer space were tiny. Rich because there wasn’t room for choices of 1%, 2%, or 3% milk but just one container of milk or cream so we went “full-fat.” And Real because when you are living with less space, you want to eat wholesomely even if that nutrition means beans, rice, and corn tortillas. One wants to use his/her money wisely, for food becomes not just what you live to eat, but it assumes the natural position for which God intended: Food becomes what we eat to live.

An interior view of our living space. Note refrigerator on right.
An interior view of our living space. Note refrigerator on right.

   Frugal dinners looked like a three-point picture. We consumed meat, often within a casserole type meal; vegetables, usually within a salad or canned vegetables; and a starch, generally incorporated within the casserole. The freezer/ refrigerator space negated ice cream or generally any kind of dessert so fresh fruit and nuts were our desserts. Leftovers were carefully packaged in small, clear, containers and all stacked cautiously on top of each other for maximum storage. But what I noticed from this three point presentation is that I gave much more thought to utilizing everything in the refrigerator—a concept which one doesn’t need to do when one has more refrigerator storage space because when food is out of sight,  it usually is out of mind, and will go bad. Thus, I was much more economical in our food consumption because I was completely aware of what the refrigerator held. That is good!

   And not only did we need to monitor the refrigerator space, but every item in our cabinets also became subject to scrutiny. Did I need two types of rice when one would do? What about keeping the dry foods in jars or containers so they would be easier to store and stack on top of one another? Everything had a place and a space for that place, or it didn’t deserve to be in our tiny home.

   Another concept which became very important was to NOT buy the biggest size of an item, but the smallest. For example, instead of purchasing a COSTCO size jar of mayonnaise, I now shopped the Dollar Store to get tiny versions of my favorite products, and I found that they were often a better deal than their super-sized counterparts.

   One area in which I became quite adroit was in using up leftovers. If you think about it, God is a master of knowing what He has, for scripture says that not one sparrow falls to the ground which He doesn’t know about so why couldn’t I be that prudent? “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matthew 10:29 NRSVCE    Once, for example, I had to feed six people (we always had someone over for dinner) by using one and one-half chicken breasts. In the past in my bigger-house kitchen, I would have used six breasts. Now I had to stretch the one and one-half into six portions by using vegetables, pasta, and cheese. It was a success for everyone became members of the “clean plate club.”

   So what did this six months of living small with food teach me when we came back to our elder house?

airstream size outside
An exterior view of our tiny house.

   Well for starters, we let our old freezer in the garage go to Habitat for Humanity. I wasn’t going to go back to buying in bulk and having things in the freezer expire for lack of use. And simultaneously our outside older  refrigerator died too leaving me with one normal sized refrigerator inside of the kitchen. From these letting go’s, I am now not buying less food, and I am really using up everything which we have. I even look in the refrigerator with each meal to see what might be going bad and how I could incorporate it into the evening’s dinner. Last night for example, I put dying home-made blue cheese dressing on my steak and old jam in the canned corn for a zippier flavor. It was wonderful and “very frugal.”

   So the moral to this Blog is that truly LESS IS MORE. That applies to not only food, but to possessions, which I will cover in “Living Small—Part II—Possessions.” Stay tuned for May.

The Frugal Catholic Stretched Casserole                                          by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.

Leftover meat                       

leftover starch like rice or potatoes

leftover vegetables

a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

canned vegetables if needed

a cup of grated cheese or any old shredded cheese 

bread crumbs

Combine the above and cover with cheese and bread crumbs.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45–60  minutes. Serve with the candles lit, some boxed wine, and heated  bread spread with butter. Delicious!!

 

 

The Frugal Catholic: “The Cheap and Easy Way to Lose WEIGHT by Eating Small, Rich and Real” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.— March 2016

Before I start this article, I want to make it very clear I am NOT a nutritionist or an expert in the field of health. What I am is a 67 year old mother of five adult children who has recently lost about 15 pounds rather effortlessly, and I thought you might be interested in knowing how. So do your own due diligence on the internet and you will see that this method is being touted by various nutritional folks.

Portion size took a big hit in the past century.
Portion size took a big hit in the past century.

Let’s start with a little history. In the 1960’s the fat consumption of the average person was about 45% and obesity was about 12%. Now in 2016, the fat consumption of the average person is about 33% and the obesity rate in America is around 50%. What has happened and why?

Nothing like the "real thing"
Nothing like the “real thing”

Since I can look back at my life and the eating trends, I can say that before fast and packaged foods came into being, people generally made everything from scratch. They used real ingredients versus names you can’t pronounce. We used whole milk, real butter (not margarine), full-fat or home-made mayonnaise, real cream, full-fat cheese, good natural unprocessed non-nitrate meats, and other whole foods which had not been processed. Milk didn’t come in 1% or 2% fat. It was just regular whole milk.   And cheese and all of the other aforementioned foods were generally pretty simple. People were thinner; furniture was smaller; and people just didn’t eat the massive size portions which are now served now in American restaurants. We didn’t have the amounts of obesity in children which we see now and the challenges which come from being overweight. We ate SMALL, RICH and REAL in our portion sizes and food choices because that is what was available.

Avocados provide a rich source of natural fat
Avocados provide a rich source of natural fat.

Now days, if one goes to a restaurant in America, the portion sizes are just massive.  Simply view the movie “Super Size Me” if you want to see how big!

Thus, this past summer of 2015, my dear husband, Michael, of 36 years stated, “We need to start eating smaller portion sizes.” He said that out of the blue, but I knew he was right. The only challenge with that concept of “eating small” is that I figured I would starve to death, for he was preparing the dinners, and they would be ½ a chicken breast with some salad and dressing. That was it for dinner. I acted like I really liked his cooking, but, in truth, I was in rebellion. I knew I just couldn’t go around hungry if I could avoid it, so I decided to start eating RICH and REAL (and SMALL) and see what happened. That was in July 2015. By Thanksgiving 2015, I had lost about 10 pounds by eating  SMALL, RICH, and REAL and by February 2016, I was down about 15 pounds and Michael was down 10 pounds—all without any additional exercise. I was shocked at our results. We both needed new (used) clothing since everything was falling off including my underwear.

Since then, I have done some research on the web, and I’ve found that SMALL, RICH, and REAL is even being advised by many in nutritional research. So to give you the full scoop, this is what my eating habits look like.

Morning Coffee– with Sugar in the Raw and lactose-free half and half
Breakfast— gluten-free cereal, whole milk with dried fruit and nut mix, or eggs and toast and butter, or a corn muffin with butter and lactose-free cream cheese

My fruit and nut mix
My fruit and nut mix.  Combine nuts and fruits that you have in your pantry to start with.  This gives you an easy way to use up what you have.

Lunch— one piece of gluten free bread, real cheese, non-hormone/ non-nitrate meats, pickles, fruit, carrots
Afternoon Snack— fruit with peanut butter,  or whole milk Greek Yogurt with a bit of jam or honey, or a hard boiled egg, or several slices of cheese along with green tea for weight loss, pu*erh tea for hunger fighting, or yerba mate tea for blasting fat  (tea ideas from Woman’s World)
Dinner— a Scotch with seltzer water or a glass of wine, grass feed meat or organic meat if possible, organic salad with as many interesting vegetables and fruits in it along with some more “fruit and nut mix” thrown in if desired, whole-fat home-made salad dressing or a good natural full-fat dressing such as Newman’s Own, and a small amount of starch (1/4 to 1/2 cup) like a potato, brown rice, or gluten free pasta.

Dessert—organic fruit, or more of the fruit and nut mix with some chocolate chips, or 2 or 3 Hershey Kisses and maybe a Pepsi Next if I still need sweets

To help keep hunger at bay, I drink six to eight glasses of filtered water a day or have a cup or two of the aforementioned tea. It is easiest to just carry around a water bottle each day and fill and drink it twice. That is pretty much about it. And it is about that simple. The real and rich foods keep me full; and when I dish up a portion for myself, I try to eat about half of what I used to; or if we ever eat out, Michael and I split a meal–2/3 for him and 1/3 for me. And I have noticed that I no longer seem to crave sweets like before.  Odd but true.

Try to use organic fruits and vegetables, if possible
Try to use organic fruits and vegetables, if possible.

I have not been at this weight for decades, and I want to mention that I am a Weight Watcher’s Lifetime Member and still haven’t been able to get to this 127 pound goal. And I am staying at my 15 pound loss rather effortlessly.  If  the weight does creep up on the scale, as it did last week, I refocus on SMALL, RICH, and REAL more thoroughly, and it starts to go back down to my 127 ideal weight.  I will add too that I take a pro-biotic pill once a day for good digestion along with a daily multiple vitamin, and we use lactose-free and gluten-free products since I have  lactose and  gluten intolerance.

This is a “diet” I can really live with for the long term.  It makes me wonder too that if the brain needs “fat” to function, what are we doing to our thought processes by avoiding it?  Personally I think I am thinking more clearly too.  In addition,  if I have to compare this food plan  to another country’s eating habits, I would view it as the way most French and Mediterranean people eat– SMALL,  RICH and REAL– as natural and wholesome to the earth as possible which makes these food choices a viable long-term alternative to “low fat” eating.

So give it a try if you want, and let me know what your exciting results.
God Bless Your Efforts!

A Lenten Small and Rich Friday Meal
Give this  Lenten Small and Rich and REAL Friday Meal a try.

_________________________________________________________________________

EASY “SMALL ,RICH, and REAL” CHILI—serves about 6

2 cans of chili with beans (read ingredients and make sure you know what each one is–Annie’s Chili is a good choice)
1 can of kidney beans—drained and rinsed
1 cup of brown rice prepared according to directions with about 2 tablespoons of butter
spices of your choice optional

Cook the brown rice and heat up the contents of the three cans. Serve the chili over the rice along with a nice salad. It rates as a #10 with my husband!

__________________________________________________________________________

QUICK RANCH- STYLE SALAD DRESSING

This keeps well in the refrigerator and is a thick dressing.  It can be thinned with a little whole milk,  if desired.

1/2  cup real mayonnaise                      1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup full-fat sour cream                 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon garlic powder                   freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in the refrigerator.  Great for dipping vegetables.

___________________________________________________________________________

 

The Frugal Catholic: “The Immense Value of Thankfulness” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–January 2016

worry 1My friend, Maria, and her husband Roger babysat for their grandson a few weekends ago and thoroughly enjoyed their time.  Maria, however, remarked to me that Roger noticed how neither mother or father failed to say “Thank-you.”  It just seemed like the young couple felt the grandparent’s time with the baby was more of  a gift to them than anything which needed to be thanked.  Roger was the one who had brought up his feelings of being taken for granted, and how it hurt.
In thinking on those grandparents’ situation, I focused back on our Catholic liturgy to a passage I love.  Within the Eucharistic Prayer No. 2, it states, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, your Word through whom you made all things, whom you sent as our Savior and Redeemer, incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin.”    I love hearing our Priest say those words, for it is indeed our duty and our salvation to give God “thanks.”
worry 2
But why?   What does thankfulness do for us?  What does it release in our spirits?  In 1  Thessalonians 5: the Bible states: “Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Here we can learn that that thankfulness releases God’s will in us.  It is not a tricky suggestion to further complicate living, but thankfulness is His desire for those who have trusted their lives into Jesus’ hands.
Thankfulness just plain DISPELS.  It rids us of fear, lack of trust, bitterness; and it engenders a human environment of looking for the good in all situations.  It makes us open to God’s plan for our lives, not solely our intentions.  Thankfulness produces trust that although we can’t understand what might be going on, we can be in peace because we have an Advocate who truly does know.thankfulness-1
But how do you become a thankful person if you are a worrier or a doubter?  Well again we can find our answer within the Bible from Saint Paul when he states in Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.   And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  To become a thankful person who is free from worry or anxiety, JUST DO IT!  It really is that simple, for what can one drop of worry do for you?  Absolutely nothing!
On a personal note, I decided to quit worrying many years ago when I saw my husband’s mother develop Alzheimer Disease which lasted for 16 years before her death.  She was a constant worrier, and in my heart of hearts I couldn’t help but feel that that stress and strain had taken a toll on her brain;  so I let worry go and replaced it with thankfulness–my duty and my salvation.thankfulness 2
Saint Matthew even addresses worry ( which of course  is the antithesis of thankfulness) when Christ says in Matthew 6: 25-25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
By daily practicing thankfulness this 2016, you will grow in appreciation of God’s goodness and blessings.  And in turn your life will possess a quiet strength and joy which others will notice.  Yes it IS our duty  So LET’S  DO IT and watch what happens.thankfulness 3

The Frugal Catholic: “Our Best Simple Christmas Ever”: by Martha Wild King,M.Ed.–December 2015

This Christmas is going to be simple.  We will only be with two of our five children, but it will be simple for other reasons too.  We haven’t lived at home for months; instead, we are living out of our nineteen foot caravan (or trailer) parked inside of our third son’s Trayvax factory. www.trayvax.com  We are being squatters here while we work on renovating our first son’s mobile home nearby. We have simplified because we have less space in which to live.

Downsizing has made me grow mentally.  I’ve become aware of “living small” which is a trend in America  now.  When we lived in Belgium in the 1990’s, we learned first-hand how most people always live small;  in America, however, the trend for most of my sixty-seven years has been to live bigger and own more stuff.  The real problem with “more stuff” is that you have to have a place to put that stuff and a space for the place: thus the advent of storage units where one pays monthly to keep his or her accumulated junk.  But downsizing is part of the American history with pioneers downsizing to the max to get across this vast and varied country.  So this Christmas the only two children whom we will spend it with also live in mobile homes or trailers and don’t have any place to put more stuff either, and both sons have downsized and simplified to the best of their ability.

simple christmas 4When I think of simplicity too, I think of that first Christmas where our Lord was born in a stable and then laid in a feeding troth for a crib.  There were no lights, but only the light of angels and the star of Bethlehem; and there were no Christmas songs but only the praises and adoration of the shepherds who had been told of Christ’s birth.  Mary and Joseph owned nothing, but in that simplicity they had been given their greatest wealth on this earth, Jesus.

So in thinking of this Christmas, I began to ruminate on the best Christmas all my children told me they ever had.  It was pathetic in my mind, but to their credit, it was tops.

We were living in Connecticut where Michael was Captain of a fast-attack submarine, so he was gone 70% of the time, and I homeschooled and raised the four children (at that time) all by myself since no relatives were near.  During that December 1993, I became very ill with the flu, and wasn’t even able to purchase gifts for the children;  and remember back then there was no internet shopping for we were just getting into word processers not personal computers.  So I did the only thing I knew I could handle, I gave them each about $20 and took them to Big Lots which is a discount store and let them buy their own Christmas presents.  Then we came home and all four wrapped their own gifts with newspaper and laid them under our $5 artificial three-foot Christmas tree which I had named “Humble.”  Then I went back to bed.simple christmas 5

That Christmas morning they awoke me, and we all followed our old family tradition of lighting a candle and saying a prayer of thanks and praise at the top of the stairs then walking down the stairs with the lighted candle.  I collapsed on the nearest couch while my four opened their presents with squeals of delight.  The rest of the day was a blur, and how they fed themselves and got back in bed that evening escaped my notice.  That candle was the only bright spot in my day, but in their little minds, they each had hit the jackpot with their gifts.

The bottom line of this story is Christmas is meant to be simple yet amazing.  It is the story of a loving Father giving His children a path to find salvation through the supreme gift of His Son, Jesus.  And it is a truthful tale of how we are each to live, in simplicity with wonder at our many undeserved gifts.  We are blessed to bless others.

simple christmas 3Merry Christmas dear readers.  May you find Him even more fully this year to be your greatest treasure.

The Frugal Catholic: “Remember the Poor” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–November 2015

 

My mother, Lila Wild Rife, lived to be 99.  Her mother, Mabel Riggs Dunfee lived to be 101.  When I last saw my mom about a week before she passed, her final words were, “Remember the poor, Martha.”  It struck me as odd because even though she had lived through the Great Depression and had known hard times, she had fared well, financially.  Yet looking back on her life, she would often take an entire meal to a family in our church who had lost a loved one or was experiencing illness.  I would sit in the back seat with the jar of gravy between my feet while holding onto the warm pot roast surrounded by green beans and boiled potatoes.  In addition, in lieu of flowers at her funeral, she requested the monies be donated to a WV church shoe fund for impoverished children.  She remembered the deprived and had set a good example.

the poor #3

My Challenge

But even though I haven’t worked outside of the home for 35 years and have been a full-time wife, mother and homeschooler of my five children, how could I remember the destitute?  One of the passages which I have loved and striven to read daily is Proverbs 31—the ideal wife.  It states, “She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.”  It further adds, “She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers girdles to the merchant.” (RSVCE)  The challenge with the linen garments stuff is I HATE to sew, but I do like to knit so I began knitting simple dishcloths which required little thought, and I started selling them to people with little thought of the unfortunate.  The monies went into my own coffers.

That is until I received the Catholic Relief Services Give the Gift of Hope gift catalog last Christmas, 2014.  the poor CRS catalog #7

When I opened that catalog, I was struck by the pictures of farm animals which one could purchase as gifts, and those animals would be sent to a poor farm family overseas.   Here I who need nothing could give a gift to someone who has nothing.  Well today, after our Bible study class at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in Bainbridge Island WA, my dream came into fruition.  I sold $95 worth of my Frugal Catholic dishcloths and the members donated $145 more.

God’s Solution the poor with animal #6

Yes, today my Bible Study Class and I are the proud donors of two goats and three rabbits which are being sent.    With a bit of handiwork on my part and the wonderful generosity of my group, through the Catholic Relief Services, http://crs.org we are doing exactly what Mom asked me to do.  In Mark 14:7, Jesus told us, “For you always have the poor with you….” but it is easy for me to turn away or simply hand them a dollar when convenient.  That is not, however, what remembering the poor is about; it is about discovering our skills to help.   the poor bunnies #9

Maybe your thing isn’t knitting dishcloths.  Perhaps it’s doing mission work building houses in Haiti as some in our church are doing.  Or possibly it is serving food to the poor in your community or visiting the sick.  Jesus asks us to think on our talents and use them for His glory so He might bless others through us.

One final note is I have a large porcelain rabbit collection which was started as a young girl when Grandmother Mabel gave me my first.  Is it a coincidence that I can now use my knitting to give live rabbits away?  No, I think that remembering the poor has been built into my heart over the years because when my passing comes, I can take real rabbits with me into eternity.  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Matthew 6:19

the poor #1

The Frugal Catholic: “God and Second-Hand Clothes” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–September 2015

Two of my favorite scriptures when I get dressed in the morning are identical–Matthew 6:28-29 and Luke 12: 27 RSVCE.  In them Jesus says, “And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  Bottom line: God provides for His children.  He knows what we need before we ask for it; He knows what we need even if we are too dumb to ask for it; and He knows what we require, if we trust Him for it.

Clothing is no different.  God cares enough to get me dressed nicely in the morning, and here’s how.  We shop at second-hand clothing shops, together.

Now for those of you entering the “Frugal” world which is getting more and more fashionable, there are four basic sources of used clothes:

  1. Someone gives them to you.
  2. Garage Sales where people clean out their attics and basements and sell the items in their garage or front yard.
  3. Thrift stores where the selection can change daily and the price every three to four weeks as it is lowered.
  4. Consignment shops where people bring in their better garments to sell in return for about half of the shop asking price.

As you can guess, the prices go up from “a” through “d” as listed above.  And the selection is better in “c” and “d.”  That is where God and I prefer to do our shopping.  He hasn’t shaped me into The Frugal Catholic for nothing, you know.

HERE IS HOW IT WORKS

Years ago when I began my married life, I also started daily reading Proverbs 31.   Solomon relays the ideal wife as taught to him by his mother, Bathsheba.  I learned this epitome of a helpmeet is truly awesome: she dresses well, stays fit, eats with intelligence, helps the poor, runs her household smoothly, profits from a home-based business, speaks with wisdom and kindness, and is loved by her husband and children.   That sounds like a nice way to end up.  The only problem, however, is there are too many attributes to focus on.  So the best way was to begin with one—“She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple.” 31:22. I knew I wanted to look good for my husband, and our funds were limited so thrift shopping with God was a great place to start.

That’s when God began His lily arraying stuff in my life. And that is when I began telling him what I would like to wear and asking if He could find it. He did.

When we lived in Europe in the 1990’s, one had to purchase a wardrobe for the bedrooms because there were none built in like in America.  It was clear, as a Navy wife, how very, very many clothes I had compared to the rest of the world.  That wardrobe taught me better closet organization and to get a clearer idea of how I wanted to dress.  I began organizing my clothes in garment styles.  All the summer shirts were grouped according to color, and then the summer pants in a similar manner and so on into the winter items.  Clothes which weren’t worn were released.  Likewise, it was always easy in Europe to pick out Americans for our clothes were brighter than our European’s counterparts who dressed in blacks and tans.  Their closets were lean; ours were stuffed.

So when we arrived back in America, I found more used clothing shops from which to choose.  Yes second hand stores are less expensive, but in considering that stuffed wardrobe and remembering the European’s lean clothing style, how many clothes are enough?  That is where God really stepped in.  We went for comfort and style, not quantity.

Yes God helps me get dressed each day.  I look at my outfits which generally match, and think back to where we found those black slacks—$ 5.00 at the Rotary Auction Yard Sale. Then that shirt was located at Bargain Boutique Thrift Shop.  The black shoes and red scarf were from the Goodwill thrift store and the purse a local consignment store.  Total cost of my outfit for that day is $21.  Savings if new would be  about $200.

BUT WHAT IF YOU REALLY WANT SOMETIHING?   

Did it ever occur to you that God might really want that same something you want–for you?  So why not ask?  For example, when my daughter and I were looking at possible colleges for her in West Virginia, we found a great women’s shoe store where I purchased her a pair of Birkenstock sandals.  I also saw a pair of red patent leather Alegria shoes that I wanted, but they were too expensive.  So I asked God to find me the same thing, but secondhand.  He did about a year later on the shelf of a thrift/consignment shop where I volunteer once a month.  I dust the place with my double-fisted dusting technique where I have a feather duster in each hand.  The real reason I dust is so that I can see everything in the shop.  And there they were.  The exact same red shoes, exact size, only $120 cheaper.  I wore them to 10:00 mass last Sunday.patent shoes #3

Let God clothe you as beautifully as He garments His lilies.  Think of what you need or want.  Then ask as it identically says in Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 11:9-10, “Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”  And remember too that although God may not give you exactly what you want, He may provide something even better so it is good to be on the lookout for His surprises.  Our Heavenly Father longs to make his children smile.

 

 

The Frugal Catholic: “The Five Biggest Budget Busters” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.—August 2015

My husband Michael, of 35 years, and I were riding home in our 15 pig bank budget busteryear old car after babysitting our 1-year-old granddaughter when we both came up with this newest article idea.  When Michael and I share mutual driving or walking time is when our thoughts flow most easily.  Anyway, I asked my husband what he felt were the five biggest budget busters that we had both seen and experienced, and most of the following rolled off his tongue.  Perhaps, armed with this information, you can keep a better lid on your finances too so that your budget doesn’t bust out.

NUMBER ONE—EATING OUTeating out budget buster

No matter how you look at it, whether on vacation or simply at home, eating out—any meal—cuts more heavily into ones finances than any other activity or item.  The concept is rather simple, really.  You have worked hard all day, you are tired, and you deserve a treat.  WRONG.  You deserve to keep yourself on your budget if you want to get ahead financially.  Remember, “What you don’t spend here, you can use or save over there.”

Perhaps the strongest case for dining in that I know of is Ben and Donna.* (Names changed to keep the sharers anonymous.)  Ben had come to my daughter’s soccer game since he and Donna are wonderfully supportive.  As we watched the game, he was lamenting that he didn’t feel he could ever retire because he and Donna just hadn’t saved what they need to.  He is self-employed and excellent in his career; however, when I asked him why, he shared that he and Donna eat out several times a week.   He also added that when he and his wife have friends over, they go out for dinner too.  All I could see was RED, in his budget that is.

Here is a wonderful Godly man who has a wonderful Godly wife and wonders what his future financial will bring because of a consuming habit.  What advice would you give?  Well, I shared how two meals Michael and I had had at their home over the years had meant so much.  Both were soup and bread, and personally, I thought both were elegant.  When you have friends over, they (or at least I) rarely remember what we eat; instead, we remember the fun, the laughter, and the shared stories.  So with friends, set a nice table with some candles and serve whatever you have—something that won’t set you back financially.  After all, as long as your guests don’t come down with food poisoning, they will remember the fun, not the food.

And what to do about having meals at home instead of eating out?  Several ideas come to mind.

  1. If you are watching your waistline, eating out is NOT a good option because at least in America, dinners are generally larger portions than one person needs.
  2. Have a few quick back-up dinners in your pantry or freezer that are fast and easy. My favorites are canned pasta sauce and dried noodles, canned soup, boxed macaroni and cheese with a can of tuna added, scrambled eggs for dinner, or a frozen pizza (or better yet one you make using a bread machine). (Our bread machine cost $12 from the thrift store.) Come up with five of your quick favorites, and make sure you have them on hand.  And for lunches that you want to eat out, get into the habit of “brown bagging it” or packing your own noon meal the night before.  Big savings come from making lunches and dinners at home.
  3. Have your child or children make dinners for you instead. Even if all they can prepare is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, make it into a fancy meal by adding placemats and candles.  What a great way to get your kids involved in the family budget.
  4. And if you must eat out, then just order one meal for two people and ask for an empty plate. As senior citizens, Michael and I are keenly aware now of how little food it takes to add pounds, and oddly enough, when we split a meal, we both feel full.  If you need more food, then order an extra salad.
  5. As I have shared before, when you want to have a date with your significant other, then dine in! Simply use a previously prepared dish (of which you froze half), set the table, and stay at home. Why put financial stress on your marriage or dating life when you don’t need to. Friends of ours with twelve children, The Breeden’s, used this practice “home-style dating” by going into their bedroom for a meal and date while one of their older children got the younger ones to bed.  Sharon Breeden even bought a small white wrought iron table and two chairs at a yard sale and kept them permanently in the bedroom.  That furniture was a reminder that home-style dating never goes out of style!

NUMBER TWO—BUYING STUFF ON SALE  sale budget buster

No matter what country or continent you are in, four letter words seem to get the best of us all.  But by now you know that my favorite four-letter “F” word is “FREE.”  But a second serious contender is “SALE.”

For the past fifteen years in Poulsbo WA a furniture store has always posted “Going out of Business SALE.”  How one can go out of business for fifteen years is beyond me, but that “S” word was part of the front signage.   Finally they did go out of business, but I often wondered how many folks were suckered into purchasing because of the “SALE.”

And too often, buying items on sale equals buying “stuff” you don’t need.  Even if it is on sale, you are still spending money, hard-earned money; it takes a lot of will power, but just stay out of stores, and you will stay away from sales.

NUMBER THREE—GETTING A NEW CAR EVERY THREE YEARScar budget buster

Here in America, cars are a status symbol.  And many people purchase or lease one every three years.

Whether we will admit it or not, most people turn their heads towards an expensive car and move their noggins away from a clunker.  I personally notice BMW’s and fancy sports cars; but such cars come with more than just a high sticker price.  They require costlier insurance, worry that someone will scratch or dent them just for spite, and a more mechanical expensive up-keep.  Older used cars are just that—older and previously owned (dented and scratched).  So what can be done if you are locked into getting a new car?  Learn to live without.

We recently purchased a small used car with cash in celebration of our 35 years.  It will replace our other car which is 15 years old and our truck which is 23 years old: total car years 38.  In my personal study of frugal millionaires, many have purchased used cars and have driven them to over 200,000 miles.  Likewise, in their book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, they address millionaires who are used vehicle shoppers.  This type of millionaire  says Stanley and Danko, “Inoculate themselves from heavy spending by constantly reminding themselves that many people who have high-status artifacts, such as expensive clothing, jewelry, cars, and pools, have little wealth.”  And the authors have noted that for the average earner, “Success in accumulating wealth is based on living well below his/her means.”  So a new or leased car every three years?  If you want to build wealth from whatever income you are making, definitely not.

NUMBER FOUR—GIVING IN TO YOUR ADDICTIONS
addictions 4

 

Now before you visualize some poor soul living on the street, reformulate in your mind, if you will, as to what is meant by “addictions.”  Addictions are too much of anything; and that can range from eating or drinking too much, to having too many activities, to too many things, or to gambling too much.  The bottom line is “too much.” The Bible is clear on this subject.

Proverbs 23:19-21 (NRSVCE)

 19 Hear, my child, and be wise,
and direct your mind in the way.
20 Do not be among winebibbers,
or among gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
and drowsiness will clothe them with rags.

Similarly in Sirach 37:31, (RSVCE), it warns of what will happen if you can’t control your addictions.

30 for overeating brings sickness,
and gluttony leads to nausea.
31 Many have died of gluttony,
but he who is careful to avoid it prolongs his life.

It is with prayerful consideration that each of us must determine what our “too much” is.  Then with God’s help, we can regain balance.

 

NUMBER FIVE—REFUSING TO TITHEimages (6)

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How are we robbing thee?’ In your tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. Malachi 3:8-10 (RSVCE)

Want to keep your budget and finances in the black?   Then skim off that top 10% and live off of the other 90%.  Just think about it this way: God gives you the whole 90% and only asks for 10%, but if you refuse, then the enemy eats up the 10% and digs heartily into your other 90.  Your choice; but it is a behavior with a promise.  Who would not want the windows of heaven opened on us with an overflowing blessing?

Michael and I know, as do millions of other Catholics from all financial walks of life that you can never out give God. The more you give to Him and trust in His providence, the more your life will be blessed.  Think of this final budget buster as one with teeth.  You can never out give God.  Period. 

So rethink these five budget busters and their significance in your life then  figure out your own methods of busting back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Frugal Catholic: “Prayer Walking” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.—July 2015

  When my husband and I married some 35 years ago, he was a runner, and in order to snag him when we began dating, I took up running myself.  Prior to that, my main exercise was ballet, tap, and jazz lessons.  Now I wanted to impress him and running seemed an easy way.  That behavior lasted for about a year, then we married; and I became pregnant with our first child.  I tried to jog after the babies came, but walking seemed a better choice because I could push a stroller, communicate with my offspring, and still remain coherent as a mother.  It was only when the oldest could babysit became older that I was able to walk by myself with a Rosary, and that is when I discovered (some fifteen years prior to converting to Catholicism) prayer walking.

Is Prayer Walking Scriptural?

Now prayer walking is as old as the human foot.  We see incidents of it throughout the Old and New Testaments.  For example, when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac in the land of Moriah, Abraham had to walk three days to get there.  With such a request by his Heavenly Father, Abraham in his submission surely wasn’t thinking about the latest sports scores.  And as we see from scripture, Abraham’s trust resulted in an A+ for obedience and Isaac was spared. (Genesis 22:1-14)  Again we see in The New Testament where two of Christ’s disciples, after His resurrection, were walking to Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were conversing with each other about all the things which had taken place when Jesus, Himself, approached and began traveling with them and explaining to them all the things concerning Himself in all the scriptures.  And, of course, they failed to recognize Jesus until He had taken the bread, blessed it, broke it, and began giving it to them.  Walking with Christ and prayer opened their eyes. (Luke 24:13-31)   Indeed, prayer walking can likewise open our eyes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

What In General Is Prayer?rosary #3

Prayer is a learned behavior of spiritual communication with God.  It is learned in the same way that a child learns his or her birth language, one word at a time.  It comes from an inherent trust that someone is in charge and wants to know us better.  That someone has our best interests at heart and desires to be closer to each of His children. Prayer is also a two way street.  In a great brochure by Our Sunday Visitor ( www.osv.com ) called “How to Pray as a Catholic,” it states: “Prayer is a conversation with God.  Like any conversation, it goes both ways.  We talk to God, and He talks to us.  God loves us more than we can imagine.  He wants us to get to know and love Him as a Father.  Like any loving parent, He wants to spend time talking with His children.”

What Then Is Prayer Walking?

Prayer walking is simply a new way of seeing exercise.  Personally, I feel like walking is one of the best exercises out there for health and fitness.  It is one with which a person, male or female, can grow old and continue to do daily.  Many other sports fall by the wayside with age due to their intensity and propensity for injury; but with walking, it is simply an ordinary anthropological movement which can turn into human exercise with little or no forethought.  Prayer Walking, on the other hand, involves that movement but with a help—a Rosary.  As I stated, I began Prayer Walking with my white plastic Rosary in the snows of Connecticut back in the 1990’s.  Since I knew nothing about how to properly pray the Rosary, I would simply put a prayer request on each decade of my 50 beads.  First decade was for my husband and the subsequent four were for each of my four children.  I would touch those beads and my words would flow out as to my concerns.  I really didn’t take time to listen to God respond and I never heard a booming voice with answers, but somehow, I experienced answers either through revelations in Sacred Scripture, encouragement and advice from others, or being affirmed from hearing God’s word in church.  Answers came and you can find them too.

What Does It mean To Do Rosary Walking?rosary braclet #2

Now as a Catholic I have learned how to pray the Rosary, and so enjoy the times I can use it when I walk.  The best size of Rosary to use is the one decade kind which looks like a bracelet and often is.  You can finger it in one hand and either say The Rosary mystery for that particular day or use it as I did (if you aren’t Catholic) to pray for your private intentions or as I used to say, “A place to hide my prayers.”  Now though, I hold it in my right hand and run it though my fingers as I walk and pray.  This small bracelet-size-one-decade Rosary works better than the regular-five-decade-size Rosary because you can do it in one hand thus keeping both hands in the rhythmic swing of the walking.  Bottom line is that before you know it, you have accomplished your daily prayers and your daily exercise at the same time, and in The Frugal Catholic’s mind, that is called efficiency!

What Are The Different Kinds of Prayers?

Saint Thomas Aquinas stated, “The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers… In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired.  This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them. And, of course, you say the Lord’s Prayer five times within a Rosary recitation.   Also another easy way to remember the different kinds of prayer is in the word ACTS which could well be prayed by fingering four decades of the Rosary itself.

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T= Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

Ready to Give Prayer Walking a Try?

In conclusion, the next time you want to be efficient in your life, try prayer walking.  One of my goals before I “go home to heaven” is to walk the 25,000 miles it would take to walk around our big Catholic world.  So far I have accumulated since 2003 over 4762 miles.   Now either I am closer to God or healthier, but either way, both are leading me home.

Equals Living Under Your Means with Wise Fianancial Planning and Discovering the Joys of Good Stewardship