October 31, 2011

Angel Food Ministries Is No More - And There's No Ready Replacement

Angel Food Ministries did a great service for a lot of people all over the country, and it's sad to learn that Angel Food has stopped operations.  They provided great, restaurant-quality food to folk at a very reasonable price, no questions asked. 

I personally saw Angel Food make a difference in the holiday meals of several families when I worked with abused and neglected kids at the local CPS Children's Court.  Single moms were particularly happy with the chicken nuggets, as I recall -- the kids loved them.  Loved them.  And, another great thing about Angel Food is that distribution routed all around town, via local churches and a network of volunteers, so it was never that difficult for the moms to get to the monthly pickup with their baskets and Styrofoam coolers. 

There was a pride thing, too.  Angel Food didn't ask for income information or stuff like that -- if you wanted to participate, then you were welcome to do so.  For example, I knew of several school teachers that took advantage of the Angel Food packages as times got tight and tighter, especially their holiday packages. 

I swayed more than one CPS teen mom to try Angel Food after sharing that they wouldn't be asked money questions and that they might be in line next to a teacher.  No, not all these CPS parents are strung-out druggies: some are just young, uneducated, alone, and overwhelmed, and with some pride to protect.  Angel Food was top of the line stuff, at about half the price of retail. 

So, today, I'm sad to hear that Angel Food is no more and I'm hopeful that something just like it will pop up to serve the community; Angel Food wasn't the same as the food bank,  it would have been much more difficult to get those teen moms to go to the food bank than to the local church for Angel Food. 

There's talk of another organization filling this gap:  One Harvest Food Ministeries.  They are planning on starting food distribution akin to Angel Food next month (November 19th) and hope to go national within the year. 

Let's hope and pray that One Harvest Food has great success. 

October 9, 2011

Great List of 20 Healthiest Foods - Why They're Great, How To Prepare Them

Getting my feet wet over at Stumble Upon, and this article just popped up (I supposed I have "stumbled upon" it): "The 29 Healthiest Foods on the Planet," and boy is it a handy little list.  It gives you, in alpha order, lists of foods that you can find in your local grocery as well as why they're so great for you, and a hint or two about how to eat them. 

Not the only list out there, of course.  What I like about this list is that it is so short and sweet, and still stuffed with great info.  Worth a looksie, Dear Reader. 

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October 7, 2011

99 Money Saving Tips Featured by Time Magazine: Frugal is So Trendy

Today you can read an article online entitled, "99 Money Tips: Save on Concerts, Smartphone Plans, Auto Expenses, DIY Projects, and Debt Collector Confrontations," written by Brad Tuttle for Time Magazine.  It's got some good stuff in it, such as:

  • a higher price doesn't mean better quality, so research at places like Consumer Reports
  • never get cash advances on your credit card (that money is too expensive)
  • fix things that break (if you can), don't just dump them and run to the store
  • get the cheapest phone service you can
Another thing altogether -- this article is a part of Time's Smart Spending section.  So, frugal really is trendy.  Sure, the bad economy has a lot to do with this, but it's nice to think that Americans are being more frugal with their money because, from a simplifier's point of view, there's a lot of good stuff that comes from this.  Like:

  • Cook at home, it's relaxing. 
  • Family meal time, good for all. 
  • Family game night, even better. 
  • Walk instead of drive, great. 
  • Borrow books at the library, you discover treasures. 
  • Discover free adventures: geocaching, free museum nights, nearby trails and all that wildlife ....

These are a few examples of all the good good stuff that no one will ever find, shopping at the mall or eating at their local restaurant (or driving in between).

There's a lot of good to be found in this bad economy. 

October 6, 2011

WSJ Writes of "Forever Frugal" Trend - But Misses the Point That Many Choose Frugal as a Better Lifestyle

In the Wall Street Journal today, there's an article written by Ann Zimmerman entitled, "Frontier of Frugality: Retailers Face Reality That Many People Can't Trade Back Up," and it's filled with information from the American retailers' perspective.  WalMart is experiencing lots of shopping tied to when folk get their paychecks; retailers are seeing lots of shopping with coupons; people aren't jumping to buy premium labels like they used to do.

I find it interesting that there's something missing here (though they tip their hat to this at the end of the piece):  the reality that living simply is a lifestyle choice for many.  For others that have had to change their lifestyles because of unemployment, illness, or just fear that their stock prices are going to crater, it can come as a very nice surprise that living differently is not so bad.  There are people in this country who were forced into frugality by a sudden change in circumstances and are sold on not going back to their old ways, even when they can do so. 

Couponing feels good for those who do it.  It's a rush to save a buck - today on Coupon Mom's email, for example, I saw free Colgate toothpaste and free Cover Girl cosmetics at Target; 6 freebies worth $41 at RiteAid; and 5 freebies worth $52 at Walgreens (she's got lots more deals if you're interested). 

Heck, I want my free Colgate toothpaste at Target -- and it's not because I'm scrimping pennies here, it's because it's FREE.  It's like a little gift, a little treat.  To Reba, From Target.  I like this. 

I like free.  You probably do, too. 

I also like the idea of saving money on my food budget.  But I'm not doing this because of the money.  Long ago, I would spend a shocking amount of my disposable income on fast food or restaurant fare.  It was not good for my pocketbook.  More importantly, it was not good for my BODY.  Now, I shop with a list and a menu planned out -- and I save lots of dough.  Bigger deal: I know what I'm eating.  I'm eating organic, I'm not cooking in aluminum, and I'm washing my lettuce. 

If I do this near a payday, are retailers thinking that I'm cutting back because of the economy?  Maybe.  And, sure, some folk are. Times are tough, and there are lots of people in financial distress in this country.

I don't know that they are all setting around, depressed that they can't buy retail, though.  Which is part of the tone that I read in the retailers' discussion. 

I have changed the way that I spend money because I have found a higher quality of life by doing so.  I am not alone.  My grocery bill is less, not because I'm money-motivated, but because I'm eating fresh food, I'm cooking at home, and I'm not falling prey to advertising siren songs. 

Does this make me "forever frugal"?  Yes, I think so.  Does this mean that maybe Americans are sick and tired of being endoctrinated into materialism?  We'll see. 

October 3, 2011

William Shatner Sings Iron Man - He's 80. What Are You Doing Today?

Simplifying your life means changing the way you live.  That's not easy, if you are doing it right.  No matter who you are, what your age, or why you've decided to simplify.  So, here's some encouragement for you.

Whenever you get bummed or think you're too old for something, or think it's too late to pursue your dream, or change your life: think on this ....

Go to YouTube to watch a video of William Shatner, 80 years old, in a studio, recording Iron Man by Black Sabbath.  80.  Born, according to IMDb, on March 22, 1931.

If you haven't read Shatner's biography, then maybe you don't know about how he has been down for the count more than once and picked himself back up again.  With a smile on his face.  He's been homeless, living out of a pickup truck.  He's come home to find his wife has drown in their swimming pool.  Serious stuff - and yet, here he is.

I find this encouraging and it puts a smile on my face.  Hope it encourages you, too, Dear Reader.

October 2, 2011

Amazon's Top 100 Free EBooks - There are Some Great Bargains Here

You don't have to own a Kindle to read an electronic book: you can download the free Kindle software and read the books on your phone or computer (which I prefer at times, actually).  This is great news for those living simple or frugal lives because ebooks cost less than paper books, hardback or softback: however, it's even better when the book is free.

Over at Amazon, you can check out free ebooks that have been vetted by readers already, in case you are worried about "free ebook" translating into, well, "horrible."  Go here and surf through the top 100 in sales at any given time: Amazon Best Sellers: Best Kindle eBooks

Look through the list and you'll find cookbooks -- like Stonybrook's Dinners Made Easy  and Circle of Friends' 25 Burger Recipes along with classics, like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Pride and Prejudice as well as some great reads that don't cost you a dime. 

Heck, you can get the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible for free (it's no 14 on the top 100 today).  That's amazing.  Especially when you consider that it's searchable once you download it.  Wow, that's great when you're studying.

The free books at Amazon bring new author discoveries, as well.  For example, it was through freebies at Amazon that I learned of Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools by Victoria Twead (a hilarious true story of a couple expatriating from England to Spain).   It's a great book: charming, funny -- and I'm excited to read Twead's new book once it's released, giving another blow by blow account of her adventures: this time, about the year that she and her husband spent teaching in Bahrain and got themselves into predicaments like sandstorms and house arrest. 

Which brings up another tip:  there are authors that promote their work by temporarily placing it as a free ebook on Amazon, to generate interest.  Like Twead did.  The book that I got for free costs you money now.  So, it's a good idea to surf the Amazon Top 100 Free periodically, to see what gems you may find there. 

Free books on Kindle: a great deal any time, but especially these days.  I think you'll like what you find, Dear Reader.   

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