Simple Steps

A Monk, A Vow of Silence and Burning Toast

by Laura on July 14, 2014

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When I was in graduate school I had the unique opportunity to live with monks for a week in a Mojave Desert Abbey.

I’ll wait while you read that again.

It was an incredible experience and I have many stories but the funniest is the story of the burning toast.

Joshua Tree

The whole abbey was surrounded by Joshua Trees.  I had never seen one except for on a U2 album cover!

At this particular Abbey they have a practice where you spend a good portion of your day in silence.  After the last service of the evening, which I believe was around 9 p.m. there is no more speaking until after breakfast the next morning.  It allows for self-reflection and also a chance to be more aware of what is going on around you.

It also allowed some people in our class to go absolutely mad.  It’s pretty much 12 hours of your day with no talking at all.  No thanking someone when they open a door for you.  No singing in the shower.  No radios or music playing.  They even have someone from the Abbey who goes through in the morning and rings a bell when it’s time to get up (for the first service) so that no one has to use an alarm clock and creates an artificial noise.  Some of my more tech savvy extroverted classmates went bonkers.

Room At The Abbey

This was my little room at the Abbey.  

Honestly I found it very refreshing.  It was easier for me to wind down and go to bed without having a big conversation.  Some components were strange but for the most part I liked it.

The weirdest thing was breakfast.  You couldn’t talk at all during breakfast.  (Actually you didn’t talk during lunch either but that’s another post.)

Think for a moment about what it’s like when you sit at a big long table with lots of people to eat.  Picture a big Thanksgiving.  Generally it’s incredibly noisy- people shouting over each other to be heard, clanging of spoons against bowls and just general noise.  Let’s say that 5 people down from you is Uncle Frank.  And in front of Uncle Frank is the syrup.  If you want it you just yell at Uncle Frank and ask him to pass the syrup.

Now imagine you can’t speak.  But you still want the syrup.  We spent three days figuring out a system.

So the last morning we are at breakfast.  My 20 classmates and I have gotten REALLY good at making eye contact and somehow communicating things like “pass the butter.” (It’s amazing what you can figure out when you can’t talk.)  Each morning there was a cart put out with bread, bagels, butter and jam.  While they served an incredible hot breakfast some people did prefer something simple. Additionally a few of the monks only ate bread and water on certain days and seemed to prefer if they were eating something plain they would like for it to be toasted.

This last morning one of the older monks puts bread in the toaster and walks off.  It has been cooking for about 30 seconds when smoke starts billowing out of the toaster.  It really was ALOT of smoke for two slices of bread.  I open my mouth to shout something and then realize I can’t.  As I was trying to decide if “FIRE” was an acceptable word to shout in a quiet cafeteria the guy sitting across from me (John) sees the same thing. He jumps up, goes over to the toaster, pops the bread up and comes back to his seat.  I smile at him in a “thank you” kind of way and we continue eating our eggs.  In total silence.

After a minute or so the monk comes back to the toaster and is surprised to see his bread has popped up.  Upon examining it he discovers it is not quite toasted yet (I am assuming something lodged INSIDE the toaster was what was actually smoking).  So he pushes the bread back down and walks away again.  30 seconds later smoke begins billowing out again.  John  jumps up, runs over, pops out the toast, blows the smoke away and turns to the look for the monk.  He has totally disappeared so John comes and sits back down.

(By the way this was one of the SLOWEST monks in the abbey.  Yet I swear after he pushed that toast in he RAN out of the room.  It was like he teleported.)

Eventually the monk returns again to the toaster.  As he walks up a look of confusion is all over his face.  John and I are trying so hard not to laugh as he pulls the toast out and stares again at the fact that his bread has popped up and yet it is not toasted.    Finally he seems to accept his fate, takes his slightly warm bread to the table and eats.

John and I never did talk to the monk.  But we shared the story with our classmates as SOON as we could talk!

I believe this story has two morals.  One- you never know when you are being watched.  And two- sometimes when things don’t go the way you think they should it’s for your own protection!

Want to read another story about my adventures?  Check out The Journey To Delaware!

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Build A Dog Bed

by Laura on July 9, 2014

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Build  A Dog Bed

Grabbing a dog bed at your local pet store can be expensive and honestly, they don’t often last too long.   If your dog is just going to tear something apart you might want to Build A Dog Bed of your own.  Or if you have a unique color or print you like this can give you a chance to create something to blend in with your home.

Build  A Dog Bed

Supplies:

56” x 30” piece of fleece fabric
Sewing Machine*
1-2 large bags of stuffing
Straight pins

Build A Dog Bed

Directions:

Step 1: Lay the fabric out on a flat surface. Fold the fabric in half (with the print on the inside). You should now have a 28”x30” square.

Step 3: Use the straight pins to pin the sides together. This will help keep the fabric from shifting when sewing.

Step 4: Using a ¼” allowance sew the sides of the fabric together leaving a 6”=8” opening on one side.

Step 5: Turn the fabric right side out. Stuff the bed with the stuffing until it’s as full as you like.

Build  A Dog Bed

Step 6: Use the sewing machine to sew the opening closed.

*If you do not have access to has sewing machine you can use seaming tape to adhere the edges together. Simply fold the raw edges in, tape down with the seaming tape and then use a warm iron to secure the edges together.

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


I Never Believed It Sucked Out Your Brain

by Laura on June 22, 2014

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I totally borrowed this picture.  It was too perfect.

Generally speaking I handle stress pretty well.  I was always the kid who did better in school when I was on Student Government, a lead in the school musical and trying to make Dean’s list.  When I was building my business I was actually working three jobs while going to graduate school.  I got SO much done and besides having occasional exhaustion I feel like I handled it pretty well.

I never understood how people couldn’t just juggle 4 or 5 things and stay on top of them.  I always took great pride in my multi-tasking and it came naturally to me.

Until this week.

Tuesday night someone close to me got very sick.  At their request I am not going to give details but it was the kind of illness that could have resulted in the death of someone I love very much.  And they have weeks, if not months of rehab ahead of them.

And all of a sudden my brain is just gone.

It’s been gone for 5 days.

Tasks that I used to be able to do almost without thinking suddenly require great concentration.  I can’t read a book because my mind wanders.  I keep burning things on the stove because I forget I started it (don’t worry- nothing dangerous).   Twice I have left the house while talking on my phone and almost turned around to go back in to grab my phone.  I am washing the same load of laundry for the third time this week because I keep forgetting to put it in the dryer (granted on this front I was also without electricity for almost 24 hours so that contributed.)

I get it now.

I understand how thinking, praying and trying to help someone else can make you forget everything you thought you knew how to do.  My friends have told me when they are pregnant that the baby sucks their brains out and I get it now.

So if I forget to post grocery deals, or you start seeing lots of words misspelled in my posts or the math doesn’t add up on a deal, just drop me a comment.  Odds are it made total sense in my head.

And if you see mistakes use them as a reminder to pray for myself and my family.  The journey ahead is going to be a challenge, yet it is so much less than many of you deal with.  You are in my prayers.

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Navy Retirement Gift

by Laura on May 12, 2014

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Navy Retirement Gift

I’m from a Navy town and I can tell you, retiring from the Navy is a BIG deal.  Being in the Navy is a hard job with many sacrifices so retiring is an event the entire family can participate in.  Some of my friends have spent as much on their retirement parties as you would a wedding.

Things to display their navy memories (flags, coins etc) are generally purchased by family or co-workers.  So as friends here are some ideas you can check out!

1. Biographies of people with their hobbies: For the first time in a while your sailor may be able to start a new hobby.  If you know what it is maybe find a book from a leader in that field.  Or take a look through Amazon’s Top Selling 100 Books and see if anything might be interesting!

2.  A Leatherman or Multi-Use Tool- This can be a fantastic gift without breaking the bank.

navy retirement gift

3.  A Personalized Wine Bottle: Get a bottle of wine personalized with their name, rank and retirement date.  There are tons of options!

4.  A Nice Dinner Gift Certificate: There is a VERY good chance the sailor’s spouse is owed a night out, or a romantic weekend.  Grab a gift certificate to a nice restaurant or a Bed and Breakfast!

5. Navy Veteran License Plate Frame: I see this ALL around my hometown.  I don’t know if they just GIVE them to you when you retire but they seem to be something most retirees have.  You can also grab them by rank!

Show up with one of these to a retirement party and you should be just fine!

And don’t forget to check out the Police Academy Graduation Gifts!

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Ways To Organize Your Coupons

by Laura on May 7, 2014

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Ways To Organize Your Coupons

When you are making the decision of how to organize your coupons you have one big decision to make up front- to cut or not to cut.  Some couponers like myself store all of our coupons in the inserts and don’t cut them until we take them to the store.  Others cut their coupons and file them by various methods.

So before we get into those methods we need to decide if you will store by insert or cut.

Step One: There is a very simple test to determine which type of person you are.

Look around you.  In YOUR space (not your family’s space but YOUR space) how organized are you?  Does the idea of cutting coupons and putting them in an order that organizes them make you excited?  Is everything on your desk at a right angle?  Would a crooked picture on a wall make you walk across the room to fix it- even if it isn’t your home?  Is it easier for you to process information if you can see and touch things?  Does the idea of potentially walking by a sale in the store and NOT knowing it’s there make you lay awake at night?

If that is you you need to cut and organize your coupons.  You can skip to Step Two.

Do you think cutting coupons sounds incredibly boring?  Does the idea of all those little pieces of paper being cut make your head spin?  Can you leave your bed unmade and it doesn’t bother you?  Is your organizational style more of “organized chaos”?  Are you a bit more impulsive and like to do things on a whim?

If that is you, you can feel free to organize by insert.  You can skip to Step Four.

[click to continue…]

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Earth Day Word Search

by Laura on April 7, 2014

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Earth Day Word Search

Print out this great Earth Day Word Search for the student in your life (or maybe for yourself).

As you look for the hidden words, remember that they can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal—frontward or backward.

There are 15 popular words in this search that can also give you a chance to open dialogue about the importance of taking good care of the world around us.

Earth Day is April 22nd so get ready to celebrate!

And be sure to check out the Earth Day Cupcakes and Earth Day Freebies!

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


The Journey to Delaware (Part III)

by Laura March 10, 2014 Simple Steps
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If you haven’t read The Journey To Delaware Part I and Part II STOP READING!  Go back and read my previous posts before you continue!

We ended up having a perfectly lovely conversation as they finished the car.

It turned out the Godfather (whose name I cannot remember) was actually Polish.  We talked about when [...]

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The Journey To Delaware (Part I)

by Laura March 6, 2014 Simple Steps
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Sometimes when someone asks a favor, you just KNOW there is going to be a story at the end. No matter how many scenarios have been imagined it is inevitable that SOMETHING will go wrong.  This story is about one such favor.

One Sunday night, I got a phone call from my friend Matt.  After two [...]

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Winter vs Spring Story

by Laura March 3, 2014 Simple Steps
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Winter vs Spring Story

Roots are important.

Did you know that scientists are not 100% sure what happens to tree roots in the winter?  Roots are a challenge to study any time because they are underground, in the dark and can grow through so many hard to breach substances.  Add in snow and frozen earth and you [...]

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How to Make Easy Christmas Decorations

by Christine Platz January 13, 2014 Simple Steps
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How To Make Easy Christmas Decorations

Here are some really fun, easy Christmas decorations for you to try! Whether you are looking to make a holiday wreath, ornament, or design something new with the kids, you will find it in this holiday round up.

Cork [...]

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