A porch worthy of Thanksgiving

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Marie Callender’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

Over the past several years, it’s become a tradition to host Thanksgiving dinner at our home for my extended family. I always look forward to preparing for this special day that we all get to spend together.

There have been years in our lives when we have been away on military duty and separated from family over the holidays. So I try to never take for granted these precious moments when we’re all present.

This year, I created a festive Thanksgiving vignette on the front porch, so when folks arrive on the big day, they’re already feeling inspired and in the holiday mood.


For example, I added some pumpkins, a Chrysanthemum, a gourd and a Thanksgiving-worthy wreath.



I kept my stenciled dropcloth pillows on the chairs and rocker because I felt the colors and pattern were appropriate for the season. I simply added a fall-inspired plaid throw to the mix.

Porch-rockerPorch-rocker-closeupAs we all gather around the table this Thanksgiving, we’ll be thanking God for the privilege to be together. And we’ll be sending up heartfelt prayers for those brave men and women serving in our military who won’t be able to share a holiday meal with their family this year.

I hope you’ll keep them in your thoughts and prayers, too. One way we can all show our support is by helping out with the USO’s Operation Celebration™ program.

Marie Callender’s is teaming up with the USO to support this program, which shares a bit of home with our troops and helps them celebrate the holidays year round.

Every time you enter a code from specially-marked packages of Marie Callender’s meals or desserts, Marie Callender’s will make a donation to the USO to support USO Operation Celebration™.

Marie-Callender's-Comforts-from-HomeAdditionally, Marie Callender’s is holding a Comforts From Home Facebook challenge, encouraging you to submit your own photos in support of the USO. You should use the hashtag #ComfortsFromHome and share and describe photos that depict what home means to you.

Submitted photos may be featured on-air during special episodes of Kitchen Crashers (HGTV), Hello/Goodbye (Travel Channel), and Guy’s Grocery Games (Food Network).

Kitchen Crashers on DIYNetwork & HGTV – Airing Nov. 9 and Nov. 14
Hello/Goodbye on Travel Channel – Airing Nov. 10
Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network and Cooking Channel – Airing Dec. 14 and Dec. 19

The best part? Scripps Network will donate $1 to the USO for each photo received (up to $10K)!

Visit ComfortsfromHome.com to learn more about how you can join Marie Callender’s in helping to bring a little bit of home sweet home to our U.S. servicemen and women overseas.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Marie Callender’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

Giving myself grace vs. making excuses

Hello! I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve actually had the chance to sit down at my computer for more than 15 minutes.

I have been working on three, yes THREE, big DIY projects this week and I’ve also got something huge in the works that has kept me busy over the past several weeks. More to come on that very soon. 😉

But today I wanted to share with you something I’m struggling with and an amazing article from Ruth at Living Well Spending Less® that’s really helping me gain some perspective.

I am a serial procrastinator. As a result, I am often left with a mountain of work I have to squeeze into a small amount of time because I’ve put off important, deadline-driven stuff until the last minute. This leaves me feeling exhausted and defeated. I’m trying to get better at managing my time, but it continues to be a challenge.



One question I have is when is it good to take a break from all the chores and work? When are breaks healthy and when are they just excuses for me to do something other than what I should really be doing at the moment?

Below, Ruth sheds some light on the difference between giving yourself grace (we all need it sometimes!) and just making excuses for not doing what we need to do.

As women, I think we tend to be pretty darn hard on ourselves, and sometimes our expectations are unreasonably high. We want to be good moms and good wives and good friends, and we want to do all those things we think we are supposed to do, and be involved with church and school or start our own business or implement all those ideas we see on Pinterest. The list goes on and on.

And, because we put so much pressure on ourselves, it is really easy to feel like we are failing when we can’t get it all done. This is exactly why it is so important to be able to give ourselves grace when things don’t turn out exactly the way we wanted them to, or when we let ourselves down, but I also think sometimes we don’t give ourselves the grace we need because we are afraid it might mean we are making excuses.

What is the difference between grace and excuses and how can we tell which one we are choosing? 

Grace vs. Excuses

  • Grace says ‘mistakes aren’t fatal’; excuses use mistakes as a reason to quit.
  • Grace realizes that progress is more important than perfection; excuses use perfection as a reason to procrastinate.
  • Grace says ‘I am not my mess’; excuses let the mess define them.
  • Grace understands the bigger picture; excuses fixate on the small details.
  • Grace recognizes that people aren’t perfect and offers forgiveness; excuses use the failure as a reason to write someone off.
  • Grace is big; excuses are small.
  • Grace offers courage; excuses propagate fear.
  • Grace brings hope; excuses make you feel hopeless.
  • Grace gives you the ability to try again tomorrow; excuses allow you to give up.

I think Ruth’s list is super insightful and I’ll be using it to help determine when I really need to take a break and when I need to keep working to break my bad habit of procrastination. :)

This week, will you give yourself grace or will you make excuses?

My philosophy on ‘less’

On my About page, I write that, “… I believe that, with a little imagination and a lot of optimism, anyone can create a lovely home without spending a fortune. Living Rich on Less is not simply about making our dollars stretch farther … Rather, it centers on my quest to edit my life so that I have room for the things I love and, more importantly, the people I love.

At times, this proves a challenging quest, as I do adore pretty, shiny things. But as Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote,

    “The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”

So, when it boils down to it, I guess my idea of “less” includes doing more with less, while also being picky about what I bring into my life. And, if I’m being completely honest, this is not always easy.

I once had a Facebook follower challenge my claim to live rich on less by pointing out that I had so much stuff in my home. And she’s right. My house does have SO MUCH STUFF. It’s overflowing with stuff. Aren’t a lot of homes overflowing with stuff?

It’s funny because, many times, we complain that our biggest homemaking headaches revolve around our need to purge, organize, donate, clean and get our family members to pick up ALL OUR STUFF. Yet we don’t seem to take responsibility for how the stuff made its way into our houses in the first place. It’s as if naughty little trolls visit our homes while we’re away, filling them with junk and leaving a scene that resembles an episode of “Hoarders.”


So what are those of us who are committed to “living rich on less” to do? Well, one thing that works for me is to be extra careful about shopping.

Below are some tips on how we can curb that shopping impulse (and subsequently keep ourselves from being featured in a TV documentary):

  1. Get picky. Before you run to the checkout counter with that cute sweater, stop! Think long and hard. Do I really need it? When (exactly) will I wear it? Is it similar to one I already have in my closet? Will I look absolutely amazing in it? If possible, consider waiting at least 24 hours before you buy it. Chances are, the urge will pass.
  2. Ditch those credit cards. More than a decade ago, my husband and I committed to living free of credit card debt. Getting out from under that weight has been one of our greatest blessings and has led us to make other smart financial decisions as well (thank you, Dave Ramsey).
  3. Stick to your shopping list and shop less frequently. Before you head to the store, make sure that you write on a list of paper things you need to buy and try to stick to the list.
  4. Find another hobby/habit. If shopping has become a regular part of your free-time routine (I was guilty of this before we had kids), try to divert your attention to something else. Exercise, chat with friends, write a book, organize something, start a home improvement project, etc. I think it’s important to recognize that shopping can truly become an addictive, destructive behavior – even an escape route for some people. We have so much more to offer the world than our wallets, wouldn’t you agree?

The truth is, I love to shop. But as my life continues to get richer and fuller with the hobbies and people I love, I’ve discovered I don’t have the time or desire to hit the shopping mall very often anymore. And honestly, I don’t miss it. Neither does our bank account.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

What are your thoughts on ALL OUR STUFF? Got any tips for living rich on less (and with less)? I’d love for you to share them.