Saturday, April 28, 2007

He was a loved man

A couple of months ago, my sister Pat called me to let me know that her brother in law had throat cancer. They were not going to be able to operate, so he was going to have radiation treatments that would start right away. Pat and several other members of the family took turns taking care of him during this time. I was asked if I could go and help out for a week, so I told Pat that I would be more than willing to help out. Well, my week was to start this past Monday. The Wednesday before I was in the drug store, with my grandson, when the phone rang and Pat announced that her brother in law had died sometime during the night. I was totally taken aback because it was not expected to happen. He had just finished his radiation treatments and was doing better. My niece, who had been taking care of him, found him dead in his bed. She said she had gone in to wake him up and he was cold. I felt sooo sorry for Missy, having to find him like that.

Pat and her husband immediately drove to Austin to start the funeral arrangements. The funeral was last Saturday and my brother and I drove, the three hour trip, to attend the funeral. We got there early and went on in to the chapel to find a place to sit. People started to arrive and by the time the funeral started it was standing room only. I had never in my life attended a funeral this big. Larry’s 15 yr. old daughter, Carlie, gave a beautiful testimony of her father and when she was done everyone stood up and clapped. She was so articulate and spontaneous with her remarks, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. This was a loved man!

After the service we all took a drive to the grave yard, which was two hours away, in Brenhamn, Texas. Larry’s great, great, great grandfather had donated the land for the grave yard. It seems that the Mexican government gave him the land before Texas became a republic. The grave yard was on top of a rolling hill, a soft breeze was blowing, and the view was unbelievable. Bluebonnets and wild flowers were everywhere. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful spot to be buried. It capped off an amazing day, one that I will never forget. My brother and I drove home in a quite solitude. The family is grieving and in the process of healing.. I wish them all well and will keep them in my prayers.

My sister emailed me a webpage that was put together by the school that he worked at in Austin. If you would like to see what Larry was like, click on the webpage and take a look.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Envelope Budgeting

This information was found on This is one of my favorite websites.

Envelope budgeting has been around for a very long time.
Even if you've never used it personally, you probably recall your mother - or even your grandmother - tucking cash away in individual envelopes each payday.

Unfortunately, in today's mostly cashless society, envelope budgeting is simply not as effective as it once was. However, with some planning, it can still be used to assist you in keeping to your personal budget.

Let's begin with Envelope Budgeting 101. The concept is easy - you take a stack of envelopes and write a spending category on the front of each one. They might look something like this:
1. Mortgage/Rent
2. Utilities
3. Gas
4. Groceries
5. Entertainment

You may have more categories - it's your budget, so you get to label them however you want.
Once you've separated your finances by expense type, you figure out how much you are allowed to spend in each, and you put the corresponding dollar amount in the correct envelope.

If you go to the movies, you pay for it out of the entertainment envelope. When you run out of entertainment money; you're done until the next month, when you get to fill up the envelope again. It's a nice system and definitely helped many a family stick to a fixed spending limit.
If you're comfortable carrying cash around with you, it can still work exactly as outlined; however, if you're like most people and rarely even have a dollar bill on you, it's time to revamp the envelope budget. This can be done in a couple of different ways.

You can create a spreadsheet, or chart, with each of your expense categories in a separate column, and beneath it the total dollar amount you're budgeting for the month. When you pay your rent, deduct that from the rent column. When you go out to dinner, save the receipt, and deduct that from the entertainment column. If you're religious about saving receipts and recording your expenditures when you make them, this system will work quite well. When you've used all your allocated funds in one area, you are out of funds until the following month.
Another option is a mixture of the two. You can use the chart/spreadsheet for fixed payments, such as your mortgage, and other normal house expenses, such as utilities. Then you can use the envelopes for entertainment, groceries, gas, etc.

There are benefits to this mixed approach because where most people fail on their budget isn't with fixed expenses, but the fun ones, like buying clothes or going out to dinner. By having the cash already set aside, when it's spent, you have an empty envelope, and you can't get much more of a visual reminder that you're out of cash!

With some tweaking, and self-control, envelope budgeting can still be an effective tool in managing your money. Regardless of what type of budget you use, be sure to be honest about your income and expenses so you don't end up in the red at the end of the month.

Note for Lucy: I have a friend who uses this system of budgeting completely with cash. She carries around her envelopes everywhere is goes. When she uses up the money in an envelope, then she puts it into a drawer at home until doesn't see it again until the next payday. If any money is left over, in the envelopes at the end of the month, she put's into savings. She says she saves about $2,000.00 a year doing this. In a way I do with with certain bills. I give myself $ 100.00 a week for groceries and if it is gone before the next week, then I don't shop. I started doing this in a year when our income had gone down for a while and I HAD to do it. It has worked so well that I continue to do it today. This might be worth a try if you have had a hard time budgeting in other ways. It does take will power, but it is worth it.

Layered Enchilada Casserole
Courtesy of our free Healthy Crockpot Recipes Newsletter from

1 14.5-oz can whole tomatoes
1 small onion, cut into pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 pound ground beef, browned
2 cups cheddar cheese -- shredded
9 corn tortillas

To prepare sauce, blend whole tomatoes and their liquid with onion and garlic in a blender or food processor. Pour into medium sized sauce pan. Add red pepper, salt and tomato paste. Heat to a boil; then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Place 3 tortillas in bottom of crockpot. Layer on tortillas 1/3 of the ground beef, 1/3 of the tomato sauce and 1/3 of the chedder cheese. Repeat each layer two more times. Cover and cook on Low 6 to 8 hours.

One more note: TF is still in a lot of pain and we are still trying to figure out what to do. Keep praying for him...Thanks!