What Do You Do When You Meet a Frown?


Have you ever woken up grumpy and it seems the entire day is filled with frowns and darkness? I sure have!!

Weekday mornings used to come very early for me as a Seminary teacher with a 6:15 AM class filled with sleepy Freshman and Sophomores. I got up dark and early so that I have time to get “cutified” (sometimes more so than others) and grab something…anything to eat as I run out the door with my daughter who attended the Junior/Senior class.

Occasionally, I found myself struggling to get moving, but not today. I awoke this morning dark and earlier than normal (3:45 AM to be exact) with the song, “Smiles” playing in my head. It’s a song I adored when I was a child in Sunday School. Having that song run through my head made me giggle inside and I immediately began the day counting my blessings. The last several days I have woken up with migraines and today I am migraine free. Big SmiFortnight Lilly Out My Windowles for the gifts of health and feeling great!! I thought of the Fortnight Lillies outside my bedroom window and how God fills every corner of the Earth with beauty if we would just simply look for it. Big Smiles for those gifts too! I thought of each the gifts and talents my children have been blessed with and how much those gifts are actually a gift to our family and others in our sphere of influence. I remembered back to a great basketball game Jon and his team played and how he felt so honored to have been “scouted” and asked to come and play with the Middle School team and how much he has grown from that experience. Big Smiles for those gifts as well!

I find that the best way to turn Frowny Days into ones filled with Big Smiles is to put on some new glasses! Through the Lenses of Gratitude, the world looks brighter and more beautiful. Wearing new glasses lets me see the Hand of God in everything and I begin to smile at the Tender Mercies He so lovingly gives me, His Daughter.

I hope this day will bring you Big Smiles!!  Will you do me a favor?  If you chance to meet a frown,  please make the world a better place my passing your smile on and helping someone else have a blessed and beautiful day! When we each take actions to put a smile on our face and pass it on to others, we make the world a better place!!

PS. Isn’t Little Sarah cute?! :-) These pictures were another gift I found dark and early this morning!! :-)

Family Financial Cents: Ways to Say, “I Love You” without Breaking the Bank

Sarah L Cook Sacramento and Company

To see a short video I did called “Giving Love to Those Who Matter Most”, click here.

To read a short post I did on examples of gifts you can make for under $6, visit Dare Whimsy.

What love language do you speak? What language do your loved ones, co-workers and clients speak? Please share your comments below and we can all learn together! :-)

If you found this video valuable, please share it with others.

When Was the Last Time You Said Something Nice to Yourself?

Feeling Bad about Not Doing Enough

So many times we put so much pressure on ourselves. We say critical things to ourselves both consciously and subconsciously. Some statistics even say that over 70% of what we say to ourselves is negative. Today I want to share with you a system I call, “Ways to Praise” that you can implement in any relationship and specifically with yourself to feel empowered, confident, and successful!

It has certainly helped me to more successfully fight the battle with feeling like I was not doing enough, being enough, or just plain “not enough” as a person.

Below are some powerful Ways to Praise yourself and others!! As you take actions that matter towards the transforming of your mind and the words you speak, you will notice positive shifts in all areas of your life! I can’t wait to hear how you will show support for YOURSELF and those you love through SPEAKING Powerful Praise! 😉 

• Wow!
• Way to go.
• Super.
• You’re special
• Outstanding.
• Excellent.
• Great.
• Good.
• Neat.
• Well done.
• Remarkable.
• I knew you could do it.
• I’m proud of you.
• Fantastic.
• Superstar.
• Nice work.
• Looking good.
• You’re on top of it.
• Beautiful.
• Now you’re flying.
• You’re catching on.
• Now you’ve got it.
• You’re incredible.
• Bravo!
• You’re fantastic.
• Hurrah for you.
• You’re on target.
• You’re on your way.
• How nice.
• How smart.
• Good job.
• That’s incredible.
• Hot dog!
• Dynamic.
• You’re beautiful.
• You’re unique.
• Nothing can stop you now.
• Good for you.
• You’re a winner.
• Remarkable job.
• Beautiful work.
• Spectacular.
• You’re spectacular.
• Great discovery!
• You’ve discovered the secret.
• You figured it out.
• Fantastic job.
• Hip, hip, hurrah!
• Bingo!
• Magnificent.
• Marvelous.
• Terrific.
• You’re important.
• Phenomenal.
• You’re sensational.
• Super work.
• Super job.
• Fantastic job.
• Exceptional performance.
• You’re a real trooper.
• You are responsible.
• That’s exciting.
• What a good listener.
• You tried hard.
• You care.
• Beautiful sharing.
• Outstanding performance.
• I trust you.
• You mean a lot to me.
• You belong.
• You make me smile.
• You brighten my day.
• I respect you.
• You mean the world to me.
• That’s correct.
• You made my day.
• That’s the best.

Monday Munchies: Hearty Quinoa Oat and Chia Bread

Hearty Oat Quinoa and Chia Bread

Hearty Oat Quinoa and Chia Bread

Inspired by Sweetie Berry’s Marvelous Monday challenge, I took 13 minutes today and created a new recipe by modifying the Oat Bread recipe from my Bread Maker Cook Book.

It’s dense, and the flavor was fabulous and it paired well with salad of hard boiled eggs, cilantro, and green onions.

Here’s the recipe: 
Add to the bread maker loaf pan the following ingredients in the order they are listed and sprinkle yeast over the top of the dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 C Almond Milk (Called for Apple Juice)
  • 1 C Water
  • 2 TBS Coconut Oil (Called for butter)
  • 2 TBS Agave Nectar (Called for brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 and 1/3 C Quinoa Flour (Called for 2 and 2/3 C all-purpose flour)
  • 1 and 1/3 C Spelt Flour (Next time I will try brown rice flour to make the recipe gluten free.)
  • 1/4 C Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 C Rolled Oats
  • 1 TBS Active Dry Yeast (or one single serve package)

Once you have added all the ingredients to the loaf pan, insert the pan into the bread maker and press the setting for WHITE BREAD and then press start. When it’s COMPLETE, remove the pan from bread maker and turn loaf onto cooling rack. Slice when cooled a bit….I like my bread warm, so I don’t wait too long! :-)

Would love for you to share your favorite bread maker recipe below!

Giving Love To Those Who Matter Most

Do the people in your life know that they matter to you? Isn’t it important to you that they know you love them? Wouldn’t you want show love to them in a way that they best received it?

What love language do you speak? What language do your loved ones, co-workers and clients speak? Please share your comments below and we can all learn together! :-)

If you found this video valuable, please share it with others.


Family Financial Cents: Managing Post-Holiday Costs

Sarah L Cook SacandCo Recovering from Holiday Spending

In this segment of Family Financial Cents on Sacramento and Company, you will hear ideas for how to recover financially from holiday expenses getting out of hand. You will also get valuable tips for how to prepare in advance to prevent over-spending in this new year.

Take look! :-) Comments and feedback are always welcome and if find the information helpful, I’d love to have you share it with others!

Family Financial Cents: DIY Credit Repair

Sarah L Cook, Family Financial Cents

Here are a few credit repair strategies and resources mentioned on the Family Financial Cents segment on Sacramento and Company! You can also watch the SacandCo segment on building credit.


Where Do You Begin in the Credit Repair Journey?

Get a copy of your FREE credit report. Order a copy from one of the agencies listed on the site. Mark your calendar for 4 months from now and order another copy from a different agency listed on the same site. Do it again with the third agency in another four months. This will give you free monitoring of your credit all year long and a snap shot of areas you need to work on in rebuilding your credit.

STOP the excess spending! There is no use paying down certain cards or debts if you are racking up debt in other places. It doesn’t sound fun, but reclaiming your financial freedom is worth every effort.

As soon as you have a handle on reducing your spending, start “winterizing” your credit card and other loan balances by using a technique called snowballing to pay down your debt quickly. If you are unfamiliar with how to snowball your debt repayment, take a look at Wikipedia or an article on the Dave Ramsey site.

What do you do it there are errors on your credit report?

Send a letter to the credit reporting agencies that contain errors to dispute the errors. Keep copies of your letters and your original receipts for your records. Be diligent with your follow-up to ensure that the letters were received and that the investigations have begun on our behalf. Be polite and persistent.

Once you’ve paid off your balances, should you close your accounts or perhaps transfer balances to one card?

Neither. Closing accounts can actually work against you. Merging outstanding balances into one large balance creates a higher balance vs. the available credit on that particular card and is looked at negatively as well.


What suggestions can you give to those who feel like they are in over their heads and want professional advice?

Be SUPER careful about claims from organizations that say they can fix or repair your credit. Check out the Department of Justice for a list of reputable organizations.

Did this article help you? If so click the LIKE button above and share it with your friends and family on social media!! :-) Together we can all become more financially fit!! Have a blessed day!

Family Financial Cents: Building Credit and Why You Want To

Here are a few resources mentioned on the Family Financial Cents segment on Sacramento and Company! Take a look at the article on restoring credit as well.

How does your credit report and score affect you and why is it important to build credit?

  • People can get loans faster.
  • Credit decisions are fairer.
  • Credit “mistakes” count for less.
  • More credit is available.
When should you start building credit?
Just like you should find a car before you need a car or a place to live before you move out of your parents home or the place you are currently living, you should have a good credit history built, before you need to be able to access a line of credit. If you don’t already have good credit or you have a “thin credit file”, TODAY would be the best day to begin building your credit.


What are some ways you can get started building credit?
First, get a job! That may sound obvious, but even with thousands of dollars in the bank, my college-age son was denied credit because he couldn’t not prove consistent income for the last six months. Next, consider finding someone to co-sign on a small loan or credit card with you. My husband, Jerry, bought my engagement ring that way over 23 years ago. His sweet Aunt Carla was willing to be his co-signer. Not only did she help him get a beautiful ring for me, she helped him build his credit too! You may also consider a secured loan. If you have an asset that is completely paid off such as a car, try going to a bank or credit union and give them the ownership paperwork to the asset and they may grant you a loan that way. Jerry and I did this with our second car when we were newly married. We gave the bank our car title and took out a loan to help purchase Mary Kay products to start my Mary Kay business. This helped both of us build our credit and provided me with items to immediately deliver to my clients as I grew my business.  There are lots of other ways!! Think outside the box on options that might be available to you with a little creative thinking!


How can you find out what is listed on your credit report and how often should you check your credit report?
 You can get a FREE copy of your credit report one time per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. I would suggest getting one report from each agency every 4 months so that you can monitor what is going on for the entire year. If you are married, have your spouse check their credit on 3 months that you did not check yours so that you have reports on joint credit accounts for 6 out of the 12 months of the year.
 Remember today to take actions that matter to building your credit now so that you can enjoy more choices later. 

Family Financial Cents: Water Wise Families

Sarah L Cook Water Wise Families

If you have seen the news in the last several months or driven through California’s Central Valley, you know that we are in a serious drought!

It’s easy to shake our heads and say, “Something needs to be done about the drought situation”. We can point fingers as to where all the water went and blame politicians for selling our water to other places. We can definitely pray and ask God to send us more rain.

If we want to make an impact on our water situation, TODAY, we can change our water habits and use Umbrella Budgeting to conserve water inside and outside our homes. On my most recent Family Financial Cents segment on Sacramento and Company, I shared a few ideas on how we can become water wise individuals and families.  Take a look:

To get your own Shower Coach and other helpful tools for conserving water, visit California American Water’s Resource page. For even more resources, you can call the Sacramento Conservation Hotline at (916) 568-4201.

Our family has been really focused on conserving water and have drastically changed our water habits over the past year. We been striving to conserve water when we wash our faces morning and night, prepare meals, shower, care for our plants, and more.  Take a look at our water bill from June 2013 compared to June 2014. We cut our water usage by nearly two-thirds!!! Saving 14,212 gallons in one month is awesome for a family of five! If we can do it with two teens and a tween, you can too!       (Note: Apply figurative pat on the back here. :-) )

Sarah L Cook Waterbill Water Conservation

Comment below with ways you are saving water as a family!

Bringing Home Baby: Financial Tips for Your Growing Family

Sarah L Cook Bringing Home Baby Sacramento and Company

You know it’s spring when you start getting baby announcements and wedding and graduation invites. Spring and summer are times when you see lots of family changes, and with changes often come expenses. In this Family Financial Cents segment, I discuss how expectant parents must choose to be proactive about bringing baby home and planning for the cost of a growing family. (Enjoy the video below :-) )

It’s important to take time to discuss expectations and actually set up a plan to begin living “Plus 1″. One way to do this is by putting aside money from each paycheck. Another way to save for a growing family is to begin to “invest your vices”. Consider making conscious choices to skip the daily Starbucks or latest fashion or hunting “must haves” and save that money you would have spent in a “baby savings” account.

Often, it’s the unexpected expenses that leave soon-to-be parents unprepared to bring baby home. When we began having children, we knew we had to think of the future and the potential that something might happen to me or my husband. Some expenses to consider and prepare for the unexpected are:

  • A Will and Guardianship Designation
  • Life Insurance
  • Actual Cost of Maternity Leave and How Much Time to Take Off

For every family with a new baby there  is the cost of food and diapers to consider. Working families need to think about child care options as well. I call these the Big 3 and I’ve got some great tips from my readers who are just beginning to live”Plus 1″ (whether it’s their 1st, 2nd, or 5th child):

Food – For the heath of the baby and the cost of the food, nursing as long as possible is a great option. If formula becomes the option of choice for your family, get samples from your pediatrician, definitely use coupons, and try to buy-as-you-go on supplies so you don’t end up wasting money on unused formula.

Childcare – Rather than a live-in nanny, some families chose to share a nanny with another family. Some families opted for employer-based child care. Other families found they could switch work shifts so that one parent was always or nearly always home with the baby. Some families even had one parent stay home altogether and work from home. There are lots of child care choices to consider when preparing to bring baby home.

Diapers – “Put them on the registry!!!” I heard that answer so many times from new parents I talked to before doing this segment. For those who actually had to buy diapers, they suggested  buying online or at warehouses like Costco or Sam’s. They also suggested signing up for baby clubs at the stores you frequent.

There is a lot more to pay for than the Big 3, so budgeting for everything else will take some strategy. Some things you will want to research and buy brand new after checking reviews, comparing prices, and talking with other parents. Other baby items you can get used on Craig’s List, eBay, a Just Between Friends swap meet, or even from friends who have a baby just older than yours.

No doubt about it, babies are expensive, but the love that they bring and the transformation that comes into your life when they arrive is priceless. I have no doubt you will find creative ways to live “Plus 1”, and when you do, be sure to share them below!! :-)