the Penny Pinching Pastry Princess

A couple weeks ago a friend and I attended a Savvy Shopper coupon class at Savannah Morning News. In all honesty, when I walked out of that class I thought I had picked up a couple tips. But once I sat down that Sunday with my coupons and sale ads and started putting multiple coupons together per deal, I discovered I had picked up a whole bunch of new tips. What I learned at that class has taken my addiction to coupons to a whole new level and might very well make me a Publix convert as well!
Did you know that Publix accepts competitor coupons? Did you know that if there is a CVSWalgreens, or Rite Aid within three miles of a Publix they, along with any other grocery stores, are considered competitors? Did you know that Publix honors +Up Rewards from Rite Aid, Extra Care Bucks from CVS, and Register Rewards from Walgreen’s up to $5.00? These rewards print at the bottom of your receipt when you purchase specific items. This has solved a small dilemma I was having. First of all, I find drugstore prices extremely high compared to a grocery store, I don’t wear make-up, and rarely fill a prescription. Therefore, I end up shopping at drugstores for specific items that are on sale that I also have a coupon for in order to make the item a decent price. The rewards at the bottom of the receipt often expire in one or two weeks and I found that I was not able to use them if the store didn’t have something I thought was a great deal before the expiration date. Now that I can take those rewards to Publix, I’m able to use all the rewards points I can accumulate!
I also learned that because Publix accepts competitor coupons I can triple my coupons in some cases by stacking a store coupon plus a manufacturer’s coupon plus a competitor’s coupon. AND I learned that if I purchase two items on a BOGO (Buy One Get One) deal, I can also use two coupons (one for each item)! My first shopping trip after that class was the following Saturday at Publix. I walked out of the store with 4 boxes of Ronzoni pasta, 9 cans of Hunt’s tomatoes, 9 cans of Chunky soup, 3 bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, 2 bottles of Spray N Wash, and 4 tubes of John Frieda shampoo. My credit card was charged $10.52 and my savings total was $67.92.
Whew! I highly recommend attending one of these classes. I know there is one being offered locally October 26 at Richmond Hill United Methodist Church but I don’t know how many spaces are available. There seems to be at least one class per week at Savannah Morning News and they are free. By the way, these classes do fill up pretty fast.

the Penny Pinching Pastry Princess

Just a quick post to brag about my September total savings. Now that we’re done with September I’ve added all the grocery receipts. I spent a total of $695.43 and saved $243.63 for a whopping 26% savings! I have basically built my pantry up to the point where the only items I purchase that aren’t on sale AND don’t have a coupon are the necessary perishables such as milk, bread and eggs. I’ve also taught my kids to let me know what snacks they want so that when I have a coupon and the item is on sale I can get them that extra special treat. I am really excited about attending the coupon classthat Savannah Morning News offers this Thursday evening. Hopefully I can increase my savings even more beginning next week!

the Penny Pinching Pastry Princess

In my original blog I admitted my addiction to trying new recipes along with finding ways to live frugally. I have stumbled upon a recipe that I just have to share. Hopefully you will all like it as much as we do. I found this on www.onceamonthmom.com which is a blog that includes monthly recipes, grocery lists, and step-by-step instructions for assembling an entire month of meals in one day. All the recipes included for the month are freezer friendly. I really like the concept and plan to incorporate it with my own recipes in the near future. Using this method allows me to buy in bulk, which is definitely cheaper than multiple purchases. It also frees up more time for me to experiment with new recipes. Once the stand-up freezer in my garage is up and running, I’ll blog in more detail about the process.

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 lb. spaghetti, fully cooked and drained
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. hot sauce (more or less, depending on desired intensity. 1/4 c. will be mild to medium in flavor.)
  • 1 c. Ranch or Bleu cheese dressing

1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Place in a skillet with chicken stock, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken and reserve 1/2 c. cooking liquid.

2. In a saucepan, combine the cream cheese, hot sauce and reserved cooking liquid. Cook over medium-low heat until the cream cheese is completely melted. While the sauce is cooking, shred or cube the cooked chicken.

3. Add the dressing and chicken to the saucepan, stir to combine, and then toss with the cooked spaghetti.

I tasted this right after I made it and noticed that the heat increased a little after it had been sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours. So if you are making this ahead of time, you might want to keep that in mind.

the Penny Pinching Pastry Princess

Coupons! Did you notice the abundance of coupon circulars in Sunday’s Savannah Morning Newspaper? It must have sounded like Santa had made a surprise appearance in my kitchen as I discovered the treasure chest that had somehow slid its way into this week’s newspaper.
So far this month I have spent $420.48 and saved $70.00 which means I’ve saved 16% just by using coupons combined with sale items. I have to admit the numbers are a little skewed since I spent $112.52 at Sam’s Club and they don’t accept coupons. Since I don’t have any more trips to Sam’s Club scheduled this month, my percentage of savings should increase by the end of the month. In fact, if I re-work the math to show my savings at stores that accept coupons, I’m up to 23% savings.

By the way, in case you’re unaware, Walgreen’s uses an outside company to administer their register rewards program. If you use a coupon with an item that is advertised as a register reward, the register reward does not apply. For example, this week’s ad promoted toothpaste for $2.99 plus a $2.00 register reward. But when I tried to use a coupon, the register reward became invalid.

the Penny Pinching Pastry Princess

Hi. My name is Nikki Palmer and I am an addict. My vices are baking and learning to be frugal. Now please don’t get me wrong … I’m no cake decorator and my dishes rarely turn out picture worthy, but I’m hopelessly addicted to trying new recipes. I mean, hey, just because I love that meatloaf recipe in my box doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try the next one I find because it might be better! My recipe box has more than tripled in size simply because I tried a new recipe and my guinea pigs loved it.

Becoming a coupon clipper has allowed me to test new recipes more often. I can’t wait for Sunday afternoon when I log onto Coupon Mom to print the deals I want to take advantage of. Next I grab scissors, paperclips and every coupon circular I have hoarded over the last few months, and commandeer the kitchen table for a twenty minute immersion into couponing. Here I combine coupons with my selected deals. This system provides for a wide variety of meals so dinner is never boring at our house! Seeing what items I am purchasing this week and taking inventory of what I already have in the pantry helps me create my menu.

Next I look for coupons that will expire this week because it really irks me to pay full price for something when I could have saved at least 55 cents or more! (Remember, Kroger always doubles coupons up to 50 cents.) Then it’s off to the grocery stores. I zoom up and down the aisles grabbing every deal I’ve got a coupon for and checking items off my grocery list. When I get the groceries loaded in the van and can finally look at my amount of savings versus the actual total, well let’s just say I get some pretty strange looks when people hear all the whoopin’ and hollerin’!

Between office hours, helping three children with their homework, and getting everyone to bed at a decent hour, I don’t have much time to cook dinner each weeknight, so Sunday evenings are spent pre-cooking anything possible for the week. While we don’t exactly slip into dreamland with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, it is a great way to head into Monday. I hope you’ll join me in my quest to become more frugal and please feel free to pass along any tips you may have.

Spring is coming?

I’ve been seeing honey bees for about a week now and friends inform me the Pecan trees are putting off shoots.  My day-lilies have popped up as have other perennials and the Forsythia is in full bloom.  Some people swear Spring is here when Robins show themselves.  Europeans believe the cuckoo call is their first sign.  I’ve seen a Robin or two already.

Every year around this time I get fooled into thinking Spring is actually here only to encounter a couple more cold days at the end of March. I have no reason to believe this year will be any different although within me lies this little streak of optimism which says this year will be different and we have seen the last of the cold.

Early warm weather?  Late Spring?  Rainy Spring?  I am extremely interested in hearing from long time coastal residents of the signs you look for each year at this time.

Henry Ford (The saga continues)

The Bryan County News has apparently jumped into the breech in support of Col Kent and his quest to remove “A Henry Ford City” from Richmond Hill signage.

I have written on this subject before; as a matter of fact, it was exactly one year ago.  Instead of reprinting what I said then, readers can find the story at “A Henry Ford City” dated February 15, 209.
My focus this time is the editorials and news content of the Bryan County Times covering this story.  It is obvious they are fully in support of Col Kent.  This is reflected in their editorials and the slant of various stories covering Henry Ford, and in particular – his antisemitism as well as various reactions around town.

Ms Potter wrote an editorial, “Here we go again” in which she made it quite clear, through her selection of words and phrases to reflect Henry Ford in the worse possible light, she would like nothing better than to see this “offending” phrase removed.  This is acceptable as she was writing an editorial, not a news item.  What is not acceptable are blatant falsehoods.  She states, “He even traveled to Germany to personally accept an award from Hitler...”.  She goes on in the next paragraph and states, “..there are pictures that prove that meeting took place.“.

I would be delighted to know the source of Ms Potters information.  All of my research indicates the award ceremony took place in his (Henry Fords) own office.  The award was presented by the Consul stationed in Cleveland.  And the award ceremony took place in March of 1938. The date is important as it was a full 18 months before Germany invaded Poland. The award was given due to the work the Ford Motor Company German factories had done in making cars and trucks for Germany.  And the photos of the award ceremony (the real one) can easily be found by Googling it.

A prudent and reasonable person reading the two different sentences would easily draw different and opposing conclusions.   A short survey of friends and neighbors reveal seven of ten queried believe Mr Ford made that trip having heard the story before (three hadn’t heard anything of the sort).  This belief, although lamentable regarding the shortcomings of a knowledge of history are not surprising as far as it goes.  But; a newspaper editor (and part owner) of the towns local newspaper who is reporting on a local issue has a very real responsibility to “get it right”, not print Internet rumors.  A few minutes spent fact checking would have revealed the facts.

It is very easy and convenient to judge past historical figures and events based on our moral and ethical standards of 2010. If we are to strip any favorable recognition from historical figures because of some character or moral flaws found within that person, we will find ourselves shortlisted indeed.  Ideally, we can learn from their character flaws as well as their scientific, military, political, or artistic abilities.

As an additional note, if the “offending” phrase were removed from the towns signage, would that be the end of it?  According to Col Kent?  Sure, although his new supporters may not be so amiable to the solution.  Call me a skeptic , but I find it highly doubtful this would be the end of this matter, as these matters rarely come to an easy close.  We have a statue of Henry Ford in City Hall, a street named for him,  a plaza named for him, and a housing development named for Henry Ford.  They would be targeted very quickly I am sure.

Some late corrections:

Although I started this blog to make a correction, it turns out I had to make three corrections of my own when Jeff Whitten of Bryan County News responded to an E-mail.

1.  The paper is the Bryan County News; not the Bryan County Times.

2.  The medal was awarded in July of 1938 not March.  Now my sources all said July.  My notes said July.  I have absolutely no idea why I typed March.  But, I thank Mr Whitten for catching my error.

3.  Ms Potter is the “editorial director and part owner” not the “editor and part owner” as I stated.

It should also be clarified at this time, the slant I referred to as found in the news stories is actually the slant found in the columns which are found on the editorial page, but are not editorials.  There is a distinction between the two that I did not fully appreciate.

I appreciate Mr Whitten taking the time and patience to point out these errors.


Gallbladder: One mans brief journey into the Army Medical system (part 1 of 2)

Years ago, Tony Bennett sang of leaving his heart in San Francisco.  Well, My tale of leaving my gallbladder at Winn Army Hospital in Fort Stewart, Georgia isn’t romantic but it is of importance to me and its passing wasn’t one of sorrow, sweet or otherwise.  As the surgeon had stated after the surgery it was totally blocked and “rotten”.   I’m frankly glad it is gone.  Good riddance in my opinion.

This tale started towards the end of July when I was awakened from a sound sleep by stomach cramps.  I’m not talking about your “ate a couple of green apples” kind of cramps, I’m referring to the doubling over, “shove your arm down your throat, grab an organ of choice and toss it on the fire to exorcise the demons within” type of  abdominal cramps.  As it lasted only half an hour or so, it was relatively easy to pass it off as an occurrence of some kind; nothing dramatic.  After a couple more of these episodes it was starting to concern me, but no other symptoms were being displayed so I chalked it up to the recent purchase and consuming of those round chips in a can which coincidently had proceeded each of these events.  I quit eating them.  Then I had another incident followed a couple days later by the granddaddy of them.  By the time the cramping had gone on for six hours, I got cleaned up, dressed and went into the emergency room with my wife.

I checked in and was promptly shown to the triage desk where my vital signs were taken.   A few minutes later I was in a cubicle and the show started.  Within four hours I had blood samples taken, a urine sample taken, a CT scan performed, an ultrasound performed, had an EKG taken, been put on an IV with various drugs within, been issued drugs to take home, and tentatively diagnosed with gallbladder disease. In each of these steps I was treated with courtesy, respect and caring by a various member of the ER or radiology staff.  Each of these persons explained what they were doing and why and performed their duties in a professional manner while still giving me every impression they cared what they were doing and cared about me. In addition, there was a shift change shortly after my arrival.  Frankly I was impressed.

I was seen the next morning by my Primary Care Provider.  I arrived at the clinic 15 minutes earlier and was promptly escorted to the station where my vital signs were taken.  At the time of my appointment I was called and escorted to another cubicle where I soon met my Doctor for the first time.  She went over everything, performed an exam of her own and apparently agreeing with the diagnosis made an appointment with the surgeon for me.  Again, everyone was super polite, efficient, professional, and friendly.  I was given an appointment for the following week with my surgeon to discuss options and procedures.

During the time spent waiting for this appointment I did as much research as I could on this puny little organ with the capability to wreck such havoc and just what my options were.  The subject came up among my friends and on-line friends to which the general consensus was to “go civilian”.  Most of these friends had never served in the military instead relying on horror stories passed on quite apparently.  Now, I have had military medical care my entire life; growing up in the military and spending a career in the Army myself and had always been rather pleased with the care I or my family had received.

The day of my appointment arrived and again I showed up 15 minutes early only to be told shortly thereafter the surgeon had been called away to an emergency surgery.  The staff was up front with us and asked if anyone wanted to be rescheduled or if we would prefer to wait.  They kept us informed every few minutes as to the surgeons status.  When I was finally called into the surgeons office, he advised me of the findings, his conclusions and his recommendations as well as the options available.  He ensured I understood everything and answered all the questions I had as well as apologizing for being called away.  His staff set me up with a pre-op appointment and the surgery date. Everyone in this department also, was super polite, efficient, professional, and friendly. I had a warm and fuzzy feeling about everything when I left.

Over the next few days, the situation deteriorated.  The pain became constant from the time I was awake to the time I went to sleep.  The only way I was even able to sleep was due to the medications the ER had prescribed.  However, I was running out of them and no way would the meds last until my surgery.  So, with ten days to go before my surgery I called my surgeons staff and asked to speak to the surgeon about renewing the prescription.  He called back rather surprised I was taking the medicine or even needed to.  When I explained the situation he stated he would call me right back.  Within minutes he called back stating I was to fast after midnight and be in the next morning for my pre-op and surgery was scheduled for the following morning after the pre-op.

I reported to the pre-op desk the next morning to be greeted by a very friendly staff who started by having me fill out a minimum number of forms after which I was placed in a waiting room for a few minutes until I was called by the first of my appointments.  She briefed me was to what was going to occur and had me sign a few more papers.  My next appointment was with a pretty, young private who took some blood samples and performed an EKG about as smoothly and painlessly as I have ever had done.  That was followed by an interview with an incredibly friendly and outgoing anesthesiologist who asked me a gang of questions, briefed me as to the procedures which were to be used and checked me out for suitability for the laryngoscope.   She also asked if I had allergies.  The next step was to get a chest X-ray which was obtained in a matter of minutes.  I was frankly amazed at the speed and efficiency in which the x-ray was taken.  The last step was to check in with the inpatient section, I believe (although the name may be wrong). I read a few documents and signed signifying my understanding.  I read the sign on the wall stating the charges regarding various medical plans.  Contrary to popular belief, I as a military retiree do not have free medical care, which is in fact what I had been promised my entire career, particularly around re-enlistment time.  I have medical and dental premiums that I need to pay if I want any medical care; again, contrary to all promises made to me and other retirees in the past.  Again; everyone was friendly, polite, professional and caring.   I was reminded during the course of this pre-op that I was to consume no food, drink, nor tobacco after midnight.

I could see the next morning was not going to get started on the right foot at all as far as my comfort went.  But, after the dealings I had with each and every member of the staff I dealt with, I was left with no doubt in my retired military mind that I would receive excellent care while I was there.

(end of part 1)

2009 Sales Tax Holiday

As a reminder for parents and newcomers to the area who may not be familiar with Georgia’s school tax holiday, I am posting notice of the event:

Georgia provides for a sales tax exemption from both state and local sales taxes for certain items purchased July 30 – August 2, 2009.

During the sales tax holiday period, a sales tax exemption applies to purchases of tangible personal property in the following categories:

Articles of Clothing. The exemption applies to articles of clothing and footwear with a sales price of $100 or less per item.

Personal Computers. The single purchase of $1,500.00 or less of personal computers and personal computer related accessories for noncommercial home or personal use is exempt during the exemption period. Computer related accessories include keyboards, monitors, other peripheral devices, personal digital assistant, modems for Internet and network access and non-recreational software. Computer and computer related accessories do not include furniture, cellular telephones, any systems, devices, software, or peripherals designed or intended primarily for recreational use, purchases for a trade or business, or items leased or rented.

General School Supplies: Purchases of of general school supplies for use in a classroom or classroom related activity with a sales price of $20.00 or less per item are exempt during the exemption period. Purchases for use in a trade or business are not eligible for the exemption.  The exemptions are intended for an individual’s personal use. The exemptions exclude items rented, leased, purchased by businesses, or purchased for resale. The exemptions do not apply to items sold at theme parks, entertainment complexes, hotels, restaurants, and airports.

The following are a list of items on which normal tax rules still apply:

LIST OF TAXABLE GENERAL SCHOOL SUPPLIES:

Books (except children’s books, dictionaries and thesauruses)

Briefcases

Envelopes

Janitorial Supplies

Medical Supplies

Supplies used in a Trade or Business

LIST OF TAXABLE CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR ITEMS:

Accessories (generally)

Barrettes and bobby pins

Cuff Links

Hair bows, clips, nets and bands

Handbags and Purses

Handkerchiefs

Jewelry

Key Cases

Ponytail Holders

Wallets

Watchbands

Watches

Aprons

Backpacks

Bibs

Briefcases

Cloth and Lace, Knitting Yarns and Other Fabric

Clothing and Footwear (rented or leased)

Clothing or Footwear Repair Items, such as thread, buttons, patches, heels, and soles

Coin Purses

Corsages and Boutonnieres

Cosmetic Bags

Costumes

Crib Blankets

Diaper Bags

Eyewear

Fanny Packs

Garment Bags

Goggles

Hard Hats

Insoles

Key Chains

Life Jackets and Vests

Linens (sheets, blankets, etc.)

Luggage

Makeup Bags

Paint and Dust Masks

Patterns (sewing)

Personal Flotation Devices

Protective Masks and Goggles

Receiving Blankets

Rented Clothing or Footwear

Repair of Clothing or Footwear

Safety Glasses

Shaving Kits and Bags

Shoe Inserts

Suitcases

Sunglasses

Swimming Masks

Umbrellas

Wallets

Watchbands

Water Vests (life and ski)

Wigs, Hair Extensions, Toupees and Chignons

LIST OF TAXABLE COMPUTER AND COMPUTER ACCESSORIES:

Action Games

Adventure Games

Batteries (regular)

CD/DVD (music, voice or pre-recorded)

Cellular Telephones or any other devices, including PDAs, allowing for voice communication

Computer Bags

Computer Games

Computers for Recreation (games and toys)

Controllers

Copy Machines

Digital Cameras

Game Systems and Consoles

Games

Gaming Software

Joy Sticks

LCD/Plasma Televisions

MP3 Players or accessories

Music Download Software

Notebook Backpack

Personal Digital Assistant Carrying Case

Projectors and Cases

Rented Computers or Computer Accessories

Repair of Computers or Computer Accessories

Role Playing Games

Software (games and entertainment)

Sports Games

Strategy Games

Surge Protectors

Videogames

Videogame Devices

Frequently asked questions and answers can be located at the Georgia Department of Revenue site.

Happy Fourth of July

Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?

Here are two reasons:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records,for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise;the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations,which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America,in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War,conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

courtesy of US History.org

and:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The remainder of the US Constitution can be read at US Constitution.net along with the amendments.  It is well worth reading in these trying political times.

How is our Constitutional Republic safeguarded?

and


Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!