Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years goals

So many people are talking today about their New Years resolutions. I don't like to say resolutions. How long do resolutions last anyway?

I make goals. I seem to keep up with my goals. {somewhat}

I am keeping track of some of my goals on my side bar. I have my financial and some personal goals.

For financial goals, I really hope to pay off student loans this next year. I am going to look for a part time job to assist this goal! I really want them to go away. Badly! Next year, we will attack the mortgage.

For personal, I hope to get in even better shape than I am now. I lost 18 pounds recently, and hope to lose 5 more. I also want to run a 5K or 10K. I walked my last 10K. It felt great, but I want to at least run a 5K!

Spiritually, I aim to read the entire Bible this year. My church is emailing us the daily scriptures to read. Having someone there to remind me should help keep me on track. {I've tried this before, but life got in the way and then I was so far behind that I gave up} I also plan to spend 20 minutes per day on my devotionals. I want to really strengthen my daily walk with the Lord.

I wish for everyone a very happy new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Free Arby's shake coupon!!!

Free Arby's shake, no purchase required. Expires Jan 2nd!


http://lsm.fishbowl.com/images/messages/Arbys/24185/20/2256591292594782decemberemail_now.JPG

Today's freebies

I got to the grocery store just in time! Oh boy that snow is really coming down now!

Today I combined my coupons {doubled} with sales and received for free:

* 1 bottle of Coke
* 1 bottle of Sierra Mist
* 2 bags of frozen veggies
* 1 bag chips

yes, most of it is junk food, but it was free and it will make some kids happy tomorrow! We always have a New Years Eve slumber party.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

reusing jars...

Here at the Happy, Simple Life home we do a lot of recycling and reusing. I have been known to go through kids' trash cans to remove recycleable materials. It is just too difficult to take that soda can to the mud room and place it into a recycle tub. I ask too much of my children! =)

We send all that we can to the recycle center. We save the plastic tubs and jars for the food bank. They reuse them to distribute bulk foods to their clients.

As for glass jars, and some plastic ones, those find many new homes around here.


I use them for everything from scrapbooking supplies to nuts, candy and bulk tea. I just love how pretty they look sitting on a shelf. The best part is that you know exactly what's inside.
I also like to put a small candle inside of a glass jar. The light that comes from it is so pretty and makes my kitchen look "homey"!
I am also saving baby food jars for a craft project. Then I found this lotion recipe. I was thinking of making that for a Mother's Day gift for my friends and family. I normally just make cards, but thought this would be a nice frugal gift!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You don't cook for your kids? and decluttering

I was talking with a neighbor yesterday. We were talking about cooking. She said she doesn't cook for her kids. "If it doesn't come out of a box or a can, they don't eat". Her kids are 6 and 12. I asked if they've ever had a home cooked meal and she replied "oh yeah, when we go to a restaurant"! WOW! This is the neighbor always upset over their lack of money. Well, I'm not here to judge, but if you maybe cooked some meals instead of eating out and heating up convenience foods, you might get control of your finances. I can't say that of course. We are neighbors. You just don't want to have bad relations with neighbors.

On an unrelated note, I woke up this morning with the decluttering bug. I just started in the closet and then went to the dresser and night stand. It feels so good to get stuff out of here. Some of this stuff hasn't been used in a long time. Better to find it a new home!

In January, I did the ole turn your hangers around in the closet bit. {you turn all of your clothes hangers backwards. After one full year, any hangers that haven't been turned around haven't been worn and should be donated} I actually have been donating some of my clothes this past year, so I didn't have as many backwards hangers as I might have had. I did find 3 today. All three items went into the Goodwill bag. So far I have 3 bags today. I need to get my family to clean out their closets.

The best part of donating is that if you donate 2 or more bags, they give you a coupon for your next thrift store purchase. Yay!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunset magazine article


I just finished reading the newest edition of Sunset magazine. {January 2011 edition} I usually enjoy their articles, since it just features the part of the country that I live in.

This month, they had an article about a woman and her family. It was a human interest story about her minimalist lifestyle. I'm all about a simple way of living, so I couldn't wait to read it.

It's titled "The Zero Waste Home". This family only sends to the landfill a few handfuls of garbage annually. Seriously. She shops with glass jars and buys nothing with wrapping. Everything from bulk foods to meats and cheeses go into the jar. The cashier figures the tare of the jar and then charges her for her purchases. Wow!

I totally got her homemade cleaners and toiletries. I really understand the compostable toothbrushes. I understand the reusing of jars to store bulk purchases. I even go with the rule that if you get something new, something old must be donated.

What I don't follow: Not letting the kids have many toys or books, taking all of those glass jars with me to the grocery store, not putting pictures on the walls, and not keeping the things that the kids made in school. Now don't get me wrong. I don't keep all of my kids' precious treasures, but I do have many of them.

I was really into her story until I went to her website. I was at the doctor's office, reading this article, and I couldn't wait to get home to check out her blog. I thought I would have found another inspiring frugal/simple lifestyle blog to read. I was disappointed. Check it out for yourself: http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/. Then go to the library and read the article. The article is great. Really.

Friday, December 24, 2010

You saved HOW much using coupons?




I have read several blogs and many frugal books where the author says coupons don't make sense. Or they don't use them because it takes too much time to clip or print. Sometimes the argument is why "waste" their time? There will never be coupons for what they buy.


I thought about this and decided to keep track of all of the coupons that I use. So for the entire year of 2010, I wrote down the amount that I saved with every coupon that I used! It could be grocery coupons, restaurant coupons, retail or renting a movie.


So, for 2010....the amount that I saved was......$1,053.92!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!


I knew that I was saving a lot, but until I added every month together, I really had no idea it would be this much.


I can't wait to show hubby this figure!


Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

extended family Christmas party

We had our extended family Christmas party this weekend. It was a blast!

We started out at the ice skating rink. {I know, not a frugal way to start a party} Let me explain that I have a change jar for just this outing. I use cash when grocery shopping, and all coins go into the jar as soon as I get home. {I never spend change} It really adds up. I took the jar to the bank, and it had about $60.00 in it. Perfect.


I had a pot of soup simmering on the stove, so after skating we all went to my house. Everyone brings a dish to share, so it was a wonderful feast.


After eating and visiting, we have a White Elephant gift exchange. It was just getting to be too expensive to buy gifts for everyone. This works out great and it is so much fun. We have a limit of $5 per gift and we always get the most bizarre items! There was even a pair of Captain America underwear, new of course, that was actually stolen! ha ha


I do make gifts for all of the nieces and nephews. This year it was a photo Rubiks Cube. I found the Rubiks Cubes at the dollar store. I then went through all of my photos to find 6 for each cube. I measured, cut them into 6 pieces and glued them to each square. They turned out awesome and the kids LOVED them! It cost about $1 per cube and a 1/2 hour per cube of my time. So easy and fun. I forgot to take pictures of them. Silly me! I'll try to get a pic and post it here soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Readers!

It's still so cool to me that people are reading my blog! I have two separate counters keeping track of readers {22 on my last post!} as well as where they are from. Awesome! Thank you. I would love for you to comment on my posts and/or leave your blog address. I would love to read your blog!

God bless you all!

declutter update and a simple Christmas

I have been so busy with getting ready for Christmas, that I have fallen behind in my decluttering challenge. The past two days, I have been going through closets and drawers like a crazy woman. I will have 2 bags to donate today. That feels good.

I have been receiving small gifts from friends lately. My friends and I agree that giving a gift to someone that you found in your home has just as much meaning as one that you went out and purchased! I had two books that I really enjoyed,{both bought on clearance} and I knew two friends that would enjoy them as well. One friend gave me a lovely teapot that she had loved, but she knew that I would enjoy it. I love that idea! Why go broke looking for the "perfect" gift

I also received a gift that I know was found at a thrift store. How cool is that? She went out, thinking of me, and spent a small amount on a gift that she knew I would adore! That makes my heart happy.

I found gifts for my children at the Goodwill. Will they care? Not likely. I found my son some brand new guitar strings. I was in a music store recently and found the same strings for $99! The set that I found is missing a couple, but was $5! He will be thrilled.

Friday, December 10, 2010

homemade gifts, a gift recipe and a simple Christmas




I feel very strongly about home made gifts. Especially at Christmas! It just means so much more to me, if you give me something that you have made. I don't care if it cost you less than a dollar to make. It's the time that you took. You were thinking of me when you took time to create something! It's like a hug everytime I look at it, or eat it! =)
I really enjoy making gifts and my family and friends seem to enjoy receiving them.

I always make something for my extended family. In the past, these have included: candles, soap, smelly jelly {air freshener}, scrapbooks and just last year I made photo candles. These were super easy and looks amazing! The candles looked like they had pictures printed right onto them. My family loved them!


Our extended family gets together every year before Christmas. We have a potluck dinner and a White Elephant gift exchange, with an emphasis on really silly gifts. We keep a max on the dollar amount spent. It is so much fun and we can just enjoy each other without the stresses of shopping.


I always bake yummy goodies for Christmas. These are included as part of our gift. I only bake certain items for the Holiday, so that they are more special. For example, my family knows that they only get peanut brittle, fudge and molasses cookies once a year!


I also bake for my neighbors. I have never had a neighbor give us a gift, but I honestly don't mind. I would prefer that they didn't. They all seem genuinely happy to receive my home baked goodies! {I always wrap them some pretty way, so it seems more like a gift}




photo candles:

1 candle, any size, white {I bought mine at the dollar store}

digital pictures or scanned pictures ready on your computer

tissue paper, white or light colored

hair dryer or heat embossing tool

straight pins


To print the picture onto tissue paper was the only tricky part. Tape a small piece of tissue paper to copy paper. {I discovered that the tissue would wrinkle if I didn't tape all sides} The size I used was approximately 5X7 inches.

The best way to figure out where to tape it onto the paper is to print a picture on a sheet of copy paper first. Then you know where the pictures will be printing.


Next, print the picture. After testing it, it should print right onto the tissue paper. Remove tissue paper from copy paper. Then you want to trim the tissue paper picture to fit the candle. Use the straight pins to secure the tissue to the candle.


Here's the fun part. Take the hair dryer or heat embossing tool and glide it side to side all over the picture. You don't want to leave it too long in one place. It's okay if some of the wax drips. You can smooth it out with your finger or a popcicle stick. The effect is a picture that looks like it was printed inside the candle. You want to make sure to completely melt wax over the entire picture. When it cools, you will see any spots that you may have missed. You shouldn't see or feel the tissue paper. Just keep melting the wax until effect is achieved.


Let cool and wrap in cellophane and tie a ribbon at the top.


I'd post a picture, of the ones I made for my family, but I like for the blog to anonymous. =) sorry

Thursday, December 9, 2010

a great deal on frozen veggies!

Green Giant boxed veggies are normally $2.19 per box! WHOA! My hubby really likes these for his lunches, so I watch for the sales. This week, they are $0.88 per box. I searched for coupons and hit the store. Since my store only allows 3 coupons, of the same item, to be used at at time I had to go back in a few times. No big deal.

So, for $0.55 per box, I purchased 20 boxes. {$0.88 each, minus $1 off of three coupon equals $0.55 each}

{the picture isn't of the kind that I bought, I just didn't have time to take a pic!}

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

easy peanut butter cookies

My son asked for cookies. I had very little time. Enter these very quick and very easy cookies. They are so yummy!

Peanut butter cookies

1 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease cookie sheets. Combine ingredients and drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until browned. {don't cook too long, or you will have cookie crumbles instead of cookies!} Let cool slightly before removing to wire rack. These are really moist until they cool, and fall apart easily.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Borders.com sale and free shipping!

I am trying so hard to find the one DVD that my son wants for Christmas. It is sold out everywhere. I found a copy on Borders.com.

Today only, they have free shipping. Also if you are a Borders Rewards member, you can save 33% off of any item. They must be awfully busy right now, as I've been trying to load their page for a while! For a 33% savings, I will be patient.

*update: It has been 24 hours and I am still waiting to get my order placed. How's that for patience?

I love freebies!

Our grocery store has Clif Bars on sale for $1.00 and doubles coupons.

I had 7- $.50 off coupons.

You can only use 3 at a time.

I had to go into the store a couple of times.

Our city recently eliminated food sales tax.

Normal retail value- $1.49 each.

Result? 7 free Clif Bars!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

I absolutely do not shop on Black Friday. I think that it creates so much stress. I know someone who stood in line, for 2 HOURS, to buy 2 Barbies for $4 each. WOW! I'd rather watch for a sale throughout the year, than to save a few bucks that way. I think time is just as valuable as cash. At 3 am, I prefer to be asleep anyway.

Today, we will decorate for Christmas and relax.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas shopping...with coupons

I did some shopping today. {of course with coupons}

*First was Hallmark store. I was sent a $10 off coupon for any purchase. I found a gift for my daughter and was thrilled to get it for $10 less! {total spent $12}

*Next I stopped at Starbucks...I had a remaining balance on a gift card. Used $2.85 of the card balance.{total spent $0} Yum

*Then to Aeropostale. I had a gift card there as well. I had a $25 balance, I went over by $0.36. {total spent $0.36}

*Off to Family Christian bookstore. I had a $5 coupon there. I found a couple of clearance items as well as a sale item. {total spent $30.00}

*Last stop was Borders. I opened my email this morning to find a 50% off coupon. Whoo! While I was there I also found some stocking stuffers marked down to $0.99 each. {original price $4.99 each} I found an item for my hubby. {total spent $ 13.45}

So, to sum it all up:

I spent $55.81
I saved $75.79

NICE.

Friday, November 19, 2010

free coffee

There are 2 sources of free coffee right now!

Starbucks is giving a free cup of holiday flavors when you buy one. { I normally only go when I receive a gift card, but I'm thinking that this would be a fun date night. 2 cups of coffee and hang around the bookstore!} This is only between 2pm and 5pm! We went last night and it was wonderful! Thank you Starbucks! {Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha was yummy!} This expires on November 21st!

McDonald's has a coupon book out right now. There is a coupon in there for a free McCafe. No purchase required. Guess where I'm going today? he he

organization part 2

Yesterday I discussed ways I keep organized. Another key area is grocery shopping and planning. I keep an eye on local sales and plan my next few weeks' of menus accordingly.

I clip any and all coupons that I come across. I only keep the ones that I know I will use. I keep them filed by categories. I remove the coupons that I plan to use that day, and keep them in a small binder with my grocery list. I do take my coupon file with me. You just never know what will be on an unadvertised sale. Did you know that you can use coupons on items in your grocery's discount area?

I also have a price book. This was the best thing that I ever did for myself. It is simply a spiral notebook, with items I normally buy and the regular prices at the stores I normally shop. I write in pencil since prices change.

I really thought that I was getting a great price on some items at Sam's Club. After I did my price book, I was a bit surprised! For one, 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce are $0.58 at Sam's. I found them at Walmart for $0.44 a can. A 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes are $0.74 at Sam's and $0.63 at Walmart. A 5 ounce can of tuna is $1.12 at Sam's and $0.74 at Walmart. There are many others. My local grocery store cannot compete with Sam's or Walmart on regular prices, but can compete when items are on sale and I have a coupon.

There are still items that are cheaper at Sam's. One being turkey bacon. Sam's- $1.90, Walmart-$2.48, grocery-$2.79.

Since making my price book, I buy less items at Sam's and more at Walmart. Before making the book, I never bought groceries at Walmart. So, for a few hours time, I visited 3 stores to make a price book {I had shopping to do- I didn't just go to make the book}, and I will save more than I imagined. I figured that by buying most canned items at Walmart, I saved about $5.00 over buying them elsewhere. I drive right by there everyday to take my son to school. Might as well make a stop and save a few bucks!

*Frugal note* my Sam's Club membership is free. How? Well, all you have to do is to have a family member work there. They can give one membership away! Yay!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

organization

I think that the best tool that I have is my ability to keep organized. It saves me so much time. I can easily find what I need and can get so much more done.

In the kitchen: I keep my cupboards and pantry organized. All like items are together. I have a running list, on the fridge, for the grocery store. {or home store etc} The list is separated by which store I usually buy the item from. Since I go a couple of times per month, I know exactly what I need, and there's no wondering if I forgot something. I make a menu plan for two weeks at a time. I don't plan ahead what I'll make each day. I just get up in the morning, and look at the menu. That's when I decide what to make that day.

For the household: I have a small checklist, of the chores I need to get done each week.{goal-have all done by Sunday night} I don't do a certain one on each day. The same as my menu, I just look at the list and decide what I feel like doing today. {he he..like I really feel like cleaning.} I keep clutter to a minimum. Our home just looks so much cleaner this way. I also have a day planner to keep track of appointments or side projects that I need to do each day. When I see something around the house, that needs attention- it goes into the planner. I get to it when I can.

For bill paying: I have a spreadsheet that lists our bills, in order of due date. Since hubby is paid every two weeks, I organized our bills so I can pay them according to due dates. I try to have all bills paid at least a week in advance.

For Christmas shopping: I spoke of this previously, but I have a small spiral notebook that I keep track of wish lists for my family. Also in the book are the items that I've already purchased, along with the amount spent. I spend the same amount for every family member. I'm so excited to say that I've got a great start on my shopping. I've either used coupons on my purchases or found them on sale/clearance. Yay me!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's time to donate for a happier Thanksgiving!



It is time to head to your local food bank and make a donation. You can also donate cash, as many food banks are now online!

You can make a difference. Everyone should have a happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 15, 2010

A very quick and easy dinner

I usually like to cook my meals completely from scratch. Sometimes, you just need shortcuts! This recipe is not only fast and easy, but also yummy!

Barbecue Muffins



1/2 pound ground meat or meat substitute
1/2 cups diced onions
barbecue sauce to taste
1 roll refrigerated biscuits -or homemade recipe
shredded cheese- I use non dairy cheese

Brown meat and onions. Add sauce. Grease muffin pan and place one biscuit into each. Spread it out and up the sides. {to look like a cup} Place meat mixture into each muffin cup. Top with cheese and bake according to package directions.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reasons why I blog and why I don't have ads

I started blogging just on whim. I said to my self "self- you have a lot of information that you can pass on to others." I agreed with myself and so the journey began. Personally, I really enjoy reading others' blogs. I enjoy the recipes, the frugal lessons, the personal stories and pictures. So, when I began I decided to not focus on one topic but rather blog about what ever I'm feeling or doing at the time.

It's like a diary, but the entire world can access it. I never dreamed that I'd have readers. How exciting that I have 3 people following my personal journey. It's humbling and fascinating to me. I just read my stats and discovered that I had 11 page views yesterday. Thank you to you. The ones that are reading what I have to say. I appreciate you. Please let me know your blog address and I will follow you as well!!!

Now, why I don't have ads: I know that for many people, a blog is a source of income. I have been asked why I don't have any ads on mine. I thought about this and decided that I really don't want a blog full of ads.

I know that is how income is generated. I get it. I just want a blog that I can have fun with. I can say what I want to say. If I don't like a product, I can say it. I had Adsense. I don't use some of the products that it advertised on my page. It went away. I am not a professional blogger. If I were, I would gladly have many ads. I am just a stay at home mom, talking to the world about my day.

I do have Swagbucks on my page. I can get points everytime someone clicks through it. I use Swagbucks and love the program. I think everyone should should join. It's really fun. {okay Swagbucks- give me lots of points for saying that! he he}

Friday, November 12, 2010

My awesome grocery shopping trip



Yesterday was grocery shopping time. Since I only go maybe twice per month, I have plenty of time to prepare. Coupons are this girl's best friend on grocery day. I also watch the sales and combine the two.

This time I bought $104.53 worth of groceries
minus $37.90 when I handed the checker my store loyalty card
minus $20.50 in coupons I handed to her
minus $31.85 what was left on the gift card that my husband won at work
leaves $14.28 the actual amount I spent on groceries this week!

Oh. My. Goodness. I was so excited. You would've thought I had won the lottery!

{My hubby won a $50 Visa gift card at work, and we used some of it to eat out, as a treat.}

I am so happy to only deduct $14.28 from our November grocery budget! woo hoo

Thursday, November 11, 2010

decluttering update

Since I started my decluttering quest, I have made some progress. I have put into my donation bag: 2 knick knacks, 1 pair of shoes, 1 purse, 1 dress, 1 skirt, 2 blouses, 1 pumpkin carving book, 1 pkg. of photo paper, 1 coffee mug, 1 mouse pad and 1 Halloween decoration.

Today, I am sorting through my rubber stamps. I hope to remove at least half of them. I plan to list them on Ebay. The rest of the items are going to Goodwill.

Progress is good.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

it's soup time!

It's finally cold here. I was wondering if this day would ever come. We had a dusting of snow yesterday, and expect more tomorrow.

That means it's soup time! This is my cabbage soup, currently cooking in the slow cooker. It already smells so yummy!



Cabbage Soup
1 lb ground meat
4 potatoes, peeled and diced {I don't peel mine}
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup onion, diced
1-10oz can tomato soup
4 cups of water
1 T bouillon
1/2t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat and drain. Put into slow cooker and cover with remaining ingredients. Make sure that water covers veggies. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
This recipe makes 10-12 servings. Instead of cutting it in half, I make the full recipe and freeze the rest.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

canned pumpkin vs fresh

The critters got to my pumpkins this year. I was so bummed! Well, after Halloween, pumpkins were $1 each. {normally $2.99 to $5.99 each} I bought some and set out to prepare them for freezing. I haven't prepared fresh pumpkin before, so I was excited to get started.



I sliced them in half and removed the seeds and stringy parts. I roasted them, cut side down, in a 350 degree oven until soft.



After approx. 45 minutes, they were roasted and I set them out to cool.



I then scraped the pumpkin out of the shell, and pureed it. I put 2 cups of puree into each freezer bag. I saved 2 cups to bake with tomorrow.



While the oven was still warm, I roasted the seeds. Before placing on the cookie sheet, I tossed the seeds with olive oil.



So, I did half of the pumpkins today. I still have 4 more to do. Am I thrilled with this? Um, not really. I am always open to new experiences. Cooking from scratch, growing my own veggies and saving money are a small thrill for me. I must be honest, I did not enjoy this process. Is it a better bargain than canned? I'm not too sure, since the pumpkins were purchased. If they were from my garden, I might feel differently. I just think that this process is very time consuming and messy. I will process the other pumpkins tomorrow. Who knows? I may be happier about it in the morning. Maybe I'm just burned out today.

Either way, I have fresh pumpkin in the freezer and yummy seeds on the stove.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

home made hair care

There are so many products, on the market, for hair care. Even with coupons, they can get a bit pricey. I have very thick hair and live in a high altitude area, so it isn't easy to keep my hair conditioned.

I generally use Pantene products.{on sale, with coupons} They seem to keep my hair clean and mildly conditioned. As a former hairstylist, I understand that this is done by the use of waxes in the products, so I utilize baking soda occasionally, to remove build up. {just add a teaspoon to your shampoo and leave on until you feel an itch}

I know many bloggers are using plain baking soda as a shampoo, but with my dry hair and climate, that isn't an option for me.

To deep condition, I like to use a cup of mayo. You just spread it on dry hair and place a hair cap over it, or put up in a clip. Leave on for 20-30 minutes and then shampoo. It really does work. I have tried using an avocado in the same way, but just found it to be too messy. I do plan on trying a cup of unsweetened coconut milk. I just read that it is a great conditioner, and it would smell better than mayo! I'll have to research the price first.

My hair loses pigment easily and I don't want to chemically color treat my hair. I have dark hair, so I simply use 3 bags of black tea, brewed in 2 cups of hot water. Cool slightly and use as a final rinse. {do not rinse} It does add a bit of brown to the ends, which are lighter.

You can also use Earl Grey for brown hair. For blond you can use chamomile tea. For red hair, Rooibus. For lighter brown, use blackberry or raspberry tea.

I've also had success using brewed coffee in the same way. It's so much better for your heath and your budget to use this method. Of course, you can't use this to drastically change your natural color. These suggestions are only to be used if you want to perk up your color or to add depth, as I do.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

budget time!

I use a modified version of the "envelope system". I do budget a certain amount for each category, only I don't actually carry envelopes of cash. I have one envelope of cash in my purse, marked "grocery". Other than that, I keep all receipts and log them.

I have a spiral notebook that I use for my budget. I have 15 categories and a dollar amount to be spent, for each. Some include: gifts, donations, grocery, medical, hobby, clothing, school, allowance, auto, etc.

The last day of the month, I tally each category, in my notebook, and then enter this info into my budget spreadsheet on my computer. It really does help to keep spending in check, It also allows me to feel horrible when I go over budget. =)

On my spreadsheet, I have a separate listing for each budget category as well as a place for all of the monthly bills. I include savings account contributions as well. I just made savings a priority and it is part of our monthly bills. Our bank has the option to have money automatically withdrawn from checking and transferred to savings. This helps!

I read so many books, articles and blogs when I was first taking our money seriously. We were forgetting to send off bills on time and spending way too much on who knows what. I gathered a lot of information and this is the system that I came up with. We've been doing this for a few years now. It really works for us.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Time to declutter...again

It's so easy to let things pile up, and so hard to let them go! My family LOVES to have "stuff". It drives me nuts. The clutter and mess actually makes me uneasy. I can easily say it puts me in a bad mood. I just like tidiness and order. No, I'm not fanatical about it, I just like to walk into a room and know where everything is. I also do not like to dust. This is a problem when you have lots of stuff!

In the last year and a half, we have taken down and emptied 3 old metal sheds. We built a new one. It did not take long to fill up. Dang. We made about 4 trips to the thrift store, put countless items at the curb, had a yard sale and donated 2 truck loads to a local church for their yard sale. We had that much stuff! There is still so much I'd like to see go far away!

So I pledge, for the rest of the year, to donate or toss one thing per day. That's 64 items. {counting today} Today, I will donate a pair of shoes. I bought them years ago, and wore them maybe twice. They are in excellent condition. They will find a new home.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

an amazing thrift store find,and cheap scrapbooking

I went to the thrift store yesterday, looking for a dress to wear to a wedding. What I found was an amazing amount of Creative Memories product for just $0.99 each! Oh. My. Goodness!

If you are a scrapbooker, then you totally understand my joy. If not, well one brand new set of 12X12 black pages were $0.99, retail price is something like $12-$14.00!

In all I found {all brand new, in packaging} each $0.99:
*1 set of 12X12 black pages
*1 set of 12X12 page protectors
*1 set of 12X12 pages with sleeves{discontinued}
*1 set of "Short Cuts"
*and one 12X12 brand new album for $2.99! {retail $35.00}

Retail price- approx. $75-$80.00, I spent $6.95 plus tax! Whoo!

When I go to my Creative Memories consultant's crops, I try to buy something, but my budget doesn't always allow that. I just go with the supplies that I have, and mostly just to socialize. {I do pay the $8.00 fee to attend} I usually find all of my scrapbooking supplies in thrift stores, at the clearance section of the hobby stores, use the 40-50% off coupons or recieve them as gifts.

Scrapbooking is my one luxury. I put the $8.00 scrapbooking fee into my monthy budget. I have $20.00 per month for my hobby, so if there is a sale at my monthy crop, I have $12.00 left to buy something. It is usually spent at Hobby Lobby or Michael's with their 40% coupons. I mostly buy adhesives or paper.

It's my creative outlet and my way to get out of the house once per month! We all need that!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Introducing...an amazing soup!!

If you have a few zucchini, or if you're like me, have some shredded in the freezer, then this is the soup for you!



When the zucchini are first harvested, in the summer, my son begins requesting this recipe. I shred most of our zucchini, so that we can have soup all winter! {I also use it for other recipes, but this is a fave!}

Cheesy Zucchini Soup
3-4 servings
2T chopped onion
3T butter
3T flour
2C milk
1C water
1t chicken bouillon
1/4t pepper
1/4t salt
1 large zucchini, shredded
1C shredded cheddar cheese

In large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour until blended. Gradually stir in the milk, water, bouillon, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add zucchini. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in cheese until melted.

Last night, this was served with a yummy garden salad and crusty bread. I doubled the recipe, so that we could have leftovers! Come on lunchtime!

Monday, October 25, 2010

make ahead breakfasts

I like to make breakfast dishes ahead of time. It really is a cost saver as well as a time saver. This weekend, I made a double batch of pancakes. I then froze them individually, on a jelly roll pan. Once frozen, I put them into a freezer bag. To reheat, I just place them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.



The BEST pancake recipe:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 sugar {I cut that in half}
1 egg
1 1/3 cups milk { I use coconut milk or rice milk}
1/3 cup ground flax seed {optional}

Mix all and let sit for 3-5 minutes to allow the baking soda to get to work. After it rises, you may begin cooking the pancakes!



I also made breakfast sandwiches. These are made of: english muffin, one fried egg with the yolk broken, 2 pieces of turkey bacon cut in half and a piece of non-dairy cheese. I did lightly butter one half of the english muffin after toasting. I seasoned the egg, with pepper and garlic powder, while I was cooking it. So yummy! Just 30 seconds to reheat from refrigerated and 1 minute from frozen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

take time to breathe

I'm working away in the garden today. Suddenly it hits me. The birds singing, the crickets chirping. The dogs sleeping in the sun. The kids playing and laughing. Why can't I make time to relax? Why can't I look around and see the beauty and not all of the chores that need to be done? Where are my rose colored glasses?

I went inside, made a cup of coffee and made my way back to the porch swing. I rocked and sipped. {and occasionally threw a dog toy} I just watched the kids play and listened.

I need to do this more.

The leaves aren't going anywhere.

Friday, October 22, 2010

grocery shopping and coupons

I read a few blogs and many of the authors post pictures of all of their groceries. I tried that, but since I shop maybe only twice per month it just isn't easy for me to do. {That's a lot of groceries at one time!} I did take a picture of the produce. Look how beautiful...


I have a monthly grocery budget. In the grocery category I include: health food purchases{we have dairy allergies, dairy free cheese is not cheap!}, toiletries, all food {even if it comes from the dollar store or Walmart it is still added in} and any paper goods like tissues and toilet paper. Since I make my own dog food, that is also included as groceries. I have a budget book where I log my totals to keep track.

I am a couponing addict! I will look anywhere for them. Sunday circulars, hidden in the newspapers, magazines, online and/or sending a request to the manufacturer. The newest resource is the grocery store itself. I can log onto their website and download coupons right onto my loyalty card! Did you know that you can combine those with paper coupons? I just did!

Today's shopping should last about 3 weeks. {longer for the stockpile items} Over all. I did go over budget by $7.24.

I spent $207.24. I matched my store's circular with my coupons and loyalty card coupons to get the best deals. My loyalty card savings were $48.86, which included a $10 savings for buying 10 certain items listed. {had a coupon for each item!} My paper and card coupons totaled $39.03, which included 2 BOGO coupons.

I think the best deal of the day {besides BOGO} would be on the V8 Fusion juice. It is normally $4.29 a bottle. It was on sale for $2.49 and I had $1 off coupons. I bought six. I spent $10.94 for $25.74 worth of juice. This will last for many weeks. My son loves the juice {getting fruits and veggies into him!} but the price usually prevents me from buying it. He will be pleased when he gets home.

Some coupon sites:
coupon pages
cool savings
smartsource
mambo sprouts

Happy shopping!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

semi-home grown dinner.

I say "semi" since I purchased the main dish. The rest came from the garden!


Yummy home grown pears!

From the garden....to the oven!

It's awesome to go into your garden, dig up some potatoes and carrots, and then make dinner! Life is good. I am so blessed.

After scrubbing veggies and peeling carrots, I sliced them and put them in a large bowl. I added some olive oil, dried dill, garlic powder, fresh basil {from the freezer}, and a bit of a mixed seasoning mix. I mixed everything and baked at 425 until fork tender. {I didn't time it, but would guess it to be close to 25 minutes}

This was served with barbecued boneless pork ribs and sliced pears from our tree. {Since we still have such lovely weather, we must continue to use the grill!} So yummy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

free samples!!!

Most people really aren't interested in samples. I'm not sure why!? They are free. Hello?! When I was a new mom, I worked as a product demonstrator. I worked most Saturdays, which gave me time to see "big" people and get out of the house for a few hours. Oh, and a little paycheck was nice. Sounds great, right? Well I couldn't give things away no matter how hard I tried! I would stand in the refrigerated section for hours, trying to feed people and/or offer trial sizes. People would walk around my table and not make eye contact. ~ha ha~

Now, I search out these samples. I try to time my shopping at Sam's Club to coincide with "sample time" Seriously! 2 more minutes for an eggroll? Okay. I'll be right here.

The same for samples in the mail. Now, I love to get mail anyway. So, going to the mailbox and seeing these little packages is like Christmas in my mailbox! LOVE IT! {maybe I should gift wrap them for myself. Hmmm...} You just never know what will be there. A box of cereal? A cereal bar? A little tube of toothpaste? Tampons? ha ha. It's always a nice surprise.

Just yesterday, I checked the mail and found a full size Kashi TLC Strawberry bar there. I wasn't quick enough and lost it to my son. Dang! I must get a bit faster with checking the mail and running away with my booty!!! Although he did give me the packaging, which included a coupon. By the way, if you are interested, he says it was delicious.

There are a few sites that I frequent, to sign up for free samples. Walmart is always good for personal hygiene samples.

The Freebie Blogger is another great place to find samples and free trials!

If you have some time on your hands, then this site is the place for you! I actually spent about an hour there last month! There are that many samples to sign up to receive. I am reaping those rewards as we speak! he he

The thing to remember is that you most likely will be put on their mailing list. I have already planned for this. I have a separate email that I use just for online purchases and/or for requesting samples and coupons. I can get to the emails when I'm ready and don't have to worry about going through tons of them to get to my personal email. Pure genius!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

brrrrr!

I had planned on getting up and going straight out to clean up the garden. It is 38 degrees right now. Maybe I'll let it warm up a bit. Give it an hour or so, and then just tackle the weeds, plants etc.

My shopping trip was a success! I did get my free Starbucks drink. I registered a gift card here and they mailed me a postcard for a free birthday drink. Any size or type! I discovered that the kiosk, in the middle of the mall, does not take coupons. The Starbucks inside of Super Target does take them. I was worried that I wouldn't get my free drink! While in Target, I found half sandwiches for $1.09. I was getting hungry and decided it was worth the price. The other sandwiches were $4.00 and up, so the half one was fine. It really satisfied the hunger.

The retail coupon that I was hoping to use expired the day before. Bummer. Must read coupons more carefully. Luckily, I discovered this before I got to the mall. The Borders trip was exactly as I planned. I found the item and paid $5.30 for the $14.99book! It pays to belong to loyalty programs. My son won't know or care that I paid 1/3 of the price for his gift.

My craft gift card was well spent. I did end up paying an extra $1.45. I found a cool pencil that I thought my son would love. It will be a stocking stuffer. It's made of recycled paper and it smells like root beer! They know what they are doing when they put stuff at the checkout lanes! Crazy impulse buys.

Just checked my email and found another birthday perk! A coupon for one free sub from a local sub shop. Again, it totally pays to belong to loyalty shopping clubs. I joined the program, I haven't bought anything yet and today I get a free one. Awesome!

Monday, October 18, 2010

goodnight garden

I've been so busy getting the gardens ready for the winter. Yesterday, I harvested the potatoes and carrots. Surprise surprise...I found a few more raspberries and lavender. How those berries survived the chilly evenings, I will never know.

I'm really excited about more lavender. I plan to make sachets this Christmas. The lavender stalks are drying in my craft room. I don't need to tell you how lovely they smell! As soon as they are all dried, I will place the flowers into mason jars, until I have sewn the sachets. I hope the recipients enjoy them.

Today will be chilly and rainy so I will finish the garden tomorrow. I still have more herbs to harvest and 2 more beds to turn over. After we start mulching the leaves, they will be added to keep the beds warm!

Today is my birthday. I received a gift card and plan to hit the mall. I'm so excited since it is for a craft store and I just received a coupon in my email inbox. I plan to get blank cards so that I can get started on my Christmas cards. Starbucks sent me a coupon for a free birthday drink. Yum! I also have accumulated "Borders Bucks" at Borders, so I have a $5.00 credit there. I bought two books for a b-day gift 2 months ago {with a coupon}, so that's where the credits came from. I don't normally pay retail for my books. They also sent me a coupon, so I plan to use the coupon and credit to get a book for my son's Christmas gift. I should only end up paying about $4-$5. I also received a $10 coupon off of any $10 purchase at another retail shop. I plan to use that to get stocking stuffers for my daughter. So, for my birthday run to the mall, I'm hoping to get a few gifts and a cup of coffee and spend maybe $5! Here I go...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

getting ready for Christmas

Yes, that's correct! It is October 6th and I am preparing for Christmas. This is the best way for me to give the perfect gift and stay on budget.

We are still progressing towards our goal of being debt free in 5 years. Just like all best thought out plans, we have had many obstacles! We have had medical bills, college tuition bills and now a major home repair project. We must adapt and overcome.

Will I let these spoil my holiday plans? No way! I just plan a little more carefully. I have a few books, from the library, on homemade gifts. I am planning what gifts to make for whom. I have a budget set for the amount I will spend for each child. I have a log book where I am keeping track of all of the fun little stocking stuffers, as I find them. I have already found a few gifts for the kids, and log those in the book as well. I keep it with me as I am out and about. You never know when you will come across a clearance sale, thrift store treasure or yard sale. I have, in the past, bought too many gifts for one child. In this case you either buy more for the others or you save the extra gifts for Easter baskets or birthdays.

My best treasure so far is a brand new name brand hat, found at Goodwill for $3. It retails for $15-$18! SCORE!

Planning is everything to the frugal Christmas shopper! I've even begun making my Christmas cards! Go me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

home made dog food

Well it's been a few weeks since the dog food recall, that started me on my quest to make their food. It was so hard to see my helpless little dog sick from her dog food!!!

Does it take longer to make food versus just pouring it from a bag? Oh yes, it does. Is it worth it? I believe it is. It would take a few seconds to pour their kibble, but it takes a few minutes to measure out homemade food and add their vitamins and cottage cheese to it.

Why am I adding to my already overcrowded day? I'm hoping that we will have less vet visits, and healthier dogs. My dogs have lost the weight that they needed to lose, on homemade food. Ironically, the food that made them sick was vet prescribed to help them lose weight! After a recent check up, our vet gave both dogs a clean bill of health. He says keep up what we are doing! {even though he loses the income from us not buying the kibble!}

It takes about 30 minutes every few days to make up a batch. Compare that to going to the vet hospital in the middle of the night. I'd rather make their food, thank you!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

my thoughts on frugality

Everyone has their own reasons for being frugal. Loss of a job, going to a 1 income family, or just scaling down. I personally prefer to be frugal because I like to spend little and save lots.

I do not like having debt. We have some debt now, and it really stresses me! Add to that another medical bill that I thought the insurance was going to pay. Dang! So, we now have our mortgage, a small medical bill, and 2 student loans. I am giving myself the goal of being debt free in 5 years. It sounds ambitious, I know. Listening to Dave Ramsey really helps me to stay motivated! His books are what got me going on this path all those years ago.

My hubby doesn't always understand. He has the belief that if you have money...you spend it. I recall one time he asked if I wanted to go to dinner. I said sure, let me check my coupons. His response? We have money, you don't need coupons. Then he was laid off. That was a blow. He had been at that company for 18+ years and one day they just closed their doors. He went into panic mode. I knew we'd be okay.

He now gets it. He is currently selling some things to buy others. Makes sense to me!

Today was a good example of why I use coupons. I spent $89.00 on groceries and used $20.00 in coupons. I also saved an additional $20.50 with my store loyalty card. If I wasn't watching sales and clipping coupons the total would have been $40 more! There was one item that was on sale for $2.99, down from $3.99. I had saved 3 BOGO coupons and bought 6. I spent $8.97 for $23.94 worth of product! THAT'S a BIG savings and I won't need to buy this product again for a while! It is a product that we use. I wouldn't recommend stocking up on something that you will never use.

So, in conclusion, frugality to me is a way of life. I have a goal to reach. I need to watch every penny to get there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

harvest time



It's that time! I found lots of beets, which will be shredded and frozen. Zucchini will also be shredded and frozen. Spaghetti squash will be dinner! Yum! Yellow squash and baby cukes for dinner.
I couldn't believe that my raspberries are producing again! That was a surprise.{didn't get a picture}

I will need to harvest more herbs and get them frozen as well! I am just filling up that new freezer. What a great feeling to know that I am going to save money in the grocery budget, as well as have fresh veggies and herbs all winter!

I feel productive today!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

new freezer

Well, we did it. We bought a freezer. It's actually quite nice. It stands and looks like a tiny fridge! We miss so many opportunities to stock up on meat and veggies, simply because we have no where to store the haul! Also, now that I'm in full-on freeze fruit and veggies mode, this will really help.

Our fridge/freezer is a standard size, which means that the freezer space isn't as big as you might need it to be.

I just went on a frozen veggie shopping spree. The frozen veggie bags are normally $2.39 each, but the sale {ending today} has them for $1.00 each. {Hubby likes to use them in his lunches and they are still cheaper than buying fresh at $1 per bag!} I just went in there and filled my cart with 20 bags of frozen veggies. {yes, I emptied the shelves, sorry} This will really help the ole budget.

We actually applied for a store credit card to take advantage of the 10% off your first purchase deal, for the freezer. I really don't like credit cards, but I agreed that this was a great deal, as we also needed a screen door and love the discount for both! We will pay it off within the 90 days allowed, accrue no interest and enjoy our summer harvest long into the winter!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

busy, busy

Who has time to blog, when there's so much work to be done?

I have been harvesting, freezing, processing etc.

I have almost all of my herbs harvested and processed. I wash, dry, chop and then freeze them on a baking sheet. After they have frozen, I transfer them to a freezer safe Mason Jar. It is so wonderful to have fresh herbs in the middle of winter! I also use this process to freeze fruit for our smoothies.

The zucchini has become bread and a main course so far. I have grated and frozen 12- 2 cup portions for later use. We love zucchini bread and cheesy zucchini soup. I will have to share the recipe. It is the yummiest soup! My family loves it! I also like to add some zucchini to goulash or spaghetti sauce. We still have lots of zucchinis growing.

Since the dog food recall last month, I have been cooking our dogs food. {one of our dogs was very sick!} I boil chicken and save the broth. I have been freezing this as well. Lots of my soup recipes call for broth, so I'm super excited that I won't have to buy any for a while!

As you can imagine, we are now in need of a stand alone freezer. It feels so good to be able to stock up on foods for my family. Having it come from my garden is a bonus!

We have four fruit trees ready to start harvesting as well. I expect to be rather busy these next few weeks, but the payoff will be worth the work!

Friday, August 6, 2010

food waste


This used to be an 'orange" now, it's a cross between a "brown" and a 'black"! ~he he~
Also included in the food waste this week, but not pictured, are: 2 mini bagels, handful of stale chips and cabbage. Actually, the cabbage spoiled an entire dish, so the whole dish had to go. Everything went into the compost, with the exception of the meal, as it had meat in it.

I vow to do so much better this next week. I only have to pick up a few things for our camping trip. Otherwise, we will eat straight from the fridge and pantry and have no food waste!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

There's just too much!

When we first moved in, this house was in major disrepair! It had been in the family for many years. The most recent 8-10 years, no one had taken care of it. We had lots to replace inside, including walls, floors, ceilings etc. The yard consisted of 4 foot high grass and weeds and lots of debris. I spent the first year just cleaning it up!

I had a brown thumb at the time, but thought I'd take the yard on! After lots of research and trial and error, I managed to create a beautiful landscape. {or so I think!} We have just under an acre, and I was tired of mowing. I created 7 different gardens, with one being a veggie garden. Well, after 14+ years of pulling weeds to maintain each garden, I quit! It is so much more work to maintain gardens versus just simple mowing!

I have replanted and/or given away most of my plants from my perennial garden. It is now grass again. It's funny though. As I was replanting grass there, my neighbor stopped by to ask why I was doing that. He thought I should plant a nice Xeriscape garden. Hey! That's what I had, but YOUR tree{that you don't trim} is sending SO MANY seeds here and I'm tired of picking the plants from them. No, I didn't say that. I just thought it instead! he he

Instead of re mulching around my shrubs and hedges, I'm letting the grass grow back, it wants to anyway! I'll just mow around them. {a reel mower will be next on the list}

I removed a small Chinese Elm hedge. When I plated them, I didn't know they were classified as a weed! There is so much involved in keeping these alive! And lots of trimming! They grow very fast!

We are currently trimming trees WAY back! The fruit trees are over producing and I spend so much time picking up what falls off. Also, the trees are too big for the fruit to get big enough to use! The tree uses all of it's energy to grow each piece of fruit, so they all stay small and bitter.

I'm slowly deciding that simple is best. I want to have some relaxation time this summer! It seems that I spend all sunlight hours pulling weeds, trimming hedges or trees, cleaning fruit that fell off of trees and so on...

I will keep my veggie garden, as that is beneficial! I have a few more established gardens that will stay, but no more annual gardens. I will plant a few things in a large pot near the door.

I am looking forward to a day of rest! {and shorter to-do lists!}

Monday, August 2, 2010

great deal at Office Max!

Our printer is having serious issues, and it is time for a new one! We like our current one. It is an all-in-one printer, meaning it copies, prints and scans.

I found an ad in the Sunday coupon inserts, for printers at Office Max. If you brought in an empty ink cartridge, you can save $40 on a printer! I found this one, and is exactly what we need! It was $149.00, minus my $40 discount. {$109.00} I was so surprised when I got to the check out counter! The final price was $64.00!!!! Even on the Kodak website, it's sale price is $119.00! Talk about a lucky deal! We weren't budgeting for this, but hubby needs it to print for work.

grocery shopping


My shopping budget is $300, which is what I take out of the bank. This method helps to keep me on track. I do shop at different stores and have found myself, at times, at the last store re-doing the list. There are times that I forget to write a price on my list end up going over budget at a store. {I used to use a calculator, but it would sometimes shut off, leaving me in a bind! Now, I use a price book and I just add as I go} I just don't get a few things at the last store, and I'm good! {photo of health food store purchases}

This is my shopping for the next two weeks:
1. grocery store: spent- $103.44 coupons-$17.44
2.health food store: spent-$71.19 Coupons-$9.25

total spent $174.63, leaving $125.37.

I'm sure that I'll need more next week, as I always run out of something!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

yummy summer meal



Cheese quesadilla, fresh home grown cucumbers and cherries!

quesadillas
wheat tortillas
ranch dressing or another creamy dressing that you prefer,-about 1/2 to 1 cup
diced green chilis- 1 can
cheese, I use rice cheese- I like to use about 2 cups

Mix all and add about a 1/3 cup of cheese mixture to one half of a tortilla. Fold over and fry in lightly greased pan. Turn when browned on one side. Remove from pan when both sides are browned nad cheese is melted. These also bake well at 425 degrees,{10 mins} I just don't want to use the oven these days! Serve with salsa, sour cream or pico de gallo

Monday, July 26, 2010

budget

Well, I'm adding up my spending so far this month. I am over in some categories.{uh oh}
*The home and pet budgets were blown due to a dog needing emergency care, and some repairs done on the house. Oh well.
*I went a bit over on clothing as well, but it is school clothes shopping time!{I usually budget $25 for the month, and have spent $174, $50 of it at Goodwill}
*I am only over $1.10 in my hobby column! I'm so happy with that one. {I am an addicted scrapbooker, it can be expensive!}
*I went $64.65 over on groceries. In the grocery column, I include dollar store purchases, vitamins, all purchases at the health food stores {we have food allergies}, Sams Club and of course the grocery store. I have been known to blow this one by $100-$200, so $47 isn't too bad!
*There wasn't any school spending nor we did we spend any on entertainment, so that should help balance out the grocery overage.

Now, I realize that we still have another 5 days in the month, but I don't plan to do any other spending.

Grocery shopping this week:

*grocery- spent $118.19, coupons used- $16.25
*health food store- spent-$42.20, coupons- $2.00
*$ store- spent $23.45
*Sams Club- spent $50.11

Total- $233.95

My budget for my 2 week shopping trip is $300.00. I went over two weeks ago, so that's why I'm over for the month. {I bought some canning supplies last time!}

*For July: grocery budgeted- $600.00, spent so far- $647.65

Friday, July 23, 2010

food waste

I have been sending far too much to the compost bin lately! So, I have joined Kristen as well as so many other bloggers, in a quest to reduce waste!

Since this is my first Friday participating, I neglected to take a photo. Just this morning, I put out half of a bag of popcorn and two pieces of toast, into the squirrel feeder. {keeps them out of the bird feeder} I must remind the kiddos to eat the food they prepare!

As for veggie scraps, I have put a full bucket into the compost this week. I think I will reduce this by making some of it into stock or replanting as I just read over at Premeditated Leftovers. Who knew that you could replant veggies? Such an awesome tip!

I love reading other blogs. They not only inspire me, they offer wonderful ways to save money and sanity!

Monday, July 19, 2010

frugal hand soap



I bought this bottle of hand soap in November 2007. I am seriously still using it! I dilute it with a bit of water, and use it to fill the bathroom dispenser. I'm amazed at how long I've been able to make this bottle last!

Friday, July 16, 2010

quick and easy dinner!



Pita Pizzas:

I always wait to add this to my menu, until I find the pitas in the bakery clearance section!

pita pockets
pizza sauce
any toppings that you have on hand
grated cheese

Make your little pizzas and bake for 8-10 minutes @425 degrees. They are so yummy and couldn't be simpler to prepare! Serve with a salad or fruit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pico De Gallo



Made with homegrown ingredients! There's nothing cooler than walking outside and picking your ingredients for dinner!

Pico De Gallo
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/2 t garlic power
1/8 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Combine all ingredients and stir. Let sit in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

raspberry jam




I picked these raspberries from my 3 year old bushes. Then I made them into jam! Oh, it is so yummy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

oooh...yummy!



I just found this amazing recipe for Popeye Corn. It is so easy and so very delish!

1 10 oz. bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 16 oz. bag frozen corn
3/4 cup sour cream { I used about 1/2 cup ranch}
3/4 t salt
1/2 t hot sauce { I didn't have, I used buffalo sauce}

Combine ingredients in a 1 1/2 qt microwave dish. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir; cook 2-3 minutes more or until heated through. I also had a small jar of pimentos that I needed to use, so I added those to the mix as well. It was so yummy, even my son's friends wanted seconds!

Friday, July 9, 2010

frugal ways to spend a summer day, with kids

So many of my kids' friends are going on vacation or to theme parks. We really try to avoid extra spending. I hate to use the term "staycation", but that's pretty much what we do. I keep all of my change,in a jar, and every summer we use that to go on one big adventure. Since I try to shop with cash only, the change can add up. The jar last summer was about $90! I have two jars, one for a summer adventure and one for a winter one. It really helps!

So for some ideas:
*go to a park {or in our case, a skatepark} and take a picnic
*go to the free movies or bowling- this year the "free" activities are actually costing about $1 per child, but still not too bad!
*go hiking, with a lunch
*go to city parks with fountains in the ground, this is cheaper than going swimming{free!} and the kids still get just as wet!
*play board games in front of the fan, with homemade treats
*laying in the shade with a book and some cool treats
*check your local library for free events, our actually sponsors free tickets to local museums!
*we like to go to Sonic between 2-4pm for drink happy hour. All drinks are half price. My kids love the slushies. You can ride your bike there, if you are close to one.
*you can't beat sports in the front yard, wait til it cools down a little, and run the sprinklers as well. You need to water anyway!
*most roller skating rinks have special deals
*you can go to the zoo, just buy a membership. It's usually about the same price as tickets for a family, but you can go all year!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

early school clothes shopping


We were in the mall and discovered that my son's favorite skate shop was having a clothing sale. Normally shirts go for $20-$30 each and pants/shorts can easliy cost $40 and up! We bought 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants for $80! That's an awesome deal. I know that in August that the clothes are not that cheap. We've looked before.

I usually hunt thrift stores to find his beloved skate shirts and usually find some at $2-$4 each.{they are a bit worn, but he likes them} I have even found some skate brand shorts for $7 each, but they didn't fit him. So, getting brand new clothes with the "right" logo on them has him pretty excited for high school to start! You have to look good your first year!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July goals

I have a running list of things to do that never seems to end. I have decided to try to break it down into monthly goals, hoping to get caught up!

July goals:

*save $500 for family trip
*add to savings account, hopefully $200
*NO impulse buying, shop with cash and a list
*stay on budget in all areas {I have a breakdown of how much can be spent for what}
*clean outbuildings and purge LOTS of stuff
*harvest herbs and freeze
*5 yard projects

weeds, weeds and more weeds

I am happy to say that I am just about caught up on weeds. We have a 1 acre property with a few gardens. To say that weed pulling is a part time job is not a joke! If I take 20-30 minutes a day, for 4-5 days a week, to pull weeds then I can keep up. We have a veggie garden, a perennial garden, hegdges and 4 flower gardens. I also have the children's garden{playground} which is half grass{under swingset} and half mulch.{under trampoline}

If it goes for a while, or we get LOTS of rain, I can easily fill one yard bag with weeds...from each garden! On the other hand, if I keep up with the weeds, I can fill one bag per week.

For the walk ways and in the mulch, I use straight vinegar. I buy it in gallon jugs at Sam's Club and use a garden sprayer to spread it. On a very hot and sunny day, the weeds will be wilted by dinnertime and gone by the next morning.

I just have the veggie garden left to clean up, and then it's just maintenance for the rest of the season! Yay! I'd much rather enjoy summer instead of working at the weeds.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What a weekend


The 4th of July was rained out. Not just a little sprinkle. It was a hard, angry, lightning and thunder filled rainstorm with tornado warnings. And flash flood warnings. No fireworks for us! Many places set off firework dispays on the third, but we wanted to go on the actual holiday. Silly us!

I have been picking raspberries in the garden today. Tomorrow, I will be making raspberry jam! Yum! I really need to get to harvesting the herbs soon. I plan to freeze many of them. I am still using basil that I froze last year! I have enough for maybe one or two more recipes. Not a bad harvest!

I have never canned, but I hope to learn this year. I'm very excited! We're going to the flea market this weekend. I will be looking for canning equipment, as well as many other items. I keep a running list of things I'd like to have as well as need. I then hit thrift stores or flea markets, to find the best deals. It takes patience to shop this way, but it saves so much money! Plus, it is so much fun to search. Almost like a game.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a simple day


I love these summer days. Nothing to do but relax. After I pull some weeds, of course! I am just sitting outside, watching my dogs chase squirrels and birds. Thankfully, they don't catch them.

Next, I'll take the kids to the park, drop off the vacuum for repair and then a few household chores. Then it's back to the hammock with a book and iced tea, before it's time to make dinner.

I love my happy, simple life!

On a different note, I have stopped participating in the 29 days of giving challenge. It became too much work and not very fun. I was really stressing about finding someone to give a gift to, instead of just spontaneously giving something away! I prefer the latter. It was still a good book to read, it just takes away from the fun of giving. {in my view}

Monday, June 21, 2010

scrapbooking...on a budget


I have put myself on a scrapbooking shopping diet! This is not an inexpensive hobby. I have donated LOTS of supplies to a children's hospital. I still have tons of stickers and paper. If you are a scrapbooker, you understand when I say that it's hard to resist a sale. So, I plan to use whatever paper, embellishments and stickers that I have, before I buy any more.

This is harder than I thought it would be. I was recently in the $ store and found myself heading that way. Then, I was in a hobby store and did what I always do- head straight for the clearance section to see what I could find. OOPS!

Well, it had been a couple of months and so far, so good! I did find a 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby for scrapbooking albums, pages and protectors. I really need these supplies, so I was thrilled to find the sale. $70.00 worth of albums etc for $35 plus tax was a happy day for me.

I do go to a monthly crop and pay the crop fee. It's great to get out of the house. The hard part, is not to buy anything. I know that the consultant needs to make a profit, but I need to stay on budget and use what I have. What to do?

Now, off to crop.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Finally...sunshine!

After 3 days of rain and cool temps, it is nice to go outside and relax. Unfortunately, the rain brought with it... many weeds! I will relax after I save my gardens! This may take awhile!

I'm on day six of my 29 days of giving challenge. So far, so good. It does feel good to give!

As for savings this month, I am at $50.59 in coupons savings so far. Not too bad. I am keeping track of my coupons savings for the year. I am curious to see how much couponing really saves me. I'm at $459.93 so far for the year. I keep track of all coupons that I use. Grocery, retail, hobby stores and restaurants are some examples.

Friday, June 11, 2010

groceries


Big shopping trip today. I shop every two weeks, and only use cash. I'm really hoping to stay on budget. The first stop was the grocey store. I spent $123.60, after the coupons {$18.50} were deducted. This total also includes the $15.00 gift card I purchased for my nieces b-day. I forgot to take a pic of the grocery store purchases. What you see are the warehouse and natural foods purchases.



Then to the warehouse store and natural foods market. I spent $34.57 and $38.11. So, the total of $196.28 was just below the $200.00 I had with me. Not too bad. Since I had a surplus, I donated $2.00 to the natural market's charity. So really, $198.28 was the total.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

read this book!



29 Gifts by Cami Walker
This book is amazing! If you haven't read this book, please do so soon! The author's story is so enlightening and her message is inspiring. I am going to start my 29 days of giving today! I do not plan to document my giving on her website, as I prefer to give for myself and not others. I may keep a journal of my giving.


Potato plants! Since this is my first time to grow potatoes, I'm not really sure how big they should/will get. Time to do some research on them. Just don't look at the weeds, garden weeding day is today.
Everything else is coming up pretty well except for my basil. I really love to cook with it, so I may need to go and get an established plant, before it's too late! I can't wait to go into the garden and pick dinner, then go inside and prepare it!

On a different note, I am having to go clothes shopping. Since losing weight, many clothes just aren't fitting me. Not a bad problem to have, I know. {My size 9/10 pants don't fit my new 3/4 body.} It's just the price of replacing as well as the fact that I love lots of my clothes! I always shop at thrift stores, {excluding socks, undergarments and shoes} so the price wont be too bad. I just don't like to spend it, when I'm trying to save. Also Ive heard that it's not a good idea to keep your "fat clothes" around after weight loss.

Friday, June 4, 2010

to do today


I just finished spraying 4 gallons of vinegar on the weeds. I bought a really cool sprayer for half off. It came with weed killer, but I won't use that. All I need is a really hot day and some vinegar. Those weeds will be gone tomorrow! Yes, the yard smells weird, but it's better than the smell of chemicals, plus I can let the dogs out after it dries with NO WORRIES!

Next I am cutting down an elm hedge. 11 years ago, when I planted these baby bushes, I had no idea that they are classified as weeds! Well after dealing with the elm bugs all these years, and fighting to keep it alive...I give up! So, I won't have as much privacy, but I will have less to to take care of and get some firewood.

The budget for May was blown a bit, so this month I really need to keep an eye on things! I believe it's time to get back to using envelopes instead of the ole debit card! Time for some creative cooking. What's in the pantry? Do I really need to go to the store? We will hit the flea market soon, for the items I'm looking for, instead of going to Walmart. We really need to get on track so we can eliminate this darn mortgage!