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 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
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 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


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!