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!

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: 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


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 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

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!