Friday, December 23, 2011

Scary, scary morning

I'm in the kitchen, getting ready to bake banana bread. I have 3 pounds of overripe bananas and I'm ready to use them. Then, I started to smell something burning. It smelled like a rug that's been in the dryer too long, please don't ask how I know that smell. Okay, I confess, I melted a rug in the dryer. Anyway, it smelled like that times 10. I searched and searched. I felt walls and got the fire extinguisher. I searched the attic and all rooms. I only smelled it in the kitchen.

Turns out there was a wire melting in our electrical panel. I called hubby and fell to my knees to pray. Oh, please Lord, save our home. Please let us be okay. Then I thanked God that my kids weren't home alone. Would they know what to do? I think I'd better make sure that they do.

Hubby's home now, the power is off and we are awaiting the arrival of the electrician. (yes, it's 23 degrees outside) Could it have caught fire? I don't know, but I do know that the electric panel door was really hot!

I'm praying for a happy ending.

I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas! (especially my kiddos!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

new budget

Since we basically failed on our current year budget, we are going to have a budget meeting and re plan! As previously discussed, we are going to be short of our 2011 debt repayment goal. It's a bit of a bummer, but with patience, discussion and prayer I think we will get back on track. I will most likely get to keep my part time seasonal job, so that will help.

We are going to add in an allowance for both of us. We are going to discuss what amount that should be. I kept track of all expenses this past year, so we will use that as a guide. We will use an envelope for this same as all other expenses.

For me- I plan on requesting $50 per month. This will include: $20 for hobbies and crafts, $20 for treasure hunting and/or buying used books and $10 for any fast food or coffee cravings. {yes, I make coffee at home, but sometimes I get together with friends and have breakfast or coffee. I don't want to miss out on that} If I come across something that I really want, it would come out of my allowance, which means I would need to readjust my totals. If I really want a pair of shoes, then there won't be any crafting this month etc. {I go to monthly scrapbooking crops that cost $8 to just to be there} We can do this!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

finishing my Christmas crafts

As promised, here are the final pictures of the gifts that I made for Christmas.

Firstly, these are the supplies for candle making. I saved baby food jars this year, planning to make candles. I already had a glass measuring cup {from the thrift store, of course}. I purchased wicks, coloring and wax over the last few months, using coupons. I found the scent in a clearance bin at Michaels and I used chopsticks and popcicle sticks to hold the wicks steady. I spray painted the lids with paint also bought with a coupon.{no big surprise there!}

This is the finished product. The candles and soap look so pretty together. The candle is scented with mulberry and the soap is lavender. They will go into baskets along with baked breads. {banana and zucchini}

Monday, December 12, 2011

making gifts today!

Today, I am making soap and candles. This soap recipe couldn't be easier, but packaged in a very pretty way, it looks like you spent a lot of time making it. {it's all in the packaging, I'm told!}

I used an olive oil suspension soap base {found at Michaels} home grown lavender flowers, purple soap coloring, lavender oil, a silicon cupcake pan and a spray bottle of alcohol.

You simply melt the soap base in a double boiler,{1 pound at a time} remove from heat and add: flowers, 2 t oil and 2 t color. Pour into mold and then spritz with alcohol, to prevent bubbles.

Let cool and remove! Viola! A beautiful gift.{I'll take pictures after all of the gifts have been made.}

I bought the soap with a 50% off coupon, I already had the essential oil, I found a 3 pack of soap coloring on clearance a few months ago, found the muffin pan for $1 at Goodwill and I grew the flowers. It really isn't an expensive gift to make. The pan, oil and coloring will last for a very long time.

Yes, I planned to have all of this made weeks ago. Oh well, the best laid plans.....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

this is my 200th post!!!!!

This my 200th post! WOW!!!

I can not only believe that I have blogged 200 times, I am so amazed that you kind people have read my musings! What a blessing you are!

If you don't mind, can you please let me know where you are from? I can see my stats log, and can see the general area where readers are located. Im just curious.

Many stop by for a visit, but only a few participate in the conversation. I would love to say hi and follow your blog as well!

Whaddaya say? Let me know where, on this amazing Earth, you are when you are reading this silliness that I post?

Thanks and have an amazing day! ♥

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Year end wrap up

All year, I've kept running totals of the debt that we were trying to eliminate. This is located in my side bar. I've also logged our savings goals.

Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to reach our 2011 goals. I was pretty bummed over this. I had this amazing scenario planned, where we would wake up, on Jan 1, 2012 and have no debt beyond our mortgage. {happiness, merriment, confetti...}

We have had A LOT of unplanned expenses. Auto repairs, vet bills, careless spending, home repairs etc. We are most likely going to be about $2000 short of the projected goal. {if only the trees didn't need work....}

I want to throw a tantrum. I won't.

I will pull up my big girl panties and move on.

We will plan a new budget for the new year. We will rejoice in all that we have accomplished.

God is good. We are blessed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

what to do with all of these recipes?

I have read quite a few blogs, where the author has a small repertoire of recipes. It has been said to make menu planning easier on them.

I have said several times, both out loud and in my head, that I consider this to be restricting. I just know we'd get bored of eating the same thing over and over again. Hubby disagrees. He would happily eat about 5 recipes repeatedly. Oh geez.

I was recently going though my recipe file, to prepare my menu and grocery list, and was overwhelmed. I have quite a few recipes. I think that I may just go through them all, and remove anything that I've either never made or haven't made in a long while. I'll set them all aside, and if I don't use them in a month or they will go to the recycling bin.

I'm beginning to appreciate the simplicity of a smaller recipe box.

Friday, December 2, 2011

a paper- free Christmas morning

That is my goal! I planned to make gift bags, but I am slowly running out of time.

My plan was to hit the thrift stores and yard sales in search of fabric. I have the patterns for the drawstring bags at the ready. I just have many gifts left to make, as well as my Christmas cards.

The alternative? I did hit the thrift stores and the dollar store and found bags, in different shapes, for about a dollar each.

After Christmas, I will start making the bags. I can use them for birthdays etc, before Christmas rolls around again.

I will still have a wrapping paper free holiday, they just won't be homemade. I'm okay with that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

one perk of a doctor's visit

I had to visit the dermatologist today. Living in the "Mile High City" will require regular skin check ups. I did require a few skin biopsies today. {ouch} The reason I'm happy about that? They gave all of this to me!!! SAMPLES!

This is like Christmas morning! There were actually 19 samples. I forgot to add one before I took the picture. {By the way, it was a total coincidence that the bottles on the left were lined up green-white-green-white! ha ha} This is a frugal gals' idea of happiness!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas shopping

I have started my Christmas shopping. I received a Target coupon that would net me a $15 gift card if I spent $150. So I spent $150 and received the gift card. I also received a $10 gift card, as one of my purchases entitled me to that. Yay!

So, I went back and used my new $25 in gift cards and finished my shopping. I also printed coupons for $4 off of a woman's sweater. There was also one in the paper, so I bought two clearance ladies sweaters each with a $4 off coupon.

I do not participate in Black Friday. I don't believe in it. It's far too stressful. I just plan, save and look for coupons.

Christmas shouldn't be stressful. It should be relaxing and happy. I actually shop and prepare months in advance. There are just some things that need to be purchased closer to the day. Especially if you have kids that keep changing their minds! ha ha

I actually enjoy strolling the malls during the frenzied shopping times of Christmas. The music, cheer, decor...LOVE IT!

Stressful, crazy shopping is NOT the Reason for The Season!!! ♥

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Every good thing must come to an end

I read an article, in the paper recently. It was discussing seasonal jobs. There are literally thousands of people applying for a handful of these jobs.

I feel even more blessed to have landed one of them!

The place where I have a 4 month seasonal job, may keep some people on after the holidays. You would need to reapply and interview if you are interested. The part time income is really helping us right now. I just don't like the idea of applying for and interviewing for a job that I already won. It seems weird to me. If you are hired and do a good job, why don't they just keep you?

I think that I may reapply. Its close to home and works well with my family's schedule.

It's just sad to think that my days of being a "stay at home" mom will come to an end. I like that title. I love being there for my family.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I give up...

I have tried to do the environmental thing. I also was trying to do the frugal thing.

I stopped using dryer sheets.

I've tried vinegar as a rinse agent. I've tried spraying liquid fabric softener on a rag, and throwing that into the dryer. We've also tried the new fabric softener crystals. {our washing machine doesn't mix liquid softener correctly and ends up staining our clothes. Darn high efficiency washer}

We have spent so many days with our clothes just clinging to us. Everything that you touch shocks you. We were literally electronically charged. Ouch.

I used part of my free coupon to buy a box of dryer sheets.

I'm not going back, to life without dryer sheets, but I promise to compost or re purpose them in any way I can find.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do you pick up stuff, off of the ground?

I never used to, until a few years ago. My younger son found a scratch lottery ticket, and picked it up. It was a winner! We felt sorry for the person that lost it, but there was no way to find out who that was. The ticket had been run over a few times, so we knew it was there a while.
I cashed the ticket in, and gave him the money. You'd never seen a 10 year old that happy! ha ha

So, I always keep an eye out. I've found Catalina coupons, for items that I was going to buy. Mostly we find not winning scratch tickets. But I figure, its a win-win. We are picking up trash, which makes everything look better, and occasionally we find treasures.

Yesterday, I found a Catalina coupon for $10 off of a $10 or more purchase at Safeway! I don't normally shop there, but if it's free...☺ It expired yesterday so I needed to act quickly. As soon as I got off of work, I planned to head over to Safeway. I was tired and ready to go home, but free is free! So, I called hubby and asked what was on my grocery list and went shopping.

The funny part was the reaction of the man in line behind me. He said "You got all that for $0.09?" ha ha. Yep.

I will continue to pick up "trash", you never know what you may find!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Starting over

This has been one very busy year! I had the best intentions, when I added my daily workout to my goals list. I really planned to keep up with exercising and eating healthy.

I failed.

I would do well with my food journal, for a few weeks, and then forget. I would be right on with my walks and/or workouts. Then forget.

It's been a few years since I lost 18 pounds. I really don't want to gain any of it back. So far Ive gained only about 2 pounds back. That's not too bad, but I just feel blah most of the time. Not drinking enough water, too much sugar, no exercise. I need to fix this! Time to add my health back to the to-do list!

I started small. I'm starting with the workouts first. The diet will come second. It takes time to make it a habit. I'm sore today, but I feel happy about that. My food journal is making a comeback. I had more water today and less coffee. I had more veggies and less chips. I had egg whites and veggies for breakfast, and no bread. I'm adding a few more minutes to my workouts everyday. My goal is to get back to at least 20 minutes per day. For now.

I can do this

Friday, November 4, 2011

There's a mouse in the house

I seriously wish that I was referring to a children's book. Unfortunately, the house I speak of, is mine. There's a mouse in my house.

How did it get in? Why is it here? How can I get it to leave? I am 1,000 times freaked out! There are tell tale little mouse poopies on the floor. My son saw it run by him. Hubby heard it scratching along the wall. HELP!

The irony is while we are trying to eradicate a field mouse from the house, we have 2 domestic mice as pets. Oh geez.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Since our summer storm killed my pumpkin plants, I was pretty bummed about not having any pumpkin in my freezer. I did replant and we ended up with 2 small pumpkins. Those will be carving pumpkins and ultimately, squirrel food!

We have a charity pumpkin patch in town. They sell pumpkins by the inch around the middle. I'm not sure how they calculated the price, but the volunteer had a premarked peice of rope} I found one for $8.00. All the proceeds benefit Habitat For Humanity. Of the profits made, half goes to the farmer and half to the charity. I like that. I hadn't been before, so it was actually fun looking at pumpkins. I usually just use what grows in the garden.

I forgot to take a picture before I cut, so here's my half pumpkin. Is it just me, or does it look like it's smiling? ☺

I cut it into smaller sections to roast.

Of course we roasted the seeds.
I ended up with 10 cups of pumpkin. These are now in the freezer. {except 1 cup which hubby will take in his lunch tomorrow}

I'm glad that I went to the charity patch versus the grocery store. It makes you feel good. I had $9.00 to spend, but just couldn't find a pumpkin to match that amount. So, I just bought the $8.00 one and donated the dollar. My contribution may only buy some nails, but I still feel good about helping!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

a book that I saw, in the library

I recently saw a book, about blogging, on a library shelf. The title was "Nobody Wants To Know What You Had For Lunch" or something similar to that. It was basically a book about new and different topics to keep your blog interesting.

The title got me thinking and I actually think that someone will be interested in knowing what I had for lunch.

Today, I had for lunch: 1 Morningstar® veggie corn dog, a handful of grapes, 1 can of generic diet ginger ale and 4 Reece's® Pieces.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


My hubby won some money at work. He came home and gave me half! He said that I should "go buy myself something pretty". My first thought was to put it in my grocery envelope or maybe use it for Christmas gifts. Its extra money. It was neither expected nor budgeted.

Hubby says he knows exactly what he's doing with his half. I have a weird frugal mind. I still want to use it in the budget. He says to have fun. It's not a lot. $50 is all. Why is it so hard for me to go crazy and spend? I think that maybe I might get a new griddle. I've always wanted one. They are on sale.

Then maybe a chair massage at Whole Foods. Maybe Starbucks? Writing about it is actually getting me excited. Maybe a Goodwill shopping spree......

Monday, October 24, 2011

What to do?

Our local grocery chain is constantly promoting their credit card. It's supposed to be amazing. You get cents off per gallon more than anyone with just a regular loyalty card. After earning so many points, you get cash back. They will send you coupons. There's no annual fee. It will paint your house and pay for your daughters wedding. Okay, not the last part.

I've resisted because I just don't want a credit card. I was just at the store, and the lady in front of me was using a $25 gift certificate for signing up. It seems that you will also receive that gift certificate, to be used on your first shopping trip.

Lots of benefits. If you make sure to pay it off before the due date, then there are no finance charges.

Hmmm........ What should we do........

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Final harvest part 1

I say part 1 because I still need to dig up the potatoes. {hopefully there will be potatoes} Everyone in my neighborhood was hit really hard by that July hailstorm. Not only in property damage {it was a 30 minute storm!} but also damage to gardens, trees and plants. It's a miracle that we were able to harvest anything! Such a blessing ☺

First of all, I found 2 more spaghetti squash, 1 baby pumpkin, 4 more sprigs of lavender and 8 just about ripe tomatoes.

Next, some yummy carrots. These will go in the crock pot this week and become "Vanilla Carrots". A family favorite

Beets! These were a part of dinner last night {picture below}

Peppermint and spearmint, these are hanging in the attic right now, and will soon become tea!

A few more zucchini. These became zucchini bread yesterday. Sorry, no picture. It was cut into as soon as it came out of the oven!

The last of the tomatoes. These are hanging in the attic as well, hoping to ripen.

The lone jack-O- lantern pumpkin. It's sitting in the sun during the day, inside at night. We are hoping it will ripen in time for our son to carve for Halloween. It is a 120 day pumpkin, and after the storm and replanting, it has had only 71 days so far, to grow and ripen.

Tarragon and oregano, also hanging in the attic.

Here are the beets along with some sweet potatoes and onions, roasted in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a sprinkle of sugar. YUM!

After cooking the halved and seeded spaghetti squash, covered in the microwave with a bit of water, I used a fork to scrape the squash. If you haven't had it before, it looks just like spaghetti! It was dinner last night, covered with marinara sauce.

The weather is going to be beautiful this week. I plan to harvest potatoes and clean up the veggie garden and prepare it for winter. As long as I stay away from the hammock, it shouldn't be a problem! ☺

Monday, October 10, 2011


photo credit:

Coupons make me happy. Let's be honest. I may be addicted to them. {okay, not really} But I do love saving money. There's nothing better than being told your total cost and then handing over the coupons and watching a new total appear!

I keep coupons in my wallet and also in a coupon binder in the car. I have a separate binder for groceries and one for misc shopping. {ie retail, dining, auto etc}

I started keeping track, of how much I save using coupons last year. Hubby and kids were skeptical. I was trying to get them to take coupons every time I saw them go out the door. Usually, they ignored me and ran. Yes, I did chase them occasionally. "But you'll save money..."

So last year I kept track of every coupon used. Whether by me or a family member. If I clipped it, I counted it. I did post about the totals early this year, but the total for 2010 was $1053.92 saved! {needless to say, the family now asks for coupons! ☺}

It is October 10th and so far we have saved.....*drum roll, please* $1385.75! We still have a few months to go, and we have already beat last year's total. Yay!

These totals include: grocery shopping, eating out, auto repairs, pet expenses, bookstores, thrift stores, hobby stores, bowling, and shoe stores. {to name a few}

Am I an "extreme couponer"? No, but I really don't want to be. {tried it for a bit and hated the stress level it causes} I think that this is a respectable amount for a normal family and I am proud!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

treasure hunting!

I took a trip to Goodwill. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, just treasure hunting. {some shop at malls or go to antique stores, I go to thrift stores} Sometimes I just like to look for a bargain, sometimes I have a list of needed items. I really love to craft, so I head for that section first. I had a budget of $10.00. I spent $10.08 before taxes.

I found my son a brand new skateboarding tshirt by a famous brand that he loves. It was $2.99 and men's shirts were on sale, bringing it down to $2.12. He's wearing it today, so I didn't get a picture. ☺

I found: 9 fall scented candles for $1.99 {I love a votive candle, in a mason jar, on a crisp fall or winter evening, so romantic and cozy!}

Also: 7 rubber stamps for $1.99, most still had original tags on them ranging from $4.99 to $9.99!}
This is a new scrapbook kit, was still in box and included 12X12 album, 5 pages of stickers and die cuts, 12 12X12 papers and page protectors. Original prices for these kits are usually around $25, this set was $2.99! YAY!!

I also found 5 steak knives for $0.99, we really needed these!


And in the garden, I found one more spaghetti squash and 12 cherry tomatoes. Yum. Tomorrow I think I'll start digging up the root veggies. I'm not going to have time today. Darn job is getting in the way of my gardening..ha ha!

Monday, October 3, 2011

talking about saving

In my recent post, I discussed how our emergency fund saved us last month. Without it, we would have been in a world of hurtin'! When we first started Dave Ramseys debt reduction plan, I think that saving was the hardest. You never think to pay yourself first.

We actually have 3 ways that we save. At our local bank, we have 2 savings accounts and one CD. We consider the CD to be "hands off"! We have about 3 1/2 months' worth of monthly expenses in there. That money is to be used in an absolute emergency. When we first opened it, about 8 years ago, we were making about $240 in interest per month. Now, we are making about $17-$20 every 4 months. OUCH! We are still thankful for that little bit. It all helps.

Our first savings account is for Christmas. We have an automatic debit once per month and in late November I withdraw almost all of it and go shopping. {you have to have a minimum balance of $100 to avoid charges} We have been doing this for about 8 years as well and it really helps. Makes that wonderful time of the year less stressful.

Our second savings account also is on an auto debit. We signed up to have money automatically transferred once per month to enable us to have free checking. I think it's a fabulous idea. The second account is for any and all emergency expenses. This is where we took the money from, last month, and it really was a lifesaver! We not only have auto transfers, we also deposit extra into it each month. Now that we have had to use over $2,000 we will need to build that back up.
Hubby will have an extra check this month, due to the way the paydays fall, so I plan to put his check right into savings.

We are so blessed, and I cannot wait to say that we are debt free. It will make all of the sacrificing worth it and it will be a grand day!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This is not a joke

There are a swarm of bees in my garage!

There must be a few dozen bees in there. I don't know how they got there. I think they are after the soda pop cans, in the recycling bin. I don't want to kill bees, they are beneficial. If the neighbors are watching right now, they are laughing. A crazed woman jumping around and screaming.

I'm scared. Send help.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September budget accountability meeting

I hereby call this budget accountability meeting to order:

All present say "I".


Okay, here we go. We have a couple more days left in the month, but feel confident that we are done spending.

{Already had this meeting with my hubby, but since you weren't able to attend, dear I will update you}

First of all, updating the figures in all budget categories was a wonderful idea. Since the economy has increased the prices of almost everything, raising our budget amounts make perfect sense. There was less stress and much merriment. We have 8 budget categories that we use cash envelopes for, and 5 categories that are followed on paper.

Of the envelope categories, we came in at $30.02 over. {started shopping for Christmas!} That's not too bad considering we have been hundreds over in recent months. {categories include: groceries, home, hobby-me, clothing, entertainment, eating out, gifts and misc.}

Of the on-paper budget, we are over $2265.78. I know, I know. Let me explain. We had one sick doggie, one sick truck, one sick car, one sick toilet and one sick human. Luckily, we have our emergency fund in place, so it didn't hurt too bad. {thanks, Dave Ramsey} Next month, we start rebuilding the savings! {on-paper categories include: auto, pets, school, medical, allowance and donations}

Meeting adjourned

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

talking about God

This weekend, I spoke with an acquaintance of mine. She had recently interviewed for a job that she really wanted. I was caught up in her excitement and told her that I would add her to my prayer list. She was quite pleased that I would do that for her. I don't know her well enough to know if she's a Christian, I just felt like telling her I would pray for her. It's nice to have someone be open to me lifting her up to our great Lord.

I have had someone become quite agitated that I would suggest such a thing. That person was Wiccan. She did not believe that any Gods existed and was offended that I would offer to add her to my prayer list. She was someone very close to me and going through rough times. When a hospital chaplain left her room and said "may God bless you", she was angry and responded with "my goddess bless you". I think that was her way of saying F*** you to him. She was pleased with her remark and said something to the effect of, that will teach him.

Yikes, with a response like that, from someone close to me, it's no wonder I was nervous about offering to add my coworker to my prayer list. Luckily, it turned out well. I don't think I have the heart of someone that could witness to others. Rejection is hard. How does He handle that? ☺

Monday, September 26, 2011

todays garden harvest

Today, I picked 2 butternut squash, 4 cherry tomatoes and the next to last zucchini. There's one more growing on the vine. You can see where the cooler night temperatures started wilting the end of the zucchini. It's that time of year.

I was going to pick more tomatoes, but was greeted by this little critter.

He is a rather large orange and brown spider. His web was approximately 12 inches around. I decided that I really didn't want any tomatoes from those two plants after all! ha ha

Friday, September 23, 2011

preparing for Fall

photo credit:

Time for Fall Spring cleaning, only it's done during a whole other season. I know that not everyone does Fall cleaning. Except for maybe yard clean-up.

Well, I got started today. I am working on the laundryroom. Every nook and cranny will be scrubbed, dusted and swept. I try not to do a big cleaning job every day, and certainly not on the days that I work. I would just wear myself out. I do have limits! So, I will do this room today, and then the bedrooms on Monday. The bedrooms are the same, dust and vacuum behind furniture, scrub walls doors and baseboards, wash curtains and blinds and bedding. {bedding is of course washed more than twice a year...ha ha}

So, I've made my list and will most likely complete it within a week or so. Luckily, we have a smaller home. It's about 1900 square feet. Yay for small homes!

So, this morning I went to the shed, looking for an item, and discovered that it is a total mess. I didn't intend to, but I ended up cleaning the shed. Oh well. It wasn't on my list so... I added to the "Fall clean-up list", and then I crossed it off! One job done, ha ha ha ha...I crack me up!

Soon after I finish the inside Fall clean-up, I will begin the outside clean-up. By then, leaves will have fallen and plants will be dormant...I hope.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Staying organized

I recently walked through the library. I knew what section I was looking for, but a title caught my eye. It was about organizing your home. I soon discovered an entire section devoted to the subject of organization. Wow! I browsed through some of the books and soon realized that I could have written one of them. I love to have my home organized. I may not have the cleanest home(please don't bring a white glove over here) but I do have a pretty tidy one.

When my home is in disarray, it can actually stress me out! My kitchen cupboards are arranged by type of food and all items are neatly placed in order. My bathroom cupboards are the same. Ditto on the ole bedroom closets and dresser. Neat and tidy. I wasn't always this way. It came about when I quit working full time to stay home. My life was now devoted to keeping my home clean.

With only one child left at home, my obsession with a super clean home has cooled off a bit. I still keep the bathroom and kitchen very clean. (don't like germs...yuck!) I just am okay with a little bit of dust. Vacuuming every day is no longer a priority. I think Im mellowing out somewhat.

Except for paper budget and finances. I still write down every expense and keep a running total, to hopefully not go over the predetermined budget amounts. I also use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of and tally, monthly expenses. I have our monthly bills spread out into 2 week payments. Meaning, every payday I know that I need to pay the bills. I enter them into the spreadsheet to monitor if there's an increase and to make sure that everything is paid on time. I set up our budget so that all payments are made at least one week early.

There's just something very comforting about keeping up with our family's finances. It's nice to know that our bills are paid on time, every time. I guess I'm just a neat freak. I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I salute you, working women/mothers and budget

I have forgotten how hard it is to run a household and work outside of the home. It has been a week, and I'm exhausted. Time to prioritize tasks and delegate, I suppose! To all working women and working have my respect.

There is a coupon in today's paper, for Target, for this loaf of bread absolutely free! A $2.79 value. I didn't waste any time, luckily there is a Target within walking distance. I figure by the end of the day, their meager supply will be gone. {they had about 30 loaves.}

I am so happy that I raised my grocery budget and stopped trying to be perfect. I went to the store this morning, for just a few things. It is September 21, and after today's purchases, I still have $62.00 left in my grocery envelope! Woo Hoo! I may even have money left over at the end of the month. I saved a total of $15.79 in coupons, spending $54.00. I think that's pretty reasonable.

So much less stressful! It's good to be average and not a super duper extreme couponing, crazed person. Life is better here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Today's harvest and Christmas

I didn't take a picture, since I'm actually in the garden right now, but I just picked 10 cherry tomatoes, 2 raspberries and one butternut squash. I'm pretty excited about the raspberries. Since I lost a whole bush full of red, ripe raspberries in the July thunderstorm, I didn't think I would taste even one. There are actually about a dozen green berries on the bushes as I write this. Hopefully they will have time to turn red!

preparing for Christmas
I buy little trinkets all of the time. My goal is to have all of the stocking stuffers ready to go before December even arrives. Well, I am happy to report that I beat that goal. It is still September, and I am ready to stuff stockings! (I actually just have my teenage son left) I stuff stockings for my hubby, our 4 kids and the boyfriend, girlfriend and fiancé that we have in our family now. So, a total of 8 stockings. I did go over my initial budget of $20 per person, but once again, I am in no way going to pretend that I am perfect. Luckily, I have a temporary/seasonal job right now. That will not only pay for Christmas, but will help pay off one more bill!

We do have a budget in place for Christmas shopping. When my children were younger, I went way overboard with shopping. I'm not too sure why, just like to spoil my kiddos I guess. As our family grows, hubby and I agree that we need to cut back on spending. Last year, we spent $200 per kid, this year we will spend $100. (not including stockings)

Since I am having an honest blogging week, I can tell you that I have, in the past spent $400 per kid, for Christmas. I know....yikes!!! That's what Kmart layaway does. Ha ha ha. It allows you to buy all you want, but not pay for it all upfront. And yes, when hubby found out, he wasn't all to happy. That was about 10 years ago. I have learned a valuable lesson. {I only go crazy shopping at Christmas!} I now shop all year long, I check thrift stores, clearance sections in the store and look for coupons. My kids now how frugal I am. They know that I don't usually spend full retail price for an item. They really don't care. They just love to receive what was on their wish list!

As for gifts, I have completed shopping for one person, and have half of the gifts for another. That's a pretty good start considering it isn't even October yet!

For my extended family, I make gifts. This year will be candles, soap with ingredients from my herb garden, bookmarks with beads and baked goods. I plan to get started on those within a week. {not the baked goods}

Christmas is fun, if you don't let the stress and over commercialism get you down! So many people dread the season. Just remember the Reason for the Season! ☺

Friday, September 16, 2011

I need to realize that I am not perfect

Since starting this blog, I've put pressure on myself to be the perfect frugal wife and mom. Wow. Why? So my blog posts would be more interesting to read, maybe. Then I thought, why only post the good stuff? Why not post the bad as well? I am an imperfect being. Might as well admit that.

I use this blog not only to share my frugal finds, great recipes, gardening experience, crafts, couponing etc but also to hold myself accountable financially. I have been trying, for a long time, to get my grocery budget down to $400 per month. It is a really big challenge for me. Where did I even get that number? I think that reading others' blogs, and seeing how low their grocery budget is, I decided to "keep up with the Joneses" so to speak. I do well with all of the other budget categories. I clip coupons, combine with sales, cook and bake from scratch and I make my dogs' food. {thats pricey}

Well, I'm Colorado Girl, and I am not perfect. I will accept the fact that my grocery bill is about $500 per month. I will no longer beat myself up over this. I think that my new grocery budget will be $525 per month. There.

This is my sunflower

This is my Hollyhock

This is my amazing bargain of the day: I received a free box of Idahoan potaoes. {I dont normally use boxed potatoes, but they are free} The coupon is in the new issue of All You magazine. The chicken sausage was reduced from $4.99 to $1.29. I had a coupon for $2.50 off of a purchase of 2 Foster Farms chicken only $.08! {total retail value for all three- $10.98!!!}

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

todays photos


todays harvest: 2 spaghetti squash, 1 zucchini and 5 tomatoes.

It is going to be a chilly, possibly rainy day. There is a pot of chili in the slow cooker, and cornbread will be made. Hello Fall ♥

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I remember

I will remember a moment of silence. I will pray for the victims and their families.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Signs of fall

It is September 10th. Fall is definitely on it's way. There are signs everywhere you look.

The autumn sales displays are already out. The Burning Bush's leaves are starting to turn red. The Mums are budding. Some of the plants are starting to wilt.

I'm sitting outside right now, working on my laptop, and I think I may need to get a sweater. It's 74 degrees, but the slight breeze has a chill in it.

Unfortunately, my post summer storm garden will have enough time to grow a lot of veggies. I have baby pumpkins that just don't stand a chance.

Autumn has to be one of my favorite seasons. It's so beautiful.

Friday, September 9, 2011

misc pictures

This is the yummy bread that I baked yesterday. It had barely come out of the oven and I was right there, cutting slices. I actually ate 2 slices before I even served dinner. Oh geez...ha ha!

This is the zucchini that I shredded and sliced, ready for the freezer. Some came from my garden, some from the farmers market. Hello winter soups, breads and casseroles!

After the crazy storm that we had here in July, I didn't have any hopes of harvesting anything. Boy was I surprised this morning! 3 zucchini, 1 baby butternut squash. 1 large spaghetti squash 4 cherry tomatoes and 5 stalks of lavender flowers. YAY!!!!

This is the tomato sauce that I cooked and pureed. I put LOTS O' tomatoes and zucchini in my turkey roaster, along with onions, banana peppers, basil and garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. {all the veggies came from the farmers market, the herbs from my garden} I just let it simmer all day and when it was mushy, I blended it all in my food processor. YUM!
Read this book and follow this blog to find more amazingly easy recipes like this one!

These are the muffins that I went crazy baking a couple of weeks ago! They are all in the freezer now. I made 27 regular sized muffins....

...and 52 mini muffins. I'll post the recipe later.

This is the lone zucchini harvested last month. It was such a happy day for me!

Have a wonderful September day!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I'm back....

Life just gets in the way of blogging sometimes. I know this is an anonymous blog, but I still won't go into details of my absence. Lets just say I experienced a painful time in my life. I'm working though it, and am confident that I will feel better soon.

On a lighter note, I picked up a part time job. I'm pretty excited about that fact! It's only about 15-20 hours per week, but I really think the extra income will help us reach our year end {and 5 year} goals. We really want to have all debt gone by December 31 of this year, and have the mortgage paid within 5 years.

Lately, things keep popping up. This needs to be fixed, that just broke, etc. With my meager income, I'm hoping to stay on track with the budget, as well as build up savings for those unexpected things. I know for certain that our furnace will need repairing or replacing really soon. Some things you can plan for ahead of time. Others, like major car repairs last month, you just can't plan.

To stay on the ole grocery budget, I really need to watch my menu planning, especially for the days/nights that I will work. I work tonight, so I just put a pot of clam chowder in the slow cooker. I'm going to raise some yeast bread, and bake that before I leave. I think planning will be key to staying away from take out and/or convenience foods. I will only work 3-4 days per week, but I will generally be leaving when I normally start preparing dinner.

I know that this little job may not seem like much, and it will most likely prevent me from being at every family event, but I think a small amount of sacrifice now will be a great benefit in the long run. Becoming debt free will be like Christmas for me! I will dance in the streets and sing joyously and praise God for his help. {I asked Him for guidance on this. Do I apply? After the interview, I prayed to God, and said if it's His will, I would love this job.}

Here's my super easy Clam Chowder recipe. I wait until the clams are on sale, and then I buy a few cans to have on hand. Try it, I guarantee that you will love it!

Clam Chowder

2 cans cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom
2- 6.5 ounce cans of clams, with the juice
1 16 ounce bag of hash browns, or grate a few potatoes
2 cups milk or half and half
2 TBSP chopped bacon
1/4 tsp pepper
optional- 1 small can of sliced mushrooms, or sliced fresh mushrooms

Spray slow cooker. Combine all in cooker and stir. Cover and cook on low 4-4 1/2 hours, or on high 8-9 hours. I serve in soup bowls with a sprinkling of grated cheese and with bread and salad on the side. Makes about 6 servings.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ready made meals

Last week, I discussed how I pre-make breakfasts and freeze them. I should also say that I have been making double batches of dinner meals and freezing those. You just never know what can happen during the school year. There are times that a game will run late, or conferences start and end late, you have to drive every child you son knows home etc.

For those and many more reasons, I like to have meals in the freezer so I can just heat something up. Tonight, for example, I made a Mexican lasagna. I made 8 portions. Half of it went into the freezer. The way that I freeze lasagna is simple. I let it cool, cut it into square slices, and freeze on wax paper lined cookie sheet. When frozen, I put the individual portions into a plastic bag. This makes them very easy to thaw or reheat. (and it keeps the shape of the lasagna)

You can make so many meals that freeze very nicely. I try to avoid milky meals or potatoes. They don't reheat very well. I will freeze soups, just not creamy soups. Taco meat, meatloaf, burritos and spaghetti are good examples.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Want to know what is really cool?

When your kids, and some of their friends, post Bible versus on their Facebook pages a few times per week.

That's really cool!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting ready....

School starts next week. We have school supplies and school clothes. I am not ready, neither are the children. (I'm the weird mom that hates it when the kids go back to school. I just miss them!)

I do know that mornings can be hectic if you are not prepared. For that reason, I have spent the last couple of weeks preparing for school mornings. In the kitchen. I have been making muffins, pancakes and egg sandwiches. I'm trying to have the freezer well stocked, before school starts. I find it so much easier to thaw breakfast versus making the meal every morning.

I have just been making double batches when I have been cooking lately. I have also been freezing berries, mangoes and bananas for smoothies. There's nothing easier than to whip up a fruit smoothie and thaw a muffin and call it breakfast. Even if we get up late, smoothies and muffins are quite portable. (yes, we have been known to have breakfast on the way to school.)

Our smoothies:
Rice or coconut milk
Frozen fruit
Splash of vanilla
Splash of agave nectar
Small scoop of protein powder

Our breakfast sandwiches:
Wheat hamburger buns or English muffins (preferably on clearance)
Sliced rice cheese
Fried egg with broken yolk
Canadian bacon or regular bacon (whichever was on sale, combined with a coupon)

After I assemble the sandwiches, I freeze them on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a container. They thaw pretty quickly, in the microwave, usually about 30 seconds. The cheese is melty and yummy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What a wonderful day!

I just found 2 spaghetti squash, 4 cherry tomatoes and 2 zucchini growing in the garden! I'm so very happy!! I was losing hope. But, there they are. Baby veggies.

Thats all that I have to say right now. I'm in the middle of pruning a 10 foot hedge down to a 6 foot height. It's exhausting.

Break is over, back to work.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What the storm left behind

The storm left me with mostly a mess to clean up. Over a month later, we have Hollyhocks. They came back. They look like a storm didn't even crush them.

I also found 3 more green beans in the garden. I will not be able to harvest enough produce to can or freeze, but I will proudly steam these 3 green beans, and have them with my lunch. My herbs are doing well once again. I will be freezing basil, oregano and cilantro. The peppermint, lemon balm and spearmint will be dried for tea.

I am going to the other farmers market this week. It may be farther away, but after the disappointment of the last market, I am truly looking forward to this journey! I am going to get lots o' zucchini! I usually have zucchini, spaghetti squash and yellow squash taking over the house at this time. I'm pretty sad that I don't, but I will this Thursday. I plan to get there when it opens and fill my bags. Then it will all be processed and frozen.

I may not have grown the bounty, but I will have it ready all winter long.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My stats

I just discovered that you can track your all time page views,with a new Blogger gadget. Okay, I thought, Ill give it a shot. Was I ever surprised to see my page view stats! I occasionally look at the weekly stats, but could never imagine that my all time views would be over 2,000!

WOW! Thank you to all that have stopped by. It's amazing to think that people would want to read my blog posts.

I am humbled.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Down time

We all need a little bit of down time.

I've been very busy this week. There is the major yard project that has occupied much of my time. There were school registrations. Many appointments. Errands to run. And we can't forget the usual cooking, cleaning and laundry.

It's almost 6:00 PM. I can smell dinner simmering on the stove. I hear the washing machine running. The dog is snoring and, I think, dreaming of chasing a squirrel. Hubby isn't home yet and the kids are at a friends party.

I'm laying on the bed reading blogs and email.

I don't feel the least bit guilty.

It's my down time.

I may even take a quick cat nap....

Friday, August 5, 2011

Best iced coffee and surprise beans

Two completely unrelated topics, but both are on my mind right now.

It has been so hot! But I love to have a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Solution? Iced coffee. The fact that it's homemade makes it even tastier!

I have already discussed how I save money by making coffee at home. Now I'll share how I have yummy iced coffee for pennies per cup. (and it tastes so much like Starbucks,if not better!)

When I make a pot of coffee, I pour myself a cup. I pour some into an ice cube tray and the rest goes into the fridge for another day. After the coffee ice cubes freeze, I put them into a plastic container. When Im ready for an iced coffee, I add a few cubes to the blender. To that I add some milk and sweetener. Sometimes I also add a splash of vanilla. Blend all and enjoy.

Soooooo good! And refreshing on a hot summer day!

I was weeding the garden today and found an unexpected treasure! Beans! The bean plants were destroyed in the hail storm last month. Imagine my surprise to find a small bean plant with two full size beans. I know there's only two, but I just about gave up hope of ever harvesting anything this year! Yay!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If this is this farmers market...where are the farmers?

When I went grocery shopping a few days ago, I didn't buy a whole lot of produce. I was planning a trip to the farmers market. I wanted to support local farmers. There were plenty of great sales at the grocery store. I just had a plan.

The farmers market that we used to have in town was so much fun. There were at least a dozen farmers as well as kettle corn, a BBQ truck and a local baker. You could do your shopping and be on your way in a matter of minutes. But why would you? It was a place to visit and even run into friends and neighbors.

The farmers would travel from Olathe, Co as well as Rocky Ford, Co. They would bring their corn and melons. There would be yummy samples.

Well, they moved it away. There weren't enough customers here. Bummer. The new location is a good 20 minute drive. We could walk to the former location. There's a new market this year. Imagine my happiness! It's a mere 8 minute drive. I looked forward to going. Even planned my day around it, since it's only open for 2 hours.

Now imagine my shock when I arrive, with all of my excitement and find ONE farmer. The so called farmer had just one local crop. A few onions. Everything else was from California. Really? And the prices were outrageous!!! One dollar for a small zucchini! Wow! I couldn't believe that this was called a farmers market.

There were 10 other booths. All of them were venders and restaurants. Nothing made locally and nothing made by farmers.

Sad day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

reading addict/libraries

I recently read a blog post at Girl Savors Life. She was so close to writing about my own life! I spend most of my free time with my nose in a book. {or magazine, or newspaper...} Reading is a major passion of mine. Don't give me an ereader! I don't want it. I want the written word on paper, thankyouverymuch!

My family is addicted to gadgets, and cable, and You Tube etc, they must be "plugged in" at all times. It drives me batty. {I've suggested canceling the cable, but my life was threatened...ha ha}

My hubby always sits down and immediately turns on the TV. In his defense, he does ask if there's something that I watch. No, I reply. There's nothing that I want to watch. I pick up my book and go to another room. {cant read with the noisy TV}

Like the blog post above, I also volunteer at the library's book sale. I think it's a worthwhile cause. The money raised funds the reading programs. {and I get first pick of the crop!}

The bad news is this: the libraries are in trouble! Our local county is getting ready to close a few more libraries. Most locations are already closed a few days per week. They just laid off so many people.

Neighboring counties are also planning to close locations and lay off more people. They tried going to the voters for help, but the measures didn't pass.

I would be so sad without my library! If your local county puts a measure up for voting this fall, for the library, please consider supporting it.

Thank you

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

uh-oh....we went over budget

A blog is a great place to admit mistakes and hold yourself accountable.

July was a very expensive month for us. We had major repairs on both vehicles for starters. We had to spend almost $1400 just for auto expenses. {I normally budget $230 for this category} We also had major vet bills. Add to that the over spending of groceries, dining out and miscellaneous expenses and you have the makings of a blown budget! Yikes.

I guess summer does that to you. It's just a time to relax.

Well, we will make up for that this month. I sat down yesterday and took stock of the freezer and pantry. I made a three week menu plan and then made a grocery list around that. I will plan to have leftovers after every dinner, so my hubby will have a lunch the next day.

I went to 4 stores, to find the best bargains. I combined coupons with the sales as best as I could.

The result was spending $164.92:
grocery- $53.69
Walgreens- $12.74
Whole Foods- $48.12
Sam's Club- 50.37

I also had to renew my Sam's membership, so that will add $40 to the grocery total for the month. I plan to visit the farmers market on Thursday and will most likely run out of something, in the next 3 weeks, so I have a budget of $60 for those trips. That will put me at $245 at the end of three weeks for groceries. {including membership renewal}

I will have to do more baking {early in the day of course} but we really need to get back on course.

I also went to the bank yesterday and filled my budget envelopes. No debit card this month!!! Hubby also has his "mad money" already in his wallet. So we have our funds for entertainment, allowance, grocery, home care, eating out, any gift purchases, gas and misc purchases. When the envelope is empty...that's it!

We will have to go school clothes shopping and pay school fees, but those have been budgeted for. We are actually starting school clothes shopping today. We are going to Ross and the thrift store. We already have the school supplies. {Hello summer school supply sales! ha ha}

Okay, I feel better now that I've confessed. Thanks. ☺

Monday, August 1, 2011

The "end times"

I just finished my devotional reading for the day. I am still using my "read the Bible in a year" reading plan. This puts me in Isaiah right now. In my study guide, the author talks about the end times. This got me thinking. The end times were supposed to be on May 21st this year. That didn't happen. Now it's actually going to be 2012. (you know, because you can predict this sort of thing...ha ha)

So, after reading about the end times, what was my first thought? I hope He gives me enough time to grab my scrapbooks and the pictures off of the wall. I don't want to leave without those! ha ha ha

It's not like it's a flood coming and you can save your priceless treasures. Oh my goodness. I just had to laugh at myself over that one. I am such a mom sometimes.

But seriously, do you think He will let me at least take the scrapbooks?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

time to head to the farmer's market

Since I am having so many struggles, with my garden, I turn to the farmer's market. (it's really more of a road side stand, but they are home farmers so....) There isn't a whole lot yet, but I was so happy to find some new potatoes!

The potatoes will be sauteed tomorrow, with some onions, fresh herbs and garlic. {I will quarter them first} YUM!

I also found some zucchini. I didn't get a picture of it. I came home and got right to work turning them into stuffed zucchini. This is one of my family's favorites. I only make it during the summer, so it's an annual treat. Sorry family. Normally, it wouldn't cost anything to head outside and harvest some, but we were happy to support the local farmer. The guy put us on his email list, so we will know what he's bringing each week. That's pretty cool. I may not have my own veggies right now, but at least we're helping others.

To make the stuffed zucchini, wash the zucchini and cut off the ends. {Usually about 6 medium sized} Place in boiling water
for about 5 minutes, until softened. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp. Then scoop out a little bit of the flesh, and chop, to use in the filling.

for the filling you will need:

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 pound ground meat

1 cup chopped tomato

1/4 seasoning {I make my own spaghetti seasoning}

1 small can tomato paste

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

dash of pepper

fresh basil, if desired {I add about 10-12 cut up leaves}

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook meat and onion. Combine with chopped zucchini, tomato, seasoning, tomato paste and cheese. Arrange zucchini in a 9X13" pan. Spoon filling into each zucchini half. Bake for 30 mins.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

coffee time

I love a good cup of coffee. Not in the morning. That's tea time. Early afternoon is coffee time.


There's something comforting and relaxing about going to a coffee shop. Ordering your coffee in a ceramic mug. Not a paper cup. Sitting back and reading the paper, a magazine or a good book. Working on your laptop or visiting with a friend or loved one is also a good choice.

Well, that can't happen everyday. So, you make coffee at home. Really good coffee is not good for the ole budget. I found a solution that works well for me. I buy the store brand coffee, when it goes on sale. I wait for coupons for the really good coffee, also on sale {the kind you need to grind yourself} and get the smallest package the coupon will allow. Hopefully, I have more than one coupon.

When I get home, I grind the beans of the good vanilla coffee. {yum} and mix it approximately half and half with the store brand coffee. This way, I get the tasty expensive coffee, but the pay the store brand price. This last time, I bought a 13 ounce can of coffee and a 1/2 pound of bulk coffee and spent less than $5.00. Since I only drink 1 cup per day, this will last for months! {I make a small pot and keep it in the fridge. I just reheat one cup at a time}

As I type this, I am enjoying a cup of coffee with a pizzelle cookie purchased at the farmer's market. I am using a beautiful mug given to me by my son. Awesome.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nooo! Not my tomato!

Almost two weeks ago, we had a pretty bad summer storm. (I was going to link it here, but my iPad won't support the HTML code. Bummer) if you read my previous post then you know that I pretty much lost all fruits and veggies growing in my garden. I have a few herbs that survived as well as my root veggies.

I did have one tomato plant that survived the hail. The foliage was pretty torn up, but I had one tomato that was going to keep on growing. I was so excited. I have my new canning jars and lids, ready for lots o'tomatoes. Those dreams were crushed. But that's when I saw the ONE Roma tomato. I babied it. I fed it. Watered it. Watched it change from green to yellow to orange. It was just beginning to get a hint of red.
Then I went to the garden this morning. Walking up to greet my one lonely tomato, I discovered it missing. What the heck? Well, I found it. On the other side of the garden. Half eaten. Seriously. If you are going to steal my tomato, at least eat all of it. (squirrel? Raccoon?)

There goes my fantasy of harvesting one tomato this year.

Insert sad face here.

The good news/bad news is this: I left all of the plants in the ground hoping that they would regrow. I watched as my pumpkin and squash plants started regrowing new vines. Good news! Yay! Then, I discovered that the critters have also been dining on my squash blossoms. Ah man! I can't catch a break this summer.

Hopefully, I will be able to harvest herbs this year. At least let me harvest something. No zucchini in the freezer? No raspberry jam in there either? Bummer. If I can't open my freezer, all winter, and have fresh herbs there my heart will break.

I will have carrots and beets for sure. I'm not sure about the potatoes since the vines are completely gone. I thought that they would be fine, but a neighbor informed me that they indeed need the vines to grow underground. We shall see.

The troubles of the home farmer. I can feel the pain of actual farmers that grow cash crops. How devastating to lose all of your hard work to a violent summer storm!

Monday, July 18, 2011

going bananas

Half price bananas! They are still perfect inside, just a little spotty on the outside.

These will become smoothies, bread, cookies, muffins etc.....