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.