Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wife of the Year

I must be the most wonderful wife in the world. I just copied all of dh's cds onto the computer so he can put them on his mp3 player. Although, I guess if I was really a wonderful wife, I'd buy him some cds from this millenium. LOL Now, if I could only figure out how to get his records saved on the computer... really.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Decorating on a Budget

We're having two Christmas trees this year. One is a 9ft family tree and the other is my brand new 6.5 ft., pre-lit, white tree, just for me to showcase our collection of White House ornaments. It doesn't sound very frugal, does it? Well, the brand new tree isn't exactly brand new. It's been in my attic for almost a year. I bought it for $7 after Christmas last year! I also bought the red and blue balls last year for 20c per box and the tree topper for 50c. The White House ornaments are an annual gift from Jeff's brother who lives in D.C. and the garland I bought years ago for the big tree but there's not enough. So, for about $8, I have a brand new completely decorated Christmas tree in my living room this year.

We also have brand new stockings, new Christmas cds, and two pair of Christmas socks. I'd forgotten about the socks so that was a happy surprise for me. I love funky socks. Start planning next year's Christmas decorations now, and you can save up to 90% by buying in January!
Don't forget to buy something fun to stick in with the Christmas stuff. You're going to want a happy surprise after dragging all that stuff out of the attic! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I don't know how Wednesday night church surprises me every week, but it just seems to sneak up on me. This evening was no exception so we were rushing around trying to get everyone clean before we left. That led to me putting Ryan in my shower while the littles took their baths in the boys' bathroom.

I was in the other bathroom when I heard Ryan moaning and whining in pain, "Owwwww, ohhhhh, this soap hurts." I assumed he'd gotten shampoo in his eyes and I rushed in there to help him rinse it out. That's when I saw the "soap" he was rubbing directly onto his body.

I've told him and told him to use a washcloth!!


I do not care how cheap the chicken is at Kroger. I am not going back in there until they do away with those cars screwed on to the front of the shopping carts!! It seems ingenious at first! I really liked the idea. But, like a lot of good ideas, it doesn't actually work in real life.

As soon as we walk in the store, Matthew makes a bee-line for that car. "Oh great," I think, "That'll keep him happy while I stock up on chicken and buy some ridiculously overpriced dog treats." Evan squeezes in the car with Matthew. That's your first clue that this is not going to be a fun trip! LOL

First off, if you've never driven a car/shopping cart, you should know that they're HARD to steer. They're long and the wheels don't turn right. You can NOT make a 90 turn and trying to go around an end cap from one aisle to the next usually results in some display being toppled.

So, while I'm fighting this massive cart, Matthew is fighting with his brother. Evan is crammed in the car like a sardine and Matthew is hitting him. I'm not sure why. I never saw Evan do anything to him but Matthew is not the type of kid to hit without provocation.

I quickly loaded up 20 lbs of boneless chicken tenderloins and rushed to the register. The register aisles are just wide enough to get the car through them. It doesn't work unless you're going straight into the aisle. You can't be angled even a slight little bit. Did I mention that the car carts are long, hard to steer, and not aligned very well?

I'm glad my freezer is full of chicken b/c I'm not going back to Kroger... at least until we run out of chicken and they have another good sale!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sugar Shock

Wow! There's a lot of candy in my house. We've had church parties and trick-or-treating and we still have another fall party next week. Matthew is especially overwhelmed with the amount of candy. He loves candy so he's miserable that he can't eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I imagine there are a lot of houses overflowing with candy at this time of year. So, here's a few ideas that we've used to get rid of it quick!
  1. Share!! We trick or treated in SIL's neighborhood so SIL and her teenage kids were invited to share the wealth. They picked out what they wanted and we had less candy to cart home.
  2. Eat! I let the kids eat as much as they could stuff down their greedy little throats when we finished trick or treating. I also let them eat lots the following couple of days. It's just once a year.
  3. Hide!!! I instantly picked out all the M&Ms and put them in the freezer. They're yummy when frozen and also make great add-ins when baking cookies. I also took all the Reese's and Chewy Sweettarts for my secret stash.
  4. Hoard! (This doesn't actually get rid of the candy, but it does keep the kids from overdosing.) Pick out the stuff you can use for other purposes. We usually have some candy in Christmas stockings so I put up a few things that we can save until then. No sense buying candy later when I have way more than I can use now!
  5. Donate!!! It's been four days since trick-or-treat. The kids have eaten more candy than they should have. The rest of it is going to church with me tomorrow. I'll put it my Sunday School classroom and use it to bribe, er, I mean reward the kids for months to come. Your church may appreciate a similar donation or let Dad take a big bag to share at work. You could also put it in with a food pantry donation.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Is it wrong to be anticipating tomorrow's lunch as you clean up tonight's dinner? My favorite lunch of all time is whatever we had for dinner last night. :) Leftovers, they're easy to fix, taste better than sandwiches, healthier than frozen stuff, and very filling!

Here's a great way to fit all those leftovers in the fridge.
If you don't mind fighting with a roll of plastic wrap, it works fine for a single bowl. But we had tacos last night! I had bowls of meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and sauce. The pink bowl on top has a lid. That saves on plastic wrap and makes things easy to stack. But what about all those bowls without lids? I don't want to transfer them to tupperware and have twice the dishes! So I just use a little trick of my Mom's. Plates placed on top of the bowls work as lids to keep the food fresh AND allow you to stack the bowls so they'll all fit in the fridge! You can't do that with plastic wrap!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Abraham or Lot?

Genesis tells us about Abraham and Lot. Both had been blessed so much that they couldn't fit all their stuff together. The herdsmen were arguing. Something had to be done. Abraham offered his nephew a solution. They needed to move apart and Abraham offered Lot his choice of land. Lot looked around and took the best land he could find, The Plain of Jordan. He moved his stuff there and set up housekeeping. Abraham took what was left, the Land of Canann. As Abraham settled in his new digs, God blessed his generosity. God told Abraham to look as far as he could, to the east, west, north, and south. That land would be his and his descendents. He would have so many descendents they would number as much as grains of dust on the whole earth! Lot, on the other hand, took the best land for himself, the land near the wicked city of Sodom. Lot was eventually captured and rescued by Abraham, who held no grudge against his nephew's selfishness.

As Adam, Ryan, and I studied Abraham this morning, we talked about selfishness as a part of human nature. We all vowed to be more like Abraham, and less like Lot. It wasn't even an hour later when Ryan and Evan were arguing over which DVD to watch. I asked Ryan, "Are you going to be like Abraham or like Lot?" It was hard, but Ryan let Evan pick the dvd... and Evan picked one they both could enjoy. The blessings have started already. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lesson Learned

Although it may look clean, if you suspect that milk has been spilled in your cooler, you really should clean it before you put it back into storage.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Oriental Salad

I'm not a big salad eater, or any other vegies either. I'm more of a meat and potatoes kind of gal... or actually, more of a dessert kind of gal! LOL

My sister made me try this salad at a birthday party. YUMMY! I've made it for a couple occasions since then. Everyone that tries it, loves it! It's the perfect combination of sweet and healthy. ;)

Oriental Salad

1 head finely chopped lettuce
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 tblspn poppy seeds
1 can chow mein noodles
1/3 c sliced almonds

1/2c sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4c cider vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

Toss salad
Put dressing ingredients in blender
blend until sugar is dissolved
Pour over sald and toss, JUST BEFORE SERVING, the noodles will get soggy if you let it sit!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Easiest Recipe Ever

My kids and husband have been on a huge cinnamon toast kick lately. They eat it for breakfast, for snack, for dessert.... It's the anytime food! And, as far as sweet treats go, it's far more healthy than most other choices.

My mom used to make cinnamon toast in the oven. I hated the way the bottom would stay soft and mushy while the top got too crispy. Plus the oven takes too long, uses too much energy, and heats up the whole house! I decided to try a shortcut and it makes better toast faster
  1. Toast bread (in the regular toaster)
  2. Spread with butter
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture
  4. Eat
  5. Ask for more

We keep the cinnamon/sugar mix in a salt shaker so it's ready to go and makes less mess than trying to sprinkle with a spoon. It's about half sugar - half cinnamon but you can mix it to your taste.

When you make cinnamon toast, the aroma of warm bread, melting butter, and sweet cinnamon makes your whole house smell like you're baking a fancy dessert.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Free Pizza Rolls

Okay, it's been a while since I posted here... over a month. But I have to update on that pizza roll post; the pizza rolls I bought for 39c a box. Each of those boxes had a 50c coupon on it!!! Last week Kroger had pizza rolls on sale for $1. And Kroger doubles coupons!! That's right... 50c doubled = $1!! I got five free boxes of pizza rolls and another box for 20c b/c I had an extra coupon for 40c off. I love a great deal!

Monday, August 27, 2007


My freezer is stocked with frozen convenience foods. They're not something I normally buy since they're overpriced and generally less healthy than other options. But, they are convenient! And since I used coupons, I got great prices.

Totino's frozen pizzas are an occasional treat for the boys. Last time we bought them, they had coupons on the back of the boxes. For 99c, I got the frozen pizza and more than 99c in coupons! One of the coupons was 50c off Totino's pizza rolls. Our local grocery had the pizza rolls on sale for $1.39 last week. After they doubled my coupons I spent 39c per box! Adam is in heaven. Another coupon was 50c off Toaster Strudel. Toaster Strudel were also on sale last week. After my coupons were doubled, I paid $1.oo per box. It's not as good a deal as the pizza rolls, but I love Toaster Strudel.

Another great deal I got last week was on Honey Nut Cheerios. All the males in my family adore Honey Nut Cheerios. They eat at least one box, sometimes two boxes, every week and it must be General Mills, no store brand. Honey Nut Cheerios are not the most expensive cereal, but they're not the cheapest either. When I see coupons for HNC, I stock up and wait for a sale. In July, it was Kroger that had HNC for $1.69 plus you got free milk if you bought a certain amount. Then, they had blinkies for $1.00 off two boxes. I stocked up!! But those boxes ran out and it's time to restock. Our local Foodland had the bigger boxes of HNC for $2.50 last week. I had a stash of those blinkie coupons that I got a Kroger in July. That brought the price down to $2/box. It's not as good a deal as Kroger in July, but good enough for me to buy eight boxes of cereal. I just hope there's another sale in October! ;)

It takes some effort to save money with coupons. Couponing is more than just clipping the Sunday inserts and remembering to take it to the store. It's even harder now than it used to be. Manufacturers aren't putting out as many higher dollar coupons as they used and the coupons now have shorter expirations. I've never been one of those people who purchased an entire cartload of grocries for $1.67, but I have gotten a lot of free and almost free stuff.

My advice:

Don't limit yourself to Sunday inserts. You can find some good coupons
in there, especially for new products, but the better coupons are from other
sources. Check your food packages before you toss them.
I get tons of coupons in the mail b/c I'm on every mailing list in the
country. Request free samples on-line. They usually come with
coupons AND you get added to the mailing list. Join the diaper
clubs. Be alert at the stores. Grocery stores often have coupons
right there in the aisle. Don't just use them today; get enough to last
you through the expiration period. Don't forget on-line coupons! You
can find tons of printables or just add coupons to your shopping card at Upons.

Maximize your savings by waiting for a sale. That's double savings and
that's where you wind up getting your free or practically free items.

Shop at stores that double coupons. Same amount of work, twice the

Store you coupons so you can find them when you need them. I carry mine
in a brag book photo album. Each page holds a coupon, or multiples of the
same coupon, and they're arranged in the order of the aisles in my favorite
grocery store. It's much easier to flip through the book, than to sort
through a coupon file or, gasp, envelope stuffed with coupons.
Sort them regularly and pull out the expireds.

Don't use coupons to buy things you don't like. You'll hear a lot of
people tell you to only use coupons for things you're already buying. But
I don't regularly buy pizza rolls and I got them for 39c! Don't overlook
things you like, but don't normally purchase. Coupons can be great way to
afford that extra treat or try something new. But, be selective.
You're not saving anything if your family won't eat or use the product.

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's a Contest

I just love Sandra Boynton. Our favorite book is The Going to Bed Book. We love it so much we don't even need the book anymore. LOL I just recite the poem as I put Matthew in his PJs and he knows it's time to snuggle down and go to sleep.

Loni, at Joy in the Morning, is giving away a Sandra Boynton calendar! My SIL has one of these and it's very handy for organizing a big family. There's lots of space for writing down everyone's plans so you can cross reference which parent is taking which kid where! I hope I win!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Backyard Barber Shop

My sister was not impressed with my butter tip. But now I'm going to tell you how I save $50 a month. Who can not be impressed with $50 a month? That's $600 dollars a year! With five heads of hair to be cut at $10 a pop, the local barber was really making some dough from this family. We always had to wait FOREVER in this tiny little room with stuffed squirrels on the wall, sports on the tv, and only car magazines to read. Most of the time, he didn't even get the little ones' haircuts straight. They tend to wiggle and slouch.

And so, I opened my own barber shop on the back deck. I just needed a clipper donated by my mother-in-law and a plastic box to seat the victim, er... I mean customer. At first, I wasn't very good at it. There was a very memorable incident with a tick on Adam's head and a lot of screaming that made me question the wisdom of this plan. But, for a $10 per head savings, I kept practicing. My boys don't really care what their hair looks like yet so I have plenty of time to perfect the art.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Waste Not

Okay, I know it's just butter, or more accurately, margarine, but the laws of frugality still apply. My kids seem to think the bowl is empty when you can't dip in and get a knife full. But I can't stand to let the stuff on the sides go into the trash, or, more accurately, down the drain when I stick that bowl in the dishwasher. My newest trick for getting every last drop of margarine is the microwave. Just stick the seemingly empty bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. The margarine will melt and form a puddle in the bottom of the bowl. Just pour it over your vegies or into the measuring cup. Depending on how well you scrape the bowl beforehand, you may end up saving a 1/2 cup of margarine. Just think about how much you'll save over the course of a year. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Who's Scared of Godzilla?

I'm boycotting Wal-Mart's Bakery for birthday cakes. This was a hard decision for me. I dearly love the icing but, lately, I'm not too impressed with their artistic vision. I admit to not having any cake decorating skills but *I* do not work in a bakery decorating cakes!! It doesn't take much skill to stick a cheap plastic toy on top of a sheet cake!!

And so, for this weeks Make It From Scratch, I submit this not really made from scratch, but decorated at home, Godzilla birthday cake. I used a cake mix and canned frosting. BUT, I decorated it myself (as if you can't tell from the picture LOL).

It all started when Ryan requested a Godzilla cake for his 9th birthday. I'd already decided I was not buying any more $25 bakery cakes. I googled Godzilla birthday cake and came up with two ideas. One was far, far beyond my capabilities but I decided to tackle this skyscraper. I baked two cakes and cut them in graduated square shapes. I stacked the cakes and iced the tower, to the best of my limited abilities, to look like a skyscraper. Then I rammed Godzilla into the side of the cake so he could climb the building. It came out a little more "art deco" than I intended but Ryan loved it.
An added bonus was the cost savings. Instead of $25, I spent $7 on cake mix and icing, including a fancy can of spray icing to do the windows. The Godzilla was another $8 but that's a toy Ryan will play with for a long time, unlike those cheap cake kits you get at the bakery. Even including the toy, I spent $10 LESS than the bakery!
Now, if I could just get some of that bakery icing. Mmmmmm.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Change the Bag, Stupid!

I never claimed to be a domestic goddess, but vacuuming isn't brain surgery. It's not a high skill task. My 2 yo has mastered the art with his tiny Dirt Devil. But I've managed to mess it up a few times.

Back in November, the vacuum I had received early in my marriage died an impressive, smokey death. I believe I sucked up a rock while sweeping the patio. It's not as dumb as it sounds. There is an outdoor carpet on the patio. But the sweeper was dead and we needed a new one. I wanted a Dyson but couldn't justify that kind of money for something I was sure to destroy. I bought an $80 Bissell Powerforce. It was horrible, but I used it for months because, well... because I'd spent $80 on it and I wasn't willing to call it a loss.

Last month, I found a new (to me) vacuum at a yard sale. It was $15. That's a lot for me to spend on one item at a yard sale. But I really really needed a vacuum that would actually remove popcorn crumbs from my carpet. And it was like new and even came with an extra package of sweeper bags. So, I bought the vacuum. I went home and looked it up on the Internet. Wowza! It turns out that I had bought myself a $300, self-propelled Hoover Wind Tunnel, a true marvel of engineering. If Dyson is the King of vacuums, this one must surely be the Queen?

And it worked!! It sucked up popcorn. It sucked up grass. It sucked up dog hair. It'll suck up your foot if you're not careful!!! But recently, it hasn't been working as well as it used to work. And when I'd park it, it would spit out a big pile of the stuff it had sucked up. {SOB} What, oh what, had I done to my new vacuum to make it go on strike?? I suffered for a week or two, until today, when it occurred to me to check the "full bag indicator." Yes, the queen of sweepers has an indicator to tell you when the bag is full. And yes, the bag was quite full. It was filled all the way to top! I've never seen a bag so full! I changed the bag and we're back in business!! So, if you're vacuum is not as efficient as it once was... and if your vacuum upchucks when you turn it off... you just need to change the bag, Stupid!

Summer Salsa

It's summer time!! Time for swimming and traveling and lots of gardening. I'm reaping the benefits of the harvest this time of year. No, I don't garden but lots of people around me do! They're always willing to share the abundance and what isn't given to me, I can buy fresh and cheap at a road side farm stand.

I'm often lured by the cheap prices and buy more than we can use. That happened recently and I had too many tomatoes to eat. So, what's a girl to do with too many tomatoes? SALSA!!! I've never made home made salsa so I searched the Internet for an easy recipe. There were lots to choose from and they all used pretty much the same ingredients so I just made up my own recipe. Lots of tomatoes, an onion, a green pepper, a sweet pepper, a few jalapeno slices to appease the husband (these were from a jar), but it still wasn't quite right. Most of the recipes called for cilantro but I didn't have any so that wasn't happening. I asked a friend who knows about these things. She suggested adding a bit of sugar and there it was .... the perfect salsa!! And lots of it! I've been eating this stuff for weeks! And loving it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Do You Scrap?

I know lots of people who spend LOTS of money on scrapbooking. I even admit to a splurge or two. I once got in a bidding war on eBay and paid $5 for a pirate die cut (+ shipping!). But you should see how cute that trick or treat page is... Arrgh! It's Halloween, Matie! If I had a scanner hooked up to this computer, I'd show you. But I digress. I want to share a frugal scrapbooking tip that I discovered yesterday.

I was working on some pictures of Matthew with a box of Cheerios. I know I've seen some cute, cute, cute Cheerios stickers at the store and I imagine they are pretty pricey. I may have even bought some if they'd been convenient. But I was home with four kids and there's no way I was going to run to the mall.

So, I went on-line!! A Google Images search turned up so-o-o-o many pictures of Cheerios and Cheerios boxes. I printed out as many as I could use and Voila! I have the cutest Cheerios page for Matthew's baby book. I used a scrap of acid free paper from my scrap bag so it didn't even cost me any paper, just a little time and printer ink.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Grosser Than Gross

I've been a mom for eleven years. Things that used to gross me out no longer have any effect. I'm immune to pee, poop, and puke. Boogers, blood, and bugs are mildly inconvenient. So, when I saw this contest at Adventures in Babywearing, I couldn't think of anything gross enough to post. I've seen puke with whole pieces of pasta, walls covered in dried boogers, and milk that slides out of the cup in a solid chunk. Yeah, it's gross.. But it's not Grosser Than Gross.

I have four boys! I should be able to come up with something really, really gross. And I did, courtesy of boy #3, Evan, the five year old. It's not gooey or grimey or slimey but it made me gag. And it takes a lot to gag a mother of four boys.

Our family was eating dinner at Steak and Shake with MIL and SIL. Evan was done eating and he was getting restless, as five year olds are known to do. He was wiggling and sliding around in his seat, even sliding so far as to be in the floor under the table. He disappeared under the table and I was glad for the respite. But he never reappeared. I leaned down to see what was keeping him occupied under the table. My adorable little guy had his teeth sunk into a piece of gum on the bottom of the table. He had it stretched out about a foot, with a string of someone else's chewed up gum going from his mouth to the bottom of the table! Ewwwww! Now that's GROSS!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Menu Planning

Being a family of six, with four growing boys, you can imagine the amount of money we spend on groceries! You can imagine... but I'd like to think your guess would be too high. Money management is my strong point when it comes to keeping house. I can feed this family, including the dog and all toiletries and paper products, for about $100 per week... usually less but sometimes more. The "more" usually happens when I don't organize.

When the grocery ads come in the mail, I usually flip straight to meat section. We like meat! LOL I'll note what's on sale and plan my menu around that. Sometimes I'll buy two or more of something and stick the extra in the freezer. I also like to check the loss leaders on the front page of the ads. These are extra good deals the stores offer to lure you in the door. Then, I'll check to see if there are any sales that match my coupons (a subject for a later post). After I make my menu for the week, I make a shopping list. I keep a master list on the computer with things we use every week; things like milk, bread, cereal, mac & cheese, vegies, produce, etc. I'll check my cabinets to see what I have and what I need. I mark through the list items that are already in the kitchen and add any sale items that aren't on the master list. When I shop, I shop the list! I seldom buy anything that isn't written down. It has to be a really good deal for me to deviate from the list.

Menu planning doesn't just save us money. It also helps organize our days. If I have a menu, I don't need to worry about what we're having for dinner. I don't need to scrounge around the kitchen trying to find something edible. I check the menu and make the meal. It's less stressful and less expensive (yes, back to money again). We're far less likely to run through a drive-thru or order pizza if dinner is planned.

One thing I don't do is assign specific meals to each day. I just make a list of 6-8 meals and we pick and choose what we're in the mood to make or eat.

This Week's Menu:



steak &
mashed potatoes
green beans

grilled italian chicken (marinate in italian dressing)
baked beans
macaroni salad

bbq chicken
corn on the cob
tomato/cucumber (not my personal garden)

tilapia filets

I bet you can tell hamburger and chicken were on sale this week. :) Tilapia is on the menu most weeks although we don't always get around to fixing it. I buy the big box of frozen filets b/c they're convenient to fix when we're late getting home and don't have anything else thawed (no need to thaw first).
I entered this post into the Frugal Fridays Carnival host by Biblical Womanhood. Check out the link for more frugal tips!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who Am I?

I am a housekeeper and a homemaker. I haven't always strived for this position or even admired others in it. It's not a job that earns much respect. It's not until you are in this position that you realize just how important it is. I love my husband. I raise our children. I teach our children. I keep our home. I keep it safe and (mostly) clean and filled with God's love.

Titus 2: 3-4-5

the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers,
not given to much wine, teachers of good things -- that they admonish the young
women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste,
homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemied.

I'm not sure whether I'm the older woman giving advice or the younger woman receiving it. I think I'm somewhere in the middle, giving and receiving.