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.