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Friday, February 26, 2010

FAQ Friday: Kitchen Tools

It's time for FAQ Friday! I love doing Fridays for this reason.

Again, I have little questions to work from, so I'm going to use one that has been in my mind for a long time to blog about.

What kitchen tools do you spend a little more on?

I honestly feel that almost any tool is worth buying nicer quality. Often when I need a new tool, I will shop around and evaluate quality vs price. There are many tools out there, and many competitive brands. Do I buy Martha Stewart's brand? Walmart's Mainstays, KitchenAid, Pampered Chef...? Often times I evaluate each tool individually.
Recently, I decided that a food chopper would make my life easier and would be worth the cost vs use. I looked at many different brands. Many of them They may have been a bit cheaper financially, but they were also cheaply made.
In December, I hosted a Pampered Chef show. I like some of their stuff, however some of it is definitely overpriced. I promise, I do not have enough in the budget for their almost $500 knife set! However, a few of their lower priced items are definitely worth it...and I feel, well...pampered using them.
My grandma booked a show off of me, giving me the benefit of being able to purchase one of that month's hostess specials. I purchased their food chopper at 60% off! I believe it was about $12. Their chopper has a guarantee on it, which I love.

I have tools in my kitchen that may have cost me more however, they save me time, or physical pain. I think that's worth a few more dollars.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I am going to be off topic a bit today. Sorry.

I just wanted to quickly peek on. I'm having a rough day...don't worry, nothing is "wrong", I'm just having one of those days. You know the one, where you can't get yourself motivated to do nearly anything? Yup. That's my day.

Yesterday, I did a ton. Andrew and I attended a mandatory meeting in the morning in relation to some help we are getting to make sure we don't fall under while he is unemployed. Than, we picked up the girl, I finished painting the living room, we managed to get most of the furniture in place, and now I just need to clean up the stuff.

I put a few pictures back up on our living room walls today, and re-filled the bookshelves. But, aside from caring for the daughter, who was in rare form, wanting only to cuddle Mom.

I'm sorry for those that were looking for more than this, I'll try again tomorrow. :D

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stocking Up

Another method of living frugally is to stock up. I know, it sounds silly at first. Why should I spend more money all at once? How the heck is that frugal?
Truth is, if you go to the grocery store and chicken breasts, for example, are not on sale (meaning that round here, they are about $7-$8 per 3 lb bag) this is not a time to stock up. Now when the local grocery runs them for $4-$5 per bag, that is when you stock up. Typically, on the occasion that the sales like this occur, I find it a waste of space to buy more than about 2 bags of chicken.
I used the example of bagged chicken breasts. I know this is not the most frugal way of eating chicken! There are very few things that my family and I get picky about. I am honestly the picky eater in the house. I can rarely eat chicken, or really any poultry, with bones in it anymore. When I was younger, my grandmother used to break the bones and suck the marrow out. This plays into it…it’s also a texture issue for me. When I try to eat something with texture similar to what chicken is like near the bone, I gag. Once I start to gag on my food, I cannot eat anymore, even if it’s something different.
My family stocks up. When there is a sale on a food we love, we buy more of it than if we were to buy it off-sale. We had to find a balance though. It became depressing almost, if I stocked up and than a month later we still had tons and there was an equal or greater sale on the product. If I have plenty of something, I cannot justify purchasing more.
We used to use a chest freezer. These are awesome for larger families, or families in different circumstances in which they cannot deal watch as often, or cannot get about so much. For us, it cost us more in space and electricity. It also cost us frustration as we could not keep it organized. For three people, in our case, it was not worth it. We have a lovely sized fridge and freezer combination. The top portion of my freezer holds our meet and our ice, as we have an icemaker. If this is full-I’m not allowed to buy more. The bottom half of our freezer holds what I call convenience foods. This is typically almost all for our daughter…chicken nuggets for lunches, waffles, and more. We tried making her waffles, she won’t eat them other than Eggo, or store brand waffles.
My point is, stocking up is a wonderful way to make your meals cost less in the long run. However, there is a limit. If you’re paying the difference between the sale and regular price by paying for an extra freezer to run…you’ve obliterated your deal.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Update to Fajitas

As promised last night, we made our own tortillas.

We are still in the habit of making our own, so it was halfway through frying the steak for our fajitas that I realized I needed to make them.

As I said, we used Penniless Parenting's recipe-and it went well! Amongst our first postings, we tried the recipe found in Under $1000 Per Month. It went well, though we were uncomfortable with the amount of shortening in it. Penniless offered up their recipe and we finally got to try it!

Instead of reprinting the recipe, I would like to direct you over Vegan Tortillas by Penniless Parenting

Our only problems were that it was hard to roll them thin enough and they'd shrink back down as I rolled them. However, they worked well for the food. I am toying with ideas to add some flavor to my tortillas, as I always did like the jalapeno ones at the store and other odd flavors.

Do you have another tortilla recipe for us to try? We'd be delighted!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday's Recipes- Fajitas

Fajitas are a favorite in my family. When we want a cheap, out to eat, sit-down meal, we often share a single order of fajitas and walk out full. I love it. Recently, I took to making our own fajitas. It's really quite simple.

We use (for the three of us):

either 1/2 lb of steak or a single chicken breast cut into strips
2 bell peppers, usually green because they're cheaper but if other colors are on sale, we'll toss those in. Cut these into strips as well
1/2 medium purple onion, cut into strips
Fajita seasoning (we do not buy those individual packets. At our grocery store they have an area with fresh seasonings, for about $1.50, I get one of these and it goes about 5 rounds of fajita dinners, someday, maybe I'll try making my own blend but it's not expensive so I don't see it as an immediate thing to play with)
extra (optional) toppings for us often include just sour cream. We use light, but you can use whatever you prefer.

The Directions
Our particular style of fajita mix requires you to marinade your meat in it for 1 hour. I can't lie, I often forget to do this in time so I find myself just sprinkling it onto the meat as I cook it.
I usually use my 10" skillet to saute the meat first. I put a hint of cooking oil (never a lot) and sprinkle the seasoning over the meat, I cook until done. For steak, for us, we like a wee tiny bit of pink. Chicken must be cooked until no pink though!

I than remove the meat into a covered dish to keep it warm. I use these little casseerole dishes my aunt gave us at my bridal shower. They are small and perfect (and make a nice display) Next, I saute the onions and bell peppers together. I usually like to put a little of that fajita seasoning on there as well.

Next, I move those to another covered container.

I set it all on the table with some the past we've been using store bought, but tonight, I intend to try to make our own from the recipe offered by our follower, Penniless Parenting. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow!

Andrew and I than sit down, I cut some of the veggies and meat up even smaller for our daughter, and we make each fajita as we're ready for it!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another Home Improvement thought

With my husband laid off, we have all this time on our hands.

So, we've been doing some of the projects that either I can do, but need his help watching the kid, or have been on the list forever.

One of the tips I received from my MIL to me, and I would like to pass onto you is really quite ingenious and simple...

Mistinted Paint

I'm not kidding. We go to Lowe's or Home Depot (and sometimes even Walmart has some decent ones) and just check out the paint that they tinted wrong for someone else. What was someone else's "2 shades too dark" could be your perfection.

We just did this today...I've been wanting to do my living room in a sage green. I've been fiddling with colors on the know the routine, pick up one of those paint chip samples, tape it to the wall, decide you hate it, leave it there until you decide on a different color, than take ALL of them off the wall, curse yourself for leaving them there in the first place and start painting.

Well, when you have a specific color in mind, sometimes it can take a lot of stops. We never go on special trips for these cans of paint. But if we pass, say, Lowe's and have some extra time, we may quickly stop in and check what they have.

Today was one of those days. We stopped into Lowe's and I looked and they had a great shade of green for my living room...a gallon of it for $5! That would have normally been about $22!

So, our housewarming party is on the 7th, do you think I can get my living room in order before than?

Friday, February 19, 2010


Some of you may have noticed a TON of comments (at least compared to usual) on my last post mentioning Friday Follow, it is thanks to Follow Friday that as I write this, we welcome 10 new followerstoday alone!

If you can't tell, I'm excited! Thank you to each and every one of you that make this blog happen-if it were not for you, this blog would just be my pointless rambles!

Welcome, to all!

FAQ Friday

I haven't had many questions for followers yet, so I am going to start off this new routine with a question that my Mom asks me...a lot.

How do you make weekly menus and remain flexible?

Yes, we make weekly menus. It is absolutely a fabulous tip I picked up at one point for saving money. I use the sales to make menus off of and it avoids many things in my home. The biggest thing? The 4 pm argument of "What's for dinner?" You know the one, when you suddenly start thinking, "Mmmm, dinner is getting near time, what shall we have?" Than you realize that everything is frozen, or needed started in the crock pot hours ago. My Mom is ever famous for this.

First off, I watched our patterns in life. We typically do our shopping on Thursdays. That was the day that my husband got paid while working for his last job. When we are living pay check to pay check, this is often how it must be done. This told me I had to have my grocery list for the coming week by Thursday.

Next, on Sundays, I would go through the ads. There are 3 main local stores that I check and shop. I check all of these ads and see who has the most and the best deals.

I than take my menu planning magnet (I found it at Micheals in the dollar section, it's awesome. One side lists the days of the week, each with their own square, than about 1/3 of each page is space for a shopping list), if we have any activities or plans for that week, I write them in. This allows me to plan what I make around what is going on. Say we have an activity starting at 630, than we usually need to eat before, and I'm probably not going to want to make something labor intensive. So, I write EACH activity on the menu planner.

I than think of the type of meal I want for each and every day. If we have a daytime activity where we'll return home tired but in time for dinner, than I'll usually put a crock pot meal in for that day. The point is, I work around a lot of things. I don't plan my meals and than work around them.

On that note, how we are able to keep to it is to STAY flexible. I'm not kidding! If Mom invites us over for dinner, we go and we reschedule that night's meal. Depending on what it is is when I push it out to. If it's something that doesn't involve many perishable ingredients, it may get pushed out further.

If the day doesn't go as planned and we're exhausted come dinner time, we look forward on the meal plan and flop a day or two to make it work, rather than calling Domino's.

I won't lie, it also helps that my husband doesn't let me give into random pizza cravings and call Dominos. But if it weren't for my meal planning, every day would be stressful.

I also choose not to plan breakfast and dinner. I like some choice each day and those aren't so hard. Besides, this is when my husband gets a chance to eat his leftovers.

Do you have a question for me? Ask away, than watch for it on FAQ Fridays!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Functional Home Decor

Good Morning!

One of my big interests, as you may have gathered from the previous post about those that I nominated for the sunshine award is interior decorating. I work hard to make my home look nice for cheap and use whatever I can to make it more functional.

My latest concern was my love seat. The way that my home is set up, I find myself most often sitting on the love seat that my brother gave us. When we bought our home, we were moving out of a temporary interim of living with and taking care of my parents. Prior to that, while I was pregnant, I nannied for a couple who we lived with-all the furniture was either theirs or the homeowners (they rented), and stepping even further back, we lived with my husband's old room mate when we were dating. We left the couch behind as I hated it, and we had no where to put it.

So, when we bought our house, we put out a call for furniture and wound up with a couch and love seat from my big brother. It was perfect timing-he had someone moving in with him that had better couches. They didn't match, which is something I had always wanted but not enough to put us in debt getting there. There is nothing I love that much! So, since July, we've been using these couches. The love seat has a bottomless pit of hunger. Things would slide off the back of the cushions and right down into the bottom of the love seat.

Soon, I also began to notice that if I were sitting in the love seat the correct way (I often sit with my back to the armrest) there is this lovely board in the bottom of the back that hit me right in my lower back--talk about painful!

This tax season, we knew we had to do something, but agreed that if we bought a replacement for one, we would also have to replace the other at the same time. I searched and searched. Every day for a month, I was on craigslist, just watching for a good deal. A few came, but always either too far away or at the wrong timing.

I am on a forum website, and asked about slip covers. Someone mentioned they were trying with no luck to sell the brand new set they bought on their local CraigsList. After some talking and looking into them online, we decided to purchase them.

So, I bought from this lady a nice khaki colored set for $75 including shipping. The part that makes it a heck of a deal? The love seat one would have been $90 on sale and the couch one would have been $110 on sale at JcPenney, where she bought them to begin with. The reason she was selling them? They didn't fit her own couch.

So, I now have covered the desire to match my couch and love seat-frugally. Also, the love seat is prohibited from eating things--at least them going all the way down the back. Next, we are going to go to the fabric store.

I have 4 throw pillows already, that I am going to re-cover to fit the decor. I am going to make a large pillow or two for where that wood sits in the back--this didn't work previously because the couch would even eat the PILLOW!

I am very excited about this for many reasons-a.) the love seat won't go to the landfill, b.) we are managing to cover it frugally c.) No more flipping the love seat when my phone or computer mouse (or anything else) goes missing d.) I feel like an adult with the way my furniture "matches".

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two Posts in One Day?

Yes, a second post in just a few moments!

I have lovely news, my first follower, Penniless Parenting has offered me an award, apparently I make her smile! That makes me incredibly happy-enough so to nominate me for the Sunshine Award!

I hate to copy her words in any way, but doesn't that flower and image as a whole make you just SMILE? It is still bleak and wintery in Minnesota and that is just a pep I have needed!

So, apparently, it is now my task to nominate 12 other bloggers, who, to accept the nomination must post the flower in their sidebar or a post, and nominate 12 others! Than just link back to the person who nominated you.

I absolutely love this concept!

So, here is my list:

My Mommy's Place This is a lovely blog who writes in photos and haikus, very cute and lighthearted.
Life After The Fire This blog is absolutely inspirational to me. She is actually the woman who first got me even reading blogs. Just over a year ago, while in her third trimester of pregnancy, she lost her home and nearly everything she had in a house fire. This was than followed by being diagnosed with Bell's Palsey. She has really worked hard to keep a semblance of normalcy and even at times some humor in her life. She is simply amazing.
Under $1000 Per Month Emily works hard to keep her life expenses down, and for it takes a TON of flak for her decisions, yet stands fast. She is able to at times take often harsh words from others and help her family's life improve with them.
Penniless Parenting Ah, is it so wrong to nominate she who nominated me? I think not! I love her ideas and suggestions she has helped bring to our lives.
You Paid More Than Me Her title is so cute and witty! You Paid More Than Me is a blog of interior decorating-on the cheap.
The Happy (Atheist) Homemaker Again, a witty title! I love this blog, she is humorous, honest and frugal. Also, being of an alternative faith, I absolutely love that she brings that forth instead of trying to hide it.
Crystal Clear Reading I love Crystal's book blog. As you will likely find out over time, I love to read. It is imperative in my life. Crystal reviews books and often gives some away!
Better Than BoogersIn parenting, there is nothing better than to live life with humor. Especially when you have a toddler and a young child. This woman lives by that philosophy and blogs about her sons' untintentional humours!
Baby CheapSkate I didn't want to do a "bigger blog" but really, I used this website constantly, especially when our daughter was on formula. She always lists the best deals as well as parent reviews.
Clever, Crafty, Cheap She does not post often, but when she does, I find myself smiling with her ideas.
The DIY Showoff I love her! She features inexpensive ways to redo things in your home.
Claiming Our Space She also DIY and refinishes items to make her home more comfortable for her.

That's it! I strongly encourage you to check each of these bloggers just may find something you like too!


Why Don’t You Cloth Diaper?
The short answer is this It’s not for us.
I won’t lie, laundry is somewhere where I fall short. I don’t sort my laundry, I forget to fold it, leaving it instead to be grabbed from the dryer as needed. It is one of the most forgotten chores in my household. We essentially undress into the washer and just turn it on when it’s full.
So, if we cloth diapered, I would have to deal with that. Also, my stomach churns at the thought of all of that bodily waste in my washer…you know, where my clothes go too?
I am sure that many people are going to tell me that their clothes are just fine-and I am sure they are!
I just can’t bring myself to do it. Besides, for out and about purposes, we would have to often tote dirty diapers with us and I can’t bring myself to do that. For me, in this case, it is one or the other, I cannot purchase a ton of cloth diapers and have some disposables “ready when I need them”. I am sure that my daughter’s sensitive bum would appreciate them, but she does fine with disposables, why change that.
I know that many would possibly retort with the cost of disposables and while they are not cheap, it partially depends upon your diapering habits as well as what your child and you will tolerate.
When my daughter was born, the hospital gave us Pampers. She got a tomato red rash immediately. What a way to begin life! We quickly figured out it was likely Pampers’ perfumes and the hospital began to provide us with Huggies Snug & Dry. I was nervous to try anything perfumed at that point. So we used Huggies at first. My sister had luck with Pampers and White Cloud diapers. White Cloud leaked tremendously for my daughter. Target worked well though.
Currently, what we use depends on coupons and sales. Whatever is cheapest when we need them. Usually it’s Target’s Up & Up brand or the Luv’s. I like that if I save my receipt and the UPC off the box, and we have trouble with Luvs, then they will refund our money. Up & Up have never proved us wrong.
What did/do you use to diaper your child?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday's Recipes- Peach Crepes

When my husband and I first started dating, I had never had a crepe. At that time, he went to his mom's ever other Sunday for breakfast. Eventually, this is how I met his family. He told his Mom I was coming, she excitedly stated that she would make peach crepes.
I, on the other hand, was made nervous. I didn't know what the heck I was getting into.
As I nervously ate my breakfast that morning, I realized that I rather liked these "peach crepes". For the next year or so, we only had them when she made them, and she only made them when we requested them. They quickly became a favorite breakfast to me.

Now, my husband likes to make them for me anytime he's sucking up, it's a special occasion or once in awhile "just because".

I want to share the joy of peach crepes with you all this morning.

You start by making "Basic dessert crepes"

1 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

In bowl, combine flour, milk, eggs, sugar, oil, and salt; beat until blended.
Heat a lightly greased small pan. Remove from heat.
Spoon in 2 Tablespoons batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread batter.
Return to heat, brown on one side
Remove Crepe onto a paper towel or plate. Repeat to make about 16 crepes

Now to make super delicious...;D
We heat about 4 oz of cream cheese to make it easily spreadable.
Than spread a small amount of cream cheese on each crepe, rolling the crepe up after words.

In a small pan, heat a can of peaches, sliced into small squares. Add a small amount of corn starch to thicken sauce, whip well.

Lay crepes on a plate, still rolled up, spoon peaches and sauce over and enjoy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Couple You Watch

I started attending a class, Drugs, Alcohol, & Tobacco, in college. It was to be an easy A, and help get me towards the degree I was working on. I went in, as per usual, on the first day. I wasn’t wearing anything spectacular, jeans and a hoodie.
I had a boyfriend at the time, Matt. I knew I wasn’t in a forever relationship, and was okay with that. I logged onto Myspace a few days later and had a new friend request. I was (and really, still am not) in the habit of approving those that I do not know. I didn’t know this person, but his profile and picture intrigued me. So, I waited on approving this guy and started messaging. His name was Andrew and he recognized me from class.
We began talking, I eventually approved him. He began to ask to “meet me”-sure he had seen me in class each day, but we never talked. I informed him I was with someone, and we met anyhow. The day we met, after class, I wound up sitting with him about 7 hours on the campus in the most god-awful seats. We talked and talked until we realized it was growing dark out. I had called into work with “car trouble” because I was enjoying myself. From then on, we began to hang out a lot. We’d go to lunch…we’d watch movies on his laptop, in the student lounge. It was great.
One day, Matt decided he was jealous and that Andrew was after me for a relationship. He told Andrew he couldn’t talk to me. Andrew and I were devastated. However, for some unknown reason, I didn’t leave Matt. At least not for a few months.
Time went on. I left Matt for another ex, who I still loved, though we were volatile for one another. I have since decided I went back because I never got closure for that relationship. Despite being volatile, we were together for about a year and a half. At that point, I realized that this man was not good for me. He was mentally abusive, blaming his depression on me, drinking while I worked full time and went to school with more than just full time credits on my plate. I couldn’t so much as buy myself a notebook for school without feeling guilty as to him not getting anything. So, despite not truly having anywhere to go, I left. I spent a long 3 months with my belongings in storage and my body sleeping on friends’ couches. This started the end of one August.
The following November, Andrew and I reunited when I messaged him on Myspace. Quickly, we wound up together. Having no place else to comfortably live, I moved in with him and his roommate mid December. I was no longer in school due to my circumstances. I cooked for the boys and cleaned when I couldn’t pay my way through.
Next thing we knew, I was pregnant. Whoops. And so began the next journey of our lives.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm so sorry!

I want to start out by apologizing. I rarely check the email that is connected to this blog, so I didn't know I had new comments! Thank you to everyone who commented! I am intending to work my way through and post some replies within the next day or so. Those of you who also know the joys of parenting a young toddler also may remember that sometimes it's not easy to do something like blogging and watch her at the same time. She's been oddly mischevious this round of teething as well, which doesn't help.

It has been one of those weeks that being frugal is difficult! On Monday afternoon, my husband called our brother in law to come over and help with some things in my daughter's room. First, we had to move my great grandmother's vanity somewhere storage like. This is a large piece and my home just really isn't that large. Honestly? It's a piece that if I were to never have children, I would think about getting rid of, but I'm hoping that by the time my daughter is a teen, we'll be in a place that offers her a larger bedroom than 6'x8' so that if she chooses to be the type of girl who wears make up, she has a lovely place to put it on.

So, they moved it out to the shed and began to replace the dryer hose that we accidentally tore when we put the vanity into her closet! The hose we bought was too short, but the next one up was twice the price and longer than the width of our home, so my brother in law cleaned the old hose and patched a good part of it together with the new hose and hooked them up! Frugal tip-if possible use parts of the old to help with the new. We had tried taping it, but the tape wouldn't stay stuck.

By the time they were done, it was my daughter's bedtime.

Day two, they began to install shelves into her closet. She has a huge closet-8' long. Our kitchen has very little storage, and we live in a cold climate so storing food out in the mud porch or anywhere else isn't the greatest option for us. We installed the inexpensive shelves into her closet so that I have somewhere to put my canned goods this next harvest season.

As my previous post on Home Improvements noted, my brother in law accidentally drilled right through the water line. We spent the night without water and the next day, my brother in law fixed it up at his cost. On day 3, he finally finished the shelves!

I have promised my husband a break from my 'ideas'.

However, in total, the project was inexpensive for us.

Shelving: 2 6 ft pieces of wood cut into 2 foot lengths by Lowe's: $10
Brackets: 12 brackets @ $0.50 each: $6
Screws: 36 short screws (we had the ones for the wall salvaged from other projects): $2
Dryer Hose: $9

Technically, I fed my brother in law too, but I would have had to use the food anyhow, it was about to go bad.

So, $27 for all that...not too shabby.

What is your favorite frugal home improvement?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Home Improvements

My husband and I save a ton of money on our home improvements by simply doing most things ourselves. When we need more shelves, we run down to the home improvement store of our choice, have them cut down the cheapest available wood that will work for our situation, and head home, and put up our shelves.

Last night, we were working on such a project. My daughter's closet is more than a 16 month old needs so we were trying to put up shelving on one end for my canning and for extra small appliances that we use occasionally.

That is where it all went wrong. My brother in law was over helping and drilled right through the waterline. 5 minutes after the nearby hardware stores had all closed up for the night. It was frustrating, we had to have all water shut off to the house to avoid flooding my daughter's room, and it is still shut off. Fortunately, there is a cheap way to fix it. Looking at it, I was afraid they were going to have to go purchase a whole line of copper piping and run it all the way through, fortunately they are able to just patch it for a few bucks.

Anytime we do any "DIY" projects though, we try to have a few buck "just in case" for times like this. Things go wrong. It is a part of life. If nothing had gone wrong, we would have allotted that fund to something else if we needed later. However, we do not have to "break the bank" to fix it because you always need to plan ahead.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Credit Cards and Frugality

Money has much been on my mind as of late. I am a Stay at home mom, with a husband who is laid off.

It's not an easy scenario to find yourself in. Our unemployment has not yet started. However, our tax refund should be in next week. It is hard to know that this huge chunk is coming in, but is unable to be touched. There are many things that we would love to have. Our loveseat, where I sit, the wood prods at my back and it hurts. I would love nothing more than to go purchase a love seat-and my husband has the credit that we could probably do one of those "No interest till 2011" or whatever deals.

But honestly? Credit cards are not a frugal life. We pay for everything on the spot. If we cannot afford to pay for something in full when we want it? We go without.

I am the very first to admit that sometimes the credit offers are so tempting. How nice would it be to have matching couches that don't completely suck to sit on? But, I don't want to pay more for them than their price, in fact I often like to pay less than their actual price.

When we started dating, Andrew had a credit card. It was through a federal credit union-and we did awesome with it, until they merged and paying his bill became the most difficult thing in the world. They wouldn't take payment in the store. They wouldn't let you pay online, and to pay on the phone they charged an extra fee. We fought many an extra charge because of this, and it really brought us to a point: Why are we borrowing money? Yes, there are times where we are truly living paycheck to paycheck, however we have everything we need. I would much rather borrow $20 for diapers or food from my parents or Drew's than borrow $20 from a credit card and wind up paying $25 for the same product.

This is not to say that we do not have any debts period. I have old ones from when I was younger that we are progressively paying off. They are all with collections agencies so each year, we choose a couple and pay them with our taxes.

So before you put something-even small-on your credit card, take a moment and think about how it can effect you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


It is late, and I have a migraine coming on. However, I wanted to share some thoughts with you guys. I will likely elaborate more on this at a future date, but for now...something at least should be in order.

I grew up in a family where we did big Christmases and a few gifts at birthdays.

My husband? He grew up in a family where they got a few random gifts through the year (until he was 17) and that was that.

As I have grown up (much as we all hate to grow up), I have noticed my mind changing. I would much rather be closer to his family's ideal than my own on this. I know this is becoming a trend, but I swear, I thought of this before the trend started (teasing...or am I?)

I love to shop for my daughter-it's even better when I find deals. But, I remember when I was a young girl...on Christmas morning, we'd get so much stuff that we would load it into our rooms-with no where to put it and than most would literally sit. Why would I want to waste my money like that, despite what the media tells me that I should do? Already a few of our daughters' Christmas present toys are by the wayside, played with less and less as days go on. My nephew? I'd say it's almost worse for him-his birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas. Ouch.

I also don't see a need to buy a bunch of dollar store junk to make filler. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the dollar store, but if it's something she's going to just break in a week due, is it worth even one dollar? Probably not. Will she know she didn't get it? Probably Not.

It is very hard to change this mindset for me. I love recieving gifts. I love giving them. I love the spirit of the holiday and birthday seasons. On receiving, we took the first step this last holiday season. Andrew and I bought one gift for each other. We also bought one gift "from Lorelei" for each other. We had dollar limits on this as well. And our holiday was awesome. I was able to make a spot of breakfast rather than concentrating the WHOLE time on gifts. I received a much needed memory card for my computer from Andrew, and Lorelei got me a digital photo frame. We each got Andrew some books he wanted. It was a blast

Gifts are not what makes the world go round. They are a lovely addition to life. But the biggest gift I got this holiday season? The joy on my daughters' face when we all sat together as I read her her night time story. The joy on her face as she opened a toilet seat for potty training, because I won't lie, we couldn't afford much this year so some things like that went as "Christmas gifts". Do you know how many things a 15 month old can use a "potty seat" for? It's cute! Or another favorite? The joy when both Mommy and Daddy picked her up from her crib that morning.

What they say is true...

The Best Gifts In Life Are FREE

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why Not Just Clip Coupons?

Many people simply use coupons to get their grocery prices down. Honestly, I use coupons as well. I love them. But not only are they not for everyone, you find yourself dependent on the stores having sales to get the maximum “rush” out of couponing. The women that find themselves getting $200 worth of groceries for $0.15? That’s simply awesome for them.
For many months, I tried following blog after blog to find out how to do this. Who wouldn’t want to? Do you know what I learned? Honestly? I learned that most of these blogs are not in Minnesota. I’d see blogs of “coupon match-ups” for Meijjer. I don’t have access to a Meijjer, or Safeway, or a lot of these awesome sounding stores that are offering these easy match ups.
Yes, I still use coupons. I clip with reckless abandon. Every Sunday, I swing by our local Dollar Tree and pick up a newspaper for $1. I come home, I throw away everything but the ads, coupon inserts and now Job Classifieds stays out of the trash. I put these right into the garbage because they are otherwise clutter in my house. My house is pretty cluttery having a 16 month old who has tons of toys…I don’t need to add more!
I than sit down and clip any coupon that I might use. Again, I don’t keep the whole inserts, free is fun, but I don’t want clutter! I organize my coupons into a little binder that I picked up at the Dollar Tree.
Next, I will try to match up prices. Say something is on sale for $1 and I have a $0.50 coupon for it. I will only buy it if it is a product my family uses.
My family loves rice. I often find coupons for Minute brand rice in the inserts. I clip them. Than, I often find that even with a coupon available, the store brand is cheaper. Honestly? I often than leave my unused coupon behind for a family that can use it. I like to think that they get them, though I could be annoying grocery store employees by causing them another item that they have to clean up. (If you are a grocery store employee who has cleaned up coupons because of people like me and are annoyed, I’m ever so sorry, my intention is never to annoy you or leave trash behind)
This is the method that works for me. Others do what works for them. That’s okay.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How does your Garden grow?

I love gardening. I don't always have the energy required for it, but I love it. There is nothing like sticking your hands into Mother Earth, putting something there to grow and nurture until it comes up and awes you with the creation. The colors the earth can produce! Oh, it's lovely.

What's better than just a garden though? A vegetable garden.

And we have a plan in the workings for this year's vegetables already.

My canning book came this morning. This was a bit of a splurge for us, let me tell you. It was only $20 but for us, sometimes that's a lot. However, we got the hardcover edition, so it'll last a bit longer, and I love this book. It shouldn't be an issue to turn it into something that my daughter will treasure long after I am gone.

Anyhow, so I went through and decided what I would like to be able to can at the harvest time and added up the pounds of tomatoes I will need. I then found that on average a Roma tomato plant should produce 13 lbs of tomatoes-but if you do well, it could give you up to 20 lbs! Of course, I go with the lower number, as it is my first year actually putting some true effort into growing and growing them on time.

I am not joking, I need to plant at least 10 tomato plants this year--and this coming from a girl who hates tomatoes on her burgers. But, I love pasta and salsa and will put canned tomatoes in nearly everything.

I will also be planting at least 6 jalepeno plants. Andrew and I tend to enjoy hot food. We have begun to find that at least once a month I am purchasing little jars of canned jalepenos! So, this year, I hope to can enough to counter balance that! My book isn't perfect, it did not have this recipe in it, but I found one online.

We also intend to do 1 or 2 bell pepper plants. Mostly to add a little something to our salsa and for use at harvest time.

I have not decided on any further vegetables to be planted. It sort of depends on how this spring goes for us. We have two sheds, they came with the house. We are trying to eliminate our need for the back shed as it is pretty deteriorated. It has been patched together by so many previous owners (and by various materiels) that it's just not worth that precious space that we could have our garden in. If for some reason, we cannot eliminate that shed, or if we cannot plant where it is due to soil conditions, than we will put the plants into large pails this year.

I am also excited for my flowers this year. I was able to get some of those going last year, which was so much fun. I will wait to see what comes in nicely for us and go from there, but there will surely be some impatiens and petunias in honor of my grandmother.

So tell me, what do you grow? How do you decide? Do you plant anything to honor anyone in particular?

Monday, February 1, 2010

What Types of Things Can I make from scratch?


You can make anything from scratch that is a compound product. When I say compound product, I mean that a company somewhere in the world takes two (or more) ingredients and combines them to make something else.

For example, noodles. I can't teach you to make flour, as that stretches WAY beyond my resources, however we can combine flour and water to make a basic noodle. Oh yes, noodles can become more complicated than that, you could add eggs for an egg noodle and even flavor them. But majority of your noodles will say they are flour and water. There may be a few extra unpronouncable ingredients, but those are usually preservatives. If you're using your new found noodles that day, there is NO need for preservatives.

That being said, we have a few ventures we intend on trying, or have tried...

We make our own biscuits and tortillas.
We intend to make our own noodles (when the stash is low), doughnuts and more.

We also can once a year. Canning is a joy of mine that is a WHOLE other topic. However, from our canning last year, we got salsa, apple pie filling, apple ice cream topping, apple butter and apple sauce.

This year's canning will be bigger. We are going to have time to plant our tomatoes sooner, which will give us the ability to do SO much more. We hope in that will be tomato sauce, salsa, pasta sauce, maybe some tomato paste...

But, I have a wonderful book on it's way to me. We found a deal on the canning book I borrowed from the library and used last year (and LOVED!) so it's coming so I can figure out what I'd like to make so I can plan the garden for the year. When I have that all figured out, I will be making a post and sharing that with you all.