Search & Win

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Patience Pays

I have said this once and I will say it again and again, patience pays.

We have been searching for a second used car for us. Our budget, compared to what it would get you a few years ago, was TINY! We were hoping for $600 but able to go to $1000. I have been sharing my husband's car for the last 2 years. It has done well for us, however, since my father in law went into treatment in October, we have enjoyed the use of his minivan in addition to our own car. It has been wonderful for my daughter and I to get out during the days and do stuff. My husband is also the type that doesn't like to leave much when he returns home from work, so if I can do the shopping during the day, we are both happy.

I have been scouring Carsoup.com and craigslist for a few months. At first, I was just looking to see if it was possible for us. The hope looked slim, we learned that when we were ready, we would have to watch closely and when something came up that we were interested in, jump on it FAST.

Yesterday, we drove 40 miles round trip, to get there and find that someone got there just before us and opted to buy.

Today, I watched Craigslist very closely.


This lovely little car came up at $750. We made it to test drive it, and though it needs a few things eventually, it was in great shape for it's age.

Even better? We talked them down to $600! Thank you tax return.

Tell me about a lovely deal you've gotten recently.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday’s Recipes: Tequilaberry Salad

Do you remember when Tequilaberry’s was open? Maybe they weren’t in your area, however, there is one of their recipes that lives on. It is Tequilaberry Salad.
I had long forgotten this salad, until my mother in law made it for a bbq we all had together. I fell in love all over again. I have brought it to pot lucks and people attack me with hugs.
Here’s what you do…
1 small head of lettuce, finely chopped
¼ head cauliflower, finely chopped
½ bag bacon bits
½ c parmesan cheese

And for the dressing:
1½ cup real mayo
½ c sugar
1/3 cup milk

Mix dressing all together, set aside
Combine vegetables, bacon and parmesan cheese together.
Mix dressing all over vegetables.
Serve immediately.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Welcome!

First, I want to welcome all of the new followers!

A few things around here, Most Mondays I give a recipe of something to make from scratch (ocassionally something goes wrong and I don't get it done).

Fridays, I love to answer questions, so please ask them.

Wednesdays I do the Wordless Wed.

And we do currently have our first giveaway going. It is sponsored by me, not a company, so it's not big, but it's fun! Go HERE TO ENTER

Again welcome, and just let me know if there is something you want to hear about!

FAQ Friday:Illness

The most common thing I see is "We spent more because we're ill" be it on medication, food, drink, or whatever.

Though I haven't been asked this question, I thought it could be brought up as a good one to ask. I realize that the conventional cold season has ended. However, in this house, we are all currently nailed hard with colds.

First of all, medications: we buy generic. The only time we buy name brand is when I can combine a sale with coupon to make it cheaper to get name brand than to get generic. We also try to keep them on hand, so that we don't suddenly have to buy $20 in medicine all at once. It doesn't mentally sting so bad than.

Honestly, Target is one of my favorite places for generics. Their up and up brand carries a fabulous price with quality product. Their infant ibuprofen is almost half the price of Motrin, and it's essentially the same darned thing. Same with other generic medications. If you're not sure, feel free to look at active ingredients and compare.

Something that we do that my husband grumbles about...


I buy both of these products (in generic). He constantly tries to tell me that there is absolutely no difference. Yet, to me there is one. Nyquil makes me drowsy, dayquil doesn't. So to get through a day with a toddler-I must have dayquil because I certainly can't be falling asleep.


This is another product I keep stocked in my house. Again, we usually do generic, but sometimes I can get a B1G1 coupon from Pedialyte and than I will get that because they usually have more flavors. Once, I was even able to get a coupon at the same time from Target and combine them to get 2 for less than Target's brand of pedialyte. I never crack these jugs unless our daughter is very ill. If she's still drinking nicely, I won't crack a pedialyte.

Now, I also must note as to why I insist on rotating flavors. Remember when we were children and cough syrup was almost always grape? Now I can't do most grape flavored things because they remind me of being ill. So, I'm very careful of that for our daughter.


We have also been known to take leftover chicken and make chicken noodle soup from scratch, but that, I believe is another post!

What does your family to to keep the cost of being ill down?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gardening Progress

My first garden up this year will be most of my flowers.

I have begun growing some seeds as of a few weeks ago. I started about 12 pots. My cat has knocked over at least three. All but 2 have sprouted.

Today, while my daughter and nephew played on the plastic play equipment in our back yard, I worked on some of my border to one of the gardens.

Last summer, as I think I have mentioned before, my MIL was foreclosed on. It's a tragic story as my FIL was swimming in addiction. As we moved her into her very own apartment, we also moved some of her things to our home. They had stacks of bricks leftover from their landscaping projects that we took and I have been working on those into my own borders ever since. Last summer, by the time I started this, it was a hard project. I could do no more than a few bricks at a time. The roots to the grass were live and attached. The sun was high and hot. Thus, my front still remains unfinished. However, I did the entire border to my shed this afternoon.

This was after taking my daughter swimming.

We went to the YMCA. You can get a free 3-day pass. The days don't have to be consecutive, however when they give you the pass, they'll give you an expiration date on it and they sign off or punch out the card each time you go. We are strongly considering a YMCA membership. If you are a low-income family, they also have a personal pricing plan that you can apply for. They will discount your membership if you are eligible. We are eligible for this, and so we are considering it. Definitely something to look into if your interested. For a monthly fee, we'll exercise on equipment and swim almost anytime we want with our daughter. For a little bit extra for the class, DD and I are possibly going to take a Mommy & Me swim class.

What do you do to get ready for summer? Where do you take your children swimming?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trying New Things

Today, my husband had an interview. Can we say woohoo?! It was through a temp agency, but it's a start.

So his interview was in an area that we don't normally get out to. It is not a direction we normally drive in so it just seems so far away (even though it really isn't). So, our daughter and I went with him. He dropped us off at an outdoor mall and we wandered-for those that don't know, in my area the weather is absolutely gorgeous today! DD loved it. As we went down those little ramps on the sidewalks, she'd say "wee!" As wind picked up her little hairs, shed giggle.

It was adorable.

Anyhow, I kept hearing that Trader Joe's was a simply fabulous store and the only one reasonably close was in that area. So we agreed that after Mr Scratch got done interviewing, we would meet there and look around-and find out what the fuss was over.

So, I asked around to my online friends and found people that shop there regularly. I was told to get their pizza dough, and their pizza sauce. I was told that really anything they sell is to die for.

We wound up going a little crazy there. But the dough-so fresh! So doughy! So soft! SO STINKING CHEAP! It was only $0.99!! And we got so much else, the pizza sauce, I got cashews (one of my fav snacks but usually what I find is either too salty or overpriced)-they had a lb of unsalted for only something like $3.50! We got juice, we got breakfast options for the little one-we got SUSHI (for lunch). I'm not kidding, 8 normal sized pieces of California roll style sushi for $3.99!

They were demonstrating Lobster ravioli and lobster bisque sauce, and let me tell you, I don't like lobster, but for free, heck I tried it--and I liked it! So we got that for a special night.

Our sushi, on the way home was simply fabulous! So far, I must say that I am very impressed, Trader Joe's. If this kind of quality (with healthier food and cheaper prices) continues through what we have purchased today, the Scratch family WILL be back.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St Patrick's Day-in my home

We "celebrate" St Patrick's Day. We are not Catholic, nor do we have any truly large amount of Irish in us. My husband and I are both "mutts".

However, I feel at times that I am at war with myself over this holiday. Americans only celebrate (usually) to drink a beer, as well as wear some green. Have you ever read the history of this holiday? I received a message from a dear friend of mine today, reminding me what I already knew. For few people is this truly a celebration.

This is why:

Patrick recieved sainthood because of his role in bringing christianity to Ireland. That is well known fact. What isn't taught in schools, and ESPECIALLY in church, is that in order to do this he had to take tens of thousands of lives. He came to the country to "civilize the savages" that were the majority at that time. These so called savages were Druids. Peaceful, earthy type folk who worshiped the world around them and all the great things it offered. They lived in complete harmony with nature, and harmed no one. They lived predominantly in the woods, or forests. They practiced connection with nature in every way, including free, and natural sexuality, which angered Partick and his ilk to no end. How dare someone think they are free to do what they chose with their genitalia. Alas, they didn't worship Patricks god, so they had to go. He traveled throughout Ireland converting the people to weak or weary to fight. The ones who did put up a fight, and stand up for their beliefs, and way of life, were murdered. Men women and children alike were slaughtered without a shred of conscience. No one was spared.There was no tolerance for freedom of choice. Jesus or death. After he had converted and or killed the whole of the Druid population, he burned all of their records. History, art, folklore, and life practices. Can't have any of those "villainous teachings"*(see the true meaning of the word at the bottom) raising their ugly heads and causing trouble for the church. To this day Irish peoples the world over are almost all Catholics. They have no real grasp of what Druidry, Celtics, or their own ancestors, were. An entire civilization was wiped out, all in the name of a supposedly loving and compassionate god. Therefore on March 17th of each year, I wear black. I wear black to mourn the loss of a race of people who only wanted to live in peace, their own way, and not bother, or be bothered by anyone else. An entire civilization erased by a man who couldn't stand the thought of anyone else in the world thinking differently from him. And for this murder, this genocide, a monster was immortalized, Connonized, for his efforts. It is not at all unlike Hitlers attempt to wipe Jews and Judaism off the face of the planet, although not on nearly as large a scale. So if you are Irish, or plan on celebrating today, take a long look at what you're drinking to. Maybe you should wear black and do what us Irish folk (even halfies) do best. Have a wake. Get shit faced drunk and party for the ones who are gone. Celebrate the lifes that were lost, and what they stood for.

If you made it this far, I applaud you. I'm sorry to be such a buzzkill, but someone has to take the initiative to educate the skull orchard that is the human race in the new millenium.

* The word Villain comes from the Latin word Villa, meaning country house. Villain means literally "one who dwells in the country". Patrick assumed that all country dwelling peoples were Druids, and therefore bad people. Thus the word Villain, or "one who dwells in the country" became synonomous with an evil person.



We celebrate simply to have fun. In the future, I hope to use days like today to educate my daughter on other cultures. How do we currently celebrate? We purchase some Irish Beer (Smithwick's this year), wear green, and this year, I made corned beef, cole slaw (I'm SO not a fan of cabbage otherwise) and I picked up some Irish Soda Bread. We try to celebrate having other cultures rather than what the day is about.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Turn-Bloggy Giveaways

Alright, WAKE UP! No more sleeping, spring is upon us!


To celebrate spring, I would like to do a giveaway. It's sponsored by none other than me. I will send you a four-pack of plantable pots, and some seeds to get your garden growing, if you win.


I have to tell you, I just started using these plantable pots this year, and they are awesome! I haven't planted them yet, of course, but my seeds are growing wonderfully-my marigolds already have about 1/2" of growth in a weeks time! Than, when it is time, I can easily just dig the hole in my garden and put the pot in. Per advice of a sage gardener, I will likely only put the soil and plant in and keep these pots in use until they are too darned tired, as pots can definitely inhibit your root growth, thereby inhibiting your plant growth. However, these pots are much more eco-friendly than those darned plastic things you pick up at the greenhouse.

Due to the nature of gardening (pun intended) I will not choose which seeds you get and say "You must plant xyz flower" I want you to tell me what YOU want in your garden.

So, How do you enter?

1. Leave a comment, tell me what you are planning to plant in your garden, and what kind of seeds would you like sent to you should you win.

2. Refer-a-friend. This can be done by posting in your blog, or having someone come over and say "so-and-so sent me" on this post.

3. Subscribe/follow. Current followers included.

Leave each comment separately. Contest closes April 1st at 5 pm Central time. Winners will be determined at random.

GOOD LUCK!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday's Recipes-Stir Fry

First, sorry I have been absent a lot. I don't want to make up excuses. I deal with depression and there are definitely days I want to do nothing more than cuddle with my daughter and maybe read a book. Most days, I do well, as you have seen with this blog. This past week has been a hard one. Nothing triggered it, but rest assured it's being dealt with.

One of our favorite back up dinners in our home is stir fry and home made wontons. Occasionally, we add some egg rolls. I am not going to go into the egg roll making in this one, as we have only made them from scratch once-most of the time I don't have the energy, and I like to be familiar with a recipe before I go spreading it around.

Our Stir fry tends to vary by what we are in the mood for. Most often it consists of:

2 chicken breasts, sliced and usually diced a bit smaller.
1 bell pepper, any color.
An eyeballed amount of frozen broccoli
Small can of Water chestnuts
Snap or sugar peas (I go by whichever is cheaper) I use about a handfull, bought fresh
Baby corn (found in the "ethnic" aisle at the grocer)
Jullienne style carrot strips
a dash of either teriyaki sauce or General Tao's sauce

We do have a wok, so I heat that up with about a teaspoon of oil, and toss the chicken in. I fry that, stirring pretty much constantly. I than add the frozen vegetables and when those are thawed but not hot, I add the rest of the veggies. Usually, once all the veggies are added, I put a big of whichever sauce we desire on and fry it all up, stirring fairly often.

For the won tons, usually I prep them during the day. I whip up some cream cheese and Worcestershire sauce until soft, than take won ton wraps from the store (I usually find them in the produce section, however depending on the store, have also found them in other odd places), I'll put probably just over a teaspoon of cream cheese in each wrap and pinch it closed at the top. We than use our deep fryer and fry them. I don't want to give you a time for how long to deep fry because it REALLY depends on the type of oil you use. When we use veggie oil, it takes 2-3 minutes, when we use corn oil, we're taking #1 out as soon as we put #7 in. You just want them golden brown. You can also bake them instead, this of course would be healthier but just doesn't taste quite the same.

What are your favorite ingredients to Stir Fry?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Mission

It has been a hard week in our home, but in a positive way, really.

I have been spending much time with family. My mother has been recently diagnosed with a few new problems, nothing life endangering-only life changing.

Do you ever notice that when life takes a turn, it becomes harder and harder to remain frugal sometimes?

I want to tell you one thing I have been doing in a frugal manner this week. I have been working on Easter baskets. I am buying for my daughter this year, and also my sister and I agreed to make baskets for eachother's children.

I have bought a few things, most from the dollar store. I found a small bubble thing for this summer, garden "tools" for when I bring my daughter outside while I'm gardening this summer and other such summer things. Our local dollar store has some wonderful options right now-I do suggest trying yours out if you are a dollar store person.

Another thing that occurred, is my nephew was here yesterday and got ahold of 2 permanent markers. The affected room? The room I spent a ton of time on for my daughter. I was close to crying. He got her toys, a dresser that was her daddy's when he was a toddler, the toy box her great grandpa made her, her bed...and the pillow her grandma cross-stitched for her. I was so very upset.

Our first idea was vinegar water-we use it for a ton of cleaning around our house, I find it works better than most cleaning chemicals. It didn't do anything for it. I remembered that last June, I found a coupon for those magic erasers for buy one get one free, so I sent my hubby to grab a couple, and inch by inch, they removed the marker from everything non-porous. My brother in law remembered from one of his jobs that they used marker on almost everything, and rubbing alcohol to remove it.

I am not kidding, with a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol, we got all the marker off the pillow!! We than hand washed it and laid it out to dry.

It is now dry and you can't tell it was ever touched-most of our stuff is that way! So, if you have little ones, I definitely suggest to have the magic erasers on hand and rubbing alcohol!



One more thing before I release you from my grips! Since my daughter was born, I have struggled with some acne type issues. On my cheeks, near my ears I get red blemishes and small zits around them. I also get many zits around my lips. I have never dealt with this before, so my mission for you is to find a frugal way to help get rid of this. Tell me what you use and how well it works. Where do you purchase it?

Hope all are well!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oh Blog, How I have Neglected Thee...

I wonder if you could ever forgive me?

I am in an exhausted but accomplished (and therefor good) mood.

Do you know, I was thinking a lot today as I cleaned and worked on some things. Some people have a negative connotation with the word frugal. Many think frugal equals cheap. I do not believe that way. I believe that frugal is finding ways to make your money last. It also just so happens that many of my absolute favorite frugal ways are things that are considered being "green".

I do not purchase water. It is expensive and I get it in my home for free. We do not purchase paper napkins (aside from special occasions, instead I have a set of cloth napkins that I purchased at a garage sale for just a buck. They get dirty, they take up so little room in my washer that to try to calculate the cost of washing them is rediculous and in my humble opinion, it is going too far.

The majority of my furniture is pre-owned. If I'm not super happy with it's appearance, I like to fix it and make it so that I can be super happy with it's appearance. In fact that is why I am tired today. Pre-owned furniture. My great friend, Kim, purchased her first home (AGAIN, congrats, Kim) and was fortunate enough to be able to replace much of her furniture at the same time. So, we went down there and took much of it for her. I now have a designated crafting area (a small desk), enclosed DVD storage (no more frustration of trying to stop DD from removing every DVD from the rack), a new, better microwave cart (which made it so the old one could be used as a TV stand in the bedroom) and my daughter has a barely used recliner...in child size.

Do you know what else? I did a good deed while I did this. My mom has a friend who have fallen on very difficult times. She deals with deathly kidney problems, as well as other health issues. She has been unable to find a consistant roommate and has lost her items a few times when she was unable to pay her storage bills due to her health. Kim sent them a "new" bed through us, and we threw in a "new" lamp and some cabinets we had. Last week, we sent them some tables we no longer used.

We all know that the infamous spring cleaning is starting in many homes. I know I'm doing it! I challenge you to find someone who needs the items you no longer use in your home and give them away. You won't regret helping someone in need. How you go about finding that person is up to you. Go onto Craigslist and take a moment to email someone who has posted a wanted ad and sounds like they really need your item. Ask around.

You'd be amazed the people who won't speak up that they need or want something until it's offered.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Working?

It is no secret, my husband and I are receiving some help to get by while he is unemployed.

One of the programs that is helping us is requiring us both to go to several classes to help get into today's workforce and boy, I can only remember one time I was this tired in my daughter's life. That's when she was newborn and waking several times a night. We are getting up at 7 am every morning and sitting in intensive classes to write a resume that will work best in today's jobhunting. Tomorrow, we will be going over interviewing skills.

I won't lie. I don't want to go back to work. (and my husband supports this). However, this is required for us to get by right now. It is not easy or me, I am already having a very difficult time each night when I pick my daughter up from my sister who is kind enough to be offering us child care services.

My normally loving, cuddling daughter wanted nothing to do with me today when I picked her up.

While I'm happy that she is doing well with all of this...I am not. I am hurting because of this.

I can't wait until my husband finds a job.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bloggy Giveaways

One thing I absolutely love about the blogosphere is the giveaways. That is what truly got me going, after I started watching a few here and there...it was the giveaways who got me.

I confess that when my daughter was a newborn, I entered literally hundreds of giveaways a day.

I thought I would start something here, once a week, I will make a post of blog giveaways that I'm interested in. I will edit the post as I find more and more giveaways, that way I'm not flooding you all with them. I know that that usually drives me insane.

First off, because Alice In Wonderland is coming out, and that is beyond awesome, STL Mommy is doing an Alice In Wonderland Giveaway! So head on over there and enter...and if you win, come let me know too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday's Recipes-Pickle Wraps

When I was a little girl, my grandma and grandpa still lived in the same state (now they are across the country). We had several Christmases each year. One with them, one with my Nana and Papa, our own family's, and I'm sure there were a few others. One thing we had every year was what we called pickle wraps. Grandma would make them for each holiday or gathering, and they would disappear almost as fast as she could put them out.

A few years ago, they moved across the country. Suddenly, if we wanted our wraps, we had to figure them out ourselves. Now, each person makes them slightly differently, I think, but I became in charge of making them because I'm the youngest and they are relatively cheap to make.

Here is what I use...

1 small jar of dill pickles. I prefer whole because spears get the juices everywhere, and make them soggy and gross.
1 block of cream cheese
Worcestershire sauce
Lunch meat, I prefer ham, in deli style slices.

You must either soften or allow the cream cheese to soften. If you do not do this, it will be hard to spread and tear the daylights out of your meat.
When the cream cheese is soft like butter, place into a bowl, add a bit of Worcestershire sauce. Now, I don't measure but I would say it's probably about a tablespoon? Whip this up with a hand mixer, this will also help make your cream cheese more fluffy and easier to work with.
I lay about 3 pieces of ham end to end on my work space and spread them all with a small bit of cream cheese. You can be a little liberal with the cream cheese, you will likely have a bit leftover otherwise. I than place the pickle on one end and start rolling it up. If your ham is of the size where all the ends start overlapping in the same spot, try to stagger them. I find this makes the flavor blend better (and will look better later when you put them out!) I than roll them into a bit of tin foil like a small piece of candy.
Repeat this until you are out of an ingredient. I typically run out of pickles first and have a bit of ham and cream cheese leftover. Granted I don't have the best eating habits but I must admit I kind of like to spread the cream cheese onto the ham and eat it on the spot.

I store the wraps in the fridge until the cream cheese hardens. I usually make the wraps the night before, so it is fine, however if I am in a pinch, I will sometimes just put the wraps into the freezer for an hour or so. I wouldn't do this long enough for them to freeze though, because as pickles thaw, they get gross and mushy.

When I'm ready to serve the wraps, I simply cut them up, arrange them on a plate, and put a few toothpicks nearby. I than run before the stampede comes!


When I was pregnant with my little girl, I craved these like crazy...we actually made a bag and I would sit and eat them without bothering to cut them up. Than, one day I got sick of them and my poor husband was bringing them to work for the next few weeks.