Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Menu

After watching Food Revolution on Friday, I feel more inspired to eat healthy.  I am trying to keep some perspective and not go overboard, but I really feel that Jaime Oliver is right.  We are what we eat.  On that note, this week's menu will focus on different fruit and veggies.

B: Cereal and milk
L: Leftover Pulled Pork and salad
S: Sausage Gumbo w/ carrots, celery, onions, bellpepper and lots of tomatoes/ rice/ broccoli 
Dessert : Brownies

B: Banana Bread
L: Leftover Sausage Gumbo w/ side of sauteed zuchinni
S: Pork Chops/ Mashed Potatoes/ carrots

B: Pancakes w/ syrup
L: Sandwich/ chips/ fruit
S: Chili w/ crackers

B: Banana Bread
L: Salad w/ CrackersAzsxdcd
S: Spaghetti w/ Wheat Pasta/ Zuchinni

B: Pancakes
L: Easter Brunch
S: Easter Dinner

B: Muffins
L: Leftovers
S: Chicken Dumplings / Carrots

Friday, March 19, 2010

Frugal Fridays

After reading LifeasMom's post for Frugal Friday, I could empathize with her.  I shared some of the same experiences as far as yard sales go when I was young.  Sinking deep into the seat, I wished with all my heart that I wouldn't see any of my classmates at the yard sale.  I never took into account that if I saw them there or if they were having it, it meant they were in the same boat as my family.

If you have ever read my blog, you know my goal is to pay down my mortgage so I have been on the frugal path for a very long time.  In our marriage we have seen times of abundance and time when we have not had abundance, but somehow we have always managed without using credit that was carried over month to month.  Now that I am older, I do not view hand-me-downs the same.  I love them, and so do my children.  Now I understand that their current attitude about used clothes probably will not last as they get older but that is okay.  I believe in living in the moment so when their attitude changes perhaps I will shop sales more, but this is how my family deals with hand-me-downs now.

We shop our attic.  We talk about their wonderful cousins who selected the clothing we are wearing today.  We talk about how they are our heroes and how lucky we are that they give us their clothes.  I take all hand-me-downs and anything I think we can use, we do.  I try to pass on what we can't use.  I shop consignment sales on the discount days and our local Junior League sale.  We get wonderful bargains.  Most importantly, when they get dressed in the morning, I tell them "Cousin Reagan has the best taste.  She dresses like a princess and so do you."  My little girl thinks it is a treat.  I believe a lot about life is about your attitude towards it.  My children view hand-me-downs as a treat because I treat it like it is the greatest thing in the world.  This world is what you make of it.  I will get off my soap box now.  Remember with kids- presentation is everything.

* This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Netflix Bargains

Since I have been homebound, I have had to find activities the kids can do inside the house so that I can supervise them while propping my leg up.  We have gardening supplies, playdough, baking, coloring sheets, and many toys to play with at the house, but at the end of the day the house is a wreck.  I am limited in what I can do and picking up the amount of toys that four children can drag out in a day is tiring with a normal leg.  Netflix has been my saving grace.

Before my husband left for his business trip, we downloaded some kid movies to our Netflix Streaming Disc.  Each night after dinner, we play a game in which we clean the house as fast as we can.  When we finish, the older boys pick a movie they can watch until bedtime.  This gets my house clean and I can rest with my leg up for a good hour.  Right now, the monthly Netflix fee of $7.99, I believe, is the best deal working for me. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Making "Green" Dollars

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I decided to submit a post to Heavenly Homemaker's blog.  Many people have hobbies that they can make work for them with just a little initiative.

When I quit my job, I was a happy stay-at-home mom.  I tried to stay active by walking around the block and exercising at home.  When my oldest was about two years old, he was saying only a handful of words so my pediatrician suggested I put him in a Mother's day out program.  I decided instead to join a gym that had a nursery.  I also made a commitment to attend once a day five days a week.   I would stay for one hour and after a short time, I noticed that his speech had improved.  When I became a regular at the gym, I was asked to teach a couple of classes.  This became a win-win situation.  Our gym membership was lowered by $45.00, and I made about $150.00 every two weeks.  I have now worked there for a little over four years.  All of my children love it and consider it a second home.  I do not work there very often now, but I am thankful for the time we have had there.  I still go to exercise about 40 minutes and my little girl gets a preschool education for the cost of a gym membership.  My kids are truly loved and cared about there. 

My second son goes to a preschool that costs $200.00 a month.  I could lower this cost by substituting or even teaching there some time.  This is probably something I will look at when my daughter goes to school.  Look at the activities you would like your children participate in and see if you can lower the cost.   By increasing or developing your talents, you should be able to bring in money or lower the outflow in your household.  These are my "green" tips for St. Patrick's Day.

Wonderful Wednesday, Part 2

For the rest of the day, I will be on the couch.  If you read the previous post, you know we spent the day at the park yesterday and my ankle is swollen today.  I will probably add some more books to my inventory so that will help me make money.  I also will make pretzels if I fill up to rolling them out.  We will see.  If I am able to do the pretzels, I will take a picture.  These are wonderful.  I use the same recipe as Heavenly Homemakers.  Delicious and easy.  A great combination.

Works for Me Wednesday

Yesterday, we spent the day at the park.  Spring picture packets had come to the house from the schools, and I felt I could do as well.  Broken ankle and all, we took to the park.  Here are the results.

Little Man

Little Cutie Putie

My Pookie Bear

My Little Princess

By taking my own pictures and developing, I saved at least a hundred dollars so I will call yesterday a Super Saving Day.  I did spend $2.93 in shipping and handling.  Not a bad day at all.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Crazy Monday

Today, I will be resting again.  So far, I have cooked double batches of pancakes and I made french toast from a loaf of bread.  I am hoping that by having ready made breakfasts I will resist the lure of easy cereal breakfasts.  I am on my own this week since hubby is out of town due to work.  My mom is down from Birmingham to help me as far as driving goes.

I would love to post a menu for this week, but I will be the very grateful recipient of meals being delivered due to my broken foot.  I really have some of the best friends ever.  Even though I can get up to make meals, they insisted and so I am going to enjoy the break.

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Today I whipped up this muffins for snack and dessert. Delicious, if I do say so myself.

1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. granulated sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 c. plain pumpkin
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. chocolate chips

Add dry ingredients and mix. Add eggs, pumpkin, and butter and mix well. Add chocolate chips and stir. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. These freeze very well.

I use pumpkin that I froze after Halloween. I froze it especially for these muffins so each bag contains a cup of pumpkin.

To freeze pumpkin, simply cut into fourths and place in oven at 200 degrees until you can pierce it with a fork. Once done, take out and let it cool. Scoop out pumpkin and throw away the rinds. I put the pumpkin in my Kitchenaid mixer and add a little water. Measure in 1 cup servings and place in sandwich bags. I have used these successfully in muffins and pumpkin rolls.

My goal last year was to eliminate as little waste as possible, and by doing this, I was able to use the pumpkins that normally would have been thrown out. I actually didn't use all my pumpkins and now as often as we have these muffins I wished I had frozen all of the pumpkins I had. Live and learn.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Great News

Super Excited. My second son made it into our local magnet school. It is the same one our oldest son goes to. When the economy went south, magnet school applications soared. People took their children out of private schools and tried to get them into the magnet schools here in Montgomery. We were extremely worried. I asked the secretary how many applications they received last year, 900. Can you believe it? Nine hundred applications for eighty spots. Incredible.

For those of you who are not from here, our local schools are hit and miss. The school we are zoned for is a definite miss. The last time I checked it was failing and had one assault and two weapons found at an elementary school. Needless to say, we were not going to send any of our children to there. We decided if they did not get in I would homeschool. I am so excited though that he will be able to attend with his older brother.

Super Savings Saturday

Today, my sweet husband had to take me and our four kids to run errands today. The first stop was Academy Sports. This particular trip we needed to get the boys a bat so that they could practice baseball. As usual, we did not stick to our list. We ended up buying a bat, baseball bag, iron skillet (Wedding gift), and a pair of sunglasses. I had a giftcard for $13.00 so ended up paying $60.00. Next time, I will have to get their baseball pants.

On to Walmart! There I bought groceries I couldn't get at Costco. I had several free coupon products and ended up saving $11.00 in coupons. I did not veer from the list here. I also bought seeds and soil to start a small garden. We will see how that goes. My husband reminded me to not spend so much on seeds since they probably will not produce. Money spent- $54.XX.

Costco was our next stop. Once again, we kept to the list. I managed a $5.00 coupon for diapers. I have never tried these before so I sure hope they work. I could have probably worked a better deal elsewhere, but the truth is I can't really run around chasing deals. My husband can be pretty patient but trying to run from store to store is not his cup of tea. Total spent $123. XX

With this broken ankle, deal shopping is probably going to be at a standstill for awhile. Making Money is where I will be focusing my time and energy. We will see how well that goes with one foot.

Hope you guys are having a great Saturday!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Frugal Fridays

When I look at the Frugal Friday links, it makes me feel good to be part of this online community where frugality is celebrated and appreciated. After reading Heavenly Homemaker's Frugal Friday, I realized that I needed to be more aware of how I present my own frugality. I feel there is a difference in being frugal and being cheap. Frugal living, to me, means I am careful of my money so that it allows me the resources to be able to help those in need. I do this each month to a significant degree so I am satisfied that my priorities are in line.

On to my Frugal Friday tip! I am on the Weight Watchers maintenance plan. Each night I fix a meal that is allowed on the plan. I make a note to go ahead and weigh out my portion for the next day's lunch. If it is a meal that my kids particularly enjoy, I also go ahead and make them a portion to reheat for their next day's lunch. I microwave it in the morning as hot as I can get it and then put the portion in a thermos. Nothing is wasted. My preschooler and toddler gets any small leftovers with a fruit added to round out the meal. I am never at a loss as to what we are having the next day.

By having a plan and sticking with it, I save a ton of money. I am never tempted by the drive thru because I know 1.) it is unhealthy and 2.) expensive with four kids. The kids know I will not stop for a drive thru on the spur of the moment whim. Every meal we eat out has been planned, and the kids are told prior to going to the restaurant. This is a habit so the kids rarely ask to go to McDonalds, Burger King, or Chick-Fil-A. This works for us.

*This tip is linked to Frugal Fridays

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making Money

I picked up my checks from the consignment sales and deposited $77.00 and some cents. YEAH! Maybe it will help with the medical bills due to the broken ankle. My husband and I sold some chairs for a total of a $100.00 and I sold some books for $15.00. I know that is not a great sum but some is better than none.

Today I will
-submit for some rebates
- eat leftovers for lunch and have dinner in the crockpot
- do some work for my daycare
- did school with son and need to do a little more this afternoon

Activity is light due to ankle and I'm in a lot of pain today. I think I have done a little too much on it. Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


As I sit here with a broken ankle propped up, I feel very grateful. Here are just a few things that I feel very blessed to have.

- great friends who are willing to take and pick up my children from their schools since I can't drive
- a great online community that makes me feel less weird in the everyday world (i.e. cooking with whole grains, not eating processed foods, frugal living, etc.
- the ability to pay for care I need for the broken ankle
- medicine to aleviate the pain
- natural remedies for allergy relief
- a wonderful husband who forces his stubborn wife to go to the doctor for her sprained (?) ankle
- four wonderful kids who allow me each day to smother them with hugs and kisses
- my brillant husband who fixed our furnace for drumroll please :-) $16.00

Really, could life get any better?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Little Things

Lately, we have started to view the economy differently. Because of this, we have had to reassess our own view of finances. I talked about this earlier when I started to write again. As I go through my day, I think about the little things that I do that cost money. Can I change those things? I feel that I can as long as I stay aware. What are the little things that I am doing?

1.) Not throwing away leftovers. By being clever, I can usually find something to do with leftovers.
2.) Turning off lights when I leave the room
3.) Turning down the thermostat - Do I really need to be able to sit in my underwear in the middle of winter?
4.) Using what is in the freezer - It might have a weird taste, but I'm not vomiting. That's a good sign. Seriously, I am not going to the extreme. Look through the freezer and see what lovely creation is in the back.
5.) Monitoring my soda intake - Notice I didn't say give up totally. I'm not crazy!
6.) Using my time at home wisely - cooking from scratch and using food storage
7.) Ebaying extra stuff
8.) Watching the pennies, turn into nickels, then to dimes, on to quarters, and miracle upon miracle many dollars

I feel that by concentrating on the little things I will be able to accomplish my goals. I am very excited about the future and feel that by continuing to do these things I will be able to reach my ultimate goal.What are the little things you are doing? Share and teach me.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saving Sunday

Today, I successfully made homemade pretzels. Go me! They will be sent to my son's preschool for snack tomorrow. I hope they enjoy them.

On Sundays we do not spend any money. If something is needed, we improvise. Today, I ran out of milk so I mixed up some dry milk. I know my children will not know a difference tomorrow after I add a little homemade chocolate syrup in it.

I did list some items on I hope more is to come later. Tomorrow, I will grocery shop for our remaining groceries for the week. I plan to cook each night. I told the kids if we plan to take a short vacation over AEA week then we will be eating at home the next two weeks.

I created a menu plan for the next week, and I hope to have some time tomorrow to post it to the blog. I am hoping I can get my housework done this week along with work related issues so that I play on the blog and see what new features I can add. I am super-excited to see what I can do.

I hope you guys have a great day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crazy Day

Do you ever have one of those days when you would rather curl up and go to bed? Today was that day for me. It started with the craziness of taking everyone to school and preschool. Then my carpool buddy cancelled due to sickness so I rearranged the day to pick up my son from preschool. On the way to go across town to the school, someone called from Craigslist about some dining room chairs we have been trying to sale. I had to tell my son that I would be picking him up early so that I could show the chairs at 1:00.

Away we go! With the other two children in tow, I went on to Weight Watchers (still doing well - YEAH!), off to the gym to run 4 very hard miles, and off to Walmart to buy supplies for the weekend. I then went back to the preschool to pick up son so that I could save on gas. Now, if you will, picture what a harried mom of two toddlers looks like after running four miles and managing children who are passed lunchtime and ready for naps. That is how I arrived at the preschool. When I get there, my preschool son erupts into tears because I have come to pick him up just as he is going to the playground. Off to the van we go!

Please let the day end. I rush back to the house, unload groceries, and put children to naps. While taking a quick shower, the lady calls about the chairs. She will be here in five minutes. I meet her at the door, wet hair and all. She might want to buy 12 at $12.50 a piece. This is great news because the next month might be tight moneywise.

She leaves and I move on to kitchen and laundry duty. That goes for about an hour, and then I must wake youngest to feed him the lunch he slept through at 3:00. He refuses to eat until I go to put up food and then he screams so loudly I swear the neighbor can hear. I rush back to the table with the food I have just put away to feed him again. Off to carpool lane!

As I am typing this, I swear I might need a little vacation! I am whipped.

I am going to call this a Saving Day! I used as little electricity as possible.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frugal Activities As of Late

Yesterday, I spent the day at home except for a quick run to drop off/ pick up oldest son. I spent the day doing laundry, mopping floors, and baking bread and pretzels. The pretzel recipe was from Heavenly Homemakers. It was good but after the rise time, I realized mine had gone horribly wrong. Rather than throw it out, I shaped it into pretzels anyway. The kids and hubby ate them anyway, but I am hoping to redeem myself later. I think I let it get to hot and it killed the yeast.

Today, I went to Target and returned some little girl panties. I had bought some even though we had plenty so I returned a pack. I then bought a candy thermometer so that I could try the pretzels again. I hope to also try yogurt soon. While I was at Target, I looked for the "free" yogurt posted at Money Saving Mom but was unable to find any. Maybe next time! Hope you have a great day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saving Sunday

Today, I used a recipe out of the All You magazine for banana muffins. The muffins worked out to be .22 apiece, but I wasn't really all that impressed. Next time I will add some free pecans from my pecan trees to add a little crunch. By using this recipe, I was able to use up some free bananas and some food storage items. They were very healthy. Overall, it has been a really lazy day. Hoping you guys are resting as much as I am. Tomorrow, I will be on to another consignment sale. YEAH! This is the last one. It is hard to get all of this together and keep the house and laundry done so I am glad that this is the last one.

On another note, we went to the rummage sale on Friday night. I scored about 6 pairs of sandal for my little girl for $6.00 and a lot of books. My husband is fairly sure that one of the books we purchased A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an original edition. It is in excellent condition. When we looked up the book on the internet we found an edition in worse condition than ours for $2725. Not bad for a $1.00 book. This is all very exciting. I used to teach this book when I taught school, and my husband read my paperback copy. We both loved the book so much we thought it would nice to have a hardback copy. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed we would have purchased an original edition. I am trying to convince him to sale it to add to our new mortgage total. I don't know that I am going to have much luck.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Check Pick-up Time

Today, I went to pick up my check from one of the consignment sales I have done. Yeah! $95.05. I consider this a great success since these were clothes given to me for my boys as hand-me-downs. After they received so many shirts and pants, I consigned what we couldn't use. I also cashed some of my checks that I received teaching aerobics. That was about $70.00 worth. For a grand total of $165.05. I am very happy with that.

The rest of the day will be spent going through other clothes for the consignment sales coming up. I am also going on a date with my hubby to our local Junior League Rummage Sale. The cost is $5.00 per person. Usually we spend at least $100.00. This year I hope it is considerably less. I will be looking for cheap shoes for the kids- mostly my daughter. I also hope to find jeans for myself and pants for my hubby. We always go through the books. I also look for items that I might be able to resell on Ebay for a profit. I am so looking forward to my lovely date.

I am guessing today will be a Making Money and Saving Money day if I can find the right deals for the needed items for the kids. Go Me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today's Activity: Making Money

I have been designating days as either Making Money days or Saving Money. Yesterday's activity was saving money. I went and bought bargains with a stack of coupons at Walmart. I will not do that again, but that story is for another day. It really makes my blood pressure rise. Let's just say I ran into a cashier who did not understand the concept of doubling. If it says DO NOT DOUBLE, it means don't double the value of the coupon and not that I can't use two of the same coupons. Do I need to say more?

Here we go for today. I will be getting more items out of the attic to consign at my local children's sale as well as women's sale. I am going to start with the children's sale so I can say I have finished cleaning the attic. Next, I am on to my closet. Wish me luck. I really need it with the ambulance fee that is on my credit card and the snow groceries bought on hubbies card without coupons and without regards to price. I should be at least thankful I didn't have to take out all four kiddies for that expedition to the store.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Exhausting Day

Today was a whirlwind. I took two kids to another city for free childcare while I attended the other two kids' delayed Valentine parties at different times in different schools. By the end of today, I was totally spent. The kids had boiled eggs, bacon, and muffins for dinner. I had soup and a sandwich, and dear husband is eating on the road after a long day working. I am trying to muster the energy to do my taxes for the year. Thanks Turbotax! I will also be uploading my free-after-rebate Quicken. All I really want to do is devour a ton of chocolate.

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday. I was up late trying to finish the homemade Valentine cards for today. I think they were pretty cute considering I did it. I took pictures and I will see if I can post the tomorrow.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

This has been a great day (no money spent day!) My husband wrote me a lovely letter about what he appreciates about me that was really touching. He has also taken the children to Grandpa's so I can rest. I am cooking some steaks (reduced price) for adults, sweet potatoes (Aldi's) and leftover salad for adults. Children are eating popcorn chicken (free at Winn-Dixie Superbowl special), sweet potatoes, and pineapple. I am very excited about continuing the blog and saving every penny I can.

I am hoping to organize tomorrow so that I can earn money as well as save money. Looking forward to writing a post tomorrow about the results. Have a great Valentine's day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I'm Back!

What has happened since May 2009. My son was born and life has been a whirlwind. I am now on the frugal train once again and want to use this blog to talk about what I'm doing personally each day to "pay down my mortgage". Join me on this journey. Today's task is going through the attic to find things to sale at my local consignment sale for children's clothes. I have already consigned at two sales so far. Hopefully, they will go well.

Paying Down the Mortage Update:

We are now at 139,900. HOORAY! We bought this house a little over 3 years ago for 188, 000 so I am really excited about how far we have come. My goal is to still contribute as much as possible but with the economy many changes have come to my little household. We have had to contribute personal money to keep my other business afloat, my husband's business has seen a downturn, and medical bills abound! I feel blessed to have the savings to be able to handle these issues, but at the same time frustrated that the mortgage has been put on the back burner. It is time to "sock" it to the mortgage and get out from under the mortgage. This blog will serve as a reminder that what I do each day contributes to the overall picture.