Tuesday, September 29, 2009
1. Don't overpay your taxes. Sure you love to get a fat refund from the IRS every spring. The fact is, however, you're effectively lending money to the government interest-free. Go through your tax return and see if you can plan your withholding so you get to Dec. 31 maybe getting a $100 refund. That way you can use your money NOW. (And bank the refund when you get it.)
2. Never spend a windfall. Take your income-tax refund, that holiday money from your folks, the $16.35 overpayment check from the telephone company and any other extras and save em.
3. Go veggie. If you can do three meatless days a week (without substituting pricey fish), you could save $25 a week, which equals $100 a month, which equals $1,200 a year! Beans: Ya gotta love em.
4. Clean it yourself. I've discovered a nifty trick: When a clothing label says, "Dry Clean Only," I wash it. Or I dab out that little coffee stain with an old-fashioned cleaning device known as a sponge.
5. No pet pampering. Does your dog need those pricey snacks? Does your cat need acupuncture? Probably not.
6. Re-evaluate. Re-evaluate. Re-evaluate. That dinner out cost more than you spend on groceries in a week. That pair of shoes is worth half a commuter pass. Learn what your money is worth, and you won't be so quick to dispose of it.
7. Dont pay unnecessary fees. Like the $1.50 you pay just because the ATM is right there, right now, as opposed to walking two blocks to your bank, where you don't get charged every time you use your card. Or, the late fees for returning videos. Or, the fees that some companies charge you to make your payments online.
8. Try not to pay a pro. If you can fix the neighbors car, and she can paint the bathroom: do it.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I just had to take a quick minute to post about THESE amazingly delicious rolls!! I just made them for our dinner tonight and I, of course, had to try one (after I took the picture!), and they are DEEEEEElicious!! The only changes I made were: I didn't have bread flour, so I used regular flour, I just sifted it, and they still are amazing!! And, my oven tends to run a little hot, so I baked them for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. PERFECTION!! They are so easy and so tasty!! In fact, all the kids are napping, so I'm going to throw one more batch together to have in the freezer! TRY THEM!!! You won't be disappointed!
It's been a long, busy, but great weekend! I think we are all finally getting over our sicknesses and we're on the mend!
Friday I made a double batch of chili with our abundance of tomatoes! And, freezing the tomatoes works!! The skins came off just like "butta" and worked out great in the chili! Rock on!! I'm hoping to harvest all of our carrots today and start the process of blanching them and then freezing them, as well. We've already done all of our corn and have a few more cucumbers to eat. We have already picked lots and lots of apples from our trees, too, and I've made quite a bit of applesauce, but more apples are coming on, so in the next couple weeks our house will smell like cinnamon, again!!
Over the past week, I 've gone through all the kids clothes and shoes, pulled out all the summer ones and packed away all the 'too small' ones and realized they were in need of some more fall clothes and shoes---no better place to start than the thrift stores!! So, Saturday we all ventured out! Mark had to do some work on our other house, so the kids and I enjoyed a day of thrift store shopping! My favorite Value Village is just a couple blocks away from our other house, so the kids and I walked over there and found LOADS of awesome stuff!! Sooooo exciting!! We had a picnic in the park after that, and while Mark finished up, the kids and I went up to the Goodwill and scored on some more great items! It was a great day!!
Yesterday Mark and I worked hard in the kids' room. We pulled out Lukie's "big boy bed!" He's been sleeping in a toddler bed, but to make more room in the closet, we pulled out the single bed and set it up for him. He was so excited! We also pulled out lots of other things, re-organized them and got to work on several other projects in the house. Most of these projects are half-done, but they have all been started and we'll get to them during the week! It was a very productive day! After naps, we went to a local Harvest Fair and the kids had a great time seeing the animals, taking a hay ride and Ava got to ride a horse! Good times!
Since my 3 weeks of meal delivery is over (what a blessing it was!!!!), it's time to get back to meal planning!!! Here's what I've got on tap for the week:
Monday: Chicken Pasta Primavera (recipe HERE) and I'm going to make THESE buttery rolls today to go with it
Tuesday: Meatloaf (already made in the freezer), Baked potatoes and fresh corn from the garden
Wednesday: Chicken Curry and white rice
Thursday: Homemade Mac and Cheese (already made in the freezer), Polish Sausage, green beans
Friday: Quick Homemade Pizza
Hope everyone has a great, productive and frugal week!! :-)
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Did you know that you can FREEZE milk?? Maybe I'm living on another planet, but, I never even thought of doing that!!
I just read a great article that says you can freeze milk for up to 3 months after the expiration date and it's as good as new! Just make sure it's in plastic jugs and pour out a bit of it to make room for expansion.
I have not tried this, so I can't say for sure that it works, but you can bet that if I find a great deal on milk, I'm not going to hesitate buying a few extras and FREEZE them!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The idea of canning them seems daunting to me at this point, only because I don't have as much free time on my hands that I used to. Also, making more tomato sauce and/or preparing the tomatoes seemed daunting to me, as well! I wanted to find a way to preserve them without having to do much, if that was even possible!!
Well, I found out that it is!!!!
After my extensive research on the Internet, I found out the EASIEST way to preserve your tomatoes without really having to do anything to them!!! Here goes:
1. Wash your tomatoes.
2. De-stem them.
3. Place them on a cookie sheet.
4. Place your cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze them until they are rock solid.
5. Place them WHOLE into freezer-safe ziploc bags and put them back into the freezer to store.
IT'S AS EASY AS THAT!!!
The cool part is that when you're ready to use them in soups, stews, sauces, etc, all you do is pull out a bag, put them in a collander and run some water over them for a minute or two. Once you do that, the skins will literally FALL OFF!! Then, all you have to do is chop them up and cook away!!
I was sooooooo excited to have found this information and I'm even more excited to be able to use all my tomatoes without having to take a lot of time to do something with them now!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Go HERE and register with Shortcuts. All you do is pick the stores that you shop at the most and/or have a club card to, specify your club card number and pick the coupons you want to load onto that specific card. It's as easy as that!!!
BUT, WAIT......IT GETS BETTER!!!!
I was wondering how it would work if I dowloaded coupons onto my card, but had the same coupon in my hand, ready to use. HERE'S THE AWESOME PART:
YOU GET A DOUBLE DISCOUNT!!!!!!!!!!!! It not only gives you the coupon that you downloaded onto the card, but it will take your exact paper coupon, as well!!!!!!!! Boy, was I overjoyed to learn this!!
Check out my Safeway coupon from yesterday:
At the bottom of the receipt, here you can see all my paper coupons and catalinas that I used:
Now, take a look at this! Here are the coupons that I loaded onto my Safeway card from Shortcuts.com:
Here's a closer look. It says: Mfr. eCoupon:
I had paper coupons for ALL of the items that I loaded onto my card and was able to use them all, plus the ecoupons!! That is how the program works, which is AWESOME!! I got an amazing deal and am looking soooooooo forward to more of these deals in the future!!
Check out shortcuts.com and save some more money!!!!!!!
Another memory-filled time occured during a lovely Grandma-Granddaughter cookie baking session. I told you that I was going to tell you about a slight mishap with a Kitchen Aid Mixer, so here it is:
My mom and Ava decided they'd like to make cookies! Both Luke and Anna were napping, so I thought I'd hang out with them in the kitchen and observe and take pictures of their time together. It all started out great, everything going to plan and they started out getting the dry ingredients put together. As it came time for the wet ingredients, Ava was really excited to crack the eggs into the mixer! She's not so great at it and doesn't exactly realize that the shells don't belong in the cookies, too, so my mom decided to let her crack one, but with her help. So, Ava was up on a chair, so she could crack the egg right into the mixer. She did fairly well, even though the egg pretty much exploded everywhere, including the chair she was standing on!! My mom then cracked the next egg and turned on the mixer to mix those ingredients. As the mixer was going, my mom and I looked over at the recipe to see what dry ingredients needed to go in........when...............all the sudden...............we heard something. It wasn't a cry, or a shout, or a scream, it was a sort of a struggling type of "Uggghh" sound come out of Ava. Now, granted, we were standing/sitting right next to her and as I was looking down at my recipe, I didn't just hear Ava, but I saw something out of the corner of my eye, as well. I looked up and it took me a few seconds to process everything.......Ava had a slighty scared/nervous/hurt/horrified/bewildered look on her face, she didn't even really know what had happened!! But, as I looked over, I GASPED and this is what I saw:
Do you see that big WAD OF HAIR on the mixer?!?!?! That's precious Ava's hair from the top of her head!!!! In the split second that my mom and I were looking over the recipe, Ava had slipped on some egg white that had fallen on her chair and fell forward towards the mixer, hence, got her head too close to the beater and it ripped the hairs right out of her head!!!!!! There was mayhem there for a few moments, but once we figured out that Ava was fine, we calmed down.
Here's another shot of it:
Ava was quite rattled, (as were my mom and I!!!), but it didn't seem to hurt her because it happened so fast!! We are SO THANKFUL it was merely her hair, rather than something else. What a blessing, but what a scare!!!!!
Here's the hair after we detatched it from the mixer:
But, now my sweet Ava has a poor little bald spot on the top of her head:
(I guess she'll be wearing ponytails a little more often in the coming months!! :-))
After our little scare, though, the cookie-making proceeded and Grandma and Ava had a great time with their baking.
But, let this be a lesson to us all to watch our kids closely and not let them get close to any kind of machinery when it's in use!!!!!!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
September 18-20, 2009
You can stop by any participating IKEA store and get a Swedish Meatball Meal for just $1!!
The meal includes 10 meatballs, potatoes and cream sauce.
Anyone who's had this meal knows that it is super yummy and for just a dollar, a GREAT value!!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I won't go into all the details about prices, etc, but I wanted to post this to show that YOU TOO can SCORE BIG TIME!!
Here's what I got for: $13.45
PLUS, I got THREE catalinas for 3 FREE 10-pack boxes of Capri Suns!
6 boxes of Cheerios
2 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch
4 bags of Nature Valley Nut Clusters
3 boxes of Ritz Crackerful Crackers
8 cans of Tomato Soup
4 Cans of Safeway Tomato Paste
2 Bottles of V8 V-Fusion Juice
1 package of Chips Ahoy Cookies
1 box of Ritz Crackers
31 items for $13.45!! (Which, if you broke it down, is only 43 cents per item!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!
And, just for fun, I thought you might like to see some of my stockpile of cereal, snacks, juice, etc. (From what I could count, there are AT LEAST 50 boxes of cereal up there!!) And, this is only ONE of the many cupboards full!!!!
Friday, September 11, 2009
I received an email from my mom this morning. An email that sent tears streaming down my face.
Isn't it amazing how God knows exactly what you need at the EXACT right time???!!
Before going into that, though, the preface is that I had a pretty stressful and rough night with Anna.......it took hours to get her back down after her first wake up, she cried more than she ever has, and after trying everything......nothing was working. I was in tears, because I was just so exhausted, but on top of that, I was upset that she was upset! Finally, around 4am, after two hours, she finally gave in and fell asleep. But, not for long. It has continued like that all morning, and to go along with that, I have two other very cranky and non-obeying kids. To say it's been rough for the past 9 hours would be an understatement. When it rains, it pours, huh?!
Knowing that Mark will not be home until late tonight, (he's doing some work on our other home after he gets off work), and that he will be leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to play a round of golf, I suddenly got very panicked, stressed and discouraged. Knowing the night I had last night, and what today has already been like, I had that feeling, of.......How can I make it through??
I don't mean to write these things to get pity from anyone, or for anyone to feel sorry for me. Period. I am simply writing my thoughts, feelings and emotions, because I know thousands of moms feel exactly the same way I do from time to time. This job of being a Mom is so wonderful, fun, rewarding and absolutely amazing.....I love my kiddos and love being a Stay-at-home Mom, but, as any parent knows, especially parents of newborns and young children......there are times that it can be TOUGH!! The toughest job there is!
Hence.......my mom's email. What a blessing and encouragement this was to me at the most opportune time!! I wanted to share it with you. This is from James Dobson. If you don't know who he is, please Google him!!
He said in a film series, "Turn Your Heart Toward Home," that the day was coming soon when the bicycle tires would be flat, the skateboard would be warped and standing in the garage, the swing set would be still, and the beds would not be slept in. I (Dr. Dobson) know those times will soon be here, and I realize it has to be so. I accept it. I wouldn't for anything try to hold back our children when it comes time to go. But that will also be a very sad day, because the precious experience of parenting will have ended for me.
...we are just "passing through," as the gospel songwriters used to say. All of life boils down to a series of happy "hellos" and sad "goodbyes." Nothing is really permanent, not even the relationships that blossom in a healthy home. In time, we must release our grip on everything we hold dear. King David said it best, "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more (Ps. 103:15-16). "
...what an incredibly important scriptural concept this is. If we really grasped the numbering of our days, we would surely be motivated to invest ourselves in eternal values.
...addressing myself now to the mothers and fathers of young children, I urge you to keep this eternal perspective in view as you race through the days of your lives. Don't permit yourselves to become discouraged with the responsibilities of parenting. Yes, it is an exhausting and difficult assignment, and there are times when you will feel like throwing in the towel. But I beg you to stay the course! Get on your knees before the Lord and ask for His strength and wisdom. Finish the job to which He has called you! There is no more important task in living...in the blink of an eye, you will be hugging your children good-bye and returning to an empty house. That is the way the system works.
...may God grant you grace and wisdom during your remaining years of parenting...our families are worth everything we invest in them.
May this encourage all you parents out there.........
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I've been feeling guilty about that.
But, I eventually had to tell myself to "Knock it off!!" My first priority is my family and my wee ones, so if other things go by the wayside for awhile....ie......housework, baking, cooking, blogging, laundry..........etc........etc........then, so be it!! I had forgotten how exhausting it is to care for a newborn, and then two little ones on top of that. It's hard to get much else done!! :-) But, this is still the transition period, so I know things will get easier. It just takes time.
But, in this transition period, and my endeavor to live life more fully, I am often evaluating, and then re-evaluating things I want to incorporate into my life, and things I do NOT. In this journey, I have been wanting and striving to have a nice, clean and organized home, but there are other things in life that are important to me, too! I want my home to be in order, be clean and be clutter-free, so that I have time to nurture relationships, take care of my children, entertain, and enjoy living, without being a slave to my housekeeping routines.
Mind you, I keep a fairly clean and organized house. Sure, there's dust settling on the China, there's pet hair on the couch, there's often times toys strewn everywhere, the floors aren't mopped daily, and if you were to open up a couple closets and/or cabinets you might see some dis-organization, but all in all, my house is clean "enough." So, without being a slave to housekeeping, and with the chaos in my life right now, I wanted to share a few tips that I use to keep my house "clean enough."
1. Follow a morning routine.
This is hard for me to do right now with a newborn, but before Anna, I almost always followed the same routine every morning. While the kids get to watch their hour of cartoons in the morning, it was my time to make coffee, have quiet time, check email, get my makeup on and start their breakfast. I am STRIVING to include GET DRESSED as part of this morning routine, because I have found that when I get up BEFORE the kids and actually get dressed, right down to my shoes, then I feel more ready to go and tackle the day, then if I were to stay in my sweatpants all morning (and sometimes all afternoon!!) long!! When I follow the same morning routine, I often feel ready to tackle the day more readily!!
2. Do the dishes and clean the kitchen after every meal.
I hate, I repeat, HATE waking up to dishes in the sink!! Anyone else??!! For some reason, it makes me feel like I'm already behind in my day, and the day has just begun!! So, to combat that, I always do the dishes, clean the counters, wipe down the table and spot clean the floor after every meal. There's just something about knowing that I'm waking up and walking into a nice, clean kitchen in the morning that makes me smile!
3. Involve the kids.
Ava and Luke are just 3 and 2 years old, but they each have chores that they have to do on a daily basis. They're age appropriate chores, but chores nonetheless! They also have to clean up all their toys in the TV room and in their bedrooms EVERY night before they go to bed. Also, involve the kids in activities like dusting, sweeping, mopping, etc. Ava loves to help out, so when I'm dusting, I give her a dishcloth, and she goes to town! Not only does it teach them responsibility and discipline, but it helps me, too!!!
4. Laundry every day.
This sounds like a lot, but I have found that if I do at least ONE load of laundry a day, I won't get too far behind. I often do a couple a day, but if you do AT LEAST one, you have a less likely chance it will pile up!!
5. Schedule certain days to do certain things.
Not everything has to be done everyday!! If you tried to do that, you'd have no time for anything else!! I plan certain days of the week for certain projects. For instance, I always empty all the wastebaskets on Tuesday because Garbage day is Wednesday, I always plan my bulk baking (bread, muffins, etc) for the weekends, unless I incorporate it as a project for the kids. My lovely husband is in charge of cleaning the bathrooms every Saturday,(although, I can't seem to remember the last time he did that??!!), but I always at least wipe down the counters, sink and toilet every day. Thursday is when I do all the dusting in the house, and every Friday I go through the house and make sure things are stocked, paired down and combined, ie: paper products in both bathrooms and kitchen, diapers and wipes in both of the kids' rooms, cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc are gone through, etc.
6. Never exit a room with empty hands.
There's always something in every room that doesn't belong, so I make it a point to never leave a room without picking something up and putting it where it belongs.
I would LOVE to hear some of your tips for keeping your house "clean enough!!" Feel free to chime in!!!!
Friday, September 4, 2009
As I was up with Anna, for the 4th time at 3:13am, eyes barely able to open, and a feeling of, "I can't get up again!", I rolled out of bed, turned the dull lamp on, and picked up my precious baby out of the crib and began to nurse her in the glider chair. Even though I felt like I couldn't get up again, just seeing her, hearing her sweet little cry, and knowing that she depends on me, I realized something right in that moment:
GOD WILL NEVER GIVE ME MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE.
Sure, I'm tired. Sure, I was up all night. Sure, I have a 2 and 3 year old that get up early. Sure, I have to make it through the rest of the day. BUT......
GOD WILL NEVER GIVE ME MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE.
With His strength, I can make it through anything.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I love eggs.
I'll eat them pretty much any way you can make them, and when eggs are on sale, I buy lots of them! Eggs are packed with protein for very little.
I've been getting nervous about my major stockpile of eggs that are still sitting in my fridge! The date on the side of the box, (the "expiration date") is fastly approaching, and I don't want to waste them. So, as I was looking up recipes to use my eggs, I came across some useful information that I thought I'd share.
If you're concerned with buying a big stockpile of eggs, I have good news for you!
According to the AMERICAN EGG BOARD,
"The oil coating which seals the shell's pores helps to prevent bacteria from entering the egg and reduces moisture loss from the egg. RAW SHELL EGGS REFRIGERATED IN THEIR CARTONS WILL KEEP FOR ABOUT 4 TO 5 WEEKS BEYOND THE PACK DATE WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT QUALITY LOSS."
"Properly handled and stored, eggs rarely "spoil". If you keep them long enough, they are more likely to simply dry up. But, don't leave eggs out at room temperature. They'll age more in 1 day at room temperature than they will in 1 week in the refrigerator. Room temperature is also an ideal temperature for bacterial growth."
Excellent news! Now I can breathe a little easier about my sweet little eggs!!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
1. Clothes can be worn again!!
I guess this can go for all of us, not just babies, but I'm realizing this more and more, as my laundry is piling up!!! Yes, babies spit up and often times can have a "blow out" in their diaper and soil the clothes they are wearing. I have often had to change Anna's clothes multiple times throughout the day, but I found myself putting all of her clothes in the laundry whether they were dirty or not. The main items I tend to just throw in the laundry basket being her jammies and pants. Often her pajamas stay nice and clean and I was tossing them in the laundry as I got her ready for the day. NO LONGER!! I'm really going to examine her clothing, along with A and L's clothes and make sure I'm not just arbitrarily throwing clothes in the laundry that can be worn again!! Now, don't get me wrong.....I'm not crazy, I want my kids to wear clean clothes!! I'm not going to be psychotic about this, I just want to be more mindful of the things I'm throwing in the laundry. It makes huge sense for my laundry piles and for my pocketbook!
2. "Old" towels, shirts, Onesies, etc, can be used as burp cloths!!
I tend to want to get rid of, or throw away old items if there is not much life left in them, but why not use them as burp cloths?! I had a bunch of old, stained onesies from Ava and Luke, and I almost threw them away, but realized they can still have a use! So, I threw them in the wash, got them nice and clean, and they work out beautifully for mopping up spitups!
3. Use wipes more sparingly!
I have figured out a "trick" to using only one wipe, when the "poo-poo" isn't too bad. I pull the tabs on the diaper and use the diaper, itself, to do the first, initial wipe. There's no reason why I should just pull the diaper off, without using it as a helper......that's what it's for! So, I use the diaper for the first wipe, then tuck it under her bottom, in case she decides to pee-pee while I'm cleaning her, which she has done quite often!! (Tucking it under also helps to save cleaning of the changing table pad cover if an accident should occur!!) Then, I take one wipe and wipe up the rest that the first wipe with the diaper didn't get. It works like a charm almost every time, and I only used one wipe!!!