Friday, August 31, 2007

What I've been doing again, frugally speaking...

Making dinner out of half a box of whole wheat rotini (bought at Big Lots for .40), a pack of Trader Joe's tofu (.99) marinated in veggie broth and gravy powder, and a bag of Green Giant seasoned veggies that I got free after rebate, and one tablespoon of bulk butter. Both baggies will get washed out and reused.
Total cost for dinner: 1.30

Feeding a messy boy his breakfast.

Playing outside in the sprinkler. It's been beautiful here!

Balance and Rescuing dinner from the trash can

I'm liking this new balance of less spending and trying not to spend.
So, the hiatus didn't work as well as I hoped. But, it did work in some ways.
I thought carefully about each thing I bought and I am pretty sure I spent half as much in a week as I normally do. Especially where groceries are concerned.

Well, maybe I spent less. I bought twenty passes to our town's community center so I can start working out again. In the end I think it will actually save me money because I only have so much free time in a week and it will keep me out of a store for an hour.

And I've been doing my best to use up our food before it goes bad. So, we've eaten more creatively this week than our normal standard fare. We've had 'meatloaf' and soup with tvp, bread stuffing from bread that was on the verge of spoiling, and quiche made with farm eggs and powdered milk. Yesterday my girl and I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies from a mix in our pantry. There are holes sneaking into my pantry. And both of my freezers. I am pleased.

I'm going to continue my pantry challenge next week by only buying milk, eggs, and fruit, and preschool snacks again. It should be less than $20.00 for a stock up.

My 'free' time here is rapidly going as I have to leave to pick up my boy from daycare (urg.. a necessary evil for now) in ten minutes.
Better pick up the living room.
Kids and I are going out to play today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blogging my shame.

My husband says I have to tell you that I've been buying stuff. I feel like I should be standing at a podium: "Hi, my name is Jenny and I'm a spendthrift. It's been two hours since I last shopped."

So, here I come clean with my spendthriftedness.

Let this be a lesson for you all if you decide to embark on a hiatus. Get yourself a plan. And then have a back up plan. Learn from my foolishness (hangs head in shame).

Yesterday I went to Wal-Mart. And I paid full price for double stuffed Oreos. I don't even really like Oreos. And I bypassed the generic ones. And I bought a door mat that I didn't need for 2.50.
What was I thinking?

Today I bought my daughter those white mary janes shoes. And since it was a BOGO half off sale I bought my son a pair too.

Then I stopped by Family Dollar and bought some wooden popsicle sticks (for making more banana pops), a set of pajamas for my son (which we didn't really need but they have a really cool bug print on them), and a big pumpkin spice candle that was marked down to a dollar.

And I ended the spree by going through the car wash (again... I love the car wash!) and going through the McDonalds drive thru for the much wanted (my daughter has been asking all week) Happy Meal sans burger patty.

You may be asking why I don't use the wash it yourself car wash.

Well, I have children with me all the time and I can't very well leave them in the car in the summer with the windows rolled up and wash the car. For a nanosecond I thought about leaving the car windows down while my son slept and saving three dollars by washing it myself (and yes, I have washed my car, rinsed and waxed in two minutes before). Then I realized (smacks head) that I'd get my upholstery all wet. And while my son and my interior could both use a bath I thought it might be a mean way to wake him up from his nap.

I think that covers all of my wallety transgressions.

On a fun note... I picked up my application for a passport today. If hubby gets the ok on his business trip to Rome next February I am going with him! Yippee.

---A Tightwad Goes to Italy--- I can't wait.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Free Cookbook

Need inspiration in the kitchen? I just signed up for a free Gooseberry Patch/Sun Maid raisin cookbook here.
You can too.

Better but not great

Ok, this hiatus is not really a hiatus for me. It's not a hiatus because I keep buying stuff.

I am more aware of my expenditures though. And how easily it is to talk myself into a drive thru lunch (I drove home instead and made lunch), Snacks at the gas station (didn't stop because I didn't need the gas today), and ice cream treats (it's so hot here, but, I came home and made lemonade instead).

But, what I did do was drive to TJMaxx and I bought 8.15 of clearance clothing for my girl. I couldn't resist a turquoise blue eyelet dress for next summer marked down to 5.00. And then there was a cute three piece summer outfit (for next year too) that came with a white flowered top, denim shorts, and a matching handbag. Yes, I could have lived without those extra clothes but, I don't regret the purchase because I got them cheaply and I know they will be worn.
While I know that I wasn't supposed to be in the store at all today I do think I am making an effort. We will have to see if my credit card statement reflects this next month.

I'm doing much better at the pantry challenge part. I've got a pan of "meat"loaf in the fridge (made from oatmeal and veggie burger crumbles). I'm planning on making mashed potatoes too with our abundance of potatoes that are starting to turn on me.
And we have two tomatoes left that need to get eaten.
For dessert we have grapes or Budget Saver banana freezer pops.

Next month I think I am going to continue the pantry challenge by only taking $20.00 to the grocery store a week. I am not satisfied with how my pantry looks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Banana Pops and Spending Tally

This is the banana pop aftermath. (If you look closely you'll see the fancy masking tape job I did on my boy's high chair. This high chair has been through many kids. I bought it for 13.00 from a garage sale five years ago. It's had parts replaced on it many times until finally Playskool just stopped having the parts in stock. It's still serviceable for my son though. I think by the time he's done with it I may have fully gotten my 13.00 out of it.)

As you can see, they clearly enjoyed their banana pop experience. We will have to do that again. We used up leftover chocolate sauce to dip fresh strawberries in. I think it would make a quick and easy dip for fruit. And you could fold in some whipped topping for a fluffy chocolate dip.

Well, as today went for spend free day I guess I failed. I spent one dollar.
We stopped at a flea market on the way to my mom's house and I bought a new straw hat for my daughter since my son seems to have taken over her old one- as you can see here.

My husband spent $10.00 on a cd set of 1920's-30's blues music. But, I can't hold that against him since the hiatus thing was my idea in the first place.

But, that's it for the day. I haven't made much of a dent in our pantry yet though. The brownie mix I made today to take to Mom's was replaced to two mixes she picked up for me from Kroger on a loss leader sale. And yesterday I finally got the box of tvp granules I ordered from Amazon. But, lunch was free (and delicious, thanks Mom!) and we had a good visit. Daughter was the happy recipient of a pair of Fisher Price adjustable roller skates, Barbies and Rescue Heroes- all garage sale rejects from a friend of my brothers. My Mom gifted me with a pair of denim overalls for the boy.
And my sweetie dug up a few Mimosa seedlings from my Mom's yard. So, we actually came out ahead today if you don't count gas money for the 3 hour round trip drive.

All in all a good day.. spending and otherwise.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spending Tally for the day

After the parent/teacher circus this morning (where both of my children got to frolic and I got to sign them up for free developmental screenings and sessions with an educator) we had to stop by one garage sale.

I had earmarked it earlier in the week before I decided on the spending hiatus. It was close by. So, I counted the money in my wallet- 3.21- and decided I couldn't do too much damage. As it turned out they were already pretty picked over and I, breathing a small sigh of relief, only came away with spending one quarter on two spools of satin ribbon.

Then I had to stop by Shop N Save to pick up my prescription. 12.00. But, I left the store with only my medicine.

Then we stopped at Aldi so I could pick up milk (fat free and whole) and fruit.

I spent 10.31 for two gallons of milk, a container of grapes, a bag of bananas, and a clamshell of strawberries. Oh, and a bag for .05 since I forgot to bring one in with me. I reuse the paper bags over and over again to put my paper recycling in and when they are really beat up they get recycled too so I don't consider it a wasted nickel.

But, a trying afternoon left us drained and so we went out for Chinese food for lunch. And even though we used a coupon lunch was still 18.00.

Tonight is leftover spaghetti and bread from last night with a veggie burger on the side. Dessert is chocolate dipped bananas. Thanks for the idea, Meredith!

So, not a great day but tomorrow is another chance.

Our one dollar breakfast

I bought a .50 baguette out of a bakery clearance bin a few days ago. Last night it became garlic bread for our spaghetti dinner (with leftovers today for lunch). This morning it became french toast.

With the additions of 1/2 cup of powdered milk, 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp. of maple flavoring, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, two pats of butter, milk for the kids drinks, and two cups of sugar free cocoa (bought in bulk from Cosco for .10 a packet) it adds up to less than one dollar.

We are still enjoying the benefits of the Grandparents generous farm givings. The eggs for breakfast were free from their well loved and happy chickens. (I wish Cage Free eggs weren't 2.50 a dozen!). The cantaloupe was a volunteer from last year and we volunteered to eat it!

Breakfast for a family of four- 1.00
Children Eating Happily- Priceless

Friday, August 24, 2007

My Pantry: A pictorial confession.

Both sides- Five shelves and the floor. Filled to the brim.
I think we can manage without grocery shopping for awhile. I'm hoping to see a few gaps and perhaps some wall in a week or two. This does not include my filled to the brim spice and baking supplies cabinet. I don't really know how I can reduce that though except to stop buying spices. I kept losing my paprika and cumin and thinking that I was out. So, I've got three cumins and two paprikas.

Dinner last night was a box of cheeseburger helper that I bought when we moved in a year ago, slices of fresh tomato, and boiled garden fresh green beans and red onion slivers.

Tonight it's spaghetti, fresh corn on the cob and garlic toast. Dessert if I make any will be chocolate pudding.

Keeping me honest.

Well, I didn't think I would have such a hard time not spending. But, I have been.

Here's what I've spent money on so far:

$25.00 Gas at Quick Trip
1.05 Small Cappuccino at Q.T.
4.00 Car Wash.

30.05 Total.

I needed the gas, but, I can't really consider the drink and the car wash entertainment, can I? Even though I enjoyed them immensely.

(yes, I like going through the car wash. I like pumping gas too because it gives me a chance to clean out my car. And I, unlike my husband, don't like to let my gas gauge go beyond 1/4 of a tank. I'm paranoid like that.)

As for free things to do, either tonight or tomorrow we've got a school district Parents as Teachers carnival to attend.

It's going to be a long weekend with no garage sales. No wait, scratch that. It's a great opportunity to get creative with meals and spend quality time with the family in a non stressful way. ; ).

But, I must be strong as tomorrow or the next day I must go to the grocery store and refill one of my prescriptions. Even the grocery store has much temptation for me to spend. I can't seem to stay out of the laundry and fabric softener aisle.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What I've been doing, frugally speaking...

Making tomato sauce.

Playing with my silly girl (in her 'new' 2.00 Goodwill dress).

Playing with my silly boy (in his garage sale hat sitting on my old rocking horse and drinking oj from concentrate out of his sister's old pink sippy).

Did you know that old soap containers make great bath tub toys? They spent fifteen minutes squirting eachother and refilling the bottle and squirting each other again. Good bye Rubber Ducky, hello recycling.

A new idea: Freeganism

My husband sent me this link to an article on becoming a Freegan .

Maybe you'll find it interesting too.

Missing the 'hunt' etc... and a special rant just for you.

I have to keep reminding myself that I am on a buying hiatus.
I keep thinking of things to buy.

Like those Mary Janes.

I spent fifteen minutes on ebay looking at shoes and then decided that we could make do with what my daughter already has.

I have also been thinking for awhile that my son needs a cd/cassette player in his room so I can play him lullabies like I do for his sister. Instead I put a bug in my husband's ear to see what he can come up with. He's cheaper than I am most of the time and he may have something that will work. He collects that kind of thing.

So far today I have only spent .60 in library fines. I figure it was worth it instead of making a special trip to the library and wasting extra gas.

I check out Alexandra Stoddard's Creating a Beautiful Home book and a few cds to keep me occupied. Maybe it will inspire me to make do with what I have instead of having the urge to 'hunt' for what I feel I am lacking. I am certain there must be some emotional need I temporarily fill by shopping. Is it boredom or loneliness? Frustrations of motherhood?

And the library wasn't much of a haven for me as it usually is. Our library is tiny and no one really makes an effort to keep their voices down which is fine with me since I have noisy kids.
But, today as I was trying to simultaneously read the August edition of Mary Hunt's Cheapskate Monthly and read board books to my son (my daughter was in a storytime session) I got to overhear two other Mom's conversation. They were going over the pages of one of the US Weekly or some other similar magazine and discussing what was wrong with all of the celebrities bodies. "I can't believe how fat her thighs are." etc. etc.
And while I normally try to keep a pretty open mind about things today it just really got to me. Me sitting there next to them, in my everyday mom clothes.. old capris and last years new shirt. No make up on because there was no time this morning. And feeling drained, overweight, tired and a bit sad. It was just too much. Is there any escape from the pressure to be better than you are? To make people think you have a perfect life?

Anyway, my husband came back last night around midnight. He's at work right now but he'll be home for dinner. We all cope when he's gone but it takes a toll.
But, no rest for me yet.
I have meals to plan, a house to clean, a sad 4 year old to snuggle.

Back to the grind, my wonderful grind.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I need to give my wallet a rest and my cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom are bursting with products anyway.

And the kids don't need any more clothes (well, perhaps just one pair of canvas Mary Janes for my daughter).

No more spending on groceries (except for milk, fruit and bread) and no more spending for the rest of the month on anything that isn't entertainment related.
I can't give up our occasional trip to the cheap theater. I'm looking forward to Ratatouille.
And quite honestly we're pretty tight with our entertainment dollars anyway.

Ok, let's recap. No more spending on anything except entertainment, bread, milk, fruit, and maybe a pair of Mary Janes if I can find them cheap.

Ok, so... onward Pantry Challenge. I've got a big box of tomatoes going bad on the counter. I think I'll go wash and chop them and make a big pot of tomato sauce to freeze for chili and spaghetti sauce.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

When the Big Cat is away.....

Hubby is on a business trip until late tomorrow night. So, the kids and I are in survival mode. Which means finding reasons to get out of the house and employing bribery incentives for good behavior. Not my normal methods of parenting but, when I am desperate I do what I have to do. Invariably they don't sleep as well at night (neither do I... hearing strange noises and ocd'ing on checking locks...etc) or they get up earlier than usual. Which leaves me tired and willing to bend my own rules.

Like letting my girl eat a cupcake for lunch (it came off of the bargain bakery rack at least), or letting my boy bang a metal cup against the shopping cart handle at the Goodwill until it was chipped so that had to buy it.

And I spent the most I've every spent at Goodwill today. 32.00. Does that seem like a lot?
I bought a few VHS tapes.
Muppet Sing A Long Treasure Island
Wallace and Gromit- A Grand Day Out
Dr. Seuss Daisy Head Mayzie
It's a Wonderful Life
Barney's Rhyme Time Rhythm (a gift of a friends 3 year old.)

I also bought a new pair of Barney house slippers for that 3 yo. for Christmas.

I bought my daughter two dresses. One is a denim and pink floral print by Youngland.
The other is a red and black checked winter dress with black velvet trim.
She also got a vintage Saks Fifth Avenue wool coat that still has the dry cleaning tags on it. It's got velvet trim. It's gorgeous. She found it hanging on a rack and I couldn't resist it. 3.00. It still has a bit of Goodwill smell on it. I think I'll try airing it out and maybe a quick shot of Febreeze.

I bought my boy two pajama sets. One is Old Navy the other is a new Circo one from Target. And I bought him a pair of shortalls with dinosaurs on them for next summer.

I bought myself two new crisp floral print napkins for .35 apiece. I have a project I'm working on in the kitchen and I plan on employing them in that regard.

I found a pretty yellow wooden box with duck cut outs that I'm going to put in the kids bathroom to corral all of their shampoo and soap bubble containers that are loose on the toilet tank lid. Marked down to 1.00.

A fairly new board book copy of "My first Bible" will go on my daughter's book shelf. It is more in depth than the baby one she's outgrown. It looks nice enough that I could give it as a baby gift but I'm keeping it.

I couldn't resist a Cachcach baby boy (3-6) outfit that had a light blue giraffe print with a giraffe with a shaggy mane on it. I don't know why I bought it. Perhaps someday one of my thrift shopping friends will have a baby boy. 1.00

And the banged up tin cup for .50.

Maybe I shouldn't let my husband read this blog? ; )

Monday, August 20, 2007

My family

This was taken by the St. Louis Arch when we went to see Ani DiFranco at Live on the Levee.

In need of Flylady - Break a 'frugal' habit

I'm a big fan of Flylady. I've been following her system for housework for five or six years now. Problem is that although it works you have to keep it up. And I have not been consistent.
With school, gymnastic classes, daycare days and times when Hubby is on a work trip (now) I could really use a plan.
So, I'm planning on rereading Sink Reflections and re-watching her dvd Come Fly with Us that I just never have never been able to bring myself to part with.

One of Flylady's 'commandments' is first to get rid of clutter and then to stop bringing it in. She doesn't like garage sales because that encourages you to hang onto stuff when you need to get it out of your house quickly. I have decluttered many times. Before we moved I would have the DAV come and pick our stuff up.
I have been stockpiling outgrown clothes, old books, etc for months. Hubby and I argue a garage sale (him) vs. a donation to the DAV (me). I haven't won the argument so the piles of garage sale stuff are ever growing. So, I need to plan a garage sale.
But, I keep buying little things for giving as gifts as I find them. I need to stop.
At least until I have a list of people to buy gifts for. I have enough preschool and toddler toys socked away for two years of birthday party gifts. I have too much.
Too many trinkets, too many deodorant samples and travel sized lotions that I horde from hubby's motel room stays.
I need a plan.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Preschool Starts Tomorrow

I've got the kids in bed early tonight because I know it's going to be a busy morning.

My big girl starts preschool tomorrow. This is her second year of preschool. She's pretty excited and not worried at all because she has the same teacher and most of her classmates from last year will be in class with her.

I spent about half an hour this morning looking through her clothes for the right outfit. It is really tempting to send her to K-8 at her preschool because they just started doing school uniforms this year. Even though our school district is pretty good. Even though it would cost a lot of money.
Because I hate the feeling that I should be dressing my children in clothing strictly from "Talbots" like some of the other Moms do. I was listening to two mothers discuss dressing their children at the end of the year preschool picnic. And I found out two things: 1. It's important to buy for and dress your children in nice clothes so they are presentable. 2. And if you don't do this then it is a bad reflection on you.
Now, none of these women are particularly snotty. In fact I like most of them. I just can't spend my money like that when I feel that:
1. I dress my child in nice clothes and she is always clean and presentable.
2. After you wash the clothes once no one can tell they aren't 'new'.
3. It's silly to buy new what you can get used for 1/4 the price.
4. We're a one income family so saving bits of money here and there is my job.

It's a struggle for me because while I realize that I'm being silly because the cost of the clothing isn't that important... I don't want my child to feel like what they have isn't as good.
Does anyone else know what I mean?

I look at labels when I shop. I grab up the Old Navy, Gap, Children's Place and Talbots when I see it. I just can't help thinking that someone will -know- it is second hand. And a tiny part of me still cares about that. But, I'm fighting it and I am trying hard to make sure that my daughter doesn't ever think that what she has isn't good enough. Because it is and because she is. She's worth every penny that I've ever saved by not spending all that money on nice new clothes.
Every penny and more.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Redeem 'em if you got 'em

I'm a sucker for Disney and Pixar movies.

I don't buy a lot of toys for my kids but I do buy them dvds occaionally.

If you're like me and can't resist the lure of Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid or Cars then you might have enough points to quality for rewards from Disney Rewards. The codes are found on a slip of paper inside the dvd case.

I've already gotten a Bambi poster for my daughter's room and I just ordered a pack of Princess stickers for her Christmas stocking.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What's for dinner: Cuban Beans and rice with Cuban Bread

I love beans which is good because they are cheap and I eat a mostly vegetarian diet.

Right now I'm simmering a pot of black beans that I soaked overnight and my rice cooker is cooking four cups of brown rice for me.

I've got two loaves of Cuban bread cooking right now. If you are interested in how to make your own Cuban bread the recipe is on #542 of The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

I looked online for a recipe for Cuban beans and rice but I didn't seem to like many of the ingredients, like pimiento and vinegar.

Here's what I'm going to do: Heat some olive oil in a pan, saute half a red onion (all that I have on hand), throw in a tablespoon or two of chopped garlic, add half of a diced purple pepper, throw in half of my beans and season with cumin, salt, a dash of chili powder, some cracked black pepper, and a sprinkle of lime juice.

I'm topping the beans and rice with a few slices of queso fresco.

The rest of my cooked beans will be frozen in meal sized portions and place on the shelf of my freezer labeled 'ingredients'.

Maybe this will get my hubby home earlier tonight. ; )

News to me... increasing my grocery savings

My favorite grocery store is Save-aLot because it's has low cost food like Aldi's but my store is clean, never crowded and has mark downs on food close to it's expiration date. And unlike Aldi, they accept coupons.

I've been hoarding the coupons for $10 off of a $50 purchase. Today however as I struggled to find one more dollar item (AA batteries) to take my purchases to the $50 dollar amount, the checker told me that you could print the coupons off of the website for Money Mailer Coupons.

If you have a few minutes you might want to check it out to see what coupons you have available in your area.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

5 More Things I forgot to add

This goes along with my previous list of 20 ways I save money.

1. If you are good with credit cards then find one with no annual fee that gives you rewards. I love my Discover card for the 1% cash back we get. I use it to pay for Christmas presents and to get gift cards. I use it for almost everything and we pay ours off every month. There are a variety of other credit card companies that have perks like this.

2. Use a Credit Union instead of a bank. We've found that we get better interest rates on CD's and savings accounts by going through a credit union. Make sure yours lets you have a no checking fee account and try to get free checks too.

3. Try to combine store coupons with manufacturers coupons. Look up by the expiration date and it will say Manufacturer coupon or the name of the store the coupon is for. I always try to combine my Wal-Greens and Target coupons with a manufacturer coupon to double my savings.

4. Combine shopping trips to save on gas money. I plan my routes when I run my errands. This lets me stay home for whole days at a time rather than having to run across town multiple times a week. I have a route for recycling newspapers, library book drop off, gym class and Wal-Mart/Target. I can do all of these things faster if I go in the corresponding order of location which is a big help when you've got two little children in tow. Planning my errands also gives me time to get shopping lists and coupons together. Stick your coupons in an old envelope and write the store name on the outside.

5. Scale back. In the last two years we've went from having the full benefits of three rentals at a time month from Netflix (15.00) to only getting one rental at a time for 10.00. We're considering dropping that altogether once we've watched our must see movies. We've scaled back on our direct tv/tivo package to save 20.00 a month.

But, what it really all boils down to is changing your perception of what is acceptable to you on how you spend your money. Don't be afraid to try new ideas out to see if they work.
Speaking as someone who went from having a combined debt with my husband of $25,000 in our early twenties and paid it off in four years, you -can- change your thinking. Once you get used to always thinking of how to save money and how to do more with less it becomes second nature.
There's a beauty and a rhythm to graceful (not stingy) frugality that will come naturally as you practice it.

Refrigerator Mumblings

I'm usually standing in our refrigerator door trying to decide what to make for dinner. It's usually a toss up between what the kids will eat and what needs to get eaten before I have to pitch it. Sometimes blissfully the two converge. I hope that's the case tonight but you just never can tell if the little guy will eat or not.
I've got many eggs since we just saw the 'Chickens and Horses' Grandparents. (that's what my daughter refers to them as.. my parents are the "Grandma and Grandpa with Jazzy (their dog). And I've got a twelve pack of whole wheat pitas.
Egg salad sandwiches anyone? I think this will go nicely alongside a few of the bazillion tomatoes we've been given.
And now I've got even more inspiration thanks to Laugh Lines since I now have an idea of how to cook my eggs so they aren't all green.

Monday, August 13, 2007

20 ways I save Money

I saw this idea on someone else's blog.

1. Use up your supplies to the last drop. I turn my laundry detergent bottles and dish detergent bottles upside down to drain into the lid. And then after I think I've squeezed the last bit out I fill the bottle with some water and give it a shake.

2. Don't be afraid of Generic Brands or store brands. You'll save anywhere from 25-50% off the top simply because of lack of advertising. And many store brand items come off of the same assembly lines as name brand products.

3. Use coupons. But, only use them for products you would like to try anyway or if you are getting the item dirt cheap. You don't always have to buy the Sunday paper to get the coupons either. You ask friends if they don't use the coupons. Download and print coupons from sites like Wow Coupons. You can also call companies to ask for their coupons to be sent to you. I did this with formula companies. Even the store brand formulas (like Wal-Mart) will send you coupons. And those coupons are frequently of a higher value than what's in the coupon supplement pages. And keep your coupons in your purse or your car for when you spot a good deal.

4. Go to the library. We frequently borrow dvds and books rather than buy them. You can always buy the book/movie later if you decide you have to have a copy. Our library even lets you borrow magazines that are a few months old.

5. Free entertainment. Check your local paper or online. We've been to two free outdoor concerts this summer. I also take our daughter to the library once a week for story time.

6. Check your prices/quotes. We shopped around until we got the rock bottom prices for our car insurance. Do this for house repairs, car repairs, etc.

7. Use the internet for coupon codes for your online purchases. Shop around first though because you can sometimes find a much better deal than the first one you see.

8. Make do with less. When you think about how much stuff you really need to live comfortably you could probably fit most of it into a small uhaul. If you do laundry frequently then you can probably get by with five or six outfits.

9. Forget the Joneses. Nowadays it's hard to tell who's doing well and who's got lots of debt. My daughter wears a Croc's knockoff from Payless and instead of the expensive Jibbitz I bought a pack of shoe decorations for one dollar at a dollar store. She looks just as cute for less than half the price.

10. Turn off your tv. Our 4 year old was starting to complain that we never have good cereal like Fruity Pebbles or Fruit Loops. I realized that she was getting this from commercials on cartoon channels. Ok, too much tv. Click.

11. Eat some beans. Dry beans are fifty cents a pound. Don't know how to cook beans? Learn how to here.

12. Buy real food for your kids snacks. Real fruit costs much less than fruit snacks with packaging that just goes into a landfill. Skip the bagged apple slices too and slice your own. Buy an apple slicer for a few dollars and you're done. Or just use a knife.

13. Skip the pop. Even kool-aid is cheaper than pop is if you need flavored drinks. If you add a little extra water too it's not that noticeable and it stretches your drinks. Water is dirt cheap too as long as it comes from your tap and not a bottle.
Restaurant pop is outrageously expensive too when you consider that you can get generic pop for .50 to .75 a two liter and name brand pop for 1.00. Drink water and skip dessert and you've saved calories and money.

14. Reuse stuff. Like those water bottles and margarine containers. Refill your clean water bottles and stick in the fridge for a quick portable drink. Margarine containers and cool whip containers can be used to pack your lunch. I keep twist ties from bread bags too so that I can reseal my frozen vegetable bags in the freezer to keep them fresh. You can always use an old margarine container for a holder.

15. Make old toys new again. I took a bunch of my daughters broken crayons and melted them in a muffin tin to make scribble cookies for her Christmas stocking. I got the instructions from The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

16. Freecycle. If you need something check here first. Plus, save yourself gas money on a delivery to the goodwill and list your own stuff. If it's worthwhile it usually has many takers.

17. If you can make it, don't buy it. I can't sew but I can bake so last Christmas I made all of our pies and cookies instead of buying them pre-made. They taste better and I think they are appreciated more too.

18. Think ahead. Consider your future needs when out shopping. Do you need a new tent for next summer even though it's November? Well, now is a good time to start shopping for one. I always buy one to two years ahead for my children's clothes. That keeps me from spending extra money on clothing gaps when there are no sales and the Goodwill doesn't have what I need.

19. Ask for what you need. I'm saying that you need to beg people for stuff. But, you just never know who's needs to get rid of something you'd like to have. Casual mentions are ok.

20. Stay home. If you aren't out then you can't shop.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The last batch

We finished up the refrigerator dough today. I haven't made this recipe since before my daughter was born so this was fun and quite a treat for us. I borrowed the recipe from Frugal Upstate since I don't have the Betty Crocker cookbook that Amy D. mentions. The first batch was a loaf of bread that we took to an outdoor concert. I made the second batch into a garlic loaf to take over to a friend's house for dinner. And today I made up eight cinnamon rolls. The boy couldn't wait to get his fists on one.

It was definitely worth my time to do this. We'll be seeing more fresh baked goods around here now.

Everyday is a treasure

My girl is leaving for a week tomorrow. I know I'm going to miss her and I know that she'll occasionally be sad or homesick for us. In anticipation of that I have gathered a special present for her to open everyday while she's gone.

Monday she's getting a cool Veggietales cup with a floating Bob and Larry in the bottom of it. (1 dollar from Dollar Tree). Instead of packing sippy cups for her I'm letting her go a week without one. We've relied pretty heavily on sippy cups in my house because it prevents a lot of spill messes. But, I'm trying to get her to drink out of a regular cup at the kitchen table. She's pretty good about it but she really does like to have portable drinks.

Tuesday she's getting a Candyland write on wipe off board/pen. (1 dollar from Dollar Tree). I'm hoping she'll practice her letters at Grandmas. Grandma used to be a teacher so I'm sure she'll have lots of help.

Wednesday she's getting a Bear in the Big Blue House letter workbook (1 dollar clearance at Big Lots). It has write on wipe off pages so she can use her Candyland pen.

Thursday she's getting a Eyeore paddle pall set (1 dollar from Dollar Tree). Her brother tore the ball off of her old one so this should be a nice surprise.

Friday she's getting a sequined coin purse with a beaded bracelet inside (one dollar each from you guessed it... The Dollar Tree).

Saturday I packed her a few token candies from her candy jar. Every time we get candy from a school function or a birthday party I put it in her candy jar. Every once in a while she'll ask me for a sucker or some smartees but otherwise this candy goes unnoticed. I clean out the good stuff every Halloween at put it in our candy bowl. Some of our old Halloween candy and candy jar candy was put in her pinata for her birthday party. It's always stuff that doesn't really go bad like tootsie rolls and lollipops. Chocolate does not last around this house that long.

I had fun rummaging through my hoarded wrapping paper to find odd bits to use up. I save tissue paper and gift bags too. I really love the vintage paper with the Barber Shop Quartet on it. That was unfortunately my last scrap of it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

To Grandma's house we go....

My sweet girl is going to grandma's house in another state next week before preschool starts back up.
I'm going to miss her so much and I know her brother will too.
But Grandma and Grandpa have a small farm with a pony, chickens and a big garden. She's going to have so much fun there. Plus, I think it's good for her to spend time doing outside stuff since we have a very suburban life here. I hope she catches some bugs, digs some worms and goes fishing with Grandpa in his creek, and helps feed the chickens.

I'm going to go through the house and find six little trinkets or surprises to wrap for her and have her Grandparents dole them out each day. I'm always squirreling away little toys when I find them.

I'll let you know when I have everything assembled.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My 1.99 night out

(big girl and hubby are chewing on my homemade bread)

Since moving to St. Louis last fall we've found that there is a variety of free family things to do in this city. Tonight the four of us packed a picnic and went to the Botanical Gardens to enjoy a free outdoor concert. Despite the stiffling heat, we all had a great time.
This afternoon I whipped up a braided loaf from our refrigerator dough so we could make sandwiches. I microwaved three veggie brats and one hot dog (for the kids to share) and wrapped them in foil. I threw in chilled pop cans, two apples, assorted sliced cheese and packets of ketchup leftover from various forays through McD's drive thru to round out the meal.
(I never throw out condiment packs from restaurant meals or drive thrus. I have a container in the doorway of my fridge to collect them all. They are really handy to have when I'm packing a lunch for hubby to take to work and I need portable ketchup or soy sauce.)

I hadn't been to the Botanical Gardens since I was 12 so this was a rare treat. The Gardens really are quite romantic in the twilight. I was feeling a bit wistful for that time before children when Hubby and I could have strolled hand in hand occasionally stopping to admire a statue or reflecting pool. There are also many little cubbies and benches which would make a nice place to sneak a few kisses. But, my sweaty little girl strolling hand in hand with me and pointing out all of the statues (one was a troll in her estimation) and remarking on everything (how bright the stars are) was quite delightful too. A child's viewpoint sometimes can be quite refreshing and humbling.
Another thing too... my boy has some rhythm. He was stomping his feet and waggling his butt all over the place to the beat of the zydeco. That is, when he wasn't running away from his Daddy. And despite the taxing call of fatherhood, my sweetie was able to enjoy his zydeco too. He's a major music lover so anytime he can get me to go see live music he'll do whatever it takes, including spending most of his time chasing a wiggly wild 18 month old.
On the way home we stopped to get some Hugo sized lemonades from McD's (.89). We were all parched from the heat. Apparently the people in front of us had ordered and paid for two ice cream cones and then left without getting them. Since we were next in line we were the grateful beneficiaries of the frosty treats.
My little guy loves ice cream cones so when he saw me hand one to his sister ( I knocked off the top in a cup and gave her bottom cone part) he started smacking his lips and making licking noises. He doesn't talk much yet. He's only really discernible words are "mama", "ball" and "go". When the smacking noises didn't immediately get my attention, then he started doing little frustrated cries. It was cute and I was feeling sweet on him so he got the other bottom part of the cone.
Right now both of our children are tucked away in their beds..tuckered out after a nice long evening out.
And hubby and I have two cone tops of ice cream waiting for us in the freezer. What am I still blogging for?
Good night.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Refrigerator Bread Dough

How do you keep your toddler busy while you mix up a big batch of bread dough?

The dough expanded so much that the lid of the bowl popped off.
I'm looking forward to making bread, cinnamon rolls and clover leafs this week.

What's for dinner: Garlic Lime Tofu

I've reworked this recipe from Flylady's cooking guru, Leanne Ely. The original calls for Chicken and chicken broth. I use extra firm tofu and vegetable broth. My husband is always trying to get me to make this for him so I know he's looking forward to dinner tonight.
The tofu was -not- on sale for 1.50 for 11 ounces. I normally buy Trader Joe's tofu for .99.

Thrifty word of the day

modicum: a small or moderate or token amount

This word has been in my head for a few days and I thought I would share it with you.
Want me to use in a sentence?
Today I used a modicum of laundry detergent and it still got my clothes clean.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Aldi's Menu Planner

For all of you Aldi shoppers out there- Aldi has a new online menu planner that looks pretty decent.

Sorry Pizza Hut... Tomorrow is another day

I've had a yuck day. You know one of those days when you have to force yourself to do anything productive? I really wanted to call out for pizza but I took a que from vegan ruthie's blog instead.

I made a quick sauce from Aldi's tomato sauce and a teaspoon of sugar and pizza spices. The jar of roasted red peppers was a surprise I found at The Dollar Tree. I left the kids side pepperless. I guess that's an acquired taste.

The finished product came out pretty good and there's a few slices leftover for hubby's lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Simple Pleasures

I've been meaning to buy a 2.99 bouquet for myself from Aldi but decided that I could make do with a few simple flowers from our yard. The saki bottle was a dollar shop Christmas gift a few years ago from my husband. The cloth napkin is from a batch that I bought for .50 from a thrift store. The art work is courtesy of my daughter. She and grandma painted yesterday when she visited. And the plastic green thing is a diaper snapper called a Snapee. I love it. I got so tired of trying to use pins and poking myself.

I couldn't resist hanging my diapers out to dry today although it's against the Neighborhood association policy. There's nothing I like better than watching the Sun dry my laundry for free.

I'm dreaming of a "Tight" Christmas

My little girl loves her art supplies and today is the last day of tax free school supplies. I made the trek out today especially for this deal. If you use kid vitamins this could be something for you too. Right now there is a crayola/flintstones vitamin offer that seems pretty good to me. I used the coupon for the flinstones and bought a pack of markers for a stocking stuffer. The 'Art of Childhood' kit will also be a stocking stuffer.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tightwad Gourmet- Bread Pudding

My favorite comfort foods are mashed potatoes and brown gravy (the real kind), stuffing with gravy, oatmeal with sugar toast, and bread pudding. I like the starchy stuff.
I discovered early in my marriage that bread pudding is an excellent way to use up stale bread and yucky bananas. It's also easy and my husband likes it.
I don't really have a recipe that I use most of the time. The only time I ever didn't like my bread pudding is when I accidentally used paprika instead of cinnamon (yuck... my poor sweetie is a tightwad from birth and ate it reluctantly rather than throw it out).
Here's the jist of what you do:

Tear up some bread (at least half a loaf) into crouton sized pieces. I've used everything from french bread to hot dog buns. Today's loaf is made with half a wheat loaf and a few sesame seed hoagies. Yes, sesame seeds taste pretty good in there too.

Eggs-- one or two depending on how much bread you have

Cinnamon- sprinkle liberally over everything and mix in

Milk-- I use mostly powdered and a bit of whole for richness.. just enough to soak the bread

Sugar-- half to one whole cup

Bananas-- if you have brown bananas, mash one or two up and throw it in there

Raisins- a handful if you like them

Vanilla extract-- one teaspoon or less

Chocolate chips-- optional but yummy.. one cup or less

chopped nuts--- walnuts are especially good in it... optional. half cup or less

Mix it all up in one bowl.. Butter a casserole dish or a cake pan.
Bake anywhere from 40-55 minutes depending on the depth of your pudding. 350 degrees
Today I covered mine with foil and added a pan of water to my oven for some steam.

Serve plain, serve with ice cream, etc. Just eat and enjoy.

Ok, mine is cooling on the oven. I think I'll have to try some.

Tax Free Days, Visit from Grandma, and Housework

Today and tomorrow are tax free days here in Missouri. All school supplies, clothing, and computer equipment is tax free. And I'm wondering if I have a need to join the fray and quite honestly while it should draw me in.. I just don't want to go.

First of all, I have all of our school supplies needs taken care of. Our pre'kr only need a box of kleenex (bought at Deals for 1.00), a bottle of elmers glue (bought at Wal-Mart for .20), a folder (I splurged and bought her a Disney princess one for 1.00), and a bottle of germ killer (which I bought on clearance for 1.75 and then realized that you can get giant generic bottles of it for Dollar Tree etc 1.00). We're reusing her backpack from last year.
Really, unless your backpack sees heavy use I don't see any reason to get a new back pack every year. I had my college back pack until my last semester when the zipper finally gave out. And I didn't buy another one either. I just used another bag that I had.
I am tempted to go get extra art supplies for giving to my twin nieces as part of their Christmas gifts. But, is it worth the gas and effort to save .30 on crayons and paint? Probably not when they are dirt cheap anyway.
I am wondering whether this tax free thing applies at the Goodwill also.
I went to the best Goodwill yesterday. And I got a few nice new things to save for presents. A new in package Gerber hoodie towel for 3.00 will make a nice gift for hubbys co-worker baby present.

Right now it's almost 11 am and I am waiting for my Mom to show up. She's spending the night with us so she can enjoy her Grandchildren. My daughter is super excited.
My little guy is fast asleep in his crib. Instead of putting him a disposable for sleeping today I am trying two cloth diapers. My husband thinks I am insane but, as long as he doesn't have to mess with the cloth diapers then I don't care.

I've been working bit by bit on picking up the house. I had forgotten how destructive and gross toddlers can be until recently. Our guys spends his waking hours casually dropping toys and food throughout the house. There are kix cereal balls all over the downstairs. Sometimes I see one of our cats snacking on them. Ugh. Vacuum cleaner day. I've been discouraged lately though because every time I think how I'm really going to get the house totally clean, I remember how little times it takes to mess it back up. Oh well.. I can't live in filth.
Speaking of that.. I should probably go work on the laundry and scrub the toilet.