Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat: Free Socks.

I made the once a month trip to the regular grocery store to fill my prescription and get name brand and specialty things that I can't get at Save-A-Lot or Aldi. So after I picked up my husband's requested jar of Light Miracle Whip, generic tums, whole wheat saltines, granulated tvp crumbles, 2 twelve packs of the good store brand pop, a brown bag of aged but sale bananas, and my prescription I headed to the cash register. On the end of the check out aisle my eyes wandered to a nice row of pretty socks with a coupon nearby. The socks were on sale for one dollar per pair and they had a handy hang tag of manufacturer coupons for 1.00 off. So, I bought my limit of free socks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monsters & The satisfying crunch of sprinkles under your feet

While Little Guy was napping:

A monster got loose in the toy room.

And persuaded me to bake Halloween cookies with her.
This is the cookie baking aftermath.

Now for the broom and the dish rag.

Like sands through the hour glass

I've been self indulgently longing for the days before kids just because I am tired and I don't feel good.

But, looking back at our old pictures and seeing how fast my children are growing has made me pause. I don't always remember the occasion for taking the picture but I'm sure in the back of my mind I took for granted that my children would somehow always be as they were right then. Even though I know that's wrong.

Here is a picture I took of my Big Girl just about two years ago... before her little brother joined us. Before we turned our world upside down again in a move across the state to a better job and bigger house. Before the toy room explosion. And now those yellow sweatpants and that robot t-shirt (that she wanted to wear all the time) are sitting in her brother's dresser and she's no longer wearing toddler sized clothes. How fast the time has gone by.

How much did I miss in a hurry to get to the next step? The next chore?
So, let me tuck away this stupid selfish indulgence and pity because the day when these precious children leave my nest is coming soon enough.
If you'll excuse me I think I'll go clean up the kitchen table so my Big Girl and I can make some cookies together.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Yuck and a new fence.

Yippee. We had our new fence installed today and in 24 hours I can turn a certain little (big) monkey loose after the concrete dries.

The whole family has the 'yuck' with congestion, snotties, and coughing. So, I'm laying low for awhile. Hopefully I'll have something cool to blog about soon.
All I know now is that there are piles of laundry and dishes awaiting me and I'm in no hurry to go anywhere.

More than likely we're having a humble pot of potato soup and corn bread for dinner. Easy and yummy and feels good on a sore throat.

If you want something good to read then head on over to to get a jump on preparing for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lookie here...

I feel pretty special right now...What Works For Us awarded me with this:

I'm passing it on to:

Vegan Ruthie for her creative and honest blogging.
Tread Softly for maintaining her her lifestyle standards even though it's difficult.
Punky Padding because she's frugal, practical and funny.
SAHMmy because she's funny, commanding and she makes me GOMB.

Goal for this week.

I need to be more of a homebody this week. When I stay home I cook more, shop less, play with the kids more, and clean more. In general I get more done and am a little bit happier with the state of things.
The pantry challenge has gotten away from me when I've been grocery shopping (acquiring essentials and food we don't need) and because I haven't been cooking much to use up what we have.

Now we're all sick with colds and even though I feel yucky, I'm glad I have an excuse not to go anywhere. Right now where I want to be is here doing laundry, making quiche, snuggling my family and vacuuming.

More Snuggling.

More Chores.

More enjoying what we already own.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sometimes it really is the the thought that matters

Sometime early in our dating life my husband and I decided not to pick wildflowers for each other when we were out nature walking in an effort to conserve nature's beauty for others to enjoy. Instead, when he saw something particularly striking he'd say, "I picked that for you."

That became a thing that carried over into our spending life. He'd read a funny/romantic card in the card section and make me read it and say he'd buy that for me or that was how he felt about me. I got all of the sentiment without the need to spend money and then store the card or feel guilty when I discarded it.

And tonight he called me from the airport to ask if I wanted a t-shirt that said "Stupid is forever" or a pretty tea light holder for ten bucks as my souvenirs from his latest business trip. I told him I didn't need another slogan t-shirt as I barely wear the one or two I have. But, I asked him to describe the tea light holder and he did. And it sounded so sweet I knew I would cherish it. I almost asked him to get it for me and instead he said, "Let's pretend I bought it for you." And it brought back lots of sweet memories of our early romance. And that was enough. That plus- one less thing to dust.

Big Lots... Something New Everytime.. and Free Toy.

I found these cute tins of tea to put in the neighbor's goodie bags for Christmas at Big Lots.

I started a tradition two years ago where I load up a few of my baked goods into a tin or some other box and deliver it to my four closest neighbors. My Big Girl goes with me to make the deliveries and sometimes gets to sing a verse or two of "Jingle Bells" to carol our neighbors with.

I like it even though it saddens me when we get no acknowledgment later for it. But, that's not the purpose of gift giving is it?

The Polly Pocket was free after I used my 5.00 off Polly Pocket coupon. I called hubby and told him to forgo buying his standard business trip prize for Big Girl. I told him I'd sneak the Pocket to him instead. I think he was relieved that he didn't have to try to find something in a cheesy gift shop.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Parenting Files: A Growing Imagination

I made the mistake of thinking that my science loving Big Girl wouldn't get scared about watching a kid's video about mummies that we borrowed from the library. She did pay rapt attention to it as she was watching it. So, silly me didn't think anything about it until bedtime when she snuck out of bed to come and talk to me. I don't know if it was worse because Daddy wasn't here but she was scared and I felt like a bad mommy. She made me promise repeatedly that I wouldn't let any mummies into the house if they knocked on the door. And then there's the standard childhood worry about monsters (or mummies in this case) under the bed. I tried to waylay that fear by explaining that nothing can fit under her bed because we're storing too much stuff under there.
Finally, after ten minutes of her telling me, "Mommy please, Don't let the mummies in the house" and me explaining that mummies aren't alive, they can't walk, and no mummies are anywhere close to being by our house anyway.. then she finally calmed down and went to bed.
I gave up arguing with her today about how real Egyptian mummies -are not- wrapped in toilet paper. I know the Egyptian culture was ahead of the curve.. but I'm pretty sure that they didn't have Charmin. Sure they could build awe inspiring pyramids but I'm pretty sure they hadn't figured out the niceties of a good 'butt wipe.'

Halloween is in the air so her imagination is on overdrive. Today as I prepared to bag up my Save-A-Lot groceries (with their free bags) she searched underneath the shelves for a proper box to help. She found one with a cut out on the side, stuck it on her head and declared, "I'm AstroPig from Outerspace and I need you to come with me now!" in a funny little gurgly accent that I can't duplicate here except to say that it sounded like she was talking while gargling. Well, don't you know that that's exactly what a pig from space -would- sound like.

Booing Back on the Cheap

Ok, so I 'm going to reciprocate by doing this Boo thing to two more neighbors. This year.

I managed to scrounge up enough goodies to make two decent but humble 'boo bags' because I'm a packrat when it comes to gift wrap and ribbons.

I took a trip to our scary cluttered basement and raided my birthday party box (with collected favors, unused party paraphenalia, goodie bags, balloons etc) to find two unused party favor bags from Big Girls third birthday party. We went with an orange color scheme that year to match her dinosaur cake.

I decorated the bag with a sharpie marker and three Halloween stickers. I took apart a Halloween notepad and made two little ones out of it with a hole punch and some thin black elastic ribbon. For a 'nice' adult goody I took some cinnamon spice potpouri in fall colors and a scented tea light and put them in a baggie. For any kidlets I added some candy from our Halloween bowl, two McDonald's treat coupons and one plastic spider (leftover from our clearance bag of spider webbing) in a sandwich bag and tied it with some leftover goldenrod rick rack. I wrapped them up in some recycled orange tissue and put them in their gift bags.

As you can tell, I'm not the worlds best bow maker but I think it will get the job done.
I'm doubtful this is the start of a new tradition for us. I'm thinking it will be a novelty and perhaps a bit fun for this year. I'm sure what the total cost of my boo bags are since the only thing I purchased specifically for this was the McDonald's coupons and I have a lot leftover for my own trick or treater(s).
I'm going to say 2.00 total.

I've Been Booed?

A few years ago I noticed that Target was selling Booing kits to give to your neighbors and I rolled my eyes and thought, "Great, one more way to spend money."

Well, last night as I was getting my babies ready for bed I heard the doorbell ring. My heart jumped a little as my sweetie is on a business trip and I wasn't expecting anyone. Anybody who knows me well knows that I get my kids to bed by 8 and that's the end of my day.
So, while my Big Girl hopped around in her pajamas waving her toothbrush, excited about who might be on the other side of the door, I cautiously checked the peep hole and turned on the porch light. No one was there. Weird.

Ok, so I waited a few seconds and carefully opened the door. I found a treat bag filled with a plastic Halloween drinking cup brimming with candy, a wooden pumpkin decoration, an orange votive candle, and a note informing me that I've been booed and I need to make two of my own boo bags. Why am I not joyful? Why do I feel like I've got one more thing I need to do now.
But, I think maybe this year I'll play along. I think I can do this without spending any money.
I surely have some bags that I can use instead of buying some. I have a lot of Halloween candy in my bowl waiting for the big day. I have a few non-Halloween colored candles I could use.
So, mine might be a more humble Boo bag but for this year.. I'll play along. Maybe.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What I know right now....

I was a bit sad as I kissed my sweetie goodbye this morning as I rushed out the door to get the kids to their functions. He's going out of town for a few days and he looked so nice in his new clothes I hated to see him leave. It's always hard when he's out of town. I think as the kids get older and more self sufficient it will be easier.
The weather was sunny and suitably chilly this morning for our nice school trip to the local pumpkin farm. After a hayride through the vegetable patch, time in the play area (with a corn maze that we had fun racing through), and a quick trip through a haunted blow up house, Big girl and I both got to pick out a small pumpkin to bring home. So far we've collected four pumpkins and only one we've purchased.I treated my girl to a ladies lunch out and we both had a good time. I love having a little girl. As I clipped and painted her nails a lovely shade of sparkly mauve this afternoon I felt so blessed that I had another little 'woman' to share things with.

I love my Little Guy till I'm stupid and while I joy at him choosing to practice flying airplanes and rolling trains across the carpet, I'm so glad to have someone to share girly stuff with too. I think my husband feels the same way about his Little Guy.

One last thing before I go to get my Little Guy.... I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate my ten cent packets of marigold seeds. Next year I'm skipping any alluring containers of pansies, begonias, impatiens, and colleus and going straight to my hoard of marigold seeds.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Money guilt and frugality

It seems as thought lately I've been writing a lot about the stuff I've been buying. And it does seem like a lot of stuff to me too. Like spending all of that money on hubby's work jeans and pants. There's always a reason for it and I don't feel like I'm sharing the whole picture.

First of all, it's impossible to find good clothes for my sweetie at thrift stores and garage sales. After multiple arguments with him over my 'finds' I've given up and we both decided to get rid of all the pants that he was always complaining about that didn't fit... too tight, too short ..etc. So, now he has a supply that I hope lasts at least two or three years and I don't have to hear anything about it anymore.

What you don't see is that my son is in his sister's hand me down clothes today.. clothes I bought on a clearance rack or from a thrift store for her four years ago. That the sandwich bread I ate for lunch had a big .39 sticker on it. That most of the make up in my make up bag comes from freebies at Wal-greens. Most of our big purchases are thought out carefully and with the best savings in mind.
For example: we've been planning on a fence and a play set in the backyard for over a year since we moved in. And only now are we finally paying for them and putting them in. I am so excited that our fence in coming soon and I'll be able to turn Big Girl loose in the backyard to play and watch her while I do chores. And someday when we do decide to get another dog, we are prepared.

We do take spending our money seriously. Hubby comes from a family of ultra black belt frugal parents. I grew up clipping coupons with Mom (combing rebates and triple coupon shopping trips to another town), garage sale shopping for toys and clothes, and even an occasional dumpster diving foray. On my first 'date' with my husband I brought coupons in my purse to give him and for our dinner we shared a loaf of .50 cent French bread and bought two cans of .25 vending machine pops to go with it.
I don't write about the first years we were married when we were in debt (combined total 25 G) and we struggled to pay it off. That the first house we bought was a 850 square foot bungalow that we were renting and it was the most house we could afford (how I miss that house.. it was so cute!). You are catching us at our most prosperous time in our lives (so far) even though we are a one income family. We are on the upswing and I like to think a big part of that is the years of coupon clipping, doing without lots of frivolities, and second hand shopping.

So, just in case you were wondering why I think I'm frugal... there it is.

Polly Pockets Anyone? And Kohls bonus.

If you need to buy some Polly Pockets here's a link for a
$5.00 off coupon. I think you can use this at any store that sells Polly Pockets.

If you shop at Kohls and have their charge card you can get some decent rewards until next Tuesday. We did a major stock up of work jeans and dress pants for my husband last night so we could use this deal. I now have $30 to spend on Christmas presents at Kohls.

1. Use your Kohl's Charge Card when you Checkout at
2. Spend $50 or more. You'll get a separate $10 Kohl's Cash Coupon for every $50 you spend.*

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Today's Offerings

Last night hubby and I decided to go out for breakfast to one of our favorite restaurants, First Watch. So, this morning while he showered, I went online to see if I could get a coupon. I signed up for their 'Sun eClub' and immediately received a coupon good for a free entree in my email account. Yippee. I hurried and got the children ready and he was pleasantly surprised to find us all sitting in the car waiting with the coupon printed and ready to go.

The First Watch we went to is right next to a Trader Joes. I had to stop to load up on all of those goodies we love like organic Oh's cereal (1.99 a box), organic tofu (.99), yummy hummus and veggie lunch'meat'. Big girl wanted to get me a bouquet of their cut flowers but I pointed her and her Daddy to a wonderful pot of burnt orange and yellow mums instead.

I tried the really yummy cranberry juice at the sample table and was pleased to find out that little guy likes the tangy zip of cranberry juice too. Good, one more thing I can give him to eat that isn't a cracker or a piece of cheese.
Big girl and her Daddy had fun looking for the Trader Joe's Monkey so she could get a treat from the treasure chest. He was hidden so well that I even had to start looking for him and I pointed him out to another little girl who was starting to look forlorn after her own fruitless search. The monkey was slumped over on top of a huge stack of lasagna noodles on an endcap and hard to spot if you are vertically challenged. I think they hid him really well on purpose. They must go through a lot of treasure box snacks on a busy weekend day.

So, once we got home it was time to put on Big girls Halloween gear and march to the neighborhood Halloween get together. Here is my fairy princess (with brownie besmudged face) in her wagon carriage.

The princess costume was a gift from her aunt last Christmas and the fairy wings I bought a few years ago at a Renaissance Festival. Grandma comes next week with her new witch costume for trick or treating. Anyway, we brought home a few pieces of candy, a few small toys, a small pumpkin and a frosted brownie for Daddy. Unfortunately we didn't win anything at the drawing but we had fun.
I love lazy weekends like this. The weather is breezy and warm like an Indian summer day should be. Hubby is in the backyard chopping up our tall bushes, little guy is sleeping and I'm snuggling with my girl. My blessings are abundant. ; )

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Libman Sponge Mop: Don't buy 'em.

Learn from my mistake. Don't buy a Libman sponge mop.

This is what happened after it's second use.

Just what I wanted to do after I mopped the kitchen. Re-sweep. Because there are little bits of cellulose sponge all over the kitchen. I'm throwing out the mop head and keeping the handle. Those always come in handy.

Just one more reason why I love my swiffer wet mop (using a old handtowel and squirt of cleaner or course).

Dollar General Finds and Winter Wardrobe

I no longer have a need for casual long sleeved winter shirts since I unearthed the old storage container and found two that I still could use and liked. With the addition of the 'new' mock neck from Goodwill my winter wardrobe needs are complete.
Of course, last night we ordered our tickets for Italy in February so I might want to update with some 'new' clothes by then.

$700 for my plane ticket in economy class. I suppose that's much better than the business class upgrade of $7,000. Yes, 7,000. I tried to talk sweety into letting me upgrade but he said it might be better if we used that money to make mortgage payments for five months. Darn.

After the library this morning I drove the kids to our closest Dollar General to get my fix (this is probably my favorite store) and to look for manly gifts for Christmas.
I found sweety two dvds that I'm sure he will find at least interesting if not sweep me off my feet and pump the air with his fist and declare that yes, indeed these are the best presents he's ever received great. I found a big container of toffee flavored coffee creamer to go in my Father-in-Laws big goodie basket for Christmas.

I also found a copy of Chicken Run to save for either big girls birthday or Easter basket. I bought her a children's dvd on the solar system but I think I'm going to give it to her now instead of waiting. It looks like it might be fun.

At the library I loaded up on more Amazing Planet videos for big girl and a big stack of non-fiction ghost stories for myself. Other than my favorite shows like Jon & Kate + 8 and Little People, Big World I haven't missed much about our missing premium channels. Until this month.. October, when normally I'd be tivoing every haunted house store and World's scariest whatnot I could find. I am a sucker for that kind of stuff. Halloween is my favorite holiday next to Christmas.

And now it's time to sweep and mop the kitchen and scrub the bathroom.

PODA or Too Much Information.

If you're a fan of flylady then you might know what a PODA is. If not then it's a simple list of things to do called a 'Parade of Daily Adventures'.

I guess I could have taken pictures of my toothbrush and makeup bag but thought that might be too much information. Can you tell I'm feeling feisty and spry today?

Here's a simple pictorial of what I'll be conquering today.

Figuring out where to put these plug in pumpkins.

Returning library books/dvd and taking Big girl to storytime. BTW, she loves this Amazing Planet video about the volcano.

The requisite load of laundry. Yeah, today I mixed colors and whites. Just wanted to get them done.

Figuring out what to do with the last half of this cottage cheese since no one but me likes it. What can I hide it in for dinner?

Yeah, I couldn't resist. This is next on my list right after I change another poopy diaper. Jealous aren't yah? ; )

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The details...

Nothing much going on here. Minor shopping trip to Target this morning to get some veggie 'meat' supplies for dinner. I'm making 'meat'loaf and mashed potatoes and mixed veggies. No dessert.

My winter clothing issue has been slightly resolved. Hubby reminded me that I still had a storage container from our old house under the bed. I opened it and found clothes that I hadn't worn in years. Some of it will go to Goodwill (or the yard sale pile) but, I did find a few things like the lavender turtle neck I am wearing today.
Yes, the best shopping option is to shop at home first because chances are that what you have laying around is something you're probably going to like because you bought it in the first place.

Other than cleaning which I haven't kept it because I haven't felt like it- the kids and I are going to be kicking back today. Hanging out and enjoying this rainy day.

Big girl and I might finish decorating the inside of the house for Halloween. We've done the outside fairly well.

Including a sad, last minute ghost that I made out of a 13 gallon trash bag, some old plastic bags, a twist tie and some black sharpie when I couldn't find our one old white sheet. The important thing is that my girl was impressed right?

Right now I've got to get back to cleaning up the house and listening to my flylady dvd before little guy wakes up.

If I get the house picked up enough I promised big girl we'd make rumpledoodles after we watch the Heffalump movie.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just a quickie.

I am tired. And lacking zest in both the frugal and the creative department. Bear with me for this temporary lapse in anything good to write about.

I am pretty out of it right now and as soon as I finish this blog I am going to lay down for a nap while little guy is asleep and big girl is happy in her toy room.

The not so frugal news: we've eaten dinner out twice in a row. Neither one was particularly exciting but my husband suggested it both times so he's either tired of my cooking (I don't think so) or he's been missing his restaurant outings. Last night at the pizza parlor (on all you can eat pasta night which still isn't worth it because the pasta just isn't good.) he found a few free credits in a pin ball game. Pretty exciting for him and the kids.
I found an unexpected need in my winter wardrobe. Long sleeved casual shirts are lacking. I guess all of my old ones were ratty or stained and I threw them out. So, the kids and I drove to the Goodwill after gymnastics this morning. Unfortunately I was out of it while the checker was ringing us up and I wasn't given the black tag 50% discount. I should have paid more attention. I did get one long sleeved mock neck that is in pretty good shape. The kids each got a new little car and I found two .50 Christmas tins for putting gift goodies in.

Oh, Ruthie.. about the Foca. It works ok but I looked it up online and apparently it has more phosphates than US detergents so I won't be buying it again.

Lunch was pbj's and watered down apple juice.
Dinner plan is ramen noodle soup (boil ramens, pour off a bit of water and add some canned mixed veg (or frozen) and some veggie crumble. Cook till heated through and add half a packet of seasoning. Quick easy and pretty tasty if not the most nutritious meal out there. Fresh apples for dessert.
Pretty lackluster but it gets the job done.

And now for about twenty minutes of ZZZZ's

Monday, October 15, 2007

Breakfast and a movie for 5.00

After our splurge of Chinese food for dinner last night we stopped at the nearby Deal$ store to check things out.

I found Kelloggs Cran-Vanilla cereal marked for one dollar a box because the expiration date is today. Luckily these cereal boxes all have the free dvd coupon on them too. Hubby is lobbying for Dunston Checks In.

I tried the cereal this morning and it was really good. I'm putting some in the freezer to keep them fresh.

Some things are just worth an extra dollar.

Big girl had a hard day at preschool today (I was the helper parent today so I can verify this)-- two playground ouchies and a big head smack with a doorknob on the way to the bathroom. She's ok with just a few war wounds but she was feeling a bit demoralized.
Luckily, I know her currency.
Although I was going to wait until Wednesday when the pumpkins at Aldi go on sale for 1.99, I thought today might be a good day to go ahead and get one anyway. We paid an extra dollar. But, the smile on her face and the passionate, "Oh Mommy, that certainly is the most handsome pumpkin in the whole world" as I hefted the dirty but otherwise good pumpkin into the cart were completely worth it.

Here she is in the backyard giving the dirty Mr. Pumpkin (aka Baby) a good scrub right as it started to sprinkle.

** Another positive thing from our trip to Aldi: On the way to the cart return Big Girl found a few pennies and a nickel and asked if she could keep them. Without thinking I said, "Sure, we'll put them in your piggy bank when we get home." Then she said, "What about this money?" and pointed down. On the ground where she was pointing was a bunch of twenties. Obviously someone had just dropped a pile of grocery money on their way into the store. I told her that we had to go back into the store and find someone to give the money to. And the lady who had dropped it had already told the cashier that she had lost her money. Boy was she glad when I handed it back to her (with her few pennies and nickels on top). She thanked me for being honest and I got to teach my Big Girl a lesson about doing unto others. ; )
I guess it's hard to explain to a four year old that a stray penny is ok to keep but piles of money are not. Anyway, it was nice to have her help with doing a good deed.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gingerbread: A friendly warning

You may have read that a few days ago I got the sudden urge to whip up some gingerbread from a Hillbilly Housewife recipe.

The cake cooked wonderfully in my spring form pan. It is easy to cut and pretty dense.
I made a powdered sugar frosting to drizzle over the top to add a bit of sweetness.
If you -love- the taste of molasses this is for you. It's so 'molassey' tasting that it's bitter.
My husband thinks this cake is causing him some gastric upset so I think we're going to have to toss the last 1/3 of it.

Onto the next pantry challenge.

Magic Milkshakes

For a few days I've had to be the strong one whenever we pass a Lion's Choice (10 cent kiddie cones) or a Culvers (yummy decadent frozen custard) because Hubby was having cravings for a creamy treat. Normally I'd be all for that because I have a major sweet tooth and I love me some frozen creamy dairy. But I've enjoyed making more of our food from scratch and have not felt that satisfied with our latest restaurant outings.

So, for a few days I've been telling him I'm making him some Magic Milk Shakes from the Hillbillyhousewife site. I was a bit leery of the oil because it does sound yucky. But, it worked and everyone loved them. The instant milk gave only a vague hint to it's presence.

Yeah! Now I know what to do when someone cries for ice cream and I don't feel like going to the grocery store or the drive thru. I just have to keep my pantry stocked well.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My favorite pancake

A few months ago, before we reduced our dtv package and I lost my favorite channel (Discovery Health), I copied a pancake recipe from my favorite tv reality Mom- Kate of Jon & Kate + 8.

I made that recipe this morning using 1 cup of King Arthur whole wheat flour (I really like this flour) and 1/2 cup of Bob's Red Mill almond flour that I found in a grocery cart clearance pile.

Here's the recipe from Jon and Kate Plus 8

Henry's Pancake Mix

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. oil
1 1/2 cup milk *or more

And here is a picture of the last pancake.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Because sometimes you just gotta....

I went ahead and splurged on Kraft Mac and Cheese at Big Lots today for .50. The kids and hubby are all excited that I bought the blue box. It's just what we need for a quickie dinner for our busy night.

Big Lots Finds

Right now Big Lots has a printable coupon good for 20% off of your purchase.

I stopped by there with big girl today and we slowly combed the aisles (and made two trips to the bathroom too.. if you ever shop with small children you know what I mean).

I slowly filled up the cart. We had fun sorting through the hair accessory bin and we both picked out a few pretty things for ourselves. 1.00 for a card of hair pins and bows is reasonable I think.

But, one of my favorite finds was a big bag of Mexican Laundry Detergent, Foca for 1.60. I have no idea how much to use as the bag doesn't have any instruction. I'll just have to guess. It does smell nice.

When Big Girl saw me put it in the cart she said, "Why are we getting otter food?" I guess the picture is misleading but it gave me a chuckle.

I also found some River City Roasters spiced coffee for my Dad's Halloween birthday. I hope he likes it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Free Toy Coupon -- Hurry!

Until Saturday you can print and use this coupon from ToysRUs good for one Littlest Pet Toy or a Basic Hot Wheel Car. No purchase necessary.

Good for a stocking filler or a Christmas cracker.

Pantry Bug Bites Again- Gingerbread

I don't like gingerbread (hubby does) and we don't even need a dessert tonight as we have pudding pie leftover from last night. But, as I was scouring HillBillyHousewife's recipes I found I had to get up and raid my pantry for the makings of this Gingerbread Recipe.

Fall is in the air I guess. I have to heat the oven anyway for tonight's lazy lasagna.

BTW, both of these pictures were taken at our last house which backed up to a creek and we had a constant parade of wildlife in our backyard even though we were in the middle of town. How I miss that!

Credit Card Souring... a little

You might have noticed that I am quite partial to my Discover credit card (which we pay off every month) for it's 1% cash back incentives. I use the money to get gift cards for friends and family throughout the year. You can also use the money towards your balance. Just recently they have changed the policy so that you can't get a check for your cash back amount anymore.

Well, part of my family lives in a small town where the nearby retail shopping is limited. That means that gift cards to Sears, Olive Garden, Bed Bath and Beyond and Footlocker are not helpful. I still have to go shopping in a regular store for them. Silly me thought that I could cash out my reward and use that money (envelope system style) for the remainder of my gifts. No go. Too late. No more checks from discover card.

Of course I realize that I can put the same amount towards my card balance and then take that amount out of my checking account and it amounts to the same thing. Except to me it's not the same. It doesn't feel like I've earned anything.

A kinder, gentler, more frugal lasagna

Lasagna is known to be a time consuming and expensive food. I guess it is if you take time to precook your noodles and you buy the ricotta and special meats that go in it.

Eh... I don't have the time or money for that and right now with my limited pantry I don't have the means either.

I wanted to make lasagna for tonights dinner but our opened box of noodles only yielded four lasagna noodles. I didn't let that get me down. I broke them up into pieces and added half a box of whole wheat rotini for the noodle portion of my lasagna casserole.

Yes, I guess technically it's not lasagna but I'll take it.

I did buy a container of cottage cheese at Wal-Mart today so I would have a creamy texture to it. I only had half a jar of spaghetti sauce so I added a can of tomato sauce. I mixed in one egg, half a bag of mozzarella cheese, three cloves of garlic, two cups of torn fresh spinach, 1/4 cup of veggie crumbles, 1/4 of fresh Parmesan cheese, the sauce and half the container of cottage cheese and called it done.

Seashells: My new project to do

I spent most of my beach time searching for pretty shells. This time around I am planning on using them instead of collecting them and displaying them like I have in the past.

I found a beat up frame for a dime at a garage sale yesterday. I plan on coating it in plaster (I think we have some in the garage), sand (from the play sand bag) and then hot gluing the shells to the sandy frame. I've got a cute picture of the kids on the beach I'll have developed to display in it. That's my plan anyway.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Vacation Photos

Making Friends with Powdered Milk

With the price of milk soaring I've been making sure that I always have some powdered milk mixed up in my refrigerator.

On the way to preschool this morning I had a lengthy discussion with my big girl about what kind of pie her Daddy liked best. We decided to call him and ask him and to my surprise he said chocolate cream pie. I was in luck because I knew I had enough ingredients in the pantry to scrounge up a pie for him.

I am not on friendly terms with making my own pie crusts so I decided to chop up some old Nilla Wafers that were going stale and make a cookie crust with melted butter.
Add some generic pudding mix and a packet of dream whip and voila: Jenny's version of Chocolate Cream Pie. The Halloween sprinkles are courtesy of big girl.

Oh, the blue flowered pot I bought this morning at a garage sale. 3.00 was a bit pricey but I really think I'll get a lot of use out of it. If all else fails I can use it bring someone flowers. It's holding our ingredients for pizza tonight.
After making my own pizza for the last few years I find I enjoy take out pizza less an less. Especially after considering how little I can make one for (3-4$ is the norm).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Dessert Quandry Solved

What's cheap, yummy and in season right now? Apples!!

Luckily I have a few leftover from our field trip to the apple orchard that were begging to be eaten. So I added some pantry staples like butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and stuck them in the already heated oven.

Casseroles: A Tightwad's Friend

My normal standby for odd leftovers is soup. But, I've found that my soup is not always received well by the toddler and Big Daddy doesn't like soup leftovers for lunch.

So, what do I do with instant milk that needs to be used up, a cup and a half of leftover rice and a handful of asparagus from Sunday nights dinner? Look up the universal casserole in the Complete Tightwad Gazette of course.

I had no cream soup so I mixed up some instant milk, some dried tvp (for protein and thickener), a sprinkle of spike seasoning and veggie broth powder, and an egg.

I threw the rice, the asparagus, a handful of frozen peas, 1/4 of frozen onion, and 1/4 cup of frozen veggie crumbles in a greased Pyrex pan. I sprinkled some fresh and some dried Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper over the mix and then poured on the milk mixture and stirred it together gently. I topped it with plain and Italian bread crumbs and a handful of french fried onions from an unopened can I found in the pantry. I think the onions are leftover from last Thanksgiving but it didn't have an expiration date on it so I think we're safe.

I also mixed up a batch of biscuits from the scratch whole wheat 'bisquik' I made a few weeks ago. They are cut into cute little circles on top of the stove awaiting their turn in the oven.

I debated the possibility of mixing up a cake since I do have a cake mix but, I didn't feel like being splurgy with the oil. I hate to waste the hot oven though. It's one of those times when I wished I had a jiffy cake mix but I don't buy those anymore. I wonder if I should google a scratch recipe for jiffy cake mix. I love making just a small cake for my family so we have a treat without making a huge cake.

In my book bag: Debt-Proof The Holidays

One thing that I asked sweetie to get me for my birthday (other than a big fat cake) was a copy of Mary Hunt's "Debt-Proof The Holidays: How to have an all-cash Christmas".

I just picked up our mail from the post office and I was so glad to see that envelope in the pile.

I'm not expecting anything major to change my way of thinking about Christmas shopping.
But, I'm hoping it will inspire me to stick with the plan and not overbuy. I'm even thinking of getting out a few rolls of wrap and labels right now so I know for sure who I am done buying for.

Anyway, I'll let you all know if it's a pass, a library borrow or a definite keeper in the next week or so.

I'll have to regale you later with my tales of Goodwill and Big Lots shopping from this morning. Right now I have fourteen minutes to make beds and gather laundry before I have to leave the house.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pantry Challenge Renewal

Yeah, so it still *looks* full. But, I assure you that it is about half empty of what it used to have in it. I also had enough space to rearrange everything to where it was supposed to go so that it will now be more user friendly. I also took out some big boxes and extra stuff out of the bottom so I could use that space when we bring in stuff from Cosco.

It was nice to come home to a partially empty larder. I had frozen our milk so it wouldn't go bad before we left on our trip. But, I still needed a quick trip to the grocery store to refill our stock items of milk, eggs, bread, and fruit.

I did get some extra stuff to round out our meals as I was missing some favorite veggies like corn, spinach and mushrooms. And I splurged on some sliced cheese and a bottle of diet lemonade. All in all not too bad for one weeks worth of food.

And now it's time to make dinner. We're having boca burger 'tips' in brown gravy and grilled onions on rice and a side of cheesy broccoli.

$Big Ouch$ Big Fun

Since we moved into our current house a year ago we've talked about getting a playland for the kids.
We've looked at the sets at Cosco, the metal swingsets at Wal-Mart and the big company sets that go into big money. Our generous in-laws donated $2500 to the cause because they are suckers for their grandchildren.
And it's been months and we've hemmed and we've hawed because we want quality but we hate the price tag. Today we finally put the order in-- I think it's somewhere in the
$3200 range for the clearance set we decided upon.
I can't help feeling stupid for spending money this way although I know the kids will use the heck out of it and if we do need to sell our house soon it is a selling point.
There are no parks within walking distance either.
I feel incredibly blessed that -right now- we can afford to pay for it up front. (using our discover card and getting cash back helps too.)

Our daughter is already really excited about it so I think it's gonna be a good thing. Just that right now it kinda hurts a bit.
I hope nothing breaks on our house or car soon.

Big Lots Savings

Go here to print out a coupon for saving 20% off of your purchase at Big Lots this week.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Back again

We're all exhausted after five days in Gulf Shores, Alabama and two days in the car to get home.

To summarize: We spent a lot of time beach combing for good shells. We went crab hunting at night with flashlights (not for eating.. just enjoyment). We ate a lot of good food including a huge birthday cake that I bought myself. We played a lot of card and board games. We settled disputes between three four year old girls. We didn't sleep nearly enough. I got to spend some quality time with a sister in law that I barely know after eight years. I got schooled in how to shop for good children's clothes to resell.

My Sil took me to the outlet mall and I learned all about the good brand names that resell really well. Strasburg and Kitestrings were two that we went into and I went into a bit of sticker shock.

But today we stopped for lunch at a place that just happened to be nearby a Goodwill. With my new name brand knowledge I combed the racks for good stuff. I did find a little Kitestrings jacket for my girl and a brand new Ralph Lauren snow suit for the little guy.

Oh well. I'm tired and I've got much to unpack. Tomorrow we renter the world of work and school again. I'll post up some pictures later.

Good to be back. Night all.