Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What I love about my frugal lifestyle-

1. My stockpile. Almost never needing to run to the store and pay full price for something we need is great. (especially when we're busy or sick) Today I needed dishwasher tablets, pancake syrup, and bread. A quick trip to the basement and I had all three. Now I'll just have to wait until the next coupon/sale to replenish.

2. Making my own essentials. A few years ago I would have never dreamed I would/could make my own baby wipes, dishwasher detergent, pancake syrup, laundry detergent, or bread. Now I know if I keep my pantry stocked I can whip up most of whatever we need in a pinch.

3. My veggie garden. The tomatoes are puny and sad but I have to say that this year is much better than last year. I don't weed, hoe or water like I should but whenever I do I get intense joy in seeing how a tiny seed can give us beautiful vegetables. I am mixing up my garden next year and getting some manure from family for fertilizer. But, I am slowly but surely learning how to tend a tiny garden. My cherry tomato plant is flourishing in it's pot. I may do all tomato pots next year instead of planting them in a bed.

4. The library. In the past few days our entertainment has been library dvds and books. When we took a recent road trip the kids enjoyed watching a library movie while we listened to a book on tape. The best part is that during the summer we get special prizes for reading. Well, if I'm going to read anyway why not enjoy the rewards.

5. Appreciating what I do have. I don't let myself spend a lot of money on home furnishings. But, I splurged on floor length drapes and pretty new hardware for a big bay window that previously had hideous mauve shades. Now instead of cringing I look at them and smile and I don't regret a penny that I spent on them. They look so good with the toile pillow that I picked up at the furniture thrift store for $2.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two men down

This is the first time since having kids that Hubby and I are sick at the same time. Normally there is someone to take care of kids. Fever, aches, chillls, and a sick stomach- I feel so bad for the kids now that I know how bad they both felt.

You should see my house after a day of kids being free to mess and play. Scratch that. You shouldn't see my house.

And the dog ate the blueberry muffins I left on the table.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Baking day

I had black bananas, excess blueberries, a full potato bin, and nowhere to go with a sick girl.

Banana walnut bread is baking in the oven next to malt-0-meal blueberry muffins. I'm making white french bread in my bread machine to go along with our potato soup for dinner. I'll throw in a container of freezer soup goodies and some rehydrated tvp for protein.

I'm loving using up foods before they go to waste. The bonus is that I'm making space in my pantry and refrigerator for that big shopping trip to Costco next week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Frugal Sick Day Special Requests

Big Girl wanted lemonade. After searching my pantry for a powdered mix to make her a cupful, I can up empty handed. Instead I took lemon juice concentrate and a quick sprinkle of sugar and poured it into a cup. I added water and ice and gave it a quick stir. It made a pretty decent drink and she's happy too.

Little Guy wanted chocolate milk. Hmm, we're out of Nesquick. Homemade chocolate syrup to the rescue. No complaints.

Now I just have to figure out how to make gingerale.

Like Hugging Fire

I apologize for being incommunicado lately. We seem to have caught a nasty virus around here and are taking turns being needy and whiny. Not much cleaning, shopping, or anything other than microwaving food and snuggling hot and sticky children. I think I'm next and I'm struggling to get that last load of laundry done and a loaf of bread made before there's another man down.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's on the Agenda

This article by Donna Freedman is timely for me right now as we just got a Costco coupon booklet filled with things we use and are running low on.
The problem is that I have lost all control over what's in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. I'll be working on cooking from my kitchen until right before those coupons expire.

Last night we had bowls of leftover sliced hot dogs and broccoli in shells and cheese.

Tonight we're having a prepared dinner from the freezer. Throw in the three stray mushrooms before they go bad? And I baked some frozen egg rolls I found.

I need to freeze or cook up some strawberry, blueberry, and banana bread. Smoothies for dessert?

There's an old tofurky lurking my basement freezer that would go nicely with the yukons in my veggie bin.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Clothing Inventory FAIL

I have enough summer clothes for three Big Girls and only a handful of long sleeved shirts for this fall/winter school term. I know there's still time to haunt garage sales and thrift stores for great cheap clothes. But, it's the excess of size 6's that are only going to fit her this summer that is frustrating me. What a waste of money!

I had the same problem with shoe inventory. We have four pairs of tennis shoes in the same size. And probably only one pair that will fit her this fall. Never worn flip flops and sandals that I bought for a song last year are too small.

I had a small book with their shoe and clothing inventory written on it so I'd know what our needs and that worked great. It's time to do that again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Taking The Morning Off

I've got so much to do around here and the past two days I have done absolutely nothing in the way of chores except wash and fold (not put away, mind you) a load or two of laundry everyday.

So, before I get sucked in to the wonderful world of reading blogs and facebook- (oh, how I love my blog writing friends!) I'd better get to it. The past two days have been rainy rainy rainy. And today is a high of 93 so I'm sending the kids out to play this morning after breakfast so they get some outside time.

To do:

Wash sheets on Master bed (done)
Unload/reload dishwasher (done)
Put away clean laundry (mostly done)
Clean off kitchen table
Plan and prep dinner- chili dogs, sliced tomatoes, and grapes (done)
Sweep kitchen
Make bread in machine?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not Frugal, Not Healthy, And Nothing to Brag About.

Got a serious hankering for Krispy Kreme donuts. I let the kids watch a movie in the back of the car, went thru the drive thru and ordered a dozen assorted. Why a dozen? It was cheaper per donut. Sometimes the frugalite in me makes no sense whatsoever. Plus, not being familiar with Krispy Kremes donut selection I didn't know what I wanted. Turns out I like the plain glazed best- information my hips could definitely have lived without. And I feel kind blechy and tired now.
No matter. My craving is cured for a good long time I think.

We have leftovers. Instead of buying a handful of $5 popcorn at the free kiddie movie tomorrow- we'll be bringing in chocolate donuts with sprinkles.

I am almost positive that movie theaters would increase their profits if they cut the prices on their popcorn. They would sell more. Where's the dollar menu? I need a price rollback or a bailout or something.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Misc. Cooking Tips for Pasta Night

Instead of watching and stirring pasta- Bring a pot of water to boil. Turn off the heat. Pour in your pasta. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Works great. It gives you just enough time to whip up a homemade sauce with onions, peppers, tomato sauce etc. if you don't have a jar of sauce.

Quickie Spaghetti Sauce-

Melt a tablespoon of butter or oil in a sauce pan. Stir in some chopped onions and peppers. Add some minced garlic to taste (this is when I add rehydrated tvp or veggie crumbles). Pour in a can of tomato sauce and rinse the can with a tablespoon or so of water and throw that in the pan. Add oregano, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, to taste. If you like canned mushrooms add them now. A sprinkle of sugar mellows the tart tomato sauce flavor. If you don't have tomato sauce then use a small can of tomato paste and thin with a rinsed can or two of water. Heat until bubbly.

I know TVP can be kinda tasteless and even unappealing. To make it taste better I soak mine in vegetable broth before cooking. You can use bouillon cubes or homemade if you have them but Kitchen Basics is my favorite broth. And a little broth goes a long way.

Been on "Becation"

Ahh, sweet summer time. Time for vacations and family.

Not really anything especially frugal about it but we did have good family fun.
And no tv for almost a whole week. Yay!

Big Girl and I went to a few garage sales this morning. We found a nice basket to pack a wedding gift of kitchen towels and sale/coupon purchased spices. She also got a hand sewn princess gown for next Halloween. Other than that, not many deals and that is -ok- with me. Especially after I spent time working in the kids room sorting and putting away clothes. We've got a big tub full of old clothes for a start on a garage sale pile.

Big Girl has a birthday party to attend later so we went to the basement and found a $2 garage sale purchased paint set (with $14.99 price tag still attached- I removed it) in my gift tub. I wrapped it in Dollar Store paper and a recycled bow. We still have to make the card. My current goal is to spend no more than $7 on a friend's gift without being chintzy.

We're getting back in the groove working on chores around the house.
Right now, Hubby is steam cleaning the toy room and I'm making whole grain blueberry pancakes. Aldi had good blueberries yesterday so I bought two containers and spent $50 on this week's groceries. I did miss my own cooking even though the Lodge's buffet food was fairly decent.

Back to my pancakes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A wormy situation.

I took my girl, Abby, to the vet today and the vet found heart worms.
When I decided to adopt her I knew that all the dog food coupons in the world wouldn't make dog ownership completely frugal. It's one thing I'm willing to spend money on because she is fully a part of our family now.

Something that Stings a Little-

About six months ago we refinanced our mortgage. And decided to keep paying what we were paying before so we could pay it off faster. Great idea since we wouldn't be missing that money.

Well, with the economy getting worse and Hubby nervous about his job we decided to use that extra amount as an emergency cushion- just in case. Right before we refinanced I would write bonus checks to our mortgage by figuring up every extra bit of money I made from rebates, ebates, or our t-shirts sales on cafepress. Sometimes it was just $25 a month and once I even made up to $100. That gazelle intensity went away after the refinance and now we're reducing our payments too. It seems as if we'll never be debt free.

Right now, we're firmly entrenched in our house having made the decision not to downsize to a cheaper home. We've made the decision to stay put until kids are out of school unless we're forced to sell. So, moving down isn't an option right now. We've got to work with what we have.

Now I'm wondering what the best strategy is for us. Do I continue to scrape up bits of money here and there to send towards the payment? Do I save those bits and scraps for our emergency fund? Do we cut back even more?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's Delicious Around Here- Homemade Chocolate Syrup

I got the kids to finish their cereal by using up the last of our Aldi's LaMissa chocolate syrup. To get the dregs out of the bottle I poured in some milk and swished it around. They gobbled their cereal up for once without complaining. And as I turned to recycle the bottle, I realized that I could reuse it by making Amy Dacyczyn's recipe. If you don't have the Complete Tightwad Gazzette (go buy one), Our Red House has a copy of the recipe.

It was simple to make and tastes fantastic. I think the key is using good cocoa. Hershey's is my favorite. I prefer my own syrup over the taste of Hershey's bottled syrup too. Hershey's pre-made syrup is too sweet while the homemade Hershey's tastes rich and dark. I don't know how much money I'm saving but I know I'm enjoying it a lot more. This morning I turned my cup of coffee into a mocha by using that syrup and some milk. Yum!

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's for Dinner this week.

Monday- Chic patty Parmesan, mashed potatoes (use up instant flakes), salad, bread from the bread machine, and chocolate pudding made with the powdered milk I needed to use.

Tuesday- Pasta with rest of marinara sauce and crumble burger, salad and roasted garlic. Make raspberry muffins with malt o meal while oven is heated for garlic. (Roasted garlic is so easy and good. The garlic turns sweet and creamy and easy to spread on toasted bread. Take a whole head of garlic and slice off the pointy tips until you can see garlic on each one. Put it on a piece of foil big enough to wrap it in. Drizzle the head with olive oil and season with pepper and salt. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes. The easiest way to get the garlic is out is let it cool a bit and then you can squeeze the cooked garlic out of the husk. It's messy but it works. If you like garlic you might want to make a head for each person).

Wednesday- Hot Dogs, mac and cheese (or some other noodle mix from the pantry), some type of frozen veg.

Thursday- Stuffed baked potatoes - cheese, chili, onion, veg. bacon, broccoli, etc.

Friday- Leftover Smorgasbord.

Saturday- dinner out.