Thursday, July 30, 2009

Simple joys and simple toys

Yesterday was a lay on the couch with a headache while the kids watched the same library video over and over again kind of day. The only productive things I did were to hang a load of laundry, make dinner, and keep up with the dishes.

By late afternoon I was feeling slightly better and very guilty about wasting a precious lazy summer day on the couch. But, it was only an hour until dinner time and too hot to go anywhere. I remembered the twoboxes I had labeled rainy day toys with each child's name. Oh, I could surprise them with these. They played with their boxes of toys (I think they came from thrift grab bags and garage sales) for at least an hour and half. And I got oohs and ahhs and thank yous.
The boxes are back in my closet awaiting another boring day. I may find one or two more new items to put in there for next time too.

On a food shopping note-
I've decided not to grocery shop this week even though I have a list. The kids want ice cream and yogurt. And I can make homemade milkshakes and yogurt myself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Good and the Bad of my summer

This summer has zoomed by. I made the mistake of over planning and over scheduling and I didn't accomplish half of the stuff I wanted to- summer homeschool, more playing outside, etc.
Of course, a lot of our free time at home is used up by the neighbor girl who comes to play almost everyday. I'm not sure how to handle that yet.
Little Guy is almost completely potty trained. No accidents in days and we're in big boy underwear. He only needs a diaper for sleeping Now we just have to teach him to pull his pants on and off by himself. And and doing his own wiping. School starts in about two weeks. Plenty of time. (nope, not panicking at all).

I haven't hung laundry to dry in over a month. I haven't weeded, hoed, tended, fertilized, watered my veggie patch like I should have. My house is always a wreck. I'm not ready for the garage sale in the fall. I haven't stuck to my grocery budget like I should and we eat out too much.

The good part- I've dug my clothes pins out to hang today's load of laundry. My house will get clean if I just do a little bit here and there like I am trying to do. My daughter has a nice little friend who likes to play with her as often as she can. I've been sticking to our menus fairly well and we've reduced our restaurant spending. I've got hoagie dough in the bread machine right now for tonight's toasted subs. And if I don't have a garage sale, I don't have a garage sale. Goodwill will benefit if I don't. All of my school shopping is done and I have an almost complete inventory of their clothes.

I'm not behind. There's always another chance to save money, do more, learn more, help more, etc.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Menu for the Week

Monday- We had BLTs with veggie bacon and homegrown tomatoes. Grapes for dessert

Tuesday- Spinach Lasagna and salad with garden veggies and boiled eggs

Wednesday- Toasted Cheese and Veggie hoagies

Thursday-Cheese tortellini

Friday- Hubby's pick.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Happy Day

We had nowhere to go today except gymnastics class which got us out of the house early. ; )
Stopped at Target and bought some gifts.
Got a free latte sample at McD's.
Tidied up kids rooms
Inventoried more clothing that needed to be put away
Did lots of laundry
Listened to my kids and neighbor play nicely while I made a batch of homemade detergent and found a pretty tin to put it in and finally used my new label maker to label it
Made blt's for dinner with veggie bacon and a homegrown tomato
Composted egg shells and banana peels
Made banana bread and boiled eggs for breakfast
Cleaned up the dishes
Clipped the coupons from my All You magazine
Watered my cherry tomato and surveyed my garden that is slowly straggling along.
Fed my dog treats
Snuggled my babies
Blogged for you while my Hubby reads library books outside to our kids.

Looking forward to going to be early on clean sheets too.

Target Toy Clearance Again- Stock up on toys

I took the kids through Target today to check out their toy clearance. Right now in my store it looks like select toys are 50% off.
We walked every aisle to make sure that there was indeed a toy clearance going on. The pickings are getting slimmer and all clearance Thomas die casts were already gone. It was really hard to leave the last GeoTrax train set there but I've promised myself to let Hubby have the big present shopping this year which will probably be put off until the week of Christmas because that's how he rolls.

I did get some Tonka truck sets for 2.98 to put back for Christmas and birthdays. Big Girl has another birthday party to attend this weekend so I let her pick out two presents to take. She picked out a Hello Kitty puzzle (3.99) and a Beach Ken doll (5.44) for less than $10 combined (neither on sale).
Lately I have flat out refused to spend more than ten dollars on a kid's birthday party present. With my stockpile of wrappings and cards we stick to this pretty well.

I did buy some clearance summer clothes for both kids. The 75% off rack produced a t-shirt and shorts for Little Guy's storage drawer at .75 cents each. I scored some pretty Big girl summer tops for next year for 1.75 each.

Now we're going to settle in and enjoy our one week this summer that isn't crazy with activity. It's also the last week of the library reading challenge and we've got a lot of books to read.

Friday, July 24, 2009

WooHoo Shopping Happiness!

For someone who really dislikes malls, I really do like to shop! Ok, scratch that- I like to save.

Over a year ago my beloved Big Lots closed. Today I spied a sign in the window of their old store.

Value Village Thrift Opening Soon!

That's even better!

Yesterdays Grocery Receipt Tally

My fridge was looking strangely bare after trying to clean it out. It's not anymore.

Sappington Farmer's Market (make sure to print the online coupon for $10 off Thursday)

Fig Bars- 1.00
Home Pride Wheat- 1.99
Farmer's sliced white cheese- 2.70
Trix Yogurt cups- 3.29 (had coupon)
DanActive yogurt- 2.99 (had coupon)
Coffeemate liquid creamer- 2.59 (had coupon)
Dozen local eggs x 2- 2.00
Gallon of skim milk- 2.25
Always Save Quesadilla pizza- .79
Boca Grilled Veggie patties- 3.79
Reeses Puffs cereal x 2- 5.00 (had coupons)
Always Save Ginger Snaps- 1.19
Best Choice Light Microwave popcorn- 1.69
XL Hershey's Bar- 1.59 (b-day gift for Mom)
Ronnoco Coffee Beans .58 pounds- 5.21 (b-day gift for Mom)
Lavender Hand Soap- 1.00
Funny teeth- 1.00 (that's what happens when you shop with a 3 year old)
Homegrown local tomatoes ($1 a pound)- 1.11
Package of garlic bulbs- 1.20
2 pound Bag of green grapes- 3.03
Small head of Boston lettuce- .60
2 yellow onions- 1.03
Package of local plums- 3.88

Original total- 53.86 After store coupon and MFR coupons- 41.01

Wonder Hostess Bread Thrift

2 loaves of wheat bread- 1.58
1 box of Ding Dongs- 1.59
3 cans of Vess pop- 1.17
2 large clearance bags of seasoned stuffing- 1.00

I 44 Surplus Discount Groceries in Rolla

Bottle of 100% Juice- 1.00
2 big boxes of raisins- 1.00
Dunkin' Donuts coffee- 4.75
4 boxes of Morning Star mini corn dogs- 7.96
Pepsodent Toothpaste- .79
Minute Maid OJ juice boxes- 2.25
11 assorted granola bars and power bars- 1.35
4 boxes of Stash White Christmas tea- 7.00 (to save for neighbor gift baskets)
Reallime lime juice- 1.25
Big can of Bush's vegetarian baked beans- 1.19
Theraflu caplets- 1.25
Children's Advil- 1.50
Tylenol Go Tabs- .20
2 bags of Nestle Butterscotch chips- 1.98

Total 33.29

Total Spending for Yesterday- 79.83

I also brought home a bag of school supplies that my Mom bought from Staples and a bag of garden produce from her garden. I feel like I made the most of our money and time yesterday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's for Dinner: "Why not make two?" Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those foods that requires extra prep. It will probably only take me an extra 5 minutes to assemble a second dinner and save me a lot of time on a busy night in the future.
The first bowl is cottage cheese, an egg, dried parmesan cheese, thawed spinach, and some boca crumbles. The second bowl is a combination of leftover salsa, leftover Ragu, and tomato sauce and seasonings from my pantry. The third bowl is Italian cheese and Swiss cheese shreds.

I actually found lasagna noodles on sale for .99 cents. I should have bought all of them.

I cleaned out my fridge a little bit, made two dinners, and won't have to do much work tonight except heat up the oven and open a can of corn. Works for me!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Babysitter Cookies

I had a scrape of peanut butter, a handful of chocolate chips, and a few frosted flakes left. And our cookie tin is empty. It's a perfect occasion to try out this recipe from Gayle:

Babysitter Cookies
Melt together the butter and shortening.
Add sugars and cream thoroughly.
Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, flour, oatmeal, cereal (corn flakes, grape nuts, cocoa puffs -- whatever you have) and mix well.
Stir in any or all of the optional ingredients.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

I've got a pan of these cooling right now and my house smells so good. I froze half the dough for later too so we can't indulge too much. Thanks Gayle!

Getting Ready for Christmas in July.

I'm listening to this FrugalCoast2Coast Podcast while doing kitchen jobs. I try to shop for Christmas presents all year but this year I'm trying to save shopping for the kid's big present as a gift to my husband. He always feels left out when I'm done shopping by Thanksgiving.
But, now is the time to scan the toy aisles for those sale toys if you want to get a head start.
Coupon Cravings has a link to a printable K-Mart toy coupon that would be great right now.

My Dollar General still had wrapping paper 50% off in the clearance aisle. As for stocking stuffers I've been saving extra McDonalds toys and cereal box prizes so all I have to get is candy.

Anybody have any other ideas on how to get a frugal headstart on Christmas.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bread Machine Recipe: Italian Whole Wheat Sage Bread

For a 2 pound loaf- place in your bread machine in the order called for.

1 1/3 cups of water
4 teaspoons of oil
2 2/3 cups of bread flour
1 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of fresh sage (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried, crushed sage)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 teaspoons of yeast

You can use either the whole grain cycle or the basic white bread cycle.

(I selected the dough cycle and will bake this in my oven. I also substituted garlic powder and Italian seasoning for the sage.)

Weekly Menu Planner

Monday- Pasta with Boca marinara and whole wheat Italian loaf. I'm making the dough in my machine right now.

Tuesday- Roast with potatoes, veg. burger, carrots and onion. Leftover bread

Wednesday- Spinach Lasagna- doubled to freeze one.

Thursday- Cheeseburgers or leftovers.

Friday- $5 pizza from Little Caesers for family movie night. Really looking forward to this easy dinner. I'm also making a salad, kool-aid, and sliced watermelon to round out our meal.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's for lunch: Black Beans and rice.

I've been making microwave quesadillas with our tortillas. So, instead of burritos I'm making beans and rice. I added Goya Sofrito to the pan at the suggestion of a friend and it is sublime indeed. I don't think I'll ever make beans again without this stuff. It makes it so full flavored. Sofrito is a paste made of tomatoes, green peppers, oil, garlic and other flavorings. I just added it to my sauteed onions, pepper and garlic with a splash of water. Yum!

The quest for locally grown groceries

I think I found a supermarket that takes coupons and has locally grown foods! For me it's the best of both worlds. I am planning on taking a trip on Thursday to do our normal stock up shopping. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What is wrong with me and this Twilight Series obsession?

I have hours this afternoon to myself.

I could go see the new Harry Potter movie and spend money on myself. But, I really just feel like folding and putting away clean laundry then curling up in my bed and reading New Moon for the eighth time. New Moon is my favorite book in the series. I love the relationship between Bella and Jacob.
My cats Chloe and Fusty, a fresh load of whites, my favorite blanket, and a good book. All I need is a Diet Coke and I'm all set.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Saved 56% on Groceries

Who wants to help put my groceries away?

I have a rare night to myself. My choices were stay home and clean, go to the grocery store since it's coupon Thursday at Shop N Save and I have a list and coupons clipped and ready, or go see the new Harry Potter movie. Decisions- Decisions.

So, I went with the second best option- grocery shopping alone. I definitely spend less money when I shop alone.

I'm too tired to spill all the details.
What I got free with MFR coupons:
2 bags of sugar
2 jars of Smart Balance Peanut Butter
1 carton of Tropicana OJ
1 pound of bananas
1 small bag of peanut M&Ms

I save $15 in store coupons:
$10 off a $50 purchase
$5 off when you buy 5 boxes of special Kellogs cereals

I spent 48.90.
I saved 58.72 or 56%. No matter how much I try I am not that coupon queen who gets hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for a few pennies. Nevermind- I am mostly glad that I stuck to my list and only bought what we need/use.

20% off Big Lots Coupon

For this Sunday the 19th only.

Go here.

Famous Footwear Savings.

Thanks to Centsible Sawyer for bringing my attention to this sale! Use promo code JULY15 and get 15% off of your purchase. Also through September 19th they are having a BOGO 1/2 sale and Free Ground Shipping. I signed up for a Famous Footwear rewards card to get even more rewards.
With two little kids, we go through a lot of shoes and I can't always find what we need second hand.

I bought:
Naturalizer slip on loafers for me
Addidas soccer shoes for the kids
Cali girl slip ons for Big Girl
Tennis shoes for Little Guy

Total: 54.46
That's 13.61 per pair not including any rewards or % back I may get (roughly $5 after ebates and credit card incentives- then it's 12.36 per pair). I can live with that. And I didn't have to step foot in a store.

Go through or sign up through my account and we'll both save big $. Famous Footwear is giving 9% back.

I'm so glad I did a clothing and shoe inventory so I could shop more intelligently. I'm filling gaps instead of overloading on what we already have.

More School Supply Hunting


Special Folder for Little Guy- .97 (bought 1)
Two packs of small glue sticks- .25 (I bought 3)
Elmer's School Glue 4 oz.- .25 (bought 1)
Crayola 24 pack crayons- .25 (I bought 4)
Expo Write on Wipe off markers assorted 4 pack- 3.50 (just bought 1)
Plastic Pencil boxes- .62 (I bought 2)
Rose Art colored pencils- .75 (bought 1)
Rose Art 4 oz. school glue- .20 (bought 1)
Notebooks- 70 page wide ruled- .15 (I bought 5)

And 1.25 worth of tomatoes for last nights burger dinner

Total: 11.46

I have most of what we need, a few to stockpile, and some to donate.
Now all I need is a few boxes of tissues, clorox cleaner, and antibacterial gel. Any ideas on sales for those things?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Printable Coupons from ALL You magazine

Go here.

School Supply Hunt

I went through my piles of saved school supplies and came up with pencil boxes, folders, back packs and one bottle of glue. We still need so much more and this year I'm buying for two instead of one.

So, I sent my Mother to Staples for the 1 cent pencil boxes. The sale ends today.

And today we went to K-Mart to check things out-

12 pack of Crayola colored pencils- $1
24 pack of Crayola crayons- .89 cents
Pack of Papermate Ballpoint pens (for me)- 3/$1 or .33 cents.

Later today we'll be going to Wal-Mart to see about getting cheap notebook paper and glue sticks. I'm sure I could probably find Crayola crayons cheaper than .89 cents but I didn't think that was a bad price to pay.

We still have four weeks before school starts so I'm hoping I can get everything we need fairly inexpensively and maybe be even to buy a few things to donate to a school supply drive.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's for Dinner this week

Doing a minor fridge clean out while trying to get back on the cooking wagon. We've eaten out a lot lately. I don't regret that though because we've enjoyed all of our meals and with one exception we've had our leftovers for lunches. But, it's time to start cooking again.

Monday- we had pizza. I made a double batch of dough in my bread machine and froze one for later. Used up a jar of Ragu and a 1/3 bag of parmesan shred. Jon proclaimed it the best pizza I'd ever made. We had no leftovers.

Tuesday- We're having stir fry. I plan on using up any stray carrots and onion parts from the fridge bin. I'm marinating some tofu in sesame ginger dressing, soy sauce, and powdered ginger. Watermelon for dessert. We had enough leftovers for Hubby's lunch today. And the watermelon I bought is all gone and the rind has been composted. Yay! Tofu, carrots, and watermelon all used up before they expired.

Wednesday- I'll make veggie burgers (use lettuce in crisper) and tater tots. We need a quick dinner this night.

Thursday- Burritos with rice, cheese, picante sauce, and beans. Save rice from Tuesday. We were in a hurry so we had drive thru dinners instead. I'll make the burritos soon and freeze them.

Friday- Veggie Sausage and gravy on biscuits. Fruit salad. Hubby is way excited about this and has asked me about it all week.

Saturday- Dinner at a friends house.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Coupon Reorganizing, Fridge Cleaning and Back to School Shopping.

I dumped my coupon box (for the third time) and finally got around to picking it up. I'm in the midst of cleaning it out and reorganizing it into another system- again. So, shopping with coupons has not been going on at my house. Instead I've been signing up for freebies on WalMart's site and other places where I find them.
I have slowly been throwing out old stuff in the fridge and seeing that we do have room in there after all. I made freezer jelly with the blueberries before they turned into moldy mush too. Tonight we're having homemade pizza to use up the Ragu and parmesan shreds that are hanging out in there. I bought one portabello and a basil plant to make it more tasty.

Now I'm in the process of deciphering what we might need for our school supplies. I tend to overbuy when I find a sale and I save all pencils we get in goody bags or presents. So, I think our needs are limited. But, I always need crayons, markers, notebooks, and glue. Anyone have any ideas on who has the best (or free) deals on any of that stuff?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Saving Instead of Shopping.

My in-laws sent us batches of garden fresh produce. I've been less than stellar about using up our own produce and food.

Potatoes are getting stinky in the bin. Strawberries are turning mushy in the fridge.
Boiling potatoes to be made into salad, soup, and mashed.
Today instead of grocery shopping I'll be grocery saving by cutting, chopping, and freezing what we can't eat immediately. And one of those yucky potatoes is getting buried in my veggie patch for research purposes. How easily can we grow our own potatoes?

Purging and Splurging

I spent the holiday weekend with the house to myself cleaning out the kids room and closets.
I inventoried all shoes and underwear that I have been stockpiling. And I have a good idea of what we need to buy. The stack of garage sale items is growing steadily and soon I will have enough to make it worth my time.

I had a Dillards $45 gift card in my wallet so I made my yearly (dreaded) trip to the mall to scour their clearance racks. Big Girl now has new Levis and dress pants as well as a few new hair bows. Little Guy got a few outfits and a new t-shirt. After all of that I spent $13 OOP.

Today we went to Barnes and Noble for a breakfast of oatmeal cookies and milk and playtime with the Thomas train set. I ended up buying "Puff the Magic Dragon" for them. It was a childhood favorite of mine.

Then we went next door to Old Navy to do some more school shopping. The clearance selection is pretty decent right now especially on any 4th of July goods. I bought a new hoodie jacket, a polo, atheltic pants, flip flops for next summer and two sets of pajamas for Little Guy. Big Girl got a new l/s polo, yoga pants, and jean capris. They both wanted new soccer balls which happened to be on clearance too. I spent $65. I've got shopping out of my system for a long time. Tomorrow is garage sale day and I am happily going to skip it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Parenting Files: Grateful for the Little Things

Today I'm grateful that daughter has a loving set of Grandparents who have a small farm AND a pony for their grandchildren. Even when she's an old woman I'm sure she'll remember the smell of the hay, feeding the chickens, riding that pony, and picking vegetables out of their well tended garden. Happy childhood memories don't have to start or end in the toy aisle.