Thursday, December 31, 2009

Frugality and Pet Ownership Don't Always March Hand in Hand

My baby cat Izzy is sick. She's been wasting away for a little while and today the vet discovered that she has Fatty Liver Disease. Our visit for blood tests and x-rays was $350.
To help reverse her disease it will mean several hundred more dollars, placement of a feeding tube, and weeks of home care.

We have an appointment on Monday and I'm not sure if it's for euthanasia or for getting a feeding tube. I feel ill equipped to deal with this.
On one hand- I love my cat and want to keep her healthy and alive.
On the other hand- She's thirteen years old and this will be her second expensive surgery.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pantry Plans for January

After a month of baked goodies and candy I'm ready for some real food.
I'll be doing my best to clean out my pantry, fridge, and freezer in January. Wanna do it with me?

Friday, December 25, 2009

That's a Wrap

Bits of wrapping paper, a wayward Christmas ornament, wooden rolling pin for playdoh, mini toys from thrift bags, and a Vtech I bought on clearance last year for ten bucks.

More bits of wrapping paper, giant box of building logs I bought on clearance last year for ten bucks, a childhood classic from Shel Silverstein, and one of the personalized pillowcases that I ordered from etsy for the kiddos. I filled the pillowcases with their stocking goodies.

We took the kids to a candle light service last night to remind them of what's really important about Christmas. A Savior Is Born!
I even threw in a line or two about the Whos from Whoville- "It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags"

Hope you're having a wonderful Christmas morning too. We'll be celebrating with family and I made my first buttermilk pie (with the clearance buttemilk).

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A quiet evening in.

This is our first evening of Christmas vacation. Instead of going out for a meal I decided to make a cozy bowl of potato and carrot soup and serve it with our leftover buttermilk bread. I found a half gallon of buttermilk on clearance for .99. Best find all week as this bread is delicious even cooked entirely in the bread machine.

To make this humble soup special I decided to whip up an herb mixture from my new cookbook.
I read about this cookbook on Frugal Upstate and I just couldn't part with the money to order it from Amazon. So, I waited patiently for it to come from Paperbackswap.

Those empty spice bottles from my recent pantry clean out are coming in handy now when I get the sudden urge to whip up a mixture.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Few Highlights from Our Year

In no particular order:

My little guy was a viking for Halloween. Here he is ready to pillage with our Halloween decorations.

My sweet daughter enjoying all the benefits of her Grandparents farm.

Our family trip to the YMCA trout lodge was a blast! Here is my Mom with my kids on the hay ride.

Here we have a graduation from kindergarten and the first day of first grade.

My son gets a hair cut from his Grandma. His antics with his hair clippings kept us giggling. He learned never to put a wad of cut hair in his mouth.

In January I hitched a ride on Hubby's business trip to California to celebrate our 12th anniversary. We visited San Francisco and Asilomar. It was wonderful.

In March we left the kiddos with Grandma and had a rare night out at a Cracker concert. We left the club feeling great and not minding the rain.

My little guy and I have been making bi-weekly lunch trips to eat with his working Daddy. We've discovered what a nice little man he is when he isn't competing for attention with his sister. It's been a year full of sweet lunches with my two favorite men.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What happens when I don my Grandma's old Santa apron

I sweep the kitchen and the foyer.
I clean the bathroom.
I make Christmas cookies.
I wipe down the trash can.
I smile.

Wherein I humbly take my chill pill.

Last evening was not fun for me or anyone around me. Today has been better. I packed and mailed two packages, did the grocery shopping at Aldi, dropped in on my son's Christmas party at preschool, and took care of cards/tokens for the mail carrier, recycling guys, and waste haulers.

There are still things I need to do:

Assemble gifts for the neighbors (flavored teas and baked goods in a bag)
Finish my Christmas cards
Wrap presents for the kids
Finish Christmas baking (sugar cookie cut outs and gingerbread bars at the least.
Plan and shop for our Christmas menu as my family is coming here.

But it's coming together and the poor me Christmas martyr shtick is over. Yay!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just Rants.

The applesauce bread I made for Hubby to take to work tomorrow tastes off. Too much clove?

We ended up buying a fairly expensive Christmas present for our daughter even though we didn't plan on it. It started with a $15 thing that Michael's didn't have in stock to reading reviews and going with the best one. $$. Sigh.

What do you do when your library and paperbackswap do not have the books you want to read right now? This has been occurring more and more lately and I'm getting frustrated.

How do I keep from getting my feelings hurt when I show my child the gift I've assembled for HER teacher and she shrugs then angrily and sloppily signs the card? I had a talk with her about how I thought that was hurtful and disrespectful but it still stings.

My Christmas spirit, generosity, and general merriness are taking a hit as my children fight, my Christmas to-do grows, and I feel like the only one responsible for my family's happy Christmas. And I'm the one doing all the work.
The trash men, the mail carrier, the recycling haulers still need to be carded or gifted. I haven't boxed or mailed the Christmas presents for Hubby's side of the family.

I need prayer, quiet time, and a bit of joy.

Perhaps I should round up my unruly, mess making children and take them for a drive to look at Christmas lights and listen to the Christmas radio station.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Hair Plan.

I decided sometime last year to take a year off from paying for hair coloring or cuts and do it myself. Which mostly meant letting my hair grow long and only dyeing it when I couldn't bear the gray anymore or had a box of cheap dye.

Well, it's been over a year. Last August was my official last date with my favorite hair dresser who does a fantastic job of highlighting with multiple colors. And every few months I would leave her business feeling pretty and having about $120 less to my name.

I did break down and get my hair trimmed with a coupon at Great Clips in August.

So, in over a year if you tally the three boxes of hair dye and the cut at Great Clips- I've spent about $28 on my crowning glory.

This is what I've learned from the experiment:

I look ok but not nearly as polished as when I have a professional cut. No one compliments my hair anymore except to comment on how long it's getting. It's still not quite halfway down my back. My hair grows slowly apparently.

I like having long hair but actually look better when it's shorter.

Long hair takes more time in the shower. I can't just use a shampoo/conditioner combo so I'm stuck in the shower for extra time- which I hate.

Some hair dyes are superior to others. I know which ones I won't buy again no matter what the clearance sticker says.

Pony tails and head bands are great for days when I'm just running errands or hanging out at home. But a recent dinner with Hubby at a nice restaurant left me feeling confused about what to do with my hair to make it look nice. I'm hopeless when it comes to intricate hairstyles or curling my hair with an iron.

I don't have any current plans to make an appointment with my favorite hair dresser. Although I think it might be a good use of my Christmas money when I decide what style I want.

I have a similar glasses/contact plan that's in effect right now. I'm seeing how long I can go with broken/soldered "home" glasses and using up my disposable contacts before I see an eye doctor for a new prescription.

How much money am I saving? Who knows. I like having these little personal challenges though. When someone confuses me with Granny Clampett then I'll know it's time to unloose the purse strings and get pretty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Extracts of the Season.

Guess who forgot to put away the big bottle of pure vanilla extract after making Christmas treats yesterday?

And Guess what little boy thought that it looked and smelled like something yummy- took one sip and then dumped the whole thing in the recycling bin?

Here's the bright side-

It wasn't a toxic chemical.

I still have a pantry with lots of extracts and perhaps even a bottle of imitation vanilla in there somewhere. So, onward with the Christmas cookie baking.

I bet his breath smells like a vanilla wafer too. Better go get a hug from my favorite little stinker.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Buche De Noel FAIL

Proving once again that I'm no Meredith (or Andrew in this case). Our attempt at this convenience food activity devolved into a wresting match with silly name calling before we'd even opened the last package. At least we tried.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why I love Shopping Online

No crowds.

No extra temptations.

No using gas or spending extra time in traffic.

Free Shipping on gift cards.

Where else can I shop in my pjs with a mug of cocoa while snuggling a sleepy 3 year old?

Extra rewards through Ebates or Mypoints.

Except for picking up a few things like Pepperidge Farm for the mail carrier, trash men, and library ladies on my normal grocery trip- I am all done.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Shopping Confessional.

All I have left to do for Christmas shopping is get two gift cards and maybe a box of cookies for the library ladies who are so helpful each week.

So, I was feeling a little relaxed when I popped into JcPenney to return a pair of ill fitting jeans.
And then I passed the rack of sale Big and Tall shirts for Hubby. I picked up a nice work shirt for him. Hmm, I could use a new sweater for the holidays.

Anyhoo, I ended up with two sweaters for me and a new shirt for him and I spent $60. Do you know what I could do with $60 in the Goodwill? I am tempted to have Hubby return my purchases and take half of that to the thrift store to find replacements.

The piped in Christmas music and the people with their piles of gifts weighing their arms down all conspired against me. Oh how easy it is to tell ourselves, "I deserve it. I am worth it. It's only a few dollars. It's on sale."

And (sigh) I didn't even have a ubiquitous JcPenney coupon to save a few dollars. I hope I like those sweaters.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bits of Joy

Having all of my Christmas shopping done except for buying two gifts cards for hard to please people.

Finding healthy things the kids like and will eat for dinner on sale and planning a dinner around them.

Having a free date night using points we accumulated from the local gymnastics business.

Having a coupon for the nice restaurant so we can enjoy a dinner without children.

Needing to plan a mini vacation for our anniversary before our free Southwest Flight points expire. We're thinking Austin Texas. Anyone have any suggestions for the continental US?

Having grandparents who are happy and willing to come stay with the kids for a few days while we celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary.

Being done shopping for our adopted Christmas family. I hope our single Mom of two little ones likes what we assembled.

Finally getting the urge to wash our big stinky dog who hates baths instead of spending $25 at the groomer. Have you ever had to pick up a thrashing 60 pound dog and put her in the bathtub? Not fun. All done now though.

Having all of our outside decorations put up for once. Good job Hubby.

Only finding two broken ornaments in the big ornament box this year- which Hubby was able to fix with super glue.

Finding my address book so I can send out Christmas cards soon.

Actually being in the mood to drink tea lately instead of soda pop.

Having a silly little boy who got into the Christmas bows and refuses to leave the Christmas tree alone.

What's your small bit of joy?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Use What You Have- I found a soap dish.

I bought this shell shaped bowl at a thrift store last year because it caught my eye. It's done nothing but sit on a shelf forgotten and empty collecting dust since then. I think it's perfect for as a soap dish for a teacher's gift.

What do you think?

Agenda Today- Cleaning the Kitchen

The cranberry walnut bread that I made from Thanksgiving leftovers is burnt on top. We've been cutting the top off and eating the rest. It's still pretty good.
It has been a busy week full of field trips, errands, extra homework, and other things. My kitchen has suffered the brunt of it. Add that to the fact that I am not exactly organized and I have a big mess to deal with.

These tin canisters were a serendipitous find at Value Village yesterday. I can clean up my counter tops with the vintage brown and cream farm theme that I adore. The price was right too. A little soap and water and I'll be all set to put my kitchen to rights.

My current thrifting/garage sale dream find is a set of Spode pheasant dinner ware.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Am I too late? My Christmas Gifting Plans

Are you guys still there? ; )
I feel like I haven't been in blogland for ages! We finally broke down and bought a new laptop which I'm still figuring out how to use. Hubby ordered it online with about 5 rebates and ebates too.

I've got Christmas pretty well in hand by doing a bit of shopping here and there. I'm trying my best not to overdo it this year. I prefer a few well chosen gifts over an extravaganza that always leaves us feeling flat. After all, it's nice to get gifts but that isn't the main point of the holiday.

I was trying to download a picture that I took of the gift I assembled for my son's preschool teacher. I had planned on giving just a nicely wrapped bar of homemade soap to the teachers. Today I found a pretty round bowl at Value Village that would look great as a soap dish for only $1.10.
I picked out a round clear soap filled with red, white, and green peppermint scented curls (made to look like ribbon candy) and it just fits!
I figured out the exporting part. Now I need to work on the editing part.
The total cost for this gift is under $2.50 and I think it's much nicer than the bag of Hershey's Kisses I was contemplating giving. I just need to find one more. Perhaps I'll check in my cabinets to see if there's anything I don't need anymore.

At Value Village I also grabbed a few bags of tiny toy goodies into the cart to sort, wash, and wrap for Christmas crackers. Those are always a hit here and a few go a long way. The stocking candy was bought when Walgreens had a 39 cent coupon on Nestle stocking candy. I'm done shopping for our kids.

The neighbors are getting Christmas flavored Celestial Seasonings teas that I bought at the salvage grocery and a plate of homemade cookies. My version of homemade this year might mean doctored up sale mixes that I have in my pantry. It really depends on how busy we are. Instead of tins, I'll send them out in brown bags I have the kids decorate with stickers or magazine cut outs.

Instead of the annual Christmas picture from JcPenney or Target I think we'll take our own picture of the kids and print them out when there's a sale. Walgreens has a ten cent per print sale going on through Saturday that seems like a possibility. (Joy10 is the online code and you have to order 50 or more prints).

I have stacks of Christmas cards from when I helped clean out my Grandma's house. I'm forgoing the Christmas letter again this year and just sending a simple greeting to a few friends. Simplifying the holiday makes me more joyful and relaxed.