Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Better Living Through Pantry Planning

Other than the brief grocery stop for milk, bread, eggs, bananas and dog food I am avoiding shopping this week. I can see the back of my pantry and know that all of the food in there is fresh and will be used. It is a relief.

Monday- stir fry with crisper veg and ginger tempeh. Leftovers got sent with Hubby today.

Tuesday- Tofu and crisper veg soup made using drained, saved, and frozen canned vegetable juice from canned tomatoes, mushrooms, and corn. I threw in half a box of whole wheat noodles and it was yummy. There are leftovers in the freezer for Hubby's lunch next week.

Wednesday- Breakfast- pancakes made from a box of corn muffin mix and served with peanut butter the last dollops of syrup from the pantry.
Dinner is homemade pizza topped with leftover sauce and whatever cheese bits need to be used up in the fridge. I know there is some gouda, Irish cheddar, and parmesan. There's one last can of mushrooms in the pantry too. I made a double batch of wheaty pizza crust dough so I can freeze some for later.

I think we're eating better this way and no one is complaining about not having another meal out.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The TMI Post- Reusable Sustainable Feminity

If you're squeamish about reusable feminine hygiene products then this post is not for you. Feel free to look away. Also, no one is paying me for this post- this is strictly my own personal opinion of these products after using them for a few years.

Today I'm going to discuss two products I use-

The Keeper is a reusable menstrual cup made from natural rubber that is inserted inside the body. The insertion technique is slightly more difficult than inserting a disposable tampon. You fold it in half twice to insert and then you have to twist it bit to get it to fit into place. It took me a little while to figure this out but now that I have I prefer this greatly to any overnight tampons. It has never leaked on me. I've never even needed a pad like I do with regular tampons. I only use this overnight but I am not replacing my disposable tampons. This is in fact, A Keeper, for me. The initial price seems steep ($35) but when you think about paying $5 and up for a box of disposable tampons it pays for itself in a few months. Also, I love those leak free mornings.
The clean up isn't bad. Just dump the contents into the toilet and give it a good wash and rinse with hot water and soap. You can also do all of this in the shower too.

My favorite feminine hygiene product has to be my GladRags though. I know it seems yucky to have to wash out the dirtied pads but it's not much different than washing out leaked on panties or a pee pee diaper. I simply put mine in the wash with dirty towels. They come out clean and ready to go. They are shaped like normal pads with wings but have a snap instead of sticky tape.
There is an envelope bottom that you can put more pads into for however heavy your flow is that day. They are really absorbent. My favorite part of using Glad Rags though is that they are so much more comfortable than disposable pad. I don't feel like I'm wearing a diaper and there is no fear of having the tape stick painfully to anything it isn't supposed to.

If you don't mind the slight squirm factor involved with sustainable hygiene (and really it's not bad) and you are tired of paying out the nose for uncomfortable disposable cotton and plastic then these products might be right for you. I've had menses for over half my life (27 years in fact) and I prefer the comfort and ease of the reusable products to the disposable. I never have to make an emergency run to the store and I'm not filling up our trash cans with used up tampons and pads (discretion is a bonus).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Here's what's been going on in my house-

Our boy cat, Fusty is not exactly enjoying our latest addition, Sarah. He's rebelling by peeing on the carpet or the kids things. Hubby was up late steam cleaning the carpet. This is absolutely the worst part of having cats- especially Mr. Fusty who seems to be the main culprit in these extracurricular pee-cidents. I'm tempted to put a diaper on him or put a collar and tag on him and throw his furred butt outside. Grrr.
Izzy and Fusty in Happier Times

My Mom spent the weekend here with me. We did a little shopping. I had coupons for free samples at Sephora so we both left with Urban Decay eyeliner (eh) and tiny perfume samples of smells we enjoyed. I also picked up a Yankee Candle air freshener and Bobby Jack shirt for Big Girl (she picked it out, I can totally tell that we have completely different tastes already). They were both on clearance and I had a 30% off coupon. So, Yay!
The best part was when we stopped into Value Village and did a little shopping. I picked up Crane envelopes in a pretty box for $1 and a brand new wooden "W" to hang on Little Guy's wall for 80 cents. I spray painted the W an apple green color that I found in our closet.

I bought a new light fixture to update one of our ugly 80's brass and glass fixtures. Hubby's not in love with it so it might need to go back. He's ready to spend big dollars on unique fixtures for our foyer and upstairs hallway. Since we had such good luck the first time we tried shopping at the Habitat For Humanity ReStore I think we should try there first.

Yesterday I broke down and drove to the Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) to get veggie dogs. Apparently Morningstar Farms discontinued them last Fall. I could make my own crumbles and veggie burgers but I am not equipped to make my own hot dogs. Although I don't like the Smart Dogs as much they will at least satisfy our hot dog cravings. And we really like beanie weenie and loaded hot dogs from time to time. While I was there I loaded up on spelt, rye, couscous, and wheat germ from the bulk bins. I've been washing and saving glass jars every time we finish a salsa, instant coffee, or pasta sauce. I loaded each grain and flour into it's own glass container and labeled them. I love looking at them lined up on my shelf and ready for me to whip up a whole grain loaf with my bread machine. I have the bread machine cookbook next to me and I'm going to look through it for a whole grain recipe as soon as I'm done blogging.

I bought my first bottle of Tide detergent in years. I combined a MFR and Store coupon at Target and got a bottle for $7. Ouch. But, I have to tell you that none of my generic or homemade really gets out the smell of cat pee on a stuffed animal (blech) or sweaty arm pit smell from my hard working man like Tide does. I will still use the other stuff up for lightly soiled items though. So, this is a case where a name brand big manufacturer gets my dollars begrudgingly. I still think I will write the company and inquire why Tide is so ridiculously expensive. Anyone have any ideas on how to make a great homemade detergent that really gets the stink out?

Our new couch was delivered on Saturday and we all love it. Our bedroom looks so much nicer since we started decluttering it. It's becoming the haven I've always wanted it to be. We still need to order/purchase our bedroom set but I'm not rushing it. Just having our room be more picked up is such a blessing.

I took Little Guy to the library yesterday and for the first time in a long time we had $0 fines. I cheered for myself. I love it when I can keep on top of our borrowed materials. I have not missed having DTV one bit since we got rid of it. We are so busy just watching our few shows on Hulu, Netflix Streaming, and library rentals that we wouldn't have time anyway. Plus, I am most certainly watching less tv during the day. I am reading more. Our favorite shows right now are Celebrity Apprentice, old Survivors, and The Office.

I received great freebies and samples in the mail yesterday from Kraft. I don't remember what I signed up for but I got a little box full of wheat thins and international coffee packets. Plus, coupons for free products. Nothing makes my day more than that.

Today Little Guy and I are going to hang out together and read the library books he picked out. I've also got laundry to put away, dinner to manage, a bathroom to clean, and the kitchen table to declutter. I think I'll take some baking soda and sprinkle it on the clean carpets too. My dream house has hardwood floors.

Another thing I'd like to do today if I get time is to quickly declutter our pantry and bathroom of new items we don't need or use to donate. I have new make up in the package, new shampoos, new body washes, and canned goods that we don't need. I think I'll pass them on to someone who does. If you need decluttering inspiration too you can check out Making This Home. Katie and Martin are focusing on a decluttering project this week.

Off to do some doing and living.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thrifting Today & Baby Items

I couldn't pass up a chance to use a 50% off a $35 clothing purchase coupon for Value Village. I focused strictly on clothes for the kids to grow into. And then I refocused on what I can't find for a quarter at a garage sale. I bought great jeans for both kids for $2 and less per pair. One demin skirt and a zip up hoodie for Big Girl. Little Guy has also shown an affinity for printed button up shirts. I let him pick and choose a few because he is pretty picky about his clothing. One shirt I held up was, "Too green". I think I bought 20 items for $31. Decent blue jeans also have a nice resale value at Once Upon a Child.

The Non-Consumer Advocate's post today featured ridiculous baby products. Here is a list of my favorite baby items.

Pack N Play- We put our newborn in our room for the first month or two before we transitioned them to sleeping in their own room. It was also very handy when we went on trips. With our first child we had one pack n play sheet and I just washed it whenever it got dirty. I overbought for our second and we had about five sheets for the pack n play. I think the right amount would be two or three. We used this consistently for the child's first two years.

Bumbo seat- I didn't have one for my first child and we managed ok. I borrowed one for Little Guy to use and we loved it. He sat in the middle of our dining table whenever we ate, when I unloaded the dishwasher, or made dinner. I also put it in the bathtub to wash him because wet babies are so slippery. He loved being able to sit up in it and see all the action. This was only used for the first five or so months but it was used daily.

Absorbent Bibs- Unfortunately I couldn't rely solely on my breast milk to feed my children so they always drank formula. We used a lot of bibs. I like the double layered velcro kind because it was quick to get on and absorbent. Anything with snaps or ties was used as a last resort bib. When the baby became a cracker snacker and solid food eater we loved the vinyl snap pocket bibs. They wipe off easy and are easy to tuck into a purse after a quick wipe down.

Bath tub foam- When our babies were new I washed them in our kitchen sink. Putting the baby shaped foam under them helped to cushion them and prevent bumped heads.

Diaper Rash Cream- Going without it and changing the baby more frequently didn't cut it for us. But, I have noticed no difference between the generic and more expensive name brands. Plus, one tube lasts a long time.

Now here's a list of things that I never used or found worthless:

Bottle Warmers
Hand covers for newborns
Baby tents
Hot/Cold water detecting rubber duckies. Mine never worked better than my own hand
Baby oil
Baby powder
Jumping Things that you hang from the door jamb

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chloe's Last Day & Pet Adoption

Chloe has hung on through the whole weekend. But she cried all night long. Hubby slept on the floor next to her last night. I made an appointment for her today.

I tend to make rash and impulsive decisions when I'm upset. And lately the only thing I could think of to fix this pain was another cat. So, on Saturday I took Big Girl to Petco just to see if there was a pet adoption going on. The short story is that now we are foster/adopting a 6 year old calico named Sarah. I brought her home Saturday. She seems really good natured and I think we'll end up keeping her. The timing is so bad I know but there is a tiny spot of joy in all of this sadness.

Going to go pet my sick kitty for a few minutes.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Waiting Game

Chloe cat is so weak she can hardly stand. She's still not in any discernible pain so we've decided to let nature take it's course and let her die a natural death at home. She still loves to be petted and still has a weak meow but I don't think it's going to be much longer. This stings so much. I was up all night worrying and crying. I also indulged in a little online shopping for shelter kitties.
I don't think we're ready to adopt another cat but I'm thinking it would help soothe the pain of that empty space Chloe will be making in our lives. There are so many kitties that need homes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

If I got any lazier today I think moss might start growing on me.

It's 2:30.

I haven't showered yet. The little Guy is still in his jammies. I got up this morning and got Big Girl out the door and laid back on the couch to read. I've had nausea, an upset stomach, and a mild headache for two days. Blech.

Little Guy has been content to snuggle and eat whatever quickie thing I make for him. I chopped up a bunch of potatoes and some onion and put tomato sauce, seasoning, and butter on them and stuck them in the crock pot on high. I might even get crazy and start a load of laundry.

I think I'll shower before Big Girl gets home.

Must dash. I'm incredibly busy today.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Product Reviews and The three main points of my normal day


I ran out of my standard Electrasol powerball dishwasher tabs. I've tried using generic powder and making my own mix but nothing gets my dishes as clean as these tabs. I found a bottle of Cascade with Dawn washing gel under the sink and started using it. It does not work. The first time I thought it was my washer. I cleaned it out and made sure the rinse aid cup was filled. I've tried switching back and forth between the powerball tabs and this gel to make sure that it's the Cascade formula that is the problem. I posted a negative review of this product on their website.


About two weeks ago I found these colored washer balls at Aldi. I think I paid $7.99 for a pack of nine of them. You're supposed to add them to your wash and you can use half the amount of detergent. They don't really work. Are you surprised? They do work great with the sample of Tide with Dawn that I used from my laundry room cabinet. I got three uses out of a one load sample. I've been using Sun liquid detergent and I have to say that it really doesn't work. I wish I hadn't liked the Tide though as I really don't want to pay $13 a bottle for laundry detergent.

So, while I was watching Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days on Netflix, I grated up a bar of Ivory soap to make Kara's homemade washing detergent.

*The 30 Days episode I chose was about living on minimum wage in Ohio. I so wanted them to continue on their journey for another few months to get a better idea of how it actually is to live on that little money. I also wanted to whisper frugal tips in their ears.

Grocery Shopping-

Today is $10/$50 coupon day at Shop N Save. I had a list and coupons for once. I am stocked up on stuff for at least the next week. I found the bargain fruit bin and got a bag full of apples, oranges, and a banana for $1.98. The clearance carts also yielded a few dented and label missing cans. I saved 36% off my total.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What I haven't felt like discussing.

Our oldest cat, Chloe, is dying. She is 15 years old. I've had her since she was 6 weeks old. She is not in any discernible pain but she isn't eating and her lips and nose are turning black. She is very weak. It's been happening slowly for a few months. At first she just stopped sleeping with my daughter who she slept with every night like clockwork.

After having a hard time dealing with our vet concerning our cat Izzy, I have not wanted to deal with taking her in. Hubby is especially torn up about it since he's her cat. They have a weird bond.

I don't know what to do.

My not-so frugal side

When I think of buying new furniture my mind goes to pressed wood and shiny oaky veneers. I dream about antique bedroom sets from the 20s and 40s. With a king sized bed and the options we want like lots of storage that just isn't going to happen. So, we've been shopping here and there in retail furniture outlets for awhile and haven't been impressed.

But, Hubby and I fell in love with this furniture collection. Let me just say that it looks even better in real life. You can't really see the details. And I'm a sucker for details. Our bed will be similar but will have a storage option on the side. Hubby is tall and can't stand a foot board. I don't know what other pieces we will get to go along with it but I think two dressers and two night stands.

Here's a look

Gotta get going. Lots to do today.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Playing in the Dirt & Making Big Purchases

I took my Mom to Lowe's to shop for flowers as part of her Mother's Day present. She looked kinda strange at me for asking the clerk where the clearance section was but had great fun clearing it out when we got there. In fact, everything we bought was half off or better.

I planted her flowers yesterday. And today I planted all of mine.

4 perennial flowers
Iris bulbs
One bell pepper baby that I started from seed

I still have lily bulbs and strawberry starts to plant.

I did not get much done in the house except three key things- a load of laundry, a load of dishes, and I made dinner. We had beanie weenie, homemade corn bread, and fruit salad.

It was a good day!

Tomorrow I am going to order a love seat with a pull out sleeper from the furniture store. This is the first step in a long process of turning our Master bedroom into a haven instead of a dumping pit. In a moment I am going upstairs with Hubby to start decluttering and moving furniture around to fit our new couch.

That new couch is a long wanted item and the first major furniture purchase we've made since Little Guy was born. We also picked out a brand new, swanky bedroom set after four years of unfruitful second hand shopping and hand wringing over buying new. I feel weird about spending this much money on myself when I'm normally content to do without or buy second hand. There is guilt, worry, and a major feeling of excitement about spending money on something that is just for us. I'm looking forward to having a pretty bedroom. I've never had one before.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sucked in by The FaceBook/Farmville demon

There are short bouts of determined cleaning in the long hours of Facebooking and Farmvilling.

I know where all my time is going and I hope it ends soon. I'd rather have a clean house than a pretty virtual farm. Thank God for my children being well behaved and playing well together lately. They are so cute together. Of course, I need to follow behind them picking up their discarded messes but whatever.

Ok, putting the computer up and going to change sheets on the beds.

Hubby turns 39 today! I managed to bake him a cake yesterday in between harvesting and collecting. He's helping me clean today and we're going on a date tonight for his birthday.
Love you Hubby!