Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remedial Eating and Getting Back on Track.

Is it just me or does it seem as though when one part of your life falls apart the rest seems to follow behind it?

As we slowly tackle our house clutter/chore monster I have decided I also need to tackle my fat monster.

Yesterday I signed up for online weight watchers as I desperately need to relearn how to eat healthfully. Too many late night bags of chips on the couch with Hubby have caught up with me. I do not want to become food obsessed or worry about every little calorie and call myself "bad" when I've gotten off course. I just need to get to a point where eating well isn't a challenge and portion control is easy to obtain. I want to be healthy and still eat an occasional piece of cake without guilt.

Along with that I signed up for zumba classes that start next week. I didn't get to do the class last night so I came home and dug out all of our exercise tapes and dvds and picked one to do.
It kicked my butt but it felt good to be moving again.

What's on the agenda today:
Mail packages
Tackle pile of mending
Put away laundry
Unload/load dishwasher
Pick up toys
Sweep kitchen
Water tomatoes
Read library books to kids
Make dinner (I've already prepped the main course)

I'm also giving myself a little pat on the back for making dinner at the last minute when I was planning on having hubby bring take out home. I made a thrown together stir fry and it turned out ok- if uninspired. My fridge is a bit empty.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lovely Day

My little girl is a collector of all pretty rocks and shells. When I got tired of stepping on them and collecting them in the house I put them in a pile in the flower garden. She still gets to enjoy them and they are out of my way. Today they decided to color them with their chalk.

I haven't gotten anything frugal or homemakery done today at all. The house is awash in toy piles from the past two day of hard playing. The kids are happily munching on the last two bananas while they watch a video. I have no idea what's for dinner but I suspect it might be Taco Bell. I got a pedicure today and tonight I'm signing up for zumba classes with a friend. I'm feeling like quite the princess and am quite happy with it today. Tomorrow I'll return to my normally scheduled programming.

I guess I need to disclose that I bought new sports bras for my zumba class. Back to the clothing compact.

Blogging To No One

With the lack of comments I've been getting it seems as if my husband is the only one reading my blog. I'm only whining a little bit. Mostly I use this blog as a diary anyway.

But, while (or if) I've got your attention- is there anything I'm not blogging about that you'd like to see?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Maybe I should take up dumpster diving?

Look at these finds.

How We're Doing

Food- Drive Thru on Friday night on our way to a movie/music in the park with a bunch of little ones. We also stopped for a bunch of mini cones for less than $1. Last night we splurged on ice cream treats at the local cone hut.
Other than that we've survived on leftovers and scratch cooking. This morning I scrambled eggs, fried halloum, and served leftover apple cinnamon bread.

Shopping- No shopping at all. I did clip and sort coupons yesterday so I'm all caught up and ready to shop whenever I need to. Since I don't buy meat and I'm not buying personal care products I don't have a lot of coupons to clip anymore.
I am going to K-Mart today to get some detergent for my Mom. I also need to stop by Lowes and get a part for our new shower head.

Housework- We're entering the clean but messy portion of our job. I still have piles of paperwork mounded in the kitchen. The kitchen seems to be our biggest hot spot and dumping ground. I've been recycling paper like crazy though. It's amazing how it adds up. Our dishwasher has been making some weird noises. I hope it doesn't shoot craps soon. I really don't want to add hand washing dishes to my list of chores.

Vacation/Summer Planning- Big Girl going to summer school really threw a monkey wrench in our summer plans. But, it has been really nice not having the kids fighting all day like last summer. This week we're tackling vacation, vbs, and soccer camp scheduling. I think it's going to work out ok.

Clothing Compact- I am a bit worried that I was short sighted in the kids wardrobe needs before I decided that I would not buy anymore clothes this year. There is a definite limit to the amount of casual shorts (knit or otherwise) that Big Girl has available to her. We discussed it and decided that she can always wear a summer dress on days when the shorts are all dirty. I like that compromise. ; )

Hubby has taken the kids to the swimming pool at least every other day. I just lathered them all up with sunscreen for another go round. They are happy little kids.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Parenting Files: Why I love living with kids

Elmo's wardrobe changes never cease to amuse me.

My Not-So Guilty Splurge

Hubby told me I had to blog about spending $95 at a friend's Tastefully Simple party last night.

Yeah, I spent too much. Part of it is for Birthday and Christmas presents. Most of it was purchased because that stuff tastes so dang good.

5 dip mixes
3 beer bread mixes
1 chai drink mix
3 potato cheddar soups
1 seasoned salt.

Yep, that stuff is pricey. I plan on gifting and indulging and then making do with homemade mixes when it is all gone. I'm wondering why my own homemade beer bread is always dense and hard and the Tastefully Simple mix is light and fluffy. I would love to make a scratch version of that bread. It was great! I like the almond pound cake too but I was less thrilled with the sweet dips and breads because they just didn't have that great spicy tang to them. I can make yummy sweet stuff from scratch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's for Dinner- Wednesday

Hubby is asking for pickle burger. We'll have real mashed potatoes, mixed veggies and gravy for sides.

I did buy some frozen coffee and breakfast snacks at the gas station (less than $4) so today wasn't totally a eat at home day.

A Very Good Dog's Life

Once upon a time Abby lived with a family that did not let her on the furniture. I think it took less than a week to break her of that after the kids many attempts to haul her butt up on the couch for petting. I'm not sure if we ruined her or fixed her.

I snapped this picture today while she was resting comfortably on my reading chair.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What's for Dinner- Tuesday

I cooked three meals-

Blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast

Grilled cheese, soup and grapes for lunch

Quickie vegetarian chicken parm with seasoned rice and a side of grapes for dinner

My Mother hemmed my curtains and rehung them for me so they no longer pool on the floor. I bought a wrought iron chair for the front porch and found a cushion for it at Goodwill for $2 that looks just right on my porch next to all of my bright cheery flowers. I lit the candles on my fireplace mantel and smiled. Today was good. Slowly slowly my house is getting cute.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's For Dinner- Monday Night

Dinner at home for three nights in a row- leftovers, salad and a box of frozen food reheated, and tonight we're having spaghetti and corn.

No, it's not inspiring but it is a meal made at home. The bonus is that everyone likes pasta and marinara with corn so no one will balking about eating their dinner.

The Clothing Compact- This is Harder Than It Seemed.

Garage Sales on Saturday- I refused to even pick up the ton! of upscale girl's clothes I found at one sale all in my daughter's size. Uncomfortable but I did ok with walking away.

WalMart yesterday- I had to walk by the racks of $6 sun dresses and $4 t-shirts for the kids. I tried not to look too closely.

Goodwill- Had to remind myself as I walked by cute clothes (in my size!) that I was no longer shopping for clothes. Did not touch and moved on quickly. It's getting a little more uncomfortable.

Target- Found myself staring longingly at the pile of clearance kids clothes that the lady behind me was buying. I hope she didn't think I was too weird.

I gave away coupons for Old Navy and Value Village to a friend today so I have no excuse to indulge.

The bonus is that I am trimming out stuff that we just don't need and am spending $20 at each store to get essentials (air filters, hose washers, bread, etc.) instead of extracurricular shopping.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

For The Best Guy I Know

Happy Father's Day to my Husband. He was the first one to feed our babies and change their diapers, jumping in eagerly with a smile on his face ready to bond with his children. He wore that snugli with a baby hanging off it more than I did. And he wore it proudly with a smile on his face.
At every holiday or milestone he's ready and willing to take on even the messiest of chores to create joy and memories for our little ones.

He gives me lots of Mommy breaks by taking the kids to do fun stuff like swimming. And he enjoys himself about as much as they do.

He never gives up an opportunity to document the silliness of our children.
He takes me on business trips with him and always makes me feel like I'm his number one. Even when I'm acting like a number 2.

I know I'm a better person for knowing him. There's no other person I'd rather be sharing this parenting journey with. Happy Father's Day Honey. I love you from the bottomiest bottom of my heart.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Garage Sale Finds Today

Tupper Ware Steamer Tray? .50 cents
Sock Organizer .50 cents
Plastic Food Storage Container .50 cents

This is the inside of the Tupperware Steamer thing. If you know what it is please feel free to leave a comment.

More VHS. Ever wonder who buys those vhs tapes for .50 cents from garage sales? That would be me. I love the cheap entertainment factor plus I don't have to worry about the dvd getting scratched up. Not pictured is a copy of Johnny Mnemonic that I slipped into Hubby's father's day bag as a gag gift. Apparently the movie is really bad in funny way.

7 Corelle dishes- all white except for the one on top. Plus, a Pyrex casserole/pie dish. $2.
(I love the corelle patern on top- it's Batik from 1979. I think I'm going to start looking for it to replace my Callaway Ivy (my Wedding China- haha). After 14 years I'm a little sick of it.)

Christmas gifts for my nieces. I have Old Navy and Gymboree rewards to buy them clothes also.
2 new sets $4 total.
This Little People Pirate boat is pretty grimy. That's why it's by the bathroom sink. I'm going to wash it and put it away. Not sure if it's a Christmas present for Little Guy or not yet. $2.
New, large, unfinished shelf- $2. It's a bad picture but the shelf is in really good condition and is going in Big Girl's room after I stain it. I can finally get all of those knick knacks and trophies out of reach. And store extra stuffies.
Stocking stuffers for Big Girl. A new Polly Pocket sticker/stamp book, a Lisa Frank glitter tape set, and a Stuffed Bear that needs a wash. The Plug Ins are for me.
$1.50 for the lot.

You will notice that I did not buy any clothes or decorative houseware items. That part was really challenging. I sat down and made a big list of to-do errands and chores yesterday and that took a load off of my mind. I am ready to start whittling down the list and get back on track.

I've got to go wash and put away gifties before my family comes back from swimming.

Hope to have lots of good progress to report next time I blog. ; )

Friday, June 18, 2010

The camel and the straw

Two hours ago I woke up in a good mood.

And then the list of things that needed to be done around the house and the morning chaos of getting my daughter and husband out of the house for school/work hit me. When I went to get clean clothes out of the dryer some of them stunk. I think I used Sun detergent on them and that stuff doesn't work at all. So, I started another load of laundry. Then I noticed that the curtain my cat(s) frequently scent mark stunk again even after I tied them up and got them off the floor. I took it down to wash and noticed a big old chunk was cut out of the bottom. The cat pee was enough to ruin my morning. The destruction of my pretty curtain put me over the edge.

So, I'm making a list of chores to tackle to make my life easier. What can I eliminate from our life to reduce the chaos and clutter?

I just canceled my subscription to the paper. I have about a month of them piled up in my garage waiting for me to sort through. Right now I can't even think about clipping a coupon.
I saved us a whopping $8 a month but I think getting rid of a chore/clutter is an even better gift.

I haven't returned Sarah to her previous foster Mom yet. The foster Mom called yesterday and left a message asking if we were ready for her to file paperwork on making the adoption permanent. I need to call her back and talk to her. I adore Sarah but I cannot handle the extra work of cleaning up after two cats. Especially when they use urine as a weapon. I wish there was an "Easy" button for this.

Next I'm looking at our Netflix membership to see if I can reduce it anymore. We seem to watch only one dvd a month but we love the streaming.

I've got errands to run and a play date to get to today. So, I'm off to get ready for that. I think you'll read more of me attempting to simplify our lives this summer than what bargains I have purchased. I really do not want any more stuff to take care of right now. Thank You Very Much.

Monday, June 14, 2010

No More New (or Second Hand) Clothes until 2011

That is my goal.

Hubby is getting off the hook for this since his work jeans are tatty and he needs to replace some old work shirts. Plus, he's really picky and won't overbuy anyway.

I want to use what we have instead of making room for more.

This said, I know I cannot stop my Mom from the occasional clothing gift and the kids may get some new clothes from relatives for Christmas. I think we'll appreciate them more when we aren't buying them ourselves.
I'm looking forward to using what we already own.

$2 dress- Priceless Little Girl.

Cinderella dress originally $60

Mystery Can Edition 3

Did I hit frugal pay dirt when I bought this unlabeled ten cent can today?

(also, a jar of what I think is traditional flavored Prego for 75 cents)

Let's find out-

Blech, tamales again. I froze these for my Father-in-law, an omnivorous man of questionable taste (head cheese or blood sausage anyone?). Ten cents of fun for me. Hours of heartburn for him. Win/Win.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Checking The Closet First

We have a wedding to attend this weekend and of course I have waited until the last minute to pick out or plan what we are going to wear. I bought a beautiful dress for Big Girl for $2 at a garage sale so she's covered. But, she has outgrown her fancy footwear and unless I want her to show up in dirty tennis shoes, flip flops, or crocs with Simpsons jibbitz on them I'm going to have to find something for her to wear. You know I stockpile clothes and shoes for the kids. Maybe you also know how very bad I am at keeping track of what I've bought. So, it's off the closets I go.
I printed out a 20% Gordman's coupon just in case. Hope I don't need it.

Glad I checked her closet first. I found many pairs of suitable shoes that I am sure will fit her.
I also found 4 pairs! of size 1 tennis shoes for the start of school in Fall. I'm going to donate a pair to the food pantry/thrift store. I am annoyed with myself for not keeping up with my inventory list.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Best of My Garden 2010

My new favorite frugal flamboyant flower is the Nasturtium. I sprinkled many packages of outdated (by like 3-5 years) seeds and the Nasturtiums were the clear winner in the heartiness and longevity category. I also like how big the seeds are so they are easy to plant and the unusual roundness of the leaves make it easy to discern it from weeds. I'm sure this packet didn't cost more than a quarter.

Here are some volunteer pumpkins from last years Halloween decorations growing right on our front stoop. I don't know if we'll actually get a pumpkin or not but I think the foliage is nice.
This is my first year attempting to grow zucchini. This is in front of our house but isn't visible from the street since we have some large bushy plants for coverage.

Once You Shop You Can't Stop

Shop N Save- yesterday

Groceries & Food Bank Donation at Check Out Minus Coupons & Discounts= 41.04

Dierbergs- Today

Groceries, Cold Medicine, Gifts, Laundry Detergent, and Fabric Softener Minus Coupons= 47.03

(I found Tide on clearance for $3 and Tylenol Cold PM for $2 and bought some detergent for my Mom)

Two Things Going on Here-
1. We're all suffering from some low level sinus thing. I took Big Girl to the Dr. today and she has a double ear infection. So my throat is sore and I have a minor headache.

2. My cats are refusing to get along and pee (and poop) fighting over territory. I'm almost sure that I'll have to return Sarah to the pet rescue where I adopted her from. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I don't even put my steam cleaner away anymore and I just can't live like this even though it's tearing me up to give her back. My first priority is to my old baby Fusty.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pizza Dough for Bread Machines

Taken from Better Homes and Gardens Best Bread Machine Recipes

Basic Pizza Dough for a 2 lb. loaf (or to make two big crusts)

1 1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive or cooking oil
4 cups of bread flour (works well mixed half/half with whole wheat too)
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp yeast

Add ingredients according to your machines instruction manual. Select the dough cycle. Remove the dough from the machine and punch down. Cover and let it rest 10 minutes.

I normally use half the dough immediately and freeze half for later. I prefer the thawed dough over the fresh because it is so much easier to work with.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Make it do- Pizza

This is my kind of convenience food- frozen balls of scratch pizza dough made into pizza using whatever ingredients I can come up with in my fridge.

Tonight we're having pizza topped with:

A can of tomato sauce with a bit of sugar and spice sprinkled in
1/4 cup of sprinkle Parmesan cheese
Last 2 slices of provolone
1 aging piece of Gouda- grated
1 aging pepper from the crisper (veggie crisper is now officially empty)
1 can of Aldi mushrooms (juice drained and frozen for soup broth)
1 can of olives rummaged from the back of the pantry
Basil leaves from my window plant
Morningstar sausage sprinkles

We're following it up with a Impossibly Easy Cobbler made with Aldi baking mix and a combination of foraged dewberries, frozen blackberries, and salvaged cherries from the fruit bin.
I had no eggs for the pie mix so I used two tbs of soy flour/water combo. It worked.
We have no ice cream but I found a frozen container of Cool Whip leftover from Easter.
How come I'm always so surprised that we can eat this well when I don't go grocery shopping?

Still haven't made it to the grocery store

Breakfast- Instant (store brand) oatmeal packets & organic pop tarts from basement pantry. Cherry limeade (out of juice & milk), cocoa, and instant latte mix to drink.

I think I have some powdered milk in the basement. I'm tempted to go a few more days and see what I can come up with for meals. I can always make baked goods using soy flour/water instead of eggs.

This recipe for Scottish Oat Cakes does not need eggs and might be a suitable replacement for bread with our meals. I have everything in my pantry to whip this up.

There are a few pieces of fruit left in the fridge and I have some clearance/dent&ding cans of fruit when we run out of that.

We have half a jar of peanut butter (my kids favorite protein snack) left. When we run out I have half a jar of roasted peanuts that I could whir in my blender and make more spread.

We're out of pop. I'm not going to cry about it though. I plan on making some sun tea and kool-aid when we run out of limeade.

Update: I found three cans of pop in the garage and dry milk in the basement. My Mom is bringing my girl home today and is bringing some dew berries they picked off a wild bush growing by her yard. We're making a crumble top pie with a no roll pie crust. I'm thawing a frozen chunk of pizza crust for dinner. I think we're having crackers, bread, cheese, chopped fruit and a homemade creamy spread for lunch. I'm making this recipe I found in Yankee Magazine's Living Well on a Shoestring.

Herb Cheese Spread:
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. white wine or balsamic vinegar
2 cloves of minced and mashed garlic
Fresh herbs
Black pepper to taste

Mix it all together and serve.

I'm out of garlic so I have to use powdered. I do have fresh basil growing in my windowsill though.

Does anyone know if dewberry bushes transplant well? I'd like to move one to my backyard.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trips and Pantry Eating

I've been gone for the past week with Hubby on a business trip to KC. While I was gone I:

Watched way too much Bravo tv in the hotel
Swam with my boy
Spent a great day catching up with a friend and her children
Cleaned out the clearance racks at a Gymboree Outlet (lots of school clothes!)
Finished reading a book
Napped a lot
Ate at our favorite restaurant

Last night we attended a wake for a friend's grandma. I know it's wrong to have a great time at a "funeral" but there was lots of story telling and raising our glasses to the departed. I think Nana would have been pleased with her memorial.

Anyway, this morning I woke up to a kitchen pretty empty of our standard perishables. I made a grocery list but I have to say that I have not been inspired to shop at all today. In fact, it's 6:30 and I haven't showered and am still in my pajamas. I have done a lot of laundry, dishes, cleaning, and hanging out with my two men. My Big Girl is with her Grandma this week and she comes home tomorrow. I'll go grocery shopping then.

I've had to get creative with our food as we ate the last of our eggs last week, our milk was sour, and our last piece of bread was moldy.

Breakfast: Little Guy had a packet of instant oatmeal. Hubby ate peanut butter on graham crackers. I had a bowl of veggie soup and crackers.
I made a loaf of whole wheat onion bread in the bread machine.

Snacks- more graham crackers and yogurt. Slices of onion bread with pepper jack cheese.

Lunch- Mac N Cheese with four chopped up hot dogs. I was out of milk so I had to use Italian dressing for the sauce. It worked okay but I prefer milk.

Dinner- I had two organic potatoes. I cleaned out the crisper too. We had wilted celery, half an onion, a red pepper going soft, and a package of firm tofu. I chopped them all up and fried them in a little butter, water, olive oil, and seasoning salt. It made for a pretty satisfying meal.

Now I've got to finish folding laundry and work on cleaning out Big Girls disastrous room while she's gone.