Friday, January 28, 2011

One tiny step closer to 1000

Got a rebate in the mail today for $3.78. Every bit counts.

Live Like No One Else So I Can Live Like No One Else

Most of the time I am pretty content with our lifestyle and the way we shop- i.e. clearance racks and thrift stores. Most of the time I don't worry about what other people buy and where they shop.
But, then some of the time I feel like I don't have good stuff. I don't shop well like some of my peer group. I should spend money on luxuries so we have nicer stuff. I am fairly impressionable at times.

So, today when two of my Mom buddies were chatting about buying good clothing at a local boutique (more expensive than Hanna Andersson for example) or going to Pottery Barn Kids store to redo a 4 year olds room, I didn't have much to impart. The fanciest thing I've bought lately is a no frills clearance rain coat from Lands End for my daughter because I couldn't find one second hand.
Then I started thinking maybe my kids need better clothing and decor. Maybe I should try harder than just making sure that their clothes don't clash or have visible stain or holes. Maybe I am being too cheap and I should spend more on their bedroom furnishings than I have.

So I came home and did some online shopping. But, I couldn't make myself spend $40 on a summer play dress for Big Girl. Plus, we don't really need anything. My Mom just bought the kids a ton of clothes and I just bought Big Girl a new outfit. I did spring for a Strasburg skirt from ebay for Easter. I think that took care of my urge.

I just needed to be reminded that what we have is good enough and we aren't living to impress anyone. I'd rather be mortgage free than have a fabulous home and wardrobe.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Helping A Starfish

For years I've been mulling over sponsoring a child. Today was the day I made the decision to finally do it.

The cost is $38 a month to sponsor a child through Compassion. I can justify spending that much (and more) a month on frivolous stuff. I picked out a 4 year old girl living in Ecuador. It was hard to choose between so many. I just hurried and picked the first one that called to me. She has the cutest, silliest, round little face. I think my kids will like her too.

I've been bugging Hubby for a while about adopting another pet and maybe perhaps even another child. He's not on board with any of that and I really can't blame him. We have our hands full. But, my heart has room for more. I think this is what I was supposed to do all along. While I can't be her parent and I will probably never meet her, maybe I can make a small difference in her young life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pizza Crust and Online Shopping for Childrens Clothes

We're having pizza for dinner. Lately every time the kids hear that we're having homemade pizza they start groaning and complaining. Meanwhile, Hubby and I love my pizza.
I decided to try another pizza crust recipe. This one is a bread machine Pizza Hut knock off. Since my daughter loves Pizza Hut, maybe this will finally win her over.
Our normal pizza dough machine recipe is perfectly fine though and more pantry friendly.

For toppings we have:
Hunt's Canned Sauce (standard $1 a can- will have leftovers)
Mozzarella (Aldi)
Mushrooms (produce clearance for .69 cents)
Sunflower seeds (seems weird but really good)
Feta cheese (on sale for $1)
Tomato Slices (leftover from last night)
Veggie Pepperoni (need to use up soon)

**update- The pizza hut crust was deemed delicious by me and Hubby and better than normal by my kiddos. The only downside is the lengthy cooking time for the crust. Next time I will cook it on a normal pizza pan.

Children's Place is having a clearance sale on select clothing items. Most of what I found online were smaller childrens clothes (12m - 3t) but I did manage to find a few things to buy. I bought two t shirts for my niece's birthdays in May and a fall outfit for Big Girl.
My total after shipping and taxes for three shirts and one pair of pants was $22.91. This is after I used a coupon code (check for 15% off any purchase. I also went through That saved me another 3%. (And I used my Discover card for 1% cash back). That brings my total for each item somewhere around $5.50).

Of course, considering that my Mom hit the motherlode with a stop at a thrift store that was having 25 cent sale on all clothes when she was on the way to my house- $5.50 per item seems outrageous. I think that if I only relied on my Mom's occasional second hand shopping to dress my kids, I probably would only have to buy soccer cleats and shin guards. She found a nice thick winter coat from Old Navy for Little Guy for $1. And it still had the hood attached. I spent $2 on a similar coat minus the hood for him at another thrift store on the sale rack. I think I'll sell the one I bought at our next garage sale and keep the one my Mom bought.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Free After Rebate Links and What's For Dinner Tonight

Kellogg's Fiber Plus Cereal

Kellogg's Wheatables Crackers

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary. But, we're not really doing anything special tonight. Instead my Mom came up on Saturday to sit on our kids so we could escape to a local Drury for a staycation night. The one benefit of Hubby's frequent work travel is perks like free flights and free hotel stays. So, tonight is pretty low key. And I promised I'd cook tonight since we ate out a lot this weekend (Chinese take out, pizza, taco bell).

I wasn't exactly feeling inspired and was scrambling around to find something to put together.
So we're having-
Sliced avocado (on sale for .69 cents each) and sliced tomato (on sale for .99 a pound)
A bag of meatless "chicken" finger things (new brand I'm going to try
A box of au gratin potatoes I found in the pantry
Baked sugar snap peas (baking them with some spike, nutmeg, a bit of butter and some veggie broth)

I'm ready for another pantry challenge to clean out old stuff and work on new recipes. I'm ready to start making my own protein substitutes also. We're definitely in a food rut and I need to shake things up make it a bit healthier too by making more vegan foods. Vegan cooking is amazingly pantry friendly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rule #1 of Crock Potting For Dummies

I'm a relative novice to crock pot cooking. Really the only thing I make with any consistency is a vegetarian chili.

Yesterday's craving for salisbury steak (boca style) led me into the kitchen at noon to start throwing things into the crock pot for dinner. I was ahead of the game! I knew what was for dinner and boy wouldn't flylady and hubby be happy with me. It smelled so good too. I was rocking the "What's for dinner" question.
Of course, I didn't realize that putting the egg noodles in the crock pot to cook with the gravy and bocas would turn them into a glutenous mush. I mean, a really yucky tasting glop. Only edible if you were truly starving. I wasted some good food yesterday but I learned a valuable lesson. I have to make my noodles separately.

One point for Dominos pizza.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

$7 Closer to my 2011 Goal

This was Hubby's rebate for his oil change but since I filled out the paperwork and mailed it off I'm deeming it my money. ; )

*the Castrol rebate deal has expired

So, that brings my goal total to $35.68 so far. Only $964.42 left to go.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's On the Menu- Or How I Shopped A Lot This Week

I normally like to do one normal grocery shop a week. But Monday I had to run to Walmart because we were out of something that we can only get there. So, I did my normal grocery shopping. Then Thursday was $10 off of $50 day at Shop N Save and I need to pick up my prescriptions anyway so I shopped again and bought some sale stuff and stocked up on veggie meat supplies. And then today I needed to go back to Walmart because I forgot the cat food on Monday and also I bought more milk and eggs because we were running low. Add that I was hungry because I hadn't had breakfast and before you know it I had extra food in the cart.
So, I've spent way more than I intended this week on groceries.
The bonus is that we're stocked up for a long time and we have plenty on hand to make meals.

It's not inspired but here's what we've eaten this week:

Monday- Vegetable pot pie with fresh orange cinnamon bread

Tuesday- Mac N Cheese with cut up hot dogs and broccoli

Wednesday- Cheddar and Mushroom quiche (made crustless w/baking mix), cabbage, and canned whole berry cranberry sauce (from a 15 cent mystery can my Mom gave me)
I made cranberry pecan bread with the leftover sauce.

Thursday- Daddy's away on a business trip and the kid's requested frozen pizza. I bought a cheese Red Baron on sale and put olives and veggie peperoni on it.

Friday- Pigs in a Blanket (made w/ Yves smart dogs) and a vegetable side dish.

Saturday- We usually end up eating leftovers or Taco Bell for lunch depending on what we're doing that day. But, we do have some leftovers to eat up this weekend.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Money Goal 2011- Found Another Penny

The only advantage I can see is to being the family laundress is that I get to keep what I find in the washer. I also found a lego but i don't want to keep that.

Today's Food For Thought- Being Poor

I've never been what most people typically label poor. My family always had plenty to eat, a roof over our heads, and transportation. I never lacked for what I needed. We never used food stamps. We did get government commodities from time to time when my Grandmother had more than she could use. I only vaguely remember one time when I felt anything near money worries. My dad had been laid off from his job and my Mom was supporting the five of us on her factory worker salary. My mom had taken me to Walmart to shop for some new church clothes and she splurged on a seriously marked down dress and and a pair of flats. My dad was angry about it. My dad never cared about what my Mom bought because she was always more frugal than him. But, I remember that one time he was angry about her shopping because he was very worried about money. I really loved that dress but every time I wore it I felt guilty about the money my mom had spent on it. My dad returned to work soon after that and things went back to normal.

There were times when I wished my family had more money. I wanted to go away to summer camp with my friend but it cost hundreds of dollars. I got the $12 week long church camp instead (where I had a ton of fun anyway). I wanted money for new clothes like Benetton or OP and I knew my Mom would never pay that much for my clothes. And I didn't realize that there was anything small or poor about my family's house until a friend's Mom dropped me off one time and gently told me, "You know, I used to live in a small house like this when I was young. There's nothing wrong with it."
We did shop at garage sales, Aldis, and the clearance rack. I did clip coupons for my Mom and once or twice we even dumpster dived at the recycling center. But, I don't consider those signs of being poor. In fact, I'm glad I grew up doing those things because those are skills I use and value to this day.

So, I really don't have any idea of what it's like to be really poor. That's why I've really enjoyed reading this old post by John Scalzi about what it's really like to be poor.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What I'm Thinking About For January

Cleaning out my bedroom one bit at a time. Noni has inspired me to start tackling it with her closet clean out.

Starting a pile for another garage sale this spring. I really didn't enjoy our last garage sale but I do need to start getting some money together for my 2011 $1,000 goal.

Taking a load of better kids stuff to the consignment store to sell.

Making dinner at home every night. I'm really not enjoying our meals out lately. And our cupboard and freezer are full. Last night we had a pot pie made with veggie chic nuggets.
Tonight I think we're just having veggie dogs, mac n cheese and a side veg.

Making scratch substitutes for stuff when we run out instead of running to the store. I know how to make baking mix, cocoa mix, pancake syrup, laundry detergent, etc.

Planning two kid's birthday parties in February. I've got a plan started for Big Girl but need to schedule Little Guy's party. He wants to go swimming.

Snow Day

A bit of a depression has landed on me since we finished the holidays. It's not unusual for me to feel a little let down after the first of the year. I start thinking about Christmas right after Thanksgiving and to have it end seemingly so soon with so little fanfare is a sadness to me. Also this was my first Christmas without my father and it was hard on my brothers and mom. I know how sick he was and I know he's in a better place now. But, Christmas was more emotional than I expected.
So, I've been dragging my feet about putting away our tree and decorations even though the boxes are in the way and the furniture should go back to it's normal placement. Today I have to clean off the mantle and I think we're nearly done.

The good news is that I get to keep my babies home with me today because it's a snow day. So far it's been a pretty quiet morning. I slept in a bit while they grabbed a snack from the fridge and played a card game. It's been a nice morning and now I have to make them some real food and get on with my day. I'm hoping for a great and productive day with my kiddos.

On a money goal note- we received a check for $26 from changing over our phone/internet provider and I'm adding that money to my pot.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Money Goal 2011- Made My First Penny

I'm really getting a slow start on my goal.

I found a penny in the car when I cleaned today and I claimed it for my own.

Only $999.99 left to find/make.

I bypassed a load of beer cans in a trash can at the gas station today. Pretty soon I'll have to start keeping trash bags and gloves in my car so I can glean.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy 2011- My Main Goal for the new year

Other than the normal belt tightening and waist whittling goals that accompany the new year I have another goal in mind.

I want to make (or otherwise obtain in a legal manner) $1,000 this year. I would like to be able to write a check to our mortgage company for that thousand by December 31st.
I don't have a paying job as a stay at home mom.

My first steps will be small ones. Later in the year I might get a temporary paying job to get me where I'm going.
For now it's going to be-
Selling things on Craigslist/Ebay
Consigning kids clothes
Garage Sales
Rebate checks
Found money (how many lost pennies will I have to find on the street?)
Recycling our cans
Babysitting on the high holy Jewish holidays