Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009


I think I broke my toe. It really hurts :( Yes, I would like some cheese with my whine. And it's my right foot; my foot I use when sewing! That's going to put a damper on my plans this evening. I was in a sewing frenzy.

I guess I'll just post some links to things I want to make.

Stash Busting: Crinkle Toy and Toaster Cozy

I've been a busy bee around here. During naptimes, I've managed to sew a few more things, using only fabric and ribbons already in the stash.

Problem: Ugly-as-sin Toaster Oven

Problem Solved: a slipcover!

I also followed Joy's tutorial to make some baby crinkle toys. My little one hasn't woken up yet so I've yet to find out if he likes them.

This red and white polka dot fabric began life as a skirt. I thrifted it awhile back for the fabric. Aren't red and white polka dots the best?

I'm such a packrat. I keep ribbons off of gifts, and even though they have text on them, I incorporated them into this project. Waste not, want not, right?!

99 Bottles of BBQ Sauce on the Wall

99 Bottles of BBQ Sauce,
Take one down,
Pass it around,

98 Bottles of BBQ Sauce on the Wall!

Hello to my friends and followers at Gap Inc Direct! Jason tells me that some of you (okay one of you) are quite enamored with my blog. I'm quite honored! I must tell you that it makes me feel like quite the celebrity. I'm practicing "the wave" .... you know the one, right? The one where the girl who won Miss Pork Festival stands on a float and waves that fake wave? Yeah, that could be me alright.

Anyway.... Jason told me I need to post about the BBQ Chicken- Asparagus Pizza in case any of you drop by looking for the recipe. Sorry I don't have any photos of it. I always mean to photograph my creations however I'm such a pig that I simply cannot take the time to take pictures of my food. Once it's out of the oven it goes promptly into my belly.

Without further ado, here's the recipe:

I used two store bought crusts like Boboli (though I used the Meijer brand). On top of that, I put a layer of shredded cheese then one chopped and sauteed onion (half an onion on each pizza). Next goes on a mixture of 2 cans of asparagus (though fresh would have been way better), about 2 lbs of cooked, cubed chicken, and a bottle of bbq sauce (about 18 oz). Finally top with parmesan cheese, and bake as directed on the pizza crust packaging.

Now breathe in the aroma of the pizza as it bakes because that's the best part! Okay, that's almost the best part, second only to the taste of it as you scarf it down!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sewing up a Storm as it storms

Rain, rain, go away. Come back another day.

I can't stain the deck because it keeps raining. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it...

I stayed in today and sewed, sewed, sewed. T-3 came over, and we disassembled our bridesmaid dresses (T-2 got married, congrats!!) and turned them into, drumroll please....


Tree skirts :)

We tried to follow this tutorial, however it just didn't turn out large enough, so we started to improvise. T-3 recommended that I use the shawl, cut it in half, and create a ruffle out of it. Superb idea, T-3 :) And then I decided to make a bias tape and use it to cover the unhemmed edge of the center circle. Here's how it turned out:

After T-3 went home, I worked on a few other things. Here's a long sleeve shirt of Joel's that I turned into a short sleeve shirt for summer:

Last but not least I started making a chef hat and apron for my little one. I realize he's not even four months old yet, but I like to plan ahead ;) One day all too soon I'll have a little tyke helping me in the kitchen as I bake homemade brownies, fish sticks, and macaroni and cheese. Yum. Except for the fish stick part.

Kathy, the author of the tutorials, did an A. W. E. S. O. M. E. job. They are so easy to follow. I actually followed a tutorial correctly for once. I shouldn't say that quite yet since I'm not finished. There's still plenty of time to do something wrong, er I mean different.

Here's the hat

And here's the first step of the apron

Notice the red fabric- it's the lining to the bridesmaid dress. I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that fifty dollar dress! I also cut out all the tulle fabric and kept it for some future project, kept the zipper, and am giving all the boning to T-3 because she wants to make a corset. The truck fabric were curtains thrifted a couple months ago. There's tons of it left.

Here's the apron almost complete. I'm on the final couple steps. I don't have any D rings, and so I had to stop for the night. All I have to do is attach the short strap to the upper left, and attach the front of the apron to the red backing.

I'd love to stay and chat but I have a breast pump that is calling my name ...

Friday, May 22, 2009

An Eco Friendly Funeral?

I’m a cemetery buff. I admit it. You may think it’s weird, but it’s true. I love cemeteries and have ever since I was little. My grandma’s farm was right next to an abandoned one-room white church and small cemetery. My mom and I used to walk up to the cemetery and wander around looking at the graves. My dad used to mow the cemetery when he was younger. (Although this is where my dad’s ties with cemeteries end. My mom and I are working on him though!) Enter husband who also loves cemeteries, and you have the perfect family. For Mother’s Day, we went to a cemetery near my parents’ house that we had never been to before and saw some beautiful architecture, flowers, shrubs and graves (see below).

I ran across this website the other day, advertising an eco-friendly burial. It’s located just miles from where I grew up. I never knew such a thing existed. “What is it?” you ask. It’s a burial that doesn’t use a vault or embalming fluid, nor a tombstone. Everything is biodegradable. Basically it sounds like they just dig you a hole in the middle of a field or a forest, lower you in, and then cover you up with dirt.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love eco-friendly things. But as a traditional cemetery person, I just can’t jump on this bandwagon. I don’t like the idea of cremation either. I want to be laid in the ground and have a nice tombstone so my descendants can find me a couple hundred years from now. The genealogist in me just can’t imagine being buried without a marker.

What do you think? Yay or nay for eco-friendly funerals?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Baby Pics

I'm in the mood to post baby pics of my little sweet pea. Please bear with me, this will only last a moment!

The cousins, born 2 1/2 months apart. Mine is the shrimpy one!

The cousins again, after Joel had gotten a little bit bigger.

Projects One, Two, Three

Here's what I was up to yesterday and the day before, in case y'all are interested!

Feed the baby. Burp the baby. Change the baby. Pump breastmilk. Repeat. Repeat.
Put baby down for a nap. Get some me time. Yay!

Work on the kid stove:

Feed the baby. Burp the baby. Change the baby. Pump breastmilk. Repeat. Go to CVS and Walgreens and get some amazing deals like free-after-catalinas Colgate toothpaste (savings of $4.50). Hit a couple thrift stores looking for Hawaiian shirts for a themed wedding this weekend. (Found one for hubby and a dress for me though I spent ten bucks... a little more than I like to spend at a thrift store)

Baby fell asleep in the car so I get some more me time. Make a kid tool belt (Why am I having such a hard time finding a toy hammer? I saw one the other day at a thrift store but it was too babyish and didn't fit in with the other tools I had already thrifted). I altered the instructions... more on that at a later date.

Not quite finished- still have to attach the strap to wrap it around the waist. Aren't all the thrifted tools cool? Each one was about 50c.

Baby wakes up hungry. Feed, burp, diaper, pump. Put dinner on. Watch Life After People with hubby. (That show is fascinating). Hubby watches the rugrat while I have some more me time.

Do a wardrobe refashion. Take a beach coverup that doesn't fit, cut out the middle, and sew the hip part back on underneath the bust to make a tank top for this still-fat-after-pregnancy belly.

I know it's hard to tell, but this is not quite knee length.

The finished product! It hides the chubby belly pretty good. Good as can be expected, anyway.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tough Meat Tuesday

Memes are all the rage now, aren't they? I had never even heard of the word "meme" until a couple days ago! I actually had to go to Merriam-Webster to even find out what it is. (I know I'm a dictionary nerd).

What about Tough Meat Tuesday? That's one that I don't think exists yet. With the current economy being what it is, we should all be making use of cheap meat. There's lots of people who do meatless days (especially Meatless Monday) but my hubby is a carnivore. He likes his meat, and I couldn't stand to watch his sad little face if I were to sit a vege pizza or some kind of tofu burger in front of him once a week.

Today I'll be crockpotting some pork shoulder to make barbecue pork. What's going on in your kitchen today?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dung Bunnies. (Bunnies made of Dung). And a Kid Stove.

Yes, you read that right. I just had to share this with you. I've been surfing the web since Joel fell asleep, and I ran across this website that sells rabbits molded out of horse manure. Apparently, you put them in your garden and over the course of the year, it disintegrates and fertilizes your plants. I know that manure makes a great fertilizer; this takes it to a whole new level.

In other news, I'm in the process of crafting something! I haven't done anything crafty lately, and I was feeling the itch. I was in a felt-food-making-frenzy this past winter, and I knew that I wanted to make a little kitchen to go with it. I found this today, and it serves as the inspiration for what I'm currently making. Basically you take a plastic container and add the red coils for the burners, and voila, you have yourself a kid stove. Mine's a little different than hers. She used paper to create the stovetop, however since the plastic container I'm using doesn't have a clear bottom, that would not have worked for me. I am using the blue plastic container that the wet swiffer refills come in. I know, those things aren't very eco-friendly, however back when Licorice the Rabbit (not to be confused with a dung bunny) was alive, they were what did the best job at cleaning up after him.

First I spraypainted the swiffer container's lid black. Next I tried red pipe cleaners to make the coils, however that didn't work out too well. I switched tactics and instead grabbed a small round butter lid and spraypainted it red. I'm still waiting for it to dry, but once it's dry, I'll glue it down to the black surface with some craft adhesive. I also will need a second one, but that will have to wait until I finish up the next tub of butter. I also used a cap from a 2 liter of pop, spray painted black, as the knob to "turn on" the burners. I am planning on gluing it down, however then it will not turn. If you have any ideas as to how to make it turn, please let me know!

Here's some half-way done pics:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What $2.52 Can Buy You

Yep. It's quite the haul, isn't it? The cheese was 2/$3. The coffee filters were 99c. The soup was on clearance for 80c. The toothpaste was $4.50 but you got $4.50 back in Register Rewards so it's like it's free! The deodorant was on sale for $2 plus I had a 75c off coupon. I used $8.50 in Register Rewards (RRs), so I only had to pay $2.52 OOP (out of pocket).

Now I can't get that song out of my mind. You know, the one that goes, "Get down with OOP! Yeah you know me! Get down with OOP! Yeah you know me! ..." Oh wait, it's OPP. Nevermind.

Menu Planning Monday: 5-18-09

For those of you who are visiting me from, hello! Let me introduce myself briefly. I'm a new SAHM to a beautiful little boy. I've been on maternity leave from teaching since my son was born in February and since then have been laid off due to a levy failure in my school district. My husband's salary is only about half of mine so needless to say, we're living pretty tightly now!

I had my first menu planning experience when I was in middle school. My best friend was in charge of cooking dinner every night for her family. Her mom was a dietician at a nursing home and so she was probably used to coming up with meal plans. She would write everything out on a calendar and post it on the fridge so her daughter knew what she was supposed to make each day.

Fast forward 15 years. I've embraced it on and off for several years, however now that I'm a SAHM, I'm going to stick with it! (I think). Wish me luck :) Without any further ado, on to the meal planning.

Due to the fact that we have not one, but two weddings to attend this weekend, plus one rehearsal dinner and a graduation party, I don’t have to cook a whole lot this week. I think that three homemade meals will be enough, and leftovers will fill in the rest.

BBQ Pork in the crockpot to use up a bottle of barbecue sauce, and Jenny’s Baked Oatmeal Bars.

Extreme Nachos, consisting of some tortilla chips (we currently have 2 ½ bags to use up), ground turkey browned with taco seasonings, cheese, and salsa. I first made this in eighth grade for Spanish Class when everyone would bring in a Spanish or Mexican dish, and we would party like it was 1999. Even though back then 1999 would still be five years in the future.

And for dessert and/or breakfast, something that really doesn’t go with nachos but does use cereal (which is always a good thing when you’re trying to use up twenty boxes):Breakfast bars.

And last but not least: Chicken and rice with Asparagus Sauce that uses several egg yolks. To use up the whites, I’ll make Egg Drop Soup and Egg White Cookies.

What to do with those Envelopes

You know, those envelopes that come with each and every bill... and since I've given up on paying the bills, those envelopes are really starting to stack up.

JUST KIDDING! I pay my bills, I promise. I just pay them all online so I don't have to use the evelopes. Also don't have to spend $$$ on stamps. Cha-ching!

Every week I grab a few of those freebie envelopes and use the blank white side to write down my grocery list. (I use one envelope per store). Then you can slip the coupons into the correct envelope, and voila, you're organized! (And if you have some double-secret-probation* coupons that you don't want other nearby shoppers to see, you can use those security envelopes with the blue or black lining!)

Now if I could just stick to my lists and to my budget...

*Sorry for the Animal House reference. I have it on the brain right now because we were talking it about it yesterday at my friend's graduation party. Toga! Toga! Toga!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I finally did it tonight. I dragged the beast back out and did some sewing. The other day I thrifted a few things of clothing for Joel (the winter clothing), and one of the pieces I bought was a 3-6 month long sleeve onesie that I knew would fit him this summer. I figured it would be an easy fix to cut off the sleeves and make it a short sleeve onesie. Here it is:

Yes, it's the Cleveland Browns. Yes, I know they suck. But hey, how about those CAVS?! (Just a side note, my brother's girlfriend went to high school with LeBron James. He also lives a few minutes from my parents' house. That's my claim to fame. Okay it's my six-degrees-of-separation claim to fame).

After I finished the onesie I decided to get started on these undercover crates. Go check out Laura's blog. She's one heck of a crafter!

It was hard to get anything done because Joel didn't want to take a nap. I discovered that he is fascinated with long, skinny pieces of fabric when dangled in front of him. It gave him about twenty minutes of pleasure as I wore my arm out waving it around like a madwoman.

I've got two crate slipcovers done; one to go. I think I'm done for the night though. I'll probably work on it next week, possibly for "Tackle it Tuesday."

Here's some pics!

I really hate sewing sometimes.

The finished product. Toy storage for Joel! The orange fabric I acquired years ago when my then-boyfriend's uncle got sent to prison (true story). The sports fabric was a thrifted find. It's a jersey knit sheet and was in excellent condition!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Picnic Graduation Par-TAY

My friend is graduating from Columbus College of Art and Design this weekend. Woot, woot! Congrats T-3 :) In order to celebrate, we’ll be having a picnic at the park. I’m in charge of making egg salad and Watergate salad. I think I’ll also whip up some Special K cookies or some Chocolate Covered Corn Flakes to use up some of the twenty-five boxes of cereal we have in the cupboard. (okay, I’m exaggerating… we actually only have twenty boxes of cereal).

We actually do have twenty boxes of cereal… yikes! Someone needs to put the brakes on buying cereal, huh? Maybe there's a ten-step program I can enroll in or something.

Do you like deviled eggs? No? What about these deviled eggs? Even if you don’t click on a any other link on this post, you need to check out these deviled eggs. You won’t be sorry! You will feel complete after checking out these deviled eggs 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Slaving over a Hot Stove

Before I get into using up what's in my fridge, I have to share something I saw on tv with you. I was up with Joel, flipping through the channels (nothing good on HGTV or the food network) when I ran across a movie with "The Mac Guy" (Justin Long) in it. He was this loser high-school dropout with the mullet to end all mullets. He had this shirtless space-cadet-of-a-friend, and they were trying to figure out how to make money without getting a job. The friend recommended buying things at thrift stores, painting them white, calling it "shabby chic," and selling it on ebay just like his mom. YES! They should have went that direction with the movie. Instead they decided to come up with a Sasquatch plot. It would have been much better if they followed them around to thrift stores and watch them paint furniture, don't you think?

I really need to get out my sewing machine. It's still been put away since my friend's shower back in April. I just can't bring myself to drag it all out because I'm so happy with the cleanliness (I am not a clean seamstress. I make a terrible mess!)

So I guess I'll blog about some recipes that I've prepared lately. I have tons of BBQ sauce to use up (seven bottles I think). I actually even bought another bottle last night because I had a dollar off coupon, and the bottle was only eight cents after the coupon!

The other day my mom sent me home with some grilled chicken. I sliced it up, added some BBQ sauce, tossed it into a tortilla with some sauteed green and red peppers and onions, and some shredded cheese.... easy peasy meal, and it was delicious! I ended up making too much peppers and onions, so I had to come up with another recipe to use it up.

Next up: breakfast burritos. My mom also sent me home with some hashbrowns. I made some scrambled eggs and half a pound of sausage and mixed it with the hashbrowns and sauteed peppers and onions. We used the leftover tortillas, and it was fantastic :)

But alas I still had peppers and onions left, not to mention half a pound of sausage, so today I made up some meatloaf. The best part is- it used up the barbecue sauce too!

I also have a couple cucumbers to use up (and some sour cream), so I figured I'd also make gyros with that delicious cucumber sauce. I couldn't find lamb at the store (nor did I really want to pay for it), so I found a recipe that called for ground beef (I used ground turkey). It said to bake up a meatloaf, slice it thin and stuff it into a pita with the cucumber sauce.

And last but not least, I made some candied citron coffee cake to use up the rest of the sour cream. You know me- I can't follow a recipe to save my life! I didn't have enough butter, so I used more sour cream than it called for, 1/2 cup less flour, extra candied fruit, no nuts, and no almond extract (I couldn't find it... I wonder if I ran out). It's still in the oven, but it smells pretty tasty!

So what are y'all cooking? Do you have any good bbq sauce recipes (or Salsa recipes) for me to try? (I have just as many jars of salsa as I do bottle of bbq sauce). If so, leave me a comment with the recipe or a link. Thanks!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Brake for Garage Sales and Thrift Stores

Since I spent the weekend at my parents' house, I got to do some out-of-town thrifting. It all started when I saw Rite Aid had a sale going on: 10 photos for 99c. I decided to get some of the pictures we took last weekend at Joel's baptism developed. On the way home, I ran across three garage sales. Yep, the first ones of the season for me! Nothing at the first or last ones tickled my fancy, however at the second one I picked up a thing of unused elastic and a frame for a quarter apiece. My dad had just said that he needed a frame so that he could take the pictures I was getting developed to work. Ask and ye shall receive!

I also saw the local thrift store has 50c sales every Monday. I told my husband we would just have to stay an extra day so I could check out the sale in the morning, so that's what we did. We slept in pretty late, and so we didn't get there until a little after noon and it was pretty picked over by then. All orange tags were 50c, and blue tags were 50% off. I got seven orange tags and one blue tag. All the summer clothes were nabbed by the early birds, so I had to settle for winter clothes. That's okay though because Joel will wear winter clothes too in about five months.

He's starting to fuss, so I better go and give him some milk!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day Freebies

I am so glad I went through nine months of pregnancy hell followed by a torturous 23 hour labor complete with 2 hours of pushing, a vacuum extraction, and third degree tearing! Those battle scars have earned me the right to take advantage of several free offers these past few days! (Can I get a "Hell yeah!" ?)

On Wednesday, Walgreens gave free 8x10s to mommies. I got a pic of me holding my four-day-old Joel. Across the street at KFC, they were unveiling their new grilled chicken meals. I figured I would drop off the photo, grab some finger-licking goodness, and then go back for the photo. Little did I know that the entire east side of Columbus was gathering in that tiny KFC for some free food. I was in line for almost an hour. I can't believe I stayed in line that long for a measly meal. To top it off, I was supposed to get a thigh and drumstick or a breast and wing, but they gave me a drumstick (and a puny one at that) and a wing. Hmpf.

But just so you know, it was pretty tasty. I devoured it promptly.

Today I got myself a free Mother's Day meal from Captain D's, and what a meal it was. I got some kind of uber-sensational seafood platter. I have never felt so fat in my life. There was enough greasy fried food in that take-out container to feed an army. A fat army.

As for my eating from the pantry challenge... I didn't do so hot. To my credit, I began mid-week and so everything I spent before I decided to join the challenge doesn't count, right?

I spent about thirty dollars at Target today, but I got ten dollars in gift cards to use at a later date, so really it was like I spent twenty. I got six boxes of Fiber One bars and two more boxes of Fiber One cereal. If you like Fiber One bars (they're delicious) or have a hard time "staying regular" and need some extra fiber in your diet, then you should go to Target and stock up! There's coupons online that you can print off for the Fiber one items, but my Target gave me a hard time about using them. The cashier called over her boss who told me that they're not supposed to accept printed coupons but that since she had already rang them up, she would allow it this time. I am pretty pissed about this because everyone else in the other corners of the globe gets to use computer printed coupons. *throws temper tantrum, rolls on floor screaming and pounding fists in the ground*

Ok, I'm putting on my big girl panties now and moving on...

I got some other things at Target like Wet Ones, Ban deodorant, Kashi Waffles, Quaker True Delight granola bars... all with coupons, coupons, and more coupons :)

The night before I made a run out to Meijer. I miss having Meijer right down the street. I now have to drive 15 minutes and pass four other grocery stores on my way there, so I don't make the trek that often.

Last night I spent a little less than fifty bucks but got meat. Lots and lots of meat, my friends. I got several packs of pork chops, steak, a roast, some sausage... all for cheap, cheap cheap! I also got twenty containers of Yoplait yogurt because of the awesome deal going on. For every ten you buy, a catalina for one dollar prints at the check out. I also used three coupons.... one required you buy eight ($1 off), and the other two required you buy six (80c off). With the doubling, that's an extra $4.20 off! Couple that with the two dollars of catalinas and the fact that the yogurt was on sale for 50c each, and I am quite pleased with my haul.

Maybe next week I'll do a little better with the whole not shopping thing and using what I already have. Maybe. I wouldn't hold my breath though if I were you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Menu Planning Monday, er Thursday

I’ve menu planned for a few years now. (*cough and sputter*) What I meant to say is that I’ve off and on menu planned for a few years now. Oh okay, I’ve more off than on menu planned for a few years now.

I always start out with good intentions. I use Microsoft Works Calendar and input recipes about every other day with the assumption that the in between days will be leftovers. (I just love leftovers, don’t you?) I try to plan it out for the whole month. I think this is my downfall.

You see, it’s hard to predict what you will have opened and needing to be used up when you’re trying to do it thirty days in advance. Every week I end up rearranging, pushing recipes back a week or two, and then coming up with new ones to use up what’s currently on hand. And then finally, enough is enough, and using my calendar goes by the wayside, and we fall back into our old habits.

I’m going to make more of a concerted effort to stick with it this time. Today and tomorrow what I currently have planned out is (1) stale bagel pancakes (doesn’t that just sound de-lic-ious?!) and (2) fish stick casserole. (I know, I know. I really know how to pick ‘em)

I think I picked the wrong time to start blogging about my menu planning since both of those things sound admittedly nasty. I have some items to use up though, and both of these recipes fit the bill.

For the pancakes, basically you grind them up, add milk, eggs, and spices, and fry like a regular pancake. As it turns out, they're pretty freakin' fantastic :) The only thing I would do differently is add a little more milk because the batter was pretty thick. If you click on the link above, you'll see he called for onion powder and sugar. Since I was using strawberry bagels, I figured the onion powder would be a no-no and left it out.

And as for the fish stick casserole… I don’t know why but awhile ago when I was at the grocery, fish sticks sounded good. Not surprisingly, they’ve sat in the freezer ever since. I found several recipes, and I liked portions of several of them, so I've combined them into my own concoction.

Basically what I'll do is crumble some hash browns into a 9x13 pan (actually I'll use chopped frozen French fries because that’s what I have). Pour over some milk (that about-to-expire half gallon should be gone after this recipe!), spices (whatever I feel like at the moment), and cheese (can use shredded or a can of Campbells cheese soup), maybe a can of cream of mushroom soup depending on the consistency thus far... perhaps throw in some veges from the freezer... and [in my best fake French accent] the piece de la resistance…. The ever-popular, four-star restaurant worthy fish sticks. Lots and lots of fish sticks. Pile 'em on top, bake, and voila, a not-so-nutritious but oh-so-delicious treat (hopefully).

These recipes are both great for the Eating from the pantry challenge that I’ve just begun. Hopefully they will not disappoint!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I have some weeding to do

Here are some photos from my front yard:

But this isn't the kind of weeding I was referring to in the title! Although now that you mention it, I do need to tend to the flower beds too ...

Actually I was referring to weeding out unnecessary things from our budget. Now that I will be unemployed we have some reevaluating to do. Is Netflix really worth it? (My husband thinks so and is unwilling to give it up). I gave up my $200 membership. We're giving up eating out, and I'm slashing my grocery budget. I'm also cutting back on thrifting, crafting, and buying fabric. Yes, my friends, buying fabric is on the chopping block. I think four (er, five) super duper large totes filled to the brim is enough for now!

I had a long talk with my house and told her that she needs to hold it together for the next few years. I don't want to spend any more money on her for awhile. She already has a new roof, remodeled basement, new grout in the bathroom, newly painted kitchen cabinets, a new garage door, a window replacement, a new garbage disposal, a new fireplace mantel, new carpet throughout the second floor and basement, and a new fridge.

So I went through my old credit card statements for the past five months and added up how much I spent in four categories: eating out, groceries/toiletries/etc, gifts for others, and gasoline. Here's how we fared:

  • $432 on eating out at convenience stores, fast food and sit-down restaurants. Average of $86.40 a month
  • $1567 on groceries, diapers, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. Average of $313 a month
  • $1184 on Christmas gifts as well as Mother's Day, Valentines Day, and five months worth of birthdays. (The Christmas number should actually be higher because I buy lots of Christmas gifts throughout the year so I don't have to cram it all in December).
  • $409 on gasoline, most of which was spent by Jason. Average of $82 a month.

I think I can weed out quite a bit. Eating out will be reduced to almost zero. I'm aiming for under $200 for groceries. Gasoline will have to stay about the same, but we will not spend nearly as much on Christmas this coming year, saving us a great deal.

Also, this month I will be participating in the Eat from the Pantry Challenge. You're allowed to buy fresh produce and staples like milk, eggs, and bread, but other than that, you're supposed to avoid the grocery store like the plague. That's going to be difficult for me since I just found CVS-ing, but I think I can do it.

Must. Not. Spend. Money.

If it's practically free after coupons and catalinas then I will allow myself to buy it. Even if it is the seventeenth bottle of body wash in the cupboard.

Sew Easy Four-C Soup

Ok, it's not really sew easy, but it is so easy! I just had to add something about sewing into the title because I'm feeling guilty about not touching my sewing machine in weeks. I packed it away when I was cleaning for my friend's shower, and I hate to admit it, but I kind of like how clean it is when the sewing stash is put away. No more little threads on the carpet. No mile high stashes of fabric strewn about. I can actually eat on the dining room table because it's cleared off. *Sigh*

In other news, our levy went down yesterday which means the RIF letter I received several weeks ago will now be finalized. Jason is really stressing out about having to live on just his paycheck, but I think we can make it just fine. We have one year of his salary saved up in the bank as a rainy day fund... I'd say it's raining! I figure that when God closes a door, he opens a window; we just don't know what that window is just yet. Honestly, I'd like to try to make it without even touching our savings (and in fact, growing our savings).

They say your house payment can be as high as about one third of your income. Jason makes what I made when I started teaching and first bought the house, so we should be fine there. The only problem is that I was only one person, and now there's three people living on the same amount of money. With my frugalness, though, I think I can make it happen.

No more going out to eat, for starters! (Not that we really went out to eat very much anyway). I've been on a cooking rampage these past few days. I made (1) apple pie bread pudding. In case you're wondering, that's bread pudding with a diced up apple in it, but it wasn't sweet enough so I added a jar of pie filling on top. (2) Pepperoni and vege lasagna... yum! (3) Bacon and Egg Brunch Casserole (4) Homemade Vege Soup.

I bought a 1/2 gallon of milk that was almost to its sell-by date since it was marked down to 59c. I then had to come up with some recipes to use up this milk. I also had a head of cabbage to use up, as well as a dozen eggs, half a loaf of wheat bread that was getting stale, some celery, and an opened package of pepperoni. Other items in the fridge that need used up but will have to wait a few days include an opened jar of barbecue sauce and some sour cream.

Anyway, I knew I was going to make some sort of creamed cabbage when I found a recipe online for cream of cabbage soup. I can't follow a recipe to save my life, so I of course altered it to use up things I have on hand. It called for cream- I used my about-to-expire milk. Actually, I pretty much concocted my own recipe altogether because I didn't have what it called for on hand. The roux is the only thing I kept the same, except I halved it because I didn't want to clog my arteries with a whole cup of butter. Soup is supposed to be healthy, right?! Here's what I did in case you're wondering- it's really quite tasty! I can't wait until lunch so I can have some more :)

I boiled the rest of the celery in 2 cups of chicken broth. Meanwhile, I chopped up the cabbage and added it to the broth. Next in was a can of corn and a bag of frozen cauliflower. At this point I realized all the veges in this soup started with the letter "C." This wasn't planned but I thought it was funny so I named it Four-C soup!

I also threw in two packages of onion soup mix, some garlic powder, and dill (the original recipe actually did call for dill). While that was cooking down, I made a roux with half a cup of butter and half a cup of soy flour (though of course you could use regular flour). To that I added two cups of milk and two more cups of chicken stock. Oops, I lied. I ran out of chicken boullion so I used shrimp boullion instead.
Don't tell my husband. He hates seafood.

Once thickened, I added the roux mixture to the soup and simmered on low for about five or ten more minutes. Very delicious!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Clipping Coupons and CVS-ing

My son was baptised this weekend at the same church that my grandpa, dad, and I were all baptised. Four generations :)

The church is up near my grandma's house... trips to Grandma's mean one thing: lots of coupons she's saved for me! I decided that I needed a new method for storing coupons, so I emptied out an old photo album from high school, and slipped the coupons into the slots. Voila! A coupon album :) I probably look like a freak carrying it with me in the grocery stores, but at least I'm a freak who's saving money.

So here's how CVS-ing worked out for me today: Frosted Flakes and Frosted Mini Wheats were three for $10, but you earn five bucks in Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) at the end of the transaction so really it's like spending five dollars. Couple that with coupons for all three boxes of cereal, and you get all three for a mere two dollars (after ECBs).

I also bought my hubby some Adidas deodorant- after ECBs and my coupon it was 99c. Colgate toothpaste was $2.99 but after ECBs and a coupon it was free :) All in all, I earned eleven ECBs today at CVS and used five $1 coupons.

Walgreens had similar sales in which I got a large bottle of Nivea men's body wash completely free, some Right Guard deodorant free, and two bottles of Pert Plus for fifty cents each. We now have seven or eight bottles of Pert under the sink. I think Jason is going to kill me.

I also used lots of coupons at Kroger. I got a heck of a deal on Cottonelle TP (the 12 double rolls). I bought eight packs. (Yes you read that right). Not to mention, earlier in the day I got a 9 roll of Charmin Basic for Jason (that's what he likes). So I now have nine packs of toilet paper and absolutely no where to store them. They'll just have to hang out in my car for awhile until we make room in the house. I'm probably going to get pulled over by some cop who thinks I'm going to go TP someone's house.

The other day I took advantage of the Special K sale at Target. You had to buy five boxes of Special K, and you received a five dollar gift card. I now have almost fifteen boxes of cereal in this house (remember I also bought Frosted Flakes and Frosted Mini Wheats, plus our cereal cupboard was already full before I went on this cereal rampage).

You can never have too much cereal, you know. At least that's what I'm telling myself these days.

Actually, ever since Jason has been on this funky shift at work, and he's been waking up at 11 am (heaven forbid he would miss the Price is Right), he's been eating cereal for lunch. I made tasty Pepperoni and Vege Lasagna the other day, and I've been the only one eating it because he keeps choosing cereal. Hmpf!

I kind of fell off the "Green Smoothie" train, unfortunately. I made a sweet potato and pear smoothie (not really green however, sweet potatoes are considered a super food), and it was really good. I discovered though, that it tastes even better warmed. I added extra milk so it was very liquidy. I popped it in the microwave and it was delicious! Don't forget to add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg :) This is the perfect warm drink to enjoy around a campfire on a chilly spring evening. Tomorrow I'm planning on making strawberry banana smoothies because I have two bananas that are going bad.

In other news, tomorrow the voters will decide if I keep my job or not. *Fingers crossed*