Saturday, December 29, 2007

5 Links...

I got tagged by Mommy Gets Paid!

Instructions are as follows:

Just copy paste THIS and everything below up until my Five links:

I thought it would be cool to have a meme where we post links. We can post up to five. Then we tell five more people to share their links. If we all share who tagged us, our links are sure to be seen! :)

They can be business links, favorite sites, affiliate links, whatever you want…

There are Five Rules:

1. MUST be clean. No R rated sites.
2. Only FIVE links.
3. MUST tell 5 people.
4. A link back to the person who tagged you ;)
5. Lara’s Place is the meme originator. ;) (an active link is appreciated)


———– end copy paste ———————————–>

My Links
Stop the Ride Originator of Make it From Scratch Carnival.

Lis Garrett - a Writer's Woolgatherings. One of the first bloggers I read regularly & still do!

Combo Probe Thermometer Timer/Clock - Silvertone My secret to the PERFECT Christmas dinner Prime Rib!

My Space My other online addiction, could spend hours updating & commenting!

Renovating the Money Pit one of my other blogs. It should be a busy one in 2008 after looking at my list of To Do's!!!

I don't do the tag thing, so If you want to be in comment & I'll link to ya!!!

2008 Goals

Goals, resolutions whatever you call them! I was working on these while babysitting 2 8 year old twins, so I may need to tweak them.

1. Budget our money better. Pay bills on time- while our village doesn't report to credit companies, the pay the electric bill every 2 months is starting to drive me batty.

2. Pay down our debt by at least $2400. We have a loan payment of $130 a month so we'll snowball the other $70 into the best place for it. Number 3 was list debts so we know what we have to pay when, but it fits better with #2.

3. Use savings, rebates & misc found money to fund our emergency fund. We had a good start to it last year but it was depleted opening various checking & saving accounts that are more accessible to us. Once we get the direct deposit fixed we'll set up a weekly payment back into the ING account. We want to have at least $1000 in the EF by December 31, 2008

4. Blog daily, I have been neglecting my blogging. Mostly because I work online as well & it is just a lot of sitting in front of the computer.

5. Work on one DIY project everyday. We have a HUGE list of improvements we will be making in 2008 and most are to be done by us. The only thing I won't do is the roof!

6. Do better at cards to friends & family. Birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I have been really slacking lately.

7. Focus on MYO (make your own) mixes and grocery items. Now that I have the stand mixer of my dreams, and while it still wasn't the "Frugal" thing on my list it was a deal you just couldn't walk away from. The day we bought it the Licorice was available for $259.99, free shipping & a $50 rebate. So we end up only paying $10 more than my Mom did for her Artisan. Plus I have the horse power I need for it to last a very long time.


I mean really, the bread machine I want was $199 and it only took me a year to kill the $50 bread machine I had!!! Plus I will be selling my old stand mixer on ebay sometime after the holidays (last set like mine sold for $102).

8. Eliminate more clutter. As we can replace substandard items with good quality items I need to get rid of the old stuff!!!

We have to be really careful with our money now that we are back to one main income source & we are planning on moving some rooms around again on top of the remodeling & updating.

Of course I am babysitting again. When school is in it's only a couple hours a day, but they are friends with my kiddos so it's nice. And they were here almost everyday while someone else was getting paid to watch them...

So who knows what 2008 will hold, I am going to spend the last few days of 2007 reflecting & celebrating with my family!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note to say...


Myspace Layouts

CommentYou.com is your One Stop Shop
Get More at COMMENTYOU.com

We are at my Moms Monday night & we are hosting hubby's family Tuesday for dinner. The cookies are made, I'll share pics once I get them up! Of course we only had green food color, forgot it was on my list, oops. NEVER shop without the list!!! hehehe!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Seven Things

Seven Things
Stop the Ride! tagged anyone who was interested so here it goes! It is a fun and simple meme. Just tell your readers seven random things about you.


1. I have crooked pinkies! So do both of my children, really the only way to tell that the Prince is mine (other than being there for the birth ~wink~)

2. I LOVE power tools & home improvement projects. I spent a half an hour today sanding the bathroom walls & then doing the second coat of mud. The best part, I didn't make any mess because I used the shop vac attachment that sands & sucks the dust, WOOHOO. I love technology! At least handy technology, still don't have an mp3 player!

3. I have just gotten back into using coupons & rebates. For a while I was convinced that it was more time than it was worth, boy was I wrong!

4. I started blogging as a way to catalog my info so next time I lost a hard drive I wouldn't be without!

5. I have lived in 13 different apartments or houses (one 3 separate times) in my life (of course I'm not counting the 4 months I was in foster care, who knows where I was then I was place at 4 months old)

6. I dislike wallpaper, with a passion. I have only 1 room left on the first floor with paper & it's ok, so it'll stay until we remove the dropped ceiling.

7. I wanted to be an Environmental Engineer when I grew up. I even have 3 1/2 years worth of college credit to start (yes start, I'd have had another 2 years at least to go). But I decided that the debt I was already in wasn't worth the career!

I am supposed to tag seven of you, if you want to play feel free! Let me know I will link to it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cookie Dough is Made

I made the dough for my cut-outs & Chocolate Italian Cookies.
We also got the fridge cleaned out & the desk moved, the kitchen is mostly cleared out I only have one corner of piles to clear out then it will be done! Woohoo! I'll be folding laundry & going through a stack of papers while we watch tv tonight.

Things we didn't get done because we completely rearranged the living room AGAIN.

1. Sand the bathroom walls & repeat mud process, then sand again.

4. Laundry, laundry & more laundry. I took 2 days off from the load a day & now I am buried under Mt. Washmore.

5. Clear out kitchen of all non-essentials.

6. Take box to Salvation Army or other place.

7. Wrap more presents

8. Sew our Christmas head bands, cut fabric for more headbands.

9. Get Real Tree, set up inside

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas prep.

My PODA for the weekend (Parade of Daily Adventures for you non-FLYers!)
1. Sand the bathroom walls & repeat mud process, then sand again.

2. Bake 2 batches of the PB kiss cookies, dough is already made, now I just have to bake the cookies.

3. Clean out fridge

4. Laundry, laundry & more laundry. I took 2 days off from the load a day & now I am buried under Mt. Washmore.

5. Clear out kitchen of all non-essentials.

6. Take box to Salvation Army or other place.

7. Wrap more presents

8. Sew our Christmas head bands, cut fabric for more headbands.

9. Get Real Tree, set up inside

10. Move comupter desk & clear off desktop

Next Week
1. Bathroom Ceiling, drywall, tape & mud, sand, paint whole bathroom

2. Clean Bathroom, hang new shower curtain

3. Paint, cut & hang trim for front room

4. Organize book shelves in front room

5. Laundry room clean up

6. Move chairs around for party seating

7. start on Christmas side dishes

8. Finish shopping Walmart, CVS trip

9. Clean carpet in playroom

10. touch up floor with stain in front room

11. clean hamster cages.

12. Fling Boogie like a crazy person!

13. Finish decorating house (after all the major remodeling is done!)

I'm sure there's a ton more!!!

Birthday gathering number ???

#3
#4
So how are you supposed to handle birthdays that are close together & close to a major holiday??? I guess I am just too used to always celebrating my birthday with Christmas (Christmas Eve baby here, ha!). These images are from the cake & friend gatherings with our next door neighbors kids.
I am thinking about doing something more substantial after the chaos of the Holidays has passed, like in February when we are itching for a change. McDonald's, bowling, just a wild & crazy party at the house... we shall see! I used to have pool parties in July (Christmas in July, why not birthday!).
The problem with multiple gatherings is that they go through this "I want" phase. Like why did the presents stop??? And then we get hit with the extremeness of Christmas. At least I seem to have curtailed the massiveness of Easter (one year it was as BAD as their Birthday gifts, eek).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tag I'm it...

1.What did you accomplish this past week?
2.Did anything not go as expected?
3.What was the highlight of your week?
4.Did anything exciting happen that you did not expect?

Feel free to tag others and check out our site to follow the answers of others!
From Sandi (link back didn't work, I'll update it if you comment again!)

1. I accomplished a lot this past week! I worked everyday but Sunday; put up 1 Christmas tree; put the train around the tree; cleaned the house every day; stained one spot in the front wood floors (have pics will post later); I created our next CVS shopping list & worked on next weeks; painted most of the front/dinning room; washed the windows; fluffed the curtains; dusted the piano & cleared it off; did 5 27 Fling Boogies; Did 10 loads of laundry (at least); made bread; sent the kids out to play in the snow; got both kids successfully off to school on time & mostly prepared!; stacked wood; watched Christmas shows with the kids; caulked some leaks around the front door & windows; almost finalized Christmas plans; spent an afternoon with my Grandma, Aunt, Cousin, Mom, Sister & DD; Shopped till I dropped!!!; successfully avoided wrapping presents & lots of other things I'm sure I've forgotten!!!

2. Did anything not go as expected - hmmm Hubby lost his job, pay check direct deposit didn't work & had to drive 30 miles to deposit it only to find out we'd have to wait a week for the funds; the bank completely messed it up anyways; kids have decided to push every button on my last nerve (if I have to call Santa one more time...); and there is never enough time in a day!

3. The highlight of my week - Getting to visit with family, Grandma is going to AZ for a while & won't be here for Christmas.

4. Well, I didn't expect to be painting the front room, or having to replace all the electrical in the front room, and I didn't expect to un-wallpaper the bathroom, but they are all done & projects are coming along nicely!!! Woohoo to unemployment!!!

Recent comments...

To November Wrap Up


I thought I was the Queen of Piles. That's what my husband tells me anyway.

Love your blog and have added you to my blogroll.
Lisa

Thanks for the link, I love stockings too!!! Looking forward to reading more from you!

Cool! Good job!
Would you mind if I just copied and pasted your November list to be my December list?
stacie

Feel free! I'm here to help!!! Love the hair cut BTW, I went shorter, but I don't think I could go that short, you are very brave.

Hi! I love your blog and have linked to you on mine www.mommygetspaid.blogspot.com, check it out if you have time and of course I wouldn't mind a link back

Keep up the good work!
Take Care!
LJ

Love freebies, I'll be back ~ and I'll put you in my blogroll!!!

Love your site so therefore you've been tagged!

1.What did you accomplish this past week?
2.Did anything not go as expected?
3.What was the highlight of your week?
4.Did anything exciting happen that you did not expect?

Feel free to tag others and check out our site to follow the answers of others!
Sandi (who's link didn't work)

I'll post this next! Sounds like fun!!!


To Considering Domain Registration

i'd love it if you posted your journey into go.daddy. i've considered that route with my lifecoachmoms webs site....i'd be interested in what you learn

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Considering Domain Registration

Despite how you feel about www.GoDaddy.com
and their banned Super Bowl Commercials, you can't deny that publicity is publicity!!!

I am loosely considering GoDaddy.com Hosting Plans
and trying my hand at website creation. I don't have any complaints about Blogger, it is great. I am just wondering if I can spread my wings that far yet! I am not the most advanced technologically, but I haven't had to look up html tags in a whole month!!! Doesn't that qualify me for some lesser Geek-dom award??? Next thing you know I'll be selling out of my virtual boutique on second life...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

November Wrap up

1. Teaching Kids about Money - Kids still missing the whole picture, but it's improving!

2. Saving Money - Well, does finding out how to get what you need for less count? Because my savings account has gone backwards (well only to open another account, it will get funded as soon as the direct deposits start going in).

3. Organizing - I am still the pile queen & it's making me nuts... I know better and yet here I am burried under piles of things I need to take care off. My poor piano bench is hidden, I only know it's there. But we did manage to make some head way in the kitchen & I have to have the place spotless before the holidays. I just refuse to do the toss & stash again.

4. Exersice & Weight - Maintaining, going to start swimming with my sister after the holidays.

5. Creative Time - I was able to spend an hour working on my Grandmas Mixer cover, I probably have another hour to go before it's finished, then I can work on my holiday head bands & my sisters tote bag.

6. Bed Time for Princess - 10 of the last 14 nights she has gone to sleep on her own in her own bed. Now if only she will stay there.

7. Emergency Kits - hmmm, knew there was something I was forgetting.

8. Routines - Our morning routines are set, evening still not all there but improving.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas is for Movies...



I have to admit I have attended a movie on Christmas. What else are you supposed to do when you are a teenager, the presents are opened & you want to spend some time with your significant other. I just wish I could remember the movie we went to see... ah young minds are a terrible thing to waste!

If only, now it is filled with family, fun, kids & cleaning. Then collapsing on the couch out of sheer exhaustion, admiring the tree in all it's used up glory!

This new Tim Burton, Johnny Depp movie "Sweeny Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" promises to be a worth while movie experience. As is any movie with Johnny Depp ( I am a fan, because even Cry Baby was fine by me!!!). Johnny sings, how cool is that! The movie opens on - Christmas! Maybe the kids will get a sleepover & we'll have a child free evening for a little grown up fun, DOUBTFUL!

If you visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site or visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace and you are led to make your own confession. Video, write or call in you most hideous of crimes, deepest shames and share them with the world! I'm sure I'd have to sit & think of something worthy of confessing, not that I'm the picture of perfection & all, just wouldn't want to be lame!!! After all I do score on the HIGH end of those "bad" personality quizzes that go around!!!




Make it From Scratch #41

Make it from Scratch #41

Some yummy food entries & great crafty ideas!

First Real Snow, maybe.

We are expecting our first real snow tonight. It's about time!!! We have been blessed with an extended bout of nice snow free weather. I think we're all just starting to feel antsy, like if it doesn't start soon will we get 10 feet to make up for it??? LOL!

The kids both have colds as do I. I know that it isn't really the warm - cold weather changes, but doesn't it always seem to come then???

We had to visit the pediatric cardiologist for the Princess today. We found out in October that she has a heart murmur, so today we had her "inspected." Turns out it is common & "normal" in kids & she is defect free, they weren't however able to locate her OFF button.

I feel for people in this situation without insurance, because this little visit (ok 1 hour & 45 minutes is not little) cost $1000, OMG! ~ I so should have gone to medical school!! But not to be a Dr, a tech of some kind, or better yet work for a company that makes the equipment. ~ Thankfully our out of pocket is 10% (makes me wish for a $20 co-pay to come back) $100 to find out the princess is well was worth every penny & more.

It feels good just to breathe the sigh of relief, we were SO nervous that our old Dr had missed something (after all this is the woman that told my MIL there is no lymph in the groin or leg area, duh, basic biology, of course she no longer does because it was removed in a 12 hour cancer surgery).

Oh yeah, Parent Teacher conferences were last night (I missed Shrek the Halls- Grrr) & the Prince is doing much better this year. His teacher said he has greatly improved in his ability to get things done & focus on stuff, in fact for a while he was meticulous she had to hurry him up! He is in PT to get his core strength up & so far it has helped with his writing a lot. So he will continue that. Woohooo! I am feeling much better about my decision to hold him back now!

I am going to work on a goals update & setting some 2008 ones in the next few days. That seems to be it for catching up, sometimes things don't change for weeks & then all of a sudden we have little time to turn around!!! C'est la vie!!! (my spell check wants to change c'est to crest, too funny!!!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not tops on our wish lists

I keep hearing that digital cameras are the it gift this year. I know we bought one for the Princess & the Prince will get mine when I upgrade, most likely during holiday sales. I use my camera for everything, blogging, family photos, movie clips. I'd love my pictures to be crisper. my lowly old Kodak CX7430 with its sad 3 MP. I can get 2x the mega pixels for less than we spent on my old camera. Don't you just love technology! I'm glad I have someone to pass my old one to, not sure what will happen the next time we upgrade... Not very green is it!

I try to carry my camera with me where ever I go, then I can snap a pic here & there. I still never seem to have it when I most want it. Like the Thanksgiving play my son did at school this year, did I remember the camera, of course not. I had to snap some pathetic shots using my Razor. Trust me, not the best quality, especially from a distance.

Now if I wanted a part time job as a professional photographer I'd be looking at the Nikon D3. With 12.1 mega pixels I bet it's better than the photographers who did the Princess's preschool photos equipment. I could have printed better quality on my $90 HP, on glossy photo paper, but I digress! So how many preschoolers would I have to pose to cover the cost.... hmmmm. Let's see $40 each figuring supplies cost $2 each, maybe, so $38 into $5000 is approximately 132.

That's a lot of screaming crying 3 year olds.

Maybe I'll stick with my $79-$99 7 MP choice!

Happy 13th Wedding Anniversary dear...

We went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra yesterday. It was amazing! I'll take that as an anniversary present every year!

Otherwise we are just hoping for a peaceful evening at home tonight, yea right!!! Not with 2 kids in the house, who are we kidding, LOL!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Not that I'm looking...

But if I were I'd probably be surfing the personals just like everyone else seems to be. At least that's what the media would have you believe. After all I'm not sure it's possible to watch tv for an hour with out seeing at least one online dating commercial.

I wasn't overly impressed with the matching capability of this site, given that the "best" match for me was a younger liberal Catholic who doesn't drink. I clearly answered conservative Christian, who drinks socially. But there was a large selection of available people in my area or really close by, so I suppose if I was looking it'd be a good place to start!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme


So as usual I am a day late! In my defense I was too busy tackling to post about it! I spent most of yesterday making my Thanksgiving dishes.

I made 5 loaves of Pineapple Sweet Potato Bread.

And 2 Sweet Potato Pineapple Bake casseroles. No pics yet I only followed through the first bake, marshmallows will go on Thursday.

I also need to get outside & snap a pic of our Christmas decor, they have been up for 2 weeks now. We just haven't plugged them in, that we'll do Friday!

It hasn't hurt that we've had unseasonable weather here, gotta take advantage of the extra outside time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Birthday Hamsters








Getting the cages.













All ready to go pick out the critters.









This is Lightening Princess












This is Mater.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Just another woohoo to me!

WE went to Toys R Us last night & finished our shopping for the kids Christmas, I hope. I'm sure there will be a couple of gotta haves, but for the most part we are done, now I can focus on the rest of my list!

Also I'll have pics later of our newest family members, 2 Hamsters Mater & Princess! WE got them for the kids birthdays, now I don't have to feel like the worst parent in the world with no pets for my kids... LOL!

We have a Thanksgiving program at school & I had to take the week off of work so now I am just avoiding housework... better get to it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Super Savings Saturday


I think I had an extremely good CVS trip today.



  • 2 bags Hershey kisses ECB, & printable c from email 2/$5 - $1.5c + $3 ECB

  • 2 Dimetapp Cold & Allergy $4.99 x 2 - $4 coupons + $5 ECB

  • Dove Skin Vitalizer 12.49 - $5 coupon + $5 ECB

  • 1 Nova Max Glucose monitor $29.99 - $50 coupon + $20 ECB

  • 1 Ameal chewable $29.99 - $3 coupon + $29.99 ECB

  • 2 Bonnie Bell lip gloss multi packs B1G1 50% off, used to fill in for $5 off $25 cosmetics/skin care

  • Cotton Swabs $3.19 + $2 ECB

  • Tums Smoothie $5.69 - $1 coupon REBATE $5.69

  • 2 Garnier Cleansers 5.99 x2 - $4 coupons + $10 ECB

  • 9 CVS brand snacks & nuts $3 off $10 coupon

  • 200 mini lights

  • 1 Glade Light Show $8.99 + REBATE $8.99

  • 2 Crest Pro Health Night mouthwash $6.99 x 2 - $3 coupon

  • 2 Crest Pro Health toothpaste $4.49 x 2 - $4.49 coupon + $5 ECB on $15 crest purchase

  • 6 Renuzit air fresheners $0.99 x 6 - $1 coupon

  • 2 bags of pecans 2/$7

  • 5 Pudding snack packs 5/$5

  • 10 Chicken noodle & tomato soups B1G1F - $1 coupon

  • 1 Shrek the 3rd 19.99 - $10 coupon from P&G deal last week + REBATE $5

  • 1 Milk $3.59

  • 6 Hershey Candy bars 2/$1

  • 1 Christmas candy $0.99


I have $19.68 in Mail in Rebates & $19 Extra Care Bucks left.


Out of pocket was $39.43. So after I mail in the rebates my actual cost was $1.98 after 3 stamps. Wheeeew.


Not sure I can do this one again! It really helped that mid week I got the $5 off $30 purchase printables in my email.


I was able to get one of the Nova Max deals, they paid me $40 to take it. The Garnier I bought was $5.99 regular price with $10 ECB & I had 2 $2 coupons, so they paid me $2 to take those. Plus the Ameal was free after ECB & I had a $3 coupon, so made $3 on that item too.


According to the receipts I saved $244.90 off retail. I don't know why I didn't start doing this sooner.


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Check out other super savers at Money Saving Mom

Friday, November 16, 2007

10 Random Things Friday

Not sure who to link to so I wont!

1. My pelvic sonogram was a pointless waste of time because apparently my insides are textbook perfect.

2. Tomorrow is dance class, 45 minutes away from home but not being able to watch practice.

3. I should be doing dishes

4. My new favorite food is Nature Valley Sweet & Salty granola bars

5. I've been sitting here surfing so long my fingers are cold.

6. I bought flannel sheets, they are most cozy.

7. I just emailed my cell phone pic of my uncle who passed away in May, the first time I realized it was in my phone I cried.

8. I have too many unfinished sewing projects to list.

9. I am going to really start Christmas shopping Sunday night.

10. Sunday we are going to but the kids hamsters for their birthdays.

Durable Handbags

I bought myself a new purse after watching the Rachel Ray where they tested the Mom's handbag for germs & found staph, ecoli & bunches of other gross stuff. The purse I was using was old (like 8 years old) & had to have just been nasty!

So of course I find this website in my email today...
Hardware Handbags including a code (HH3) that is good for $30 off until the end of November.

The tout their line as eco-friendly, cruelty free (not leather), & sustainable. It can (as a last resort) be machine washed!

Their price is a tad more than I would usually pay for something like a handbag, but is reasonable considering current pricing trends and if it is as durable as claimed. Note: I paid $9.48 for my bag off the clearance rack & it isn't leather either... I doubt it will last me forever, but it will do!

Frugal Friday

I really don't have much to say today!!! Shock & awe I know!

I think all I've got is to check your whole sale food service companies for baking supplies, especially if you plan on baking tons like I am. I was able to buy my brown sugar for $0.48/pound, flour for $1.60/5 pounds, and margarine for $0.53/pound. Most places don't have minimums if you are picking it up. I also picked up some really cool "egg wash" spray for breads, very nice & easy to use, plus no wasted left over egg. My Grandma used to buy powdered egg whites like this too. Beats making meringue from scratch! Industry secrets! Plus it is an ingredient in most royal icing recipes (for the super cute decorated cutouts!)!!!

29 Ways to a Stress-Free Holiday, HA!

Browsing a 12/17/02 Woman's Day magazine I ran across this article by Catherine Stier! Thought I'd share a bit with ya!!

Relax and enjoy the festivities for a change
1. Make a change - basically take the one thing about the holidays that makes you nuts & do it differently.

2. Be satisfied with "good enough" - this I will never achieve! I am far to OCD to accept good enough, unless I have gone over the top to do everything in my power to make it great!

3. Throw away the shopping list - Not sure how that would work for me! Your supposed to replace gifts with time, I already don't have enough of that!!!

4. Bring out books to add seasonal touches - Sure, I'll have a basket of kids holiday books out after Thanksgiving is over!

5. Use what's on hand - the article suggests gift wrapping photo frames that are already on your walls. I have done it before, but clean up was a pain!!!

6. Go monochrome - I switched all our stuff to red a while back, I'll probably stick with it, since I really don't have the funds to run out & change everything, but I am itching for a change!

7. Know when to say NO - When??? What is this no thing???

8. Keep gatherings small - HA! Unless you consider small 25 people or more running around your house forget it! This large family can't do a small anything!

9. Take advantage of time savers - I get it caterer!!! Oh if only! I did cheat a couple years ago & order some holiday cookies, but I had an infant & 0 time, now I have no excuse!

10. Stick with the tried & true - Can't do this either, I view my entire family as Guinea Pigs & must try at least 2 new recipes a year on them!!!

11. Don't hesitate to ask for help - HELP!!!!!

12. Go with a game plan - Ok so if we start outside CVS we can be in & out in an hour hopefully then we can move on to Toys R US, if we don't spend all our $ there, then we can go to Target....

13. Bring only the essentials - leave the 40 pound purse at home, you'll only lose your stuff in it by the end of the day anyways.

14. Seek the out of the way cashier - This only works at the mall! Or if you can check out at the jewelry counter!

15. Leave assembly to the experts - I don't usually have this issue, but I do like to take stuff out of the original boxes, there is nothing worse than spending Christmas morning untwisting twist ties!

16. - Bring along a positive attitude - Smiles are contagious!

17. Request free gift wrapping - I always forget to ask for boxes!

18. Seek out charity gift wrapping services - I think our mall has this set up, but I rarely shop at the mall & I'm certainly not hauling in my stuff from out of the mall...

19. Stock up - I do this after Christmas is over, buy at 75 - 80% off! They are kids & don't care what the wrap looks like!

20. Reward yourself while wrapping - I like to do this with my sis so just hanging out is reward enough! A couple cocktails are nice too!!

21. Hold on to daily rituals - routines!!!

22. Schedule a break - This is usually driving around to see the lights

23. Make one more commitment - if you are into that kind of thing, church choir, charity, something to enhance you spiritually.

24. Pack smart - if you travel at least. Make stuff you'll want when you arrive easy to get too (PJs, toiletries, etc)

25. Stay safe on the road - Emergency kits, AAA, check the car over before leaving...

26. End Airport hassles - get there early, think we all know that by now!

27. Choose travel proof gifts - Gift Cards! Or mail gifts ahead, probably better off with USPS than the airlines... Maybe!

28. Remember to have fun - This is a tough one, because my mind is constantly in a state of "what's next" at least until that day. Then I relax & enjoy!

29. Record what worked - Holiday control journal (Fly Lady)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clearing my shelves

I think this will be my Tackle it Tuesday submission!

I just got done taking the rest of my CDs out of the jewel cases & putting them in a binder something like this. The bulk of them are already in totes in the car. Of course I am really looking forward to going MP3 with them all...

I think I'm gonna do it with most of our DVDs too. We just got done rearranging the house a little & I have no more storage for all the DVDs we have. I'll keep more than a few in the original cases (the Lord of the Rings & some of the kids ones). But most will be tossed with the trash soon! I think the kids are more likely to scratch a DVD putting it back in its case than into a flexible sheet protector.

Now I have a couple of built in shelves free for decorating with my Christmas houses! Yippeee!!!

Wooohooo!

The concession trailer finally sold! My large clutter left the driveway yesterday. We didn't get what we wanted for it, but it is gone. Now once I get the rest of the equipment out of the garage it'll be like the ice cream thing never happened! I'll be thrilled!!!

New Stephen King Movie

The Mist by Stephen King

I have to say I am not a HUGE Stephen King Fan, but I really enjoyed "The Bachman Books" he wrote under the pen name Richard Bachman. My favorite was "The Long Walk" I read that one a bunch. This was the book that "The Running Man" came from. It has been a long time since I've read it, I'm not even sure of it's location. Most likely still on my Mom's book shelf! Or maybe my sisters house, she is a big fan. I think she may have all his books, at least a good many!

"The Bachman Books" was apparently taken out of print in the US because of similarities in "The Rage" to the Columbine tragedy. I'm not sure how I feel about the implied censorship. I don't remember reading "The Rage", but obviously it didn't move me to violence. Are they going to take Tom Clancy books off the shelves because he wrote about a 9/11 scenario years before it actually happened?

I have probably seen most of the movies created from the books. "Pet Cemetery" was my favorite. I don't really go for the suspense/horror genre, but it is always fun to watch a King movie, just to see what part he'll play! It was crazy to watch him play a minister!!

The new movie "The Mist" is coming to theaters November 21st. The basic synopsis is a strange mist covers a town that was just hit by a natural disaster. In true King fashion the trailers lead you to the plot being more about the "human nature monster" & what is worse the monsters outside or the ones within.


Visit The Mist to view the trailers for yourselves!




Saturday, November 10, 2007

Super Saving Saturday

Ok, CVS shopped yesterday, with both kids in tow after their flu shots, so it's amazing I was able to do it at all... While I checked out they played with the automatic door, so I was a LOT distracted. I know the Dr. told me they hear just fine, but isn't there a pill to get them to LISTEN...

#1
M&Ms/Dove 2/$5 $5 ECB
Pepto $4.99 x 2 -$1 coupon
Nyquil 2 pack 11.99 - $1 coupon $5 ECB
Ameal BP chewables $29.99 - $3 coupon $29.99 ECB
- $2 off $10 coupon
- $4 off $10 coupon
- $10 GC mypoints
total $35.95
$39.99 ECBs

Bonus CRT coupons $2 on CVS Tussin, $1.50 off Sudacare, $2.50 off any $10 pain reliever purchase, $5 off Dove Skin Vitalizer

#2
2/$5 Secret -$1
2/$5 Old Spice Anti perspirant - $1
3 Glade Scented oil refills (2.50 each) - $2.50 (B2G1Free coupon)
2 bags of candy corn $0.50
1 candy corn toy $0.25
2 candy toys $0.64
1 candy toy $0.49
1 Bounty 8 pack $6.49 - $1 coupon
1 Charmin 9 pack $6.39 - $1 coupon
2 Dawn ($0.98 each) $1.96 - $1 coupon
1 CVS pretzels $1.49
1 CVS toffee popcorn $1.49
1 CVS mixed nuts $4.39
1 CVS Macadamia nuts $3.99
1 NB Vit C $4.49 (B1G1F sale) - $2 coupon
1 NB Vit D $free (wouldn't let me use 2nd coupon, grr)
- $2 off $10 coupon
- $3 off $10 CVS snacks coupon from an email
- $29.99 ECB
- $2.00 ECB
OOP $3.54
Plus I have a $5 ECB left
I wasn't happy with this CVS, the Charmin rang up wrong & I missed it, plus they took my MFG coupons out of the cost for the Shrek the third movie deal, so I had to go back & buy a tide for $5.44 & I picked up 2 packs of wrigley gum with my B1G1F coupon so #3 total was $6.88 after tax. I have plans for my ECB for next week, so I didn't use it. They also wouldn't let me use 2 coupons the b1g1free vitamin deal, technically I did buy two... Oh yea the candy was halloween leftovers & the kids got 2 treats because they were brave flu shot getters!

I wasn't able to get any glucose monitors, but my hope is to be able to pick up a couple next week. I was able to get 3 of the diabetes coupon books that everyone on the web is talking about, so I have coupons to pick up 3 monitors free after the coupon + $20 ECBs. That'll be $60 in ECBs, I am planning on donating the monitors, or giving them to my niece who is diabetic. I am going to see if my CVS closer to home has any monitors today, doubtful, but worth the try, if not I'll stop on my way to the Dr. on Monday!

Summary $ Out of Pocket = $46.37
ECBs earned = $36.99
Savings = 124.76

I also have the $10 ECB for the Shrek movie, next week CVS has Campbells soup B1G1F, I hae a $1/10 coupon & the rebate form for $5 off the movie, so we'll be paying $4.99 for that, sweet!

I already started working on next weeks list. Dimetapp is back on sale $4.99, with buy 2 get $5 ECB. We have already used what I bought in October. Plus Tylenol is back with a spend $15 get $5 ECBs. I also think that the register coupon for the Dove skin Vitalizer is also in next weeks ad with ECBs ($12.49 - $5 CRT = $7.49 = $5 ECB). I found the flyer here.

Visit Money Saving Mom to post your own deals or to check out others around the net!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Festival of Frugality

Halloween Edition of the Festival of Frugality was hosted by Being Frugal

I haven't gotten through the whole festival but Clever Dudette's Inexpensive ways to woo your wife is going to get left open, hint hint....

Also intriguing was My two Dollars Getting organized does not have to cost a lot of money. I craft so I am always on the look out for creative storage solutions, my best was Oreo trays (washed of course) as drawer organizers. They are FREE with the cookies!!!

Oh the insanity!

Hard to believe these were taken over a month ago! The twins next door had their birthday at McDs, of course. So guess where the Prince & Princess want theirs... I'm just not certain I can handle this! DS has 21 kids in his class & DD has 7, that plus friends would be 32+ people. That is insane!!! I think we might take the neighbors & the kids to see the Bee movie instead, that's 4 kids 2 adults, should be do-able!!! It should be cheaper as well, nothing frugal about 32 happy meals :D.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Carnival of the Recipes

Readable Feast has hosted this weeks carnival.  The theme is It's a Small World, kid recipes.  My crab cake casserole may not be the most kid friendly food, but it sure was yummy & who can resist the Sponge Bob specialty references!!!  I bet if I had used the cheaper fake crab my kiddos wouldn't have been able to eat enough of it!



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Straight Edge, Inc. - Review Updated

I wrote -Straight Edge Inc. Review in July. I just wanted to update on the status of the products. We are still using the beach place mat, but the "set the table" place mat had to go. I'm not sure what poked the hole but it started taking on water :(. I guess that's the problem with laminated place mats!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Make it from Scratch



Make it from Scratch - Autumn Edition is hosted over at Nini Makes. I haven't posted a project since the pepperoni bread, guess I'd better get my behind posting!!!


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Saturday, October 6, 2007

CVS - actual

Ended up taking hubby with, and that never makes things go smoothly!  Plus my neighbor asked me to pick some stuff up for her after she saw the ad.   So I rang her medicine up first & used the $10 ECB towards mine.  She doesn't have an extra care card yet & was really happy with the sale prices, plus she doesn't "actually" pay for it!


I got my DM, Motrin, child Motrin, Dayquil, Tylenol cold, Advil C&S, Dimetapp $48.50 - $23 = $25.50, Not bad I had a coupon I couldn't use (it was a sneaky 2 for) & I forgot 1 so it should have been $3.50 less if I had planned it better.


The second checkout was ok, they were out of a couple things I wanted.  And you know they look at you weird when you buy that much medicine at once, but the sales were good & obviously I had planned this trip!  I just told the clerk that I have 2 kids & cold season is coming why wouldn't I stock up?


I got the Pantene 3/$12, Irish Spring 2  3packs for $3.98, Bounty 8 pack $6.49, Dove Shampoo 2 for $9.98, Dove facial cleanser $4.99, Dove Deodorant $3.49, 2 Dawn dish soap for $1.98 (because they were out of the Puffs), Colgate toothpaste B1G1F $2.79, I had to add girl stuff & hubby bought a 12 pack for an extra $13.58 that wasn't in the original plan.  So $59.28 - $18 =  $41.28 + tax $45.17


We didn't grab the razors, and I decided the cling wrap wasn't something I needed to have, really want the press 'n seal but that wasn't on sale.


Total =  $70.67 out of pocket plus I came home with $12 in ECBs so we were over $14.17 over, hmmm could that be the beer & extras!!!


I decided to skip Rite Aid, completely the other direction from where we were last night.  I'll see what they have in next weeks ads tomorrow!



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Friday, October 5, 2007

Is it possible...

that my baby boy is too grown up for me to shop here for Christmas gifts... ;-(

"You can't organize clutter" Friday

"Do not give up the valuable real estate in your home to clutter. If you do not love it, use it or need it, let if
go!" Today's Kelly-ism (from FlyLady


My goal today is to get through two 27 Fling boogies in my zone (Front porch, dinning room, entry areas) and one in the living room & one outside (my Friday zones).


Also the October habit builder is paper clutter, if I can clear up the paper clutter my rooms will be much "cleaner" looking!


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Next store stop Rite Aid

This week there are some really good B1G1F offers plus a couple of Single Check Rebates I'll be taking advantage of...


Colgate Toothpaste B1G1F - $1 coupon


Colgate Toothbrushes B1G1F - $1 coupon


Act Mouthwash 2/$7 - $1coupon = $1 single check rebate


Crest Pro Health night rinse $4.99 - $1.50 coupon = $2.99 rebate


Advil Maximum Strength $3.99 = $3.99 rebate


Cheez-Its 2x $1.99 - $1 coupon


PeptoBismal 2x$3.99 - $1


Speed Stick 2x2.99 - $1


Purex B1G1F Laundry 


Miller Lite 30 Pack $15.99 + Deposit $1.80


Crest Pro Health toothpaste $3.29 - $1 coupon = $2.29 rebate


Maybelline Dream Matte Mouse & Powder B1G1F - $3 coupons


Crystal Lake Spring Water $0.79/gallon x 4 = $3.16


Not sure of the totals here but this rounds out my stock up list plus nets a rebate of $10.27


I also forgot to mention in the CVS post that if you sign up for email notices at the website (using your extra care card) you get an extra $4 EBC on $20 purchase so after that my out of pocket will be $62! Woohoo!





CVS - the forgotten EBC

***Updated, I found some better coupons on the web!

I have had an extra care card for years but I guess I've never thought of using it on a regular basis. Until I read Money Saving Mom's articles on CVS savings. Our ad doesn't have any free with extra care bucks this week, but I managed to make a list that will only cost me $66 + tax out of pocket.


My list includes a bunch of those winter cold medicines I need to restock the medicine chest anyways. SO lets break down the plan...


In the Pharmacy purchase


Tylenol Sore throat/ Cold liquid $5 - $1 coupon


Motrin 100 ct $9 - $1 coupon


Child's Motrin 5.50 - $1 coupon


Children's Tylenol Cold $6 - $1


NyQuil Daytime $6 - $1.50 coupon


Advil Cold & Sinus $4 - $2 coupon

*

Robitussin Liquid $6 -$3 coupon

*

Dimetapp Liquid Children's $7 - $2 coupon

*

$48.50 before coupons - $12.50 coupons - $4 EBC from website = $32.00 Plus $20 in Extra Care Bucks I can use for the rest of my trip


Puffs Tissues 6x.99 = 6 - $1 coupon


Pantene Pro-V 3/$12 - $1 coupon


Bounty 8 pk $6.49 - $1 coupon


Dove Hair Care x 2 (approx $9) - $1.50 coupon


Dove Deodorant $3.49 - $1 coupon


Dove Facial Cleanser $4.99 - $1.50 coupon


Irish Spring 3 packs 2x$1.99 -$1 coupon = $2 EBC


Glad Cling Wrap $2.50


B1G1F CVS Disposable Razors approx $4


$52.50 - $8 = $44.50 - $20 EBC from Pharmacy = $24.50 + $12+ in EBC for my next trip


So $56.50 out of pocket = $101 product + $12+ in EBC to use next trip Plus my medicine chest gets refilled & we are ready for the upcoming cold season!


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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Life Lesson...d'oh!

When you are living at your means or slightly above it is easy to put off paying bills until they demand attention, oh like say a water bill.  They come every 3 months & aren't really that "bad"  ours for the entire house (3 bathrooms, nonstop laundry & dishwasher, plus an apartment) only figures to be $71 a month.  not bad, except it's one that gets forgotten until it is $547 + change... oops, am I bad???


Lesson learned = pay bill on time because if you don't the Village you pay an extra $1000 a year in taxes to live in will charge you an extra $155 to turn your water back on... GRRRRRRRRRRRR.


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Garage Lighting

I realized the other day that we have poor garage lighting. The only things in there are 2 incandescent bulbs & I'm pretty sure one needs a new bulb! There is a 4 foot fluorescent unit, but I don't think it is plugged in. I think hubby brought it up from the basement (another poorly lit dungeon).


We need more task specific lighting. There is a long table that we are using as a workbench that has no overhead lighting at all. Makes it really hard to see what you are doing. There are a few windows in there at least. One is a full size normal window & the others are in the overhead doors.


I'd consider a solar light, but with our days getting shorter & shorter it wouldn't help at all with those pesky winter evening projects. Plus our garage is detached, so we even need to upgrade our exterior lighting. Of course the whole garage needs updating not just the garage lighting. The doors are falling apart, of course they are ancient wood doors, the roof is in fair condition & the center support beam, err, well... has no support!


I'd love to flick the switch & be bathed in light, I can say the same for our house. Apparently at some point cave trolls lived here... light is scarce & hard to find!



Tags: ,


September Goals Update

1. Teaching kids about $ - I seem to be making some progress in this area, especially with their birthday's coming up soon. The Prince is trying to ask for things he really wants/needs instead of everything he sees a commercial for. I have been slacking in paying their allowances lately, it's not really fair to them, but it's not like they want for much!

2. Saving $ - Well buying the car has made it impossible to set aside much at all. Thankfully hubby has $ going into his 401K & a Savings account out of his check. Plus back to school expenses, tuition, photos, lunch, etc... My ING account has gone backwards, took some out to fund our new checking account, hopefully now that they are linked I'll be able to put it back & add to it regularly.

3. Organizing - "You can't organize clutter." I keep telling myself that every room I am in! My "foolishness" is starting to shrink (Clean House on Style). We are cleaning out all the "clutter" & trying to only leave what we use, love or need. I am in process of clearing our front room out, we are going to move the table in there after I finish ripping up the carpet. Plus it is a Super Fling month on FlyLady, so we are decluttering in each zone. As soon as I'm done with this article I am off for a 27 Fling Boogie.

4. Exercise & weight - Don't get me started... Still haven't lost a pound, but the clothes are getting looser & looser. Considering trying on a 14W next time I go to the store, just to see.

5. Creative Time - I still have multiple unfinished projects, tooth pillow, mixer cover, tote bag, quilt... I will get them done soon, I will.

6. Bed time for the Princess - We will get back on schedule this week, we have been overwhelmed with the back to school thing & our unseasonably warm weather, the kids have been pushing play time to the limits & soon enough it'll be icky, so we've let them!

7. Emergency kits - I organized the first aid kit & have a list for this weeks shopping trip of medicines & supplies so we will be set for winter weather! I also need to pick up some flashlight batteries & a couple new flashlights (new car, new supplies!).

8. Routines - WE fell into our back to school morning routine easily enough, even with have to get both ready for school 2 days a week. It the before bed we've had problems with, but we'll get it together soon.

I haven't been tracking expenses lately & with hubby buying a lot of our food from work it's been hard to keep track of. All I know is that I have 2 freezers full of food! I am going to clean out the fridge a little at a time this week, lots of scary leftovers in there at the moment...

Monday, October 1, 2007

October 1st????

The month of September went by in a blur! A blur of early mornings, late evenings, arguing about homework, almost daily baths/showers, bills and ignoring the budget.

WE got totally upside down this month, which stinks because it is going to take another month to get right side up again. Started with the washer breaking, $92 later I am back to abusing my GE! We bought a used car & had to fix it up & put it on the road. A much needed expense, but an expense none the less. And my poor van is still sitting at the repair shop, I'm not sure if it's because we can't pay the almost $1000 bill or if the mechanic really doesn't feel like tackling the huge project! Unfortunately for him we are wanting it fixed. I was so discouraged earlier in the week I had considered cutting our losses & sell it for scrap or a project car. But hubby told me that if we put this $ into it, we'd be able to trade it in for full book value by the end of the year (or shortly after). So I am trying to look at it as a win win, either way I will finally have my soccer mom vehicle back & we'll be back to a 2 vehicle family!!! Progress!

We are still trying to sell our concession trailer. I think that if it doesn't sell locally in the next month I'm going to list it on Ebay. Everyone around here is looking to haul their motorcycles & snowmobiles, it is just too finished for that!

We opened a checking account attached to our TD Ameritrade account. I missed checks so much! It was convenient, they arrived just in time for school pictures & a PTA fundraiser (cookboks). The account earns interest, plus it isn't one for everyday use, so we won't be using a ton of checks just more checks for things I would have used cash for in the past (like the MIA school book order from last Christmas...). Which means that the $ will actually earn interest! Woohoo!

Other progress an the home front, we had a tree taken down (our unexpected expense, he just showed up and started cutting, he was supposed to come & tell us when we were on the schedule, oops). It was old & wasn't ever going to fall in the direction we wanted it to, and it wasn't nearly as expensive as I've heard from others. I can't imagine having to pay $2500 to have a tree taken down, we are spoiled it only cost us $400.

That's about it, I'll have to go over the goals and do an end of Summer wrap up! Maybe after dinner :D.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weight Loss Surgery???

I don't feel like I am at a point where weight loss surgery is an option for me. Sure I am heavier than I'd like to be, wider than I'd like to be, but I am slowly slimming down. So I don't even think that I am elidgible. I also don't agree with the assesment that my calculated BMI puts me at severely obese. I used to swim distance events and the butterfly in school. It had a huge impact on my natural shape. I have broader shoulders than most and a basic muscle structure that is larger than a normal 5'4" woman. Sure I still have a bunch of baby fat I'd like to loose. But according to the BMI calculators I was obese at my top fit weight. Can't help it I have curves, I don't think it's possible for me to get to the ideal weight recommended for me. If I remember correctly I was there in the 7th grade... If you could see my Senior year picture you wouldn't think I was obese at all! I think the only way to get an accurate BMI is to be tested by someone certified to do so.

Of course just because I don't think it's not for me doesn't mean it isn't a viable option for those who have tried EVERYTHING else. I think that people considering weight loss surgery should weigh all the options available to them. This website seems to have a variety of support tools and a great deal of information on the Lap-Band option.

Easy Chocolate Cake from scratch

I made this cake recipe earlier in the week. It made 2 cake pans (8" rounds) plus 8 cupcakes. I probably should have made 12 cupcakes & smaller layers the cake was really tall! I also cooked it a hair too long, but that said it didn't last long enough for me to snap a picture! The frosting is on the extremely sweet side so for double layers it was a little too much for me, but I am the ONLY one who noticed. I also added 2 T instant coffee powder to the cake mix.

5 Minute Chocolate Cake


Peanut Butter Frosting
1 c shortening
1/2 c Peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 3/4 to 5 c powdered sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp milk, divided

Beat shortening, peanut butter & vanilla at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add about half of the powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 Tbsp of milk. Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar and enough milk to make the frosting of spreading consistency.

Add more powdered sugar to stiffen frosting if it is to be used for decorative shapes (flowers, borders, etc.).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Black Friday is around the corner

I live for black friday deals. I have done some of my best holiday & family shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. The sooner I get the ads the better I can plan my spending! Nothing kicks off the Christmas season for me like standing in the parking lot with a cup of coffee freezing my behind off with all the other crazy people!

In the past I have gotten a computer, portable DVD player, Nintendo Micro, my sister bought her trampoline, we missed out on the Wii though. I count on getting the ads as early as possible so I can decide if I'm gonna go at all! We usually just go to the local Wal-Mart. So I start searching online for the Wal-Mart deals like now...

I've already signed up for the newsletter & hopefully there will be a screaming deal on TVs because ours is just biding its time... Hopefully there will be some intersecting with my gift list!

I'm not one of the people who go & then try and profit by selling the stuff online later. I'm strictly a gifts or personal use person! I am guilty of picking up a few extras for other people, after all , not many people I know want to get up at 5AM the day after Thanksgiving (unless they are heading to the woods)!

Pepperoni Bread & Pizza Subs

Pepperoni Bread

1 cups plus 2 tablespoons water (70° to 80°)
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup sliced pepperoni

In bread machine pan, place the first eight ingredients in
order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic bread setting. Choose medium
crust color and loaf size if available. Bake according to bread machine
directions(check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; make necessary adjustments.

Just before final kneading add pepperoni.

I made this by hand since my BM is still out of commission. I dissolved the sugar & yeast in the water & mixed all the dry ingredients together first. I kneaded in the cheese & pepperoni at the end. Let rise once in oiled bowl in moist oven for almost 2 hours, divided into 2 loaves & let rise again. Then baked at 350 until they were golden (about 20 minutes).

Then we cut the loaf in half & sliced like a hot dog bun. Spread the open pieces with pizza sauce, pepperoni & mozzarella cheese. Put it under the broiler until lightly browned. Then we put it back together & we had pizza subs just like our deli makes them. YUM!

Wished I'd taken pictures. I sent the extra loaf to work with hubby, his coworkers LOVE me!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Cutie

I took this picture of the Princess in our living room, now everyone at hubby's office thinks I'm a pro!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Family vacation planning

I am still holding out for a weekend get away with my kids but now with school starting I doubt it will happen. I am going to start now planning next years trip. I was sent Kango.com to review so I figured hey I'm trying to plan a family trip I'll check it out!


Kango.com is in the alpha phase right now, so they are newbies! Their home page has links to best things to do with kids & families in California & Hawaii. Plus zoo, aquarium, museum, & theme park reviews.


Kango.com is a place to submit your reviews of places you've been & to read what others thought about the places you want to go. Leave your ratings & reviews to help out other families planning their trips. I have a feeling that they will be an invaluable resource while planning our big trip with the kids!


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My weekend reads

Frugal For Life Tips & links for Holidays.  Great tips for the upcoming Halloween holiday & others.


Simple Dollar The one hour project One hour makes all the difference. Announcing a new series for September on how to spend an hour to directly improve your finances.  Sounds like a good read to get back into frugal mode!


Organizing LA Old Hollywood pantry organization.  I have fabulous cupboard space & still have a hard time finding anything!  This is my winter project!  Labels on everything, a place for everything, no more wasted or over used spaces.  The bonus to this should be that I won't go buy something because I don't have it then find it 2 weeks later...


Make it from scratch #28 Great collection of recipes, projects & tips.






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Monday, August 27, 2007

I have it all

Big clutter

and Small clutter!

Secrets of Successful Savers and other tips found in older magazine articles A Series #5

Simple Ways to Save - It takes just one dollar at a time by Chrystle Fielder, Woman's Day 2/19/02


This article offers some ideas to keep more of what you make.


1. Establish a saving habit with $0.75 a day. - Principle is 3 banks 1 saving, 1 investing, 1 offering/charity.


2. Don't discount small change - spend only paper currency & save your change.  This works, I have a glass wine jug that it goes in.  I also started setting aside coins that were minted in "special" years anniversary, births, graduations, I will scrapbook a few once I've completed the collecting, but for now it creates a pile of "untouchable" change!


3. Open a separate savings account for special occasions - Know you have a trip to make or big party to plan for, divide up what you'll need & start setting it aside in a special account for only that purpose, kind of like Christmas accounts.


4. Save first and enjoy what's left. This only works if you aren't negative into your living expenses...


5. Track your paper trail - basically track your spending, keep all your receipts & find where you are spending needlessly, or where you need to make cuts.


6. Give cash a chance - only have so much on hand & try to force yourself to not go over.


7. Stop spending money on things that fall in value. - Ok, but food & household things are hardly investment items!  I guess I do this by not buying the most expensive items available, sure I could spend $100 on a pair of shoes, but I'd have to go through 10 cheap pairs to equal it.


8. Use coupons the right way - Save the money you save using them, makes sense, if you have the ability.  If you are using them to be able to stretch your food budget this won't work!


9. Save on long distance - I think cell phones have eliminated this for lots of people.  Only a few in the stone ages (like me) are with out & have to rely on our phone company!


10. Don't go car shopping in person - research what you want & what to expect for cost.  With Kelly Blue Book you can go in with dealer costs, trade ins & what features are worth.


11. Rotate your balance to lower interest on credit cards.  If you can take advantage of 0% interest offers, then pay as much of the debt down as possible before the term expires.  When I do pay interest on a card (we have a couple we are paying down) I try to add the finance charges + the minimum payment and make that my minimum payment then pay what I can over that.


12. Save big by paying off your debt. It's the interest game, if you are getting less interest than you are paying out (in most cases it's a huge difference) using savings to pay off the higher interest debts makes financial sense.  It's a matter of what is comfortable for you though.  I know I feel better when I have a cushion in the bank.


13. Let the kids do the shopping. This only works if your kids are older!  If I let the Prince & Princess loose on the store with our budget we'd have frosted animal cookies & oreos, maybe some bread & milk!  I do try to take them once in a while so they see just how it all works.  They still seem to think that I'll just run out at 9PM for a snack because they don't want to eat anything left, don't know where they got it from, we've never done it for them!


14. Once a week go over checkbook issues with your spouse.  I wish.  I have tried the weekly sit down, asking what he paid, how much he paid, where the receipts are... sometimes you just have to accept your reality & try to make that work!


15. Set savings goals you can comfortably accomplish. I like the idea of making it a game.  Maybe we'll figure one out!


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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tackling the clutter

One pile of paper at a time.  I am realizing that I still save "important" papers like we still operate a business.  I have to remember I can't deduct every McDs excursion.  So why am I still saving all the receipts???  Someone save me from myself!  Or maybe I need to get off my behind & find something to do business at.  I could consider the blogging a business, after all I have made money at it.  Hmmm.  Too much serious thought for a Saturday morning!  I am off to go to a Craft Fair with my sister!  I'll worry about it Monday, when I start cleaning again!!!


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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Article Series #4

Are you throwing money away? John Nardini, Woman's Day 11/19/02


42 easy ways to fatten your wallet...


1. Avoid late fees - Duh! If we paid our electric bill late every month for a year the late fees would = one hour of pay (gross pay). That stinks! I don't want to waste my time working for what is essentially nothing. Figure if we paid all our bills late (one of the credit cards used to charge $35 a month if late, ouch) I'd probably spend 2 weeks working for FEES, don't even get me started on the ATM machine!!!


2. Don't let credit card debt linger - basically sending the minimum payment will drag out the process into a decades long waste of money.


3. Skip credit cards with annual fees - there are just too many options out there to settle for something you have to pay to have.


4. Get the most out of your gas purchases - I didn't know that filling up in the early AM or late PM could make a difference on the volume of gas, hmmm. Apparently gas is denser then. I don't think I've ever read that before.


5. Make sure your car is in top running shape - I'm not a "car" person but I do know enough to keep the oil changed & check the tires every so often!


6. Keep your trunk empty - this article was written by a man! I keep an assortment of items in my van at all times, sorry the benefit of having emergency supplies (napkins, wipes, plates, cups, blankets, toys, window cleaner, sweatshirts, etc) far outweighs any % of gas mileage saved!


7. Skip the extended warranty when you buy a new car - OK, most new cars come with a warranty & if you take your vehicle in before it expires your shop will probably do all the necessary or unnecessary work to leave you with a "new" car.


8. Compare Insurance prices - it also pays to keep multiple policies with one company (extra discounts).


9. Drop collision or comprehensive coverage on older cars - I will be keeping mine thank you, it is worth the $0 deductible glass coverage. I do drive a mini van afterall!


10. Ask about discounts - air bags, ABS, anti theft, multiple policies, my favorite - safety courses.


11. Join a credit union - Been there done that, they are a great value, just find one that is convenient. Ours was more hassel than it was worth.


12. Find out about discounts - Lots of banks waive fees if you use direct deposit, look for free checking, free with interest is better!


13. Order checks from an outside company not from the bank. They are SO much cheaper.


14. Balance your checkbook every month. Don't trust the bank to find errors, unless they are in their favor. And if they are, my experience has been that they will just make the corrections & not tell you what is going on.


15. Return unwanted items quickly - sounds familiar... Don't remove tags unless you are 100% certain you are keeping it. The Prince got a shirt for his birthday that makes him look like a stuffed sausage, but we couldn't exchange it because (even though I specifically said not to) he removed the tags.


16. Shop in the men's department - article claims that socks, turtlenecks & plain white tshirts are cheaper there. I'm not sure about that, and if I bought socks that fit me I'd be in the boys department not the men's & then I'd loose all my socks to the Prince.


17. Lower your dry cleaning costs - What dry cleaning costs??? Even if it says dry clean only I still wash it, I've never had an issue EVER. Even suit coats have gone in the washer on gentle, fluff dried then hung while still damp. If you aren't as brave then find a good local dry cleaner, or try the "dry cleaning" wipes that go in your dryer.


18. Stop at your grocery stores discount rack - Yup, breads, discontinued items, managers specials on meats, we've been here before!


19. Buy in bulk - sure, but only if it's cheaper & you have the room.


20 - Get the most out of your meat purchases. - Sure. Goes with meat your butcher, I've had pork loins slices for boneless chops, I've also found that it isn't hard to do it myself.


21. Refinance your mortgage - maybe back in 2002 that was good advice! Now do your homework.


22. Prepay your mortgage - You can pay extra per month or make an extra payment every year. Unless you have higher interest debt then pay that first!


23. Cancel PMI after you own 20% of your home. Read your fine print, we can't cancel ours until a specific date no matter what the % is. And what is it based on? Equity? Value? or the Loan? Our home has been valued at $120+ our loan principal is $70, but it doesn't work that way. I wish it did we pay over $800 a year for it.


24. Compare tax assessment with your neighbors - Sure you can challenge them if there are discrepancies, but I know in our area what usually happens is 1) nothing 2) you get reassessed higher 3) they raise your neighbors assessments.


25. Learn to do simple home repairs - Not everything is as easy as they make it look on HGTV! Do your homework. It won't be cost effective if you have to run out & buy a ton of special tools.


26. Shop homeowner's insurance (renter's insurance) - again, multiple policy discount!


27. Ask about discounts - non smokers, fire extinguishers, alarm systems.


28. Increase your deductible - this will save you money on your premium, but you'll have to pay more out of pocket each incident. We've only been in the house for 4 years & we've had 1 claim & 1 incident that should have been (tenant disaster of 2007).


29. Itemize your return - If you have enough deductions. We do not.


30. Donate - if you itemize that is


31. Double check your return - or triple, quadruple...


32. Use your "included" phone minutes, sure just don't go over...


33. Drop unused services on your phone - My services are a package & it would cost me more to have the few I use so check your rates first.


34. Take advantage of energy audits offered by many power companies - If yours offers!


35. Replace standard light bulbs with CFLs - I think that is a dead horse (pardon the phrase). All of the appropriate bulbs have been changed.


36. Adjust your thermostat - We immediately changed to digital. If you can't/won't keep the thermostat at a normal 68, may I suggest coal, pellet or wood heat! Our coal furnace keeps us at a balmy 75+ all winter. Whether I want it to or not.


37. Allow sunlight to warm your home - This will be nice with the upstairs apartment. I am also having hubby install a couple solatubes in the bathrooms (both are convenient for the fixtures). They will light dark spaces & our local discount home store has them for $100.


38. Insulate your home using furniture & wall hangings. I guess this depends on you house, but then the carpet didn't block the draft & stuff against the walls is fine, but we can't place furniture in the worst areas (windows & doors or registers).


39. Keep your refrigerator and freezer at the recommended temperatures. No one likes frozen eggs or squishy pop-sicles any ways!


40. Check the seal on your fridge doors. I know these can be replaced I have had to do it in the past, just don't mix up the fridge & freezer pieces!!!


41. Keep appliances lint & dust free. I try to remember to clean the coils, really I do!


42. When using your oven peek through the window or wait until food is almost done before opening the door. - If only my oven had a window & if I knew when it was "almost" done I wouldn't be peeking!!!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Secrets of Successful Savers and other tips found in older magazine articles A Series #3

25 Ways to Save on Groceries - Check out with a fatter wallet, by W. Eric Martin (Woman's Day 9/1/02)


Great article with lots of helpful advice, let's look at the main points...


1. Shop Alone - I know contradicting to the shop with a buddy from the 1st article.  I really think this is personal preference, I know I spend less $ and time when I am on my own.


2. Avoid individual snack packages - sure sound advice, but nutty bars don't count do they???


3. Buy spices in small doses - depends on the spice.  I usually buy my spices at our local Big Lots or the spice store at the Market my Mom works at.  My cinnamon is a Big package, bought that at Sam's Club along with the chopped onion flakes.  But things like dill, thyme, sage that I don't use constantly I do buy in the smallest, cheapest packaging available.


4. Give generics a try - since 50% of my shopping is done at Aldi I already do this one!  I am also okay with store brands, even for things like OTC medications, our medicine cabinet looks like an advertisement for Equate.


5. Weigh your choice - basically if you are buying prepackaged produce weigh it to make sure you are getting the most for your money.


6. Compare cost-per-pound or cost-per-unit - Do this every time I'm in the store.  I rarely buy anything with out checking.


7.  Meat your meat maker. We now buy most of our meat from the company my hubby works for, so I know I get better quality stuff than what is available at the mass marketers.  But before we'd always scout the racks for discounted meats.  We'd stock up & put it in the freezer.


8. Check out the chicks - roasters, fryers, it's all a label!  I usually buy whatever is cheapest per pound.


9. Become a gourmet - learn some flavorful dishes that use inexpensive ingredients stir-fry, Italian pastas, udon noodles.  I stir-fry tons, we love rice, I also love Mexican flavors so we use a lot of tortillas.


10. Start your own herb garden - sure grown your own it's cheaper! 


11. Invest in a freezer - or 2!  I don't know what I'd do with out my freezers!


12.  Make that a really large freezer - suggests contacting a meet processing plant to stock up on meats.  We did this one year splitting a cow purchased at the county fair.  We ended up with 1/3 of a half of a side of beef!  It didn't cost us much over all, I think our per pound price was under $2 and we got a lot of steaks for that.


13. Shop with leftovers in mind. Turkey is prime for this, I always buy the largest bird imaginable.  When the rare leftovers occur I put them in freezer bags & pull it out later for casseroles, salads, & soups.


14. Forget your reliance on the supermarket - Drugstores & Pharmacies often have non perishables at reasonable prices, watch your ads.


15. Plan Ahead. - The article goes in the direction of "if your family doesn't eat the whole thing then take out what they won't eat & freeze it, and don't put dressing on the salad as a whole" I take this as plan a menu, or at least a pantry plan to be able to make your core dishes


16. Learn when to leave leftovers behind - don't try & squeeze leftovers out of EVERY meal, leftover fish isn't the greatest & that pizza crust (unless cold & for breakfast) will never taste as good the next day.


17.  Count on discount stores - Aldi, Big Lots, Dollar General, all places I frequent for food stuffs, toiletries, & basic household items.


18. Visit price clubs with a friend - basically so you can split purchases, this has rarely ever worked for me!


19. Buy the newspaper on Wednesday - or what ever day your grocery store sales come out.  I try to buy on Sunday to get the coupons.


20.  Say sayonara to soda - we rarely ever buy soda.  I try to buy it if it's on sale, just to have on hand & prevent the convenience store stop.


21.  Cut corners on coupon clipping - I use the Internet for this, free samples often come with coupons, web sites sometimes have offers for coupons.


22. Save bread by shopping at thrift bakeries  - I do not care for bread frozen long term so driving all the way to a thrift store is out for me (nearest one is 40 minutes away).  I do check the day old racks at the stores I shop at (last find was a dozen donuts for $1.99).


23.  Stock up on fruits & veggies in season - We bought 2 flats of strawberries, now I have a bunch of frozen berries for the winter months.  Plus the garden we are growing is starting to pump out the produce tomatoes, beans, peppers, zucchini, mint, we have lots!


24. Consider a slow cooker - Couldn't live without one so I have 3!


25. Hunt for salvage stores - never seen one in my area, I do send my husband into their store room to check for open cases of stuff, maybe you could contact your local restaurant suppliers.


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Monday, August 20, 2007

Secrets of Successful Savers and other tips found in older magazine articles A Series #2

Another article I "clipped" was "29 Ways to Get Through the Christmas Crunch - Last minute time savers to take the stress out of your holiday season" by Karen Miles (Woman's Day 1/2/01)


I have started actively thinking about the impending holiday season since I am to be hostess for our family Christmas & there are 8 birthday's & 2 anniversaries in November & December.  The sooner I start the less overwhelmed I feel!  So now is when I start pulling out the idea files & making lists of supplies, gift ideas & forming a budget.


This article has some great gift ideas, I define great by if I'd love to get it, it must be great!


1. Toss in a towel - who doesn't need a good fluffy large bath towel?  I know I do, there is always one or 2 that's time has come and is ready for the rag pile, so a towel with a collection of soap, sponges, scrubbies would just send me to a happy place!


2. Give a cup of tea.  I love the idea, especially if you can find a vintage tea cup, saucer & quality tea.


3. Picture it perfect. For me this would be a collection of printer papers, ink, & a collection of nice frames, for others scrapbook supplies, mini albums.  Anything to get those pictures off of the computer & out into the world!


4. Gift is in the mail.  Who doesn't want to write more, connect on a more personal level than email.  A gift of stationary, nice pens, stamps, even a card assortment would be a great gift.


5. Easy does it - found a great gift, buy a bunch of them.  Chances are there is more than one person on your list who would love it!  For me that is Golf, anything golf related covers 9 people on my list!


6. Greetings in a jiffy - sending out your Christmas cards online seems awfully impersonal to me, now ask me how mine were sent out last year!!!  I sent e-cards to all my out of town friends & family.  I was hoping to send out a newsletter to update but we'll see if that happens this year!


7. Whiz down the Internet aisles. There are now a zillion Internet stores to chose from.  I go for ones that either give me cash rebates or points (Ebates.com , upromise.com  & Mypoints.com)


8. Make it a movie. this one covers the gift cards for movies, make a night of it, don't just give the rental certificate.  Put together with some popcorn, movie candy, & a nice bowl.  We picked up a few plastic containers that look like cardboard popcorn containers and put them in stockings last year for us & the kids at a dollar store.  Now we each have our own when we hang out on the couch and watch a movie.


9.Give to a Cause. donate to a cause in the name of the receiver.  Maybe some people can get away with this, but I'd do a ton of research to make sure the person would support the cause on their own first. 


10. Send a maid.  Hallelujah!  Gift certificates for carpet cleaning, maid service, oh heck the local home improvement store would WOW me!   Ok, so maybe not the carpet cleaning, but then I won't have that much carpet left in a month.  I'd have loved it last Christmas!!!  A gift card to the home improvement store is always appreciated here, any little bit helps & it's nice to feel like your priorities are recognized. 


11. Email online dollars - the website the article mentions is long gone, but I have received gift credit cards in the past.  Prepaid cards that are good where ever you want to use them.  The only problem I had was not using the full amount, it operates as a credit card so you need to know exactly what's left the next time you use it.  Solution, spend it all in one place!


12. Just send cookies. Yum. Who would scoff at a basket of cookies, plate of cookies, bag of cookies, oh heck a package of Oreos would suit me just fine!  If I were giving, I usually use a decorative container plastic or tin that can be reused.  I like the idea of food baskets spaghetti basket (pasta, homemade or store sauce, spices, cheese, etc), with the cookies you could do cutters, frostings, sprinkles.  I'd love to get a coffee basket nice big mugs assorted flavors & types, different flavorings, sugars, creamers.


13. Bag the scents of Christmas - the article talks about no-sew sachets, I have mad scented coasters before using squares of fabric sewn over smaller felt squares that sandwich some cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice or even pie spices.  This is a great use for spices that may be at the end of their shelf life & you want to get rid of them.  Then when you put a warm cup on them the scent just fills the air, mmmm, nice!


14. Frame it - the artilce says to glue fabric to the frame & give it as a gift. I'd just go buy some themed scrapbook paper & make myself a mat to match or compliment the photo I'm giving.   


15. Tag the kids for this job... tip is to have kids use holiday cookie cutters to make gift tags.  Anything to keep them busy this time of year works for me!


16. Make a grand entrance - swag a doorway, use fabric or greens for this one.  I have some greenery garland that we purchased 8 years ago that I use to decorate the doors with.  I have changed the bows out once.  They are worth the investment (I bought them after season clearance saved 80%!). I have some with lights, some with bows, some with ornament/bow clusters.


17. Give old ornaments a second chance.  Put them in a bowl, makes a nice center piece.  I've also used silk flowers in an arrangement, sugared fruit on cake stands, spray painted fake fruit. 


18. Dress up those canes. I haven't done this exact tip (dip canes in chocolate) but I do buy a variety of candy canes because I use them as coffee stirrers.  Not sure I'd recommend this with the fruity versions!


19. Jingle all the way. Jingle bell wreaths on the door.  I have one, I was going to make one myself but then I got one as a gift.  Love it!  After a couple days it got annoying on the door, so we hang it to the side of the door now!  My door decor is a wreath hanging I made connecting 3 greenery wreaths with ribbon & then decorated with floral picks to coordinate with the ribbon.


20. Trim in a hurry - I can't keep our tree simple like the article suggests (lights, ribbon bows, baby's breath, maybe ball ornaments of one color), I have too many sentimental ornaments now.  But I do have more than one tree usually.  I do have a bunch of floral picks in my ornament case, I haven't replaced the baby's breath yet, but maybe this year.  My hubby is an icicle person, but I dislike it with a passion!  I use ribbon & beaded garland now.  It isn't as messy as the tinsel icicle stuff.


21. Tie it in a bow! This I do, use ribbon EVERYWHERE!  I am finally after 8 years of the same pattern getting tired of it, but over the years I have acquired yards upon yards of the wired red plaid that I was drawn to.  I have bows on the tree, bows on the doors, bows in the kitchen, bows on the light fixtures, bows on the lamps...


22. All dressed up and ready... Dress up the dolls & bears for the holidays.  There are a couple bears that I like to put bows on & set under the tree when there isn't anything else under it!


23. Entertain without the fuss - bring a dish to pass.  When doesn't the potluck help you entertain easier!


24. Need party fixings in a snap? check out online party supply retailers for ideas, ok I don't do this AT ALL!!!  I usually get whatever I need at Aldi & use my "good" stuff to display & serve the food.  Unless you are serving something weighty (prime rib, steak) any old plate will do, why spend $$$ on pretty plates?


25. Spice up your ice. - adding mint or berries to ice cubes or even making them out of juice is an ok idea, if they work with what you are serving.  I usually make a decorative ice ring for the punch or if you are serving wine an ice chiller frozen with holly, cranberries, flowers/petals works nice too, just remember to keep it on a deep platter to catch the melt off.


26. Sit right here. If you need place cards you can easily create your own using greens, flowers, chocolates, anything really.  I don't use these ever, so I've never had to make cards, I have given "favors" which can either go at each place setting or in a large display if you are serving buffet style.


27. Keep those little elves busy - have stuff on hand for the kiddos.  Enough said right!  I have the youngest kids in both families right now so it is usually up to me to provide the entertainment!  Usually crayons, movies, favorite toys, even video games depending on where we are!


28. Toast it. If you are serving breakfast cut out the toast with holiday cookie cutters.  This is a great idea for pre holiday lunchboxes too! I bet Santa bologna tastes better than regular!


29. Your house and mine. Throwing a progressive party isn't anything that would work for my families.  Sounds nice though, maybe if we were ever to have a block party!


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