Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New Budget

Well, now that I have started working from home our finances have changed a bit. We are still catching up, but the future is looking a bit brighter! The great thing is that I can be flexible in my schedule & work whenever I can fit it in. My plan is to work as much as possible for now (I am approved for up to 40 hours a week, but I can't work 7 straight, so that makes it challenging).

I haven't gotten paid yet, so that first check should be a good one. That will help us get caught up, then after that we should be current! Woohoo current is good!

I am working on a new budget & we are trying to figure out banking. It is hard to believe how much of a pain it is to not have paper checks in 2007, but we are not as much of a paperless society as we'd like to think! We wanted to open an ING checking account, but without funding the checking account we have now (don't like the credit union & it's too far out of the way now to deal with) so we figured go electronic, but dh has his paycheck direct deposited to his account now card, which makes sense for us, free bill pay, debit card access, easy to pay at the pump for gas groceries, etc. But we can't use it to fund the new ING account, unless we have them issue a check....blah blah blah! Why does it always have to be so confusing! I understand that most normal people have checks, try and explain that to my husband. I keep getting the "I don't trust you with checks" lecture, like okay, that was over 7 years ago & you weren't telling me the whole story (not making deposits & using the card without telling me) so sure the checks bounced, not really my fault I was just the one who wrote them. So we have been pretty much without checks since 2005. I am ready go nuts & he is in heaven. It is just crazy that two people could be so different!

I am a balance the checkbook weekly kind of person, we haven't had a checkbook since 2005 & then I wonder why I am always a little tense! I am a need to know kind of girl. If I can't just look it up I go nuts. I guess it's the OCD in me, but then he should be used to it by now, after 12 years of marriage!

With our tax deductions corrected, after taxes & 401K deductions we should be meeting our expenses with enough left over to save for a new car. I have been looking at the Honda Hybrids, simply because dh drives 45 minutes a day to work & it is mostly highway. A car that gets 50 mpg would do wonders to improve our vehicle expenses budget! Even with the gas prices what they are now we'd be saving $30 a week on gas, I think that makes up for the "drag" of a payment! Say he drives 400 miles per week, the hybrid Civic gets 50mpg that = 8 gallons of gas/ week at $3.20/gallon = $25.60 vs. the 20mpg he gets now = 20 gallons/week = $64.00 So Savings = $38.40/week or ~ $153 a month. Figure a payment ~$330 - $153 savings = $177 actual payment out of pocket. Plus we are going to try to pay as much up front as possible when we go, so maybe the $330 won't be $330 or it won't be for a really long time. MSRP is around $23000 on a 2007, not sure what it is on a 2008. I am hoping to sock away $175 a month now just for the car, then anything over that will be gravy!!!

Pay Per Post Direct

Ever wondered why some blogs "Review Me" price is so high, well the blogger only gets to keep a small % of that. The rest is kept to cover expenses. The cost of blog advertising can be high if you think about it, finding advertisers, processing payments, finding bloggers, processing payments... It all adds up, just like my grocery bill!

Plus they are only the middle man, but for advertisers to get to you aren't they clicking a link on your site? Why pay the middle man so much? Pay per Post is saying that they are going to charge us a modest %10, 5% of that goes to processing payments. I think I agree that if I'm going to do most of the work anyways shouldn't I get to keep most of the cash? The bonus is I don't have to do all the HARD work! PPP is going to market eligible blogs to advertisers, meaning more opps for us all!

PPP has made it easy, an advertiser clicks your widget, can pay using a credit card & PPP pays you (-10% fee) and sends you a nice little statement at the end of the year for your tax files.

The bonus is all you have to do is stick the widget on your blog & wait! If an advertiser finds you PPP lets you know, then you just do what you do best & blog!!!

Gotta love progress!

Planning a Frugal Family Trip

Unlike a lot of people kids here are still in school.  Our summer doesn't start until June 22, I think.  Of course I think they go the last day, say Bye, get their stuff & get delivered back, but it is still a day we have to get up & ready to go out the door... We will be wrapping up baseball season the week after school ends & then we are free!  At least until summer reading camp & summer recreation starts.  Although I may decide to keep the Prince home his year & not go to summer rec.  We have tons of things here to do, swim, run, play, jump...

So I am trying to find a weekend where we can go on a short trip.  Not sure where exactly yet, but we are thinking the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo.  We were thinking about a baseball game too, but they cost so much and I know the Princess isn't going to sit still for the full game, she probably wouldn't make it an inning!  There is the possibility of the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame, not really for the kids, but why shouldn't we get to do something for the grownups!  Both of my kids are musical, so maybe they will find something interesting there.  I'd like to stay in a nice hotel & that besides gas will probably be our biggest expense. Not that Cleveland is that far, it's just with gas prices & all...  I am hoping to keep it under $500.  We could go cheaper with the hotel room, but I want that to be part of the experience for the kids.  I think we are going to stay in the city & the cheapest nice place we've found is $119 a night.  I am also looking for something with perks, like a fridge & microwave, definitely a pool. Thankfully the Zoo is cheap!  At least admission.  I'll have them bring some of their allowance spending $ for the gift shop.

We are looking at several other fun things to do this summer, I'm sure we'll make several trips to our local amusement parks.  We are lucky enough to have 1 small park close by.  The state just took it over as a park & this is their first year, so we'll see how they do!  I'd also like to get to a local baseball game.  The Erie Sea Wolves aren't too far from here & the stadium is small enough that there are no bad seats.

It should be a fun summer, hopefully we'll get to do lots of cool stuff.  I can't help but feel I owe them, since the last two summers have been all about work & no play...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Oatmeal Packets

Just got this one from our recipe world group at yahoo groups... Sounds perfect for the frugal MYO crowd!!!  My only issue is with the fruit & cream option - I don't think adding powdered milk will make it very creamy, I would probably add some non dairy creamer as well as the dry milk powder.

Oatmeal Packets

Source: Make Your Own Groceries by Daphne Metaxas Hartwig

Servings: 8
3 cups quick-cooking oats, divided
8 plastic sandwich bags

Put 1/2 cup oats in a blender and whirl at high speed until powdery;
reserve in a small bowl and repeat procedure with an additional 1/2
cups oats. If you're using a food processor, powder the 1 cup of oats
in one motion.

Into each sandwich bag put 1/4 cup unpowdered oats, 2 tablespoons
powdered oats, and a scant 1/4 teaspoon salt. Store in a box or
airtight container.

To serve: Empty packet into a bowl. Add 3/4 cup boiling water; stir
and let stand for 2 minutes. For thicker oatmeal, use less water; for
thinner, use more water.

To each packet add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2
tablespoons chopped dried apples.

To each packet add 1 tablespoon sugar.

Cinnamon Spice:
To each packet add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and a
scant 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.

Raisins and Brown Sugar:
To each packet add 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar and 1 tablespoon

Wheat Germ:
To each packet add 2 tablespoons any kind of wheat germ.

Fruit and Cream:
To each packet add 1 tablespoon dry milk and 2 tablespoons dried fruit.

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Frugal Friday #10

5 tips to Avoid Overspending

This article is great! Although I have to say I am already following most of it.  My problem is that I "window shop" online!  I can't help but look at all the cute boutique items people are making & selling.  I can say that I haven't made that many purchases, but I have made a couple!  My problem is that I see something really cute for the Princess & then I need to go find the fabric, becasue I can make that... & then I find all this great fabric...  I am glad that my office & sewing room are one, becasue all I have to do is look to my left to see that I don't need to buy ANY MORE FABRIC right now!  I have enough unfinished half finished projects to last a while!!!

My big thing is weeding out the cart before checkout.  Sometimes I'll pick up something just to think about it & maybe I will decide I don't need it, or that I have to have it.  Yup I am one of THOSE people always leaving something at the end or the checkout isle!!!


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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Spending summary...

I decided to take this of the side bar, since it is so out of date (at least with exact numbers). The amount of money spent on gasonline has become outrageous & has us planning on buying a new car in the very near future so I am going to start tracking our savings for the downpayment.

as of May 20
Grocery $1650
Baseball stuff & fees - $50
Household: $795 (woohoo, no more diapers!)
Coal: $800 (I think that is our final total!)
Mortgage: $5260 (includes escrow)
Rental Income: $1575
Concession Trailer Payment: $750
Phone DSL: $380
Electric: $500
Dish: $375
Rental Repair: $200 (not getting back from former tenant)
Rental Repair: $800 (materials, not labor) we may get back, yeah right!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hawaii for less???

If you are looking to get away from it all, want to avoid the hassle of having to wait for your US passport... Then get your stressed out behind to Hawaii! This great site has tons of Kauai vacation rental units available. Why cram into a hotel room & fight the "tourists" when you can rent a house! Take the whole family, share expenses & enjoy Hawaii like a native.

Last I checked there were 226 Kauai vacation rental units available. Units are available in lots of price ranges, locations & number of bedrooms. I looked at one 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath home that went for $385 a night. I don't know about you but if you split that 4 ways that's only $96 a night, that sounds pretty reasonable to me! This unit has a pool, tennis, DVD player, dishwasher, laundry & a BBQ. You can cook most of your meals, pack less & wash a load or two & just kick back and enjoy the views!

We have been wanting to take a big family vacation. My parents went to the Bahama's years ago with our extended family & it just sounded like fun. I think that Hawaii sounds like a ton of fun & a great vacation destination.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I just had to share

This articl got a major chuckle out of me! Back to beanbags by Jay Rath for the Wisconsin State Journal.

-In Cincinnati the beanbag target game is called corn-toss and "cornhole." Media there claim that it was invented in 1999 at the University of Cincinnati. They also almost universally explain that its college popularity is "because horseshoes are too dangerous for drunk people."

First thought - Well, sure a bean bag is softer in theory than a horseshoe. I'm sure it would still hurt being whipped at your head.

Second thought - How very frugal! You can make your own board out of leftover plywood, paneling, heavy cardboard. Bean bags can be made out of left over fabric or old clothes, and stuffed with those dried beans you won't ever use, rice, bird seed or anything else you can find around that would be suitable.

It's amazing what we will do when we are faced with the choice of entertain our selves cheaply or dig into the beer money...

Friday, May 11, 2007

2007 Goals -

One paycheck into dh's new job, so not too much has changed yet. I have started working from home online, so far so good. I should be getting my first check next week.

I've been doing the blog for money thing (several different places). And I know I said I'd report how that was going, so hear it is...

Blogsvertise = 10 posts since January = $69 paid to date
Pay Per Post= 12 posts since March 7th = $56.75 paid to date, $42.50 will be paid. I'm no Colleen but the little bit has come in handy.
Loud Launch = 4 posts since February = $18.00 paid

I think the only area of the goals we are doing okay at is the teaching the kids about money. The Prince wants to be able to go buy a new video game, so this weekend he is going to have to do some serious chores to make up the difference over what he has for spending $ now & what the game will cost. We are letting him decide if that is how he wants to spend his hard earned money or not.

Well really, that's not true, we are improving on all our goals even amidst all the chaos going on, my routines are getting better. I won't say my house is chaos free, far from it, but my bed is made, I am dressed to the shoes, drinking water, and doing my best to spend at least 15 minutes a day de-cluttering & in my zone (if you have no idea what I'm talkng aobut & want to check out FlyLady). I have been able to save a little bit of money, I am still waiting to get paid for my new "job" but I'll let you know how that works out!

I got my Mother's Day gift from DH early! Since he is now working for a food distributor I am in heaven! He brought me some commercial grade cookie sheets & some large plastic food containers. I had also requested some flour & sugar (to be stored in the containers). So I got the coolest gift evvah! I think I'd only admit that here... "Oh what did you get for Mother's Day?" "Well, I got the coolest commercial grade 8qt plastic containers to store my flour, sugar & baking mixes in, ain't that cool!"..."Ummm sure", I can hear my sister now "You are a DORK". It isn't the ipod I wanted, but I'll live. I have already requested my Christmas Present come from work too. I am itching to get one of those Kitchen Aid stand mixers (to mix all my flour & sugar) Similar to Kitchenaid Professional 5 Plus KV25GOXGR 5-Quart Bowl Lift Stand Mixer - PARENT. And he can get me the commercial model that has an automatic shut off if the beater jams.

Don't forget, if you just happen to be a quilter, to get in on my book giveaway. I'm drawing names on the 18th.

Bug Movie

This is why I don't "do" horror flicks! The trailer for this movie made me itch. I don't remember many movies or shows I viewed in childhood, but I do remember watching some tarantula movie with my Dad. After that one I can't stand to be around furry spiders, I couldn't even force myself to watch Arachnophobia. Whether the bugs are real or just imagined remains to be seen...Unless you happened to catch the theater production.

If you truly question my weird nature, keep in mind that thanks to Signs I keep my pantry door open at all times...

That said with a cast like Ashley Judd playing the waitress with a past, Michael Shannon playing the nervous eccentric drifter, & Harry Connick Jr. playing the abusive, recently paroled ex-husband I'm not sure how I could miss the bug movie. As any good horror flick should it probes the line between paranoia & a nightmarish reality. Just sounds cool to say. Wouldn't be worth seeing if it didn't probe the line!

If you know your theater, you'll know this movie is adapted from a play created by Tracy Lett, Michael Shannon actually played the role of Peter on stage before starring in the film. I doubt we'll be seeing this one at the local highschool anytime soon! With the movie being directed by William Friedkin, who also directed the Exorcist, I bet we are in for one thrilling ride.

Don't miss the bug movie set to open May 25th!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Storage Project

I want these! Stackable Multi-purpose Mud Storage Bins

From BedBathStore.com .

I saw these on the storage page & went OH YEAH now THAT's what I'm talking about!

Of course I don't look at the $59 price tag because that is per level & I have visions of a 5 foot wall of cute little storage bins. I think they would be easy to construct myself. I'd just have to have a plan & the raw materials. The bonus of doing it myself I could vary the size of the bins. I look at this product & think I could store my fabric in the bins, or a shorter set for toys in the kids rooms. I see they have shoes in it, $60 to store 3 pair of shoes...Puhleeeeze. Maybe if I had a closet full of Manolo's!

I find I am always searching online for new & inventive ways to store stuff. I know I should just get rid of some of the stuff, less to store, less to clean up. But, most of my problem is my hobby supplies. All that fabric I just had to have, that I either bought too much of, not enough of, or have large usable scraps left from... It wouldn't be frugal to toss them.

Right now I am using Rubbermaid totes in various sizes. It's OK, but I always seem to want the fabric on the bottom, never fails!

So the obvious conclusion here is that I am far from reaching my 2007 goal of organizing my sewing stuff!!! It isn't hepling that everytime I come up & try to do work the Princess follows & loves to play with my buttons. They are everywhere at the moment. She was rolling them down a piece of corner trim, I think the marble got lost. Of course I'll make her pick them up, but I did have them sorted in a tackle box by color & style... sigh. The price I pay for a few moments of peace!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Make it From Scratch #12

There are some fantastic submissions this week!

Anastacia is sharing her #7 Socks from her 52 pair plunge at Anastacia Knits.

I am all for making your own incense & potpourri, I think it just smells better. If you agree go check out Incense at Food for Thought.

Summer tells about her interesting experience. I Tried to Make Soap at Wired for Noise

If you are at a loss over what to do with all of the plastic grocery bags you get when you shop check out Cindy's Crocheted Plastic Eco Tote at My Recycled Bags.

How to Sew a Shopping Cart Seat Cover, Step by Step with Pictures! at How to Me. Using an unfinished baby quilt bought in a store, she gives step by step with pictures.

I am sharing my Lunch bags at Sew What's Up.

Several yummy recipes were submitted! I'll be adding them all to my give them a try files!

Fish Creek House-INNside Innkeepingshares their recipe for Low Fat Cinnamon Cake as well as some fantastic tips to make things lower in fat.

C shares her Make it From scratch the Krispy treat experience with pictures. Looks like they had fun! I've never tried the microwave before.

The The Fat Bottomed Girl gives us her Homemade BBQ sauce recipe.

Banana Pancakes From the One Child Policy Homeschool. Using left over bananas & whole wheat flour, these sound delightful & healthy!

And Carnival Momma Stephanie from Stop the Ride shares her Curried Chick Peas. I know I am always looking for new yummy ways to use chick peas.

There were a few I couldn't use this week, they either had nothing to do with "Make it yourself" or were double submissions. The extras went to Stephanie for next weeks carnival. One submission per week please, Thank you. And enjoy the posts, I know I have!

The next Make it From Scratch will be hosted by Stop the Ride Get your entries in early!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Make it From Scratch! using the
carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Monday, May 7, 2007


Guess I hit publish instead of save draft on the Make it from scratch carnival post. It'll be back tomorrow & much prettier!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Homemade shake-n-bake

This is one I have been using a lot lately & I just threw it together, no real recipe. I tried the "shake-n-bake" recipe I posted before & I found that the only thing that would stick was the flour, so that was the first ingredient to go!

Bread crumbs (mine are currently unseasoned, and store bought, I'll make my own next time)
Milled Flax Seed (got it at our Walmart Super Center, it adds a nutty taste)
Lawry's Poultry Rub (We had a bottle left over from a fundraising BBQ)

In a container with low sides (I use my rectangular glass baking dish) I mix a couple handfulls of the brea crumbs with about 1/4 c of the flax seed & probably a tablspoon of the Lawry's. Then I just roll whatever I want breaded & bake as usual. We had this on Pork chops last night & Drumsticks a couple weeks ago.

Frugal Friday #9

My Frugal Friday is in process... I am sewing lunch bags for my family. I haven't taken pictures of them yet but I did post about them here. I made them using fabric from my stash, no recycling, but one of them was made with leftovers from a project. It is such an easy project & can be adapted to any size for sewing shoppiing bags or any kind of tote.

I also found this great post in my email this morning...Getting Out of Debt Thirteen good tips for getting out of debt from Stop the Ride. Stephanie also shares her love of ceiling fans in a frugal home here

Biblical Womanhood home of Frugal Fridays.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Thankgoodness for working from home...

I am not sure I'd have gone to an away from home job this morning! I look abused.
Yesterday, the kids had friends over and in a terribly klutzy attempt to restore order I ended up smashing my nose into my sons toy chest. Amazingly it all began with popcorn!

It was a terrifically hysterical sight I'm sure, until the gushing of blood & the fear that I had broken my nose...gross! The whole episode began with the Princess trying to eat popcorn in the boys bed. So screaming & yelling ensued. I intervened and began lifting the princess off of the top bunk. I stepped back to set her on the floor & ended up stepping on one of the visiting friends, so in order to avoid falling on the 7 year old boy I twisted sideways, princess still in my hands. I tossed her off to the side so she wouldn't crash into the toy chest, but there wasn't enough time to save myself. So I crashed nose first into the corner of a very sturdy & wooden toy barn. Ouch. As soon as I could I rushed myself to the kitchen sink, realizing that I was just (sorry) gushing blood I grabbed a clean towel & tried to get it to stop. Gross & inconvenient, but still alive!

It must have freaked the kids out but good, they were most helpful for the rest of the day.

I can't recall ever having a bloody nose before, but I have seen them, mine was BAD by comparison & I already have an aversion to seeing blood. I was just trying to not pass out like I did after my last blood draw.

Thankfully I am not looking like a raccoon, which tells me that even if I did break it, it isn't bad. I am just puffy & redder than normal. I am more thankful that no children were injured in the incident! Ah the things our instincts make us do to save our children.

Although in discussing the incident with my husband I realized that it would have been far worse had I been able to turn my head. I probably would have knocked myself unconscious & he ended up working an hour later than usual, unexpectedly. So it would have been a while before I was helped!!!

I am sure at some point the children would have run next door or called my Mom (I hope), I had visions of chaos & mayhem.

Lessons learned:

1) I can still function with 4 children in the house & an ice pack on my nose after a near death experience in a parental fashion. Visiting children made it home on time.

2) Children really do bounce back quickly

3) Scrubbing blood drops out of a carpet is harder than you'd think after you possibly broke your nose. Especially since you have to bend over face down to do it.

4) I really do have a parental instinct, who knew!

5) While rules need to be strictly enforced, one should observe their surroundings first.

6) I am a paranoid, OC, weirdoo who while still bleeding managed to get the kids to pick up the toys so I could vacuum the popcorn off the floor.

7) We need softer toy boxes!

All in a days work I guess!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mother's Day contest (s)


You have to enter each one individually so keep checking in!

The current contest is anApple Ipod Nano & chocolate gift box From Best Buy. The website has it listed as an in-store special available after May 6th, so if you don't win... hint hint...

I wonder...

Well, I was checking out the ops at Pay Per Post (couldn't find any text links). And wondered why I had so many more available opportunities... Well then I checked my Page Rank... I am a 3! I wonder if it has anything to do with the Technorati Fave exchange? I bet it might, so thanks to all who are involved. I have found so many great new blogs.

I haven't had the chance to do a link to post for all of them yet, I think I have over 150 faves now, some aren't involved in the exchange but I promise sometime this week I'll do a link to post for all of them!

I guess the exchange is drawing some negative buzz, all the better! Sometimes negative buzz is better than positive buzz.

***Thanks Stephanie for the html thump on the forehead, I really needed it***

Bid 4 Prizes - what's up with that?

Winning on the lowest bid, sounds like my kind of site. Or does it...

Okay, so I checked out the bid4prizes website & I am still SO confused. I bid an amount on a "prize" but I don't have to pay that amount, if I win? Okay, so what about shipping? Yes, I pay shipping (#7 terms of service), or wait their FAQ says you don't pay for shipping on the prizes, so why do they need my credit card #, maybe for the stuff I can get from the reward store???

What about if I don't have a cell phone. ~I know, who DOESN'T have a cell phone~~ME, ME, ME!!!~ Can't find anything, guess you have to be able to receive a text message...

You can pay $9.99 a month to get a premium membership (no ads & unlimited bidding) or you can not pay, view ads & only have 20 bids per day.

Still confused, not sure if it really works, guess if someone I know wins... Oh well, I really don't need anything on the prize page anyways!

Tackle it Tuesday # 4

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Today I decided to tackle the silverware drawer. I was really grossed out when I emptied the dishwasher yesterday. Usually I'm good about cleaning it out once in a while, but I guess I've been avoiding it for far too long! While I was in there I took out some of the silverware (we have extras for our exceptionally large family holiday meals) & the junk (straws, toy kitchen silverware)

I added another storage container to hold some of the lesser used items in the back of the drawer. They tend to get mixed in with the stuff & with the kids helping to set the table someone would end up with the iced teaspoon or the meat fork...

My after:

Give a weirdoo a webcam...

To read the opportunity at Payperpost.com you'd think that Person.com - webcams, chat, personals is another you-tube-ish type of site only with webcams. Sure it's for "dating" purposes, what isn't these days. Isn't myspace a "free dating site." I had to set my profile to private I was getting so many unsolicited viewers!

Well visiting Person.com just proves to me that if you give a weirdoo a webcam you are going to have to look at his privates! I am not saying that if you are into that sort of thing, it's wrong. But, I just don't think it is the best way to make that good first impression!!! Appearances are everything & unless you are looking for a gig in the adult film world, it's probably not the best marketing plan.