Friday, February 15, 2008

My Beach Read!

My husband surprised me with this gem of a book yesterday for Valentines Day! Does he know me or what!?!

I've only peeked inside as I'm saving it for the beach or the pool, or even the bed that I'm napping in as my In-Laws are watching my three year old!

By the time I get back I should know how to churn butter (ok, I'm cheating, I've already done this), make a quilt, can pickles and milk a cow! (and much more I'm sure!)


One of the best things about going to the farmers market in July is that sometime on a snowy February morning you will go into your freezer and pull out a bag of washed and frozen blueberries and stir them into the pancakes you are making for you and your daughter. You will then eat them all warm and gooey. Later you will go back and have one for a snack after lunch before you sit down to blog about it because they are so yummy!

Of course, you could do this with frozen berries from the store but they aren't nearly as good and you won't get to feel nearly as smug as I do today.

I bought a lot of blueberries last summer for $3 a quart and froze them in 1 cup baggies (which I will wash and re-use) I think I got 4 cups out of each quart ($.75). Today, 1 Cup (8oz) is $3. And trust me, going to the farmers market was way better than going to the grocery store.

I really should mention this in the beginning of Farmers Market season this year (and I will) but I really want to express how wonderful it is to have these little gems in the freezer for use at times like these when the cost of produce is high and the quality is low.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Frugal Valentine!

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

We've got some frugal Valentine fun going on around here today!

This morning when I woke up, my husband had taken some of my daughter's heart shaped foam stickers and and written his own messages on them (completely free!) and stuck them all around the house for me to find along with some chocolates! How neat is that! Along with that there was a nice note along with some chocolate flavored coffee waiting for me at the coffee maker. (Cheap)

Back in December I thought I bought too many Christmas presents for my daughter so I put some away for other occasions. Today I went into that stash and retrieved a baking set for her along with 2 new books and a silly little Elmo washcloth (Free for now as I already had the stuff! I think it was all only like $10 total when I bought it though) (and I know her Daddy bought her a puzzle yesterday too!) She'll be happy!

For my husband (Stop reading this if you are him!) I got 2 used books-1 that he wanted and one that I think he'll like, ($4) some face toner ($7) (ok this is a splurge because I don't even use this stuff!) and some nice chocolate. ($2.50)

All of these presents were wrapped in red tissue paper that I saved from Christmas(Free! I should add, my family laughed at me as I was collecting it!) Trust me-no one will like the gifts less because I've recycled the paper.

I think I'm getting a few presents as well! (which will not be too expensive)

Tonight we'll build a fire and spend time with the 3 of us. For dinner we are having rack of lamb ($7.95) that I got on sale a few weeks ago and some scallops that my in-laws gave us before they left for Florida(Free) (along with some sides and some wine) we'll build a fire and relax as a family. Maybe we'll put my girl's puzzle together. (ALL FREE!)

We don't get too fancy, we don't spend too much, but we'll enjoy our night! Romance is free-Presents are optional!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Extreme Makeover

I know you've all been waiting patiently to see what I spent the rest of my money on during January!

Here it is!

I found this bench frame on the side of the road. It was sturdy and someone had attemplted a bad faux finish on it. Some of the wood on the sides was peeling off. It had no seat.

Michael cut me a seat out of some scrap wood that he had and I glued the wood with some wood glue. If I was really concientious I would have sanded the whole thing a little. But I didn't. I just gave it 2 coats of black paint that I had laying around from something else. I used a staple gun to attach the fabric to the bottom of the seat.

The foam for the seat, material and fringe cost $26. I could have probably done the whole thing for $10 If I really tried but I really liked what I picked out. I also have a little leftover to make a pillow.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reading Nook

Yesterday I made a reading nook for my girl.

My daughter is a really outgoing gal but after all that outgoing-ness she tends to need to relax and unwind in peace and quiet (much like her mommy!) Sometimes this is in her room and sometimes on the couch.

Although all of the spaces in our house are hers, she doesn't have any place downstairs that is "hers" alone, like a favorite chair or nook.

Her nook is is a sunny corner of the living room with a window, it overlooks our backyard which is full of nice trees in summer or winter. She has a colorful rug, books, comfy pillows, and some blankets which are hard to see in the picture. Jeannine did the picture that I hung there and there are some pictures on the windowsill along with an angel that she likes. Sometimes she likes soft music when she relaxes so I may and try and incorporate a radio there if it doesn't look too obvious in the corner of the living room.

Everything in this nook is something I already had in the house so creating this space was free.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Stocking The Pantry & Food Strategy

Ever since I did the post on having my Aunt to lunch, Jacquie has been wanting me to do a post on stocking the pantry. If you've ever seen my fridge before grocery day that may make you laugh as Deanna has commented on more than one occasion how it looks like I'm waiting for the food basket from social services.

The truth is we eat very well over here. Better than a lot pf people I know, I suspect. We have a nice cooked meal most evenings that consists of a protein and fresh vegetables. We use recipes. We cook from scratch. We plan our meals in advance (This is the single most important thing you can do to maximizer your food budget!)

I'll start by saying my grocery budget is $110 per week Some people may think this is high, some people may think this is low. (includes all non-grocery items at the store as well). I use cash. In an envelope. If I don't spend all the cash one week I leave it in the envelope for the next week. I don't buy Starbucks with it.

I can't tell you what you need in your pantry. Only you can tell you what you need. I do have a list on the fridge and when I run out of something like flour or sugar or onions or eggs
I buy it the very next week. I don't wait until I need to use it to pick those things up. If you have some flour, sugar and eggs I bet you can whip up some kind of muffin if you need to.

I got 2 Wegmans gift cards for Christmas. I only buy meat with them. I bring them along and when meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish. lamb) is on sale I buy it with the card. When those run out I will buy most of the meat at the small grocery store by my house rather than Wegman's, as it is much cheaper there. Yesterday I bought a very nice large spiral cut ham that was on sale for $15. We will have a dinner with that and then I will freeze it to be used in omelets, sandwiches, quiches and of course, use the bone for split pea soup.

When something is on sale I stock up and store whichever it way is practical. I have a small square chest freezer that is about 3 feet tall and in it I currently have 2 turkeys, packages of feta and spinach sausage, frozen blueberries from the summer, shredded zucchini, applesauce, diced apples, pureed squash, frozen banana chunks for smoothies, on sale chicken wings, a bag of frozen talapia and a bunch of other cuts of meat. A lot of times we plan our meals based on what is in the freezer and then I buy sale meat that week and put it in the freezer until the next week. I'm not planning meals based on that week's grocery flier.

Because I buy meat like this, I tend to get the lowest price for the protein part of the meal that I can. That means I have money left over to buy fresh fruits and veggies. I use frozen peas and sometimes broccoli but most of the rest of the veggies are fresh. I know what I need and I don't buy more than I need.

Of course, there are things I buy every week like eggs, frozen peas, plain yogurt, milk.

We don't waste food. I may make 12 or 24 muffins at a time. I will then freeze them in packages of 6 so they don't go bad and so we don't have to eat them for 5 days at a time. I just pull them out when I need them.

We eat leftovers for lunch the next day (we specifically make more dinner than we eat). I don't buy separate "lunch" foods. If we have a lot of leftovers from a meal I will make up a lunch size portion and put it in the freezer so that my husband can just grab it on a day when there are no leftovers from the meal the night before.

We hardly EVER eat out and I mean ever.
We don't drink soda.
We don't usually buy snack food or cookies.
Snacks are fruits and veggies, cheerios, cookies or muffins that I make myself, raisins, and the occasional goldfish and nuts.
Breakfast and lunch are cheap things (in price, not quality.)Perhaps I will soon do a post on cheap and fast breakfast and lunch ideas.)

What do you do to stock you pantry and maxamize your food budget!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Janurary Tally-No New Stuff Year

Well how did I do with my first month of my No-New-Stuff Year??? Lets see!

$.3.29 on sewing needles
$26.59 on some items to complete a project which I will show later this week if I can swing over to my Brother's to pick up the staple gun I need!

All in all, not so bad. Nothing that I didn't plan to buy and nothing too harmful to our world and my pocketbook. Also, with the project supplies I purchased I am getting something unused out of the basement and making it useful and beautiful! (I know, you are just dying of suspense over there!)

I did buy new dance clothes/shoes for my daughter. I said I would not bring my family along for the ride and could buy shoes and clothes and since this was her first time in class I wanted to have the things she needed. I will mention I only bought her one of everything she needs and we didn't get anything else this month. (Her Daddy bought her some princess gloves and a wand at Target that I am sure are straight from China-But it's his conscience, not mine! ;0) )

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Homemade Febreze

I've never used Febreze before, so when my daughter threw up on a non-washable chair cushion I had none in the house to help alleviate the smell.

I remembered a recipe posted by, Krista, and it took all of about 30 seconds to whip it up.

2 Cups Water
1/4 cup fabric softener
2Tbsp Baking Soda

Mix together in a spray bottle and use. I only made half this recipe because I only had that one use for it. It worked great!

Now I won't have to buy any and you won't either!!!