Friday, March 27, 2009

Favorites For Your Frugal Friday

I'm a frugal girl.....well, I try to be - it's exhausting sometimes to coupon, compare ads, think what sizes the boys might wear next season as I'm standing in the middle of the clearance clothing racks, try to remember the homemade recipe for "Bisquick" mix, but in the end - it's worth it, I do see a difference in our savings and I like that I don't have to make as many quick trips to the store for some things, I can just make them at home (cleaner, laundry detergent, baking mixes, etc.).

I do have inspiration in the form of blogs - women who write tips, sales they have found, deals/bargains, and everything frugal you could possible think of! And I thought I would share with you some of my favorite blogs on this Friday so that you can peruse through them and find some inspiration of your own.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Since we last talked......

I have been struggling - as a mother, as a woman, as a person......but not struggling to eat chocolate - so no need for alarm! ha! I think we all struggle in our lives at some point and the past week has handed me a few challenges.

As a mother.....specifically, as a mother to boys - I am struggling with aggression, lying, and doing things to intentionally hurt another feelings. I must say as a child, I had a wild imagination, and tended to lie a bit in order to make my life seem more I have talked to my children about some of the times when I got caught lying and how the act of lying hurts everyone. Of course we have gone over the story of the little boy who cried wolf several times!

The aggression, well, that's our fault for not paying more attention to what video games the children were watching and maybe not paying close enough attention to the things they watch on television. We fell into the trap of wanting to give our boys everything in the world to make them happy, and now we are not taking that away, we are replacing the war/wrestling video games with family board games and television has really fallen silent in our house as we have been spending more time outside and playing imaginative things as a family.

And respecting others.....well, we are working on that, and I am trying to make the boys more sensitive to others feelings. This seems to be helping and I have had less fights to referee in the past week.....less fights is the key word here. I think there will always be fights because they are siblings!

As a woman I am struggling with the reveal of summer clothing.....can I get an "Amen" on that one. Here is a note that I typed to a dear friend of mine who is struggling with baby weight - and I typed it for myself as well.......I hope it helps you today.

"With the warmer weather coming, I lugged the big container of summer clothes out of the attic and pulled on some of my shorts from last year PRAYING that they would fit....not because they are my dream size, but because I didn't want to have to go out and buy bigger. (We all know the defeated feeling when you have to go to the clothing store and buy a bigger size.) Everything fit okay, however, showing more skin just makes me even more self jeans hold my fat in, my shorts do not! ; )

When I reached the bottom of the bin, there they were, my swim suits.......and in my head I heard the "ree, ree, ree, ree" sound from the movie Psycho. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Before children I would have let this really get to me and would have turned to extremely unhealthy ways to lose weight. However, now that I have kids I have a responsibility to show them that nutrition and exercise are the only way that you can be healthy and the focus should not be on skinny. This is the gift of motherhood - a "do as I say, not as I do" type attitude when it comes to life. I have always been the bigger girl - standing at 6 foot tall when I was 15 was tough! In my 30's I am proud of my height and some days my weight! And I have to feel lucky that every day I wake up and can get out of bed and care for my children. With my lupus I have joint pain in my hands, my lower back, and my hips - so I have to sometimes find alternatives for exercise - but the point is that I have to exercise. And focusing on nutrition isn't always easy because there are so many temptations out there......that's when the focus needs to be moderation and not deprivation. It's okay to eat one or two's not okay to eat the whole box.

We are all beautiful women, and just like our homes - we are all built differently. But our strengths, our beliefs, our goals in life.....are very much the same - and we definitely compliment one another in personalities. I don't look at you for the sizes you are or are not for that matter, I definitely don't judge you for sitting on the couch watching Oprah and eating a box of chocolates, and I don't disapprove when you decide that you aren't going to exercise today. I support you all in every aspect of your lives and am here for you regardless of the need......and I know that you all would return the favor.

We all have goals and it might help to express them to one another and if we can just check in and see how one another is doing, that might help. My goal is to lose 10 pounds by May 30th. Seems easy right? I've been struggling with these same 10 lbs. for about a year and a half now.......grrr! Once I get to that point I will re-evaluate and see if I feel like I need to lose more - I feel like maybe a total of 15 lbs. would be good, but I want to start with 10!

I hope you all have a great day and know that I love you and support you 100%!"

As a person......well, I have been challenged this week a person that has lashed out at me due to a situation in their life. Many things they have said have been personal attacks directed at me and I am trying let it all slide because I know this person is upset. I do have a kind heart and have prayed that the reasoning for the situation presents itself soon so that maybe life returns to normal again. I am also praying that I can maintain my patience, I know that I am certainly not the reason the person is in the situation they are in and that I don't deserve their ugly words.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Frugal Family

We are in the middle of home renovations and children needless to say money has been flying out of our pockets lately as we redo floors/walls/baths and to clothe our children (well, child - the oldest has been spoiled with many new things lately and the youngest will received them one day as if they were new!).

So on Sunday, in an effort to spend some quality family time together and yet remain super frugal.....we went to the free movie offered at our local movie theater AND I packed a bag of snacks for everyone - something I've not really done before - I even packed popped popcorn! ha! We did get lunch at a local fast food place where all 4 of us chose items from the Dollar Menu and spent around $10.00. And for dinner I cooked a ham, made pasta salad, and had strawberries to use up - so I made strawberry shortcake.

Please note my frugalness at dinner....our ham was $0.89/lb. - and I bought an 8 lb. ham - BARGAIN! And when it came to the pasta salad, my dh said he wanted italian dressing for the dressing part.....I panicked - did I have it? - well, I had a little of it and added oil, vinegar, and spices to make up the rest. And when I was deciding on the dessert portion, I ALMOST ran to the store for those spongy little shortcakes and some cool frugal little angel said to me "Angela dear, you can make shortcakes and whipped have everything here". So I turned to my trusty Betty Crocker and found an easy shortcake recipe and ATTEMPTED to make whipped topping out of skim didn't work, but I didn't panic, I quickly dumped in some vanilla pudding I had on hand and decided that would be our topping.

So - while we did spend $10 for fast food and of course the groceries cost me (not much, but some!) - I was proud of myself for not running to the store italian dressing, shortcakes, and cool whip.

After dinner and clean-up, I made laundry detergent and both of the boys were really interested in helping and we talked about little expenses and how it only cost me about $0.01 per load with this detergent and how other laundry detergents were not alot more expensive per load, but enough to make a significant difference through the year, etc. So I was able to talk about making changes to how we spend money and let them help with the making of the detergent and hopefully I taught them valuable lessons for the future!

Whew.....being frugal is fun, but tiring!

Another frugal note - we road our bikes to the library last night to return movies we borrowed over the weekend, and I let each boy pick out one movie and one book each (it's a school week - so we might not have time to watch the movies) and I borrowed a book as I've decided to begin reading and watch less t.v. - I spent $0 yesterday and did a lot!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Monday Morning!

This morning I did the following:
  • had a child pee on my toilet paper roll holder (note to my sister: this is why I didn't have a toilet paper roll holder near my toilet, but I appreciate the Christmas present.)
  • had to take a shower in a shower that has been torn up due to repairs
  • referee two arguments about Star Wars
  • hit my elbow twice and it wasn't funny


Friday, March 13, 2009

Free Coupons For YOU!

I have several coupons that I'm not going to use and don't want to see go to waste. Please send me a message or leave me a post if you are interested in any of these and I will mail them to you or send you the code if they are valid online! Enjoy!
  • Victoria's Secret - $10 off $50 Purchase (expires 3/25/09)
  • Victoria's Secret - Free Lip Gloss with any in store purchase (expires 4/1/09)
  • Gymboree (in-store or online) - 20% off entire purchase (expires 4/12/09)
  • Express (in-store or online) - $30 off your $90 purchase (expires 3/17/09)
  • Express (in-store or online) - 25% off your $75 purchase (valid 3/18/09 - 3/29/09)
  • Gap, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Store, Old Navy - 30% off this weekend only (I will e-mail you the coupon!)
Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just one of those days.....

You know, as a mother I allow myself all of, oh, 10 minutes to get ready in the morning. This morning it was 5 minutes because I put the makings for potato soup in the crock pot (I prepped everything the night before...kudos to planning ahead), made myself a good breakfast, did a load of laundry, picked up both boys rooms, picked up Lucy's dog toys, started the boys lunches, snuggled with Noah and pointed out that the birds were chirping outside of his window, talked to Logan about his plans for the day, made my lunch......looked at the clock and raced back to my room to find clothes that were clean, not wrinkled and that matched, hurried up and blew my hair dry, threw some make-up on my face, brushed my teeth, hurried the boys to get their coats on, grab an umbrella as I raced out the door (a Buzz Lightyear one!), ran back into the house to grab a box of cereal because I forgot to put a little baggie of cereal in my lunch (yes, I eat cereal for the winter I eat oatmeal - it's my thing!), and I broke up a fight between the boys about where they were going to sit in the car.

The boys reached school safely and I made it to work on time......where it's calm and quiet! Whew!

Monday, March 9, 2009

My dream.....every mom's dream!

I don't always remember my dreams, there are nights that I don't know if I even had dreams - moms, I'm sure you can all relate! However, last night I had a good one and I REMEMBERED IT! Let me share it with you.......

A limo pulled up to my driveway and the driver (who just so happens to be the security guard in my building) announced that I had won a three day all-inclusive trip for two to the Bahamas and I had 5 minutes to pack my bags. I was home alone with the kids and was frantically running around packing my bags and I was so upset because I hadn't brought my summer clothes down from the attic yet, so I was making due with what I had in my closet and drawers. I was trying to call my sister so she could go with me ( reality I had worked all weekend on a home improvement project with my husband, so even in my dreams, he was the last person that I wanted to take on the trip with me! ha! ha!). And I was trying to make babysitting arrangements for my kids until my husband got home. Gary, the limo driver (real life security guard) was counting down the minutes until the limo left......I was just about out of the door when I was awaken by the alarm. DARN IT!

I love my family, they are my life, however, the very thought of having three days of bliss on a beach somewhere by myself or with my sister was awesome!, back to my dreary Monday where there are schedules to keep, meals to plan, kids to transport, lunches to pack, bills to pay.......reality!

Hope you have a great week!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Weekend Warrior Project

It started last night with what sounded like a jack hammer on the floor in our entryway.....the slate floor that has been cracking for a few years now is coming up and a beautiful ceramic tile floor is going to be laid in its place. YIPPEE!

The paint in entryway and our living room will now be a rich Applesauce Cake vs. the faded yellow that survived a short home daycare stint - red crayon on yellow walls - OH MY!

I couldn't be happier about this - I have patiently waited as new windows were installed, new gutters put up, a new air conditioner, a new air blowing unit in the attic, deck torn out and new patio poured......a lot of outdoor projects have come and gone while I picked out my paint colors, wrote down what needed to be done first inside, and prayed that Randy would finally listen to my plea of "please look into putting new tile in our bathtub"!

I have strategically placed rugs to cover cracks and/or stains on the floor, I even strategically place shampoo bottles to cover ickiness in our bathtub tile......and now I am going to get new tile in my entry way, kitchen/dining area, and bathtub, our old kitchen wallpaper is going to come down and new paint will go up, I will update our cabinets with new handles to freshen them up a bit, and I am going to repaint a few other rooms to freshen them up. We take our tax refund do everything we possibly can with it - and thankfully I am blessed with a handy husband who has saved us thousands of dollars by doing everything himself.

This weekend kicks off our first project and I am thrilled - I am not a huge fan of painting.....but I am a huge fan of FINALLY putting up all of the new shelving that I've had set aside for over a year and is going to keep us super organized right?!, the beautiful metal tree thing that I got from Pottery Barn, the gorgeous sleek black console table that is still in the box, and the candle holders that are still securely in their boxes ready for display!

What projects do you have going on this weekend?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Coupon Confusion

I'm getting the hang of this coupon thing.....however, the young cashier at our local grocery store is not.

Last night a trip to our local store for milk, eggs, juice, and a bag of chips that I estimated as costing about $9.00 with my coupons nearly cost me $22.29. When I protested and made the young man void the transaction and go through the groceries again, the total was $7.28.

Gallon Skim Milk (2) $2.00 w/ coupon (I just now realized he only charged me for 1!!)
Juicy Juice (2) $1.50 w/ coupon (again, he only charged me for 1???)
Doritos $1.89 w/ coupon
Dozen Large Eggs $0.99 w/ coupon
Dozen 1/2 Large Eggs $1.85

Somewhere along the way I had $0.95 taken off.....because my total was $7.28 w/ tax. What a terrible shopping trip - I am going to call the manager today to let them know that I wasn't charged for most of my stuff and originally the total was $22.29? I wasn't being mean or anything, but that kid was flustered!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mothering Boys pt. 2

This will not be a glowing post about mothering boys, this is a complaint, a call for help, a mother's plea for assistance......PLEASE!

Why are boys so physical? Why must they work things out by jumping on, pushing, hitting, biting, etc.

This morning Noah pushed Logan to get the "good seat" in the back seat of the car. Yesterday Logan hit another little boy because the other little boy was teasing Noah....which was hard to fight because he was sticking up for his little brother and he said that they were trying to walk away. And then today, Logan got into a fight with another little boy because the other little boy was calling him names. Again, that's tough to fight because he was getting teased, however, it's not how you should handle the situation.

I will talk to him about this, about how using violence to fight violence is never the answer, I will help him to see alternatives for handling situations like this.......I will probably pull my hair out before he ever "gets it".

This is one area of mothering boys that I don't get - they solve everything physically and as a woman I want to "talk it out". Where is the balance? How can I find a happy medium for all of us? Can I cure cancer and rid of worldwide hunger while I'm at it? UGH, mothering boys is tough!

Weekly Grocery Round-Up.....part of it at least!

Well, I blew the $75.00 grocery challenge on Friday afternoon as I was looking for comfort, convenience, and food that would allow our family to spend quality time with our dog that night (seriously, I'm so sorry that my posts have been so depressing lately......dare I tell you how emotional I just got leaving Meijer - the greeter lady's name was Millie and I cried! AHH!). Anyway, a run to Wal-Mart Friday afternoon with the boys resulted in the purchase of DiGiornio pizza's, Frosty Paws (for Millie & Lucy), salty snacks (for me), and ice cream (for me too!). And I think I went over by $5.00....but I justified it!

Today I went to the store for the first part of my grocery shopping this week - I will name it the first leg of my $75 weekly challenge - it sounds more interesting! ha! I will post the rest of my "legs" when I get around to them.....I won't remind you that I'm not feeling much like myself this week! ; (

Kraft Shells & Cheese (2) $4.70
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (4) Free w/ coupon
Meijer French Fries 32 oz. bag Free w/ purchase
Smart Balance Cooking Spray $1.89 w/ coupon
Smart Balance Butter (2) $3.00 w/ coupon
Smart Balance Butter Sticks Free w/ coupon
Smart Balance Popcorn (2) $1.69 w/ coupon & Buy one, get one free
Hebrew National Hot Dogs $2.99 w/ coupon
Green Grapes 1.91 lb. $1.89
Loaf Arnold Potato Bread $0.79 w/ coupon
Thomas English Muffins $0.25 w/ coupon
Baked Cheetos $2.00 w/ coupon
Tyson Bag Breaded Chicken Strips (2) $8.25 w/ coupon

Total w/ tax $29.42

I bought some things that weren't a great deal - but used coupons or bought them as a part of a promotion....the hot dogs, shells & cheese, Baked Lays, and another blasted freezer bag to hold my frozen foods while I work - but I still have $45.58 left in my budget and I know that I don't have that much to buy this week really. With store promotions, non-coupon savings, and coupon savings - my total savings at Meijer was $30.37. So not too bad! Plus I got bread & english muffins for super cheap with coupons, free Kraft Mac & Cheese, and lots of the Smart Balance products were either free or a great deal.

I will tell you that while shopping, I saw a lady with several containers of chicken breasts and ground chicken with the BIG ORANGE STICKERS BLARING 40% my frugal self rushed right over to the meat counter to check out the chicken and when I realized that she had cleaned out the clearance chicken I think I mumbled some not nice words under my breath! ha! She beat me to a bargain darn it! And then I pulled myself together, reminded myself that I did not need meat this week and I didn't have anywhere to put it while I was at work and then I grumbled a congratulations! ha! ha!

Again, I will post the rest of my frugal finds later......there isn't much this week as I am still using reserves of pasta, meat, yogurt, etc., but I know you are all just waiting on the edge of your seats! ha! ha!

I hope you are having a wonderful day!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Random Bits of Life

#1 As you all know, our little family is grieving the loss of our loving 12-year old dog Millie. We continue to talk about our good memories of her and I've only cried a little bit today....I miss her, we had a routine for 11 years and it's tough not to notice she's there.

#2 We have all be so sick lately - colds, strep throat, bronchitis, croup, flu....I swear there are 25 different types of medicines on our counter and I need a notebook to keep track of them to make sure nobody is overdosing or taking someone else's medicines.

#3 MICE - to add to the stress of the weekend, while sitting in a chair with Millie on Friday night I caught sight of a mouse gingerly walking across our fireplace...very close to where Millie was. In my head I was screaming "Millie, wake up baby, this is your last chance to prove to me that you can hunt" (see this post for details). Seeing as she couldn't hear and that I didn't want her last night with me to be in the bath following the bloodshed, I went to the store and bought 8 mousetraps - why that many you ask - because I wanted to catch that sucker! Over the course of the weekend we caught 4 and I feel disgusting.....our house is clean, I have vacuumed a million times, shut down food operations outside of the kitchen/dining room, and my husband keeps reminding me that it's not because we're dirty. So far the traps have been empty for the past 2 days, but they are still set and ready for action, and my handy man husband has done something near our kitchen window that he thinks might help.

#4 I have to laugh at know, I really have blonde moments sometimes that are just so funny.

Here is an example of my true hair color - Two weeks ago a guy I went to school with IM'd me on Facebook and asked me if I had a date for the class reunion we have this summer. I responded to him that I would probably be going with my husband, to which he quickly responded, "I wanted to know the date of the reunion, I wasn't asking you out". Oh, duh!

Go ahead and laugh, it's okay - I did!

#5 Marathon/Half-Marathon - because I've been sick and am still sick along with a terrible backache, my marathon hopes have been cut to half-marathon hopes. I was pushing it to train for the marathon in 12-weeks, and just hope that I get better in time enough to do the half. Seems that my immune system is pretty weak this season and the stress of what we went through recently has really flared up my lupus.

#6 Summer is coming.....there is a time change this weekend, the sun is shining brighter, there is warmer weather (I am thinking 30 degrees is warmer, maybe I'm delusional!), and the kids are just chomping at the bit to get outside and I'm more than happy to send them! I'm looking forward to cookouts with our friends, bike rides, playing in the field behind our house, t-ball/baseball games, opening windows and feeling the breeze, fishing at my parents lake, and getting our garden in (aptly named Millie's Garden).

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Weekend

I had one of those emotional, sobbing uncontrollably, crying at the drop of the hat, and feeling as though your heart was breaking into a million pieces.

Randy and I took our sweet Millie on Saturday and as I promised Logan, I stayed by her side the entire time because I never wanted her to feel scared, alone, or confused by what was going on. It was tough and I can't even begin to tell you how difficult it was for me. There were lots of tears during my phone calls to my sister and my mom - both cried and felt my pain as Millie was loved by everyone. And the pain and tears are still coming today and I have a feeling it will be awhile before life feels somewhat normal again.

I know that not everyone can relate to the relationship that I had with Millie, some people are not pet people, but before I had children I was one of those semi-nutty dog people. Our dogs are important to us and are a part of our family and because at 19 I was told that children might not be possible, I viewed our dogs at the time as the ones I would nurture and love as though they were my children.

Following the events Saturday morning I found myself in pain all over, it's my Lupus flaring up because of the stress of our situation with Millie. My joints ache, my immune system is down, and my back hurts....I just pray that this goes away soon as I would like to continue training for the half-marathon. Because I've been sick, it's really not possible for me to do the full marathon in April now, but the half marathon is still a possibility. And the running would be a great release for these emotions that I'm experiencing now.

I did meet friends out for a bit to celebrate a birthday and Randy and I went to an Illini Basketball game where I yelled at the refs, cheered, and supported our team the best I could, but I am grieving and it hurts. When I was laying on the couch I reached down for my friend that was always there laying right next to me, when I was in the kitchen I would always be on the lookout for the one who was always under my feet, when the kids were eating I didn't have anyone to clean up their mess on the floor for me, and every morning I had one less little one to take care of.

I know that this loss and my grieving might seem strange to some and I thought a lot about my friends that have lost children and how they might deem my feelings as silly, but for 11 years I loved, nurtured, and took care of Millie as though she were my child.....and my pain and grief is real and that's all I know.

If you are having any saddness or experiencing grief today....know that I am feeling for you.