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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Exercising When You Have Kids

I've found it to be difficult to get into an exercise routine since having children. I just don't have the time to do jumping jacks, touching my finger to my toes, running on a treadmill, and doing push ups. Okay, I lied. I've found that if you really want to do something you will find time for it. I don't like doing those types of exercises so I just don't.

I do like to move my body though. Whether it be running in the yard with the kids, taking a long walk, walking the dog at a brisk pace, or going up and down the steps with countless baskets of laundry to put away I like to get that kind of workout. And it works. I seriously believe that in our day to day life we are able to get adequate exercise to mantain a healthy lifestyle by doing our everyday things. We don't need a separate machine to help us stay in shape. Granted, our lifestyles are not so "natural" as they were 100 years ago. There is less physical labor and a lot of desk jobs or other work that depends more on the mind than the body. I can see how someone who sits behind a desk for 8 hours a day could have a need to go "sweat it out at the gym". But I am speaking for myself here and I think that as a mother to three active children and a homemaker with a home to take care of I should be able to get enough exercise within my daily routines.

I think I do for the most part. Mopping a floor, vacuuming a room or two, hauling laundry baskets up and down the steps, lifting toddlers, scrubbing bathtubs, and all the other various jobs that I do throughout the day are burning calories and getting my heart rate going. Not to mention that digging in the garden, raking leaves, pushing kids on swings, chasing children down, walking dogs, and taking long strolls throughout the neighborhood are all very vigorous activities.

These are all things that can be done with a child, or two, or three. It is easy to get into the mindset that the only productive exercise is the hard workout in the gym or on the exercise equipment in your home but I find that as long as you are moving about and getting things done you are exercising. These things can be done with your children so that they too are getting adequate exercise. Just today I took a very long walk around the walking trail and the great thing about getting your kids to join in is that it wears them out and turns down their energy level for awhile. Both boys fell asleep when we returned home and slept for over an hour which was blissful!

Our bodies don't have to suffer just because we are busy with little kiddos all day. We can truly turn our daily activities into our exercise and kill two birds with one stone.

What do you do to exercise while at home with your children?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pretty Yourself Up

I have felt like crud lately. It's probably because I have been dealing with the creepy cruddy cold that the kids and I have had but just looking in the mirror made me feel more cruddy - because I looked like it as well.

Don't get me wrong, I've never been one of those ladies who look as though they just walked out of a magazine page. No where close to it. I hate to admit it but I am "one of those moms" who tends to think "Why get prettied up just to spend all day with kids?". There have been times that I have taken more care of my appearance and I liked how I felt. It is the same mentality of getting dressed and out of your pajamas in the morning even if you are going to stay at home all day, just so that you will feel ready for your day and not laze about. So goes putting a little effort into your appearance...get prettied up for the day so that you will feel pretty. Just because I am home all day doesn't mean I need to look and feel like crud.

Today I woke up and wanted to feel like a normal human being again. I straightened my hair (can I just admit that I am soooooo tired of my frizzy curly hair?!) and put makeup on. I wasn't going anywhere special today, just to the grocery store with the kids, but I felt better about myself. And my plan is to do this every day this week. To see if it improves my mood.

What I could really use is a wardrobe overhaul. I have nothing to "dress up" in. It seems to constantly be jeans and a sweatshirt or t-shirt for me. Throw in a sweater here or there and call it complete. Boring!! It is so hard for me to find clothes that I like and that I can afford and that I don't ruin. I'm a klutz like that and get bleach stains or food stains on almost all my favorite clothes within the first or second wearing of the item. Whether it is my fault or a child wiping their sticky paws on me, stains on my clothing seem to be the bane of my existence. So I feel really bad looking at a blouse or skirt to buy knowing that it may be money wasted once I ruin it. Sigh.

At least this week my hair and make-up will be looking good and hopefully I will be feeling good this week because of it!

How do you brighten up your mood when you feel and look down in the dumps?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Being sick for a week did not throw me for a loop. I am always on top of my game when it comes to everything so I did not do things quite unusual, such as:

When I went to return a Redbox movie rental I did not disregard the directions on how to return it with the arrow pointing a certain way but rather in my cold induced fog just jam the case into the machine and then push it in harder when it didn't go in, only to get the darn DVD stuck in the machine with no way to push it in or pull it out. It wasn't I who had to go to the service desk to explain my predicament and have the lady ask in a rude tone "if I put it in per the directions". Nope, wasn't me at all that did that!

I did not serve my family frozen pizza one night and pizza rolls the next night. I know how that is complete and utter crap and food like that doesn't even pass through our door, much less be served two nights in a row in our household. Not me and my house!

When I called to cancel my daughter's dentist appointment due to her cold I did not get everyone situated in preparation for the call. Phone conversations are not a difficult task in this household so I did not arrange things so that this call would go well, even deciding to keep the toddler happy on my hip as I made the call. Once I was on the phone explaining that we would need to reschedule the appointment my toddler did not start into a loud coughing fit right in my ear (and the phone!). I did not have to repeatably ask her to repeat herself and we did not end our phone call as quickly as possible. Not me...no problems with phone conversations in this house!

Happy Not Me! Monday!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Frugal Friday: Bread Outlets

I admit it, I don't make all our bread. Actually, I rarely make our own bread. I have a bread maker and will make pizza dough or the occasional loaf of bread (which we like to slice and eat with butter but do not like for sandwich making). I will also make rolls here or there or muffins and cinnamon rolls but the majority of our bread products are still bought from the store.

I know that homemade bread is healthier for you but in this busy season in my life I have decided to pick my battles and right now making all our bread products is not high on the priority list. While making your bread is healthier, I don't think it is always cheaper. Especially when you can buy from bread outlets.

Several larger cities nearby have bread outlets. There is a Hostess outlet and also a Sunbeam outlet in one major city that we frequent about once a month. I found the Hostess outlet to be a bit more pricey and not worth going to, unless you want to stock up on snack cakes and twinkies...which I don't. The Sunbeam outlet sells a lot of different brands but I mainly go for the Sara Lee bread. I am able to get loaves of the whole wheat bread for 99 cents, which sells for over $2 at the grocery store. I can get the hearty breads for $1.50 which sell for close to $3 at the grocery store. Sometimes there are sales which make for even better prices. I love the Sara Lee Cinnamon Raisin bagels which sell for over $2 at the grocery store and they often are on sale at the bread outlet for 50 cents a bag. Hot dog and hamburger whole wheat buns? Anywhere from 50 cents to $1 at the bread outlet.

Since we do only frequent this store about once a month I stock up while I am there. I am able to walk out of there with at least two bags full of bread for around $7-$8. If you spend over $10 there they throw in a another loaf of bread. I take advantage of whatever specials they are offering that week as well. I then freeze the bread and pull it out whenever we need another loaf. Now that we have a bigger freezer I will be able to buy even more of whatever is on sale that week.

If you don't make all your bread products I suggest you check your phone book to see if there is a bread outlet in your area. The products have always been fresh and the sell by dates are always a few days in advance so it isn't even "day old bread" like it used to be.

Another tip for those of you who live on a farm and have livestock is that our local bread outlet sells "feed bags" to farmers. Huge bags of bread products that are past their sell by date or had a tear in the bag or may have gotten squished for just $3. This would be an excellent way to supplement a chicken or pig's diet every once in awhile and help avoid waste of bread that could otherwise not be sold.

Do you shop at bread outlets? What is your favorite item to purchase there?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sick With No Sick Days

Am I ever going to get better? I decided today that this has to be something worse than just the common cold. The kids have been sick for over a week and only gradually getting better and this illness has me beat. Each day when I wake up feeling bad I think "Well, this has to be the worst day and tomorrow I'll feel better". Then I wake up the next day and feel worse. Today HAS to be the worst one, right? I mean, I woke up feeling as though my head weighed 500 lbs. and was about to explode. After downing some decongestant and taking a hot bath I felt a bit better but then went to lay down at 11:00am with Joe and proceeded to fall asleep for an hour an a half. Then I felt even better. But I still feel like crud.

I am lucky that this is the one day that hubby has to go into work late (and work all night) and so was home during the day in order to help watch the kids and help with housework and food preparation. I was able to rest and slack off and that feels good. It reminds me of a kid when I was able to lay on the couch or in bed all day and my mom would bring me plates of toast and cups of tea or 7-UP. You know, it made me feel taken care of. That is a comfort. That is also rare once you become a mom.

Now I have to face the evening alone with kids. Supper is done, baths are finished, and cartoons are playing for the time being. A little snuggling and some books to be read are in order and then I think we will turn in early. In case you are wondering why I am writing about bedtime when this post was posted at 5am, it is because I write my posts a night in advance. So this is really being written at 7pm Wednesday night. That's the internet and technology for you. :)

While there is nothing fun about being sick, it does make you appreciate and enjoy your healthy days much more. I can't wait until we are able to do just that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Growing Your Own

I debated about whether I should write about gardening for my Wholesome Wednesday post, or rather my Frugal Friday post. Granted, gardening is very frugal, but that isn't the only reason that I do it, so Wholesome Wednesday won out this time.

There are really five reasons that I decided to grow my own food. They are listed in order of importance.

#1. Homegrown vegetables are as fresh as they come. They don't sit in a market for days (or weeks) and are picked at their peak freshness. Nothing beats a tomato directly from the garden or a cucumber that is still warm from the sun.

#2. It is organic. While not "certified organic", I buy the seeds/plants (and try to stick with heirloom plants whenever possible), I plant them in a raised garden bed that we built with untreated lumber, in soil that we use our own compost to enrich, and we use no chemicals on our plants. As close to nature as you can get! They also are not shipped any distance, which protects more of the earth's resources.

#3. The freshest and most natural vegetables are also the cheapest. I can get a basket full of radishes fresh from the garden for less than it would cost to buy one bag of dried and cracked radishes from the store. All my vegetables cost mere pennies to produce. It isn't just good for the body but also the budget.

#4. It is a family activity. The kids help pick out what we will grow and help plant. Becca and hubby help me weed and everyone helps harvest and eat it all...which leads me to...

#5. Since my children are involved with the planning, planting, and whole process of the garden, they want to eat the products of their hard work. They have tried everything from the garden - from turnips to yellow squash to kohlrabi and green peppers. They eat and actually like what they grow.

I will have future posts on how we built a raised garden bed, what plants we decide on, composting, and more. I think almost anyone can plant at least something; whether it be a small windowsill herb garden, to a container of tomatoes on a patio, to a ginormous garden which could produce all the vegetables and fruit one would need. Start small and think big!

Living in the upper midwest we have a late start to the growing season (not planting tomatoes or cucumbers until May) but there are a few things that I can start early. I already sowed some radish seeds in the garden as they are cold hardy plants and will probably get some turnips and onions in this week sometime. I snapped a picture of something that excited me in the garden this past week...
My rhubarb is emerging! You know it is a sure sign of spring when you catch the rhubarb shoots peeking out of the ground. I have four rhubarb plants and can't wait to make breads, pies, and stash a bunch of it in the freezer.

So what are your plans this spring? Do you garden? What do you plant? Do you go big or stay small?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Time For a Food Revolution?

Did any of you get to see the hour long sneak peak of the new television show called Food Revolution on Sunday evening? It had me engrossed and I can't wait to watch the two hour episode this Friday evening.

What it is about is that Jamie Oliver (a chef from Britain, I think) is coming to America to change the way we eat. He is starting in Huntington, WV which according to the USDA statistics is the unhealthiest town in America due to obesity and death rates. He is going into the school cafeteria to change the eating habits of the children and also helping families at home learn to cook healthy foods.

What he showed on Sunday night's episode was astounding. The school cafeteria was feeding almost all processed foods to the children. The freezers were full of food that wasn't even recognizable by glance...frozen logs of eggs to be made into scrambled eggs, "potato pearls" to be made into mashed potatoes, chicken breasts that looked like nuclear waste. What is appalling is that these foods are acceptable within the USDA food guidelines. I don't fault the cafeteria ladies, they are just following the rules and it seems to be much harder to feed the children the healthy food. When Jamie made chicken and rice for the children he was told that in order to meet the guidelines he was required to serve an extra bread product, though he found that to be outrageous as he says who needs bread and rice in the same meal? But the pizza that the cafeteria cooks were serving meet all the bread guidelines for the day? And when given the choice the majority of the children chose the unhealthy pizza instead of the chicken. He noticed that the few things that the cooks made from scratch, such as homemade rolls, were the one thing that kids weren't eating from their plates. The processed junk food was eaten and the fruit and other real foods were thrown in the trash by these children. I'm curious to see if he is able to change the way that the school cooks by the end of this series.

It was not just the school that had issues. He went to one family and asked to see what they cook for a week. It was ALL fried fatty foods...corn dogs, pizza, fried doughnuts, and more. I did not see a single vegetable or fruit. It was literally sickening. It isn't just families in Huntington, Wv that cook like this though. And it was truly eye opening to see how many families eat and what the USDA guidelines find acceptable.

I hope that each of you are able to watch this television show (it is on our regular television channels so no need for cable). I urge you to check out the Food Revolution site to learn about what channel it will air in your area and to look at all the resources listed there.

Did you watch the first episode Sunday? Your thoughts? What do you think of the USDA guidelines? Does America need a food revolution?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Today I did not almost skip this Not Me! Monday post because I am not as sick as a dog. I did not toss and turn last night unable to breathe and constantly blow my nose. I did not awake with a headache and a stuffy head and sore throat. Nope, Not me!

My children have also not been sick little babies for almost a week now. Coughs, snot rags everywhere, and lots of whining have not been happening. Nope, not here in the land of perfection!

So while I can't take a sick day as a mom, I'm going to take a sick day from my blog today.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday Grocery Update

Somehow I walked out of the grocery store without my receipt so I can't list what I bought (how convenient, right?!) but I can tell you that I spent $63.47. Our menu is as follows:
Goulash and garlic bread
homemade mac & cheese and chicken nuggets
minute steaks, corn casserole, and baked potatoes
Breakfast for supper (eggs, toast, hashbrowns, bacon)
Chicken noddle soup
Enchilada Casserole and Mexican Rice

All are served with vegetables and other sides. There are some repeats from last weeks menu because I didn't get around to making them last week. With the kids sick we ate lightly and had cereal one night and snacked the other night.

Sorry that I can't list the groceries I bought but once again, I came in way under budget and will just need to pick up some eggs that I forgot. A family of five eating for $65 a week isn't too bad!

Happy Spring!

Spring has finally arrived. Although, waking up this morning you wouldn't guess it as we had a few inches of fresh snow overnight. This whole weekend will have chances of snow but from the looks of it next week will once again be in the 50's so it should be melted soon enough.

We have been dealing with sickness in the house all week; if you noticed my new Twitter account over there --------------------------------------------------------------> you probably already know this. It's a creepy crud cold that has left the kids coughing like seals and miserable. I woke up this morning with a sore throat so I suppose I am next in line for it. I won't complain too much as this is our first cold since last November, staying cold-free for four months during the winter months in a household with children is almost something for the record books.

I hope to head to the store later today before I start feeling worse and stock up on some good for us food for the week. I will post my menu and shopping trip later today. One thing I wanted to share is that this week for TOPS we are supposed to keep a food journal. It made me realize that some weeks we are lacking something in the diet...whether it be enough protein, enough vegetables, and so on. This week, by keeping my food journal I noticed a lack of fruits. Besides the juice I have been drinking I have not been consuming enough fruit so I hope with this I will become more aware of everything we eat and make more balanced choices. Now I am craving fruit so will need to stock up on that at the store.

I'll be back later with updates!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Frugal Friday: Clotheslines

Yesterday was the first time this year that I was able to hang clothing out on the line. It has been warm for almost two weeks now but the snow under the clothesline just finished melting. What a joy it was to hang Jacob's bedding set out and watch it flap in the breeze. Last night when I made his bed it smelled of sunshine and even he noticed when he climbed into bed by exclaiming "Yum!' as he smelled the sheets. Ahhhh...the simple joys in life.

During the warmer months I dry all my laundry by hanging it on our clothesline, unless we have had days of rain and the laundry has became a daunting pile. Otherwise, it is the "solar clothes dryer" all the way. I don't use the clothesline only to save money, I rather like the task of hauling my laundry outdoors and pinning it on the line so it can dry nice and crisp in the warm spring air. Some people complain of the stiff feeling that clothes and towels may get when hung outdoors but that can be remedied by throwing them in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff them back up again. Or, you they could go the same route that we do and just get used to it. Any clothing item that I put on becomes soft again after a few minutes of wearing it. And the stiff towels? We actually prefer line dried towels because they absorb more water...and get soft midway through drying yourself off. Sheets and blankets dried outdoors are the best; they truly are a little piece of heaven.

Clotheslines also save money. They save the wear and tear on your clothes that a dryer can do. You know all that lint that you extract from the dryer everyday? A lot of that is fibers from your clothing. The sun can do a little damage itself by fading certain dyes and fabric, so if you are concerned turn all your clothing items inside out when hanging them out to dry.

Whether your dryer is electric or gas you will notice a difference in your bills when you start using the clothesline. Our electric bill drops by at least $20 a month in the warmer months when I discontinue using the dryer.

There are actually communities that have banned hanging clothes outside. Home owner alliances feel it looks trashy or makes the neighborhood look poor. I've even heard people say before "We don't need to hang clothes outside, we aren't poor." I don't hang clothing up because I can't afford to use the dryer, I hang it up because I like the way it smells and feels, like to save money, and think it is better for the environment. And quite honestly, I like getting back to the basics of doing something for myself (such as dry my clothes on a clothesline) rather than depend on a machine to do it for me that takes money and resources that we just shouldn't waste. I think it is sad when clotheslines in neighborhoods are frowned upon. Think about it though, hanging clothes outdoors is a dying trend. In a several block radius of my home I can count on one hand the houses that have a clothesline. It makes me feel good when I do see our one neighbor hang out her snowy white sheets or a row of blue jeans. It makes me feel not so alone.

As a family of five we do have a lot of laundry but I find that by doing two to three loads on each nice weather day I am able to keep up with it and not have to use the dryer. We have a long clothesline with five different strings. I will be the first to admit that I am a bit anal about how I hang out laundry. Last year I got into the system of assigning a string to each family member...so that all their clothing is hanging on their string. That way in the evening when I go to take them down and fold them right off the line they are all in one pile that I can take directly to their dresser and put away. It seems to save me time and is a system that works for me. I also have to have all my towels lined up neatly with the big towels, hand towels, and wash cloths all separated and clustered in their own group. I know, it is a bit obsessive compulsive but our clothesline faces the street and sidewalk so anyone walking/driving by and looking in our backyard will see how I hang up my clothes...and I think they look nice this way! Underwear is always hidden in the middle rows so that they can't be seen from those in the front of the house or those in our neighbor's back yard.

I especially enjoy hanging the cloth diapers outside. The sun works wonders on bleaching out any stains.

Speaking of stains and clothing...with the last several days being warm and the kids stripping off their coats and playing hard outside I remembered all the stains that happen during spring and summer. Today I washed a brand new shirt of Becca's that had just been worn for the first time yesterday and I realized that there were grass and dirt stains that just wouldn't come out. This happens a lot in the summer around here and so many clothes are ruined that way. Does anyone have a tried and true tip on keeping kid's clothing in nice condition, even when they are messy little slobs?

Do you use a clothesline or are you strictly a dryer type gal? What are your reasons for hanging clothes out or just sticking to the dryer?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Remember Not To Forget

I don't want to come across as one of those women who constantly complains about her man. We all know someone like that...the woman who belittles her spouse, the woman who has a husband who just can't please her, the woman who is always right. After looking through some blog posts I realize that I have come across that way several times. I tend to complain when something isn't going right but I "forget" to write about our life when things are going great.

My husband is gone at his late evening dental appointment to get three cavities filled as I write this. Since our dentist is in another town and the appointments tend to take awhile, it is 7pm as I write this and he is still not home. That means that all day we have only seen him for a brief moment as he stopped home after work to get ready for his appointment. That makes for a very LONG day.

It also makes me realize why it is so much easier when my husband is home. He loads and unloads the dishwasher every single day, he plays with the kids, he keeps them occupied while I take a long soak in the tub, he helps clean up around the place, and so much more. But it isn't those things that make him a great husband, it is the fact that I look forward to him arriving home. Not just so I get a break from the kids or the house but because I look forward to talking to him and having him near. Yes, after close to nine years of marriage I still miss him when he is gone at work for eight hours or more a day.

Tonight isn't the first night that I am reminded how lucky I am. I not only have a husband who helps me clean and take care of the kids, but I have a husband who comes home every single night after work and one who often reminds us that it is the only place he would want to be. He has no desire to stop off at a bar with "buddies" or spend his weekends watching the game at a friends house. At the end of a hard day at work he just wants to come home. To us.

That counts for a lot. I know other women who don't have it so lucky. Who try to force their husbands to stay home only to have them home but not present in their life. Other women have to force their husband to be a father; they have to beg to get them to care for their own children. Some couldn't get their man to touch a dish with a dishrag, much less change a dirty diaper. Others have to worry about alcohol, drugs, porn, or other women. This post is not to brag. If your husband is not the man you hoped he would be, do not despair. Things can and do change in a marriage. My husband wasn't as kind or considerate when we first married as he is now. A marriage is constantly evolving and with hard work and a lot of dedication and prayers, it often can evolve for the better.

Rather, I hope that all my readers have a kind and considerate husband. And this post is to remind you (and me!) to remember just that. Sometimes it's just too easy to forget.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Natural Body Care

This post could tie in nicely with my post about deodorant and shampoo. But I am focusing mainly on lotions, soaps, and facial products today.

Did you know that about 60% of any substance applied to the skin is absorbed into the body and can even be detected in the blood within minutes? Studies have shown that we may actually acquire more toxins through inhalation and skin absorption than through the foods that we eat. That's pretty scary! The sad thing is that plenty of the body care products that I was purchasing that claimed to be "organic" or "derived from natural sources" were not nearly as natural as I thought. Most "natural" body care products still have chemicals in them.

Chemicals in body care products have been linked to reproductive problems and to some cancers. Many synthetic chemicals have also been linked to developmental deficiencies and learning disabilities in children. Even the fragrance in products have been reported to cause headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin irritation, and much more. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture that what we put on our skin should be as important in what we put in our bodies.

I think the best way to gradually change our skin care habits is to do just that...change gradually. Making your own products from natural household supplies is the cheapest way to do so. I use witch hazel mixed for astringent after washing my face. A bottle costs about $1.50 and lasts quite a long time. I mix it about 2/3 witch hazel and 1/3 water and store in a squeeze bottle and pour some on a cotton ball to apply to my face. For removing makeup olive oil is an excellent natural product to use. I dab some around my closed eyes and rub and then rinse to get any makeup off. A body scrub can be made out of sugar and olive oil. The list goes on and on for homemade beauty products so if interested do a Google search.

I also use store bought products which substitute the harmful chemicals for natural ones. But even my "natural products" are not pure from all chemicals. There are only two companies that I can really recommend products from as pretty much as natural as you can get.

Terressentials claims that they only use ingredients that the USDA permits in certified organic food. Yes, the products are really all natural.

The prices are a little high for me but I did try the lotion out a few years ago and can tell you that not only was the scent amazing (all natural, no synthetic fragrance) but the lotion worked. It cleared up my dry skin and with no irritation which I sometimes get from other products. If you are truly concerned with traditional body products Terressentials is the way to go. Even switching one product at a time will make it cost effective. I at least urge you to look around their site, they have a lot of media and research data included.

Earth Mama Angel Baby

This company has amazing products with real natural ingredients for pregnancy and for baby. I buy their morning sickness tea when I am pregnant and have used their lotion for the kids (and myself!). It is smooth and smells delicious and I can be confident that what I am putting on my children is healthy for their little bodies.

I also use their baby bottom balm for diaper rashes and it clears it right up. It is also wonderful for cuts or scrapes, burns, and insect bites so we keep a jar of it in the bathroom cupboard. They can also be found at Amazon.com so I can use my swagbucks to buy them!

These are just my personal recommendations and I have not been paid to advertise them. I think it is best to try to make or use as many beauty products as possible and then look for an outside source on the items that you can not make yourself.

Do you make any of your own beauty products? Do you buy any "natural products" trying to steer clear of traditional ones? Are you not concerned with traditional ones? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grocery Update and Outside Fun

I was finally able to get my menu planned out and took a trip to the grocery store today. I'm going to admit right off the bat that we have fudged our "Lenten goal" this week and bought both soda and candy in the same trip. I'm fessing up though and keeping it real!

My menu for this week is as follows:

Chef's Salad

Goulash and garlic bread

Homemade mac & cheese and chicken nuggets

Tuna noodle salad and rolls




All these are served with side dishes, of course.

My shopping trip:

Digorno pizza $6.99 (minus $4 coupon)

Twix bar, sour skittles, and starbursts 60 cents x3

3 cans store brand soda 25 cents x3, can deposit 5 cents x3

string cheese $2.99

cotton balls $1.29

two packages corn tortilla 69 cents x2

Cadbury Eggs $2.99 (forgive me, I was craving them!)

Dole Salad $1.69

toothbrush $1.29

2.19lb. bananas $1.29

sunflower seeds 89 cents

roma tomatoes 1.09lbs. $2.17

head of lettuce $1.09

garbanzo beans 99 cents

2 packages ground beefs $2.01 and $2.09

chicken sandwich meat $2.89

shell macaroni 99 cents

noodles $1.19

Total: $37.48

Which brings my grand total for the week up to around $68. Under $75 again!

We have been enjoying the wonderful weather we have been having. All the snow has melted now and our temperatures have been in the 50's this week. The kids have been having a blast outside!

I hope all of you are enjoying nice weather as well. It makes for some very happy, and tired, kiddos at the end of the day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not Me! Monday

This past Friday my husband and I did not go out on our first "real date" in ages. I would not be afraid (or would it be embarrassed?) to actually think back to the last time we went out on a "real date".

This date was not in celebration of my older (OLDER!) brother's 30th birthday. We did not go to a casino (my first time!) as part as the celebration. I did not order a delicious drink at the bar (first time ordering something at a bar!) and proceed to gamble (for the first time!). My hubby and I did not gamble a total of $24 and only walk away with $9.50 in winnings. Nope, not us!

This is not my older (Older!) brother waving around a wad of cash that he got from his friends for his birthday:

He did not go on to gamble it all away. Oh wait, he actually really didn't. I think he broke even at the end of the night.

I did not plan to come away with a lot more pictures than I actually did...because I found out that we weren't allowed to photograph anything inside the casino.

Hubby and I did not have to leave the party after five hours in order to arrive home by midnight to relieve the babysitter of her duties. We did not miss the bowling afterwards. :(

And this photo did not happen...
Don't ask, I really don't know the story behind it and I'm afraid to ask!

Happy Not Me! Monday!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday Grocery Update

After a fun (and late!) night out last night to celebrate my brother's 30th birthday I was just too tired today to figure out a menu and a grocery list. That will be done on Monday. Hubby wanted to use up some more of those free food coupons (which we got when we bought the freezer last week) so we did make a quick trip to the store. Here is our latest shopping trip:

3 Snickers candy bars 67 cents x3 (free with coupon and a snack for the ride home)

Shaved white turkey meat $2.06 (free with coupon)

Cheese sticks $5.99 (free with coupon)

2 bags frozen corn $1.67 x2 (free with coupon)

Frozen potato patties $3 (free with coupon)

2 Digiorno pizzas with breadsticks $7.29 x2 (free with coupons since I am hosting a Digiorno HouseParty...more about that later!)

1 bag potato chips $2.50 (hubby wanted them)

2 20oz. bottles soda 69 cents x2 (kids were dying of thirst)

2 2ltrs. soda 49 cents x2 (hubby stuck them in cart)

Popcorn $2.88

Bread $1.88 (free with coupon)

4 gallons of Organic milk clearanced due to close expiration date $2 x4 (usually $6.89 each...we will use two this week and I froze the other two...yes, milk can be frozen!)

Breyers Black Raspberry ice cream $3 (free with coupon)

Fully cooked bacon $2.99 (free with coupon)

Chicken nuggets $6.49 (had $5 off coupon)

8 pkg. of Bounty paper towels $4.88

Toilet paper $2.99

2 lbs. strawberries $1.38 x2

Green grapes 1.45 lb. $1.44

Total: $30.13

I still have $45 to spend for the week. Lots of what I bought this week with the free coupons will be put in the freezer for later use so will help our food budget later in the month (or year!). Some of the food which I got free with coupons was more processed than we typically buy but we will eat it and can incorporate it into healthy meals.

I will post my menu on Monday and how much I spent at the grocery store then.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Frugal Friday: Food Waste = Money Wasted

It's common sense really. You should only spend your hard earned money on things that you are actually going to use. Food is one of them. We don't go to the grocery store and pick up a head of lettuce thinking "I want to spend $1 on you so I can throw you away next week." We actually intend to use it.

Life gets in the way though. You forget to use up that head of lettuce so by the time you remember it you find it all soggy in a mess of brown liquid at the bottom of the vegetable drawer. Yum! I admit that I am no expert in preventing food waste, I am only an expert in food waste. I am working on getting to the point where I can open the fridge and know what is in there and when it needs to be used up and figure out a way to use it up before it gets bad.

I am one of those people who puts off cleaning out the fridge too long so that by the time I do get around to it I find expired cartons of yogurt in the back, shriveled up carrots in the vegetable drawer, blue cheese in the meat drawer (when I never bought blue cheese!), and odds and ends that could have seriously been put to use had I just remembered they were in there. That waste adds up. A carton of yogurt here and a package of vegetables there probably adds up to $5 or more a month. What a waste!

I am no better when it comes to leftovers. I really should follow the lead of my mother-in-law when it comes to saving every little bit of leftovers from meals. Have a few spoonfuls of green beans left? Stick them in the fridge to add to your plate later in the week. Have some rice left over in the bottom of the pan? Stick it in the fridge! But I'm bad. I rebel. I'm lazy. If it is less than a full serving left, I often figure it isn't worth digging out a storage container (which then will need washed later). I just feed it to the dogs.

My goal is to become more observant about the food that goes to waste and try to cut it out almost completely. One tip is throwing any leftovers such as small servings of vegetables, meat, and even rice into a bag in the freezer and once full using it to make a pot of soup. Little servings of things can also be pulled out and served to a toddler or child for lunch. It's fun for them to have a big variety of food on a plate for them.

Another goal? To get the refrigerator cleaned and organized this week and then taking stock several times weekly to make sure we are using up everything before it goes to waste. Buying food only to throw it away just doesn't make sense...or cents.

What do you do to avoid food waste in your house?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Of Those Weeks

These past several days have been stressful. Maybe it is the fact that no matter how hard I try I just cannot keep the house looking decent. Maybe it's because it has been gloomy and we have been stuck inside. Maybe it's because the children are not behaving. I guess it could be all of these things wrapped in one but it is getting me down. I feel like yelling "COME ON! Just give me a break already!"

You know, it's one of those weeks. Everyone gets them. One of those weeks when you are tired, crabby, emotional, and fed up. One of those weeks when nothing seems to go right and you just want to crawl underneath the covers and wake up when all is right with the world again. But as a mother you can't crawl into bed or comfort yourself with a marathon of favorite chick flick movies or a lazy do nothing day. Because there is always someone clinging to you or wanting a glass of water or needing to be changed for the sixth time that day. There is always something that needs to be done, and quite often more than one thing at a time needs doing.

And that is what has me exhausted this week. I really am feeling pulled in all directions. There is a toddler that is extra clingy and whiny and entering his terrible twos. There is a four year old that is fairly quiet but needs attention just the same. There is a sassy six year old that needs discipline as well as hugs and quality schooling each day. Then there is a house that is in a state of chaos. I am not looking for a state of perfection, I would be happy with an organized mess at the moment but even that is wishing for a miracle to happen. Cooking. Laundry. And a husband who deserves more than just my leftover time. I'm tired.

I keep reminding myself that it is just one of those weeks. That next week will dawn bright and sunny and the children will behave like perfect angels and I will awaken on Monday morning to a clean and organized house. No? Well, a girl can dream, can't she?!

There really is no point to this post. No revelation on how to make things better or easier. The fact of the matter is that it's called life. There are good days and bad days. It doesn't mean that I don't enjoy my children, my husband, or my life. It doesn't mean I chose the wrong path in life. It doesn't mean that tomorrow won't be better. It just means that it is one of those weeks, that's all. Now can someone get me a Tylenol?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I am skipping today's "Wholesome Wednesday" as I just didn't have the time to put together a detailed post. It will resume next week as regularly scheduled.

Today, instead, I will be handing out some awards to bloggers that I enjoy reading. This is not an exhaustive list, as there are several more blogs that I enjoy, but I can only award ten blog today...so will hold onto the other ones for next time. Thanks to Penniless Parenting for awarding me the Sugar Doll blogging award! How this award works is I need to list ten things about myself that you may not know about me. Then I need to list ten blogs which I read. So here it goes...

1. I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar. I am actually considering taking some lessons at some point to learn the basics.

2. I have also wanted to learn to ride a horse ever since I was a little girl. Now that a friend is starting up some horse riding lessons this spring the kids and I will be signing up.

3. I love folding laundry. Strange, isn't it? I don't like washing it or putting it away, but the folding part makes me feel good.

4. I had only been to two states (my own and the Minnesota border) by the time I was 18 years old. Once I turned 18 I traveled to 6 different states (and flew above several others) in less than a year. I long to do more traveling and hope to go out West within the next few years.

5. I think it would be awesome to take a year to just travel around the United States in an RV. Of course, that takes money...so I don't see that happening. But I still think it would be cool.

6. I love the color green.

7. I am 5'6" tall

8. From the time I was 10 to the age of 14 I swore up and down that I was going to be a police officer when I grew up.

9. I am a rarity in this town. There are just very, very few stay-at-home moms where we live and NOTHING for stay-at-home moms to do. No MOPS, no playgroups, nothing.

10. I love music and seem to turn it up even louder when the kids are being bad. I listen to everything from Enya to Everclear to CCR. We have a huge range of music Cds.

I now award the Sugar Doll Award to:

Mama On A Mission

Mary Potter Kenyon

Simply Sonita

The Path of Frugality

Random Thoughts

Not Quite June Cleaver

My Thoughts In Color

Cars Trucks And Teething Rings

Just An All American Girl

Out On The Ranch

Do you read any of those blogs? Which are your favorites? Go check them all out...there is something for everyone!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Freezer Full of Savings

My husband and I have discussed getting a freezer for quite some time now but weren't in a rush to get one. I knew that our small freezer with limited space made me pass up certain deals (such as an additional turkey last year at just 49 cents a lb.) and I am unable to make extra meals to stick in the freezer due to there just not being extra room. Not to mention that I wasn't able to buy extra corn at the farmer's market to freeze (we love sweet corn, especially in the dead of winter!). So we knew that at some point we would be getting an extra freezer.

On Saturday my mom called me to tell me that Hy-Vee was having a deal where you could buy a freezer for $199 and get $200 worth of free food coupons with that purchase. At first I was going back and forth "We could use a freezer but do we need one right now?" Then I snapped out of it and realized how much we could save by having an additional freezer. We decided to go check out the sale and see just how good of a deal it was.

And what a deal it was! After buying the freezer I was handed a packet which not only had a $15 Hy-Vee gift card but also $200+ coupons for free food. We had so much fun going around the store and picking up items such as Raisin Bran, turkey lunch meat, frozen vegetables, coffee creamer, juice, and so much more...all for free! We still have a huge pile of coupons to use and this will make our next month's food expense go way down. I can't believe that more people weren't taking advantage of this deal as there was still quite a few freezers left. It is amazing to be able to get a freezer and over $200 worth of food for just $199. All the coupons were for things that we would eat so none of it will go to waste.

What's even better is that with all the money I have been saving with our reduced food budget and more careful shopping I was able to buy the freezer without touching our money in savings. I call that a win-win situation!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not Me! Monday

When I sat down to write out today's post I did not come up with a complete blank on things that I did (not) want to fess up to for the week. My life is not so boring and mundane lately that I could not come up with one single thing that was interesting enough to post. Not me!!

So instead, I will confess to things that I have never ever said as a mama...nope, these following comments have never passed through my lips!

"Please stop dipping your toothbrush in the toilet."

"Stop squishing your brother, he can't breathe."

"Next time can you remember to flush the toilet...and remember to wipe?!"

"Did you forget to put underwear on today?"

"What IS this?" (said quite often when finding very odd things around the house)

"No, Alf is not in your closet. Or E.T. Or a monkey."

And the #1 thing I never say? "Because I'm the mom, that's why!"

What is one phrase you never thought you would find yourself saying?

Happy Not Me! Monday!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Quick Thrifty Tip

I heard yesterday that Walgreens have marked many of their Walgreens brand diapers down to as low as $2.19. While out shopping today we stopped at one Walgreens and their shelves were wiped clean (except for sizes 5 & 6 which apparently aren't on sale) but there were spaces were the clearance tag read $2.19. So we ran to another Walgreens and the shelves were also wiped clean on the smaller sizes but I saw three size 4 packages with a price of $7.99 but asked for them to scan them and they rang up for $2.19! So I got the only three packages they had. The size five and six that were there still rang up for $7.99. So if you have babies or toddlers I suggest you see if your Walgreens has them on clearance (I have heard it may be nationwide) and if any are left. Ask them to scan them if the prices aren't marked, you may score a great deal! Even though I am back to cloth diapers for the most part I like having the option of using disposables for when we away from home, so these inexpensive diapers are great! Let me know if you find any at your stores!


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