Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We have a lot of leftovers in the fridge, so I don't know whether we'll actually need all 5 of these meals this week. We shall see!


Beef Stew (previously made, from the freezer)
Easy Spinach Pie
End of Summer Crock Pot Soup
Polenta topped with veggies & cheese
Frozen pizza (got a good deal at Harris Teeter Super Doubles!)

If I have time during the week, I'd also like to try this Amaranth Pudding recipe, since I have some amaranth on hand.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chick-fil-A Best Dressed Cow contest

I'm a loyal reader of Money Saving Mom, and a fellow reader is a finalist to win Chick-fil-A for a year!! Please take a moment to help a fellow frugal mama win food for her family!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Free Food


Being that I'm working to stick to our $50 weekly grocery budget, I was happy to find several deals this week for FREE food!

Here are some resources that have been particularly helpful for me this week.

Try Schwan's for free (I just ordered free hamburgers, which will be great for our next cookout!)

Free Chicken at Whole Foods (This can be cut up and frozen for use in future meals)

Free Groceries at Harris Teeter Super Doubles (I'll do my normal weekly grocery run and pick up some freebies while I'm there.)


Enjoy!!


Posted @ Frugal Friday

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

HomeGoods StyleScope

For those of you that enjoy my Frugal Home Decor series, I wanted to share a fun little quiz from HomeGoods.

HomeGoods is one of my favorite non-resale spots for inexpensive home accents, like this plate rack.

HomeGoods Style Scope is a simple, FREE online tool that helps you find your style, as well as tips to put that style to use.

At the end of the quiz, you have the opportunity to enter for a weekly $5000 shopping spree or daily gift card to HomeGoods.

From HomeGoods:

The StyleScope is an invaluable tool for those who want to find their own style, and escape from the overly prescriptive home décor options of major stores. This quick online quiz is designed to help all of us who love stylish home décor but don’t know how to incorporate specific trends or styles into our own homes.


I took the quiz and my result was Country Casual:

Your home expresses your open, easygoing approach to life. You love unique finds, and can turn a few mismatched garden chairs or floral teacups into a charming arrangement. You appreciate a pretty mix of relaxed pieces, like painted wood or weathered furniture, lovely florals and other patterns, lots of throws and pillows, mementos and bunches of fresh flowers that give your home a unique sense of breeziness and charm.

You value order. You feel happiest if your home is well organized. You understand that when your house is in order, your mind feels clearer. Rather than a lot of meaningless objects or overly-designed items, you are happier with a few well-placed things. Your home is your respite from a busy life. Try to avoid letting things into your home that you don't really love.


This is actually an extremely accurate description of my approach to decorating my home! There are some additional sections on style challenges, decor and entertaining which I haven't copied here.

Take the quiz and check out your own style tips!


FYI: I learned about this tool through PR for HomeGoods. I was not compensated in any way for this post.

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Couponers are Generous Folks

I have the impression that non-couponers think that coupon shoppers are cheap scrimpers whose main purpose is to slow the check-out lines at the grocery stores.

Of course this isn't true! Not only aren't couponers cheap skinflints, I'd say we're actually a pretty generous lot.

For the second time in a few months, there was a food drive in my neighborhood. I bagged up some of my small stockpile for donation and set it out on my porch for collection.

The only other donation bag I saw was set out by a neighbor, another avid couponer with whom I swap coupons.

Cutting coupons and budgeting isn't about being cheap, or doing the minimum.

It's about getting the maximum value out of each dollar and not being ashamed about it. It's about meeting our families needs.

And it is also about sharing with others, whether that is through knowledge or encouragement... or non-perishable items bagged up for collection by the Boy Scouts!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We're using mostly pantry & freezer items for our menu this week. I only had to buy some cheese and beans for my recipes. Otherwise, we had all the ingredients on hand.

Strawberries were on sale again this week, so I plan to make freezer jam again as soon as I get some more pectin!

Here is our plan for the week:

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Veggie Quiche (made using this previous recipe- Onion, Squash & Mushroom Quiche as a base)
Quinoa Salad
Sandwich Slices (this recipe uses chicken but I'll use just veggies & cheese, carryover from last week)
Crockpot Bean Soup (omitting the ham)


Posted at Menu Plan Monday

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Dollar Store PreSchool Workbooks

I've been on the hunt for activities to keep my 2 year old busy, and headed up to the Dollar Store to check out their back to school selection.

I thought I'd find things like paper and stickers, but I also got some great workbooks!

These have activities on shapes & sizes, numbers, and letters.

My daughter can't sit and do the activities on her own, but they are something that we can do together.

When I'm nursing, she can sit next to me on the couch with her book and pencil.

Even if she just wants to scribble on the pages instead of trying to do the activities, it still gives us an easy way to talk about concepts like size, matching, colors, etc.

I also found some similar activity books in the Target $1 section, so check there too if you don't have a dollar store!

Inexpensive workbooks are a great frugal find!


Posted at Frugal Fridays

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Adult Allowance

As part of our budget cutting and money saving since I started staying home with the kids, my husband and I have put ourselves on an allowance.

We each get $50 per month to spend however we want, no questions asked.

My husband might buy himself ingredients to brew beer, or treat himself to lunch out at work instead of having leftovers.

I can blow $3 on a Starbucks mocha if I want to, even though it is about the least frugal thing in the world!

We already live quite frugally and have strict grocery and dining out budgets. I know we could cut back on this $100 a month and save even more.

But instead we choose to give ourselves a bit of fun money and enjoy it.

After all, we earn money not just for the future, but for today too. We're responsible with our bills and our savings, and our allowance lets us enjoy today without going crazy on our spending.

It also gives us each some independence with our money. It's nice to get to treat yourself without having to budget, negotiate, prioritize and compromise on every penny!

An allowance isn't just for kids! An adult allowance works for us.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I got a really good deal on Green Giant Steamers veggies at Harris Teeter this week, so I'll be using those for easy side dishes.


Grilled Pattypan & Yellow Squash and Bruschetta with Garbanzo Bean Spread
Homemade pizza with Cucumber & Tomato Salad
Pasta with Pesto
Sandwich Slices (this recipe uses chicken but I'll use just veggies & cheese)
Tomato Pie

If you couldn't tell, YES we have plenty of tomatoes to use up! :)

Posted at Menu Plan Monday

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today was a hectic day with family in town, a potty training toddler and a sushi dinner out! I'm wiped out and have nothing thrifty to say! :) I'm going to enjoy a quiet evening with my husband and eat some cake!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Toddler Activity Bags

I've been looking for some more self-directed activities for my toddler to keep her occupied while I'm nursing the baby. I've been leaning on the TV a bit more than I'd like, so I needed some other ideas.

I was inspired by the Double Trouble Shapes preschooler idea on Walking By the Way, but needed something a bit simpler for my 2 year old. I also needed something thrifty, of course!

Here is what I came up with.

Matching Board

I bought a Shapes workbook at the dollar store and cut out 2 sets of matching shapes.

I then wrapped some cardboard from an old box in construction paper, and taped on one set of shapes.

I covered the second set of shapes in tape as well, so they are similar to being laminated.

I actually made 2 sets of these, just one set is shown in the picture.

Stick both boards and the loose shapes in a plastic bag, and everything is contained and ready for play!


Counting Board
As with the Matching Boards above, I wrapped leftover cardboard in construction paper.

Then I used stickers and pictures from a dollar store Numbers activity book to make the board.

I have 2 boards, one is 1-4 and the other is 5-8. I'd like to do 9-12 eventually, but I think this is enough to get started.





I plan to add some velcro dots to the board and pieces so that my daughter can match up her pieces without everything sliding around.


Shared at Works for Me Wednesdays

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cheapest Homemade Toy Ever

I'm not a fan of the aisles and aisles of plastic toys at Target and every other store I go to. Not that we don't have our fair share of plastic toys. We certainly do, and we got a Mr Potato Head just last weekend.

But in general I try to steer clear of getting every beeping, buzzing, bouncing licensed character gizmo on the market.

I like open-ended play that encourages creativity. My daughter is just as likely to pull out her set of measuring cups and a bowl as she is to get out an actual toy.

So, a cheap, open-ended and homemade toy is just about the best thing I can offer her.

A few weeks ago, we finished a big tub of oatmeal and rather than toss it in the recycling bin I gave it to my daughter to decorate with stickers. I cut a hole in the lid, and cut up a cereal box into rectangular strips.

My 2 year old actually occupied herself with the oatmeal tub for almost an hour!

She still pulls it out most days, dumping and replacing the cardboard strips, adding puzzling pieces, and shaking the whole thing like a giant noisemaker.

From trash to toy? Can't beat that!

Shared at Frugal Friday


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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

The weather is going to be hot, hot, hot this week, and I'll be using the crockpot so I don't have to turn on the oven.

We made some bread & homemade granola over the weekend, so we are more than stocked up on food for the week!

Crockpot Enchiladas
Crockpot Layered Veggies - I'll serve this over noodles & top with cheese, like lasagna
Crockpot Pasta Fagioli Soup - Using TVP instead of beef
Stir Fry w/ Veggie Egg Rolls
Out to dinner for my birthday (sushi!!)


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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cheap Home Decor Using Color

I've been enjoying the "Splashes of Color" series at Simple Nest and wanted to share some frugal ways that I use color to decorate our home.

A can of paint can be the quickest and cheapest way to add style to any room. But if you are shy about painting the walls, or live in a rental and can't paint, there are other options for using color.

Here are three ways that I've used red accents to ad
d style and color on the cheap.

This crystal vase was given to us as a wedding gift. I filled the vase with our red Christmas ornament balls, which were purchased (cheap!) at Target.

We get the benefit of a shot of red throughout the year, and the added bonus is that I don't need to box up and store our Christmas ornaments!

The vase sits on a dresser in our dining room, where the walls are painted red below the chair rail. You can see a good view of the walls in my Shadow Box photo.





These red and white vases were purchased on clearance at Pier 1. They sit atop a bookcase in our living room.

Thrift stores, Home Goods, AC Moore & Michael's are other places where you can find accessories for cheap on sale and/or with coupons.







Finally, my favorite splash of red are these paintings that hang in our master bedroom.

I bought 4 canvases and 2 tubes of red paint, one lighter and one darker. All were purchases with 40% coupons at AC Moore.

I covered each canvas with a the lighter red, then let them dry. I topped the lighter red with scattered brush strokes of the darker red then blended the 2 colors.

I'd seen something similar in an expensive catalog, and was thrilled with how my cheap reproduction turned out!

Published at Frugal Fridays


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Easy Sew Curtains

Curtains are an easy way to add color, texture and pizazz to a room.

However, it can be hard to find the perfect pre-made curtain when you have something particular in mind. Plus, curtains can be so expensive!

Making a curtain panel from a fabric you like can be an easy, frugal option.

These curtains are very easy to make, with only minimal sewing.

I started with an Indian sari picked up an international store. You could use any piece of fabric and either hem the edges or just leave them raw.

I folded the short edge of the fabric and sewed one seam to create a rod pocket at the top. I then used a hot glue gun and pasted a coordinating ribbon over the seam to hide the stitches.

For the tie-back, I used the same coordinating ribbon and sewed a loop to hold the fabric.

With just one seam, you can create perfect custom curtains!

This curtain is in our powder room, where we also have a custom distressed picture frame.


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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bedtime Schedule Chart

We've had a rough few weeks at our house. Ever since we moved our toddler to her "big girl" room, she has just not been going to bed easily.

We got some advice to hang a chart showing the bedtime routine and let our daughter (age 2) walk through each step with us, so she knows what to expect and what comes next.

I did some research and found a few cute ideas, such as this system with cards and a board and this kit with stickers.

Ultimately, we decided to just make our own chart with simple graphics. It didn't take long to make, and has the added bonus of being FREE!

Our routine is a bit long, with extras like stretching exercises, because our daughter gets pretty hyper and we've found that she needs the extra wind-down time.

After only 4 days with the chart, we're seeing noticeable improvement. She's getting ready for bed with fewer struggles and going to bed with less crying. Let's hope the positive trend continues!

Would you like to try a bedtime chart?

Download a FREE copy of our bedtime chart in PDF FORMAT or OPEN OFFICE WRITER FORMAT.




















Posted at Works for Me Wednesdays

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Vegetarian Meal Plan

I feel like I've been in a bit of a pasta/rice rut, so I'm branching out and trying some different grains this week!

I've had kasha (buckwheat) as a breakfast dish, but this will be my first time trying it for dinner.

Kasha with Veggies
Wheat berry salad
Loaded Baked potatoes
Onion, Squash & Mushroom Quiche (using this recipe as a base, I'll make one 9" round quiche for this week, plus another 9" round spinach quiche to freeze)
Leftovers or frozen pizza

I don't normally plan out lunches & snacks, but now that I'm home with the kids I'm finding it hard to get lunch & snacks on the table when I don't have any ideas beforehand.

So, here are a few ideas I have in mind for this week:

Lunch ideas:
leftovers
Cheese quesidillas
Veggie potato salad (this or this?) if I have time to make it ahead

Snack ideas:
Cheese stick & crackers
Apple w/ peanut or soy butter
Fruit & yogurt w/ homemade granola


Posted at Menu Plan Monday

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