Friday, May 30, 2008

Frugal maternity clothes!

My works for me Wednesday post is pregnancy related this week. I also thought this would make a great post for Frugal Friday's at Biblical Womanhood.

I am nearing the end of my pregnancy so it is what is consuming me at the moment. It is also the stage where you are constantly uncomfortable, and nothing fits. Yes, my body is uncomfortable this time, but I can say that my clothes are not.

I have always had to switch sizes at the end or wear the one pair of gouchos that still fit. It is not fun to have to wash and wear the same thing everyday. This time around though, I found a great tip online early on that I thought I would try.

What I did was use an old t-shirt to make my waistbands for my maternity clothes. I guess it would be something like the Bella Band that they sell, except a bit more frugal. Now of course, to make this work you do have to know how to at least operate a sewing machine, or know someone who does, but you do not have to be an expert at it.

I have actually made myself a few biased cut A-line skirts this time and used old t-shirts for the waistbands. You can find the tutorial to make the skirt here. This tutorial is not exactly maternity, but it works well as a maternity skirt.

The great thing that I found out through trial and error is that I could use just the waistband to reconstruct some of my regular wardrobe. I just cut off the bottom of an old t-shirt and stitched it over the normal waistband. I can just remove it after i'm back to my normal size.

For example, I have a demin skirt that I love to wear that no longer fits. It has a side zipper that I left down. I then took the t-shirt I had cut and pulled it to where the zipper ends and stitched it all the way around right over the top of it. There is no need to make the stitches super small. Now the skirt stays up and I can use it all the way through my pregnancy. Which is hopefully only another week or so! :-)

The great thing about the t-shirt waistband is how comfy it is. It is about as comfortable as the waistband in the gouchos I have. Another great thing is that it grows with you all the way through. No more having to buy more than one size. It has been a lifesaver here. It is easy and frugal too!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Making the transition to home - Part 2

Last time I wrote a bit about my background in how I eventually came to be a stay-at-home-mother. I'm glad so many of you were encouraged by my journey. If you missed the first part of this series, you can read it here. This week, I would like to expound on being in agreement with your husband.

I really wanted to get into how to make your dollar stretch, but I have had many women commenting and emailing me about how they want to be home but their husbands don't see how they can make it. This is really one of the hardest parts. It can get as complicated as we let it, but be encouraged, it really is simple. I promise that my next part in this series will get to the practical points.

As I said last time, you have to be in total agreement to make it work. If your husband doesn't agree, then you could end up bitter and resentful if you don't respect his opinion also. Men are practical thinkers, most of the time, and can be afraid of bearing the financial burden alone after depending on two incomes for so long.
I think one small thing that helped Scott see that we wouldn't be financially doomed was when he began to see how capable I was of making our money stretch. I never once mentioned that I was doing it because we were struggling or that I wanted to come home. It was more of a game. He was and still is impressed by all that I have learned. It is actually quite humerous.

As his confidence in me grew, his confidence in himself grew. He knew we would still be in this together. That I would still work just as hard as he did to make it work. Not saying that this will work with all husbands, it's just what helped mine.

I am reminded of this verse in the Bible.

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives. 1 Peter 3:1

Without getting into a debate on submission (at least today), I really want to focus on the part of the scripture that talks about how a husband may be won over, without a word, by the conduct of his wife. Now I know that this scripture was talking about winning our husbands over to obeying the word of God, but I can't help but think that it could be applicable to other areas as well.

My attitudes and conduct can either help or hurt the situation. I could learn how to make our money stretch by cutting back on various things, by learning new skills that could bring in extra money or whatever else I may need that could help us. Or, I could complain about having to work. I could become upset that he didn't care about me or his children.

Sure, some men will give in to a wife's pleas after a time, but will they really be committed? Will they become resentful themselves? It becomes hard for everyone involved. What will it help to be home if the marriage falls apart?

I know it can be hard when you want something so much, but be encouraged. Be content in your situation and pray. Have a great attitude and conduct. Your husband just may be won over by it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Grocery Gathering: Albertson's DFW 5/28 - 6/3

First off, I wanted to say thankyou to Carlie for getting last week's post up for me. I had to leave town unexpectedly. Now, onto this week. It looks to be an ok week. There is one deal that I want to talk about that could be nice. Deals that could be free will be in red.

There is, as usual, a 3 day sale this week. It is from Friday, 5/30 - Sunday, June 1:

Bone in fryer breast $.88/lb - limit 2 with additional $10 purchase

Gatorade 32 oz or Propel 700 ml $.69 ea.

Albertson's large eggs $.99/ dz. - limit 1

Music Mountain water 24 pk. $2.99

Bar-S hot dogs $.78
-$.25/1 IP here --->If your Albertson's triples, these will be free!

Imperial sugar $.99 - limit 1

Other deals I see:

Milk $3.99 gallon

Eckrich sausage $1.88 ea.

Mission brown bag tortilla chips 2/$3.00
-$.75/1 from 4/20 Redplum insert
-$.55/1 IP here

Stouffer's entrees or Paninis 4/$10
-$1.00/1 from 4/13 Redplum insert

Allens frozen vegetables 10/$10
-$.35/1 4/6 or 3/16 Redplum insert--->If your Albertson's triples, these will be free

Yoplait yogurt 20/$10
-$.50/6 IP here

The last deal I want to mention is the P&G deal.

If you purchase $25, you get a $5 catalina
If you purchase $30, you get a $7 catalina
If you purchase $35, you get a $10 catalina

There are many P&G coupons out there right now and the new P&G insert comes out in this Sunday's newspaper. There is also a truckload sale that many P&G items on sale. Matchup coupons to save even more since the total is not after coupons are applied.

If I find anymore coupon matchups, i'll post them. As always, if you see anything I might have missed, please let me know. For more great grocery deals be sure to visit the Grocery Gathering, hosted by BeCentsAble.

Boycotting Subway??

In the last day or so I have been catching up on my emails and forums that I am a part of. There has been one popular topic out there that I see. "Subway excludes homeschoolers from their essay contest." At first glance I was a bit upset, but when you are a homeschooling family it is not anything new to be excluded from certain things.

As I read about what the contest was and the prize that was offered I became less upset over it. The grand prize offered is $5,000 in athletic equipment. I can understand how Subway and Scholastic could see that it would not be applicable to homeschoolers eventhough there are many co-ops and homeschooling athletic teams out there.

When most people think of homeschooling they likely think of one family schooling their children. So I can see how in their minds they would think, "Why would they need all of that equipment?" Yes, I know that we could choose to donate it, but would everyone do that? The intent was not to have one person keep it all, it was to help a school get new equipment.

I know seeing those words that homeschools will not be accepted can be irritating to a homeschooling family, but do we really need to get this upset over it? I am actually quite shocked over the homeschooling community's response to this. As a whole people get offended way too easily now. People are afraid to do anything because it will surely offend someone else. We need to be above that. Yes, write a letter explaining how you feel that this contest would benefit the homeschooling community as well, but do not cry discrimination and offense.

So, what do you think? Should we boycott Subway or not? Do you agree, disagree, agree to disagree?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

We are back in town!

I just wanted to say thankyou for the comments, emails, and prayers for myself and my family. We returned safely home lastnight. Needless to say, we are exhausted, but at least baby is still safely inside for another two weeks or so. It has been a hard week, but I have had so much love and support.

My grandfather was an exceptional man. We had a wonderful realtionship that I will always cherish and will never forget. He taught me so much. I know many people are not as close to their grandparents, but I have been blessed. I am just glad that he is no longer suffering.

That being said, I am hoping to get back to posting tomorrow night or Tuesday. I have lots of unpacking and laundry to take care of first. Have a great Memorial day weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Grocery Gathering: Albertson's DFW 5/21 - 5/27

Hi All! My name is Carlie from Why Ask Why and I'm filling in for Teresa. Teresa unexpectedly had to leave to go out of town due to the death of her grandfather. Please be in prayer for her and her family this week.

It's time for the weekly Grocery Gathering post. Teresa covers the Dallas/Ft.Worth region for Albertson's. It's Memorial Day weekend and there are a few good deal. I have taken the coupon match ups from Grandma Lewis @ HCW. Thank you for helping us out this week!! She usually has the coupon matchups out by Wednesday afternoon.

For more great grocery deals be sure to visit the Grocery Gathering, hosted by BeCentsAble.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Menu Planning Monday: Kids choice week!

First off, I just want to say how nice it was to have almost a full week of crockpot meals. I think I have decided to do this every so often. Eventhough I didn't have to leave town, it was still nice to not to have to worry about dinner every night since we've been so busy. It was such a nice break for me.

Now it's back to normal again. This week is kids choice week. It is always a big hit around here. What I do is have each one of the children pick out a meal they would like to eat. We have five children that pick a meal right now, so Mom and Dad get a night too.

Anyways, the older three are responsible for helping me plan the menu, making a grocery list, cooking, and serving the meal. It gets them involved in every aspect of menu planning. My goal is to have their spouses thank me one day. Of course the little ones just help Mom or dad cook and serve the meal.

They all really love to help me in the kitchen. Sometimes a little too much, if you know what I mean. Doing this helps to keep only one child in the kitchen with me at a time. At least for one whole week! It is also a nice one-on-one time for us.

This menu will cost us right at $60.00 for our family of eight. My weekly budget is $75.00 so I plan on spending a little to buy a few staple items i'll be needing soon. Maybe i'll be able to get some really great deals that I can stock up on.

Monday: Waffles and fruit
Tuesday: Breakfast casserole--->just got this recipe from a friend!
Wednesday: Muffins and sausage
Thursday: Homemade cinnamon rolls
Friday: Pancakes and fruit
Saturday: Eggs, hashbrowns, and a meat
Sunday: Country ham and gravy over biscuits

Monday: Hot dogs, mac & cheese, and a veggie
Tuesday: Sandwiches and a veggie---> We're going blueberry picking and then having a picnic at the park!
Wednesday: Chicken salad and baked potatoes
Thursday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and fruit
Friday: Soup and crackers
Sat and Sun: We either eat leftovers, or a salad, or sandwiches

Monday: Amish Friendship bread and milk
Tuesday: Fruit
Wednesday: Homemade chocolate oatmeal cookies
Thursday: Veggie and cheese tray
Friday: Tortilla wraps---> Filled with peanut butter, banana, and/or honey

Monday: 10 yo son's pick!
Meat lasagna
Brocolli with homemade cheese sauce to top

Tuesday: Mom's pick!
Chinese stirfry
Fried rice

Wednesday: 14 yo daughter's pick! She'll be cooking with Dad since he's the one that makes this.

Crawfish pie
Homegrown green beans--->The first of the year!
Pumpkin pie

Thursday: 12 yo daughter's pick!
Chicken and sausage jambalaya
Yeast rolls

Friday: 5 yo daughter's pick!
Homemade pizza rolls
Breadsticks and marinara sauce for dipping

Saturday: 3 yo son's pick!
Sloppy joes
French fries--->this counts as a veggie, right?

Sunday: Dad's pick since we didn't make it last week!
Cheese bread

Homemade Pizza rolls:
Mozarella cheese
A jar of pizza sauce or you can make your own (i'll share my recipe another day)
1 package of egg roll wrappers
oil (for frying)
Whatever toppings you want to go inside of them (we stick to pepperoni that I chop up coarsely, onions, bell peppers, sausage, and ham. Not all at the same time, just whatever we have at the time.)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place a spoonful or two inside an eggroll wrapper. Fold as you would an eggroll. Bottom up, sides in, and then moisten the top then fold it over to seal it. Fry in your oil till golden brown. You can use a deep fryer if you want or just put at least an inch or two of oil in a frying pan on the stove. I'm sure you could bake them, but I have never done it so i'm not sure how long you would need to cook them.
*for the little ones I will cut an eggroll in half and make mini pizza rolls. These would look more like the pizza rolls you buy in the store, but taste so much better.

Crawfish Pie:
1 med. to large onion
3 stalks of celery
6 to 8 cloves of garlic
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can light or regular evaporated milk
1 pound of crawfish tails
5 tablespoons of cornstarch
pie crust for 2-crust pie

Preheat oven to 350°. Sauté onions, celery and garlic in butter or olive oil. Add milk and soup; bring to medium boil. Add crawfish, bring to medium boil again then add corn starch. Lower heat and cook for another 10 minutes or until thick. Grease pie shell w/butter and place pie shell in bottom of pan then add thickened mixture. Put on top shell and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. I have a great recipe for pie crusts, but i'll have to dig it out of my other binder. You can always use a store bought crust, you just have to buy a double one since it covers the top.

For more great menu's, check out Menu Planning Monday, hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Making the transition to home - Part 1

I have had many women ask me to write on how I made the transition from the working world to home. It can seem almost impossible to many women that they would ever be able to quit their jobs to fulfill their dream of coming home.

I am really excited to start this series. I can't tell you how long it will be, but I do have lots to say on the subject. You may or may not agree and that's ok. This series is not to coerce you to quit your job if you don't want to. It is for those who really having that burning desire to be a stay at home mom, and would like some practical tips on how to do just that. At the end of the series I have a special giveaway planned. So stay tuned!

Before I get into how I actually made the transition, i'd like to share a bit of my background. If you've read my profile you will know that I have not always been a stay at home mom. I was actually an RN in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for many years. I didn't quit until I had my last child, two years ago. I had a great income and a great career. In fact, I brought in more than half of the income for our family for quite some time.

There was a defining moment for me that made me rethink what I was doing. It was when I received the call that my son had to be resuscitated at daycare while I was in school. It happened two more times in the next two weeks as we were trying to find out what was wrong with him. I almost lost him, and more than once. In that instant my world was changed.

For those of you who have been through nursing school, you know how intensive it is. I really had little time to be with my children. It was filled with clinicals, studying, and papers. What happened to my son made me re-examine what was really important in my life though. It didn't matter anymore that I graduated with honors. What mattered was my family. Taking care of them and getting to know them.

I thought that by going to college I was doing what was best for my family, but when you have something like that happen, your whole perspective on life changes. Think about it. If you knew that you only had a year to have your children, what would become important to you? You would spend every moment you could with them. You would make memories, take pictures, explore together, live together, work together. I came to the realization that I barely knew them. I had missed first smiles, first steps, first days of school. Here I thought I was sacrificing everything for my family so that they could have a better life, but what I was really sacrificing was my family itself.

I would like to say that I was able to drop everything and came home immediately, but I still finished school. After school I worked for six years before I was able to be where I am today. One of the main reasons was because my husband wanted me to continue. I had accumulated quite a few student loans due to going to school and there was no way at the time that we could pay for them with just his income.

This brings me to an important point I want to stress today. Before you ever begin this journey, you and your husband have to be in agreement on this. If he is not behind the decision, do not continue to ask and plead with him. It can be the cause of many problems in your marriage. Pray about it. Start to make preparations. Men are usually more practical, and if you are already struggling financially he will not see how you could ever make it on one income.

There is still hope though. Just because he may not see now how it could work, does not mean he won't ever. I remember thinking that it was a lost cause, but I also knew that Scott loved me more than anything. He agreed that it would be better if I was home, but he also thought it would be unwise financially if I just quit because I brought in so much of the income. So just because he didn't want me to quit, did not mean that he didn't love me or care about what was important to me. We respect each other, so I worked.

Even though it took so long, God brought me home at just the right time. Looking back over the years I can see now how He was preparing us for that day. Both of us. Yes, it was hard for me to wait and trust in God and my husband, but in the end it was perfect.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grocery Gathering: Albertson's DFW 5/14 - 5/20

It's time for my weekly Grocery Gathering post. I am covering the Dallas/Ft.Worth region for Albertson's. There are just a couple of things that I see that could be a good deal. This week is another 10/$10 sale. There are many products that are 10/$10, so if you can find coupons to match there could be some good deals. Deals that could be free will be in red.

There is a 3 day sale. It starts Fri. 5/16 - Sun. 5/18

Imperial sugar $.99 - limit 1

Ragu spaghetti sauce $.99 - limit 2

Other deals I see are:
Dozen eggs 10/$10

Ball Park franks 10/$10--->My Albie's doesn't double, but if yours does it could be free!
- $.50/1 peelies are out there

Ken's salad dressing 5/$10---> There are reportedly $2.00 Q's out there for this. I only received the $1.00 Q in my insert. If you have the $2.00 Q, then this will be free!
- $1.00/1 from 5/4 Smartsource insert
- $2.00/1 from???

Rice a roni and chef boyardee 10/$10--->My Albie's doesn't double, but if yours does it could be free!
- $.50/1 IP here
- $1.00/3 IP here

Tropicana orange juice 3/$10
-$1.00/1 from 4/20 Redplum insert
-$1.00/2 from 5/4 Redplum insert

Ivory Soap 3 pack 10/$10--->If your store triples, then total after Q will be $.25
-$.25/1 from 5/4 P & G insert

Purell 2 oz Hand Sanitizer 10/$10
-$1.00/1 from 4/27 Redplum insert

Remember, you do not have to buy ten of each item to receive the 10/$10 price. If I find anymore coupon matchups, i'll post them. As always, if you see anything I might have missed, please let me know. For more great grocery deals be sure to visit the Grocery Gathering, hosted by BeCentsAble.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Natural products to keep in your medicine cabinet

Since I get a few questions on how we afford medical care for our large family I thought this would be a great post for Works for me Wednesday.

Now, I love my children's pediatrician. She is a wonderful doctor. We used to be in her office every other week but now we hardly ever have to see her and that's the way I like it. With 6 children, it would cost me a fortune if they were sick all the time. Because of that, there are a few things I like to keep on hand to try first in my medicine cabinet before we head to pay the doctor a visit.

These are the things I would never be without:

1. Tea Tree Oil

There are many uses for tea tree oil. First, it is an antiseptic. It is great to put a diluted amount on scrapes, cuts, and rashes. It's also great for you cloth diapering moms to add to the diaper pail or when you wash the diapers.

2. Aloe

Of course most of us know to use this on burns. It is very soothing.

3. Ipecac

Those of us who have small children should keep this on hand in case of accidental poisoning. It induces vomiting. Of course, be sure to call the poison control center first. They will let you know whether or not to induce vomiting.

4. Echinacea

Great for cold and flu season. They have a brand that I really like that is made for children. It is called Herbs for Kids. That way I know i'm not overdosing them.

5. Olive Leaf Extract

This is probably one of my favorite natural products to use. It is used during cold and flu season. It is also wonderful for seasonal allergies. It is an antiviral and an immune builder. The brand I use is by Seagate. It is actually a nasal spray. When I have to use it, it works pretty fast.

6. Mullein and garlic oil

This is great for earaches. It helps soothe the pain. Note, if the eardrum is perforated then do not use it.

Of course this is not a complete list of things I have on hand. It is just what we use the most. Ok maybe not the Ipecac, thank the Lord for that, but the others we do. There are so many natural treatments out there that it's hard to know which ones to use for what ailment and to know if they are safe or not. I try, for now, to stick to ones that I know will be safe.

This is just something that I wanted to share that works for our family. For more Works for Me Wednesday topics, head over to Rocks in my dryer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Menu Planning Monday: Crockpot week!

This week was supposed to be kids choice week, but we received the news that my Grandfather is doing worse than they thought. Eventhough I am in late pregnancy I need to make a trip up there to be with him before he goes. This menu is all tentative and can easily be done by my older children and husband if I need to leave suddenly.

Eventhough I don't feel like making a menu plan right now, I know that we still need to eat. I also know that having a menu will save me from actually having to think much about what we're going to eat this week.

I have deemed this week crockpot week. I might actually cook one or two meals, but I will be using my crockpot as much as possible. I will post recipes later on today for those of you who would like them.
Lots of people still like to know how much I am spending weekly for my food budget. This week will cost me right at $50.00, since I need a few staple items.

Monday: Waffles
Tuesday: Baked oatmeal
Wednesday: Muffins and sausage
Thursday: Homemade cinnamon rolls
Friday: Pancakes and fruit
Saturday: Eggs, hashbrowns, and a meat
Sunday: Country ham and gravy over biscuits

Monday: Sandwiches and veggie
Tuesday: Hot dogs, mac & cheese, and a veggie
Wednesday: Salad and baked potatoes
Thursday: Sandwiches and fruit
Friday: Leftovers
Sat and Sun: We either eat leftovers, or a salad, or sandwiches

Monday: Homemade peanut butter oatmeal raisin cookies
Tuesday: Fruit
Wednesday: Banana Bread or homemade bread drizzled with butter and honey
Thursday: Veggie and cheese tray
Friday: Tortilla wraps---> Filled with peanut butter, banana, and/or honey

BBQ ribs in crockpot
Green beans

Crockpot chicken

Slow cooker salisbury steak
Mashed potatoes
Brocolli and carrots

Green beans
Garlic bread

Homemade BBQ chicken pizza
Cheese bread

Chicken breasts and potatoes bake in foil
Yeast rolls

Crockpot roast
Potatoes, onions, and carrots

For more great menu's, check out Menu Planning Monday, hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I know that I have been slacking just a bit with posting, but we are still busy preparing for baby to come in a few weeks. We have painted two rooms, built a loft bed for one of our daughter's, and went through all of the children's clothes. Now this weekend we are still checking off Mom's nesting list by cleaning out toys and bedrooms.

I am working on my next series of posts on how I made my transition from the working world to stay at home mom. I have had many women ask me to write something about this. It can seem an like impossible thing to do, but it isn't! I am hoping that it will encourage and inspire all of you who have that huge desire to come home. I am hoping to get them up this week, so stay tuned!

I did want to write to tell all you Moms out there, "Happy Mother's Day!" I want to encourage you, as mothers, to enjoy your children. I know it's easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted. Remember though, that God has blessed you with those precious children. "Lo, children are a heritage of The Lord; and the fruit of the womb is His reward." Psalms 127:3

I want to share this video I found. Now, I am not a fan of country music, but I thought that this video serves as a nice reminder to cherish the children we have since there are many who would love the chance to be where we're at. Have a great weekend and make sure you give lots of hugs and kisses to them babies!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Grocery Gathering - Albertson's DFW 5/7 - 5/13

It's time for my weekly Grocery Gathering post. I am covering the Dallas/Ft.Worth region for Albertson's. There are a few things that I see that could be a good deal, but it's Mother's day weekend so i'm sure that why the ad is a bit smaller. Deals that could be free will be in red.

There is a 3 day sale. It starts Fri. 5/9 - Sun. 5/11

Strawberries $4.99 for 4 lbs

Coke products 5/$10.00
- $1.00/2 tearpads that were on coke products

Owens roll sausage $1.88
- $.35/1 from 3/09 Smartsource insert (this Q expires on 5/11 so make sure you use it before then!)

There is a deal for all frozen food for 10% off that is part of the 3 day sale. I would save any of my frozen food items for these days and combine them with my coupons for even more savings!

Other deals I see are:
Blue Bell ice cream $3.99
-$1.00/1 IP here (You can set your printer to print as many of these as you like!)
Make sure you save this for the 3 day sale to get an extra 10% off

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts $1.99 lb

Yoplait yogurt 20/$10 with a $3.00 instant rebate taken off at register
-$.40/6 from 3/30 Smartsource insert
-$.50/6 IP here, here, and here
If you use 3 $.50/6 coupons the total will be $5.50 after all discounts!

Yoplait Gogurt or Gogurt Fizzix 4/$10 with a $3.00 instant rebate taken off at register
-$1.00/2 from 4/20 Smartsource insert
-$1.00/2 from 3/16 Smartsource insert (These expire on 5/10 so be sure to use them before then!)
If you use 2 $1.00/2 then these will be $5.00 for 4 packs.

Powerade 10/$10- When you buy 10 you get 5 free!

Lean Cuisine 4/$10
-$1.00/2 IP here and here
Make sure you save this for the 3 day sale to get an extra 10% off

As always, if you see anything I might have missed, please let me know. For more great grocery deals be sure to visit the Grocery Gathering, hosted by BeCentsAble.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What doesn't work for me: Homemade dishwasher soap

This week is a themed week for What Works for me Wednesday. It is, What DOESN'T Work for me. Well, the one thing I have tried unsuccessfully over and over to make work is homemade dishwasher solution. It does not work!

I love saving money. I love using as many chemical free cleaning supplies and I love making my own laundry detergent. You would think that I would love making my own dishwasher soap. Nope! I have tried at least 3 different recipes and none have worked.

The problems I have had, are a thick film left on the dishes, and the solution not cleaning the dishes well at all. I have tried using vinegar as a rinse aid, which is fine, but it does not help. So this frugal, natural kind of momma is sticking with Cascade! If you're thinking about it go ahead, but for me it was a waste of time.

Of course, if you have any tips that I may have looked over on how to get it to work, i'd love to hear about them. And of course for more things people have tried and found does not work for them, visit Rocks in my dryer.

A few wonderful posts to enjoy

Recently I have come across some really great posts from blogs that I frequently read. I just had to share them. Enjoy!

The first post I wanted to share is actually a giveaway post. Mrs. Wilt, from The Sparrow's Nest is teaming up with Crystal Paine, from Money Saving Mom and Biblical Womanhood, to offer a chance to win 2 free Supermarket Savings 101 courses! This is the course that I took that started me on the path to the frugal life I lead today. I have cut my grocery budget by 60% since taking this course! This is a great opportunity you don't want to miss. This is an excerpt taken from Mrs. Wilt's post. In the course you will find:

  • Designing a menu plan that really works

  • Menu planning on a budget

  • Simple, no-fuss, frugal menu ideas and recipes

  • Creating a workable grocery budget and how to stick with it

  • Learning how to find good deals

  • Time management and efficiency in frugal shopping

  • The basics of using coupons - where to find them, which coupons to cut, how to organize them

  • Step-by-step explanations on how to make the most of deals at CVS and Walgreens

  • A photo tutorial of a typical $35/week grocery shopping trip for our family including some of our favorite $35/week menu ideas

  • Links to helpful resources and websites to aid you in this money-saving journey

  • And much more!
Oh, and if you've never read Mrs. Wilt's blog, she is doing a month long series on cheerful thrift right now that i'm sure you would enjoy.

The next post I wanted to share is called Recession Optimism, by June, at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home. I felt went along so well with what I was saying in my post on how to afford a larger family. It's about what's really important in our lives. Hope you enjoy it.

The last post I want to share is on the Blessing of children. It is written by Stacy McDonald, who is the author of Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. I am in the middle of reading this book and I love it so far. Stay tuned because I hope to do a review and giveaway of my own after i'm done reading it. You can visit her blog, Your Sacred Calling, here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Menu Planning Monday: Using my stockpile!

We have been so busy lately that I just realized that I forgot that it was time to plan my menu and go grocery shopping. I actually have so much stockpiled that I only have to pick up fresh fruit and veggies. I will spend right about $20.00.

This week will be all about easy meals. We are painting my daughter's room and making a bed for her so we will be busy all week. I love having a handyman husband! I'll be sure to post pictures by the end of the week of the end results.

Next week will be kids choice week around here again. The children all pick a favorite meal. The older ones are in charge of menu planning and making a shopping list. All of the children then get to help mom cook and serve their meal. It is something they all look forward to. Be sure to check back!

Monday: Waffles
Tuesday: Baked oatmeal
Wednesday: Muffins and sausage
Thursday: Homemade cinnamon rolls
Friday: Pancakes and fruit
Saturday: Eggs, hashbrowns, and a meat
Sunday: Country ham and gravy over biscuits

Monday: Sandwiches and veggie
Tuesday: Hot dogs, mac & cheese, and a veggie
Wednesday: Salad and baked potatoes
Thursday: Sandwiches and fruit
Friday: Leftovers
Sat and Sun: We either eat leftovers, or a salad, or sandwiches

Tuesday: Fruit
Wednesday: Banana Bread or homemade bread drizzled with butter and honey
Thursday: Veggie and cheese tray
Friday: Tortilla wraps---> Filled with peanut butter, banana, and/or honey

Green beans in butter sauce


Crawfish pie

Chinese stirfry
Fried rice
Egg rolls

3 bean chili

Homemade pizza rolls

Saturday:--->Supposed to have last week, but was volunteered to make a crawfish etoufee with leftovers from crawfish boil!
Eggplant parmesan
Sauteed squash and zucchini
Yeast rolls
Mother's Day, mom's night off!

For more great menu's, check out Menu Planning Monday, hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Family" Oriented

When you hear the words, "family oriented," what do you think about? I have really wondered what people's perception of these words are. It's just one of those things that I ponder about as I lay in my bed wide awake at night.

A few months ago at my church we had a small group expo that I worked. As I sat behind my couponing booth ready to sell myself, I started looking at all of the other booths there. There, to my right, was the "movie" group. In front of me was the "young married" group and the "middle married" group. To the left of me was the "men's" group and the "women's" group.

As I looked at all 25 of the booths there, something hit me. There was not one small group booth for families. I mean, they had something for men, women, and couples....but nothing for families to do together.

My church is what most people would consider a family oriented church. I mean we have a huge children's and youth ministry, a thriving men's and women's ministry. You name it, we have it. Everywhere you look, you see families there, but what about the family as a whole?

I have asked why there isn't something designed for the whole family to participate in together. The response I have gotten is that there isn't enough interest, or that it would be too much work to put together. I say it will never be too much work to encourage and build up the family unit. It is the backbone of our society.

In a world today where both mom and dad work, and the children have a ton of outside commitments, family time has become almost non-existent. Each individual family member has their own interests, with the occasional "family" night thrown in there. The family today has morphed into something that resembles the drive thru lane at McDonald's.

Is the church taking the same direction? Are we catering to each individual piece of the family without ever really ministering to the family as a whole? Is all we are doing as a church body, taking even more time away from the family? Are we encouraging even more outside activities that include parts of the family, but never the family unit as a whole? How can the church encourage family relationships? How can they encourage families to serve together?

Many people that I talk to about families in the church have never given thought to this. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Frugal Friday- Build you own washer and dryer pedestal

If you are like me and have a front loader washer and dryer set, then you know how hard it is to reach in and grab clothes out. I am getting closer to the end of my pregnancy so I just cannot bend far enough over anymore to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer. I have resorted to depending on the children to switch them for me.

Now, when they sold us the set they tried to get us to buy the matching pedestal set for another $200.00 each! There was no way I wanted to spend that much more for them. When we got them home it did not take long to see why we might need them.

Well, being the frugal minded people that we are my dear, sweet husband decided to make our own. He was ready to build a platform with 2 pullout drawers. I had to remind him that the drawers would NEVER be used since I would not want to bend over that far. So, he built me just the platform.

We went to the habitat restore and got a large sheet of MDF for $1.00 and then we bought 1- 2x8x8 and 1- 2x8x10 for $10.00. We used paint that we already had, so the total cost to us was $11.00! Much better than the $400 it would have cost us.

Here are the before pics:

Here are some after pics:

We still had a few touch ups to do in the after pic, but you get the picture. It wasn't hard to do and it saves my back, all while saving me a bunch of money. Many home improvement projects can be done yourself for so much less. Make sure you check to see if your city has a Habit for Humanity restore. You can find all sorts of things to spruce up your home for pennies on the dollar.

For more frugal ideas, make sure to visit Biblical Womanhood for Frugal Friday's.