Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent Calendar DIY

It's December.  It's. December.  Don't know about anyone else, but I'm having a hellava time getting into the spirit.  Blah.  BUT, just because I'm not there yet, doesn't mean my kids aren't.  Three years ago, I started doing an advent calendar that suited us.  There are SO many out there to choose from, but I just couldn't seem to find one that we loved.  So, I made one.  Here's what it looks like:
With the help of 3 3M hooks, some gold rope and 25 clothes pins, you have the base for your calendar...
Package of small square, envelopes from Hobby Lobby (I think they were around $4)...

25 pieces of scrap paper, along with 25 daily ideas.  You stuff each envelope with one daily idea...
I numbered each envelope with some pretty paper.  I was fortunate to come across a 12x12 piece of scrapbooking paper at Hobby Lobby that had all 25 numbers on it.  All I had to do was cut them out and tape them onto each envelope.  I did do this part before anything else...I'm a bit out of order...

After stuffing each envelope, I then clipped them onto the rope.  Today we started with...December 1...of course.  The slip inside said that Peanutty got to choose any dinner of his choice.  Spaghetti is what he chose so I'll be making that tonight.  Once it's read, we flip it over to show that the 1st is done and over with.  Gives them an idea of how many days until Christmas. 

Other ideas:

-Snowman pancake breakfast
-Picnic in front of the Christmas tree
-Read holiday books
-Movie night
-Drive around town to look at lights while drinking hot cocoa in a to-go mug (they get a kick out of that)
-Snowman pizza night
-Call a family member that we don't get to talk to often
-Game night
-Letters to Santa
-Stuff Christmas card envelopes (lucky them!)
-Toys for Tots shopping (or any other giving kindness)
-Cook a meal for a neighbor
-Bake goodies
-Deliver goodies to neighbors
-Shovel driveways (ours and neighbors around us)

The list is endless.  We gear our advent calendar to family time and doing things together.  Perhaps look into fun festivities that your town offers.  Or help a family member decorate for Christmas.  I know how much I can't stand hauling all those totes out, it'd be nice to do that for someone else. 

We also have an awesome Elf on the Shelf.  I wish there was a sarcasm font (for the 'awesome').  I did this to ourselves by purchasing it.  Somehow it has become Hubby's responsibility to move the damn thing every night.  Bless him.  Just yesterday I came across an article about 'Kindness Elves' (look it up, it's pretty cool).  I love, love, love this idea.  I presented it to my Hubs and he said, and I quote "great, another thing for us to forget"...touche Hubby, touche.  As much as I adore this idea, he's right.  Taking on too much during the holidays can be stressful, because let's face it, it seems like the holiday season is stressful, at least a little bit, for everyone.  Less is more.  Plus, we incorporate our own ways of kindness into the advent calendar every year.  I'm trying to find a way for the Elf to get "lost" and never return...too cruel?  And is it just me or are they a wee bit creepy?  I feel as though I can say these things because I'm the one that inflicted this whole "Elf" thing to begin with. 

Ok, that's all for now.  I have no idea when I'll be back.  I have a couple projects that I want to accomplish here at home, and they'd be blog worthy but I have no schedule on when this will actually happen. 

Have a great day!  Until next time...FYI, no editing.

Side Note:  I cherish coffee.
Side Note 2:  I've been to Target so much over the past 2 weeks, that I THINK I'm getting kind of sick of it...or maybe it's the crowds...
Side Note 3:  I've been on a chai hiatus...it's time to bring it back.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I'm not one of those people that's thankful just during the month of November...I'm thankful every single day of my life for a lot of things.  Mostly coffee, but I'm good with that.  I kid.  I'm also in love with comfy clothes.

This year I was teetering back and forth about doing something to recognize the things we are thankful for (big and small).  I toyed with the idea of a 'Thankful Tree'.  Thank you Pin-"I spend all my free time perusing these ideas that I will never execute"-terest.

Exhibit A:

Thanksgiving Thankful tree for under $5.00 with dollar tree decor. Craft ideas and decorating with nature. @michaelsstores #debbiedoos:

Chances are I'm going to get sued for using this image...no idea what the repercussions are on this but...I like to live on the wild side.  It's a simple pre-lit tree that has some fall ribbon and a few strands of raffia.  I imagine they had some paper leaves that you could write what you're thankful for on it and then hang it on the tree.  At least that's what I would do.  I didn't read the article on this...hell, I didn't even pin it.  The image was just burned in my mind and  I thought "hey, I can do that!".  Welp, I didn't.

I also thought of a 'Thankful Garland'...

Exhibit B:

 Thanksgiving Crafts - The Idea Room:

If I get sued for the first image, then I'll surely get sued for having two.  The thought of having to cut out these lovely leaves made me want to scream.  I'm not a patient person when it comes to tedious jobs, such as this.  I thought about searching for pre-cut paper leaves, and then I thought, 'surely someone has a Cricut or a die cutting device and would be happy to cut me some'...eh, I started to run out of time and my thought steam had started to run out.

After consulting my 4 year old, opinionated, Sweet Pickle, we decided on having a jar where we could put all our "thankfulnesses" in it.

Exhibit C:

The 'Thankful Jar' came to life.  I found a large glass "jar" and put a fall colored ribbon around the top, and made a little sign, taped it on with some Washi tape...and ta-da!  A 'Thankful Jar'.  I rummaged through all of my scrap paper from the old scrapbooking days and chopped them into smaller, equal pieces (I'm a symmetrical girl 100%).  Put them in an envelope along with some fall colored Sharpies (I adore Sharpies):
I just dropped this envelope in the jar, instead of it sitting on around the outside.  It's simple, when you think of something you're thankful for, write it down, fold the paper and deposit it in the jar.  On Thanksgiving Day we'll share what we're thankful for.

Here's where I'm going to get real with you...I COULD tell you that the jar is over flowing with gratitude, and that EVERYONE rushes to write down what they're thankful for each and every day.  I put this out two weeks ago and there are 6 papers in it.  Life is busy, one of my kids can't write on their own, my hubby forgets it's sitting there, and I'm fairly certain my other Little is mostly thankful for Minecraft and football.  The jar is a fantastic idea, but it's just not for us this year.  Don't think that we're not thankful for everything we have and everything we are, we just didn't write it down.  We are, however, pretty good about verbalizing to each other.  Maybe next year a garland or a tree would be more appealing to little eyes and hands.  Good thing I have about 13 months to pan out the details on that one.

That's it for today!!!  I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Until next time...

*Side Note 1:  I don't like turkey.  I think it's blah and plain and could live without it.
**Side Note 2:  I do not do Black Friday shopping...crowds make me nervous and give me the heebies - all I can think about is all the germs.
***Side Note 3:  Liam Hemsworth is on Kelly and Michael tomorrow but I have to miss it because of work...I'm genuinely upset about this.
****Side Note 4:  I didn't edit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Learning To Say 'No'

Today, I'm going to talk about my 2016 planner...I've written quite a few posts about my planner that I purchased through Erin Condren...here's one of my posts about said planner:


That being said...this year, I decided to go a different route for my planner.  For many reasons, which I will explain, I've chosen a different type/style/brand.  I would like to reiterate that I LOVE Erin Condren planners, they are worth the excitement when they arrive in the mail all wrapped up in pretty tissue paper in THE box.  They're absolutely the cat's meow of planners.  Here's my planner that I've been using for 2015, it's a beauty!!!  And yes, I'm drinking coffee and eating a pumpkin bar while typing this.  Delish combo, I must say.

While these planners are my favorite, I decided against purchasing one...main reason?  The price.  I know in my post about this planner, I mentioned that this was a splurge.  I've purchased one for the last three years and never regretted it once.  I also saved my pennies for them.  This time around, I couldn't justify spending the almost $60 on the planner.  Not to mention the one that I REALLY wanted was $75!!!  Just gorgeous with rose gold spiral binding and accents...sigh, it was beautiful...but add on another almost $10 for shipping and that's close to $85, the other planners run around $50.  I still think I'd be an awesome salesperson for this product.  Back on track...

Why don't I just use my phone as your planner, you ask?  I'm a write it down kind of girl.  Not to mention, my planner will never run out of power and need to be plugged in.  It'll always be at arms reach for me to refer to.  EVERYBODY is different.  I'm old school...literally, like 7th grade old school (anyone from my home town remembers Action Planners)...

So, #1 reason is the price.  #2 reason was that I didn't find a style/design that I just fell in love with (besides the rose gold one), so I didn't want to settle for something I wouldn't love for an entire year.  #3 reason was Christmas is right around the corner and I'm doing everything I can to save money and spend wisely this year.  I have the tendency to get carried away with gifts when it comes to purchasing for myself...ahem, I mean my Littles...hehehe.  While I value a good planner, I really felt that I could find something out there that would suit my needs and cost less.  So...here's what I found and purchased:

I really liked this color and cover (mint and gold?!?!  Yes please!!!), and the inside was alright and I convinced myself that I could make this work...the more I looked at it, the less I loved it.  Sad face.  The pages are VERY thin, meaning any kind of pen I'd use would most likely bleed through...needless to say...I took it back and went back on my search to find the right one.  This one was $10.99, roughly 8.5"x5 3/4", purchased at Target (weird) and did I mention the cover was flimsy?  I wasn't impressed but I was itching to get my 2016 planner to start filling it full of my life.  Well, my search ended pretty quickly after another trip to a different Target and found this gem:

The navy blue with gold polka dots is the planner, the pink with gold polka dots is a notebook and of course I found some memo notes and tabs in the dollar bins (love me the dollar bins).  The cover is thick and durable, the style is simple and uber cute, I might add.  The size is roughly the 8.5"x5 3/4", just like the other one, and it set me back all of $7.99.  I purchased the notebook because my last planner had a section for 'Notes', this one does as well, but I thought with all the notes I jot down, the committee meetings I attend, the lists I make (it's endless), I thought I'd benefit from having a separate notebook to haul around.  Both are still smaller in size and thickness than the one planner.  EC's (Erin Condren) planner is thicker and a little larger, so finding a purse/bag to fit it in had it's troubles...unless you're one of those people that's a lot like Mary Poppins and has a huge, never ending bag.  Here's a glimpse of the inside:
 Right inside the cover is a layout of the next 4 year...because who doesn't need to plan for a picnic in the year 2019!?!  I think this is strange but they must have had a reason for this...maybe I'll find out in the next year.  I'll keep you posted.

 This is a month and day layout to plan your year at a glance...birthdays, anniversaries...you know the drill.
 Of course, the month at a glance...
And my fave is the week at a glance.
And 5 pages for notes.  I have yet to dive into the planner (I haven't had time...I need at least an hour to sit down and love on it), but I truly believe I've found my 2016 match.

Polka dots is my theme this year.  The notebook will serve me well, while being cute.  This set me back $2.99, and the dollar bin find set me back...hmmm...what was it??? Oh yeah, a dollar!  All together I spent:  $12.82.

Over the past few years, I've learned to say 'no' to a lot of things to save money.  Not purchasing this planner is just one of them.  Some other examples:

-I've put off purchasing these wax melty things (Scentsy) because I just can't spend the money on them.  When I save up my own side money, then I'll decide if it's something I just have to have.  Right now?  I'm leaning towards yes, yes I do.  I love having my home smell delicious!!!  But, like I said, I've put it off for months and am OK with not having them...for now.

-Turning down going out to eat or going on an outing with friends or family.  While it seems like a small price at the time, doing it a couple or a few times a month can add up (especially if you're all going out as a family-family of 4 in my case).  I'm 100% OK with passing (graciously declining while appreciating the invite) or offering up my home for a get together.  I also have no problem saying "I don't have the money right now", or even "I'm really trying to save moolah"...I've got an amazing group of friends and family that respect this.

-Having my eye on the prize...perhaps it's saving up to purchase something big or to pay off a loan of some sort.  Either way, dedicating any "extra" money to achieve this goal is a huge reward in my book.

-Down sizing for gift giving.  Christmas is literally 44 days away (at least that's what the sign the penguin was holding at Walmart said), so shopping has ensued (of course), so Hubs and I talked and while in the past we've set a dollar limit on spending for gifts...we never really discussed how much we'd spend on OUR kids...plus, I'm terrible at finding "just the perfect gift" about 10 times each season.  That adds up.  This year, we've written down what we're getting and going to stick to it...stay tuned on this one.  It's all about will power folks!!

So, there you have it!!!  My 2016 planner!!! I'm really quite excited about it...and even had a new pack of pens in my cart...but put them back - I re-evaluated and decided that I didn't need them due to the fact that if I stood all my pens, end on end, they'd circle the earth twice...or is that plastic water bottles???  Oh, and how could I forget that I plan to use my wonderful WASHI tape AND stickers left over from my EC planner.  I think I'll be set for the year!!!  Have a WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY!!!

Until Next Time..

Side Note:  I hate yogurt.  I keep trying and trying to love it, much like hummus, but I just can't.  They both gross me out.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NSS Conclusion and Elsa Cape

It's September 29th and I'm calling No Spend September officially over.  Mainly because I went to Target today...and I purchased a couple clearance items for next summer.  They had Speedo kids goggles (the kind that go over the nose), $6 for each pair.  I snagged up one pair for each kiddo.  Aaaannnndddd...I may have purchased some party favors for one of the kids' Halloween party coming up in 4 short weeks.  Aaaannnnndddd...I may have also purchased a movie.  Ok, that's it, for real. 

Here's a few more things I jotted down over the past week of things that we do, or don't do, to save money.  I know there are thousands of things you can do to save money, and I'd love to hear what you all do...I'm always collecting ideas to save a buck!!!

  • I very VERY rarely wear make up.  Not that I shouldn't, I just don't.  It's not a 'movement' I'm starting, it's just who I am.  I will wear make up from time to time for special occasions or if I'm feeling saucy and want to wear it.  My make up expires before I use it up.  I have never used a mascara until it's dry.  This, of course, is personal preference, and not for everyone.
  • I use Suave hair products, or whatever is on sale.  It saves a butt load of money and I like it.  From time to time the Sunday paper will have a coupon for buy one get one (usually has a price limit of up to a $2.79 value or something like it).  
  • We don't spend the extra money on personalized things such as: return address labels (we have received these as gifts from our insurance agent for the holidays, they're very cute...and free), special checks (what are those, you ask?  Those are the things you write to pay bills...these things are becoming an item of the past, but we purchase the cheapest set that's available.  They last us about a year or more since we rarely use them, but if it saves us $20, I'm in).
  • If you have children in school, they most likely come home with Scholastic book orders.  I adore these things.  So we don't break the bank, we set a limit on ordering.  For example, you can tell your kids you'll purchase one book for each kid and they have to be $5 or less.  OR, just choose two or three to order from each year.  I love these things because the books are reasonably priced, they earn free books for the classroom, they have books for $1-$2 AND they're great to purchase holiday or birthday gifts for family and friends.
  • Fund raisers.  I know your child brings those home.  If it gets to be too much, choose one that you'll put your efforts into each school year.  These things can be overwhelming, so just do what you can and don't stress over it.
  •  Get rid of cable and get Netflix, rent from Redbox, or rent from your library.  
  • It's getting to be that time of year again...the time for all things casseroles, turkey dinners, yummy hearty meals...and sales on canned green beans, corn, cream of chicken (sorry, mushrooms make this family barf so we don't buy cream of barf aka mushroom soups), and chicken broth.  These things will go anywhere from $.25-$.50 per can on the right sale.  We stock up on these items every fall and are set for an entire year.  We do NOT purchase broth much because we make our own when we crock pot chicken and shred it for future use.  Worth it.
  • We don't purchase soda.  A couple years ago, Hubs decided he wanted to cut soda out of his daily diet.  He went cold turkey and I followed suit.  This saves us a lot of money at the grocery store...and we're healthier for it too.
  • Gift giving is one of my favorite things to do.  But it's even better when you get a deal!  I highly recommend the dollar bins at Target and clearance racks everywhere.  It's worth taking the time to look because you never know what you'll find.
Over the past month, I've noticed things that will need to be replaced eventually so I made a list rather than just buzzing out to purchase it.  We need a new griddle, new small plastic spatulas, bath mats...but these are things that can wait or I can purchase one every now and again.  OR, the holidays are coming around so maybe I can ask Santa for these...what a lovely stocking...full of housewares. 

 Forgive me if I've already posted this, but I'm going to post again.  If you're like me, you like a little something with pictures to look at.  Last winter I saw a little hooded cape in a shop that I thought my niece would love.  The only problem was they wanted $30 for the thing.  I was sure I could make it, took some mental notes and then purchased the supplies.  My niece LOVES Frozen, shocker right?  Like most little girls, I said MOST, she adores Elsa.  So I wanted to make it the blue color Elsa wears, and I found some sparkly silver ribbon and snowflake buttons.  I used 1.5 yards of this silky fabric, and it was horrible to work with to be frank.

 I had to use binder clips to hold the fabric in place.  It was slippery and annoying to work with...not to mention I learned the hard way that this is in no way to be ironed...I may have melted it.  Thank goodness I always over buy fabric just in case I singe anything.  I was terrible about taking pix during the making of this.  But, I know I looked up directions on Pinterest and just made it my own by jazzing it up with the ribbon and buttons.

 I used stretch elastic for the "clasp" of Velcro around the neck.  I wanted it to tear away should it get caught on something or someone grabbed her from behind.

Not pictured was the little finger loops I sewed so the cape would go where she went. 

I know this isn't the best DIY explanation, but I thought I'd throw this out there just in case anyone wanted to make their little Elsa a costume for Halloween.  All together the cost was about $8, some time, a little variety of colorful words from melting and the fabric slipping everywhere.  Luckily, she loved it...at least that's what she said. 

Ok, enough for today.  Time to do some sewing I've been putting off for about 3 months.  Not sure when I'll blog next, but if I get a good project going, you all will be the first to know!

Have a great Tuesday and enjoy!!!  Until next time...

*Side Note: If you want a good laugh, watch the movie 'Spy'.
**Side Note II: Christmas will be here before we know it, so start shopping now.  I started last month and will be done before Thanksgiving.  Those holiday crowds give me the heebies and germs.
***Side Note III:  I'm not proof reading.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

NSS and Chore List

This is going to be a super random post.  I have about a million things floating through my head right now...so I'm going to puke them out via bloggin'.  Lucky you!!!

1.  Aldi has an app.  Yes, it has an app.  I downloaded it without question.  I have zero idea what it's all about or what's on it...but I'm psyched that they have an app.

2.  After school program asked parents to contribute to a snack and one of the items on the list was Cheese-It's.  I got Aldi brand, two boxes for $1.79 each.  Grand total for contribution $3.83 (tax included).  BAM!!! 

3.  NSS is going quite well with a few exceptions:
  1. Hubby purchased can lights for our garage...it needed to happen before the snow flies.  
  2. I had to purchase pants for Sweet Pickle (yes had, it's getting colder and Sweet Pickle has exactly 1 pair of pants that fits her.  She HATES leggings and is very particular on her sweats - she doesn't want ones that have the elastic around the ankles...that may be a fashion that's coming back but my girl isn't havin' it.  The way she feels about this is much like the way Peanutty feels about jeans...he calls them "death pants".  True story.).  She wanted "swishy" pants or "wind" pants, if you will.  They don't make them for wee girls so I purchased her a couple pairs of wind pants in the "boys" section. (We don't believe in "boy" and "girl" clothing...having Sweet Pickle has made that abundantly clear...she views them all as "clothes".  Man, I love her.).  Well, I was all geared up to go to about 300 stores to find what she would want.  I went to 2 stores and found exactly what we needed.  You will all be so proud of me.  I packed my coffee and a snack and headed into Target (packing my own rations made me skip the Starbucks).  I will tell you, I was in there for 4 minutes.  They didn't have what I needed so I left.  Simple.  I then headed to, gulp, Walmart.  Bingo.  The store that has terrible carts had exactly what I needed.  At roughly $5 per pair, she's set for the fall/winter/spring/sometimes summer (thank you Iowa weather whiplash). Now, to see if she approves...eek!
Those are the only exceptions thus far.  I'm trying to move my grocery shopping day to Tuesdays rather than Fridays.  I'm glad I have.  Aldi (are you so sick of hearing about this place?) restocks everything on this day.  At least today proved to be true.  Produce was stocked to the brim giving me first pick of everything.  Loved every minute, but only spent about $15 on items to get us through until next Tuesday.  I only purchased the fake, but delicious, Cheese-It's, some produce, and milk.  Not to shabby, eh?

4.  In our home, we have "Chore Lists" for the kids and payday is Fridays.  Hubby and I compiled the list of reasonable things the kids can accomplish with little or no supervision.  We do NOT push them to do these things.  But, they know full well that the more they do, the more money they make.  Not to mention when they are wanting our attention on days we're trying to get the house clean, I've used the motto:  Many hands make light work.  Here are the kids' chore charts that hang on the fridge:

I'm uber irritated that I can't figure out how to rotate the pix!  Sorry.  But I'm sure you'll live.  These lovely charts are slipped inside a page protector and we mark to the side with a dot when they've completed these tasks.  Some of these tasks can be done multiple times per week so that's why we dot them rather than cross them off.  Some weeks are better than others, but when one of them whines that they would like to purchase something but they don't quite have enough money...that opens the discussion door to talk about taking the initiative and earning.  Both have their eyes on something they're saving money for, so all in all, it's a good situation.  EVERY family has a different way of doing these kind of things...but here's our take on it.  Things they don't get paid for is cleaning up their messes (when they craft, or get out the melty beads (Perler beads), or decide to build a town with everything they own), setting and clearing the table.  You get the idea.  The charts are stuck on the fridge with jumbo clothes pins that I purchased at Michaels for about a dollar each.  I also purchase their first initial to glue on the front (not pictured).  I let them have at it with some cheap paint they chose at the store.  I then glued magnets on them and ta-da!  A fancy, hand painted, chore chart holding clip!

5.  Every Tuesday I wash towels and toilets.  That's why we call it Towel & Toilet Tuesday.

6.  It's almost time for me to purchase my 2016 Life Planner.  I'm getting excited.  Woot!  Of course I'll be posting about that one!!!

7.  When you're potty training your kids at night time, double sheet everything in case of an accident.  So it'd look like this:
Waterproof mattress pad (we got the one's that covered the entire bed like a fitted sheet)
Fitted sheet
Waterproof mattress pad
Fitted sheet

If there's an accident, all you have to do is gather the top set off, and throw it in the washer.  Clean up the kiddo, and tuck them back into clean sheets with fresh blankets of course.  Time saver!!

That's all I've got for right now!  I hope everyone has a great rest of the week and enjoys this post of 'Sweatpants'.  Until next time!!!

*Side Note:  I need to re-organize my linen closet...it's gotten out of control from neglect.
**Side Note II:  I'm not proof reading.  Surprise!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

NSS and Kids Fun Plate

I have this glorious find from Target.  Weird, right?!?!  Not really.  Back in the spring, after Easter, I stumbled upon two gems in the clearance section.  It was 70% off and I thought they'd be fun:

These wonderful Lunch Trays cost me all of $1.30 each.  I'm not usually one to purchase this kind of stuff because I think they cause clutter and I don't like having too much "stuff".  These have been worth the $2.60 times 10.  They're so much fun for the kids and it also makes me set out good portions of food for them.  They are dishwasher safe, which in my book is worth its weight in gold.  Plus, during the summertime, we do a lot of picnics, both inside and out, and these have proved to be fun and sturdy!  I've seen these on clearance at Target just about every season.

We lay out towels and the get a variety of food put on their plates...please note that we try to give our kids a variety of nutritional foods...but we also have no problem slapping a hot dog in a bun for supper.  Sometimes you just have to do that!!! 

No Spend September Update:

This past week went super well!!!  I went grocery shopping for the next two weeks, with the exception of purchasing milk, bread and some produce next week.  I raided our cupboards and pantry and meal planned by that.  I USUALLY try to do this, but sometimes it gets exhausting and can burn you out pretty fast.  I managed to spend $135 on two weeks worth of food.  Aldi is ALWAYS the first place I go to purchase groceries.  That place is a gem.  If you haven't tried it, do it.  It'll save you some serious moolah.  Now, know that I did NOT purchase any kind of meat products during this shopping trip.  Hubs and I buy our meat in bulk (half a cow, or when chicken is on sale, we buy a LOT to get us through for a few months).  Deep freezers are amazing and should be utilized...we do just that.  Here's what our meal plan looks like this week:
-Crock pot pot roast
-Leftovers from the weekend (chili, bbq smokies, bbq wings...all leftover from a tailgate...you know watching those footballers make some holes in one while under the watchful eye of an umpire)
-Taco soup (made with the leftover meat from the pot roast-speaking of, I best be getting that in the crock pot!)
-Tater Tot casserole (family favorite!!! we do NOT put veggies in it, we eat them on the side-apparently that's weird)
-Chicken and noodles
-Chicken tortellini soup
-Leftovers will be used for lunches and if there's too much, we'll eat them as a supper

Quick dinner fill-ins for us (things we always have on hand) are breakfast for dinner, and homemade pizza.  We do NOT buy frozen pizza.  We stopped that years ago, BUT we have traded our neighbors our chicken fajita leftovers for a frozen pizza...it was delicious...yes, that really happened.  :)

A couple other things I thought of to save some dough:

-We don't have a single magazine subscription that we pay for.  I figure you can just hit up some doctors offices to read what's new and current if you must...I kid, but some offices have stellar selections.  If you have a magazine you love, perhaps you could ask for a subscription as a gift for your birthday or Christmas.  Our kids get Highlights magazine from their Grandparents as a Christmas gift. We love it, they love it.  It's a win-win!

-Utilize your public library for books.  I'm a book lover.  I LOVE to read.  I started going to our small town library just a few months ago, and it's glorious.  I also joined a thing called BookBub.  They send me daily emails to let me know about book deals.  Some are free and some are reduced price.  I indulge in the free books on my Kindle...the ONLY downfall to this is I've noticed that most of the free books are #1 in a series, while the following books cost money.  Usually the free books are easy reads that I'm satisfied without reading the rest of them.  Now, if it was Harry Potter or the Hunger Games...I couldn't have just read the first book. 

Ok, that's all I have for right now.  I hope you enjoy and I hope you're saving some money this month...if not, spend some for me.  Until next time...

Side Note: Not editing this so hopefully you can make heads or tails about what I'm typing about.
Side Note II:  I've got nothing for this one, but I feel like I should at least put two.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

NSS Update: Week 1 Under the Belt

Week 1 has come and gone already for No Spend September!  So far, so good.  There was only one "discretion" that I made.  Over the long weekend, we were going to indulge in some swimming.  Due to the fact that family owns this pool we were swimming in, we got to attend for free (BONUS) - 3 days in a row.  Both Peanutty and Sweet Pickle wear the over the nose goggles while swimming.  A pair snapped and needed to be replaced.  COULD it have been lived without?  Probably.  Would I hear about how swimming wasn't as fun for the entire weekend?  Yes.  I tooled over to the Dollar General (with a $5 bill from my stash - if you haven't read my post about this here's the breakdown, I don't spend five dollar bills...I save them - simple), and was pleased to find them clearancing out ALL of their swim stuff - this included the goggles.  They were originally $5 per pair...I got them for $1.25.  I purchased 3 pairs (stocking stuffers perhaps?), which made my total $4.01.  While it came out of my personal stash, I was happy to part with it to salvage a fun, hot weekend of swimming.  Otherwise, the spending was under complete control.  I didn't step foot in a Target for the entire week...folks, that is huge.

Here are a couple of other tips that I thought of to help curb the impulse to shop/buy:

  • Throw away catalogs the second you take them out of the mailbox.  If you're like me, you receive catalogs for this and that (clothing, shoes, hobbies [hunting/fishing], learning toys, party supplies, home goods...the list is quite endless)...and again, if you're like me, you may or may not have signed up to receive these catalogs.  I take these catalogs and recycle them immediately.  I don't flip or browse...I toss.  Done.
  • Instead of rushing out to purchase a grocery item (or something you THINK you need), try to think of an alternate replacement.  You're making stir fry for dinner and don't have broccoli...but you have zucchini and carrots.  Improvise.  I've done this on many occasions...did it turn out delicious?  Not always.  Is it edible?  Yep.  Push on.  
  • Make a list of items you run out of.  If you can live without it until the end of the month, great!  Even better if you can live without it all together.
  • Organize what you already have!  Pantry, closets, movies...you'll be surprised what you find in there and will come up with new ideas with what you've got OR you'll be inspired to purge.  We did our closets this weekend and rid ourselves of 3 garbage bags full of clothing.  It will be donated to a great cause this week!

I've received a LOT of questions about the reusable pouches I posted about last week.  So, in addition to those awesome tips, I thought I'd give it my review:

These little gems are called 'Little Green Pouch'.  I purchased a set of 4 on Amazon for roughly $12.  They are the same type of pouch that Go Go Squeeze applesauces come in, but are reusable.  They are top rack dishwasher safe.  After using these for about two weeks, I've come to the conclusion that they are worth the money.  And sometimes the little extra hassle to clean them.  With the help of a butter knife, you can get all the nooks and crannies of the pouch clean.  It literally takes an extra minute or two and they're clean.  Hot soapy water and a little shake down help as well.  So far it's had applesauce (purchased at Aldi for about $1.79 - gets us about 8-10 servings), and chocolate pudding (also purchased at Aldi for maybe $.50 and two cups of milk).  Peanutty hasn't complained so that's a plus.  The biggest trick is probably going to be training your kids to NOT throw it away.  I think they're worth the money and the time it takes to clean them.  Give them a go - you may love it!

Not very riveting, but hopefully a little helpful!!!  NSS is off with a bang, but not without the urge to shop...especially since I've started my Christmas shopping.  Yes, you read that right.  This woman is going to get her shopping done by Halloween...at least that's my goal!!!

Happy Saving!!!  Until next time...
Side Note:  I have a sick little so I'm not editing...who am I kidding, I never edit.
Side Note II:  I'm going to decorate for fall today...80 degrees outside screams fall, right?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

NSS Take 2

Yep!  Summer got away from me.  Life was busy and now it's even busier but in a completely different way.

Folks, it's time for ..........NO SPEND SEPTEMBER!!!  It being September 1st, I thought I better get back into blogging a little more, not to mention I actually have a teeny, tiny bit of free time this morning to do so.  Let's dive right in.

In a nutshell, No Spend September (NSS) is a full month where we don't spend any extra money.  Yes, we spend money on fixed requirements.  This may include; mortgage, car payment, utilities, cell phone (I hate paying this one, it pisses me off every. single. month.  Highway robbery. AND we don't even have two smart phones!), groceries, daycare...you get the idea.  What we don't spend money on (by we, I mean me because I'm the #1 offender in this house) is going out to eat, girls night out (or GNO according to a sweet friend of my S.C.), Target sprees (I swear to Pete that every time I go, I find TONS of clearance stuff that I just "know" I'll use or will gift...in all honesty, that is the truth),  family outings (with the exception of a couple that were already planned and budgeted for, like a Friday night football game for our school), no Starbucks or Caribou.  Seems pretty simple right?  We are a family that rarely eats out, but when life gets busy and you're out running around, it's just WAY easier to grab something rather than make it at home - just think, that's around $30-$50 for a family of 4 to eat out depending on where you go

Here are a few things that I do to try and simplify life and to get a little more organized.  In the process of doing these things, I really do inspire myself to do better.  Here we go:

#1.  UNSUBSCRIBE.  Just this morning, I woke up to about 20 emails, most of them stating that there was a "BIG SALE", or "END OF SUMMER BLOWOUT"!  It's easy to get sucked into subscribing to emails, mostly because they offer a percentage off your order or claim you'll miss out on a lot of deals and steals.  While this is true, it can bog you down.  I was feeling bogged down, so I cleaned house.  I didn't unsubscribe to ALL of them, just one's that I maybe purchase something from about once a year.  Plus, I get tempted to purchase all because they're having a sale, and I have a 20% off coupon and $10 in in-store cash...it's a black hole.  A swirling vortex that will suck. you. in. 

#2.  Pack snacks or a lunch.  When I have Peanutty or Sweet Pickle or both with me while running errands, I pack a bag full of snacks and drinks.  This alone saves me money from not having to purchase snacks while we're out and about.  Here's the little bag I use.  I will bet a GOOD CHUNK of you readers have a bag just like this...if you've ever purchased from Thirty One Bags...you have something like this:

Or do you have this:
How's about this one:
Yeah, pretty safe to say if you've been to a Thirty One party, you have one or all of these (327 more bags just like these were not pictured).  Anywho, back at it.  I use that top one that's an insulated bag to put snacks and drinks while we mosey around doing what we need to do.  IF, like today, we will be running around during lunch time, I will pack up lunches in something like this:

Thank you Target dollar bins!  I purchased this for $3 over a year ago and it's been a home to many PB&J's, Goldfish crackers, grapes, Veggie Straws, and yogurt covered raisins.  Sweet Pickle thinks this is just the cats meow.  Nothing that would need to be cold is packed in the lunch box since it gets toted around and/or left in the car.

#3.  Lists.  We pack Peanutty's lunch every day.  To expedite the sometimes grueling process, we sat down with him and got ideas for what he would like in his lunch each day.  I then typed it up, printed it out and it now has a lovely home stuck to the side of our fridge for a quick reference. 
Essentially, he gets something from each category in his lunch every day.  This list is completely unique to him, so we know he likes all of these items and is willing to eat them for his lunch.  When grocery shopping time rolls around, I ask him what he thinks he'd like for the following week so I can purchase the necessary items.  This year I made little packing stations for ease of packing. 
I'm not a huge fan of using so many plastic baggies, and I have a Pin (yes, that dirty bitch named Pinterest has poisoned my life again, drat!) for sewing my own reusable bags - just haven't had time yet.  It's simple to grab one of each, and throw it in a lunch bag and off he goes.  Last year we had purchased the GoGo Squeeze applesauce's - not sure if you've purchased those, but you practically have to sell your first born to buy them.  So, I started researching re-usable pouches, and we're giving them a go this year:
They've actually been quite amazing.  They are top rack dishwasher safe, we also hand wash them to make sure every nook and cranny is getting cleaned.  We've done applesauce and pudding in them so far, and I think it's worth the $12 for 4 off of Amazon.  I also purchased the collapsible funnel for $6.  So far, so good.  I highly recommend them.  BUT, keep in mind we've only been using them for about a week.  
Ok folks!  That's all I've got for today.  Kind of a doozie!!!  Whew!  
Summing it up:  Mission: Save My Family Some Money  - has commenced.  Please feel free to join me on this month journey.   It's actually kind of fun...until you're pacing in front of Starbucks because you're in dyer need of a caramel vanilla soy latte with whip.  

Happy Saving!!!  Until next time!!!

Side Note:  I'm not editing...I need to do some filing.
Side Note II:  I want to get my pumpkin decor out, but feel at 90 degrees I can't bring myself to do it!