Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sorry for My Absense

Sorry I didn't post anything for a couple weeks. I really felt I was getting out of balance. My family were starting to feel forgotten and home were becoming neglected. I spent some time getting unfinished projects done around my home, spending lots of quality time with my family and worked out a schedule so I can balance all my responsibilities. It's a dilemma many people face - balancing work and home.

Some really fun things that happened when I slowed my life down the past couple weeks was I found a 4-leaf clover patch in my yard. Just look at all the clovers I found - all the same day.  Then I found a 5-leaf clover in another spot in my yard. I told my hubby that we were going to fertilize that area so they keep growing back.

These haven't been altered in any way - they are REAL clovers.

On another note, I mentioned in previous posts that I am trying to lose weight and I just wanted to update my progress. I started Weight Watchers on 1/21/10 and as of yesterday I'm down 31 lb. That's the most I've ever lost and I'm not done yet.

Just a little note to update everyone - if anyone's even listening :(

Thrifty Thursday - This Week's Find

Thanks to the one of my favorite magazines "All You" I got a coupon for a free Rimmel London product valued $5 or less for fre*e from Wal-Mart. I could choose from eye shadow, lip stick, mascara or one other product (I forgot what). I chose the eye shadow only because I was about to run out of my current one. I love the All You magazine because it always has lots of useful coupons throughout each month's copy. This coupon was included in April's copy I believe. Don't quote me on that.

By the way, I was not paid to publish this post. I just wanted to share my cool coupon deal and my fave magazine.

Feel free to share your thrifty finds. I'd love to celebrate your success with you.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Food Lovin Friday - Sticking to Your Planned Meals

I'm a big fan of meal planning or planning your meals ahead of time. Normally people plan a week ahead of time. This helps you figure out what to buy at the grocery store and saves you money. AS LONG AS YOU STICK TO THE PLAN.

That's the hard part for our family - sticking to the plan. To help us stick to our plan we usually build in a take-out day. That's a day when we're too tired/too busy/too whatever to cook, so we go out to eat or order delivery. We also mix and match our meals. What I mean by that is we come up with 6 meals and they are fixed on whatever day we want. Let's face it you may not feel like eating spaghetti on Tuesday but you're craving it on Thursday.

Sticking to the menu planned is important because everyone knows what happens when you go to the grocery store to get a week's worth of meals and then order take out or eat out a lot that week. You waste a lot of food and spend more money than you probably planned.

To make our lives a little easier we almost always have pizza on Fridays. That's our Pizza and a movie night. It's a little tradition and it helps to make meal planning and grocery shopping easier. Try to automate as much as you can. Come up with a couple meals that your family really likes and rotate them over the course of a month.

Be flexible when planning the daily meals. Automate as much as you can. Remember, by sticking to the meals you have planned you will save time and money.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tidy Tuesday - Cleaning Up the Yard

This winter was a bear! There's no disputing that one. 

Here on the East Coast we had A LOT of snow.  All that snow piled on top of everything - trees, shrubs, bushes, cars, houses, everything.  It left a lot of mess long after the snow was gone. There were gutters to be repaired. There were fallen trees that need to be cut up and taken away. Plus landscaping to repair all the damage done by the much needed snowplows.

This is all on top of the normal landscaping like cutting the grass, weeding flowerbeds, planting flowers and planning a garden. 

Tackling one project at a time is the easiest way to get it all done. Create a list and break projects into smaller chunks is helpful. Then when you have a little free time, like on the weekends, work on one of the smaller chunk projects at a time.

Here is an example. This is part of my list:
* Move landscaping rocks back into place in front flowerbed (moved by snowplow) - ask hubby to help
* Plan and start planting my garden - buy seeds, turn over dirt, plant seeds, water garden
* Rake up our yard - front and back, bag and take to dump
* Plant gladiolus bulbs on side of house
* Remove remaining dead tree branches - cut them up and take to dump

Some quick and easy tricks to clean up your yard in a hurry.
  1. Rake leaves and twigs into piles all around your yard. Bag up. It's saves a lot of energy as opposed to raking from one edge to the other - dragging the leaves over the entire yard.
  2. Enlist the help of others - kids and hubby, siblings or neighbor kids.
  3. Rent a chipper, mulcher, cultivator, etc. from your local hardware store or rental shop.
 Hopefully these little tips will help you finish your yardwork quickly so you can enjoy the warmer weather of Spring.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Mommytime Monday - Cool Uses for Plastic Bags

What do you do with all those plastic grocery and shopping bags? Do you reuse them? What about recycle them?  Why not make something out of them?

Here's a fun craft project!

Learn how to make a really cool recycled bag. Here is one really incredible tutorial on

Here's another great tutorial using plastic bags from an amazing blogger. She shows you how to make iron-on decals for t-shirts, bags, etc. all from plastic bags. The possibilities are endless.

There are lots of ways to use this project. Here are just a few ideas:
* Mother's Day
* Party favors (goody bags or t-shirts)
* Green Recycled shopping bag
* Cute decals for everyday clothes
* Decorations for curtains in children's rooms or for the holidays

Friday, April 02, 2010

Food Lovin Friday - Snickers Pie

This recipe I found on

Obviously, I didn't make it into a pie - I made 24 mini cupcake size portions. Kind of like my own little bon bons :)

This is a really easy recipe to make and it takes delicious too!


12 oz frozen fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 small box sugar-free instant chocolate pudding *
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup lite Cool Whip
3 oz Grape Nuts cereal

Mix all ingredients together and pour into 8" dish and freeze.

* Note do not prepare pudding according to box directions - simply pour the pudding mix in with the other ingredients.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Frugal Easter Basket Ideas

If you look forward to giving Easter baskets to your children each year but don't enjoy the high price of expensive pre-made baskets, here are some simple ideas for saving money on this fun holiday tradition. Like anything else you buy, it helps to set a spending limit - maybe $5 per Easter basket. Then have fun being creative and trying to keep within your basket budget.
Our family usually reserves Easter baskets and Easter Egg Hunts for the Saturday just before Easter - saving Sunday for church and family celebrations.

I try to shop for Easter basket fillers in advance (I use the same principle for Christmas stocking stuffers, too). You can keep a basket in the corner of a closet for storing these types of items found throughout the year. Keep an eye out for small games and toys in clearance bins at the grocery store, at dollar stores, and during any stops to thrift stores or yard sales.

In the days immediately following Halloween, bags of candy often go on sale for half price (or less), so I'll sometimes purchase several bags of family favorites and stick them in the freezer. Frozen candy will keep quite nicely until Easter.

Small, fun items that you'll probably need to purchase for your children during the course of the year can be saved to include in their Easter baskets: crayons, felt pens, glue stick, glitter glue, novelty toothbrushes, fun-flavored toothpastes, hair ribbons, barrettes, a new hair brush, bubble bath in fun containers.

Ideas for the Basket Itself:

* Wicker baskets can be reused year after year (a nice tradition in itself). These can be used other times during the year for decoration or for storing small items. You can also reuse the decorative grass from year to year.

* Paper bags decorated with bunnies, eggs, flowers, etc.

* Easter bonnets. If you're going to be purchasing an Easter bonnet for your daughter, turn it upside down and fill with goodies.

* Inexpensive colorful plastic sand pails. Include a shovel and sand mold.

* Plastic mesh storage containers. Reuse to store toys, games, socks, childhood treasures, etc. Lunch box.

* New novelty pillowcase.

* Flower pot (fill w/packet of seeds, soil, drainage rocks, gardening gloves, instructions for growing their own Spring flowers).

* For older kids/teens, try a make-up container (including sample sizes of soap, perfume, lip gloss, nail polish, etc.), a fishing tackle box (include a few lures), a personal popcorn bowl (containing a bag of gourmet popcorn), or a new purse.

* For teenagers or grown children, try a grocery bag filled with their favorite foods.

Filling ideas:

* Plastic eggs can be reused every year. Fill with jelly beans or small plastic toys of interest to the child. Bags full of fake bugs, dinosaurs, etc., can often be found at dollar stores for under a $1 per bag.

* Homemade candy and treats.

* Homemade frosted Easter-shaped cookies individually wrapped. You can also make cookie lollipops by adding a lollipop or ice cream stick before baking.

* Crispy Rice Treats or Popcorn Balls colored with pastel food coloring and shaped like eggs.

* Sidewalk Chalk Eggs: Mix 1 cup plaster, 1/2 cup water and several drops food coloring. Pour mixture into empty egg carton sections. When dry, peel away the carton and hot glue two sections together at the center to form a complete egg.

* Toys from fast food children's meals can be found in "like new" condition at thrift stores and yard sales for $0.25 or less.

* Rubber stamps and stamp pads.

* Homemade play dough.

* Crayons.

* Small bag of potato chips.

* Bubbles.

* A jump rope.

* Jacks.

* A frisbee.

* Chopsticks.

* Fancy shoelaces.

* Stickers.

* Books.

* Stationary, note cards, envelopes, stamps.

* Coloring books or coloring sheets. Find some simple Easter related clip-art and print the picture out in black and white for homemade coloring sheets, or print out several and staple them together for a custom made coloring book.

* Audio tapes you've made of yourself reading their favorite books aloud. Be sure to include a signal for them to turn the page if they'll be reading along with you.

* Look for small Dover Books at your local bookstore. These books are high quality and usually under $1 each. They have paper dolls, holiday activity books, coloring books, etc.

Happy Spring!

About the Author:
Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer and mother of three) is the author of several popular books including Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide for Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity. To subscribe to her free email newsletter, Simple Times, send an email to: Visit Debi online and read more articles dealing with simple living, frugality, parenting and much more:

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