Friday, March 26, 2010

My List of Frugal Things

I have a few things that I have done for so long that I don’t even think about them, much less think about them as being frugal. But my friends have mentioned that they would love a list of some of my tips. So here goes:
1. I cut my dryer sheets in half. I read about this one many years ago, tried it and never went back. I have a family of 6 and do a ton of laundry and I think I only buy a box like 2 times a year, if that. I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought them.

2. I hate throwing away food. We either have leftovers as they are, I reuse them in a new dish, or I freeze them for later use. For instance, leftover veggies get frozen for soup. Mashed potatoes get frozen for shephards pie. Over-ripe bananas get made into chocolate banana muffins. You get the idea.

3. I make my own laundry detergent. I have stated here why I do this. We all have such sensitive skin, but with as much laundry as I do, it does save us a ton of money.

4. I use coupons when I can. But I don’t get a paper just for the coupons. My mom gives me hers after she has gone through them.

5. I buy some things generic. I have tried almost everything in a generic form. Some work out, some do not.

6. I make all my own cleaners such as window and a heavy duty cleaner. I love these and make a new batch every week.

7. I make almost all of our baked goods from scratch. This is mostly due to food allergies. However, I do enjoy it and it does save a lot of money.

8. I make homemade baby wipes. Again, this was done for the purpose of sensitive skin, but is also very frugal. I have made them from both paper towels and from old t-shirts that I have cut up and then pitch when I am done.

9. I rarely buy things for myself. Over the years, this has simply become a routine. Not that we don’t have the money, but I just wait for my birthday or Christmas or if it is something that I really want, my husband will surprise me with it.

10. I almost never get my hair cut and I don’t color treat it. This is mainly because with 4 kids and working part time, I simply do not have the time to have these things done. Every now and then I will have highlights done (usually with a gift card), only to buy a store bought coloring kit to change me back to my regular color because I don’t have the time to go every 6-8 weeks. For instance, I just had my hair trimmed last week, before that, it had not been cut since October.

11. I reuse my kids school papers. The ones that are black on one side, I either print coupons on the other side or I use them for my lists.

12. I don’t use hair products with the exception of the occasional squirt of hairspray. Again, I have very sensitive skin and hair products irritate it. But also, is a money saver. One bottle of hair spray will last me almost a year.

13. I don’t wear makeup. Again, I have horribly sensitive skin and with the exception of under eye concealer and lipstick, I don’t wear any. I did try some very expensive makeup recently but it irritated my skin so I am back to my normal routine of concealer and lipstick for work and special occasions and nothing but face lotion on my days off.

14. I am always looking for ways to reuse things. For instance my curtain in our master bathroom is made from kitchen napkins that I sewed together. This bathroom has an American flag theme, the decorations and accessories were purchased at the 4th of July clearance sale at Kohl’s. The younger two kid’s curtains are made from sheets, as is the large bay window curtain.

15. We don’t eat out a lot. We are dealing with food allergies at our house so it can be difficult to eat out. But again, this does save money.

16. Our cars are paid in full and we plan on driving them until they die.

I know there are many more, but this was all I could think of at this time. To some this list may seem too extreme, to others it may not be extreme enough. But everyone needs to find the balance.

We still have HD cable, high speed internet and cell phones with data plans on them. So we do have some things that we splurge on. But at the same time, I do the things above to cut back in areas where I can. Every little bit helps. And in our case we are saving for a new house.

We are down to a few debts and when those are gone, we will have new windows installed. We are then putting all our money towards getting our house on the market to sell. Not to mention a down payment for a new one.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reducing Paper Towel Use

I think that just about everyone that I know uses paper towels.

You spill something? Need a napkin? and impromptu plate? We all grab paper towels.

And I don't know about you, but I go through alot! Because not only do I use my towels for those items, but I also use them to make homemade wipes.

And has anyone priced paper towels lately? I mean, jeesh! they are really going up in price. Of course now they have double rolls, super double rolls, 4 packs, 6 packs, 8 packs and even 12-15 packs!

I remember the good old days when all you had to choose from was either a single or multi-pack. And plain white or a cute little kitchen type design on it. I miss those days, really I do.

Because it just confuses me. When they came in 8 packs, I would look for them to go on sale for $5.99 a pack, then I knew to stock up, now it is rare that you find a sale like that. Although Kroger did have such a sale recently.

Add to this the guilt I feel for using so many towels. I mean, we all know where paper towels come from right? Trees. And I love trees. I hate the thought of being so wasteful.

So, all that being said, I am going to try and reduce my use of paper towels. I have slowly been stocking up on cloth towels and rags for this purpose. I will let you know how it goes.

This post is linked to Tackle It Tuesday.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Chips

Why would someone make homemade chocolate chips? You can buy them at the grocery store, they are relatively inexpensive and really, who has time to make them homemade?

Well, for those of you that don't know me, I love to cook and bake. So for me, it was a fun challange to make homemade chocolate chips.

So, being the quirky person that I am, I decided to make homemade chocolate chips. I know, I am strange.

I got my recipe here at Heavenly Homemakers. It is a pretty healthy recipe, since it is made with organic sucanat.

I really wanted to just throw everything in the microwave and it would be easy peezy, but I didn't.  I actually followed the directions and put them in a glass jar in a pot on the stove.

Once it melts all together, you pour it into a dish so that you can refridgerate it so it hardens.

They were a little time consuming but boy did they taste delicious. They tasted a little like chocolate ganache to me, so not exactly like store bought chocolate chips.

I made them with the intentions of making chocolate chip cookies. I would love to tell you that they were tasty. However, our homemade chocolate chips didn't make it to cookies. They were all eaten to quickly.

Oh well, they were still a good as is.

Would I make them again, probably not, they were too time consuming and didn't yield alot for my family of six. Not to mention that I am trying to not eat so much chocolate, as it doesn't like my stomach very much, but it does however love my butt and thighs. We have a love/hate relationship.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


So, the other night we were out to dinner as a family.

It was a Friday night and we had just bought new towels at Kohl's. Yes, we do know how to spend a Friday don't we?

We were sitting at dinner at a restaurant that didn't ask "do you want fries with that", so it was a real treat.

We were all sitting around the table eating and my youngest daughter was really putting it away. I jokingly said "where are you putting all this food?".

She answered "in my boobie".

It was at that particular moment when everyone in the room had decided to take a bite of food because it was super quiet. So of course her voice carried quite a distance.

Now, months ago, I would have died of embarrassment. But not this time, this time I did what any self respecting mom would do. I laughed like crazy and then took another bite of my fish! I mean come on, it isn't every day that I don't have to cook the food or clean up after the meal.

I am thinking she is a little obsessed with "hoo haas" right now. The other night after her bath, she put on her pajamas then put on her sisters sports bra on top of it.

She is 4 going on 30 some days.

Hello, is anyone there?

Some of you have asked where I have been and I will tell you what has been going on, are you ready?


That is right, life is going on.

My life has been very busy lately. I am not superwoman and something had to give. Unfortunately that something was this blog.

I am back and after much deliberation I have decided to keep this blog going. You see I enjoy it. And I didn't realize how many other people enjoyed it as well.

When I started this blog, I was a little unsure of what it would be or become. I had these grand ideas that I could use this blog as a way to make money. Not that we need money, but that it was a way to allow me to either stay at home, or do other things with it, like save for a bigger house.

When that didn't happen I'll be honest, I was a little upset. Then I realized that I was getting much more from it than I realized. This is my way of coping with a very crazy life. This is my way of sharing and keeping in touch with others who think and do things similar to me.

I have dabbled in crafting and sewing things. While I do enjoy these items, I realized that I do not have the time to do these things for money. Yes, I will make them for friends and family. But for the time being that is all.

Thanks for sticking with me while I figure out what this blog is. For now it will simply be ramblings of a mom. Posting about my quirky little things I do. Some save me money, some do not. Some I have to do because of food allergies. And some I simply do because I enjoy.

I promise to post like I used to.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Taking Care of Dust Mites -- Frugally

How many of you are alleric to dust mites? I think everyone in my family is.

But no matter how much you vaccuum and sweep, you really aren't doing anything to these little guys.

These guys are ugly, nasty and everywhere. Even those of you with the best cleaning abilities probably have dust mites.

My friend Jeannie turned me on to a very frugal alternative for treating these little guys.

You simply take 4 teabags, 3 cups of water and boil. Let it cool. Pour into a spray bottle.

I mist my carpet, pillows, furniture, mattresses, comforters, stuffed animals. You simply have to be somewhat careful because the tea can stain white or very light colors.

This totally works for me! And I have noticed a difference, which I love!

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Tried Hummus and Loved It!

Okay, so I have been trying really hard to feed my family healthy meals. More healthy than usual, especially since we are trying to limit our snacks to healthy ones or none at all. But still make them appealling and delicious.

I have been wanting to try to make and eat hummus for years. It looks so easy. However I didn't want to make it using tahini paste. I am leary about sesame seeds, I guess since we have multiple food allergies in the house, it just makes me nervous, even though no one is allergic to that in particular.

Not to mention I didn't have any at the time I wanted to try and make hummus!

So I altered some recipes that I found and this is what I made:

1 can garbanzo beans
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 T olive oil

I blended in food processor and added some liquid from the can to make it a little smoother. Can I just say YUM! Not only did I love it but my kids loved it also. Hubby liked it.

This is so healthy also! Beans, olive oil, garlic? Hello! We dipped some corn chips that I had and some celery and carrots and it was so good.

I am glad I finally tried it, this will be a staple in our house. Definitely something I can feel good about feeding my kids. Not to mention it is food allergy free for my two little ones!

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan, Week of February 27

This week is a two day work week for me. We no longer have basketball practice but still have choir. This is also a no Brownie meeting. So we will have some good meals this week.

For breakfasts: cold cereal, waffles, toast

Lunches: hummus with veggies and corn chips, leftovers, sandwiches

Dinners for the week:

Sunday: salmon croquettes, buttered noddles and beans
Monday: spiral ham, mashed potatoes and corn
Tuesday: sweet and sour chicken with rice sticks
Wednesday: hamburgers and mac-n-cheese
Thursday: Cincinnati Style Chili
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: no clue, might order pizza with friends, we have a late soccer game right before dinner, so we will see.

And that is it! I am going to make muffins as an afterschool snack and some monkey munch. Starting this week, I will have the girls of our very good friends following school 3 days a week. So I need to make sure I have some ready to eat snacks on hand.

This post is linked to Menu Plan Mondays.