Monday, March 31, 2008

What I Did On Our Spring Break

Well, remember my To-Do list that I was going to follow for our Spring Break? Unfortunately, the stomach bug visited our house, and it got me, too. So we had a few days of doing absolutely nothing. I did get ONE thing on The List done. I did straighten up our homeschooling room. I can't really say that I organized everything, but at least everything is off of the counters. (We have a second kitchen in our basement that we use as our school room - tons of cabinets, a big table and chairs, hutch, and lots of counter space!) I also did something that wasn't on The List - I put up loads and loads of laundry that had been piled up for weeks. The one thing that was on The List that I really, really should have done was get clothes ready for the consignment sale this week. UGH!! I keep putting this off, and have missed several consignment sales. These are opportunities where I could be making money!! I am so mad at myself.

I went coupon shopping tonight at Kroger! Stay tuned... Tomorrow I am going to post a pic of my bounty, and details on how I did it!! I saved 86% !!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

End of the Fast Food Challenge - Lessons Learned

As we wind up the month of March, I want to go ahead and blog about my month-long Fast Food Challenge. Was I successful? Well, technically, no. We DID end up going out to eat some. BUT, in actuality( (is that even a word??), I believe I was successful. We went out to eat a lot less than usual, and we ended up saving a lot of money. How much money? I'm not real sure, but probably a couple of hundred dollars (blushing profusely now). DH is very happy with this month's budget! LOL!

Take for example, last night. Since my car is still in the shop, I had to wait until DH got home and take his truck to the library and Super Target (I was seeing if the Easter stuff had gone 75% off yet - it hadn't). I had thought about getting some supper at Super Target, but my back started hurting while there real bad, and I decided I didn't feel like cooking once I got home. So I left there, and ran by Fazoli's. I bought the Family Bowl of Fettucine Alfredo with 8 breadsticks and one piece of Turtle Cheesecake for me. The total was $16.69. As I drove home, I felt sick that I had spent so much when I could have bought the same thing for a lot less at Target or somewhere else. This is what I could have paid:

* Fettucine pasta - $1

* Alfredo sauce - $2

* Breadsticks - $2

And I just bought the cheesecake since I was already there. I wouldn't have bought it if I had been at the grocery store. See how much money I could have saved if I had made this quick and easy meal at home instead of buying it at a restaurant?

So.....Lessons learned:

* Keep some "convenience" foods at home at all times! For those times when you don't have time to cook (like soccer practice nights, or church nights), have something in the freezer you can just pop in the oven. These things may seem high at the grocery store, but they are a lot less than going out to eat or stopping at the fast food restaurant. If you just can't make yourself buy convenience foods at the grocery store, then make extras of supper once a week and freeze.

* Don't let yourself run out of basic necessities! Don't run out of bread, milk, eggs, lunch meat, etc. This just makes it that much easier to say, "Let's just go out to eat tonight." This is one of my biggest problems.

* Plan, Plan, Plan! Make menus for the week. This is the key to cutting out eating out so much, I believe. I am in the bad habit of running to the grocery every few days with no list or menu, and just shopping for supper for one or two nights! If I sat down and made a menu for the week, and bought everything I needed, there would be no need to go out to eat!

* Plan a time to go the grocery store(s) alone and make it a priority. If your kids are angels when you go the grocery store, then just ignore the "alone" statement. I just need to be alone to THINK! LOL! Set aside a certain day/time for grocery shopping, and don't deviate from it! Act like it is set in stone. If you have to take your children with you, all is not lost. Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom has some great tips for shopping with children. Click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary to me!

Happy Anniversary to me! Happy Anniversary to me! Happy Ann-i-v-er-sa-ry to me-e-e-e-e-e-e, Happy Anniversary to me!

Yep, today is our 13th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, we have soccer practice tonight for my DS, and now my DD has a stomach virus. So, nothing special going on tonight. Hopefully, we are going to go somewhere this weekend (if we are all not sick by then!!). I don't know where. But at least DH is the one who brought it up. He even sent me a Hallmark E-Card today! LOL! Hey, it's more than I did for him today.

So, I have been thinking a lot about my ambitious "LIST" that I made yesterday and made public for the whole world. "Ambitious" is putting it mildly. Was I crazy or what to think I could get all of that done this week?? And now, with a sick child, it looks even more unattainable. But I should really get off of my bum and off the 'puter, and start working. And stop complaining. And stop whining. And just do it! (Thanks, Nike!)

My dog is driving me crazy. I swear, in her old age, she is getting a nervous disorder. Any noise that resembles a knocking or door bell sets her off into a barking frenzy. It's happening more and more often. I wonder if they can prescribe nerve pills for her. Seriously.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Break - or not?

All of the schools around here are on spring break. My parents think WE should be on spring break, too - and so do my kids. (sigh) I feel like we've taken so many little breaks that we shouldn't. But then again, this would give me a chance to clean up and organize our homeschooling stuff. Plus, I could get together all of the homeschooling curriculum I want to sell, and put it for sale on VegSource or The Well-Trained Mind boards. Hmmm...spring break is sounding better and better!

So, let's make a list! (I love making lists!)

What I Could Do This Week:

* Clean up and organize the homeschooling area
* Move the hutch filing cabinet near the loveseat, or find a small side table to put there
* Organize all of my scrapbooking supplies - condense, combine, refine!!
* Make a list of all of the homeschooling material I want to sell
* List all homeschooling materials on various boards to sell
* Get all clothing ironed and labeled for consignment sale next week
* Figure out if I have enough stuff to sell on Ebay.
* Make chore list for DH and kids
* Make Fly Lady Control Journal OR Home Management Binder OR print off Motivated Moms

Okay, I've made a list. That's the easy part. The hard part is doing what is on the list! I will update and let you know if I've kept up with the list. If I could do half of what is on the list, I would be deliriously happy!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Growing Feathers and Puttin' Out Fires

Look at how much they have grown! The second pic, "The Lone Chick", is one of the second batch of chicks.

The first pic shows how much
their real feathers are growing in. They are losing their downy softness!
(My 6-year old DD took these shots! Aren't they great?)

We did have a little mishap. DS8 left the heat lamp touching the wood at the top. And FYI, that can cause a F-I-R-E ! I smelled the lovely scent of a woodfire
and sniffed appreciatively, and asked my sister who had stopped by, "Did they (meaning my DH and kids)
build a fire outside?" She looked at me askance, and asked, "In THIS wind??" (We were having 30-mph winds that afternoon.) Well, that made sense. I walked down the hall, with the ever-growing fear of F-I-R-E, and looked in the chick room. No flames, but heavy with smoke smell. Sure enough, my sis saw that the heat lamp was touching the wood, and underneath was a black hole with gray ash in it! Needless to say, when I told DH, he said they didn't need the chicks didn't need the heat lamp anymore. :)

How Many of Me?
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

How cool is this thing??!!?? There are only 24 people in the US with my married name! And I know at least one of them lives in the same city that I do because we apparently go to the same drugstore, and they have to do a birthdate check to make sure which one I am.

There were only 2 in the US with my maiden name.

Very neat! You should try it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Review of Coupon purchases

Here's a brief review of some of my earlier coupon purchases:

Curves Cereal - um, not too crazy about it. I got 2 boxes of the Honey Crunch. I can't say that I really like it. I *might* be able to force it down, but I don't know.

Renuzit TriScents Air Freshener - I got the "blue" scent package (versus the "green" scent), and I just put it out today. I put it in the living room, but had to move it to the bathroom/laundry room. It was too strong and too "bathroomy". I really like the Febreeze Noticeables better. Since I have 5 of these now and none of my receipts, I guess I better learn to like it! LOL! *** Edited to add: Good grief! I had to unplug the Renuzit TriScents air freshener. I guess I am really allergic to it. My throat feels itchy and my nose is running. Darn! If anyone who knows me wants these, let me know. I've got 4 to give away. :)

Almay Eye-makeup Remover Pads - My BF was right! They are wonderful, and I love them!

Almay Mascara - This wasn't in my original coupon post, but I bought it later for $2.44. So far, after 3 days of wearing it, I love it! Hopefully, it won't start clumping, like most do after a week. I will update if it does. But so far, one of the best mascaras I've used! (And I've used a lot!!)

Update on Week 2: Fast Food Challenge

I'm a little late on my update for Week 2 of my Fasting from Fast Food challenge, but better late than never, I guess. I haven't done so great this past week. We did go out to eat one night somewhere with the kids (can't remember where). And yesterday, since I had no food for lunch for the kids at home, I took them out to eat at a Chinese restaurant. I had intentions of a quick fast food jaunt, but they convinced me we *needed* to go somewhere and sit down and eat. Almost $20 later, I was very sad that I gave in to their persuasive verbage. BUT since this is much less than we usually go out to eat, I do feel that it's kind of a victory. I know we have save oodles of money.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Chicks

We have 4 more chicks! This time they are Rhode Island Reds. It is so amazing how much our original 6 have grown in less than a week! When you see the new ones up next to the "old" ones, the new ones are tiny!! I took a picture to try to capture how much the 6 have grown, but it's hard. I have to just stick my camera down into the chick house and push the button, hoping for a good shot.

In this shot, the back two chicks on the left are the two new ones. See how little they are?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Coupon Crazy

I have spent the last several, several hours cutting coupons. I had a stack about 6 inches high of coupon inserts I have been saving since December that I haven't had time to cut out (or the desire to). I did coupon with the Grocery Game a lot last year, and got lots of great deals. But let me tell you - couponing is WORK!! And for the past several months, I just haven't felt like "working".

After sitting here for 4 hours, cutting and organizing my coupons and only getting about 6 inserts cut out, I am seriously rethinking my strategy. Is it worth it??? I have been thinking of the months I did coupon faithfully, and here is what I have been pondering, weighing the pros/cons of couponing:

* I bought things that I did not need. For example, I still have lots and lots of cans of tomatoes sitting on my pantry shelf. I don't think I've used one. Yes, I got a good deal on them. But knowing that I don't usually use canned tomatoes, was that a good way to spend money? Uh, no.

* I spent hours and hours and hours cutting out coupons that I never used. When they expire, I just have to throw them away. It makes me sick to think of the time and effort I spent cutting them out, just on the off-chance this item *might* go on sale. Then it never does. Ugh.

* After a few months of couponing (or "stockpiling"), I looked at my bounty of products and noticed that I did not have a lot of "food". Yes, I had tons of dressing, BBQ sauce, marinade, canned tomatoes, granola bars, and cereal. But not much FOOD. Just condiments and processed side items.

Now on to the good thoughts on couponing....Before I totally put you off on couponing, I have some good, warm fuzzy feelings about coupons...

* The savings I got on toiletries and cleaning supplies was AWESOME!! As I was telling my BF today, if there is a nuclear war or natural disaster, my family might not have anything to eat, but, by golly, we WILL have clean teeth!! I have enough toothpaste to last the next few years. I got it all for free or next to nothing. Seriously, coupons for shampoo, makeup, feminine products, lotion, soap, laundry supplies, cleaning supplies, etc are wonderful if you use them when the products are on sale.

* While I did whine that I didn't have much food to show for all my efforts, I DID love having lots of salad dressing, BBQ sauce, marinades, ketchup, mustard, etc that I spent pennies on (or zero pennies!). Those are things that I hate having to spend money on, since they aren't really "food", ya know?

* It is such a natural euphoria to leave the grocery store with 50% savings (or more)! You feel so proud that you have to try not to brag to the poor guy taking out your groceries about your incredible savings. You try not to call your sister and tell her you just got $100 worth of groceries for $40 - but you do anyway. You just don't mention that you got $100 worth of toothpaste, BBQ sauce, and mustard. :) Or that you have to go out tomorrow and buy your *real* groceries. LOL!

Sooo....those are my thoughts at this late hour. I don't know what I'm going to do. I am thinking these are my options:

1) Continue with what I'm doing. (Ugh - don't wanna)
2) Only cut out coupons of what I KNOW we will use
3) Don't cut out every coupon. File the inserts by date, and only pull out when I need one. With this, I think I will have to continue paying for Grocery game.

That's all I can brainstorm right now. I so tired! Maybe I'll have some more inspiration tomorrow. Thanks for reading this far!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Naming the Baby Chicks

Caroline named the baby chicks. The 3 yellow ones are named Banana, Clover, and Sunflower. The orange one is named Paint. The two black ones are named Oreo and Oreo 2. And she can tell each one apart. Banana has bonded with the kids. She (don't really know if it's a he or a she) stands near the front of the chick house and chirps really loud. Then the kids go in there and pet her, and she hops away. Here's another pic:

Edited to add: I wish I could show you what Banana and Paint do now! When the kids are not in the room, Banana and Paint will roam all over the cage looking for them, chirping loudly. As soon as one of the kids steps up to the front of the cage, the two chicks race to the front. I mean, super-fast race! It is hilarious to watch!


This pic below is a pic of the back view from our house.
We got several inches of snow last night, and it is still flurrying! This is a pic of our creek. The kids have had a blast in the snow already this morning.

Friday, March 7, 2008

End of Week 1 of the Challenge

Well, it's the end of week 1 of my Fasting from Fast Food Challenge. I guess I should give a report. Hmmmmm.....can you tell I'm stalling? The good news first: We did not eat out for supper at all!! Yay! The bad news: I took the kids to Sonic for a milkshake after their dentist appointment. (Don't even comment on that - I know it's awful, but we had a terrible time. I'll post on it later) Then the next day, while out with my sister, me and the kids got a hamburger and fries for lunch. But you know what is the worst news??? I didn't even think about those two times as failing the challenge. (sigh) It's like, eating out is so ingrained in us, that it's normal to go by the fast food places - like it's second nature to brush your teeth. It's second nature to run by Burger King for a burger while out. It's really sad.

So, for Week 1 of the Challenge, I would say I got a grade of "B". I'm not happy that we got lunch while out. I consider the milkshake "okay". Not great, but okay. I am very happy that we made it without buying supper out. Now, on to week 2....

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March Challenge: Fasting from Fast Food!

With recent doctor visits, I've discovered I have slightly high cholesterol. I'll know my recent numbers in a few days. I know one main culprit is going out to eat! We go out way, way too much. Besides the health factor, if we cut out going out to eat, it would save us tons of money. I've relied to heavily on going out to eat. I really want to learn to cook healthy for my family. I just have never enjoyed cooking. Now, baking - that's another thing. I like to bake - just so I can get the results! LOL!!

So I am going to issue a challenge to myself and to anyone else who wants to participate: For the month of March, I am going to abstain from going out to eat and eating fast food. Wow. It pains me to write that. If anyone wants to join this challenge, post in the comments!! I want to hear about it.

The only exception I am going to have to allow is that March 25th is my 13th wedding anniversary. We will probably go out to eat for that. ;)

I really hope I can do this. It's really silly (and slightly scary) how worried I am that I will not be able to complete this challenge. What does that say about me and the way I provide for my family?? Nothing good.