View Full Version : April daily frugal's

4-1-11, 11:43pm
April 01, 2011
here we go again with the old how could another month have gone by...
--line dried one load of clothes in the house
--breakfast for supper, using up a partial bag of frozen hash browns.
--all of the spreadsheets and the two bank accounts are all balanced up
--went to supper out last night; thought I was meeting 3 of my old co-workers but
15 people showed up that I use to work with; some are still at the old place and serveral who have moved on. They wanted me to understand that they are there for DH and I even if I have retired . It was wonderful to see them all and be shown that kind of support...great people...I cried a little but with appreciation. Of course they didn't let me pick up my bill...

I believe this is going to be a lovely month the sun was shining here today. Of course that means you can see all the dust. Gave the house a good vacuum and cleaned the front entrance, putting away the winter stuff.
It is always easier to be frugal when one's house is clean...

4-2-11, 12:48am
How is your DH, Danna?

4-2-11, 9:12am
It is always easier to be frugal when one's house is clean...

So true! I was wondering about your DH too Danna.

I am getting kind of tired of hospital food, but I'm going to tough it out. I keep reminding myself that I am a lucky person to live in the time and place I do and have plenty of food to eat. I am trying to be grateful for that instead of complaining.

Other than that there's not much I can do right now on the frugality front.

4-2-11, 1:19pm
DH's car is going in for an oil change (coupon) and free tire rotation. They made a comment about his brakes. We already agreed we will not have them fix the brakes since we have not noticed any problems. If anything, we would take it somewhere else for a second opinion and go from there. It makes me nervous when the mechanic brings it up, especially at a chain place. Just don't want to be taken.

Went to the library today to get an ILL request. Returned a book I had been billed for it because it was so overdue. :|( (Thus I didn't have to pay for it)

Leftover pizza from a party at school for lunch today.

4-2-11, 4:32pm
April 02
Thank you both for asking...DH seems to be doing okay, he finished 4 weeks of the drugs 5 days ago; he was very tried/and had a very sore mouth by the time he done them. He has a CT scan on the 8th and is seen at the Cancer clinic on the 12th.
I understand that the best case will be they see skrinage of the tumours, next best is no progression and of course what we would not want is more growth. With the first two he will start the same drugs again; if it was the last case they would most likely try another drug. We are living every day as if he is going to stay well and at the same time really taking take of him.
--today mostly frugal a couple of hours at the farmers market, frugal was some good buys on fruit/veggies and unfrugal was apple fritters/flowers/pastry. The apple fritters are amazing and you just have to get a good coffee and sit and eat a couple while they are hot. The doctor has told us DH needs good nutrition, but we are not to worry about him putting weight on and he should be allow lots of treats...he is taking full advantage..lol
-bought a few groceries at the new FRESHCO store was PriceChopper before (nicely remodeled with a lot more good veggies,fruits and herbs at good prices) they were having a $1 to $3.00 sale (seems to be the newest way to get people in)
--got serveral bags of groceries and only spent $30.00
--one of my Dsis is visiting for just a day this week but, mostly had everything we needed to entertain.

4-2-11, 4:47pm
@stella--I know what you mean about the food. I'm embarking on week six of TV dinners and sandwiches. I am sick to death of both, but, like you, am trying to have an attitude of gratitude!
@danna--thanks for the update. The part about the treats made me chuckle!

I am about to run to the store for a 2-day sale. Lots of meat on sale. Time to stock up for grilling season!

Other than that, can't say much else is new. I've been spending a lot of time at home, so haven't really spent any money. I've been trying to plan for Christmas, too. I always blow my budget when I wait too long.

4-2-11, 9:50pm
Well, danna, all the best to you and your hubby.

Stella, are you home yet?

Kat, why are you stuck eating those foods? At least it sounded like it's kind of out of your hands? Sorry if I missed something!

4-2-11, 10:22pm
Danna, Glad to hear your DH is holding his own. He should get all the apple fritters he wants!
Stella, You're being plenty frugal with all the pre-planning and meal prep you did. You just did today's frugals in advance :)
Fidgie, Cars are the worst - absolutely a case of can't live with 'em and can't live without 'em :(
Kat, We never had much luck freezing meat, but that seems to be the key to taking advantage of the best deals. A lot of things don't seem to taste as good once frozen, and it always seemed like if we defrosted something, we didn't want it that night, and if we didn't defrost it, we did want it. How do you make this work well for your household?

4-2-11, 10:50pm
Ok, I really need to get back on track. The last month was not so good for me & self-control. I think the problem is that I haven't been taking any blow money for myself. There were so many expenses since December - oil changes on 3 vehicles (Yeah that motorcycle is really saving us money - not!) college tuition, dental appts for everybody, contact lenses & glasses for the boys, tax prep, vehicle registration & plates, DH birthday, Valentines, etc. etc. >:( that there didn't seem to be any left for me. Then I ran out of moisturizer & mineral sunscreen and got frustrated. So I am going to have to find some way of giving myself some cash for that kind of stuff. I was hoping to be able to hold out a little longer but I guess not.

I did have a few frugals this week. Went to Tyler's first track meet of the season (indoor - thankfullY!) and packed sandwiches, peeled tangerines, crackers & baked some cookies so we didn't buy any junk food. T's team mates were very happy to see the cookies! Today we went down to Ian's engineering project symposium which cost us nothing but gas money. Ian had enough guest credits at the dining hall that we all ate for free. Walked around the campus a bit. Saw the HashBash crowds - that was interesting. I put some bean soup to cooking in the crockpot before we headed out so dinner was ready when we got home.

4-3-11, 1:10am
We're on the home stretch installing retaining wall blocks in the garden, and are lacking enough for the last course. I decided today to put any $$ I feel like spending - such as at the Goodwill - into a "block" fund, so I can have the thrill of blowing $5 every so often, and save up for the third course. I love having a $$ goal. Once the new wall is complete, we can grow more food, so it will pay us back now, and hopefully if/when we sell.

4-3-11, 1:14am
Yes, Azure, when things were tighter for me I used to have everything so tight that there was no wiggle room, no treat room or even flexibility, and then what I used to do was not just a little blow but a blow-the-whole-budget blow. So I hear ya. Not that it sounds like you have blown the whole budget, BTW . . . ;) You are getting back on track, and that's all you can do! Good luck!!!

4-3-11, 9:45am
I have found out that I can reserve/place a hold on library books online even when they are not checked out, and have them delivered for pick-up to my local library. I'm not sure if this is a glitch in their library management system or what, but I am saving a ton in inter-library loan fees... then again, I feel like I'm cheating my library homies out of money... eh. Tough one... :/

I was quite happy with myself last week after making a TON of spaghetti bolognese on Sunday and having it three days for lunch at work too.

4-3-11, 10:08am
My big frugal accomplishment this weekend has been getting Travis to breastfeed. He had low blood sugar at birth and they gave him several bottles immediately, so I wasn't hopeful about it, but he's been nursing pretty well actually and is getting most of his nutrition from breastmilk now. That's a huge plus in the frugal category!

Dad and one of my close friends each bought us a huge Costco box of diapers, size 1 and size 2. We should be set for a good long while now. I'm going to make some wipes this week.

One thing I am thinking of buying or making is a nursing cover-up, but first I'm going to experiment with using my moby wrap or a shawl. I may want something lighter for summer.

4-3-11, 10:53am
Stella, my SIL estimated that formula cost them $50/month, and that was 9 years ago! I nursed for a long time, and it was a wonderful experience. I simply used a receiving blanket for a cover-up (but I lived in a very warm climate). I found that much of the time, that wasn't even really needed - baby and the shirt I was wearing pretty much covered everything. If you use a sling, that functions as a cover as well.

Today we are going to a show that was DD's birthday activity. We got an extra ticket so she could bring a friend, and I got the tickets at half price thanks to having signed up for email notification. This was in lieu of a party with friends. I'm going to bring some birthday cupcakes that I froze after her birthday, and we'll have a treat at the tables in the lobby.

I booked our summer travel this week, when there was a sudden airfare drop that saved us $200 per ticket.

Most of our frugal activity this week was simply not spending or driving, though!

4-3-11, 1:26pm
Rosemary that is a great savings on your tickets!

I agree that formula is really expensive. I am so happy that Travis is breastfeeding well. I looked at his feeding sheet this morning and he's had about two ounces of formula over the last 19 hours, so he's definitely making the switch.

4-3-11, 4:39pm
I feel like I'm cheating my library homies out of money... eh. Tough one... :/
Mira, when you have a spare $5 or $10 - or more - simply donate it to your local library fund or foundation. Then you can assuage your guilt AND get a tax deduction!

early morning
4-3-11, 8:51pm
Mira - we donate plenty of books for the Friends of the Library book sale. Benefits the library AND clears out space on my bookshelves, doesn't take cash out of our budget, so it's a win-win here. So far this month - have a load of laundry drying inside; finally changed the litter boxes (we switched to pine horse bedding suggested by someone here, and we've used $13 of litter since the beginning of last October. We have 3 indoor cats, 2 boxes, plus for the past 6 weeks we've been using another box in the shed nights and some bad-weather days for an outside kitty with some health issues). Set up at our first flea market of the year, and did ok. Sold enough free stuff (gathered, given, and trash-picked) to cover the booth rent. (sold lots of other stuff too!) Bought some cheese and some green peppers at pretty good prices. Made spaetzle in beef-broth leftover from a roast. Great for dinner and enough for a couple lunches, too!

4-3-11, 9:25pm
Went grocery shopping only once this week.
Took off snow tires and put on the old all-weather, car gets better mileage this way.
Wore jacket and knit hat in house to not use heat.
Got 2nd OT appointment free, having told OT I couldn't come because of house mortgage. No more OT appts for months if not more; they didn't seem to be helping my hand heal (arthritis or hurt tendon, not clear which).

domestic goddess
4-3-11, 9:44pm
My great "frugal act" has been to go nowhere, and do nothing! Not really what I had in mind, but I've had this darn resp. virus for over 2 weeks, and just don't feel like doing much. I get really tired over the little I do manage. I did have to pay dd's mortgage this month, as dsil has not been getting much work lately. We are short on groceries and baking supplies, so I'm going to shop for that tomorrow. Hope to get the fridge cleaned tonight, while it is still fairly empty. I would just about kill for a diet Pepsi right about now. It's about the only thing that cuts through the post-nasal drip!

4-3-11, 10:51pm
What a lovely weekend! We (as in DH ;) ) put up all our new wood blinds and they look great. Did some scrapbooking, finishing an album, saw my sister, mom and dad. Had a band concert tonight and that was fun. Between DH and I we managed to vacuum all the walls and trinkets on the walls in the bedroom. This had been bothering me for a long time so I am very happy to have it done.

In the frugal department we have GOT to get more coordinated with food again. We are down to nothing and none of our old standbys sound good. I am going to place a delivery order so we can get out ahead of the dinner blahs. We went to the grocery store to get something for dinner. The only thing that saved our budget was that all the frozen food sounded gross to us. We had waffles instead.

4-4-11, 12:17am
Zach and I have challenged each other to be as frugal as possible this month, just to see how much we can save. We have food in abundance. Just sitting in my freezer right now I have frozen meals enough to last the entire week and several other people have told me that they are bringing over dinners. Tonight was chicken parmesan. All I can think of that I need from the store is maxi pads and band-aids. That's about $6 worth of stuff.

The shawl I have is going to work perfectly well for breastfeeding coverage, at least until summer. I think if I need something by then I'm just going to make it from a vintage sheet. I have a million of those on hand already.

I found a recipe for dish soap that makes a gallon of it from 2 cups of soap flakes, 1/2 a cup of lemon juice and a gallon of water. When I run out of dish soap I'm going to give it a try.

Cheyenne's birthday party is going to happen this month and the plans have changed to become cheaper. She's so into the rollerblading thanks to a full month of time to practice that she wants to just do that part of the party and invite more people to it. That part was $5 a kid, the laser tag part was $10 a kid. This is much, much cheaper without the laser tag. She's requested cupcakes with pink frosting decorated with little clouds of cotton candy. I could make those in my sleep.

I think I've reached that place of "enough" at the moment. It's lovely.

4-4-11, 1:15am
I'm quite pleased with how our budget has been going the first part of the year -- we are under budget in most categories, significantly so in several. Don't feel like we've been scrimping on anything, either. Hopefully this month we can keep up the momentum.

This could have been a spendy weekend, as the kids are out of school for five days straight, but so far we are doing pretty good. Took them to the dentist on Friday -- no cavities, and copays for all three of us to get our teeth cleaned were only about $32.50. Had lunch at home, then had free pizza for dinner at a work event. Saturday morning I splurged on treats at Starbucks for them for breakfast as a way of bribing them to go to a used book sale nearby. Unfortunately the kids section was insanely packed, and we all were too claustrophobic to stay long, so they didn't get anything. But I got a bag full of adult books, including the whole Twilight series and a set of Barbara Kingsolver's novels, plus a couple of mysteries and Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book. 13 books for about $21, and plenty of reading to keep me from buying too many books for my Kindle. The Kindle has turned out to be a great tool, too -- I've been finding lots of free books I am interested in, so even though I have a list of things I want to buy, I am easily limiting it to 1-2 books/month.

Yesterday we had lunch at home, then I had to take DS to a friend's. Did splurge on a taxi on the way there and an ice cream for his sister on the way home, and a few DVDs. But took the bus part of the way home and took the bus again to pick him up and come back.

Just finished lunch at home. So we're most of the way through the weekend without eating out for lunches/dinners.

The tail end of this week is going to be a challenge. Our helper is accompanying the other lady she works for on a business trip Wed-Sun, which means we'll need to figure out dinner. I may have to forego workouts several days so that I can prepare something when I get home. But even if we end up ordering in a couple of nights, we have saved on eating out this weekend so should be well within our budget.


4-4-11, 11:46am
I completed the seasonal clothing switch this morning. Shorts and summer shirts out of the old steamer trunk, sweaters and long johns into it. This is frugal because it allows me to see all of our summer clothes before I actually want to wear them, and I can say that none of us need anything at all for summer. I also went through the bin of clothing purchased on clearance for DD in larger sizes, pulled out items for this summer, and noted that I already have everything she will need for the next school year.

Stella, could you let me know the name of the rollerblading place?

4-4-11, 12:07pm
Great score on the books Lhamo!

Travis has been exclusively on breastmilk for over 24 hours now, so nursing is going well!

I've had a very nice, simple morning. I got up before the troops and made cheese omelets and English muffins. I also took a canteloupe my dad had bought and made melon balls to make it easier for the kids to eat it. I had the coffee set up last night, so I had a nice hot cup of coffee while I had my morning prayer and meditation time. Zach and I ate a nice quiet breakfast together and the kids ate later when they woke up. The omelets were a hit.

Tonight's dinner is stuffed shells I made before I had the baby and a salad mix the neighbor brought over.

The boys are napping now and the girls are playing together so I'm going to take a nap. There is so much loveliness about today. It's defintely one of those "the best things in life are free" moments.

4-4-11, 12:08pm
Rosemary, the place she is going to is Saints North in Maplewood. On Saturday mornings they have kids skate time for $5.

4-4-11, 2:49pm
@fidgie--we are in the midst of a huge home remodel. We don't have a kitchen right now, so we have to cold food that is easy to prepare or food that can be easily cooked in the microwave (I miss my stove!).
@rosa--I know what you mean! Some foods do not freeze well, and even those that do don't always taste as good as they do fresh. I find that wrapping my food really well helps to cut down on freezer burn or that weird "freezer taste." I also date things and make a freezer inventory list so I know what is in there and what needs to be eaten up first. I usually make a meal plan ahead of time (asking for DHs input on what he feels like eating), which gives me lots of time to thaw stuff (I usually don't have much luck thawing in the microwave). It isn't too often that I thaw something and then don't feel like eating it, but if I do, I allow myself only a one-day reprieve and make something quick like eggs and toast or something. Then the next day I force myself to cook and eat whatever I thawed so it doesn't go bad.

Not too much to report. I am wanting to spruce my patio up for spring. Fell in love with some stuff from Pottery Barn but am not loving the price ($49 for a pillow? really?). So I think I will try to use PB as inspiration only and try to use some things I have around here. I might recover some old pillows with fabric I have laying around and make some lanterns out of tin cans and/or glass jars. I am going to take inventory of my flower pots, too, and brainstorm some ways to paint them or pretty them up.

4-4-11, 3:49pm
Mira, when you have a spare $5 or $10 - or more - simply donate it to your local library fund or foundation. Then you can assuage your guilt AND get a tax deduction!
Hehe, good idea!

4-4-11, 6:32pm
Finally sold the coffee machine for $200.

Recieved a $38 refund from AT&T. They overcharged us on the final phone bill at the old house.

Recieved a $54 rebate in the mail for a product we use at work.

We've ate at home the last 4 nights in a row.

I bought gas at the station across the street after taking ds to school and realizing all the other local stations were 24 cents higher a gallon.

4-5-11, 5:52am
Stella, Glad to hear that you're home!
Kat, It sounds like you have a good system; thanks for sharing. I think groceries are the area we need to tackle next. We spend quite a bit for a two-person household and we waste a fair bit as well. I finally persuaded DH to try the bread crumb cookie recipe. Let's just say that they were "interesting." Definitely not a new family favorite!
BKE, Sounds like you've done well recently with significant savings related to your business, and it's nice that the cheap gas station is the one right near you.

4-5-11, 10:42am
I think tomorrow we are going to to on a field trip. Zach is off of school and the older kids need to have a little fun. I'm coming up with free ideas. I was thinking possibly the sculpture garden at the Walker art museum or the art park in Franconia might be fun since it's supposed to be pretty warm tomorrow. Also, possibly a nature center might be fun. We'll pack a picnic and be back in time to drop Bella off at school. She's going on a field trip to the more traditional art museum on Friday, so that's what got me thinking about the sculpture garden and art park. My sister owns an art gallery and runs an arts education non-profit. This kind of thing runs in their blood.

We pulled out the base 10 blocks I bought a couple of weeks ago. I think the math manipulative splurge is going to prove to be a frugal purchase after all. I could see the wheels turning in Cheyenne and Bella's heads and they were fascinated. They were experimenting on their own and having fun with the blocks for well over an hour. Zach posed them questions and they were eagerly answering them. I could see them making the mental connection between math and real life. This morning they asked if we can use them again today. I spent about $60 on the manipulatives and I think I'll get my moneys worth out of them with four children.

4-5-11, 11:28am
Stopped using toilet paper, using organic sheet cut into smallish squares instead. Did this last year for 3 months, until logistical life change intervened. It's fine, easy, and I bought no TP during that time. TP is expensive, plus use of paper not environmentally great.

4-5-11, 10:20pm
@Kat - aha!

@Stella - either would be fun. I wonder if Franconia will be muddy. Well, I suppose both could be muddy.

Here I made up a pot of beef barley soup to put in the slow cooker tomorrow. Too bad I didn't realize my stock was bad because our recent delivery could have included a new one at a good price. Oh well, I will have to go grab one tonight. The rest of the ingredients were all stuff that we needed to use up and we did! Yippee!

We passed on going out to dinner tonight as well, so that was at least $20 that stayed in my pocket.

Not much else, but that's pretty good for lately compared to how we were doing.

4-6-11, 12:15am
Apr 05/11
--no spend exceptfor finally getting the leak in the basement fixed deep breath $983.83 but that is the lowest ii could have turned out to be; so frugal in we priced around and got a really reputable company, it looks good and they left the place very clean. The wall they took out was in a bedroom cupboard so so can fix it when we are ready.
--as everything is out of the closet I am sorting and have put many books on Kijiji for sale
--leftovers from last night supper for tonight

4-6-11, 10:11am
We are starting what I hope is our final remodeling project for a very long time-the yard.

We drove 45 minutes to order supplies last night. We purchased over 300 paver stones at a different Home Depot store last night. ( I will not go back to the store that treated us so badly this winter.) I used a 10% coupon from Lowes which they were kind enough to honor and saved about $70 because they were already almost 10% cheaper than the Lowes down the street.

I have to fax some more information to the gentleman at Lowes who was helping us last night. We're putting up a 6 ft. high privacy fence around the area that is going to be our yard and he is going to help make sure we order everything we need and not too much of anything at the same time. Fencing at Lowes is $7 cheaper a section. I have another 10% off coupon that I will use there PLUS my credit card is offering 5% back on these types of purchase. I don't know exactly how much we will save there but the figure I had in my head last night was about $250.

We also saved money by talking to this guy by not buying extra boards to re-enforce (inforce?) the fence as had been recommended by a friend of ours. This guy could have increased his sale but instead was nice enough to talk us out of spending the extra money.

You know, I get alot of grief from people who know me for being cheap and using coupons and such but, I just feel smug, and frankly smarter than some of them when I pull something like this off and save a ton of money.

Dinner last night was at the mall. We all ended up having chinese food which is about the cheapest thing there. $22 for the 3 of us and ds and I brought home leftovers.

Today I am off work and relaxing. Free after rebate coffee and cereal for breakfast, some beautiful piano music on the stereo, and the only plan for this afternoon is a nap. Have a great day everyone.

4-6-11, 11:45am
Fidgiegirl I was thinking about the mud factor while we're out today to. I think we'll wear boots.

Excellent savings bke!

A friend from church brought over a casserole this morning. She also brought a picnic lunch for all of us, which is perfect because, of course, we are actually going on a picnic today. Score!

I've been saving all kinds of recyclables to use for an art project tomorrow. We're going to make sculptures out of them. All of this art stuff got me thinking and I think I'm going to call an old friend of mine who is a poured metal sculptor and see if we can attend sometime when they do a metal pour. That would be a cool experience for the kids and it wouldn't cost anything.

The crockpot pork I made for last night's sandwiches made enough for a second night. We'll have the rest tomorrow night in soft tacos. I also finally got around to cutting up a loaf of french bread that dried out. It's sitting in a pan waiting to be made into bread pudding for tomorrow morning's breakfast.

4-6-11, 10:53pm
We had so much fun today! The picnic and sculpture park were fantastic. It was a little muddy, but not as bad as I was afraid it would be. It was fun watching the kids interact with the art and be inspired by it.

We went home and Cheyenne began a series of sculptures she wants to do with an egg theme. She was so into it, very carefully choosing her materials and arranging them in a thoughtful way. She wants to use her sculptures as a sculpture park for her dollhouse.

Further frugal fun with art this week and next week will be painting the patio windows with a spring/Easter theme and doing a fun staged photo shoot with props and scenery.

I found a recipe tonight for a chocolate chip cupcake with chocolate cookie dough filling and cookie dough frosting. I believe I have successfully talked Zach out of running to the store to buy the ingredients. :) I am feeling good for being 6 days post partum, but it may be another week or two before I am once again spontaneously churning out baked goods. :P I will probably make them later this month for a neighborhood get-together.

I have been trying to spend a little time with each of the older kids since I got home. Cheyenne came with me yesterday to the store. This morning James woke up at 5AM and we spent an hour or so snuggling and then had breakfast together. This evening when Cheyenne went to faith formation I told Bella it was her turn for a Mommy Date. She wanted to play "American Train" with me. Otherwise known as Mexican Train. We had a great time and she even won. It was nice to be able to have special time with the kids that didn't involve spending money. Well, other than the grocery store, but that was money we would have spent anyway.

4-6-11, 11:23pm
Apr 06
-no spend, no gas..it felt really good
-cleaning out draws and decluttering as I go..that feels really good
-supper was previously made and in the freezer with enough leftover for lunch tomorrow

4-7-11, 12:09am
I had a stay-at-home day too, and made honey/vanilla/cinnamon yogurt. So good! And just mellowed out. It was very nice.

4-7-11, 9:33am
nice, redfox!

i'm having a stay-at-home day today -- i have a bunch of sewing to catch up on. and i want to tidy up the house because tomorrow night we are having a pizza party! we were doing these every month last year, but this is the first we've managed this year. homemade pizza with caramelized onions, ricotta cheese, mushroom sauce, pepperoni ... and some homemade plum ice cream. easy and not too expensive! and it will be great to see our friends. i've been so busy lately, i've kind of been ignoring social life.

my grandma's 88th birthday is next week, and i'm making her a purple silk shift. she will look really beautiful in it, and she can wear it to her red hat parties. we're going to have a dinner at my brother's restaurant for her, then my brother and i are taking her to the casino the next day to play the slots -- that was her request, and i think it will be pretty fun. and not too spendy :)

4-7-11, 9:56am
Happy birthday to your Grandma Madgey!

4-7-11, 10:40am
Like Madge I have been feeling like I've been neglecting my social life lately. I am thinking of putting out a call on facebook to have a "Coming Out of Hibernation" potluck at the picnic tables by the pond. It will give me a chance to make those cupcakes without having to eat them all. :) I'm hoping to start a monthly potluck picnic this summer. It would be a great way to socialize without much in the way of cost.

I think either today or tomorrow I'm going to teach Cheyenne to make omelets. I'm on an omelet kick lately and she wants to learn how to make them. She'd be heavily supervised, of course, but she's been doing well with stove safety so far. This is a long term frugal. Someday it's going to pay off to have a bunch of people in this house capable of making dinner.

We've been invited for Easter to Travis' Godfather's parents house. That is great. As much as I love cooking I don't really like holiday cooking and Little Tony (the Godfather...doesn't really call up an image of a Jesuit priest, does it?) comes from a big Italian family and his mom is a fantastic cook. Travis is being baptized at the Easter Vigil so it will double as a celebration of the baptism. Two less things I have to worry about, Easter and a Baptism party. Love it!

4-7-11, 4:23pm
April 07
--DH, Dd and grandson went to a afternoon movie using a gift card and bought no food--fun and free
--I went shopping and spent a lovely 2 1/2 hours all by my self (priceless right now), bought a beautiful apple green curtain for $1.00 that I am going to make into cushion covers for my living room. The room has the need for a nice bright splash of colour.
--bought DH socks, using a gift card total purchase $.31
--grilled sandwich and coffee at Second Cup (special of the day) $5.50 including tax, very relaxing and great value for the money

4-8-11, 2:21pm
Zach and I are going to start selling some of the stuff we're decluttering on craigslist. Dad has a whole storage locker he wants to get rid of filled mostly with my mom's old stuff. Mom has very good taste, so the stuff is pretty nice. We're thinking of selling it and splitting the profit with my dad. Dad really, really doesn't want to deal with the storage locker, but he wants to get rid of it. I don't want to deal with it for nothing after four years of decluttering all the stuff mom left at the house. I think it's a good solution.

I taught the girls how to make omelets and quesadillas today. They were so proud of themselves! It's going to be so nice to have kids who can cook.

The other day for a snack I made a pot of ginger pear iced tea. When the pot was empty I filled it again with hot water and left it in the fridge overnight. It made a really nice ginger pear iced tea. The box of tea was $3 and if each pot makes two pots of tea, one hot, one iced, that's 16 pots of tea. That makes each pot of tea about $.18, or about $.03 a cup. That makes for a nice, inexpensive afternoon treat. Another afternoon treat I've been enjoying is vanilla iced coffee. I just take the coffee no one drank in the morning, put it on ice and add a spoonful of my homemade vanilla sugar and some milk. Yummy! Easy! Cheap! It doesn't get much better than that.

I put out the facebook call for the Spring potluck and there has been some interest. Zach is talking about starting a walking group for the neighborhood. I think it's going to be a nice, simple, frugal summer.

I can't remember if I said this one yet, but I am all set for Easter baskets and I haven't spent a penny. My dad bought the kids some special handmade chocolate Easter eggs from a monastery he supports and when my mom was here she bought them a package of bubble gum eggs, a big bag of Easter M&Ms and a package of peeps to share. I think that's enough candy. I have saved the girls' Easter baskets and they are making an Easter basket for James from recyclables. We'll attend the free egg hunt at church and probably donate a batch of homemade cupcakes to the cause. If they aren't on the same day we'll probably attend the neighborhood egg hunt too.

I haven't spent money since Monday. Four no spend days in a row!

4-8-11, 3:29pm
It's been a really frugal week. I think I spent about $10, all told.

I'm making a list of things to do when my mom visits in a few weeks. She likes shopping, but I don't, and I don't want to spend unnecessarily, so I want to have alternatives at hand that she will enjoy.

I learned today that DD needs to get glasses. Unplanned expense. We'll get one pair locally so that she has them as soon as possible, but I will order a spare pair online to have in case the others become damaged or scratched.

I've been making a list of gifts needed this year so I can plan ahead and make at least a subset of them. I'm going to start some herb seeds with DD - we'll give her teachers an herb garden in a pot at the end of the school year.

Planning ahead for next week's food - DD wanted some turkey sandwiches in her lunch. I had chicken in the freezer, so I'm poaching it and will slice it for sandwiches, and use the poaching water as a soup base. Also planning the menu, as much from the freezer and pantry as possible.

4-8-11, 6:38pm
Quiet time alone is definitely a gift, and a frugal one at that. And shopping for free (or nearly free) with gift cards is the best!
It sounds like your kids are being given such a great roadmap for becoming thoughtful, creative people. I wonder if they will make it through their teens without succumbing to the materialistic pressures of our society - I hope so. (And I wonder if we'll all still be chatting here then?) Maybe they will help set the standards for a new and better "cool" in their peer groups. That would be wonderful.
That's an interesting challenge that I can relate to. My sister and some of our friends practically live for recreational shopping. I think I've done a really good job getting away from that, and I don't miss it at all. But I do like to shop on occasion; I am definitely susceptible, especially in a cute high-end boutique environment. So coming up with frugal alternatives, in order to socialize with these people that I love without blowing away our more fragile budget (now that we're living on one income), is something I need to do.
Potluck pizza parties are definitely the way to go! We've done this a couple of times now, and it's been so successful! It helps that DH is a great cook, of course. It would be a lot less appealing if yours truly was doing the cooking :(
On the frugal front at our place: I figured that I have saved us $13.64 YTD on stamps by paying our bills online. However, the $569. vet visit today pretty much wiped out those savings, along with many more years of stamp savings.
I also spent all afternoon working in the garden. Totally frugal fun that puts me in my own personal nirvana :)

4-9-11, 9:29am
i precooked, rice, millet and vegetable soup early in the week; so dh took more things into work then what he normally does
also did three errands using the bus and walking which saved dh from having to drive me; so that saved on gas as well; our bus system has a nice thing where if you are transfering in the same direction; you can transfer twice without having to repay!

4-9-11, 2:42pm
Travis is back in the hospital for jaundice. It's not a huge deal for the most part, but it's a wrench in the weekend for sure. On the plus side I got a full night's sleep, my milk supply seems to be doing quite well in spite of the challenges and Travis is going from bottle to breast without any confusion. He actually seems to like laying under the lights. He likes warmth.

In the meantime I'm trying to use this time wisely. We're trying to have a mix of fun stuff and chores today. The girls and I are going to paint a spring window display on the patio windows and build a pretend airplane out of a cardboard box. If they ever come in from outside, that is. :) I am going to make a lasagne I have in the freezer for dinner tonight. I was going to cook, but now I have a baby to visit in the hospital and that is infinitely more important to me. I am grateful to have easy options on hand.

I'm going to make a trip to Aldi today for a few groceries. I've spent $68 on food so far this month and I don't need much. I think I might make a quick batch of granola today.

I am hoping my money for the double stroller comes from my grandma this week because it's on sale at Target for $20 off.

Bella needs a new bike helmet. Her old one broke. I found one on craigslist for $2 and it comes with brand new elbow, knee and wrist pads too.

4-9-11, 5:45pm
Dad is taking us out for dinner tonight! That helps!

I decided that if I was going to make the effort of going to two grocery stores I was going to make it worth my time and stock up on staples. I used to really enjoy grocery shopping, and maybe I will again, but at the moment I really just want to avoid it as much as possible. I spent $170 and got a ton of great deals. Aldi had Hebrew National kosher hot dogs for $2.50 a package. That's about half what they are at Cub. I got 6 packages, since we can freeze them and use them for grilling this spring/summer. Most of what I got was pretty basic stuff. Baking supplies, salt, cooking oil, raisins, cheese...stuff like that. Stuff I know I'll really use. I'm going to take a tip from the food processor thread and use the food processor to grate the cheese.

James really needed some mom time today so I took him to the store with me. We shared a few graham crackers and sang some songs on the way there. It totally filled the need for a mommy date.

4-9-11, 5:51pm
Rosa, I hope your pet is OK! Taking an animal to a vet is kind of like taking a car in for repair to me. Same kind of "Oh no, what am I in for now" kind of anxiety. It seems like it adds up really fast.

It sounds like your kids are being given such a great roadmap for becoming thoughtful, creative people. I wonder if they will make it through their teens without succumbing to the materialistic pressures of our society - I hope so. (And I wonder if we'll all still be chatting here then?) Maybe they will help set the standards for a new and better "cool" in their peer groups. That would be wonderful.

I hope so too! The suburb I live in is actually not as materialistic as some other places. It benefits greatly from being on the border of an area that caters to a lot of artists and immigrants. Creativity and resourcefulness are valued a little more here than in other places I've lived.

4-9-11, 8:11pm
Woohoo! I just one a blue ray disc player on an on-line sweepstakes ARV: $181!

Today is a no driving/spending day.

I recieved my free postage stamps for the quadreaders program today.

4-9-11, 9:03pm
BKE: Congratulations! Nice score!

4-10-11, 12:38pm
congrats, bke! and it sounds like you are really up and at 'em, stella. i hope travis gets to come home soon!

our party friday night was a lot of fun! and i think we only spent about $100 throwing it, split between food and hooch. we were both a little lazy/tired yesterday so we ordered chinese for dinner, and we're getting dinner out of it tonight, too!

today i got up early and finished cleaning the house. now taking grandma to brunch, then i have some sewing to do. my business partner and i decided not to renew our lease at our studio space, because they are looking to charge us for more incidentals, in addition to raising our rent, so the entire increase amounts to 25% more than what we're paying now. ridiculous!

so we're going to move into my biz partner's 3rd floor of her house, which is just about as big as our studio space, and basically free -- the business will kick in a bit for utilities. as business ramps up and we need more room, we can start looking for another place. but for now, her spare bedroom is perfect -- free parking, fast internet, and close to where my fella works so we can continue sharing one car.

early morning
4-10-11, 3:57pm
The wind is blowing and I have laundry on the line. Bought some good bakery bread yesterday and 2 muffins, so I was well fortified and able to resist the siren call of the coffee house on my way home from errands. DB is in town and stopped in to see Mom, saving me 30 miles of driving and several hours of my time. We are spending some money (horror!) to get some work done on the house, and due to size irregularities the bath tub walls are going to be a problem. The guy doing the work called me to say he found one color -which we really like- of the material we dubbed "too expensive" is on sale this week, and will come in about half-price, putting it just a bit more costly than the not-as-nice alternative. Yay! I am happy we are doing these things, they need it. But I'm finding it hard to part with the money in these uncertain times. On the plus side, he said one problem DH has been freaking out about is not really necessary to fix, it's more cosmetic and will not cause the house to fall in! Which is good, because replacing a bearing wall is not cheap. (and I am resisting the urge to say "told ya so, told ya so :~))

4-10-11, 4:40pm
Our friend who does hospitality at church gave us leftover cookies again. I froze most of them. We'll use them this summer to make ice cream sandwiches.

I found two books that used to be my mom's when she was a preschool/Kindergarten teacher. They have all kinds of classic silly songs, clapping games (Miss Mary Mac and all that) and the chants we used to do when we did double dutch jump roping. I haven't thought about double dutch jump roping since the late 1980s. I used to be really good at that. I think it would be fun to teach the girls some of that stuff this summer. I'm going to break out my copy of The Daring Book for Girls and see if I can come up with some other fun, free ideas. I have images in my head of double dutch jump roping, homemade popsicles, bike riding until the sun goes down, lemonade by the pool, working on card tricks, water gun wars, building forts out of blankets and camping out on the deck and I am totally flashing back to about 1985.

Dad gave Zach and me each $100 to get an Easter outfit. Zach is hitting up a BOGO sale today.

Breast feeding still seems to be going well in spite of this weekend's setback with Travis in the hospital.

4-10-11, 6:51pm
dh pushed me in my wheelchair around our university and town; i love seeing all the alternative clothing options; and just the general atmosphere; both had left overs; and tonight will be simplicity; i have cooked up some rice and a sweetpotato for dh to take to work; oh and we worked on our curtains when finished will block that after noon sun that raises the heat index in the condo; as always just love this thread; makes me feel good to share the frugal things; oh and went to the library for movies; music and books on tape!

4-10-11, 9:48pm
well, on a lark i emailed a friend who works at one of the fanciest funkiest restaurants in pittsburgh and asked if they were looking for any part-time help. i think it would be great to work a few nights a week just to bring in a little cash while ramping up wear the shift.

as it turns out, they are looking for a hostess for weekend nights and one weekday shift, which would be about perfect for me! i've worked a few shifts with this friend before, at my brother's restaurant, and i did a good job those nights so i know she will vouch for me.

i hope it works out! i think it would be fun to work at this restaurant -- the food is crazy and amazing and it's always busy. and i will feel so much better having just a bit of cash coming in. i need to slow the bleeding on my ever-dwindling savings and this may just be the way to do it!

4-10-11, 11:15pm
Been cleaning and organizing and generally trying to spruce up the house without spending a ton of money. Today it was hot--82 degrees--but managed to get by with open windows and running the ceiling fan for a bit. I ate a popsicle and took my shower a little cooler than usual, and that helped, too. :-)

4-10-11, 11:32pm
Stella, I don't know how you do it all.

Made delicious food from scratch all weekend. We are starting to see the real connection between a wholesome, unprocessed plant based diet and how we feel. This seems especially true as we age. For some reason processed carbs, sugars and alcohol are like poison to me these days.

Worked on the yard and started getting the gardens ready. I found someone who has a lot of perennials that are different than mine so we are going to do some swapping. Tomatoes are started and doing well so far.

4-11-11, 6:08am
Someone in our development was moving, so I got a nice set of dinner plates, some glasses, and a really solid stainless steel wok from them for about $60 -- the wok alone would have cost more than that. The plates and glasses were unused, the wok only used a couple of times. I'm also going to pick up a large plant for the bedroom from them -- paying about what the pot would cost. I also saved a trip to/from the store, as I was planning to buy plates and a new wok anyway.

I love getting second-hand stuff -- know they are happy to sell it, and I am happy to pay lower prices and make sure stuff doesn't get tossed.


4-11-11, 9:23am
Madgeylou-congrats on the part-time job. I hope its fun for you.

Yesterday was a gloriously warm day. 80 degrees and a breeze that reminded me of being on the beach. Bliss. I always get the urge to climb on a black roof and sun bathe naked the first truely warm day of spring. I settled for hanging out (clothed) on the picnic table and chatting with my guys while they worked on our new patio. Its gonna be great. Its in a very private corner of the yard.

I did walk to the store after work yesterday and purchase a Sunday paper. The owner is a friend of mine and he saves one for me each week. That was my only spending for the day.

Today is going to be spent by the phone waiting to hear from my mom. She is being tested for ovarian cancer-today is the third test. She is quite sure that she has it and being a retired ICU nurse, she knows more than most of us. Please, cross your fingers, say a prayer, etc. I'm really worried about this and so is she.

4-11-11, 11:29am
Praying for your mom bke!

Kat, 82 degrees! And I thought we were having springy weather!

Madgey the studio solution sounds perfect! And best of luck on the job. That sounds like a good solution. You'd be good at that, you are so outgoing and fun.

flowerseverywhere, I feel the same way about food. I'm really starting to make a concrete mental connection between what I eat and how I feel.

Lhamo, that wok sounds great! That's one tool I don't have that I keep going back and forth about getting. I love stir fry, but I have kind of a small kitchen. Maybe after my major decluttering I'll find space somewhere.

babr, your outing sounds like fun! I like just getting out of the house and seeing people and places too.

early morning, I'm glad you were able to get the nicer material. I felt the same way about parting with money during our basement remodel. It had to be done, but it made me a little nervous. Well worth it in the end, though.

4-11-11, 12:03pm
So, today's frugals. Dad is on an app kick for the iPad. He's been looking up all kinds of educational apps and downloading them. This morning we virtually disected a frog. That was pretty cool. Cheyenne was a little freaked out at first, but eventually got into it. She absolutely loves anatomy but hates dead things. Bella and James were just fascinated. They guided you step by step through the disection and once the frog was opened you could touch an organ and it would pop up a screen telling you what it did. You could even rotate the organ in 3D so you could see it from all angles.

Then we looked at an app that had a 3D model of a cell, cross sectioned and rotatable. When you clicked on the different parts of the cell it showed a photograph of the part of the cell and explained what it did. That app was free. The kids thought that was pretty interesting too.

He also downloaded a free app about different great artists. It had a biography of each one and a gallery of their work. A few of the paintings are at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, so we'll see those when we take a trip there in the next few weeks. We talked about still lifes, portraits and landscapes and they quizzed themselves by paging through the galleries and picking out which type of painting each one was. This week they'll paint one of each. For our Homeschool Art Month we're trying to touch on modern, classic and ancient art as well as sculpture, photography, painting and drawing. We're also going to do a section just on sacred art which will include a trip to the Cathedral. I've decided that the kids seem do better when we focus intensively on one subject (outside of reading, writing and math, which we do daily) than when it's all split up.

He also got an app that pinpoints your location using GPS and shows you what the night sky looks like, where the constellations are, where the planets are, where SkyLab is and stuff like that, so you can recognize the stars and constellations when you stargaze at the actual sky. Very cool. We'll use that next month during Science Month.

I think I'm going to have some kitchen prep time today. I'll shred some cheese and some cabbage and make granola.

4-11-11, 12:14pm
My third batch of yogurt is perfect! Sweet and tart balanced, and so good... I used organic whole milk, dark maple syrup, and more starter plain yogurt than usual, which gave it more kick. I love coming downstairs in the morning to warm, fresh yogurt. What a frugal luxury.

4-11-11, 1:09pm
@ Ihamo--Score on all the great stuff!
@ bke--praying for your mom--and you!
@ stella--I love the virtual frog dissection thing! I, too, was always fascinated by anatomy and physiology but hated the thought of killing something.

This morning I did some wash in cold water with half a dryer sheet. I keep meaning to try the dry-towel-in-the-dryer-to cut-down-the-time trick, but I forgot again today. I have to run to the bank this morning, so I will send some mail while I am out (there is a mailbox right next to the bank). I am going to talk to my employer about direct deposit, though, so I can stop using gas for all these bank runs.

I think tonight I may make some tuna salad sandwiches. I still can't cook but want to make something a little different. I have everything I need, so it won't cost anything.

I thought about running to the store to stock up on store specials, but I decided to wait until the kicthen is done. It is hard to prep stuff for the freezer without a kitchen. There will be good deals later, too.

4-11-11, 1:11pm
Yesterday we spent the day with good friends who most definitely have more access to spending money than we do. We had a lovely lunch...they made a terrific salad with shrimp & sausage and we brought a loaf of DH's artisan bread and a lemon sponge cake that I made (looked like something out of Martha Stewart!). These people travel whenever and wherever they want and eat out a lot and even buy delicious deli & gourmet prepared foods. They mentioned that a room at a place they go to is $150 a night and they think that's a great value and we said our good price is about $50. We came home and talked. We felt very validated and happy with our lives and lifestyle and not envious about theirs...they actually told us several times how impressed they were with our lifestyle! Someday we will travel with them and we have an honest friendship that I believe will help us to travel well together and keep within our spending limits. Guess I just really wanted to share how we've seen how the wealthier half lives but we're happy with our own life and can still be friends and enjoy each other's company.

4-11-11, 2:11pm
Stella, that dissection app sounds great! I wish they would have had one of those for my college anatomy class-I hated working with cadavers!

Redfox-you're yogurt sounds so wonderful!

Kat, you reminded me of an on going frugal-I too have been doing all our laundry in cold water since the move. We have better water here and things come clean much easier.

I have to run to the bank but have no plans for any spending today. Then its dinner at home and wait for my mom to call.

I was making myself crazy surfing the web early looking at diseases and symptoms so I took a two hour nap just to chill out. Guess I needed it because I really slept quite soundly.

Ooh-the library just called with a book that is ready to pick up-free entertainment!

4-11-11, 4:55pm
Stella, I am sorry to hear that Travis is back in the hospital. I remember how hard that is. Deja had pneumonia at birth & jaundice so she was in the hospital for 10 days. And I didn't have any other kids to worry about. One good thing about it was the fact that she was able to switch back and forth from breast to bottle easily. Made it easier for me to get out now & then.

DH's dress pants for work have been falling apart lately. Saturday I was able to find him 2 pairs at Goodwill. I also found a nice new leather belt for him for $6.99. It is a little bit too small but if he looses the weight he put back on over the winter it should work.

4-11-11, 6:19pm
I spoke to my mom and she is ok for now. The tests don't show any unusual masses or fluid at this time. They haven't determined an exact cause for the bleeding but think that it is due to old scar tissue from the earlier hysterectomy. When she gets home she needs to follow up with a gynecologist for further tests.

Sorry I freaked-this is the fourth time in the past several years that I have gone through a life threatening situation with my parents. You'd think I would learn to relax but instead it seems worse each time.

4-11-11, 7:22pm
bke, that's great news. You must be extremely relieved!

My frugal for today is starting some herb seeds with DD that we will later transplant into herb gardens for her teachers, as end-of-school-year gifts. I think I can even find pots around the house and garage to clean and reuse, so these will be entirely free gifts, since I already had the seeds.

4-11-11, 8:50pm
My frugal for today is starting some herb seeds with DD that we will later transplant into herb gardens for her teachers, as end-of-school-year gifts. I think I can even find pots around the house and garage to clean and reuse, so these will be entirely free gifts, since I already had the seeds.

what a great idea. I am going to mention this to my neighbor. I have some herb seeds and I can help her kids plant them for the same reason. She has four kids so all these little things I help her with she appreciates.

Got a great book out of the library that would be excellent for you homeschoolers or those who want to promote art with your kids

"Drawing with Children" by Mona Brooks. I work with special needs kids and many of them like to draw. I got them journals and we all draw and share with each other. Several very quiet kids have opened up through drawing. And I don't have any education background, just some common sense and kind interest in the kids.

4-11-11, 8:56pm
Cooked a whole chicken last night - AND, cooked the "remains" with some carrots/celery/onions for chicken stock. My wife said Martha Stewart would be so proud! :-)

early morning
4-11-11, 11:34pm
bke- what a relief for your family! Stella, how's Travis doing?? Semi-frugal today- took one of the barn cats to the vet- not the one we usually visit. Shots for upper respiratory infection and office visit was about a third less than our reg vet, plus we weren't hassled to get all shots, blood tests, etc like we would have been there. We'll have him neutered at a feral/stray clinic this spring (half the price of the vet). We want him to be healthy and happy but platinum care isn't possible at this time.

4-12-11, 7:42am
Good job, Greg! I always boil my chicken bones after I make chicken on the weekend for stock, and use that in other dishes during the week. One of my favorite frugal tricks.

I sold a large unopened package of Eucerin yesterday that I had lugged over from Costco -- got about $15 for it, which is probably about what I paid for it. We weren't going to use it so at least it wasn't wasted.


4-12-11, 8:32am
DH is going in for a six month scan to see if the tumor in his neck has grown. We'll bring our own lunch and water and spring for a coffee at the hospital....

4-12-11, 8:42am
bke, so glad to hear your good news. hang in there, mom!

merksi, best of luck to you and your DH. fingers crossed that his treatment is having the desired effect.

so i went to fill out an application at the restaurant yesterday and they hired me on the spot! i start tomorrow and will be working wednesday, friday, and saturday nights. i am working though the transportation issues with my fella (since we share a car). at some point, i will probably buy a car of my own (a beater, nothing fancy), but i'm trying to delay that as long as possible. if we are each willing to ride the bus one day a week (and we are), we should be able to manage with one car at least through the summer.

looks like i will make enough from this job to just about cover my share of the monthly expenses in the household. my insurance and a few other small bills will continue to come out of my savings. this slows down my burn rate to just a few hundred bucks a month instead of a few thousand, and lets me be a little less desperate about making sales! it takes time to connect with your market, and now i can take the time to do our marketing right without getting freaked out. yay!

4-12-11, 4:07pm
bke that is great!

merski, I'm keeping your DH in my prayers!

Thanks for the concern about Travis. He's home now and doing well. He's such a sweet baby!

My uncle is dying. He's not expected to make it to the weekend. If possible I want to go to the funeral, but there's no way we can afford a hotel. They live about 4 hours away, so we may try going early in the morning and coming home once the kids are asleep. I am kind of down about this today. My uncle is only about 50 years old. It's too soon.

The girls are going to help me make soup tonight. A friend of Dad's and mine is coming to watch the kiddos so Zach and I can go to a church event. We want to make her a nice dinner as a thank-you. We're making a Greek chicken, lemon and rice soup.

We made our cardboard box airplane today and last night we completed our Easter window display. The kids have been having a lot of fun with that. We'll probably do the photo shoot tomorrow.

I just ran across a recipe for a homemade version of the samoa girl scout cookies. I am attempting to fight off the urge to make them. Those are my all time favourites.

4-12-11, 7:18pm
aw, i'm sorry to hear about your uncle, stella. 50 is *way* too young.

i say make the samoas if you want them! they are my favorites too. :)

4-12-11, 7:56pm
Hi all!

Back from DC and catching up. It wasn't a particularly frugal trip but not extravagant, either. I am satisfied with what I spent and valued the entire experience. I had some little savings like passing on a t-shirt since I wasn't so jazzed about any of them, but I still got myself a little tote bag.

So much going on in just a few short days. Glad to hear bke's mom and baby Travis are ok, but too bad to hear about your uncle, Stella.

Here for a frugal I'd like to get into making cookies instead of buying them. The good thing is, we don't go through a lot of them, but still, we are paying like $4 a dozen for nice bakery cookies and I could make equally nice ones.

I keep being tempted to buy new running clothes, but there is really no reason. I have some shirts and some shorts. Who cares if they are just getting all stinky and sweaty? I don't have to look hot while working out. :laff:

Well in keeping with my pre-vacation goal to actually get some things done in the evening (no offense, dearies) I should get off SLN and onto some other things :) See you tomorrow!

4-13-11, 9:43am
Stella- so sorry to hear about your uncle. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Merski-I hope the scan results in good news.

Thanks everyone for your supportive words about my mom. It really sucks watching your parents age and their health deteriorate.

Well, dh spent about $1200 yesterday and I consider that our big frugal-lol. He ordered the fencing I've been talking about here. With the help of a new friend and the guys at Lowe's dh decided what was really necessary to do the job and purchased a bit less than originally expected. He used my 10% off coupon and is getting delivery for free! We'll save an additional 5% on our credit card and of course, I will pay that off in full when it arrives.

We spent the evening working in the yard. Dh fininshed the patio-YEAH! It looks good too without any "professional" help at all. I trimmed the lilac bush and ds and I hauled a bunch of excess dirt to low level areas of the yard and smoothed it out in an attempt to fix things up a bit. My son is going through this stage where he doesn't want to do anything but sit and watch the tube which makes me nuts. We really had to push him to get him to help but I refuse to raise a kid that expects everything in life to be done for him. So, mean mother that I am I made him shovel and rake and learn how to handle a wheelborrow full of heavy dirt!

These days, I'm so thankful that my parents were equally abusive when I was a kid-can't imagine having to hire someone to do every project that comes along.

4-13-11, 3:21pm
I had received 3 quotes from contractors for a job at our house. The one that I wanted to hire was the highest... so I called them, explained the situation, and they came back to reassess - and dropped their price!

Taking DD to the ophthalmologist today. In the event that she needs glasses, I've already called around to compare costs and turnaround time. (In future, we'll order online.. but it is helpful to have a frame that you know fits, for comparing dimensions, and also the turn time is about 3 weeks for glasses online - too long when she's in school every day, needing to read all kinds of things.) For the record, JC Penney Optical currently has 2 pairs/$88.

4-13-11, 4:12pm
bke--so happy your mome received good news! It is hard watching your parents age. And good on you for makin' your kid do some work. It's good for him; he'll thank you later! :-)
merski--will be praying for favorable results of those scans.
stella--so glad Baby T is home now. I am very sorry to hear about your uncle, though. Praying for you and your whole family.

I actually slipped on the stairs on Monday. The baby is okay (thank God!), but I am pretty bruised up on the one side. This translates into frugality since I am too sore to leave the house and spend money LOL

My sister agreed to make the crib bedding for the baby's room since I haven't been able to find anything I like in stores (and it is all crazy expensive anyway). This will be much cheaper; I will pay her back for the materials and get something that I really like. She is going to use a 50% coupon she has to buy the most expensive thing needed for the project, too, because she's awesome like that.

4-13-11, 5:11pm
Just came back from DH's mri scans. The tumor hasn't grown so the unofficial word is that we come back in a year. Thank you all for your community of kind words, thoughts and prayers.

4-13-11, 6:05pm
Merski, that is GREAT news! Woo hoo! :-)

4-13-11, 11:18pm
Great to hear, Merski.

Kat, glad the fall wasn't worse. Scary.

4-14-11, 12:33pm
Oh my Kat, so glad to hear that you and the baby are ok. Oh, and one word of frugal advice-you won't need nearly as many things as people will try to tell you to buy for the baby-go with your gut and buy what you want. Oh, and keep reciepts! I returned lots of gifts in exchange for things I needed instead of wasting them. Oh, I really need to stop saying oh!

Merski-that is great news.

Rosemary great job on the estimates. I wouldn't have thought to call the high bidder and ask him to reduce the price for me. Excellent move!

4-14-11, 1:46pm
Thanks, fidgie and bke. Yeah, the fall was more scary than anything else. But she seems to be fine--she's been kicking me all day! haha

That is good advice, bke. I am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff people say you need for a baby. I haven't bought much of anything yet save crib furniture, a basket, and a clock for the nursery. But going by the registry list, I'm thinking there is no way one little baby needs all that!

My big frugal today is staying home. I thought about going to the grocery store, but I don't feel like it. We can get by another day or two with what is on hand. I actually was offered the opportunity to take over a class for another instructor, and I took it. It's only for this week, and I will get paid well. My paycheck is going straight into one of our savings funds--medical, maternity leave, or padding the emergency. I'm really happy for the opportunity to help my employer out and earn a little extra.

4-14-11, 4:44pm
Last night DH and I went out to dinner, which almost never happens, on a $20 gift certificate to a fairly cheap Mexican restaurant. We got that for listening to a demo for a water purifier. So once there, we looked at the menu and figured out what we could get and still have the tax and tip come out of the $20. It worked perfectly and we felt good about it.

Tomorrow is my one grocery shop day for the week--only Fridays. Today I'm making the most realistic list I can, this being only my 3rd week of shopping (for anything) only on Fridays. Also, this week I can go to an extra cheap food store because it's the day I go pay my mortgage so it's the one day I go to the far side of town due to gas prices.

4-14-11, 6:57pm
Kat I'm so glad you and the baby are OK! That is scary. The kicking must be nice and reassuring. You are so right that you don't need all that stuff. I've bought less and less with each kid. T has a basket for sleeping in, a moby wrap, clothes, blankets, diapers and wipes, baby wash and baby lotion. To be honest, I mostly use the baby lotion for my hands, which get dry because of all of the hand washing. He also has a bouncy seat I got from a thrift shop for James and swing I got for free, but he hasn't used them yet. I don't even have a diaper bag anymore. When he is older he'll get the high chair and jumpy seat. Those have been useful in the past.

Madgey, speaking of babies how is your niece doing?

Merski, that is fantastic news! I am so happy for you!

My uncle hasn't passed yet and it's looking more and more like we won't be able to make it to the funeral. I've been chatting with my cousins on facebook. They've been posting pics of Uncle Steve from back in the day. Priceless! That is so how I remember him. I was laughing at the picture of my youngest cousin sitting on her Daddy's lap remembering how mad she used to get for calling her Daddy "Uncle Steve". My dad (also named Steve) was Uncle Steve! Her dad was Daddy. I wish like crazy I could be there for my aunt and cousins, but on the positive side it will be nice to remember him like that instead of what he looks like after seven kinds of cancer took their toll on him. I told my cousins that we really want to get out there to see them this summer. Dad is going this weekend. His sister needs him.

If I can swing it I might make a loaf of banana bread and a quiche when I make Cheyenne's cupcakes tomorrow and send it with Dad. They could freeze it if they wanted and have it some night when they don't want to cook.

Along the same lines I was thinking of sending a care package with some cookies and tea to my cousin in Missouri. She's been really stressed out lately since her DH lost his job and, again, since I can't be there in person to have a cup of tea and a nice talk I can do the next best thing.

Cheyenne and I went on a spontaneous field trip to a nature center this afternoon and went walking on the boardwalk through the marsh. I love that there are so many free things to do nearby. I can't wait for picnic weather!

The frog app continues to be a favourite. In addition to disecting the frog it show 3D models of several species of frogs and videos of frog behaviours. Their Ranger Rick magazine had a big article on frogs too, so they are really on a frog kick.

Zach forgot to take out the beef for the stir fry this evening. That kind of beef doesn't thaw well in the microwave so we're going to make something with ground beef instead. Maybe chili or sloppy joes.

4-14-11, 8:49pm
@Stella--I still have the baby basics list you sent me. I think that was almost a year and a half ago already! :-) You told me then that people would crawl out of the woodwork to buy babies clothes, and you were so right. I am sorry for those in your family that are having a hard time right now. Sending some food/care packages is a very thoughtful gesture.

Today I sent my sister some recipes. She says she feel lost in in the kitchen, so I tried to send her some recipes that were cheap and easy. It didn't cost anything, and I think she will like it.

DH and I went out to eat tonight at a cheapy diner. I took half home for lunch tomorrow as per usual.

4-14-11, 9:04pm
OMG you guys, I have got to get back on the bandwagon. We are spending way too much on food and it's because we're disorganized about it. I wasn't sure if I had chicken stock in the freezer so I bought some. Turned out I had a lot. Boo.

Got some cheap cards at Half Price Books to replenish my stash. Also got a lot of cute board books for a mini baby shower for this weekend. So that was good!

Mighty Frugal
4-14-11, 11:30pm
Merski-fantastic news!
Kat-glad everything is ok
Stella-maybe after you send the biscuits and tea to your cousin you can skype with her so you can share a mug of tea and biscuits while kinda/sorta really chatting-next best thing to being there!

On my frugal front....hmmm...stocking up on the loss leaders at the grocery store-this week its 500 gram cheese-we freeze it oh and chicken breast-half price

what else...hmmm..Filled my tank before gas went up even more...tomorrow it will be 1.32/litre..hang on and I will convert.. about $5.28 a gallon-gulp.

Putting our tax savings into savings account or buying windows...both are boring but sensible. Maybe we'll use a bit for nonsensical. Seems only fair

4-15-11, 7:06am
We picked up a large plant from the people I got the kitchen stuff from last night, along with a set of glasses I had already paid for. Gave them about $15 for the plant, which was probably not a lot cheaper than we could have gotten it for at the flower market, but it was easy to pick up and we didnt have to pay taxi/delivery fees. I'm not sure what it is exactly -- really huge leaves, kind of viney type that winds up and around a large central post. I'll have to see if I can find pictures. It is supposed to be good a purifying the air. We've put it in the master bedroom where it fits nicely in a corner near the bed.

We are doing pretty good budget-wise this month. Even with several house-related purchases we are still under budget on those categories, and pretty much everything else except childcare and kids school lunches. But those even out over the year when the kids aren't in school and as our helper's bonus month of pay gets spread across the average of the months. I'm over budget on pets, because we paid for the cat's vaccinations in January/February, but that will also level out over time. Everything else seems pretty much on track, which I'm quite pleased about.


4-15-11, 12:57pm
I am back on my green smoothie kick. Usually I use at least one kind of berry in my smoothies to mask the green colour for the kids. They don't always finish it if it looks green. Today, though, I wanted a mango pineapple smoothie so I named it The Lucky Leprechaun and they drank it all up. Oh the power of marketing! I find that we eat less when we start the day with a green smoothie. I don't know why.

It has been a crazy morning around here. My best friend's uncle was missing since last night, but has now been found alive. No further details yet, but it sounds like he may be injured. He lives in another state, so my friend is spinning her wheels feeling like there's nothing she can do. I invited her over if she needs someone to talk to. We're having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch, so it's the kind of thing I can always make more of and it's cheap. It's a cold, windy, bleak kind of day. Perfect for grilled cheese and tomato soup IMO.

Things have quieted down now and we are planning a mostly quiet day. Right now the girls are taking turns reading books to Travis. He's asleep, but they don't care. It's a good way to pass a morning.

We're going to make the cupcakes for Cheyenne's birthday party this afternoon. I might go out and get my Easter dress, but I might not. I might just nap and read. It feels like a napping and reading kind of day. I am going to my friend's house tonight for Girls Night. We're actually going to go to church for a holy hour. I could use that. I'm feeling introspective today.

I'm still on a major decluttering spree. I started going through children's books last night. I'm going to take about half of them out and rotate them every few months. It adds to the novelty of our current collection, which is actually quite vast.

4-15-11, 8:47pm
Forgot one yesterday - used a gift bag out of our stash. We have it organized in a big tote by occasion so we are never without a bag. In fact this year I would like to get rid of some Xmas ones. When we use them in the family (the only people we ever exchange with) they all are given back to us.

Today, not so much . . . I finished off some soup I had in the fridge at school. But we went to the vet and also got takeout from dinner. Now I am off to the store to get some more elements for tomorrow's book club lunch.

4-15-11, 9:06pm
Salad for lunch at the cafeteria, $1.54, including some of the arugula special with dried cherries, asiago cheese, and mango vinaigrette - I cannot imagine a better spent $1.54! Definitely going to try to reproduce that one at home. On a good salad bar day, I figure I get an amazing ratio of tasty pleasure per dollar. I do so love salads when someone else is doing the chopping and prepping :) A really sexy salad is one where every bite is a world of delight. I guess I'm lucky to love at least one thing that isn't bad for me! I seriously ponder each bite - arugula olive and mango? Cherry and olive and asiago?
Merski, I cannot adequately express my delight :):):)

early morning
4-15-11, 10:06pm
Relocated an ancient bag of dry coconut in the back of the veggie drawer so we made a batch of oatmeal-coconut cookies. Put a slice of bread in the bag to attempt to rehydrate the coconut. Brought some left-overs home from Mom's last night for my lunch today, and of course took my water and coffee too. DD picked up groceries at Aldi - $62 for the next two weeks. We will have to pick up some additional things next week - milk, DH's current binge item (that changes off and on, currently it's instant pudding, yuck), maybe some fruit, but the bulk of our food comes from Aldi. Stopped at the library for more free entertainment, and some things for a lesson at work. Trying to drive to save gas - I'm not very good at that, but working on it!

4-15-11, 10:20pm
Thanks to you all. I am most humbly grateful for your help and our good news. Best birthday gift ever for me!

4-16-11, 5:58pm
We finally got around to having T's welcome home breakfast. It was good to fill up this morning because we had Cheyenne's birthday party at the roller rink today. Two hours of rollerblading/rollerskating makes a person hungry.

After the rollerskating we came home and had hot dogs and cupcakes. I made chocolate cupcakes with pink buttercream frosting, hot pink sugar and pink cotton candy clouds. They are so happy looking it's ridiculous. Cheyenne's best friend's dad and brother came over and took turns playing chess with Zach.

We let the girls stay up late camping in the living room and watching Goonies. They loved it and it totally took me back to my childhood. It's kind of fun showing them the movies we watched as kids. I'm planning a few weeks of 80s movie nights. Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Karate Kid and all that. My parents did that with us too. I think we saw every Hailey Mills movie ever made.

Now I'm going to nap. I think we'll have one more of the frozen casseroles for dinner. I'm wiped out. I forget that I am two weeks post-partum until after I've done crazy things like rollerblade for two hours and make (and clean up) a full pancake breakfast and homemade cupcakes. Such a fun weekend already, though and it wasn't very expensive.

4-16-11, 6:39pm
Stella, Glad you all had fun - you deserve a nap!
Our latest frugal challenge involves bird food. As I've mentioned before, we are willing to spend fairly substantial money on feeding the birds, and we've recently been buying an even more expensive mix that the nuthatches and woodpeckers love. (Yes, we'll cut back on food expenditures for ourselves so we can make the nuthatches happy, go figure, I never said we were normal :)). The squirrels have been sucking down this $9.00 for 5 lb fruit and nut mix, and we realized that the squirrels are eating more of this stuff than the birds are. Today we took apart a suet feeder we don't use, and figured out a way to use the baffle over the fruit/nut feeder. It looks like we've thwarted the squirrel at least for the moment. He's been checking it out every which way (it's interesting to watch him problem solve, I can see the gears turning in his squirrel brain), and he still hasn't managed to gain access. I think we would only need to fill this feeder once a week instead of once a day if just the birds are feeding from it. So we'll see what happens; I know the squirrels are pretty clever and determined. Not only would we save on the bird food, but we didn't go out and buy a baffle, which was my first thought, and would have cost us at least $30.00. It's actually kind of fun to try to find solutions without just throwing money at a problem.

early morning
4-17-11, 10:57am
rosa, great job! My cousins are always experimenting with squirrel baffles - those little buggers are quite good at circumventing barriers! One of their feeders is on a pole, and they managed to put up a baffle so the beasties couldn't climb it. SO - they would get in the tree closest, and try to jump onto the feeder, but it was too far away - might have worked if they'd been flying squirrels! It was funny to watch, as they kept on trying to get to that food.
Unexpected free dinners... yesterday DH's brother and his wife arrived from CA on business/short visit, and they wanted us to gather friends and family for dinner last night at a place that had been a favorite of my FIL's. We were able to get the banquet room (free) at the last minute, the manager agreed to let us order ala carte and have separate checks, and it was a wonderful evening - at the end of which, DBIL picked up the tab for the entire meal!! The visit was on short notice, and while we had some extra funds and told our two children we would pick up their tab, it was going to be a stretch for many others. I thought it was really nice of them to cover the bill! Not really a frugal, but a money-saver, anyway. Other than that, I have laundry hanging, I've called for a refund for an overpayment, I'm setting up another bill to pay online. DH and I bought a new outside light fixture to replace the one broken in the wind last week, and the one we liked was only $6.00! I liked some others too, but they were all over $35 so this was great!

4-17-11, 2:40pm
Eeek! Non-frugal! I just put more $$ worth of gas than ever before in my vehicle. $45! For my little car, that's a lot. $4/gallon. I'm not one to be shocked at gas prices, usually. That's a whole policy thing but I think it would generally be better for the planet if we all had to pay more. At any rate, it must have been quite a while since I filled up because I was really surprised. And so what do I do now? Making an extra trip to the town where I work to meet up with my coworker to plan something - that we could plan after school! Oh well, we'll be doing it at a Starbucks - where I will spend money on a treat drink! I embrace the non-frugalness of this day. :laff:

4-17-11, 4:16pm
Well this may not seem "Frugal" - but I have for a long time coveted the Tommy Bahama "Tropical" shirts, they are very nice, silk and classic looking - AND $ 110.00 each - like I would ever spend that much on one shirt.

Yesterday, Macy's had them on sale, for $ 77.00 each, ah still no way in heck would spend $ 77.00 on a shirt. Then my dw called and said they had a 50% off the sale price! I asked her if they were all the barfy colors no one wanted and could I take them back? She decided I could look for my self! Long story short I bought 2! This may not seem like much - but I pride myself in not have many clothes - I have 7 button down casual shirts and it really is time I update my closet space! And yes two shirts will be leaving the space.

4-17-11, 4:22pm
Rosa and Early morning, I love your stories of thwarting squirrels. I think squirrels are fascinating to watch. We used to have one of those squirrel bungees. Hours of free entertainment!

Fidgiegirl, I totally agree. The gas prices are getting painful! I am so glad Zach only has a month left of school!

My uncle passed away last night. My dad came home late and I knew he'd sleep in a bit this morning. This is hard for him. To cheer him up I made brunch. Spinach and cheddar fritatta and blueberry turnovers. It seemed to help some.

I used up the rest of a jar of spaghetti sauce we opened on Friday for a spaghetti lunch today. I was really hungry after church.

4-17-11, 5:46pm
@Greg, score!!

@Stella, sorry to hear about your uncle.

I am going to make a meatloaf ahead to bake after work tomorrow. It will be an Italian style one to use up some canned tomatoes and sauce we have around. Here's the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Italian-Style-Meatloaf-I/Detail.aspx

We went out for lunch today so we'll be having those leftovers for dinner.

4-17-11, 6:51pm
Earlymorning: We've actually gotten great entertainment value watching the squirrels try & try. Who needs TV? There's been an occasional success, but the food is only down about an inch as opposed to the feeder being 3/4 empty a day later, so it's definitely much better. And DH felt BAD for the squirrels, so he put a bowl of food on the ground for them :) Your dinner gathering sounds like fun and it's nice that it didn't have to bust the budget.
Gregg, I love those shirts, definitely a nice score. I got DH some cool TH socks some years ago at Filenes Basement (local discount retail chain). It is so interesting to compare the differences in clothes shopping habits between men & women. DH worked at Brooks Brothers for 10 years, so he knows clothes and can appreciate quality. But he still only thinks he needs to buy clothes if what he is wearing crumbles to dust and leaves him standing there naked! We joke about how he can look like a homeless ragamuffin dressed in "vintage" BB from head to toe.
Stella, So sorry about your uncle. Is that your Dad's brother? I cannot even begin to imagine how much it would hurt to lose my sister.
Fidgie, Gas is getting scary! I hope my little Saturn runs forever. She is good on gas. Sixteen years old, but only 80K miles, so I'm hoping we still have some happy years together.
Washed 8 of the 28 windows in our little house today using vinegar instead of glass cleaner. Seems to work just as well for about 1/4 of the cost. I might try adding some rubbing alcohol as a drying agent.
Did some stock up type errands today. I am always suspect of spending money in the name of frugality, but we did get some good buys, and we don't do this very often. Used $10. Kohl's card and Cardsmart coupon to get 8 cards at list price of $23.38 for $7.51, net savings of $15.87. I drew up a list of b'days, etc. for the coming year (yes, list freak) before we went. K-Mart had specials on detergent, kitty litter and Aveeno hand cream, so stopped there and I figure we saved about $16.00 off our usual cost for these items. We've been making laundry detergent, but it isn't really good for whites or towels, so we still need some commercial detergent. But the $8.00 worth we bought today should last over a year at current rate of consumption. "Impulse purchases" were peat pots for starting seeds and concrete patch for leaking birdbath, so can't feel too guility about either of those.

4-17-11, 9:05pm
@Rosa, sounds like you had a productive day.

Here I made a list of dishes to make with food in the pantry. Better yet, I actually made two of them. One was a Mexican noodle soup that I loooooove with frozen tomatoes from last summer's bounty as well as noodles that had been sitting in the pantry and some canned, crushed tomatoes. The other is a meatloaf, with all the ingredients on hand, ready to go for tomorrow night. We will just come home and pop it in the oven. Then tomorrow, perhaps as the meatloaf is cooking, I will prepare a crockpot dish for Tuesday. Feels good to use up some of our stuff. We were able to skip grocery shopping this week except for milk and bananas.

4-18-11, 10:03am
Thanks for the condolences! Uncle Steve was my Dad's little sister's husband, but he's known him since he was a kid. Dad is also really worried about his little sister, who is getting all kinds of grief from Steve's union about death benefits. I'll admit that hits a raw nerve. I can't believe it's a coincidence that Steve died at age 50 of seven kinds of cancer after working 30 years in a chemical filled papermill.

Greg, that is a great score! I'm glad you got what you wanted!

Dad gave Zach and me $200 for easter clothes. Dad knows when he gives me money that I see it as a challenge to spend as little as possible. :) Anyway, Zach got some dress shirts, a belt and some ties for about $75-$80. That left me with about $120, but I knew I didn't want to spend all of that. The problem is that to be church-ready most dresses I could buy would need a shrug and I don't have a large selection of dress shoes, so that can add up fast. I really want to feel cute for Easter. It's been months of feeling like a big frumpy, pregnant mess. Anyway, I went to JC Penney yesterday and they had a 50% off sale on dresses. I got the perfect dress for $35. Best of all, it is white, blue and black, so I have a few white and black sweaters and shrugs that already go with it and I have a cute pair of black dress shoes that will be perfect with it, so there's no extra expense. I even have a pair of earrings I think will be super cute with it. So out of my $120, the $35 is the only expense.

Dad bought a cord that hooks the iPad up to the plasma TV. It's very cool to see the frig dissection, for example, on the bigger screen. We also downloaded the free National Park apps Kelli posted about.

This week is National Screen Free Week and we are participating. Well, for the most part. I'm still going to check in here and on facebook, but not as frequently throughout the day. We're not going to do TV at all and we probably won't use the iPad. I have a million fun ideas for screen free week. We're going to make hot cross buns, decorate Easter eggs, finally do our silly photo shoot, make a paper mache Easter egg diorama, visit the Cathedral. It will be fun.

4-18-11, 5:49pm
@ Stella. So sorry to hear about your uncle. :-( Your new dress sounds lovely. Don't you love it when you find something great that goes with stuff you already have?

@ greg--Awesome score on the shirts! If you own less, you can get away with buying nice quality things that you really do like. I'm sure they'll last forever. :-)

We stayed within our grocery budget this week, which is kind of hard to do when you have no kitchen. You can't prepare or cook food, so you can really only buy convenience type stuff. My dad gave me a $10 off $10 card for Kohls, and I am thinking I might use that and a gift card I have sitting around to get DH a new travle mug (his leaks) and maybe a small coffee pot. He works a lot of overtime starting at 5 am and needs coffee to get going. It would be a nice little gift I know he'd appreciate.

ETA: Oh, and my MIL sent me home with two kinds of salad today. Super nice of her, and they are delicious!

4-18-11, 7:06pm
This month has been tough. Had a tire go flat, digital camera died, had to buy an Epipen ($116!!), $35 bank fee for stopping a check that got lost in the mail, car tags due, etc. It's really started adding up. The digital camera and car tags are going to have to wait; I'll go on the first to get the tags. I hope they won't charge a fee for being one day late. I've got about $30 to make it to the end of the month. I hope nothing else goes wrong.

I'll be eating lots of beans, rice, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this month. I'm trying to get a garden started but not much luck. When the first gets here, I'm going to just go buy some plants instead of trying to start them from seed. It's more expensive and more labor intensive, but I'm determined I'm going to have at least some squash and tomatoes this year.

4-18-11, 8:35pm
Have been on a cook-a-thon, though the meatloaf is ticking me off. I'm hungry, dagnabbit! It always takes longer than the recipe says.

Also made brownies using an old dark chocolate bar we didn't want to eat, and made mashed potatoes. On a cookathon lately!!

4-18-11, 11:55pm
April 18
Stella so sorry to hear of you unlce; 50 is way too young and it is so hard not to believe in the damage from some workplaces.
Congradulations to the rest, on all the good finds and frugals.
For us there have been a few frugals in the last week and a few unfrugals.

I start the thread this month declaring it was going to be a good month for us and it has been in many ways.

We saw the Dr. at the Cancer Clinic last Thur. and the results of the CT scan DH had the week before were good.
There are no new growths and there are a few less in the lungs and the original three tumours show a slight improvement. It was such a relief to hear some good news, after eight months of bad news it was hard to even get our hopes up.....
She is leaving him on the same amount of the drug, but the schedule will be 2 wks on and 1 wks off....This is mostly because his white count is not coming back fast enough after being on for the 4 wks on and 2 wks off.
Nice to being giving some good news...Thank you all so much for being there I have really aprreciated all the support ...

Actul frugals have been
--sourced out some repairs and have got a fair price from a layoff factory worker to do serveral things we need done. It will be a false savings to not keep the house up.
--finally have all the papers together for Income Tax and will be going this week
--only ate out once this past week but it was just hamburgers that were on sale 50% off
--planning Easter dinner for 5 of us and have most of what we need in the house or can get it on sale this week.
--busy following the elections and going to a few local candidate's meetings...free information and entertainment...hehe
--still watching movies from the library and reading books all free how I love that word...
--sold a couple of items on Kijiji for a big old $15.00 and have decided it is not a productive use of my time anything, and everything else we do not need or don't use are going to friends, family or charity.
--filled up with gas last week before it went up at Superstore .02 cheaper and they give you back .02 on litre...not much but it all adds up..

4-19-11, 11:30am
Danna I am so happy you finally got some good news! It is about time!

Thanks to everyone for the condolences. The wake is tonight and the funeral is tomorrow. It's hard not to be there.

Kelli, can you share your Mexican Noodle Soup recipe?

Zach and I are going on a lenten retreat tonight and Dad found us a babysitter. She's a friend of his who loves kids and is doing this for free. Dad will take her out for dinner as a thank-you. I got a bunch of roasts in the last meat pack I got from the butcher, so I tossed one in the slow cooker for dinner for the kids and babysitter. They'll have pot roast, noodles, gravy and a veggie. Tomorrow we'll have the leftover pot roast and gravy over spaetzle with some green beans I got on sale for $1 a pound. I used up the last of the red wine my mom was drinking when she visited in the roast. Zach and I are being fed at the retreat.

Our spending has slowed to almost nothing over the last few weeks. Outside of a piece of pie and a coffee when Travis was in the hospital we haven't spent money on anything non-essential pretty much the entire month of April. It hasn't been hard, either. We're feeling pretty contented.

I made a big pot of oatmeal for breakfast today. It's supposed to snow today and it's gloomy outside. It's a good day for oatmeal.

I brought out the duplos and blocks that had been out of rotation for a while. The older three kids are happily building together while the baby naps. I need to figure out what to take out of rotation for a while. It's such a good way of keeping toys new and exciting without buying more stuff.

I was mentioning my unit on sacred art to my Dad this morning and he told me to go up to his room and borrow some books he got at the Vatican exhibit they had a while back at the Minnesota History Center.

None of my frugals lately are spectacular, but they're working. We're keeping spending to a minimum and still really enjoying ourselves.

4-20-11, 12:16am
I didn't do so well today. I had to go to town and had to buy gas, and then I ended up eating out...but I did eat lunch late enough that I could wait for supper until I got home.

4-20-11, 10:07am
We've been doing better this week. Yesterday was a no drive/no spend day. I talked DH out of ordering pizza for dinner since we are out of date money until Thursday. He's been working a lot of overtime, and i have been working a lot, too. So at night we prety much just lay around and watch TV until bedtime. I guess being tired and boring is one way to save money! ;-) Next week I don't have to work as much, so I am planning on getting some things done around the house.

Later today I do have to mail some letters, but I am going to zip over to the nearest mailbox instead of crossing town to the post office. I thought about walking, but it is cold and rainy, and I don't really have time for a long walk today, anyway--too much work to do. So today I will drive, but I will be consider walking more in the future. It saves gas, and I need the exercise.

4-20-11, 10:47pm
returned a pair of sneakers that became unglued and were only a month old. They gave me full credit. I was very happy.

Hurt my foot and MD wanted me to go to therapy and gave me a sheet of exercises to do- therapist closest to my house was out of the office for the week. I was 100% faithful with the exercises, icing and elevation and it has improved so much I will need little to no therapy which is little to no copay. I hope to keep it up all week so I can cancel the appt I have for next Wednesday.

Still rainy, cold and snowy here so I have been working on some quilts for charity with fabric I had in the house. They came out cute. Two for a silent auction for my quilt guild, one for a Livestrong cancer affair.

4-21-11, 12:32am
Zach took the morning off of school to rescue me. I've been getting a little worn out acting like I'm not two and a half weeks post partum. :P Of course I didn't actually rest. :) We went to AxMan Surplus to get stuff for Bella's Kindergarten egg drop. She wisely chose to get the car wash sponges that worked successfully for Cheyenne last year, although she was briefly tempted by the whoopie cushions. I was happy with the car wash sponges because they have another use.

I made the girls take their own money this time. They always beg for stuff at AxMan and I sometimes give in if things are cheap enough and kind of fun. Today they bought themselves a variety of pretty coloured marbles. Bella chose entirely iridescent marbles and Cheyenne went with an ocean inspired mix. When we got home they each put them in a jar and used my label maker to label them Magical Mermaid Jewels. (I must say, the combination of whimsy and organization makes me proud of them) They are writing a story about mermaids and pirates and magical mermaid jewels. They are going to make a movie about it with Cheyenne's video camera and edit it on iMovie. They also made paper fish, paper seaweed, a paper clam and a paper sea anemone to do a photo shoot for movie posters. Lots of good free fun.

This is holy week so church is pretty much taking up the rest of my week. :) Travis is being baptized at the Easter Vigil (very unusual for a baby) and his Godmother lent me her son's baptismal outfit for him. Her mom made it. It's absolutely gorgeous and it will save us some money. She also dropped off some diapers her DD outgrew. Size 3, but eventually T will be able to use them.

Another friend from church is getting rid of baby stuff. She's giving me her breast pump and some size 5 diapers her kiddo has outgrown for James. He's in size 4 now.

J, another friend from church is babysitting the older 3 kids plus our friend D's kids for the Friday afternoon Solemn Liturgy. J has two teens to help with the babysitting.

Tomorrow we're colouring Easter eggs. I didn't buy the tablets. I have a lot of food colouring we can use. We're also going to make hot cross buns to freeze for Easter.

4-21-11, 11:30am
Danna, So glad for your good news. I'm sure many of us were hoping to hear something good from you after Merski's good news!
Kat, Cutting out takeout meals has been a real boon to our budget as well. It's certainly cheaper than eating restaurant meals, but it adds up.
Stella, I hope you all enjoy your Easter festivities.
So our squirrel strategy has proved good, but not perfect. The critters can still get on the feeder occasionally, but a fill-up lasted five days instead of one, so that's a significant improvement. Plus we got to see a lot more birds on the feeder instead of squirrels.
A friend gave us about 30 cans of cat food because he's switching his cat to a different diet, so that will save a bunch on our grocery expenditures this week.
It's my b'day this weekend, so I'm taking a long weekend. DH is making me a cake (his baking is the best ever, I know I'm biased, but it really is). I wanted lobsters for dinner, but we're also trying to be more in control of our grocery budget. I got a $75.00 check in the mail from doing a lengthy, tedious online survey on pet food, so that's going to cover the lobsters - and I think some steamed clams - which we'll have at home instead of eating out. So we can have guilt-free lobsters without busting the budget:)

4-21-11, 12:09pm
Happy birthday Rosa! Enjoy your lobsters!

We went the short route on the hot cross buns and used the breadmaker. Yay for shortcuts! I used to feel lazy when I did things like that, but I'm over that. The reality of having a toddler and newborn is that if I didn't take shortcuts a lot of things just wouldn't get done.

The art books my Dad lent me are amazing! The girls and I sifted through 107 pages of one before they wanted to do something else. Even James was into it for a while. Their favourite was a photo of Michaelangelo's Pieta, which there is a reproduction of at the Cathedral in St Paul. We will definitely have to visit that. Art Month is turning out to be a brilliant success and I haven't really spent any money on it at all. Next month is Science Month. Conveniently enough we are spending Easter with the elementary school Science Specialist, who is Travis' godfather's mom. I am going to ask for some ideas. June is probably going to be History Month, which will cost us about $100 for the Historical Society membership. July is Outdoors Month, which should be pretty much entirely free.

Zach is getting off of school early today and tomorrow. This is actually frugal because I can accomplish about 6 times as much when he is home as I can when he isn't. I may make use of the time to make some banana bread and finally organize my sewing space.

4-22-11, 11:31am
Happy birthday, Rosa! Those squirrels sure can be little stinkers, can't they? We love ours, though, and we feed them along with the birds.
@ stella--yum! I have been thinking about getting a bread maker. My MIL said I could borrow hers for awhile to see how I like it.

Things haven't been all that frugal lately since we ran into a couple of more problems with the kitchen (imagine that!). I'm not really surprised; this has been the home remodel from you know where! But the first phase--the kitchen--is nearing completion. I hope that next weekend we can move back in.

This weekend shouldn't be too bad, though. We have family coming into town--yay!--so we will be visiting them and heading to church. I resisted temptation to buy a maternity Easter dress. No sense in spending $30 on a dress I will only wear once or twice. I can get by with what I have for Easter and a wedding we have to attend next week.

My MIL works at a thrift store and is the person in charge of baby and toddler stuff (sorting, pricing, etc.). Yesterday she picked me up a boppy-type pillow, brand new in package (with washable cover) for $10. They cost around $30 in stores and the covers are another $10, so I think that was a pretty good deal. It's blue, but who cares? It's been kind of fun "collecting" things for the baby. I figure when we get closer, we'll reassess and see what we really still need.

Oh, I picked up some more contracts for this summer, so it looks like I will have steady work until the baby comes. That is nice; sometimes contractual work can be a little scary since there is no real guaranteed stability. That is why we try to sock away while work is available--something I learned from seasonal/contracted workers on this board. Boy, was that good advice!

4-22-11, 12:01pm
Kat, good luck on finishing the kitchen remodel! I hope when it is all over you have a kitchen you really love.

Today is a church heavy day. Services at 3:00PM and 8:30. I might go with our neighborhood Vital Living group to an olive oil tasting at a locally owned specialty shop. A neighborhood friend offered to let me ride with her, so it wouldn't even cost me gas money and I'd get to hang out with friends.

Zach and Dad are fasting today, so that saves some money. :) I am breastfeeding, so I am exempt. I made a big pot of mango coconut oatmeal this morning for breakfast. Yum!

Nothing too much happening today, frugal or otherwise.

4-22-11, 4:53pm
Glad to hear all seems to be going well for everyone in the last few days.

Went to JoAnn Fabrics today. Picked up tulle at .75 a yard for the Halloween Bazaar (http://athrivinglife.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/halloween-bazaar/) to make little girl veils or tutus. Also bought barrettes to attach them to. Additionally I got a scrapbook and paper to make an ABC baby book for a friend who is going to have a baby. The idea is that you do one page per letter and then later the parents can just plop some photos on there. I really debated over buying additional solid colors of paper but opted not to because I have so much here. I just hope I have the right colors to work with. I also passed on stickers and stuff. With the patterns in the pack I bought I can make it really cute or pick up something later on if needed. Everything I bought was 50% off. It worked out well.

DH and I are going to refinance our house. There is a no closing-cost refinance available through our lender that will lower our interest rate by 1.5%. Of course it is accomplished by starting the 15 year clock over again, but we figure if we continue to pay what we have been paying all along, it results in a net savings for us. Interestingly we discovered this possibility as we were researching our rental property idea. If we hadn't been pursuing that option, we wouldn't have found out about this. If we decide to do nothing else, that will have been worth it!

We have been eating down the pantry with good success. Two more meals are planned with materials on hand, and then next weekend or this weekend we will go to Costco and restock on some of our "staples." Since we actually use all the things we buy in bulk and use them relatively quickly, I do feel it is a savings to go to Costco. My DFiL and DMiL generously let us piggyback off of their membership so that is no cost to us.

Going out to eat with a friend tonight. Yum yum! We ate lunch in even though we were out and ravenous but we came home and made grilled cheese and probably faster than it would have been to go out, anyway.

4-22-11, 5:02pm
Here is the requested recipe! Hope it didn't take too long!

It is from the book Mexican Cooking for Dummies by Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken. This is the best Mexican cooking book I have found - very authentic and easy recipes. I lived in Mexico for two years after college and ate much delicious sopa de fideo, and this recipe is just like it. It calls for chiles but is not spicy.

It is suuuuuuper frugal, especially if you use your own tomatoes in season. The chiles are probably the most expensive part, but they keep forever.

Need: Blender
Yield: 6 servings

1/3 c. olive oil (I never use this much - I just eyeball it)
8 ounces dried angel hair pasta, broken into one-inch pieces (you can buy any pasta by La Moderna brand and it will work)
3 dried chipotle chiles
1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes (I used cherries last year and it was delish)
6 gloves garlic, peeled
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. water
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1. Heath the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Sauté the pasta, stirring frequently, until golden brown, being careful not to burn. Then stir in the chiles and cook for 2 minutes longer.

2. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, water, and salt in a blender. Puree until smooth.

3. Add the tomato puree and stock to the stockpot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the noodles soften and the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the whole chiles.

4-22-11, 6:31pm
Kat, Hope your kitchen remodel works out well. That is the one room we haven't tackled. After 26 years in this house, I have finally figured out a plan (a real challenge, small room with five entryways). Now we just need the time and money! It would be great if you could post your after pictures for inspiration.
Stella, Mango coconut oatmeal actually makes oatmeal sound - sexy! I would not have thought such a thing possible.
Fidgie, Good for you on the refinance. That's a major score!
Forget everything I posted yesterday, by the way. I have temporarily conceded defeat to the squirrel. >:(>:( Let's face it, he has nothing better to do, and it's a matter of survival for him to get to the food. And practice makes perfect, so he's gotten quite good at circumventing our baffle. (I've decided that the "baffle" in squirrrel baffle refers to the amused bafflement in their little squirrel brains as they scratch their heads in puzzlement, thinking, "silly human, you thought THAT was going to stop ME?") So I've ordered a new feeder, similar to one I have that has proven to be squirrel proof. At least we tried to solve the problem without spending. I'm also beginning to feel like a cartoon character doing battle with this squirrel - Elmer Fudd comes readily to mind!
And we ended up going to a nice seafood restaurant in Gloucester for our seafood dinner last night, spending almost twice what I had earned on the survey. It was very nice though, and we hadn't eaten out or gotten takeout at all this month. But still can hardly be considered frugal! Oh well.

4-22-11, 6:32pm
Remembered another one! My mom is going to lend me her Cricut to make the album I posted about above. She bought it and rarely uses it, so she shares it freely. I have a little bit of a mixed feeling about this because my mom hoards and uses our borrowing or taking things as a justification to acquire more. But I'm pretty much over that - if she has it and isn't going to use it, I'm not going out to spend $400 on one!

4-23-11, 4:42pm
Kelli thanks for the soup recipe!

LOL Rosa, that probably is what the word "baffle" refers to with squirrels.

I am SO GLAD we didn't buy a lot of candy for Easter. They got a ton of sugar at the free Easter Egg Hunt at church and some really sweet neighbor girls in their teens and twenties brought the kids an Easter basket with giant suckers, gum, bubbles, glowing koosh balls and a big giant blue bouncy ball. I'm sure there will be sweets at the reception tonight and probably at the brunch tomorrow too. Candy is one of those things I am learning to let other people buy. There's no stopping the flood at holidays, so why spend the money on it?

Baby T looks so cute in his borrowed baptismal outfit! Just so stinking cute. Unbelievable. Love it.

early morning
4-23-11, 6:11pm
Just got home from a free lecture on/by the Tuskegee Airmen - it was a really good program! I'm hoping I can get our school to have them come in to speak. Since I had to run over to Mom's anyway, attending the lecture didn't add too many additional miles. I also stopped at the local bread bakery and at Aldi's on my way, so although I spent money there, no additional gas was burned. I'm debating on whether to get a $25 Amazon gift card w/ my VISA points, or hold out another month or two for the $50 in cash. I've already got one $50 check this year, just for using the VISA instead of my debit card! I think I'd better hold out for the cash - if I get the card, I'll just go looking for things to buy, lol. And I just made a purchase there last week. Other than that - I have laundry to hang, which may or may not get dry in the house, as it's very humid. I have chicken in the crockpot, to make chicken salad for dinner. I ate left-overs most of last week at lunch, except for Friday, when I met an ex-coworker/friend for lunch at the cafeteria in the county Admin building. The food was overpriced and not great, but the company was wonderful, and worth the cost. Tomorrow we go out for Easter dinner (Fried Chicken! yum!) so no cooking, yay.

4-23-11, 6:56pm
Had a wonderful day today. Two of my sisters and their families are in town for Easter. DH and I visited with them and watched their girls do an Easter egg hunt--so much fun! Then afterwards, we had a blast playing with them and the toys in their Easter baskets--things like a light up top and squishy rubber dolphin. :-)

One of my sisters brought me a TON of baby clothes, a very nice breast pump, and some bottles. I've gone through the clothes already; out of 2 large bags, there were only about 9 or 10 things that were stained or pretty worn (after going through 4 girls!) or a duplicate of something else she had given me. I feel good knowing that the baby will have some things to get started with. I appreciate her generosity so much. I'm going to send her a real card in the mail next week!

My dad gave me a $10 off card for Kohls and told me to buy something for the baby. It expires today, and I am thinking about getting a little sundress for next summer. It has tulip-shaped pockets and I think Dad would get a kick out of it. Tulips are his favorite flower (and mine, too). With the coupon it will only cost around $2.

Tonight we are heading over to see DH's niece at his parents house. His mom came by with her today and dropped off some eggs they had colored and an Easter treat bag. Our DN (4 years old) wrote our names on the bag, and it is so cute.

Tomorrow we will be going to church and then lunch at my dad's. He is making a ham dinner.

4-23-11, 8:57pm
We start our allergy elimination diet on Monday, so we've really been cleaning out the freezer this week. Of course, that didn't result in a huge amount of savings compared to what I spent on groceries to prepare. But, since it's getting to be spring - finally - it is a good time to do this, since lots of great produce will be available.

At our annual church auction, the youth group donated a day of work. We bid on it and won it and they came over today. It was fabulous! Just 4 extra people made such a huge difference in how much we could get done in a day. Was it frugal? Well, it certainly was worth the money spent; it built community; and our house is in great shape, having things done that we might not have gotten to all summer.

For Easter I'm doing an egg scavenger hunt for DD. She enjoys finding the eggs (we use plastic ones) more than anything else. They will have a trail of clues that will eventually lead her to her (candy-free) basket. (There will be plenty of candy at church tomorrow.)

4-24-11, 8:56pm
Kat, that dress sounds adorable!

Rosemary, that auction win sounds like an excellent value for your money! We paid my friend's teen and his friends to help up dig out the window well for our egress window last fall. They had it done in 45 minutes. It really does make a difference having extra hands to help.

What a crazy/awesome couple of days! The confirmation and baptism was so beautiful! Beyond words. The reception afterwards was just lovely. We had sandwiches, sugared whole strawberries, wine, punch and cake. Our friend who runs hospitality at our church gave us an entire cake afterwards. Enough to feed 50 people. I'm going to freeze some of it.

We got so many lovely presents; a beautiful crucifix, two wall crosses, two books for us and a beautiful book of Tomie dePaola bible stories. Today we went to Travis' Godfather's house for Easter brunch. His mom went all out. Strata, baked french toast, two fruit salads, some kind of almond filled pastry, a rosemary pastry with strawberry jam and lemon glaze, pomegranite bellinis and champagne sangria. Amazing! His mom also put together a little gift for each kid with a shovel and pail, colouring books, stickers, pencils, sidewalk chalk, a toothbrush and some candy. Afterwards we went to Travis' Godmother's house so all the kids could run around in her huge yard, play street hockey on their very long diveway and play in the sandbox.

T's Godmother just got a really cool play structure for their backyard. Her mom and dad are considering getting the waterslide attachment for it. I think I'm as excited as she is about that. The kids are going to have hours and hours of fun this summer playing out there while we sit in the shade and talk. I've got the pool, tennis court, volleyball court and basketball court and she's got the play structure, fire pit, ice rink, street hockey stuff and, as of next summer, the Grandpa Bob-built fort. If you knew Grandpa Bob, you'd know how cool that is going to be. The man is a genius (literally) and has an unrivaled sense of whimsy. Between us we've got pretty much everything the kids could want.

Tonight's dinner is fried eggs and toast. Nobody is all that hungry, so we're keeping it simple and cheap.

4-24-11, 9:37pm
I hauled 3 loads of mulch from the county compost site today. It's free. I'll get 2 more tomorrow and a load or two of compost. It's less than a mile from our house so I don't even use much gas.

I'm preparing some foods ahead for the first week on the allergy elim diet. This isn't very different from most Sunday evenings, because I generally try to get ready for the week this way. It saves a lot of time, especially in the mornings when I'm making breakfast and packing lunches, and helps me see what groceries I
might need.

The herb seeds that DD and I started for teacher gifts are doing well. On our work day yesterday we washed all of my plant pots that weren't in use, so I'll peruse those to find ones that might be suitable.

4-24-11, 9:47pm
Sounds like a lovely Easter all around. We have not had anything particularly frugal to report but just wanted to check in!

@Rosemary, please keep us updated on the diet. Is it that you take everything out and then start adding things back in? And I'm a teacher and would love to get herb plants. I thought about starting a thread about frugal, meaningful teacher gifts but haven't yet. It feels to weird being the teacher and not the giver! ;)

@Stella, a toothbrush along with the candy?! Made me giggle. Sounds like you have a great setup with the Godmother. That makes me giggle, too: The Godmother.

4-25-11, 8:38am
@ stella--I giggled at the toothbrush, too. I think Easter is the perfect time to get new toothbrushes since we all eat so much junk! LOL

I did find the tulip dress at Kohl's, and it was on sale for $10. So with the coupon it cost me nothing. I showed my Dad yesterday and he remarked on how cute it was. Then we had a delicious ham dinner with all the fixings and strawberry shortcake for dessert. We were so stuffed we only ate Cheerios and yogurt for dinner.

Last time I did the laundry, I used the dryer with a dry towel in each load. Someone on here mentioned that you could cut drying time that way. I was able to dry for 40 minutes instead of 60 for several loads. So thanks to whoever posted that tip! :-) I will remember it when I am not able to hang clothes to dry.

Today I have to run some errands, so I am going to plan my route to save on gas. One of the things I have to do is go to the grocery store, so I think I will check out ads online before heading out so I can go to the store with the best deals.

4-25-11, 9:48am
We had a very nice Easter get together at SIL's house Yay! We didn't have to clean!! My frugal goals for the next two or three weeks is to eat up the stuff in small chest sized freezer, organize fridge freezer (again!) and get more stuff out in the garden. A friend's husband has a small excavator which he will bring so that we can dig a ditch and then put a retaining wall at the bottom of our garden so we can backfill and not have such a slope in our veggie patch. I really should be taking some vacation days from work to do projects around the house and yard. We haven't been able to travel because of finances so my vacation time just accumulates.

DMIL needs to put her house back on the market so she will sell and move into the beautiful space she paid to have made in our house. We tell her to underprice the house to sell quickly as she's gotten her use out of it and it's not worth anymore of her time and worry. Think she's dragging her feet a little, which I can't blame her for, as it was the house she bought for and paid off in just a few years (mortgage officer said to her-Hope we don't get too many people like you! ) and raised her kids in.

4-25-11, 11:50am
I've gotten the home made yogurt proportions right and my yogurt is so good. The right balance of sweetness & tartness for us. Organic whole milk, maple syrup, and Nancy's organic plain whole milk for starter. SO good! And so much cheaper than the store bought we've been buying, in its plastic container. Mine comes in little glass jars. I love making food. Next, I want to try fermented foods like kraut. Working up to beer.

4-25-11, 12:46pm
Redfox I feel the same way. I love making things myself. It makes me feel so useful.

Merski, take the vacation days! I love having days I can devote entirely to getting personal goals accomplished. Sometimes that is just as refreshing as a trip somewhere would be.

Kat and Kelli, I giggled at the toothbrush too. Such a good idea! I might borrow that for future Easters and Christmases.

Kat, I hadn't heard that dryer tip. I'm going to give that a try. I've been on a mission to get the laundry to be less of a hassle around here. My confirmation name/patron saint is Veronica, among other things, the patron saint of Laundry Workers. :) I think that's kind of appropriate for a mother of four.

Zach is off today too and we may let Bella take the day off of school. This weekend was so huge that she is kind of tired and cranky. I think it would be a favour to her very excellent Kindergarten teacher to keep her home today. :) We are going to have a resting and puttering kind of day.

I made a big batch of Mexican Chocolate Oatmeal for breakfast. The kids LOVE that and it's cheap and easy.

I'm planning to make a big pot of chili and some cornbread for lunch, enough to have for at least one more meal, probably dinner tomorrow. Sometimes I even get three meals out of a pot of chili. I'm also going to make a couple of batches of pizza dough for freezing and grate the large blocks of cheddar and mozzarella I have.

We went on a walk with our next-door neighbor last night in the park. Any day that begins with half a sheet of peeps before breakfast is bound to end in mayhem if you don't get enough fresh air and exercise. The park has finally put in the fishing piers and canoe rentals. That will make for some good summer fun. We actually have our own canoe. We offered to lend it to the next-door neighbor when she and her husband or DD want to go canoeing. She works for a non-profit teaching teens and college kids about frugality, budgeting and credit, so between us we're always coming up with ideas to save money. I just love her. I think we're going to take the kiddos on another walk in the park today. It's finally sunny outside! I love living where I do. It's like living at a camp, but in the city. I think it may be time to get a walking group together.

I've been thinking about the Great American Backyard Campout this summer. I might try to get together a team this year instead of just doing it ourselves. I'm either going to join forces with my friend (the one with the backyard playground and fire pit) or see about doing something in my neighborhood. I may even talk to my friend J at the park who is in charge of programming and see if she could pitch the idea to the park supervisor of having some daytime activities for it. Sometimes I think I should have majored in Park and Rec in college. I would have rocked that. That was J's major. I'm thinking at the very least we'll have to have a campfire and do pudgie pies, s'mores and campfire songs.

4-25-11, 1:53pm
so glad to hear that everyone had a nice holiday weekend. we ended up hosting easter for my bro and sis-in-law and their new baby and it was really great. excellent local ham, potato salad, green beans, pierogies, corn on the cob, and a rhubarb cream pastry that my fella whipped together upon cleaning out the freezer and finding puff pastry and the last of last year's rhubarb. now we can start harvesting it fresh. :)

in the course of getting ready for easter dinner, we ended up rearranging the dining room and it's so much nicer now! i also convinced my fella to let me try painting the floor instead of getting a carpet. it's an old linoleum floor and pretty uneven, so putting a new hard floor on top won't reall work. but i don't really like carpeting ... and painting will be a lot cheaper anyhow. and if we end up hating it, we can always get a carpet to put on top of it!

this week i'm working 5 shifts at the restaurant in addition to sewing dresses and doing marketing work to get wear the shift out in front of more people. so, busy busy week. but it will be good to get the coffers built back up a little. weekend after next, we are going away for 3 nights to the mountains and i figure i can rest then. :) i'm really looking forward to it!

4-25-11, 11:32pm
So lovely. This thread helps keep me grounded. We have started house shopping and I keep coming back to WHY do we feel we need more room? We do have some reasons, and this isn't really our dream house (bought by DH when he was a bachelor and never dreamed of being married), but my DH asked how much I would be willing to spend if we found it, and I said I'm not really sure it exists. I think there is no perfect house. If it's not the size, it's the location, or the price point, or the yard - there is always something you trade for something else. And so the quest continues. But it is good to analyze and not blindly go rushing in just because a loan officer says we can spend $x.00.

Here our frugals have been small but steady. Last week we only bought bananas and milk and we used up a LOT of food in the freezer and pantry. Feels good. Now tonight we got a grocery order. Really, we could probably do better on dollar amount if we went to the store, but the stress isn't worth it to me. I don't like the huge stores where the deals are to be had. The parking stresses me out. The checkouts stress me out. The choices facing me down from the shelf stress me out. I love to log in, find our few purchases and we are done. The extra $5 is worth it. The prices are competitive with the stores we generally go to in our neighborhood.

I am drinking an iced tea brewed from some we have in the cupboard. We use our Bee House Iced Tea Pitcher (http://teasource.com/merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=304&Category_Code=) and love it. We got this pitcher for a wedding gift. It is super convenient, though. I'm sure if one buys a lot of beverages, pop or tea or lemonade or whatever, and replaces those with iced tea, you'd easily make your money back in beverage savings.

That's about it! Keep on keepin' on, ladies & germs! Loving hearing about all your projects!

ETA: redfox, I should learn to make yogurt. I have been eating plain for a while and am getting tired of it, so I bought Chobani this week, but dang, it was pricey!

4-26-11, 11:01am
I've gotten the home made yogurt proportions right and my yogurt is so good. The right balance of sweetness & tartness for us. Organic whole milk, maple syrup, and Nancy's organic plain whole milk for starter. SO good! And so much cheaper than the store bought we've been buying, in its plastic container. Mine comes in little glass jars. I love making food. Next, I want to try fermented foods like kraut. Working up to beer.

I want to start making yogurt. What equipment do you recommend?

4-26-11, 12:15pm
Madge the rhubarb pastry sounds delicious. Your fiancee seems to always be posting on facebook about some lovely confection he has whipped up. You're a lucky girl! And of course, he's a lucky guy.

Kelli, I have that same iced tea pitcher. Love it! I hear you about the perfect house, too. I sometimes daydream about The Perfect House, but I've never yet seen it.

This morning's oatmeal was chocolate hazelnut. It's rainy and chilly today, so it's another good oatmeal day. I am intentionally trying to make it to May before going to the grocery store. It's a good challenge. Things are running lower than I like them to, but there are options. Oatmeal itself is a little under $.07 a serving, so even dressed up with fun stuff like mangoes and coconut or chocolate and hazelnut it's still a very inexpensive breakfast and everyone likes it.

I have some bananas that need using up, so I'm hoping to make banana bread today. Lunch will be tomato soup and popcorn. It's another perennial favourite rainy day meal. I think breakfast and lunch together are probably under $2 total for the four of us.

For Homeschool Art Month we're learning about illustration this week. We read some children's books with fun illustrations and then the kids wrote their own stories and illustrated them. I think we're going to make creative writing and illustrating a daily exercise.

My friend S is bringing us a lasagne later this week as a baby gift. I am LOVING all of the meals we've gotten. People are very practical about baby gifts for fourth kids. We've gotten mostly meals, diapers, lotion, diaper rash cream and other useful consumables.

This maybe belongs a little in the spirituality forum, but Zach and I have started an exercise to be more aware of the gifts and blessings given to us on a regular basis and be properly grateful for them. The lasagne from my friend, for example, or the formula my other friend is giving us that her daughter doesn't need now that she's a year old (Travis gets one bottle a day to make things easier on me), the free Faith Formation Fair at church tomorrow with free pizza dinner or the free, fun and educational Water Festival they are having at our park next month. Slowing down and being mindful of the blessings we recieve and the opportunities that present themselves to us without our striving helps a lot with frugality. I think a lot of people, and I was definitely raised this way, spend money out of a fear of lack. Realizing the abundance in my life takes away most of my desire to buy stuff I don't need.

4-26-11, 1:28pm
@madge--yum! You are making my stomach growl! (well, to be fair, I am ravenous about every minute, so..) ;-)
@fidgie--that is a nice tea pitcher!
@stella--I love children's books! Some of my favorites are the Carl books by Alexandra Day. Very few words--beautiful illustrations, though! They really tell the story.

I really felt like shopping today. I went to the library instead and found some books I'd been wanting to read. Among them was the "Color Me Beautiful" book someone recommended on here awhile back.

4-26-11, 1:54pm
I want to start making yogurt. What equipment do you recommend?

I bought a simple yogurt maker off Craigslist. It's Euro Cuisine, and is basically a small incubator. It comes with 7 glass jars, and holds the yogurt at a constant temperature for however long you set the timer. I love it because I only paid $15 for it (I think they are $20-$25 new), and I can set it when I go to sleep & wake up to fresh yogurt.

I also use the thermometer I got for use with my espresso machine - the one I use when foaming milk. It's a metal one with a clamp, and I use it while heating the milk.

My process:
Heat milk to 180 degrees while stirring constantly for 2 minutes. I use 36 oz of whole organic milk, & add 1/2 cup maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.
After 2 minutes, then cool to 110 degrees. I do this by immersing the sauce pan into a larger pot filled with cold water & ice, and stirring until the temp drops to 110.
Remove and add the 'mother' yogurt. I use Nancy's whole milk organic, and add 6-8 oz. to the milk. More 'mother' yogurt makes mine tangier, which I like. Whisk in rapidly to make sure there are no lumps.
Pour the mix into a pyrex glass measuring cup to pour into the small bottles. I have them on the counter, because if I drip, I don't want it in the yogurt maker - it would be messy. I fill the jars till about 1/4" from the top, put them in the yogurt maker, and top off to the very brim with a small ladle.
Put the lid on the yogurt maker (not the plastic lids on the jars - that's for storage in the frig when they are done), set the timer, and anticipate amazing homemade yogurt in 7-9 hours.
Clean up!

4-26-11, 4:35pm
i have continued eating on the potato soup i made earlier in the week; went to visit his family on sat.; brunch bought by his mother; which we thanked her profusely; went for a hike on sunday; i walked and used the bus today for one dr. appt. and two errands; tonight we will be going to a student poetry reading at the university

we are so fortunate to have the university close by; they really add to the communtiy as a whole; and there are many free, different things to do there

4-26-11, 5:04pm
I had leftover chili for breakfast, instead of going to McDonald's. I was craving a breakfast burrito.

4-26-11, 5:22pm
I had leftover chili for breakfast, instead of going to McDonald's. I was craving a breakfast burrito.

I caved - McDonald's cheese/egg biscuit -- though my favorite -- McSkillit Burrito (no sausage/roja sauce)...I'd probably eat them everyday, but I save it for Saturday a.m.

4-26-11, 7:37pm
Oh, now I want McDonald's! ;-)

early morning
4-26-11, 9:14pm
One thing I forgot from last Friday - took my travel mug to Boston Stoker for a free Earth Day cup of Highlander Grogg coffee, a real treat for my drive to work. Today - used a $10 off $10 purchase at Penny's and got two shirts for work for $5. Cheaper than Good Will! I wanted brown socks, but there were none to be had. Gas was down today (to $3.82.9 from 3.99.9) so I filled up and used DH's reward card plus MY rewards credit card. He almost has enough points for a $50 gas card (which won't begin to fill the truck tanks, but hey, money is money!).

4-27-11, 12:02am
Dance party in the living room! We're listening to pandora radio on the roku box. Zach put on some quieter music so we could kind of wind the kids down a little. It's ridiculously cute. We added a few channels to the roku box tonight. Pandora, TED, Khan Academy, the NASA channel and a couple of others, all free.

We set up accounts for ourselves and the kids on Khan Academy. Cheyenne started with the math section today and spent quite a long time working on it. I set myself up as the kids' coach so I can let them work on their own and still monitor their progress. I am remembering now why I went to school for computer science. I'm kind of on a techie kick lately.

I'm going to rearrange my living room. It's functionality has changed dramatically since we set it up and it just isn't efficient anymore. I keep thinking that I need to get this piece of furniture or replace that one, but ultimately a lot of my problems could be solved by reorganizing the setup in here. I could rework it to solve some of my storage problems in the dining room too. I asked Zach to help me think about how to do things differently. Because I've lived in this house off and on since I was seven years old I get stuck in thinking things should be more or less the same as they've always been. It's time to shake that up a little. It's not going to happen until the weekend, though. I've been up with the baby since 4AM. I'm so tired I can barely see.

4-27-11, 12:35pm
I think this is the first month in a long time I have had more No Spend Days than not. That is a nice feeling!

Outside of cafeteria food for Zach when I was in the hospital and a couple of pie night dates we haven't eaten out all month. It hasn't even been hard. Inertia is on my side. Once we're at home it's just easier to stay here than to drag four kids to a restaurant. That doesn't sound enjoyable at all.

That's about it on the frugals today. We're having a free dinner at the Faith Formation Fair. That's the only thing I can think of.

4-28-11, 8:16am
It's funny, Stella, but one of the main reasons I cook so much is that it seems crazy to pay more for food in a restaurant while trying to keep 3 children quiet. Not enjoyable. One of the only ways that my kids save me $!

4-28-11, 8:31am
on jury duty this week. It's funny to see the behavior of the jurors. The three oldest jurors park at the cheapest garage, with a ten minute walk and bring lunch every day. The younger kids park close for an extra $3 a day, eat out and complain they have no money. They estimate it will be six or seven days so between lunch and parking that will add up to $100 less us older people will pay. And a couple of them smoke, which has gotten ridiculously expensive. It's been a while since I have been exposed to this behavior so I forget how people live and spend.

Unfortunately being on jury duty I wasn't able to set up the library used book sale, but the good side to that is I didn't buy any books. I have bought hundreds of books for my grandkids at these sales already to encourage them to read or be read to. Living in a house full of books is a really good thing I think. With working parents the library is hard to get to but they do a lot of reading thanks to all the books around.

Remodeling our laundry room, so I have no washer and dryer for a few weeks. My choice is to wash by hand or go to the laundry mat (however you spell it). I wash a small load each morning and put it on a drying rack in the tub as we have had days and days of rain so can't hang outside. So far so good. I do need to iron though but I don't mind.

4-28-11, 8:39am
Flowers, you inspired me to bake my own hamburger buns and my family can't stop raving about them! This week, we're eating egg salad (Easter eggs!) on them. Thanks for the inspiration! I found a great recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. My coworkers cannot fathom why anyone would attempt to make hamburger buns. They don't know what they're missing.

4-28-11, 10:32am
@dovergirl--I have been wanting to try that hamburger bun recipe on KAF's website!

Things have been kind of boring around here. I have been making a conscious effort to eat up that last little bit of this or that so that we don't have any waste. There are some decent deals at the grocery store this week, but we already spent our budgeted amount, so I am avoiding going to the store. There will be good deals again, and it's not like I can cook anything, anyway.

I've been cleaning and organizing as much as I am able. I'll be able to do more of that once the kitchen is done. I find that a clean and organized home is a more pleasant place to be, and I don't get the itch to leave as often. This means less eating out and less shopping for fun.

DH and I had a conversation about eating out, as our eating out has gotten out of control the last few months with this home remodel. Not only is it expensive, but it can be unhealthy, too. So we decided that once the kitchen is finished, we will not eat out at all during the week and only once in awhile on weekends. I know that this might not seem like a big deal to those of you who rarely, if ever, eat out, but it is a big step for us. DH LOVES to eat out, and it has been a struggle for years. I think this home improvement project really has hime tired of eating out, though, and missing homemade food. ;-)

4-28-11, 12:33pm
Kat, I made the Beautiful Burger Buns and they are amazing! Easy, too.

4-28-11, 1:38pm
It's funny, Stella, but one of the main reasons I cook so much is that it seems crazy to pay more for food in a restaurant while trying to keep 3 children quiet. Not enjoyable. One of the only ways that my kids save me $!

:) Yes, these days, with the youngest two being a toddler and a newborn, I think I'd pay extra to not eat out. The fact that eating at home is cheaper is practically a bonus.

We got the lasagna meal from my friend. She is so sweet. I'm having a rough day so it's nice not to have to worry about dinner. Lunch is leftover chili. I calculated that it costs us about $.40 per person per meal for the chili. We got 3 meals out of it. That's not too bad.

I found some more free or inexpensive anatomy apps for Cheyenne. She is obsessed with the subject and has been since she was 5. Maybe encouraging her passion for anatomy isn't a frugal decision, though. Medical school is expensive. :)

Our church is starting a girls club next fall that is free for girls from K-5th grade. I think we are going to join. As homeschoolers it would be a good opportunity to get together with other kids and do some fun things. It doesn't appear to involve massive fundraising efforts, so we may choose this instead of Girl Scouts. I'm not into hawking $4 boxes of cookies so the kids can keep $.50 of it.

4-28-11, 5:46pm
Flowers, you inspired me to bake my own hamburger buns and my family can't stop raving about them! This week, we're eating egg salad (Easter eggs!) on them. Thanks for the inspiration! I found a great recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. My coworkers cannot fathom why anyone would attempt to make hamburger buns. They don't know what they're missing.

I'm glad you liked them. Maybe I'll try to do a cost analysis of how much a dozen homemade buns cost as opposed to store bought. I would estimate that the cost is probably 25% of buying in the store, maybe less.
The King Arthur flour website is a good one. the only problem is not overeating the breads are so good.

4-29-11, 12:34pm
I made bread in the breadmaker and set it up to be fresh and hot when we woke up in the morning. We ate it with some creamed honey. Yum! It was a wonderful treat for very little money.

Today is likely going to be a not-so-productive day. We are watching my friend's two year old son, which means we have five kids here ages seven and under, three of them two and under. There is a whole lot of cute sitting on my couch right now.

4-29-11, 1:02pm
I keep all of my bath products in a lined basket in the bathroom. One of them oozed out all over the liner and the basket. I thought maybe they were done for, but I washed them both and they came out good as new.

Yesterday I printed off Frugal Dad's list of 75 ways to save money. I also called the utility companies and got some ideas from them. We are already doing some of these things, but we could be doing more. DH and I need to have a budget pow-wow after this home remodel is done. Since we made our budget last, groceries, utilities, gas, and insurance have all gone up. We need to figure out some ways to combat that.

I really want to get back to paying down debt, too. Just about every bit of money we have has been going to this home remodel and getting ready for the baby. That isn't a bad thing, but I think it is important that we try to secure our financial future as well. We only have student loans and the house, but still. I'd rather not owe on anything, and that isn't going to happen if we don't take action.

I've been "shopping the house" for stuff for the nursery and was pleased to find that I could repurpose three very nice baskets for the shelves below the changing table. I am hoping to find a good deal on a glider, but if I can't, I have a wooden chair I could use for feedings and a small side table my grandpa made to house a lamp. I also found my old teddy bear, which I plan to wash up and place in there, too. I love using stuff we already have sitting around!

4-29-11, 1:14pm
We got our 18 year old off our cell plan once it ran out as we agreed would happen, and have gone to a month-to-month cheaper plan with the same provider - and do not need new phones, even though they are 2 years old! Sheesh. Also changed ISP for a much lower monthly fee. Got the smallest garbage can possible for a lower rate, and we've been parsimonious about non-essentials.

And, it's my birthday weekend, so when my husband asked what I wanted, I told him time together in the garden, and to spend a bit of $$ on compost and a few other hardscape items we need to complete the phase of construction we're in. No more things for me! I am quite pleased about spending the weekend with him building a retaining wall & planting the free asparagus starts I got yesterday. I love life.

4-29-11, 1:31pm
Happy birthday, redfox! Your gift sounds just lovely! :-)

4-29-11, 7:25pm
Happy birthday redfox!

I am making vegetable beef barley soup and homemade breadsticks for dinner. It is using up a lot of veggies I had on hand. Lunch was pasta with sautéed tomatoes and olives. Cheap and easy and all the kids liked it. I also used up half a bag of frozen mangoes in a strawberry mango smoothie. Delicious!

Tonight we're having family movie night with popcorn. Good FFF.

James had fun having his buddy over to play today. My friend's son was funny. He kept telling me "daddy go to work to make bill money." :)

I found a recipe I want to try for a barley risotto. It would be very inexpensive.

I also found some free lesson plans on manners. I am using the royal wedding as a starting point for that conversation.

4-30-11, 11:24am
We are well into track season now - 5 meets in 15 days. Two meets a week for the next 3 weeks. So far I have been diligent about packing food to take to the meets & fixing food at home after the meet. Yesterday I put a ham in the crockpot. Nuked some potatoes & heated a can of peas for a quick dinner after a 6 hour track meet.

I have been making those easy peanut butter cookies (1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar & 1 egg) to take along. Tyler's teammates are WILD about them. I doubled the recipe this week. Next week I think I am going to triple it. I usually pack an extra sandwich or 2 so if someone needs food it's available. Peel some tangerines. A couple apples. A large bag of pretzels. Wednesday one of the girls asked if I had any food or water & I did. So yesterday I filled a couple of recycled faygo bottles with water just in case. They were both used. I think I will probably be increasing the food I pack. Not really frugal but I kind of like feeding the kids. I have also provided tylenol/advil, tissues & one time chapstick.

The gas prices are killing my budget though. Only 2 home meets this season. And Wednesday Tyler's contact lens popped out when he went over a hurdle. He wears hard lenses and they are kind of expensive. Luckily he had a spare (and it was a home meet so I went home to get it) but we should probably order a replacement.

Ian is home from U/M for the summer. So we won't be driving back & forth for a while which will cut down some on the gas usage. And I won't have to send him spending money. Unfortunately, DH over did it packing up the dorm room & has been very stiff & sore all week. Last night he was in so much pain in his neck/shoulder/back of the head that he was up & down, whimpering, tossing & turning most of the night. He is on his way to the local urgent care right now.

p.s. Tyler's 3200 meter relay team set an meet record at the Invitational meet yesterday! They all got free t-shirts for it!

4-30-11, 2:31pm
Went to a wedding yesterday. I didn't want to buy a roll of wedding paper to wrap the gift, so I just used some paper and embellishments I already had. Both DH and someone at the reception remarked on how pretty of a package it was. :-) I was planning on wearing a dress that I borrowed from a friend, but she found out she is pregnant again, so I had to return all her maternity clothes. I made do with a dress that I bought on sale early on. It is a more casual knit dress, but I did my hair and makeup and wore some nicer jewelry and it was fine.

DH and I are going to run to the dollar store today. I was hoping that the last time I bought paper plates and plastic forks would be the last, but the kitchen still isn't done, and we are out. While we are there, I will pick up a few cards for graduation and Mother's Day. The selection is nice and they only cost 50 cents.

Speaking of Mother's Day, we are making a nice brunch for DH's mom (at her house). I was planning to make a batch of sourdough English muffins for my mom, but that is kind of hard to do without a kitchen ;-) So we are going to have to think of something else.

A friend of mine is taking me out for lunch next Saturday for my first Mother's Day. It is her first Mother's Day without her mom (she passed away last year), so I would like to do something nice for her. Any ideas?

4-30-11, 2:47pm
I made bread in the breadmaker and set it up to be fresh and hot when we woke up in the morning. We ate it with some creamed honey. Yum! It was a wonderful treat for very little money.

Today is likely going to be a not-so-productive day. We are watching my friend's two year old son, which means we have five kids here ages seven and under, three of them two and under. There is a whole lot of cute sitting on my couch right now.

Do you like your breadmaker? We have thought of getting one but with space at a premium have never gone for it even when we've seen them for cheap.

I really want to get back to paying down debt, too. Just about every bit of money we have has been going to this home remodel and getting ready for the baby. That isn't a bad thing, but I think it is important that we try to secure our financial future as well. We only have student loans and the house, but still. I'd rather not owe on anything, and that isn't going to happen if we don't take action.

I've been "shopping the house" for stuff for the nursery and was pleased to find that I could repurpose three very nice baskets for the shelves below the changing table. I am hoping to find a good deal on a glider, but if I can't, I have a wooden chair I could use for feedings and a small side table my grandpa made to house a lamp. I also found my old teddy bear, which I plan to wash up and place in there, too. I love using stuff we already have sitting around!

On debt, it is such a good feeling. I remember when I was paying mine off that I would go at it with varying degrees of intensity. My final push involved a HUGE chart where I would mark event the smallest amount put on the loan. I can take a pic if you would like to see it - I couldn't bear to get rid of the chart so I have it, all filled up!

Score on the baby items from your own house. People are really on a roll the last few days. We are getting some power frugals, here. Those are my faves.

We got our 18 year old off our cell plan once it ran out as we agreed would happen, and have gone to a month-to-month cheaper plan with the same provider - and do not need new phones, even though they are 2 years old! Sheesh. Also changed ISP for a much lower monthly fee. Got the smallest garbage can possible for a lower rate, and we've been parsimonious about non-essentials.

And, it's my birthday weekend, so when my husband asked what I wanted, I told him time together in the garden, and to spend a bit of $$ on compost and a few other hardscape items we need to complete the phase of construction we're in. No more things for me! I am quite pleased about spending the weekend with him building a retaining wall & planting the free asparagus starts I got yesterday. I love life.

Happy birthday! Enjoy your yard goodies! And you have inspired me to revisit our phone plans/Internet, too! We have been mulling that one over for a while and all we've managed to do is INCREASE it when we got iPhones with data plans.

Tonight we're having family movie night with popcorn. Good FFF.

I have a photo post on an old blog for how to make popcorn in the microwave in a brown paper bag. It is yummy. Here's the link: http://ecocheapotwincities.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/cheap-microwave-popcorn/

Tee hee, I guess it really was a while ago. I talk about my boyfriend. Now he's my husband of almost two years :)

Here, not much in frugality land. We are house shopping and maybe shouldn't be. We found one we like and it is a short sale and we could just baaaaaaarely swing it so we are torn. Do we make a lowball offer? Do we stretch and go for it, or pass? Just this morning we thought we had made a decision to save up a little more money since all the houses we have been "in love with" over the last few years have all been in the same price range and it's the range that is just out of reach for where we are right now. Maybe with a fuzz more money in the savings accounts we'd feel better going for it. Plus that would give us time to finish our refi on this place, lowering the payment (we are debating whether we'd sell our current house or retain as a rental). But then again, we love the house and if there is a chance the bank might take our offer, it is a steal and it would take us years to save up the difference. Anyway! Lots to think about and lots of money!

We broke our electric grill. Dang it. We use that thing a lot. It was the perfect example of a deal that wasn't really a deal, because I was wanting to buy a cast iron grill pan in lieu of a new electric grill but we found this one on clearance and now it's broken, anyway, and now we'll still go buy the thing we wanted in the first place. We used it less than a year. Shoot. Still usable until we replace but we are not keeping it forever to use this way.

5-1-11, 12:22am
April 30
Happy Birthday Redfox!
This has turned out to be a fairly frugal month and a generally good one too..
--bought a $40.00 Gift Card for a mall here for $20.00 on Groupon
--Have put us on a $100.00 budget for food for the next month this is the only way I am going to get serious about eating down what we have
--Spaggetti for supper with sauce in the freezer and lots of leftovers for lunch tomorrow
--Income tax done and paid (not has bad as I thought they might be) a few more credits when one is making less money
--Had someone in to repair basement wall in our bedroom (after leak was repaired earlier) so I spurlged and got them to paint the whole room and bathroom, now they match the rest of the house and they both look fresh and clean. The price was not bad and we would never have got it done I was exhausted just from empty the rooms and putting everything back. Spring cleaned and purged both rooms as I did it. Feels great.
--sold a DVD set I had bought for $1.00 for $6.00--every little bit helps..hehe

5-1-11, 12:43am
I'm jumping in at the end :~)

-I am reading the old "Tightwad Gazette" and taking down notes
-Kids ate grilled cheese sammies with the free bread my Grandma gave us last week
-Kids are watching a movie on Netflix and eating leftover Easter candy
-Paid 2 bills that are due
-Wrote a thank you note to my Grandma for the free food she gave us the other day

5-1-11, 3:26am
I LOVE the Tightwad Gazette books...probably need to pull them out and read through them again myself.

I picked up a couple of end tables today that someone was throwing out. With a little bit of work, they'll look pretty good and I needed them.

5-1-11, 9:32am
great weekend; went to the library; renting some music; videos; one on India that was fantastic; also more books on tape; will be going to the universities baseball game; tickets free as we belong to a credit union that is giving them out free this weekend; guess i better stop as it is now May! happy free and low cost frugals to everyone!

5-1-11, 10:29am
Nice blog post fidgiegirl! That looks like a fun way to make popcorn. To answer your question, I love my breadmaker. I make bread manually when I have time, but lately that's not often. :) I like that I can set it up at night and wake up to fresh baked bread. I also like the dough cycle. It's great for making breadsticks, rolls and things like that. It contains the mess too, which is invaluable to me right now.