30 April 2008
We finally managed to rent a movie we enjoyed. The last few Dan and I had rented, we had high expectations for and ended up disappointed. Now, as far as family videos go, we've recently watched and enjoyed Alvin & The Chipmunks and The Water Horse. But, for movies for just us, we've been bombing. So, tonight I was very pleased to find that 27 Dresses was just as cute and fun as I'd hoped. If you like romantic comedy you might want to check it out. It did have some 4 letter words, as well as some implied sexual content, but for adults it was a good DVD.

Menu Plan Monday

29 April 2008

I was having some issues posting, so this is a bit late.

Monday: Our Favorite Pot Roast , mashed potatoes, rolls, strawberry cake

Tuesday: Spinach - Lasagna Casserole , tossed salad, garlic toast

Wednesday: Farmhouse Chicken Dinner , green beans, rolls, chocolate pudding

Thursday: Busy Girl's Supper, salad, homemade bread

Friday: Dirty Rice, mixed veggies, biscuits & honey

Saturday: I am still undecided on this. It is our 12th wedding anniversary, so I want to do something special. Anyone want to share some special occasion recipes with me?

For more menu planning ideas check out MPM. Seeing what everyone else has planned always seems to inspire me.

Things That Make Me Smile

22 April 2008
I had an email a minute ago telling me how cute the pink monkey on my desktop is. I agree he's adorable! The reason he is there is he makes me smile. Every time I see him it just lifts my spirits, making me think of the dear friend he belongs to. So, that got me to thinking about other things that make me smile and I decided to blog about them. Today, the things that make me happy are all simple, little things but they bring me joy. I warned you I'd blog about just about anything that popped into my head, lol.

The incredibly happy expression on Tristen's little sunburned face makes me smile. My mom snapped this pic of him telling a fishing story.

Ashley doing what she loves most makes me smile. Here she is devouring Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

This is my favorite spot in the whole house. I do my morning reading and coffee drinking here in the sun room. So much in this pic makes me favorite coffee mug, my current reading, the fact that it was the first day I could comfortably wear my light weight robe, the view out the door...I just love this room and spend a lot of time in it, especially in the mornings when I'm all alone.

This is not a great pic, but I wanted to add it anyway. This is directly below the sliding glass door in the previous pic. I love bluebonnets so much and this is the only one that hasn't been mowed down.

Ashley does most of her reading out here, in this chair. I love that there are two books with the pages marked in the chair, as well as one on the love seat across the way. This also shows Dan's treasured Imagine poster, which makes me smile because it just happened to be sealed up in the Imagine lp we found at an old record store.

Finally, here is another part of the sunroom. A Bobbsey Twin book Ash is reading sits on the love seat. In the corner is Clarence. I don't know why the rubber plant is named Clarence, the friend who gave it to us just said that was it's name. I love it because I haven't managed to kill him yet, which is the fate of most of our plants.

I know this probably seems like a strange list of things that make me smile, but I am finding joy in the little things more and more everyday.

Menu Plan Monday

21 April 2008

Here is my Menu Plan. Be sure to check out all the other great menu plans over at Organizing Junkie.

Monday: Spaghetti Carbonara - This was amazing!
Tuesday: Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

Thursday: Salisbury Steak

Friday: BBQ Chicken Pizza - I'll be using leftover smoked bbq chicken I have in the freezer in this. I think the smokey flavor will be great!

Saturday: Cream Cheese Black Bean Chicken - I plan to use this as a stove top recipe. We'll see how it goes. :-)

Weekend Fun

Here are a couple of pics from the weekend. The kids had a great time! Aren't they adorable?
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I've Been Tagged! Budget Busters

20 April 2008
Alyssa has tagged me for a "budget buster" meme. My job is to list 5 things that bust my budget, then tag 3 blogging friends to do the same.

1. Filling up the van. The price of gas is truly scary. I realize that it's a necessary expense, but for families living paycheck to paycheck, it is causing some difficult decisions to be made. What corners do you cut to compensate fro rising gas costs?

2. DH's lunches. He does not always take his lunch with him, as he should. Sometimes he eats out and sometimes he drives home to eat with me. Neither of these are things we can really afford. We are working on this one.

3. I really like to buy clothes for the kids. Now, I don't buy expensive, name brand clothes, but the cost adds up. Even with buying things off the clearance rack, why buy them stuff they don't really need?

4. Books, I love books. I have really cut down on my spending here, as I'm blessed with a fabulous friend that sends me a big box of books every now and then. So, I read them, then take them to a local paperback exchange and trade them for new ones. But, I have to really watch myself in book stores sometimes.

5. Organizational tools are hard for me to pass up. Baskets, boxes, pen holders...all that jazz. I love it! I am constantly bringing home stuff like this, that never actually gets me as organized as I want to be. Go figure!

So, now I challenge Gina, JANE, and Abby to list their budget busters.

Beautiful Saturday

19 April 2008
Today has been just beautiful. Dan invited friends out, so there has been fishing and visiting around here all day. The kids have had a blast!

My fever spiked again around noon, so I'm not sure how good of company I've been. But, it's been nice to have visitors. My mom has been here all day, helping me and taking care of me. She has been great!

I wrote up a post about all I accomplished yesterday, but can't seem to get my pics to upload. I'll keep working on it.

Again, thanks for your patience during these somewhat mindless postings. I will be back to my old self soon, I hope.

Have a blessed weekend!

Busy Friday

18 April 2008
As many of you know, I've been sick since having a tooth extracted on Tuesday. In fact, the tooth infection has had me running a fever and feeling awful for about a week, I just now have the added bonus of it hurting worse. Anyway, it has slowqed me down on my house work some. Most of the house is tolerable, but I just couldn't stand our room anymore. So, I decided to do some cleaning and with a little help did some rearranging as well.



In the first pic you will notice that those windows look into our garage. This has bothered me for ages, but I didn't think we had any extra blinds. I found these blue curtains in the linen closet, still packed in a box, so I laundered them and hung them up. The blue doesn't really match our quilt, but there is a touch of blue in the love seat, so I hope it looks okay. Even though it doesn't match perfectly, it made a big difference in the room.

The dresser is now directly across from the foot of the bed.

And here is my computer work space. THe before pic is just yucky! No woder I couldn't think straight! Under the clipboard and blank cd holder is my stash of unclipped coupon inserts. They are so helpful when stored on one's desk!

Here is the after pic. I think I can now function properly and be creative again.

I threw open all the windows in the house to air it out. Our room smelled like a sick perdson to me. After about 4 hours, the wind got up and it was pretty much unstuffy, so I closed everything back up. Then, I sliced up some lemons and an orange that were a little past their prime and simmered them on top of the stove. The whole house had a fabulous, fresh citrus smell. I highly suggest this air freshener alternative. It's all natural, thrifty, and smells great! Plus, it really lifted my spirits.

So, this was my day. I am pooped afterwards, but am so happy I accomplished this. Feeling yucky is much less of a bummer in a squeaky clean home.

I am so thankful!

17 April 2008
I am just so thankful tonight. I am thankful for the love of our Lord and the many blessings in my life. I am thankful for my dear friends, people I've never met but have gotten to know through this blog, who have emailed me the past few days. I am thankful for my family who have been so wonderful. I am thankful that I should start to feel better soon, now that we've figured out what is causing me to be so ill. And lastly, thank you to all who read this regularly, both for reading and for your kindness.

Hopefully, I'll be back up to 100% soon! The blog has been on my mind the past few days, but I just haven't been able to write anything. I am going to try again tomorrow.

Be Prepared - Kitchen Tip Tuesday

15 April 2008

After a very complicated and painful tooth extraction today, the pork chops I'd planned to cook for dinner didn't seem like such a good idea. In fact, food didn't sound like a good idea at all. So, I scrounged around to see what easy and quick things I could find. All I could come up with was Kraft Mac & Cheese. So, that's what I had for dinner. Dan cooked up some fries and chicken strips for those who felt they could chew. We were all fed, but it got me to thinking.

I normally have several make ahead meals in the freezer, a few quickie items like frozen pizzas, or at least sandwich stuff. The freezer got pretty much emptied during my 6 week battle with the shingles. This is not a good thing. It is always good to have something simple for the kids and hubby to devour. You never know when Mom will fall ill, unexpected guests will show up, or you'll need a casserole to take to an ailing friend. So, when you have the opportunity, make a double recipe of a family favorite and throw an extra in the freezer. Don't overlook the family frozen entrees when they are a super deal. Simple things like this can come in handy.

Unfortunately, I never seem to realize that I'm low on such things until I need them. So, I am going to add some double batches of casseroles into my next few meal plans. I know it will make me feel better knowing I don't have to cook the next time I have a 103 temp.

What about ya'll. Do you do once a month cooking? Or do you just keep some things stashed for emergencies? What kinds of foods do you freeze? I'd love to hear your input on this.
Check out lots of great kitchen tips on Tammy's Recipes!

What .46 Can Buy

I had a good CVS run Sunday afternoon. I'm just now posting because I couldn't figure out how to use my borrowed camera. I spent .46 and come home with around $41 in ECB. Isn't CVS fun?

Menu Plan Monday - Using What We've Got

14 April 2008
For more menu inspiration, head over to the MPM post on Org Junkie . I love reading what everyone else is eating for the week. I just discovered this site and I love it!

We are having the "week before payday syndrome" here, so we are eating totally from the freezer and pantry this week. My freezer is completely out of frozen veggies, so we are down to the few canned ones in the pantry. Unfortunately, it's about 8 cans of carrots and not much else. I hope for some good veggie and fruit deals this week; if not I'll just have to go pay full price for them. Hopefully it won't cost much to restock.

You'll notice a lot of my recipes this week came from here. I love Hillbilly Housewife so much! These awesome frugal recipes have gotten us through some tough times and some are now family favorites! It is worth checking out!

Prairie Land Pot Roast with Grands biscuits

Stove Top Coated Baked Pork Chops with canned carrots and black eyed peas

Chicken Tetrazzini with canned spinach, carrots, and crescent rolls

Country Style Steak with mashed potatoes and green beans

Pancakes and Little Sizzlers

Pinto Beans instead of salt pork or anything like that, I'm throwing in a big fatty chunk of brisket that I'd frozen for this purpose. We'll have cornbread with this.

Easy Chili made using pork sausage instead of beef. I'll use some of the leftover pinto beans in this as well.

Saturday Cleaning Boogie - Here Comes the Sun

12 April 2008
Today, Ashley and I are cleaning her half of the room. It is such a mess and she is the only person that seems unbothered by it. So, I am "suggesting" what she should do with her stuff rather than just telling her to clean her room. It seems to be working pretty good. We are spending time together this way and actually having fun. Ashley thinks music is required for all cleaning, so we are doing the cleaning boogie with John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Here Comes The Sun

Here comes the sun, do do do do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling
It's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling
It feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, do do do do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling
The smiles returning to the faces
Little darling
I seems like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, do do do do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling
I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling
It seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun, do do do do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Here comes the sun, do do do do
Here comes the sun
It's all right
It's all right

I hope you all have a happy Saturday!

Frugal Friday: Eating Out, Staying In

11 April 2008
We like to eat, but often dining out just isn't in the budget. So, what do we do? We cook at home! I have found recipes for copycat versions of some of our favorite restaurant meals. You would be amazed by all the recipes you can find on the internet and how good they are!

Here are some of our favorites:
Like Applebee's Tequila Lime Chicken
Almost Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Copycat Pizza Hut Cavatini
I also have quite a few Johnny Carino's copycat recipes, but they are on the other computer. If you' like them, leave me a comment or an email.

And the kids love these magic milkshakes. They are very much like Wendy's Frostys.

I also make our own deep dish pizza. We are still trying bread stick and buffalo wing recipes to find one we all enjoy.

By cooking these at home, we get the same yummy dishes we crave at a fraction of the cost. Plus, we tend to all work on these meals together, so we get the bonus of extra family time. So, try looking up your favorite dish and see if you don't find a good copycat recipe. The results can be quite delicious!

Comments from Readers: Ya'll Make My Day!

10 April 2008
"I recently found your blog and i love it! I am going to try putting some liquid on a washcloth in my next dryer load."

I must tell you all that your comments really make my day! I really appreciate the input, questions, feed back, and wonderful compliments. Comments like this make my heart smile. Please keep them coming!

Thank you all so much for reading my ramblings. I really felt lead to start blogging. If I can help even one person with all this babble, well then I've done what I set out to do. As always, if you have anything you want me to talk about, just let me know. I want this blog to be of use to it's readers.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you! I truly feel blessed by you readers!

Isn't He Adorable???

This is my nephew Milo. His extremely gifted mama, Abby, took this adorable pic. He is in a photo contest over at photowow . If you think he is just too cute, please head over there and give this little guy a vote. All you have to do is enter his number, 50269 to vote. Thanks so much!

Also, Abby's blog is definitely worth checking out. She takes some truly beautiful photos. There are lots of great Milo photos, and at the moment some of my own kiddos. Also check out Milo's amazing nursery on her blog and at

Works for me Wednesday: Fabric Softener

09 April 2008
I am sure you all guessed that I'm too frugal to just use fabric softener according to the instructions on the package. I want to get as much use as I can out of it, but it still has to do the job. So, here is what I do.

Dryer Sheets- I seem to find deals on these much more often that the liquids. I bring it home, open the box, pull out the entire stack of sheets and cut it into thirds. It works just as well, but lasts three times longer.

Liquid- I adore liquid fabric softener. It smells so good and I especially love it in my towel and sheet loads. Those two loads of laundry are the only things I actually follow the package instructions for. Everything else gets a wash cloth slightly dampened with liquid thrown into the dryer with it. This works really well.

Dryer Balls- I have been fighting the urge to pick some of these up at CVS. I have not known anyone who uses them, so don't know what to think. If anyone has feed back on this product, I'd love to hear it.

So, this is how I handle fabric softener. I know it's not an absolute necessity, but I like what it does for my laundry.

Visiting in the land of NOD & JCPenney score

08 April 2008
We came home last night after a long weekend spent with my in laws. We went to visit and celebrate my husband's birthday. It was great seeing all the family. We all had a really great time.

I didn't get the chance to do a whole lot of deal hunting. We made the garage sale rounds Saturday morning, but they weren't that great. I got little miss a really cute purse for .50, but that was my only find. My sister in law Abby took me to the mall on Sunday were I found a pair of chocolate brown cords that were originally $40; I got them for $2.97. So, that was a pretty good find. It looked like JCPenneys had quite a bit for 75% off or better, it might be worth checking out.

I also grabbed a few coupon booklets that I've been unable to find around here. My trip to the grocery store made me realize how lucky I am to have a store that double/triples. I know using coupons normally will save you money, but that double/triple policy makes a good deal an excellent one. For those in the land of no doubles, do you still do really well with your deals? I am very interested in strategies to share with my sisters.

Coupons: Know When to Hold 'Em, Know When to Shop!

03 April 2008
Now that your coupons are organized the way you want them, let's talk about shopping. The key to getting the best deals is knowing when to hold onto your coupons and when to use them. Here's an example- you are strolling through Walmart and see your favorite brand of shampoo on an end cap. You didn't come for shampoo and don't need it right now, but you have a $2 off coupon, so you pick it up. Then a week later your grocery store has them on sale for a $1 cheaper than what you paid at Walmart. You missed the opportunity to get the best deal. Now, I firmly believe that the best deals to be had will not be found at Walmart. To see the most savings, hold on to those coupons and match them with the weekly sales ads. You can get some truly amazing deals this way! If you don't feel like you can do coupon match ups on your own, it might be worth investing in the Grocery Game. I've never used it, but have heard some great things. Check out what Alyssa had to say about it.

When you are new to using coupons, it can feel like they are "burning a hole in your pocket", you want to jump right in and start saving. Be patient! And if you happen to hang onto a coupon too long and it expires, remember there will always be another one and another sale.

Again, if you have any questions just comment or feel free to email me.

Mouthwash Re-purposed

Did you know mouthwash can be used for lots of things? I had a lot of bottles of wintergreen flavored mouthwash that no one would use, so I did some research and found some nifty uses for it. These are things I have personally tried so far.

If you have a bed wetter in your family, mouthwash can come in handy! I sprayed it on a wet mattress after a night time accident, then blotted with paper towels and re misted. Instead of a urine smell, there was a nice clean scent. I also tried a capful in a load of clothes, including the wet pajamas, and it worked beautifully. I realize you would not want to use it as a laundry additive very often as it wouldn't be cost effective, but I was out of vinegar. Vinegar is my solution of choice for both mattress and laundry disasters. So, in a pinch I know this will work great!

You can also clean your toilet with it. I was skeptical when I first read this, but after trying it I'm a believer. After all, it's designed to kill germs. I actually used it to clean our entire bathroom. As a cleaner I have no complaints, I just do wonder if it kills all the germs that lurk in a bathroom. So, although everything looked clean, I went back over it with actual bathroom cleaner. Again, this would be good if you were out of cleaner.

The last thing I tried was mopping the kitchen floor. To be honest, my floor has never been this clean. It looks beautiful and the kitchen smells great!

So, I had fun experimenting. Although I have since restocked my vinegar supply, I think I'll stash a bottle in the laundry room for emergencies. The bottle I used to experiment is under the sink waiting for the next mopping day. I think there are lots of other things you could use mouthwash for, I just haven't gotten around to trying them yet. As I said before, it is definitely not the most cost effective thing to use as a multipurpose cleaner, but when you have about 10 bottles everyone hates one must get creative.

**Note: I realize that I could have just given these bottles of mouthwash away, but I had a good reason not to. Our family dentist suggested we stop using Crest Pro Health, as it was causing brown spots on some patients' teeth. I did not feel that I should pass along a product that was causing problems, so this is why I decided to "re purpose" the mouthwash.

Edited for clarification. Our dentist does recommend using mouthwash, he likes Listerene, he just advises against this specific type. He did actually suggest using the Night Time Crest Pro Health, so I guess it's not all bad. I also looked this up on the internet and found quite a bit of info. For more information, I suggest checking here and here.

CVS was pretty fun too!

02 April 2008
I had a good day at CVS too, just not as mind blowing as Kroger was.

I came home with:
4 CVS brand pain relief gelcaps
2 Softsoap Spa bodywashes
2 Lady Speedstick 24/7
1 Johnsons Buddy Bar
2 All Small & Mighty
1 20oz. Cherry Coke
5 boxes CVS brand quilted cotton squares (10 per box)

Spent less than $1 out of pochet on 3 transactions and still have $9.98 ECB for next trip.

I really wanted to do the Essence of Beauty deal, but couldn't find products priced good enough to want to try it. I read on Money Saving Mom something about toe dividers, but didn't read that until I got home. Has anyone got the $5 ECB on those? I'd love any input ya'll might have.

My .49 Kroger Shopping Spree!

So, I hit the fantastic sale at Kroger today and did awesome! My total was originally -.60, so I grabbed a couple of candy bars and ended up paying .49! My total savings was $59.45 or 99%! Here's what I got!

2 - 4 rolls pkg. Cottonelle
2- 4lb. bags Domino sugar
1- Betty Crocker boxed blueberry muffin mix
6 tubes Grands biscuits
3 tubes cinnamon rolls
3 tubes crescent rolls
1 Pilsbury pizza crust tube
1 box Hungry Jack instant potatoes
1 Excedrin tube
4 bottles SoBe Life Water
1 box NY Texas Toast
4 Lipton Noodle Side Dishes
3 bottles French's yellow mustard
2 bottles French's spicy brown mustard
1 Temptations cat treats
2 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

I was quite pleased! And the best part is, I was told this is a TWO WEEK sale! I can't wait to get some more great deals! I just had to share. Kroger is most definitely worth shopping this week!

Coupons: I don't know where to start!

01 April 2008
Dear Nessa,
I've told you before that I really want to start bargain shopping and using coupons, but don't know where to start. Can you please email me some pointers on how to use coupons to get the best deals? I do not understand how you get all this stuff for a fraction of the cost with one Sunday newspaper! Help me!
Take Care,

Well, I guess now is the time to cover coupon usage in my blog. :-) If you have any questions I have not answered please email me, I'll be happy to help!

First of all, I do not get awesome deals with just one newspaper's worth of inserts. My advice to the newbie couponer is to get every coupon insert you possible can. Let family, friends, and coworkers know that you'd love to have the inserts out of their Sunday papers if they are just going to toss them. I have several family members who save these for me. Multiples of the same coupons can be a blessing, believe me! My first really good deal was thanks to having multiples. All laundry detergent was on sale 3/$5 or roughly $1.67 each, which in my old way of thinking was a pretty good deal, but I had coupons for .50 off which doubled making each bottle .67 each. I luckily had multiples of the coupon and did not run out of laundry detergent for over six months. So, collect those coupon inserts, they will come in handy!

Another important first step is to figure out the best places to shop. I had always been a Walmart shopper and just knew it was the cheapest place in town to shop. Wrong! Since switching to Kroger and CVS, I've cut our grocery budget in half! So, call all your local stores and ask what their coupon policy is. You may be surprised at what you learn! Ask if they double/triple, how many "like" coupons they will double/triple, if they accept internet printed coupons, if they accept competitors coupons, and if the take expired coupons (you read that right, some stores do this!). You will probably want to call the store itself rather than it's customer service line. Kroger's customer service emailed me their coupon policy and it states very clearly that they do not accept internet printed coupons, yet I know that Kroger stores in the DFW area will. So, get copies in writing if at all possible. Get as much information as you can; you want to get the best deals, but want know what you can and cannot do at each store.
***This seems like a good place to add this thought; go here and print out Walmart's coupon policy, then keep it on you at all times. I have been challenged over my coupon use at Walmart and nowhere else. I get the impression that employees there have very minimal coupon training. Keeping the policy with you, so it can be brought out and consulted in front of cashiers, seems to considerably cut down on problems. If you get copies of any stores' coupon policies, I really recommend keeping them in your coupon organize, should questions ever arise in the store. :-)

When I first started using coupons, I would not even bother cutting some of them out, thinking "we never use so and so". Cut out everything! You may think Brand X salad dressing is to expensive, even with a $1 off coupon, but when it goes on sale 10/$10 you'll wish you hadn't tossed that coupon. This has happened to me more times than I care to remember. And even if it is for something you will truly never use, you may be able to pick it up for just pennies or free and bless someone else with it. So, cut all the coupons out, the worst you are out is a little time and the effort may pay off!

I get a lot of free things that I bless others with. I am for the first time in our lives able to donate to the food pantry and women's shelter. School food drives get good donations from us now; in the past I would scrounge some interesting things form the back of our pantry. HBA we will not use go to the shelters or in care packages for our troops. It is awesome that by saving our family money, I am able to bless others as well!

The next step is to get organized. When I first started I was using one of those small accordion style, pre-labeled coupon clutches. One good Sunday with multiple inserts and I found that was just not going to work. I went through several organizational methods until I found the one I like, my binder. The trick here is to find what works for you and everyone is different. There is a lot of information to found online about this. I have been using the binder method for awhile now, but honestly haven't found a way of organizing it that suits me. I tried reorganizing yesterday, I am hoping I've finally got it right! But, as I said what works for me may not work for me, and vice versa. Some options to use are a binder, an index card box, a hinged plastic shoe box, I know of one woman that uses a briefcase, or you can buy several premade coupon organizers online. You may have to try several things before you find the one for you.

This is a work in progress. In the next portion of this article, we'll cover how to actually start using the coupons you've so careful collected and organized. Until then, comment or email me if you have any question. Also, if there is anything specific you'd like me to cover as far as coupons go, please feel free to ask.