Thursday, January 31, 2008

Big Shopping Day!

Some of my favorite frugal blogs such as MoneySavingMom and imommies, along with hotcouponworld have given me much reason to save my shopping for today! Today Walgreens is having a one day only coupon for $5/20 purchase...and since my Walgreens rebate arrived this week, today is the perfect day to get this month's FAR (free after rebate) items! Another great blog, Centsible Shopper, gave me ideas for some other things to buy that we need, or are almost free...yeah!

Other great deals in my area are to be found at Safeway, including free coca cola products (Buy2Get3free) when you buy Hallmark cards (I did this deal in December and it worked great!), and free or almost free Sara Lee products after a catalina for $10 back prints out for every 5 items purchased.

Also, Fred Meyer has very cheap cream cheese ($3/10) when you buy 10 Kraft brand. They also have some great deals on near expiration dairy products sometimes.

Since today is the last day of the month, starting tomorrow is eat from the pantry/freezer what a great day to end my shopping for a the month!!

PS, if anyone can help me be super cool and link to other blogs and such in the text of my post (eg: to Money Saving Mom) you will be my favorite for the day...even week:)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cheesy Bow-Tie Casserole

So Mac N Cheese (homemade) was on the menu for last night, but I had picked up several boxes of Bow-Tie shaped pasta 4/$5 (plus free eggs) at Albies this weekend, so I decided to use that instead. As a result, here is my recipe for Cheesy Bow-Tie Casserole adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook's Macaroni and Cheese recipe.

Cheesy Bow-Tie Casserole

10 oz bow tie pasta, cooked al dente
2 TBS butter (I use a lower fat soft spread)
3/4 cup onions, chopped finely
2 1/2 cups milk (I used nonfat powdered, reconstituted)
2 TBS flour
2 1/2 cups cheese (I like to use Sharp, but a combo of cheddar and american works)

Directions: melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender. Add flour and stir until onions are evenly coated. Add milk all at once. Stir and cook until slightly thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add cooked noodles and stir. Put in 8 X 8 baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle additional small handful of cheese on top and cook until melted (3 minutes or so).

Monday, January 28, 2008

She's growing up too fast!

My baby girl is starting to reach for toys now and can even grasp some things (like baby blankies with stuffed toys attached). She seems like such a big girl now! In just a week and a half she will be 4 months old. She giggles at least once a day now, and smiles all the time...especially first thing in the morning when we first come in to get her. It is such a joy to see her eyes light up with recognition for mommy or daddy! I love that little punker-nootie(one of her many dorky nick names from mommy) :)

Soft Cookies

My kitchen tip for today is for softer cookies. I always take cookies out of the oven a minute or two before they are supposed to be done to cut down on too hard cookies. They seem to be underdone when they first come out, but a few minutes later they look (and taste!) soft and perfectly done! Other things I routinely do to our cookies is substitute some whole wheat flour and use 1/2 the chocolate chips to make them a little healthier (so we can eat more:)

Menu Plan Monday (last week before pantry/freezer month)

Monday: Homemade Mac N Cheese (Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

Tuesday: Mexican Casserole

Wednesday: Roast Chicken and mashed potatoes

Thursday: Chicken and Dumplings

Friday: Homemade Pizza and carrot sticks

Saturday: Golden Potato Soup and Cheesy Biscuits

Sunday: Super Bowl Party at Church--bringing soda pop and chips, but will eat there

February is clean out freezer/pantry month!

February’s clean out the pantry/freezer dinner menu plan:

Enchiladas (from freezer—homemade) served with beans & salsa and salad
Spinach Ravioli (from freezer—2 meals)
Homemade Mac & Cheese (Better Homes and Gardens cookbook) frozen veggies
Baked Potato Bar
Mexican Casserole serve with veggies of some sort!
Pizza (1 time a week) with carrot sticks
Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Tasty Turkey Casserole (recipe from my lovely MIL, Karen!)
Apricot Barbequed Turkey (recipe from my lovely MIL, Karen!)with Brown Rice
Ranch Turkey Pasta Dinner (recipe from my lovely MIL, Karen!)
Chili and Cornbread
Golden Potato Soup ( Cheese Garlic Biscuits
Lentil/Barley and Ham Soup
Skillet Beef with Lentils (More with Less)
Pasta Carbonara with frozen mixed veggies on side
Stir-Fry Supreme (recipezaar..modified) with Brown Rice
Bacon Macaroni Bake (from PreciousInfants blog, which was submitted by Miss Pear) Hearty Ham Casserole (
Pasta Lasagna(
Fried Rice

Since this is clean out the pantry/freezer month, I am relying heavily on meats with already have, so there is barely an beef in this list, which is usually not the case…we eat ground beef casseroles/soups at least 2 times a week most weeks.

Other nights: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup or Leftovers (leftovers for dinner are rare for us, since we both eat leftovers for the lunch the next day every day. For breakfasts we have homemade muffins, pancakes, waffles and the like. Snacks are usually popcorn, cold cereal (have lots of this from sales), homemade granola.

So...I will need to buy a few things THIS month to get ready for clean out pantry/freezer meal planning, such as flour, yeast,canned diced tomatoes, large bag of onions, and carrots. Most likely I will run out of cheese at some point and need to buy some of that too. I will be buying milk or eggs at Walgreens when we run out, just so I stay out of the grocery store and am not tempted to buy more "good deals"! More to come...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Word for the day...

I haven't posted about this yet, but last year I tried to read through the Bible. I have read through the Bible before, but not in one calendar year. I signed up for the ESV daily Bible reading plan online, and a chunk of OT, NT, and a bit of Psalms and Proverbs were sent to me each day. Well...a little while later I found out I was expecting and was also doing two Bible studies at the time, so I fell off the wagon. This year, I am at home, not "working" (for the time being at least) and have started again. It is working great for me because I can listen to the Word while nursing or doing housework, so even if my time to sit down and really STUDY is short with my munchkin needing attention etc., I can still be exposed to a good portion of God's word Daily.

So. Today's OT portion was Genesis 50- Exodus 1-2:10. Here is one of my favorite passages dealing with the Sovereignty of God and grace.

When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died, ‘Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people [2] should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

This is from the English Standard Version and came from: in case you were wondering!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Those shoes were made for walkin'

My frugal friday post this week is something I thought about while walking little munchkin in her stroller today. I am working on my last 15ish lbs of post-preggo weight and have started logging quite a few miles on my shoes. I hope to start running again soon...but anywhoooooo....

My tip is to invest in good quality comfortable walking/exercise tennies and to USE them!! Not only can it be a cheap form of exercise (no fancy gym membership required) but those of us who live within a mile or two of local grocery stores, post offices and libraries can save money on gas at the same time. This is a bit of a "given" for a tip, but I know sometimes I can use the reminder to get out there and walk!

We live in the downtown area of our town, and I love to get fresh air and sunshine (when there is any...where we live is notoriously cloudy and grey) and actually have a place to go when I am walking. This gives me a feeling of acomplishment when walking too.

Here's a pic of our cutie ready to go to the store last month!

Pics of the Munchkin...3 months

She is trying SO hard to crawl...she doesn't realize its going to be awhile before she's strong enough!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pantry/Freezer for a month...freezer contents

This post will be a work in progress for a while since my three month old doesn't let me have a super long attention span in posting...but might as well get it started!

Freezer Contents:
Large Turkey
Small Whole Chicken
Full package of skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 lb package of ground turkey
1 package of polish dogs
frozen brocoli
frozen mixed veggies
spinach/cheese ravioli
homemade enchiladas (large pan)
small homemade carrot cake
2 small packages of extra cookie dough
one package bacon
one lb of lean ground beef
frozen cooked beans

more later...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

True Confessions...

of a frugal, former bank employee, with a dad who is a VP in the banking industry...

I NEVER balance my checkbook.

Glad I got that off my chest:) The End.

Kitchen Tip Tuesday...baking two compatible things at once

My kitchen tip for Kitchen Tip Tuesday over at Tammy's recipes is one that I use to save time--on dishes and baking.

When baking, I try to do two very simple recipes at once, such as (Tammy's) Banana Pineapple Bread and homemade granola, that have overlapping ingredients and cooking temps. For example, I will mix up the Banana Pineapple Bread and get that in the oven, leaving out the oil, sugar, and oats (I added some to the bread) and then --using the same bowl-- will mix up the granola and stick it in for part of the bread's cooking time. I don't mind the little bit of batter that's left on the bowl that I mix the granola in after the bread...which may not be the case for everyone though:)! Then I put all of the ingredients away and wash the dishes...which are considerably less than if I were to do these two separately while I keep an eye on the granola, which takes less time than the bread. I think this probably saves on electricity too!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday---getting ready for pantry month

Monday: Leftovers (made too much chicken & rice and cheesy lentils last week)

Tuesday: Chili & Tomato Soup with homemade biscuits

Wednesday: Spinach cheesy pasta dish (from last week...didn't make this yet)

Thursday: Stuffed peppers (we have our own recipe...will post soon)

Friday: Crystal's homemade pizza (cheese & salami) & carrot sticks

Saturday: Grilled cheese & soup(I will be at all day ladies this is what hubby will be preparing:)

Sunday: Church fellowship group ---someone else is cooking!

This is a weird our menu isn't very month we will be almost solely cooking from the pantry/freezer, so that week will be more creative.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Eat from the pantry...for a month

In visiting frugal blogs, and getting my feet wet in the whole couponing arena, I have acquire an "ahem" rather FULL pantry. And living in a <700>

Since we've also had some unexpected expenses lately (see post on "what not to do in a rental car) I thought I would try something different for our grocery shopping. We are going to declare February "eat from the pantry MONTH"! I didn't mention before, but our tiny freezer is also crammed full, so full its difficult to shut sometimes! So....I think this will be a very good thing:)

Here are my own self-imposed guidelines for the month:

1) no grocery shopping except in these cases: we need milk or have company coming and cannot complete a basic company-friendly recipe without an ingredient, OR something is free or super close to free with a coupon. A really good deal doesn't cut it

2) I will stock up on fruits and veggies before the month begins, in a storable form ( frozen veggies, or things that don't spoil quickly like apples, onions, carrots, etc.)

3) household items will be bought(en?) at a place other than the grocery store to lower temptation

I will update at least once a month on meals etc. , and how we're faring! Oh, and to give you background on our family...its just me and the hubby and a 31/2 month old baby:)

Visit Crystal at Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday ideas!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Delicioso Chili

Here is my recipe for chili. I am sure there are others similar to it, so I can't take 100% credit. But I did make it up at the time, all by my little self.

Delicioso Chili

a couple cans of kidney beans, undrained
a couple cans of other kinds of beans, drained
can of corn
one largish onion, chopped, tiny
one large can of chopped tomatoes
one small can of tomato sauce or paste, whatever you got
1 lb of ground beef
chili powder and garlic powder, to taste
one small can of mushrooms (optional)

Fry the beef with the onions, when cooked, add everything else. Cook until hot in a big pot on medium heat. Eat with cornbread. Delicioso!

What not to do in a rental car

Don't worry, this is a family friendly post.

So after our little dancing with the snowbank incident in our precious honda on Christmas eve, we had to get a rental car. To replace our car while it got its owies fixed. Its snowing outside as I wrestle with the carseat that was obviously made by someone much smarter than I, trying to safely install it in the backseat. I have baby, so I lay her on the front seat. I get in the backseat, shut the door, try to install said evil carseat, and realize I am locked in. After much frantic attempting to unlock the door, I give up, and throw my not so tiny self over the car seats. Not pretty. All the while trying not to step on our sweet, screaming baby.

All this happened after an entire box of mandarin oranges spilled from our car to the parking lot. I've had better days.

Bacon Bacon Bacon!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday---Inexpensive & Kinda healthy

I am going to have to push myself to stick to this menu since I am posting it for all to see! I don't have issues with actually cooking each night (we rarely eat out and I love to cook), but I am more of a "creative spirit" when it comes to each day's menu. I like to have an idea of what I could cook, but not to be tied down by it. If inspiration hits, I like to follow! So we'll see how this goes:)

Monday: Loaded Potato Soup (, a turkey parmigeana dish I made up, and biscuits.

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Chili and Cornbread (the chili is my recipe..I will post soon)

Thursday: Cherly's Spinach Cheesy Pasta Casserole from

Friday: Homemade Pizza using Crystal's recipe @ Biblical Womanhood and carrot sticks

Saturday: Roast Chicken, carrots and potatoes

Sunday: Baked Lentils and Cheese from "More with Less" cookbook

That's it folks! Now if I could learn to link to my post I could give you the recipes.

Hair color on the cheap

I started getting grey hair when I was 15 years old...lame! So by now (I am almost 27) I have a good amount, mostly on top, in a few patches. I've been coloring my hair to cover the grey since my teens. Up until a few years ago I used bottled color from the store, with mixed results. I didn't stay consistent with the color and ended up with brassy tones and even accidentally went black a few times. I have dark brown hair but do NOT look good in black hair. Well after a few too many accidents and hair that was several not-so-pretty shades, I decided to check out the local skills center that is a part of the school district I worked (work for...I will go back part time when baby is 5 months old for the remainder of the school year) for and see if it was worth the money. Its been an adventure for sure, but its been worth it most of the time. Hair cuts are an awesome deal because I can't do my own hair (yet...a frugal skill I want to acquire) and its only $3. Hair coloring is up for debate I guess...right now its worth it to me to look decent while I have a professional job and spend the extra $20 a month. When we are on the mission field, I think I will go back to the bottle color, and just be more careful about sticking with the same color. Come to think of it, I won't have much of a choice if we are in Papua New Guinea with no hair salon! At left is a picture of my hair as it is now...,a color I actually like.

Friday, January 11, 2008

5 ways we save $100/year

1. Cloth Diapers: Our first baby was born in October and we use plain old fashioned pre-fold cloth diapers with Dappi diaper covers during the days with her. This saves at least $100/year, probably a lot more (I hang most of the diapers to dry on wooden racks, which saves on drying costs)

2. More with Less Cookbook. I have learned how to utilize cheap sources of protein such as lentils, beans, brown rice and whole grains as a regular part of our cooking from this cookbook. Combining these with a little meat adds more bang for the buck$$!

3. Bike to Work/No drive days. My hubby bikes from our house to a ferry, then bikes the rest of his commute to work every day. The drive-on ferry pass costs > $400/month, and the bike pass <$90, so we save several hundred a month by doing this. It benefits my husband's health too of course! There are drawbacks of course...including riding in bad weather, more potential for injuries, but so far these have been bearable and minimal and hubby is a trooper! Since I am staying at home with my munchkin (3 months old) and not working anymore I try to use our one car less. I make a point to stay home every other day if possible.

4. No TV/No landline. We both have cell phone contracts, so we don't really need a landline. We decided early on in our marriage that a tv was a bad idea for our marriage, so we have no costs associated with that. Instead we watch dvd's on our computer once a week during our date night, and make Crystal's frugal pizza recipe (its the best!)

5. Soda/Coffee at home. I used to pick up the occasional soda or latte during my work day, but now I make/drink my caffeine from home:) I can get good deals at sales and save approx. $100/year by doing that...although once a month I still get a latte at Starbucks:)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Spinach casserole

On our dinner menu tonight....from one of my favorite recipe websites ( is Spinach casserole. The coolest thing about and why I frequent it for recipes several nights a week is that you can do an ingredient search and look up recipes that have what you need to use up!

Tonight I had some leftover tomato sauce and LOTS of spinach after getting a huge bag at COSTCO this past weekend, so Spinach casserole is what I came up with.

The other fav recipe site is Tammy' Tammy, the site's owner, writes the instructions for each recipe and reviews it (with her own pics) and typically only does recipes that are family friendly (not too "out there") and fairly inexpensive. I have tried dozens of recipes from her site, such as Italian Cheese Bread, our favorite. She also writes about homemaking topics sich as cloth diapering and pregancy tips, which I love to read about.

Just tried the Spinach casserole mentioned about, and its...only so-so. I think since the recipe called for frozen spinach and I used fresh, I should've made adjustments to the recipe to compensate somehow. Win some, lose some. Oh well.

On other topics, today I read some more articles about VBACS. Since I had PIH or pre-eclampsia with my first pregnancy, labor was induced and at 5 cm fetal heartbeat deceleration was detected and the dr. ordered a c-section. We had gone through part of the Bradley Method class and had a birth plan with many natural childbirth elements in it. Besides laboring for 10 hours (after my water broke after 2 days of Pitocin/Cervadil treatments) with no pain meds, we pretty much had to throw the Birth Plan out the window. We did hire the most wonderful doula in the world, Michelle Hill and that was a highlight. She is a sweet Christian doula would was such a support to both Hubby and I during the whole process. My C-section went smoothly, but I was very disappointed that I had to have it. Thankfully, baby was healthy and I recovered well. Breastfeeding has gone well despite my having taken just about every medication in the hospital while there! I would love to hear about any info on successful VBACS. We are planning on having our children fairly close together so I am already planning for our next pregancy (baby is 3 months old today).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

First giggles

Baby giggled for the first time yesterday! I am somewhat embarassed to admit that she laughed in response to some very dorky dancing her mom a certain girl group yet to be unnamed, to a song called "SpiceWorld" (I am sure you can't guess who sings it:)

It was SO cute (the giggling, not the dancing).

Friday, January 4, 2008

I Sold it--ebay

Hubby is out taking his ill-conceived purchase (before we married) of skiis and ski gear to ISOLDIT on ebay. We haven't been successful at selling them ourselves so we are going to give this a try. Since all they've been doing is eating up precious space in our small closet and NOT garnering any income, any profit will be better than nothin'! I will let you all know how it goes.

*Note: Hubby isn't the only one who's made silly purchases, its just that this one came about when I wanted to write about something:)

Walk in the park

Today baby and I went out and braved the elements to get to the park. She in the stroller that has uncooperative front wheels and in a huge purple fleece bear suit of sorts and me in highly inappropriate for walking clogs. The sun finally came out after rain all morning, so I thought I would take our chances. Walking to the park I realized how lucky we are to live near the waterfront park where I can get some excercise while baby sleeps in her stroller (thankfully she conked out within a few!).

Well...back to my favorite subject Made two new recipes from the More with Less cookbook...No knead Whole Wheat Bread and Carrot and Cheese Stew (not sure if that's the exact name of the soup). The bread looks great...which is awesome since my yeast breads almost always turn out like rocks:)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My first favorite!

I just re-read one of my favorite books, really a cookbook--More with Less. Its become a favorite of mine because of its helpfulness not only in cooking using less financial resources, but also because most of the recipes are healthy and filling too. Since I am still 15 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, this is an essential quality. I made the whole wheat orange bread and one of the granola recipes yesterday and they are so tasty and filling I am sure they will be gone soon!