Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Ive looked all morning for some freebies or good deals with no luck at all. So instead I thought I would share with you our Halloween idea's. As you know by now, we literally do not like to eat sugar or fatty foods. Candy is full of both of these so each time Halloween comes around I cringe. My girls have each been through the stage of wanting candy and eating till they felt sick. We let them do this for one reason, so they can learn why candy (sugar) is bad for them and what it does to their bodies. The sugar rush is fun , sure. The come down later is no fun. Oh and don't forget about the horrible tummy ache from your body going into shock of usually no sugar to holy cow way too much sugar. Once they learn their lesson, they know sugar is a love hate relationship and they need to take easy with it. So this year is the first year that all 4 of my girls know better and I really do not need to stress about it. Yeah!
Each year we head out and do our usual trick or treating. We usually will go up and down about 2 streets and its enough for all of us. And due to us having 4 children, we have a ton of candy. Serious, a ton of candy. I would love to skip Halloween all together and not have to worry about the sugar but all kids need to have the fun of trick or treating. I would never take this away from them. But each year its always the same. "What do we do with all this candy?". We do not ever eat candy, actually the closest thing they come to candy is the mints that grandma gives them. Usually some sort of tick tack thing. Other than that, no candy. Instead of keeping the candy on the fridge and it gathers dust until the next Halloween and then we just throw it out. Ive come up with some creative ways to use the candy.

1. Go through and throw out any candy with opened wrappers, iffy packaging, or things that look unsafe to eat.
2. Anything that can be used in baking is set aside. M&M's, chocolate bars, etc. These will be used in cookies or treats for later use. This is great because I do not have to purchase any later!
3. My girls pick out a handful of candy they would like to eat sometime.
4. After the kids go to bed, we as parents pick out what we want to eat for a little sugar high some other time. I usually pick the dark chocolate if there any, and the hubby will pick out anything involving peanut butter and chocolate. Bless his sweet tooth.
5.I have 2 birthdays in the next 3 weeks coming up. My twins turn 5 and my middle daughter turns 9. So this candy could come in handy when I am making goody bags. My oldest probably will want bubble gum in hers so all gum will be saved. And my twins will probably want it all. They are not picky at this age so anything with sugar in it is game. So they will pick some for their goody bags. Again saving me money.
56. Last but not least my husband will take everything else to work. He works with a lot of men and they will usually pick it apart until its all gone.

This is a great plan for us. This way there is no candy lingering and no begging from my children. They have had their picks for later, we have stuff for treats later, and we do not have to stare at it all year. Win win if you ask me.

I have heard that many dentist are paying children for bringing in their Halloween in to the office. They give about $1 per lb of candy. What a great idea! Maybe call your dentist and see if they are doing this. I hear most are donating the candy to services that send goody packages to our men and women fighting for us over sea's. This helps in many ways. Helps your children not eat so much candy and preventing future dentist visits in return saving you money. Helps the dentist teach your children why we should not eat so much candy and what it does to your teeth. And also it helps a good cause. What a great idea to send a little sweet treat to our troops.

Please be safe this year. But most of all have fun!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Well stacked pantry

We have all heard the saying "Well stacked lady" well in the frugal world I call my pantry a "Well stacked pantry". One to admire and feel proud of how I searched and saved money getting each and every item. How organized and wonderful it truly is. Plus you have to keep your humor in any part of your life so it might as well be in my pantry too.
I have 2 of them to be exact. One pantry in my laundry room for jellies, dried produce or anything I have done to preserve them for later use. Keeping them in a dark cool place will help them keep for much longer. I also have a pantry for my baking items which I keep in my kitchen itself. One whole cabinet full of items I use to bake. I keep a mental note of how much I have, how much I need, and what items I need to keep an eye out for sales.
Over the years I have found certain foods that keep for a long time, foods that are cheap, and foods that help us get by until the next check. You know those days, you do not get paid for another 5 days and you need to make all your food stretch as far as you can because you truly do not have any money. Everyone has had one of those times. So for those who just do not know what to do to make your dollar stretch, here you go. This list is for you.

Beans beans the magical fruit-Yes we've all heard the rest of that phrase. lol. Beans of any sort can be bought in bulk for 30 cents-over a buck per pound. You just pick what kind you like and work around it. If your really in a pinch, pick the cheapest and work around that one. Chili, refried beans, soups, baked beans, etc . There are so many things you can make with beans. Bulk is best for a few reasons. They last forever, serious. Soak overnight and cook on medium heat until tender. Once cooked they can be put in the freezer for later use. Making them last another 3 months. Packed with lots of protein, beans are a bang for your buck.

Popcorn-Again bought in bulk. this can be your snack food. Pop them in a pan, an old air popper( like mine that I bought at a yard sale for $1.50 a few years ago), or how ever you want to cook them your fancy. Try your hand at different seasonings. Maybe spicy, sweet, or salty. Have fun at it. This snack will save you lots of money, last forever in your pantry, and is super cheap.

Peanut Butter-This one is a staple in our home. My girls have a peanut butter and jelly(homemade always different each week) sandwich each day for lunch. Again a great source of protein. Use in a sauce to add a salty touch or just for your lunches. But beware when you buy it. Cheaper peanut butters will have sugar in them. Save money and grind your own or buy Adams Peanut Butter. This way you can have salt or no salt and control what goes into your body.

Homemade broth-Just having broth instead of water in your meal adds so much flavor. This is free if you think about it. Each time you cook meat with bones or cut up veggies, put them to good use. Meat bones can be put in a pot and add water. Simply boil for about 20 minutes and your done. Broth! Simply put into the freezer for later use. Anytime you cut up veggies save the bits and ends in the freezer until you have a few cups worth. Then put in a pot with some water and again boil for about 20 minutes. Yummy veggie broth for free! Again freeze for later use. This is a great way to control your sodium, those canned brands are loaded with sodium. Best yet, when you make it at home its FREE!

Root veggies-Carrots, potatoes, beets, onions etc. All these items are usually the cheapest and great because they last forever in your dark pantry. I grew potato's and they are in my pantry right now awaiting me to cook them. I dug them up about 2 months ago and they are still fine in my pantry.Carrots can be put into dirt into your pantry and will last forever. I found that putting them in my fridge makes them last long for me. I use them in almost each meal. So stock up on these when they go super cheap even if you do not need them. They last forever.

Cabbage-Don't turn your nose up at this one! I have my kids hooked on cabbage now. We eat stir fry and chow mien often and cabbage is in both of these dishes. Anytime I make veggie soup, I throw some in there too. Cabbage is sweet and super yummy. Plus last forever in your fridge. 2 weeks ago I picked up a head of cabbage the size of a soccer ball. I'm still using it and will probably use it for another 2 weeks. Best part is that I picked it up for only 50 cents. Yes!

Eggs-another great way to get protein in your diet. I buy the largest pack of eggs I can find. Winco has them usually for $4 for 5 dozen. Crazy cheap if you ask me. They just went up to $6 so I grabbed one even though we didn't need them. I know egg prices are gonna rise higher so I would rather pay a tiny bit more now than way more later. They can get up to $10. We use them for pancakes, fried egg's, egg drop soup, baking, etc. Eggs never go to waste in my home.

Oats-not only are these healthy but they are super cheap! In bulk you can get them for as low as 45 cent per pound. I bought a 25 lb bag of them for $9.99 which made them 39 cents per lb. You can use them for breakfast to make oatmeal, in oatmeal bread, and homemade granola. They will last months in your pantry.

Rice-I use brown rice myself so I pay a tiny bit more. But you can use white rice and get it for super cheap. The thing is that brown rice takes longer for your body to break down, keeping you filled for longer, and you don't go looking for snacks within 1 hr of dinner. Or you can buy white rice, your body will digest it super quick and then your hungry again within 1 yr. Your personal choice. Some people prefer the taste of white rice. Either way rice will last forever and can be used in hundreds of recipes. Poor girls breakfast, rice cakes, plain rice, oriental dishes, or even rice salad's.

Pasta-I use whole wheat noodles which are a tiny bit more expensive. Just like rice, keeps you filled for longer. It does take a bit to get used to the texture but once you do you will not go back to regular noodles. They taste slimy to me now. You can make noodle dishes, or cold salads with them. Endless possibilities. Again the last forever in your pantry.

Fruit-We eat only what is in season. Banana's are always cheap so they are usually what we eat. Apples are super cheap right now. Any fruit that's less than $1 per pound will be in our home. If I can freeze it or can it for later, its done. Quince fruit I was able to get my hands on for free so I turned them into jelly. Sometimes I cut fruit into slices and freeze for later use. These are great for cobbler or used in yogurt. We eat it , if it goes bad quick we freeze it, and if I have no room in my freezer then I dehydrate it. Everything is used and nothing goes to waste.

Meat-Our daughters are vegetarians so this makes it super easy for us. But our dog is on a only meat diet so I do buy a lot of chicken. I buy markdown chicken and freeze it for later use. I will buy any type of meat marked down for the hubby and I. I will never pay more than $1 per pound for any meat. Even if you do not need meat at that moment and you find a great deal, do not pass it up. Just freeze it for later use. This takes the stress away from you having to find something for dinner and nothing is on sale. Our meals are fun because you never know what were going to eat. Lots of interesting meals in our home.

Drinks-When you have no money to buy anything , just drink water. One thing we cut out 99% when we went frugal was soda. Biggest waste of money ever! Not only are you buying soda that last maybe 2 days, but your filling your body with a ton of sugar and even sodium. Ive now converted to natural frozen juice instead of crystal light. All natural is our way. I buy frozen juice for as cheap as I can find it. The juice calls for you to pour frozen juice into pitcher and fill that can with 3 more full of water. I do it 3 1/2 instead. This makes it not so sweet which we prefer and makes it go longer. Our home is filled with frozen juice and milk only. This will save you a bundle. Cut the soda habit!

I could go on and on but here are other things I keep in my pantries always.

Whole Wheat Flour
Unbleached Flour
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Ground Flax Seed
Powdered Milk (used for gravy etc)
Brown Sugar
Saltine Crackers
Canned tomato's (used for spaghetti. unfortunately I did not grow enough to can but did dehydrate cherry and pear tomato's for later use)
Tomato Soup

Now you have a list so get creative. Even if you have the money to go buy more food, make a challenge out of it. Try to use what you have for a few days and not go to the store. I do this at times just for fun. Another way to save yourself money (especially in the stores) is to read labels. Read the ingredient list, sugar content, and sodium content. This alone will keep you from buying so many things. Just do it next time you go grocery shopping and you will go into shock. Its crazy how much sodium and sugar companies pump into their products. Makes my stomach turn thinking about it. My rule of thumb:If I cannot pronounce it, its not good and its not going into my home. Only the lowest sugar and sodium content goes into my cart. We make a game of it too. My girls like to read labels and pick which ones they think are the healthiest. They know healthy food is super food. And what kid doesn't want to be a super hero?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Goodies for Giving *Brownie Mix*

This would be a great gift for any chocolate lover. Simple and oh so yummy!

Brownie Mix

4 cups all-purpose flour 4 tsp baking powder
6 cups sugar 3 tsp salt
3 cups baking cocoa 2 cups shortening

Combine first five ingredients; mix well. Cut in shortening. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Mix makes enough for 8 batches of brownies. Attach instructions.

Combine 2 cups mix, 2 eggs, one tsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts; stir until moistened. Spread in a lightly greased 8"x8" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until set in the center. Cut into 2-inch squares. Makes 16.

Tips: Jars are great for this gift. Maybe also add some holiday sprinkles for a seasonal touch. Wrap some extra ribbon around the lid and your done.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My household daily routines

I have many friends who are trying their best to live greener, and I have many friends who do not. Difference makes the world go round if you ask me. I do my best to help them become greener but do not enforce it. I do get many questions from people about how I do things, where I get my idea's, and what my daily routines are. So I thought I would give a peek into my daily routine. I think its boring but maybe you might find it interesting or inspiring.

Face Wash-Dr Bronners liquid or bar. You can use this for anything you want. I use the bar to wash my face. Liquid is used for everyday cleaning, hand soap, and Ive heard you can brush your teeth with is.

Toothpaste-Toms of Maine or anything natural. Looking forward to trying this new one out called "Natures Gate Cherry Gel" bought at Whole Foods for $3.99.

Mouthwash-Hydrogen Peroxide . Cheap and it works

Toothbrush-Preserve toothbrush bought at Trader Joe's. Great curved handle makes it easier to brush your teeth. When you purchase it, remember to pick up the mailing bag that comes with it. When your done and need a new brush, simply put your old toothbrush inside the bag and its paid shipping bag brings it back to the plant to be recycled into another tooth brush. The toothbrush itself is made from recycled yogurt containers. Plus Plus! Toothbrush cost around $2-$3

Deodorant-Toms of Maine natural roll on. I buy unscented but you can get it scented too. Contains no unnatural or animal ingredients. Also their products are not tested on animals. Cost around $3. Only use deodorant when I am actually doing physical work. I avoid sweat at all possible. yuck!

Lotion-Burt Bee's Thoroughly Therapeutic honey and orange wax body lotion. Super lightweight but very silky. Paraben and phthalate free. Bottles are made of 90% post consumer recycled material. Has a very light and delicate smell that does not overpower your sense's. If I am low on money, Trader Joe's has a all natural lotion for only $2.99. Its really nice and silky too.

Make Up-I do not use it on a daily basis. I do own some Physicians Formula powdered beads, and a few random organic things. But rarely do I ever use any. Only for that once a year date with the hubby. Or if a unwanted zit comes my way. Ugg.

Feminine Products- Most are Kotex. For one reason I get amazing coupons from the products themselves, their website, or just from the web. Kotex is amazing in this way. I recycle all paper from the products that I can and also the plastic. Yes its recyclable! Applicators fully rinsed and plastic wrapped pads can be recycled. All paper tabs from pads can be recycled as well. I do buy Seventh Generation as much as I can. But only with a coupon and a sale. Fred Meyers is great for this one. I want to start using fabric handmade feminine pads but scared to try. I have them and stare at them each time I open the drawer. Maybe it will be my next project......

Perfume-again I rarely use it. But I do own a ton of Victoria Secret lotions and body sprays. These were bought before my "greener shade" came out. I just cannot see myself throwing out all the money I spent on these. So I use them when needed and they collect dust. I have my eye on some fabulous perfumes at Whole Foods and New Seasons. They are wonderful and alcohol free ones. I will try my best to get better details later. All other perfumes were bought on super 90% off sales after Christmas. Will not spend very much on them.

Nail Polish-I own some, cant remember where I bought them, which makes them super old. I rarely use it if at all. Again collecting dust. Trying to figure out how to recycle them.

Jewelry-My wedding band is my most cherished jewelry. Also a set of diamond ear rings I wear daily. These were a Christmas gift from the hubby. Otherwise all other jewelry were bought at thrift stores or made by myself. Again sit there and collect dust. I should wear them more often.

Clothing-90% bought at Goodwill outlet. I pay pennies for everything I own. I wear name brands just like every other person in the world. Abercrombie jeans because I have no butt and these are perfect for tiny hinys. American Eagle too if I can find them. Hollister shirts because they fit well for small chested women. All bought used and from Goodwill outlet. Same goes for my children. If not bought at Goodwill Outlet, then from garage sales or thrift shops. about 9 % are from there or given to me from friends and family. 1 % is undies that we buy new. Its pretty much the only thing we buy new. My girls hand down theirs to their sisters, only done in the family not to anyone else. I take care in washing my girls underpants.

Shoe's-Again bought used most the time. I find shoe's that fit them now or will soon. I take them home and wash them. Set aside to dry then they can have them to wear or I put them away for when they do fit later. If I find a amazing deal and less than $10, I will buy them new. Thinking of the years before when I bought a pair of heels for $50 makes me cringe. I cannot believe I did that. Wish I had that $50 now lol. Man I was stupid.

Hair cuts-I try to trim my girls hair myself every few months. When it gets way too long I start looking for coupons to local hair cutting shops. $7.99 is my limit on this. Great Clips is wonderful about giving coupons out every few months. My hair I get cut maybe once a year or 8 months. My hair is half way down my back right now and getting on my nerves. Getting stuck in my arm pits, stuck in my shirts, in my face, and just annoying. Looking for a coupon as we speak. I cannot cut my hair and don't trust my girls lol.

Hair dye-I buy $3 color kits from Target. Yep only $3. I do it every 2-3 months. Were talking less than $20 for a year of hair dye. Works all the same as the rest. I'm looking for a greener alternative currently and will fill you in on it when I find one. I don't even want to know whats in the kind I'm using right now. Yikes!

Vitamins and medicines-Only type of medicine I use is a Costco brand allergy medicine. Ive tried the all natural kind and they just do not work for me. Still looking for a good one so until then, this will work. Plus its super cheap. $4 for 300 pills. We do not use medicines if possible. Only fever reducer is in our home. Kids liquid and adult pills. Otherwise its all natural methods. Sore throat and cough, we use honey and tea. We drink organic unfiltered vinegar daily as a body cleanser. I look up my ailment and try out the natural herb that will work for me. This has been very helpful and much cheaper than buying a expensive medicine that will just dope us up. I don't want to even know whats in those medicines. Bad dyes, and who knows what kind of preservatives. No thanks! I do buy a daily vitamin from Trader Joe's. They come in a honey bear( like the kind honey comes in) plastic bottle and they are all natural with no fillers or preservatives. They take these when they are feeling sick only. We eat so healthy that there is no need for them each day. I also take a multivitamin only when im sick.

Garbage and recycling-My neighbors and I share a garbage service. Since we rarely fill our trash bin and the same for them, we just share one service. One trash bin and one recycling bin for paper under our kitchen sink. In our laundry room we have 2 bags for recyclable plastics. One for bags of any kind. Bread bags, garbage bags, store bags, etc. The other bag is for all other plastics. Lids, rings round new products, broken plastic toys, etc. Garbage is for anything we cannot recycle. Foam(we avoid buying), or anything else. We pay the garbage bill in our name, they give us 1/2 the money, and they recycle plastics at our local plastic recyclers once a month.

Food Waste-My best friend bought me a wonderful compost bin at Cost Plus Market. I love that store and could spend hours in it looking at all the wonderful world products. The compost bin was only $15 and is a porcelain. The lid you simply put in a coal filter to keep smells inside. Filters are only $1.99 but I have yet to replace mine. I simply wash mine with water once in a while and its new again. It has a metal handle so its easy to just bring outside and dump. I dump about once a day in the morning hours. I have a 3 system compost area in my garden. This will make lovely soil for my garden later. We try not to have food waste and use up what we can. Most our waste is potato skins, apple cores, coffee grounds, coffee biodegradable filters, and things like that.

Laundry Soap-If I can get Seventh Generation or any green product like them on sale with a coupon, I will snag a few. Otherwise I make my own. Look in my archives and you will find the recipe. I use less than 1/2 recommended amount of soap because we just do not roll around in dirt and don't work up a sweat. We are clean people so why waste the soap? Still comes out clean and smelling good. I use a HE washer which uses less water and my clothes are barely wet when they come out. I have a old dryer that I only have to put in for a few minutes to completely dry them. All thanks to my handy washer. I hang dry outside whenever possible again saving energy. No dryer sheets used or liquid softener. I use dryer balls that I found at Rite Aid for $3. No static, no smells, and pay themselves off in no time.

Air fresheners-none. Just good old candles. I don't even want to know whats in those things. I make my own spray with a bottle, water and a few drops of essential oils. Shake and spray where you want. Candles are bought on sale after the end of the season. I am burning Yankee candles right now that I bought months ago. Pumpkin spice smells so yummy! I have a whole stock pile of candles from my 10 yrs of working at Michaels. If the power ever goes out in my home, I'm good for like a year! lol. One of my twins had a allergic reaction to Glade oil burner that would spray every few minutes. She had horrible nose bleeds from them . I emailed the company and within minutes I received a phone call from them. They refunded us a check for $10. I asked about their essential oils and they said they were synthetic. I was in shock. So all glade products use synthetic oils, not natural ones. So you could imagine Ive never bought a Glade air freshener product since.

Okay guys, this is just a small dose of my daily household routines. Things we do on a daily basis seem like a lot but are just natural after a while. The thing about all of this work is that I know my house is non toxic and safe for my children. Which makes me breath a little easier.

Have any questions for me? Go ahead and ask!! I love questions!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

7 11 response to my letter about plastic wrapped banana's

This morning I received the following email from 7 11. I wrote them about not liking the idea of plastic around banana's. Here is what they emailed me.
 Thank you for your response.  Del Monte is currently working on a sustainable packaging solution.  As was reported, we are testing the product to learn consumer response.  We know that our customers want yellow bananas, and for them to stay yellow longer.  Interestingly, there is a positive environmental impact from carrying wrapped bananas. Because their shelf life is now doubled, the number of truck deliveries are reduced, which provides a corresponding reduction in the carbon footprint.  With a longer "shelf life", there is less waste; and food waste does come with an environmental cost.  Many may not know that imported bananas are transported in plastic bags that control ripening, dehydration and respiration, whether they are organic, large commercial or fair trade bananas.  Also, there are customers who do not like others touching food they plan to purchase -- even naturally wrapped bananas - particularly during this period of heightened flu-virus awareness. Thank you for your comments and we will take them into consideration." 

My response: "Also, there are customers who do not like others touching food they plan to purchase
Even naturally wrapped banana's-particularly during this period of heightened flu-virus awareness."
Are you kidding me? You think your gonna get the flu virus through a banana? You walk around all day
walking through others "coughing" without even noticing. You touch door handles all day long, shake 
hands with people, and touch who knows what all day. So to say anything about the flu virus and a 
banana not being unwrapped just leaves me speechless. Serious? 
Environmental impact-How about this idea, try getting your items local? All produce bought local would 
really lessen your carbon footprint. 
"With a longer "shelf life", there is less waste; and food waste does come with an environmental cost." It does not have to be this way. How about investing your 
profits into greening up your company? You will have happy customers, happy distributors, and happy 
green in your wallet because people will shop more with someone who has a lighter footprint on this 
earth. Maybe you could spend more time on this than "convenience". Convenience means lots of things.
It means more packaging, plastic, preservatives, fatty food products, and toxic waste. 

I could go on and on about this whole situation. In one way why should I try to fight a company as 
big as 7 11. I will never win. But in another way if we don't, how will we change the thinking of 
these companies? If we don't speak about what we do not like, how are they suppose to learn? If we 
do not support companies who are doing this, maybe this will get their attention. 

Conclusion: In my personal opinion, I do not shop in places like this. Yes they are getting better 
about selling more healthier items but they are surrounded by lots of unhealthy choices. Soda, energy 
drinks, candy, chips, hot dogs, jerky, and lots of other random junk that I just do not need. I would 
much rather stop by a grocery store or local market and get a piece of fruit or something. Will my words
to them change their mind? Probably not. Will I make some sort of impact? I'm hoping so. Do you think 
I'm fighting a endless battle? Probably. Why do I do it? Because it matters. Every little bit matters and
makes some sort of an impact. And its not just me doing this. Lots of other people like me taking a stand
against this sort of thing. Lots of little impacts making a large impact. We can all hope at least.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Goodies for Giving *Caramel Apples or Dip*

This recipe is great for neighbor kids. Its super easy to make and you do not have to wrap them if you give them to neighbors. Just gather the kids and have fun making these.

Caramel Apples or apples with Caramel Dip

Caramel Dip
1 stick of butter
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
14 oz bag caramels
Apple's of choice sliced
Combine first 3 ingredients in a slow cooker for 3 hours; stirring occasionally. Serve with fresh sliced apples. If desired, peanuts can be folded into the caramel dip.

Caramel for dipped apples
14 oz bag of caramels
Popsicle sticks
Wax Paper
Combine first 3 ingredients in a slow cooker for 3 hrs; Stirring occasionally. Take off stem of the apple by twisting it. Shove a Popsicle stick into the top of the apple by the stem. Dip your apple into the caramel half way or all the way. Dip bottom of apple in sprinkles and then set aside onto wax paper. Caramel will harden up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Frugal Finds

Today I spent the day with my 4 yr old twin daughters shopping for groceries. Since I am having my issues with Fred Meyers(btw still no email or call urr), I had to shop Winco and Whole Foods . While I was shopping, I found some amazing deals I had to share with you.

Jonagold Apples 58 cents per lb
They are huge apples and I will be using them to make apple jelly for my girls. We will see how it turns out because I am going to wing it. Should be interesting....

Cheez-It's Family size box $2.28
This is a great price but it gets even better. I noticed a peelie on the side of one of them. $1 when you buy 2. Yahoo! I bought 4 box's of them for $1.78 each! This is such a great deal considering a normal size box of crackers are over $3 each. This should last us for weeks.

Star Olive Oil $5.57
Remember that Star Olive Oil Survey where they sent you 5 $4.00 off coupons just for filling it out? Use one of those coupons and make this for only $1.57 a bottle. Yahoo!

Whole Foods

First of all I have to say I was pretty proud of them for having options for your bag refund. You have 2 options. First one is to get a 10 cent towards your purchase. Cool! Or you can donate it to 3 different places. 1 for the animal shelters,
1 for local food bank, and another one for another place I cant remember (sorry!). What a great idea! I donated mine to the Dove Lewis Foundation for animals. So kudo's for Whole Foods!

Have a love/hate relationship with ziplock like me? I love how convenient they are hate the fact they are plastic and end up in landfills or our earths waters. Horrible! Today I found a solution for some of my ziplock issues.

Natural Valley is available at Whole Foods which makes me excited. Pictured above is their natural colored, non-toxic wax paper bags. 60 count box for only $2.79. Non-toxic when incinerated or put in a landfill. This cannot be recycled but you can throw them away and they will break down and will not leak into our waters. What a great product! Plus you get 60 of them. Compare this with ziplocks-they are both about the same price. One cannot be recycled plus might or might not leak toxins into your food if heated. One can be put in a landfill to break down. I'm choosing the paper ones. The color is slightly off and not clear, so remember this when you buy them. The net had some reviews and this was a complaint. Not clear, serious? I just dont understand people sometimes.
They also sell parchment waxed paper rolls too for $2.39. I will use this to put my meats in the freezer with. I seriously just found this companies products on the web one day ago and almost bought them. So glad I waited!

Another bonus for Whole Foods!!!
Reusable bag pro-A mesh bag for your produce that comes with a adjustable strap. Looks kinda like a mesh bag you would put your bra's in the washer and dryer with. If that makes any sense. They are only $1.25 each. Ive seen the same bags online for $3 each plus don't forget the shipping cost. I grabbed 2 of them and headed towards the check out. Cashier says "Oh they are buy 1 get 1 free." I said charge me for 4! That's a great price!

Now I'm not sure how long these prices will last but hurry and grab them while you can. I believe Winco will have their stuff for about a week, same for Whole Foods. Sometimes Winco will change them over night so the sooner the better for them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Treid to save money but treated like a thief continued

If you have not read about my horrible experience, read it here

Update:I have emailed 2 times with my complaint and emailed once to have them send me their coupon policy. I have received nothing. Its been 4 days now and counting........

Are you outraged by how I was treated? Contact them and let them know how you feel.

Don't take it from any store. If you think a store was wrong or you were mistreated, email them directly. Let them know how you feel and try to find out all the policies. Even if they were right, you need to know the policy for next time. Each store has their own set of rules so its good to know what they are.

Keep strong everyone! Keep trying to save money and do not let people judge you for it. Stand up for your rights!

Goodies for Giving *Pancake Mix*

This is a favorite gift of mine for families. If you do not have money to get each person a gift, give a group gift. This recipe is perfect for any family.


1 cup all purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt 1/3 cup of powdered milk

Mix everything together in a bowl and put in a Ziploc bag or small canning jar. Add instructions(below)

Whisk together pancake mix, 2 eggs, 1 tsp oil, and 1 cup of water. Cook on skillet and enjoy!

Presentation: Put pancake mix in something creative. Maybe a glass measuring cup, basket, bucket, or in a mixing bowl. One year I made these for my family. I found baskets at thrift stores (super cheap!), added my mix, wooden spoon ($1 store 4pk), vintage aprons (found at thrift stores) and a small jar of honey. Try to use things vintage, 2nd hand, or things free from friends or family. Get creative and save money!

Optional: Want to make creative pancakes? Try to throw in 1 tsp of cinnamon. Like banana or pumpkin pancakes? Put in the instructions to add banana flavoring (baking section) or pumpkin puree. Or if its a child's gift throw in some chocolate chips into your master mix. Have fun with it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goodies for Giving *X-Mas Cappuccino Mix*

This recipe I used a few years to give out to my coworkers. It was a big hit considering we (meaning retail companies) could only function the Christmas season with coffee in our veins.

Christmas Cappuccino Mix

2 1/2 cups instant chocolate drink mix 1 cup instant coffee granules
8 cups powdered milk 8 0z jar vanilla flavored non-dairy creamer
2 cups powdered sugar 1 bag of mints (the cheap ones)
1 box snack sized Ziploc bags

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, then store in a airtight container until ready to use. Add instructions (below). Put 1/4 cup of mix into Ziploc bag.

Combine 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup cappuccino mix and one mint with one cup of hot water; stir to blend. Makes one serving.

$ saver tip: Use store brand and buy in bulk to save money. Winco sells powdered milk in the bulk section for a little over $2 a pound. You will need maybe 1 lb for this recipe. You can make enough to give at least 20 people one serving of this.

Gift giving idea-I bought a $1 bag of paper bags and let my girls decorate the outsides with stamps and paint. I made my own instruction tag and used a hole punch to attach it. To keep the bag closed I also punched 2 holes and threaded some cheap ribbon with a pretty bow. Get creative and use what you have on hand. The whole point of this gift is to not spend much money so try to get creative with things you have in your home already. You will be surprised how crafty you truly are.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Goodies for Giving *4 legged treats*

This ones for you Tamara!

We all have our other children. Those 4 legged animals who some how find their way into our lives. For me, I have 2 of them. Tabby our cat who we found in a Walmart parking lot. A family was trying to give away kittens to anyone who would take one. Riley our pooch who we adopted from a shelter. We heard puppies were there, we scouted which one we wanted and we waited for days till they were finally ready to be taken home. We were the first there and she was ours.
Our animals are treated like our children. Nothing but the best for them and we love them all the same. So why not treat your loving animals at Christmas too? You could make these treats for special occasions or just because you love them.

Meow Munchies

1 cup canned tuna drained 1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs n 1 egg beaten
1/2 tsp brewers yeast 1 tsp garlic

In a medium bowl, use a fork to separate tuna into tiny pieces; mix in remaining ingredients. drop by 1/4 teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate. Makes 4 cups

Catnip Cut0Out Cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour 1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup soy flour 1/3 cup milk
1 tsp catnip 1 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup powdered milk 1 egg
2 tbsp wheat germ 2 tbsp melted butter

Combine first 6 ingredients in a mixing bowl; stir in milk, molasses, egg and butter. Roll dough into 1/4 thickness on a well-greased baking sheet; cut into small pieces. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes; let cool and store in an airtight container. Makes 5 to 6 dozen pieces.

Bone Appetite Dog Biscuits

3 cups all purpose flour 1 tbsp brewers yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour 1/2 cup powdered milk
2 cups cracked wheat 3 cups beef broth divided
1 cup cornmeal 2 tbsp milk
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in 2 cups broth to form a very stiff dough; gradually mix in remaining cup broth to form bread-dough consistency. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 thick thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes; place biscuits on greased baking sheets. lightly brush tops with milk. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes; turn oven off without removing biscuits. Allow biscuits to sit overnight. Store in an airtight container. Makes 4 1/2 pounds.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tried to save money but instead was treated like a thief

I have never had a bad experience using coupons ever. That is until yesterday. I was at Fred Meyers on Cornielus Pass/Hwy 26 in Hillsboro Oregon. My daughter and I were having such a wonderful time with each other and had just came from Starbucks. This is a rare time for us due to her being in middle school and me being her "boring mom" and all. You know how they are. Once they hit that age, nothing makes them happy except boys and music. lol.
I was super excited because once again Seventh Generation was 40% off and I had coupons for them. I had walked around and filled my grocery cart full and was walking towards the registers. I did a once over of my coupons to make sure I had everything I needed and didn't want to make it confusing for the cashier. I noticed one of my coupons said "one per purchase" meaning I could not use more than 2 of this same coupon in one transaction. No problem to me so I just decided to run through the u scan and pay for that one separate. When I handed the cashier my coupons, she would not let me use my 2 different coupons on it. She said 1 manufacturer coupon per item. I said very nicely that Ive done it before and had for years and it was the first Ive heard of this rule. She quickly snapped back at me and said no I was not going to be able to do it. It was not a big deal to me so I told her okay never mind and I didn't need to buy it then. I tried to take it back so I could put it back in the aisle and she quickly kept it and turned away and said she would do it. I went about my business and started looking at something else in the store.
A few minutes later I went to get in line to pay for the rest of my groceries and my daughter had some things to pay for too. I'm standing in line and the gentlemen cashier received a phone call so he picked up the phone. I was thinking in my head "Oh no she didn't."He then said a few un huh, uh huh, and then looked straight at me. "Oh yes she did."I couldn't believe it. She was apparently watching me and waiting for me to hit the register so she could warn them. It was like I was going to sneak some of those same coupons past someone else or something. Remember, she took that box of cereal from me and I no longer had it. So to make it easier on them and me, I walked up to the customer service counter and asked what their coupon policy was. I showed her my 2 coupons and asked why I could not use them.
Long story short I ended up speaking to 2 people at the customer service counter. I was confused why I had been using 2 coupons on one item for years and all of the sudden was told no and its been a rule for years. I was being so nice and was just trying to figure out what was going on. I looked around and could not believe my eyes. U scan lady was watching me, gentlemen cashier was looking at me, and I had 2 in front of me judging me. You would of thought I was trying to steal food or something. But no, I was trying to use coupons. I felt sick to my stomach, embarrassed for my daughter and myself, and was in shock of how I was being treated. So to end this whole thing I told them I would not be buying my cart full of groceries and would no longer be shopping at Fred Meyers. They were super nice (of course they had to) and put them away.
My daughter still wanted to buy her birthday presents so we decided to go pay over in the clothing department due to embarrassment. On the way over I spilled my coffee by accident. I truly did and this was just adding to the whole darn situation. Just add it on is what I was thinking to myself. Guess who ended up cleaning it up? U scan lady. I felt bad but kinda not. I believe in Karma you Anyways this whole thing truly urked me!

Could I of just let this whole thing blow over? No. Why? Because I am not the only person in this town who uses more than 1 coupon. Its called stacking. Perfectly legal as long as they are different coupons and you read all the rules on it. Each store is different of course. I was a customer trying to use my coupons, told no and tried to find out why. You think they would be super nice and I would of been on my way. But no. I had to get the following, eye gawking, and phoning each other to warn each other of the "coupon lady". I am still in shock of how I was treated and a bit angry too.

So what I did was this. I found out what the ladies name was and filed a complaint online with the company. I worked a retail job for over 10 yrs and know you cannot treat a customer like that. Not only did they lose a customer who spent $500 each month there ($6,000 annually), lose out on me buying my whole grocery cart full, but they ticked off the wrong lady. The wrong BLOGGING lady I should say. So for now were playing the waiting game. Waiting for the phone call I know will come, waiting to talk to the manager, and waiting to explain how upset I was. So for now, I will no longer shop at Fred Meyers. Which makes me sad because I love the company. I will no longer shop there to make a point. To stand up for our rights to use coupons. Our right to get by in these economic times. OUR RIGHT TO SAVE MONEY!

You have any problems like this? How would of you handled this? Do you think I did the right thing? Suggestions are always welcomed.

Note: I was trying to purchase Honey Sunshine Kashi cereal. I had 1 $1.50 off vocal point coupon and 1 $1.00 off actual manufacturers peelie coupon. Which by the way came off another box of the same cereal I had already bought using the same coupon stacking technique.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Goodies for Giving *Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix*

I know its early but we need to start planning Christmas gifts. Christmas is only a few shorts weeks away. I know crazy huh? I am glad to announce to everyone my Goodies for Giving series. Starting today there will no longer be any Homemade Goodness recipe's. Just great recipe's for you or to give as a gift. Each recipe will have suggestions and great tips for wrapping the gift.
I'm super excited to share my many recipes that have saved me a ton each Christmas. Each year I try to have a theme. One year it was homemade candles, then spa items, and one year I even did a baking theme. Baking theme was my favorite. I found vintage aprons all year and saved them to put in baskets with my favorite pancake mix, wooden spoon, and vintage Tupperware. It was a hit! Try to make one thing for several people. This will save you the hassle of figuring out what to get each person, plus save you money in the long run.
So here we go and I hope you all get inspiration from all of them.

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup chopped pecans or nut of choice

Bland together flour, baking soda and salt. Spoon into bottom of wide mouth 1 qt jar, pressing down well. Layer on the remaining ingredients in the order given, packing down tightly between each later.

Tag should read:
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together butter, egg, water and vanilla. Add cookie mix from jar and blend well. Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: You can use any type of container you want but try to make it a clear one. This way people can see the beautiful layers of ingredients.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Frugal fun Halloween

Halloween can be expensive, especially when you have more than one child. I paid a total of $5.00 for all of my girls costumes in the above picture. How you might ask? Well of course im going to tell you all the details silly!

Grim Reaper
Dress and head cover was $1 at a local thrift store. Boots are her own. Weapon is made from cardboard, aluminum foil, shovel stick, and duct tape.

One piece costume and wig were bought for $1.50 at the same local thrift store. Make up was used from my own personal make up.

Jacket and hat were bought for $1.50 from the thrift store. Dalmatian puppy with small firefighter hat were from my girls toys. Dirty face was easily done with some black eye liner.

Dress was only $1 from local thrift store, black pants under were already owned, make up was done with my personal make up, and cape was used from last year's costumes.

Whats the point of this? You do not have to spend a ton of money on Halloween. Recycle old Halloween costumes, and buy from thrift stores. Maybe get together with your fellow mommies and switch or barter old costumes. Try incorporating dress up into their costumes. Use ordinary items from your home and try to recycle. All these things will help you with your frugal Halloween. Make it a fun project and involve the children. Halloween can be fun and frugal.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Goodbye Sponge, I will not miss you

As most of you know me, I'm always on the hunt for a new project, cutting out toxic things in my home, or searching for good deals. One thing Ive been trying to figure out how to exclude in my life was the dreaded sponge. That once new sponge that cleaned your dishes but quickly turned into a germ infested mess. Yep, that thing. I started by looking for earth friendly sponges or a alternative to the regular ones. New Seasons has biodegradable ones you can buy for about $2 but those quickly turned into germ infested squares just like the regular ones. I was cleaning out my knitting bags and had a great idea. Why not knit a sponge? So I came up with a great plan . Again anyone that knows me knows that I do not plan very well or remember how I did things. I'm very scatter brained so I will try my best to describe what I did.

Tools you will need:
Cotton Yarn -try Sugar and Cream cotton yard available at any craft store.
Knitting Needles (short or long will work) size #5 or #6
Large stainless steel needle with blunt tip (usually for kids)

Learn to knit easily by watching these free video's
I would say go buy a book but you really only need to watch someone to first learn. Then get a good book or find easy instructions on the Internet for free.

Knit 15 across
This is the same width as a sponge. Do not pearl stitch at all. When you knit only, this gives you lots of grooves and will be used for those though dishes and will not scratch your dishes.
Knitting the rest determines how big your hand is and how long you want your sponge. You want enough so you can fold it over on itself making it 2X as thick. Mine was about 3.5 inches-4. So I needed to knit about 7-8 inches. Once done, just bind off. Learn here how to do this here

Once you bind off, simply use the string that you have dangling from your knitted piece to stitch it together. I would keep about 1ft or more then cut it and thread on your needle. Fold over your knitted piece in half, then start to stitch them together. Once done, just knot it and then cut off most of the string but leaving about 2 inches. Use this 2 inches to thread into the piece so you don't have any strands hanging out.

Directions: Machine wash anytime you need to freshen it up. Throw it in the dryer to shrink it back up again. This will last you for years if taken care of properly. If it gets too discolored just soak it in bleach water then wash it again. Should come out nice and clean.

Im so excited to decided to try this out. No more buying those sponges and no more worries about how yucky and filled with germs they are. Yahoo!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Need money now? Instant ways to save, plus ways to make money

Fact- Christmas is only 11 weeks and 3 days away! Are you ready yet? I'm sure not! Now is the time to start saving money little by little. So here is easy ways to save money little by little. You might be thinking that they only save me pennies, why bother? Well it all add's up and saves you money that's why! So for now, I will tell you all the ways you can save money. In the future I will show you many ways to make frugal gifts that go a long way. So here we go!

1. Stop buying these things: Saran Wrap, aluminum foil, Ziploc bags, paper towels, dryer sheets, or any other convenient product. I can hear you all How do I get around this? Easy! Read here how to get around all this

2. Start my Food Savings plan . I guarantee you will save money if you stick to this list.
Be open to everything you read. Some things sound extreme but once you do them, you will wonder why you did not do them before.

3. Save on your energy bill. Check my handy list of ways to save money
You will thank me later when you get your energy bill in the mail.

4. Cut the cable. Its simply has to go. This alone will save you at least $50 a month. Hey, I will let you in on a little secret. Now days regular TV has more than channel 2, 6, 8, 10 and 12. You get channel 2, 2 this (movies), 6, 8, 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, 12, 16-2 bohemia, 16-3 local, 22-1 ion, 22-2 qubo (kids 24/7 cartoon channel, 22-3 ion life, 32-1 , 32-2 sports, and 49-1. See you have lots of channels to watch. And its all FREE!

5. NO FAST FOOD or eating out. This alone will save you a bundle. You might think your getting a great deal on the dollar menu but think about how that food was prepared and whats going into your bodies. You will pay for it dearly later! Instead pack healthy snacks and a bottle of water for your kids anytime you leave the house. This way your not tempted to stop and get something to eat.

6. NO COFFEE! Just kidding, just no stopping and getting coffee from the drive through. Don't have a coffee maker? Goodwill always has them on hand for around $5. Buy inexpensive coffee grounds and make your own. Just add milk and sugar instead of fancy creamers. Want mocha? Add some baking cocoa. Want a vanilla latte? Add some vanilla. Get creative. You pick: Coffee from the drive through and pay $3-$5 or make your own at home and cost about 5 cents?

This could save you some green too!

8. Try doing it the natural way. Anytime you or a family member gets sick, try to get better the natural way. This will save you some money on co payments and insurance bills. Try Click on ailments and find what your ailment is. There are lots of great ways to get better the natural way. People rate how effective each option is. You can try anything you want. Most are things you have in your pantry so try them out. Apple Cider Vinegar is a favorite so you might want to pick up a bottle of it. We use it daily for so many things. Read up on it here

Ways to make money
First set up a dummy email you use just for these things. Do not clutter up your personal email. Try maybe hotmail, aol, or gmail.

Sign up for free! This is the best way to earn points for gift cards. How? Easy! Sign up, and do their little survey so they know what kinds of emails to send you. I signed up for everything this way I get more emails. Each email is worth 5 points. You can get a $10 gift card for as low as 1,400 points. They will send you survey emails too. These are great because you can earn up to 50 points if you qualify for it or 10 points just for trying. You can sign up with my points once per email (hint hint). They have over 80 companies on board so you can choose from any one you want. I usually choose Target so I can use it to get groceries or gifts. I myself have already earned over $100 worth of gift cards and Ive only been signed up for a year or so now. Once you earn enough points simply choose the reward you want and they send it for free. Takes about 2 weeks to get it so remember this when your planning.

2. Inbox Dollars Same idea as above but you get paid per email you receive. Sign up for free, get lots of emails. Once you check your email, just click on the box below to get credit. Once you get $30 you can cash out. What they do not tell you is that there is a processing fee of $3 so you only get $27. But hey, its free money so I'm not complaining! Takes about a month to get your check. I have received a check already and almost ready to cash out on my next one.

3. Sendearnings I believe Inbox dollars and Send Earnings are the same company but have yet to prove it. Just weird how each of these companies send the same identical emails....??? Oh well. Just like I stated above, you get emails send and you can cash out when you get to $30.

4. Tell everyone you know that you are looking to make some money and will do just about anything to get it. Maybe babysit? Maybe clean their house? Just let them know your saving up for Christmas or trying to make some extra cash and someone usually needs help doing something. Be open to anything that comes your way.

5. Opportunities that come your way. Last week I received a letter stating that a representative from Michigan State was looking for families to participate in a survey. If I was qualified I could get $40 in cash. Well the lady came to my door and asked me a few questions and I qualified! She came yesterday and we did the simple survey and I was handed $40 cash. Yahoo! So be open to ways to make money. This is a random one in a lifetime thing for me but hey, I made money. Just be careful to check ID and make sure its legit.

6. Can deposits-Remember walking and looking for cans so you could take them in and get money? Yep, its still a option. You would be amazed how many careless people throw cans out the window or in the garbage. My husband will not take in cans or bottles. But I do! So I sneak them out of the recycling bin and take them in. These things do add up. Have friends and family who wont either? Ask them if you can have them. Ive even seen people drive around inspecting peoples recycling bin looking for them. Maybe take a walk and look for them with the kids.

7. Garage Sale. This is always an option for you. Do not have a driveway? Maybe a friend has one so go in with her. This makes it easier for the both of you. You help her, she lets you use her drive way. Maybe take some clothes into a consignment shop? Some places will give you money for your clothes. Start making phone calls to local consignment shops.

Have I not given you enough information to save money? Have a friend or family member in need? Pass on this blog to everyone you know.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Simplify your money

Just read a great article about many different moves to simplify your finances. I thought I would switch it up a bit and give a few tips on the same subject. Maybe give you a break from all these many pumpkin recipe's lately. lol.

When you are paying for routine things like food, gas and other items. Try paying with cash. This way you wont overdraft your account and worry about fee's or interest. My bank charges $25 each transaction you overdraft. No matter if its $8 or 2 pennies. Speaking from personal experience , it just sucks having to go in and beg for them to drop one of them.

I do not use the envelope system but many people have great luck with it. Get a stack of envelopes and label one for each of the ways you'll be spending your cash. Food, gas, and so on. Place the amount your going to spend for the week in each envelope and stash them in a safe place. There is your spending plan.

Use a gift card
Most retailers have gift cards in their store. They make it easier for you to get a gift for someone at the last minute. Use this to your advantage. Lets say you shop at Safeway and spend about $400 a month on groceries. Try to challenge yourself. Buy a $350 gift card to Safeway and see if you can do it for $50 less. Not only are you giving yourself a challenge but your sticking to your budget.

Kids on a budget
If your children get an allowance, try to set a budget for them. When your child wants to spend their money on something they have been wanting, remind them that if they spend x amount, then there will be only Y amount left. Makes them think "Is it worth it?" Maybe they can have a envelope with their name on it. Once they see that money, they wont want to let go of it so easily. Currently my girls do not have a allowance but they are allowed to earn money if they want. It does not happen very often but when they want money they just ask. The money they make will be saved for something they have been wanting. Lately its been books but since Christmas is not that far away, they are saving to buy each other something.

Use direct deposit and save some tree's. This way there is no misplaced checks! Most places offer free checking if you do direct deposits only. Plus your money goes into the bank automatically, meaning no waiting in lines to deposit it, no trying to get to the bank on time, and it just makes your life much easier.

Hover Online
You already check your email, facebook, and other sites daily. Why not add your bank to this list too? Register with your banks site and you will be able to check your account 24/7. This has made it so much easier for me to check to see if checks have cleared, deposits, and to see how much my ledger is. Check our account each time you check your email.

Bill Paying
Add bill due dates to your calendar. Just in case a bill does not show up for some reason, you will know that its due and you can call or make payments online.

Change your due dates
If you have bills due all over the month, try calling the company and asking if they can switch your due date. You might have to pay a once time fee charge but it might be worth it. This way it will be easier for you to pay them. Get them all done and out of the way and have the rest of the month to budget.

Auto bill pay
Sign up with auto bill pay if its a option. This way it will automatically come out of your account and you will not have to worry about it. I did this with my Gap card (since paid off thankfully!). After missing 2 payments by 1 day and having to pay $25 for each time which made my payoff date even further off. I opted for auto pay. I never missed a payment again and have since paid it off and cut up that card. This was obviously when I had only 2 children and not such a tight budget. No way would I pay those prices for clothes again. Yikes!

Pay online
Instead of using your paper checks (save some tree's?), go online and just make a one time payment electronically. The money will be immediately deducted from your available balance.

Slim down your wallet or purse! First of all try not to have too many credit cards. Only have the ones that truly will help you. Then only carry the ones on you that you use regularly. Keep the rest in a safe secure spot. This way if your purse or wallet is stolen, you know which card to call and warn. Plus you can fit everything into your wallet or purse. What an idea!

Manage Store Discount Cards
Many stores have those discount cards you have to have to save with their sales. Those things can really add up in weight! Make it easier on your arm . offers a clever way to consolidate up to six loyalty cards into one for free. There's a quick demo video on how it works.

Log on Daily
Now were not talking about your checking account card, this is your credit card. Most credit card companies have a online site that you can check on your account. This is a great way to keep an eye out on what your charging and any weird mystery fee's, or purchases you didn't make.

Separate Accounts
A long time ago when we first started our family out, my husband was the only one working. We each had a card for our account together. This made things really difficult considering we didn't have the convenience of checking our accounts online (not an option back then...yes I'm old) and things would come through later , he would spend some money, I would spend some money, and long story short it messed up our account. So I decided to get my own account for food and household items. This way I knew how much money I had to stretch as far as I did. And it also meant that he knew how much money he had to pay the bills. We still do this to this day. It has saved us many arguments and stress. We get along much better lol. I have since worked, and now I'm not working again luckily. Now my husband gets paid once a month and we each have our own budget. He keeps an eye on his, and I do the same with mine. We all get along perfectly now! No more overdraft charges, and no more worrying if he spend any money and did I have enough to buy what I needed. Might want to try this out if your having those type of issues.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Homemade Goodness "Pumpkin Pasta"

I was a little sketchy with this one but I was soooo wrong! It is so super yummy and I swear you could pass it off with your little ones as mac n cheese. Its super rich and yummy! Please say you will try this one. Again I would recommend making your own puree. I find that the canned pumpkin is too sweet for a recipe like this one.

Pumpkin Pasta

2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cups-2 cups of pumpkin puree . Try Golden Nugget or Golden Hubbard with this one. Super thick, creamy and tasty. Above picture is the Golden Nugget and is my favorite. Use what you like.
1 cup of broth. (your choice...I used vegetable broth)
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sage (optional..I don't have any and ours turned out fine)
1/4 cup of cheese of your choice. (suggest a harder cheese like Parmesan or something)
1 lb of whole wheat pasta
Optional: Sausage or any kind

Start by getting your pasta going in hot water with a pinch of salt. Then put olive oil and garlic into a sauce pan and saute on medium heat. If you added meat, this is where you would add it. Let it brown up with the garlic. Pour in broth, milk, sour cream, pumpkin and seasonings. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pasta should be done by now so just turn it off. Instead of draining all the water out, simply use a spoon and take out the pasta one scoop at a time into the sauce. Sauce tends to be thick and the little bit of water that didn't drain out will help the sauce to be perfect. Once all pasta is into sauce, simply stir and serve.

Side Note: The Golden Nugget is actually a squash but looks like a pumpkin. Try out many pumpkins and squash to see which you like. Once you do, you will know which pumpkin/squash works best with each recipe. This Golden Nugget is super thick and creamy and you will not need to add any extra butter or anything. Once baked for 1 hr at 350 degree's, you will be able to take a large spoon and just spoon it out. No mashing required. . This place is at Sauvie Island and has over a dozen varieties of pumpkin/squash for only 45 cents per lb. Plus they are organic! If you find a better deal somewhere else, snatch it up!