Friday, April 29, 2011

$50 a week

Not sure why I shopped on Sundays when I get paid on Fridays....?? So today I changed it up and went shopping on a Friday after dropping my girls off at school.  Oh to hear yourself think while shopping. Who would of thought!

I am trying a few new things this time around and excited to cook with them. Here we go!


$1.99 Romain Lettuce Organic
$2.29 Rainbow Chard
$1.99  Friscee Lettuce
$4.99 Organic Milk
$3.34 Napoleon Pesto (glass can be recycled or used again!)
$2.57 Organic Grapes (used in cookies, oatmeal, yogurt etc)
$2.52 Organic Coconut (again used in cookies, oatmeal and yogurt)
.74 Organic Tea Peach Ginger (testing)
.74 Organic Tea Blackberry (testing)
.68 Organic Tea Bancha (testing this. Mild flavor good in any tea combo)
.42 Organic Tea Raspberry (testing)
-.10 bag refund (pays to bring your own!!)



$3.08 Fair Trade Banana's
$5.00 Two large Organic Cantaloupe (these things weigh 5 lbs each so its a budget friendly fruit!)
$1.99 White Tortilla Chips
$1.49 Hormone Free Half n Half
$2.69 Mango Salsa in glass(recyclable!)
$2.24 Dry Ricotta (excited to try it out)
$1.50 Cream Cheese (now my 13 yr old will be happy because she lives off this stuff)
$2.00 Organic Ketchup (made my own but not the same taste. Will keep trying though)
$1.39 Organic Wheat Penne Pasta
$1.39 Organic Wheat Fusilli pasta
-.20 bag refund gotta love that!



This leaves me with $5 left for anything I might need later.  I wanted to try the dry ricotta because its much cheaper than your old stand by ricotta in the dairy section.  You can use as little or as much as you want. Its extremely salty so it should last a long time. Perfect shredded on top of any pasta. 

I also wanted to try out a few different tea's this time because I'm tired of just regular tea. Can't wait to try all my new fruity types.

So there ya go. This should keep us filled till next Friday.....should. lol

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mulch in my pants

Wow have I been slacking!  When I first started this blog I had a need to post something every single day. I had just quit my job after 10 years of working there.    At first it kept me busy but after a while I would run of things to write about.  Well its been a few years now and life has kept me pretty busy doing many things. I am a stay at home mom of 4 beautiful daughters who keep me pretty busy.  You can add taxi driver to that too. My older girls are in soccer which means I drive them to and from soccer games/practice 5 days a week.  And don't forget that I am training for my half marathon which is coming up in June.  It's not too late to join me! And in between all that I am gardening as much as possible.

Here is what I have been up too lately!

My neighbor was giving away random bricks and stepping stones so I put them to good use.  I plan on turning my front yard into a herb and flower garden with a little wandering path for my girls to be walk on.  They love smelling and touching plants so this path will be their secret little place to run to.  Should be beautiful when finished. Herbs are almost ready to be planted in front. Last week I finally laid fresh organic mulch down.  I just love the color. 
My neighbor works for a tree company and delivers organic mulch for free.  If your looking for a great organic mulch you might try calling your local tree service companies.  Most companies are looking to get rid of the stuff and will deliver it for free or low cost.  I was lucky enough to get some mulch with lots of pine needles. Pine needles mean less weeds.
Last year my neighbor gave me a tree/bush start. I cannot remember the name of this tree/bush but it looks like it has snowballs on it. Each year it will have what looks like white flower balls all over it. It didn't bloom last year because of me transplanting it but looks like I will get some this year. Love this plant!!! Anybody know the name of it?

While my girls are at soccer I roam my local Fred Meyers so I don't have to drive home.  By the time I would get home I would have to turn right back around to pick her up so I just roam looking for deals. I was able to snag these pretty flowers for half price. Each pot has about 6 bulbs so I plan on putting them around my property.  My girls love the white flowers because they look like fairy skirts. Remember even stores have a clearance section in the garden section. These were $9.99 each but I snagged them at half price.  Woot woot!
Excited to see my hasta's finally peeking out of the mulch.  To me this means the sunny weather will be here soon.  I have about 6 of these pretty plants that was here on my property when I bought my house. They didn't look very good so I moved them to a few other places with lots of sun and some shade. They must be loving their new homes because they are much bigger and brighter colored now.
My husband's grandparents gave me this beautiful little tier glass dish. I put it to use holding fresh produce each week. This week we are eating organic apples which were 89 cents per pound and also grapefruit which was 99 cents per pound.  New Season's here in the NW are a great place to find sale produce.  Potatoes were given to me by my friend Theresa who get's organic produce delivered from Organics To You .  Anything she doesn't eat she will give to me.  I will plan my meals around the produce she gives me and the sale produce I find each week.  This way I save money and we try new things all the time.  Our meals never get boring and don't break the bank.
On Easter we decided to finally put some drapes up on our bedroom window and sliding glass window in our living/dining room.  We were able to get rod's and drapes for both windows for about $130.  They were on sale and had a extra 10% off coupon. Since we used our tax money to pay our truck off , we have an extra $250 each month and decided to use that money to invest in making our home better.  I gave my room a make over a few months back and the only thing left was the drapes. So for months I kept putting it off and we had a sheet tacked up.  Now my room looks complete. These brown drapes are made of recycled cotton so I had to buy them.  I feel like a grown up now..... funny how something simple like drapes can do that to you.
These have been put to good use.  I was going to just train with my Nike's from last year but somehow I put a hole in them and they squeaked every time I stepped my right foot down. Wow was that annoying. So instead of going to a local store and finding something on sale that might or might not be good shoes, I went to the right people.  I headed on over to my local Portland Running Store and turned myself over to them.  I highly recommend them to anybody looking to find good shoes.  Apparently I run on the outsides of my feet and was running with the wrong shoes. Oops. They recommended these pretty shoe's which should help correct my goofy running. Best part is they were half price!!! They are not interested in making the buck first.  They catered to what I wanted and made a lifetime shopper for sure.  Instead of me spending $130 on shoe's I spent only $65. They rocked! I now live in these and train 3 times a week. My race is in June and if I wanna survive this half marathon I need to train lots.

Look at this pretty number! Was originally $35 at New Season's and I picked it up for $10 in their clearance section.  Yep they even have clearance! Locally made of bulk food bags so its gonna last a long time.  Perfect side bag for everyday use.  Its fabric lined and has lots of pockets to carry all my junk.  I am in love with the color.  I get so many compliments on this bag as well.
I have been on the hunt for some coasters for a few months now with no luck. I wanted something either local, handmade or upcycled or better yet all three things. Well I had about given up until I found these pretty little things.  I was in my local Goodwill and about screamed when I found these.  They are handmade hand pressed tiles.  Each tile had a different plant pressed into them with a different glaze color.  They are made by Earth Mark's Studio which is located in Boulder Colorado.  To my surprise when I turned them over they used recycled tire rubber instead of cork. How cool is that? Its like they were made specifically for me. Ahh I am in love. Best part was that they were $2.99 on a green tag which was 50% off. I paid $1.49 for these!
I have been looking for a good natural as possible pain reliever for a while and found this Peaceful Mountain joint rescue for half price at Whole Foods. I expected a lot because at $6.49 half price its a hefty price tag.  It is made from certified organic ingredients and promised to help sore and well used joints. I used it for a few weeks and felt no change what so ever.   It did make my hands softer though.  So again I was on the hunt.  I was at my local New Seasons wandering down the aisles when I found the pain relief section.  New Season's is great about having a test product for each item they sell.  I found this J.R.Watkins  Pain Relieving Liniment Spray which is 96.5% Natural.  I sprayed it on my wrist (that I have pain in often) and immediately could feel the relief.  It cooled and soothed my wrist like nothing I have ever tried.  It was $8.49 on sale so I didn't buy it right away and headed on over to Whole Foods to see if I could get it at a better price. Well they didnt sell it and I went home with nothing.  For a few hours I would randomly feel cool relief and I knew I better go back and get that stuff.  I also use this in my back with great results.  If you have pain then you need this stuff. LOVE IT!

I also have been enjoying my new bamboo laptop but will save that review for another day.  So what have you been up to? Any new money saving tips to share with us? Feel free to leave a comment and share!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Garden Progress April 2011

This is my first time growing sage from seed and I am amazed how beautiful this little plant is.
The other day I wrapped copper around my garden bed.  I tried my best to find copper nails but only found some finishing copper nails.  They seemed to look okay but after the first rain I noticed some were already rusting.  I guess copper plated isn't the best but it is the safest I found. Live and learn. I will be finishing the other bed soon then will take better pictures for you.  I originally was going to just nail it to the side but my husband thought this would work and look better.
The girls each planted a seed of choice in yogurt cups.  I believe this is a pumpkin plant of some sort.  We plan on growing lots of pumpkins this year so we can freeze the puree for pumpkin baking goods all year long.  Mmmm pumpkin muffins are delish!
The slugs ate all my bean seeds and almost all my pea seeds so I decided to take actions.  I planted some bean starts all around the outer edge of my tee pee in hopes they will survive. Then replanted some pea seeds where the others were eaten.  I sprayed homemade bug spray on all the baby plants in hopes that bugs will leave them alone.  As soon as I remember the recipe I will share it with you. I then placed 3 yogurt containers full of cheap beer (slugs are not on which brand they drink) and covered them with this bird cage I recovered from Grandma's place. My dog would like a nice cold beer so I have to cover them. I added some tin foil to hopefully keep any rain out that would dilute the beer.
I added my upcycled silverware plant markers to give it an extra touch. Looks pretty cute huh? Very cool!
I was excited to see my chives starting to bloom. Not excited to see that my twins have been munching on them. I knew they were into them due to their smelly onion mouths after coming in from playing outside. Turds!
My garden buddy Tabby was trying to get my attention all afternoon. Look how adorable she is. How could I resist?
Ferns are coming along nicely.  I hear you can eat these tiny fragile things but they are much too pretty for me to try them out.  I just love looking at these.

Hasta's are finally peeking through the soil.  I love these plants so much. I moved them from the front yard to the back because they were getting too much sun and they really love partial shade.  They are much bigger and prettier in the back which means they are finally happy. Which makes me happy.

The rest of the afternoon I watched my girls ride their bikes and play. I also went over to my friends house who just received her chickens. Now I REALLY want my own! My friend Tanya was given 3 full grown chickens and they laid eggs the first day they came. It was fun to watch them peck around the backyard looking for bugs.  Did I mention I want my own? I DO! Uhhh hummmmm! Hubby are you listening? Until then I dream of chickens.  The rest of the night I suffered from my allergies. The price we pay to do what we love.  Allergies you suck!!!!

What did you do this weekend?  Fellow Oregonians what did you do with your first day of sun?  Anything productive?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gifts from China

Each year my husband gets a 10 day trip to China from his work. It sounds all exciting but it really isn't.  This trip means he has to be on really long flights, travel constantly from hotel to hotel, and be away from us for 10 days.  To me this sounds like a vacation but to him its just agonizing.

Last year he bought me a lovely handmade dress from Vietnam which I love and cannot wait till the weather gets nice enough to wear it.  He also picked up a few China made barbie dolls that the girls ended up breaking within a week. Well to be honest they were pretty cheaply made.  So this time he was a bit more picky about what he picked up for us.

His work has him meeting with vendors and looking over what their company is doing with these vendors.  Last year the vendors gave us 2 pounds of coffee which was pretty good.  We flew through that coffee thinking nothing of it.  Well this year we were lucky enough to get some more of that coffee.  Come to find out this coffee is crazy expensive.
Notice the small squirrel at the top of the box? Yeah this small little picture is actually a HUGE picture.  What I mean by that is the process of this coffee is not the normal process. You see they feed coffee beans to squirrels and the squirrels eat it up.  A little while later they poop it out and its collected, washed and roasted. Yes you read this correct. This coffee sells here in the United States for around $30 a cup. A CUP!!  So this year I have decided to ration my squirrel poop coffee and its kept in the freezer.  This way we use it for a treat instead of blowing through it like last year.  We have two pounds of this coffee so it should last us a while. 

We were lucky enough to get some tea this year.  I was excited to get these metal canisters because when the tea is gone I can use them for gift boxes or just getting organized. Then I opened them and was shocked. In my mind I was thinking of all paper tea bags or maybe some satin bags.......NOT THIS.
AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! WTF!!!!! Okay okay....calm down Nancy.  Imagine the look on my husband's face when he was handed these? He knows how I would react and couldn't refuse a gift so was screwed either way. Poor husband.  I should of known by the plastic that I had to cut off just to open these metal tins.  Seriously people! I roll my eyes every time I look at these. I have no idea what type of tea these are because I cannot read the Chinese writing on them. I am pretty sure that they are expensive because they are from another vendor.  I tried the larger pack of tea and it taste like green tea. It was way nicer than anything I have tried here in the United States. These look like green leaves wrapped into little balls. Only ones I have tried look like herbs that are ground and no whole leaves at all.  I should appreciate what I have but I just simply cannot get over the excess use of plastic here. Ugggg.
Then we have this little beauty.  We lost the papers that came with it but I think you put coffee grounds in the small white cup at the top of the picture, then that goes onto the top, then you put the strainer on the top of the top cup, add hot water and then top it off with the small lid.  I think.......This came in a paper box with no plastic! Phew...
Again this is some nice quality ceramics.  They are really pretty and I'm not sure if I will even use them.  Just another vendor gift that I'm sure is expensive they give it to a unappreciated gloop like myself. Sorry China. I really am trying this year I promise!

So your thoughts on this whole group of gifts? Do you ever get crazy gifts?  What do you do when you are given a gift that you would love to refuse but don't out of respect?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

$50 a week

Today I took my daughter Megan with me shopping and I think she was my good luck charm.  We did pretty good today.


$5.98 Stony Field Yogurt 2 containers (usually about $4 each so its a good sale)
$2.82 Bulk Organic Yogurt
$2.19 Dozen vegetarian fed chicken eggs
$7.96 Locally made fresh pasta (will put in freezer) marked down $1.99 each. Usually is $3.99 each. Whahoo!
$1.50 Romain Lettuce sale
$2.29 Rainbow Chard
$4.99 Organic Milk



$3.98 Organic Vanilla Yogurt (50% off sale) two containers
$1.49 Hormone free half n half
$1.30 Fair Trade Banana's
$1.12 Organic Bok Choy
$2.38 Organic Red Apples (sale 99 cents per lb)
.41 Organic Zucchini (sale .99 cents per lb)
$3.05 Organic Navel Oranges (sale 99 cents per lb)

Free-one banana (kids club Megan picked banana)



$3.98 Matzoh Passover Crackers (1.99 each)
$5.16 Organic Penna & Fuzilli Pasta (1.29 each)


.60 over budget

Since yogurt was pretty cheap I decided to buy lots so the kids can eat it as a snack. Here are a few ways my girls like to eat their yogurt.  My girls will add things like ground flax seed, fruit, coconut shreds, and dried fruit.  We had Nancy's yogurt (no I don't own but how cool would that be?) last week but it was a bit too sour for them and we added agave to sweeten it up. But the yogut I bought today is pretty sweet so no need to add it.  Get creative and enjoy this snack.

What do you add to your yogurt? Share!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

While the kids will play this mama will lay

These last two weekends have been crazy busy.  I did manage to get my lines back up and running. I can get two loads of laundry outside at a time. Because its not the warmest here in Portland it takes all day to dry them.
Last year I started to hand sew this shirt into a clothes pin holder. I was 99% done when I put it aside and forgot all about it. So I finally finished it and used it. It's a American Eagle top I found at Goodwill Outlet. I chopped off the arms and part of the bottom then sewed them shut. Add a kids hanger and you have a clothes pin holder. You can do this with just about any top you want.
After my daughters soccer game (which she won. GO SILVER!) we headed on over to my mama's house.  My parents grew tomatoes each year in old tires and I was determined to change that. My sister (in orange top) mowed the lawn the best she could and then we all tackled the black berry bushes which had grown over the fence because my dad didn't want my mom to cut them down.
Well my father has since passed away and my mom said they had to go. Sorry dad. We know you enjoyed eating them but they were really unruly.  I had planned on staring her garden beds but we were just way too tired to even attempt it. We will save it for another weekend. All in all my mom was very happy and after all her complaining about stuff (sorry mom but its true) she actually had a smile on her face. 
Back at my house I noticed my pea's finally started to come out and play. Whahoo!  Can't wait till they start climbing the teepee I built.
Last year my neighbor gave me about a dozen raspberry starts from her yard.  Only about 6 of them survived the winter and seem to be doing good.
I pulled out the hammock and put it to use.  It was so sunny and warm yesterday that I had to put it to use.
The kids did a lot of this.
and I tried to do a lot of this.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April NW Gardening

"When April blows her horn, it's good for hay and corn" Seattle Tilth's

This is one of my favorite times of the year. February/March starts can be planted outside this month and some of my favorite produce can be started. Cucumbers and squash oh my! Here we go!

Before Frost

Onion Family-Chives, Garlic Chives, Leeks and Green Onion.

Carrot Family-Caraway, Carrots, Chervil(brussels & Turnip Rooted), Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Lovage, Parsnips and Parsley.

Mustard Family-Arugula, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cress, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Turnips and Oriental Greens.

Beet Family-Beets of all kinds, Orach, Spinach, Swiss Chard of all kind, Quinoa.

Sunflower Family-Burdock, Lettuce of all kinds, Artichokes, Salsify, Scorzonera, and Shungiku.

Pea Family-Snap Pea's, Snow Pea's and Shelling Pea's.

Mint Family-Anise Hyssop, Chinese Artichokes, Marjoram, Summer Savory, Perilla, Lemon Anise Hyssop, and Lemon Balm.

Buckwheat Family-Garden Sorrel

Nightshade Family-Potatoes of all kinds

After last frost

Mustard Family-Cabbage (long season fall & winter varieties)

Pea Family-Scarlet Runner Beans

Beet Family-Lambsquarters

Purslane Family-Purslane


Throughout April

Nightshade Family-Tomatillo, Ground Cherry(Gooseberry), and Garden Huckleberry


Squash Family-Cucumbers, Hairy Melon (lol), Melons, Pumpkin, Summer Squash, and Winter Squash.

Mint Family-Basil

I have lost track of just how many different types of produce I have starts for. If your trying to get the kids to help out in the garden or to eat more produce then try a few of these out.  Lemon cucumbers were the first produce that my kids grew and were excited to try.  They looked like tennis balls and tasted very sweet and not bitter at all.  Next were burgundy beans because of the cool purple color.  These beans change back to green beans when cooked. Just let the kids watch as you put them into the cooking water and I can guarantee you they will eat them.  I also would recommend starting a smelling garden. Any type of mint or lemon balm would be great. My kids just loved feeling the plants and smelling their hands.  During the summer they would go tear off 3 leaves and put them into a cup with ice and water. When they drank the water they would taste the mint/lemon very much.  They loved it.  My twins love growing chives so they can pick off one stem each day and nibble on it. After playing outside I would call them in and they usually will have onion breath.  Guess they were in the garden! I also would let the girls buy the flower of choice and grow it in the garden. They were in charge of watering it and made a point of visiting it each day.  From then on they were very curious and each year they helped me more and more.  Now my kids will eat just about anything I throw their way.  I add more and more varieties of produce each year making it exciting to plan meals.
So what about you? What do you plant every single year? How do you get your kids involved in the garden?

Bonus Question
Which plant is pictured above?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Helvetia Half Marathon Challenge

Last year I challenged myself by signing up for the Helvetia Half Marathon.  I ran 13 miles in 2 hours and 58 minutes and beat my personal goal of 3 hrs. Not by much but hey I beat it.  I remember visiting my parents after my work out and talking with my dad about all my training.  He was very proud of me.  I did another race called Pints to Pasta 10k in September and had a blast. I now am hooked on these races. A few weeks later I signed up for another race but failed to do it. You see my dad passed away in November and I just couldn't go to the gym because I kept thinking about him. About how proud he was of me. About how much I missed him and how I would miss our conversations.
It's been 4 months since he has passed and I am finally able to work out without breaking out in tears. This year I signed up for the Helvatia Half again and would love for you all to join me.  It's located in Hillsboro/Helvetia Oregon right of highway 26.  You can sign up for the half marathon of 6.5 miles or the full half marathon of 13.5 miles.  Run or walk as long as you cross that finish line.  There is 3 months left to train which is about the time I trained last year.  You may be saying I can't do it. Well i'm here to say your wrong.  I did it and have never ran in any other race in my life. I ran it with friends but mostly by myself.  When I saw the finish line coming up I cried like a baby because I did something for myself for once.  What a feeling it was.

Helvetia Half Marathon
6k or 10 k
Saturday June 11, 2011 8am
Full map here.
You will receive a race shirt on the day of your bag pick up or on the day of the race.
If you finish the half marathon you get a wonderful metal
Race is sponsered by Cliff Bar, Jamba Juice, Portland Running Company, Old Spaghetti Factory, Widmer Brothers, and Kink 101.9. 

Last year when you pick up your race numbers they gave you a bag full of goodies.  Lots of cliff bars, certificate to Old Spaghetti Factory for a free dinner, and lots of coupons. You also get free samples at the end of the race from all the sponsers listed and some surprise ones. Best part of the whole race is you get a free Helvetia Tavern Burger which are out of this world yummy! Yes they have vegetarian options as well!

Please say you will join me!!! Whether your in it for the long haul like myself or just for the fun 5k. Just look how awesome you can be!!!

My friend Angela took this picture at the half way mark.  I think this is where I went crazy...

 Here is my gym bag with all my goodies inside.  Green towel (my favorite color!) is mine from home. Some gyms provide towels but use harsh chemicals to wash them. I prefer my own from home because I know it's safe to use.  Orange micro fiber towel is a goody I found at Goodwill.  I believe it is a adventurers towel because you can snap it onto your bag so you don't lose it. Maybe for hikers? Picked it up at Goodwill Outlet for maybe a quarter! My green bag was a gift from my husband. It was surprise for me before my race last year. I was using a old bag before that the handle broke. Urrr! Sigg water bottle was a Goodwill find for only $1.99. Says "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle". It's the newer eco lined bottle. Gold ones are the old recalled ones.

I also pack my favorite green products.  Whole Foods everyday 365 line of lavender shampoo/conditioner. The gym does provide soap but I have no idea what brand or what its made of so I just use my shampoo to wash my body with.  Burt's Bee's sunscreen lotion and day lotion which was given to me by my friend Sylvia. Thanks Sylvia!!  Hugo Naturals deodorant is my favorite smelling deodorant you can buy. It's made with rice powder!   I use this because I don't want my homemade deodorant glass container to break.  The small white plastic bottle is filled with Whole Foods everyday 365 line of unscented lotion.  And last but not least Pacifica perfume roll that smells like fig. My favorite!  

I train 3 days a week trying to increase my time each week.  This week i'm training 15 minutes on the uliptical, 15 minutes on the treadmill and 15 minutes on the bike. So far i'm at 6 miles per day. I will be working towards my goal of 13 miles in a day which I was able to do last year.  It's not about how fast you get there but more about pacing yourself and getting there still alive. Well at least to me it is.

 Just remember everyone I started out of shape and achieved my goal. So whose in?