Wednesday, December 3, 2014


 Ive been thinking long and hard about where this blog is going, how long will I write and whats next.  After a long time thinking of it, talking to my fellow bloggers and time...... Ive come up with just one answer. Surviving and thriving has grown up and its time to move on.

Surviving and Thriving on Pennies began as a way to save $$ and hold myself accountable. Our puppy was sick, almost died and I had a looming vet bill to pay.  My 4 daughters were little and I just quit my job to stay at home with them.  Money was tight!  And this blog was born.

 Instead of running around in circles (which I feel I am doing right now sharing the same information) I have decided that its enough.  Ive shared my life with you since 2008.  The ups, the downs, the sad and of course the happy.  From the death of my father and grandmother, moving to a new home, what I cook, how to DIY everything and of course my random tid bits.  My life has been an open book for 6 years.

 You all know how much I love you all but I cannot keep up with everything.  My day starts checking my Facebook feed, sharing everything that relates to my blog, catching up with other bloggers and sharing their stuff. Then I head to my page and click "like" on every single comment you all make, respond to any and all that I can and then I will go about my daily routine.  That involves sharing sales, pictures of things I find interesting, taking the time to post pictures which isn't a easy process.  In fact it takes 6 steps or more each picture.  From Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and even Flickr....It's a lot.  In fact I feel like I'm treading water.

So what does all this mean?
Well it means I will not be writing any new post on here.  My blog has officially ended.  Everything on this blog will be kept as is and you will be able to use it as reference.  Remember I've been writing since 2008 so go back and have fun reading the old post.  As for my Facebook.....its still active.  I will keep it going but will have no pressure to be on it every single day. You can still message me anytime you want and I will get back to you when I can.  Any other social media I'm just not sure.

I'm scared of this huge step.  This is a big change for me.  I fear I will let you all down by ending my blog.  I fear that I can't go back once I have posted this.  I'm afraid that I will have nothing once this is done. This blog has been my baby for 6 years.  I created it, wrote it single handed and have taken care of it while it grew.

If there's one thing I can be proud of is that I have kept true to myself.  It started non profit and it stayed non profit.  To this day I have only spent $5 on my blog for more photo space.  Ive never been paid one cent for anything I have written on here.  In fact 90% of products I have shared or reviewed has been out of my own pocket.  I did have some great companies send me some amazing products.  I did have many awful toxic companies ask me to do reviews and every single one of them I said "HELL NO".  Ive spent hours and hours and hours on this blog in one form or another.  The fact is that I'm just overwhelmed and need a break.

What now?
I'm working towards simplifying my life.  Less tv, more time outdoors, more family time and everything in between.  I'm thinking of starting a page on Facebook which of course I will share with you when I create it.  I still want a place I can go to and be with like minded people. I know each and every single one of you will come with me on the new journey which makes this so much easier for me.

Now for the fun part.  You thought you knew me..... but I have kept some things private until now.

Hi My name is Nancy.  Not to be confused with Fancy Nancy because there's nothing fancy about me.

Ive been married to my best friend for 15 yrs now.

I have 4 daughters ages 16, 14 and the twins are 10.

I have the mouth of a sailor inside my head. Ok not true. Sometimes they blurt out for all to hear.

I love dancing and I don't care where I am.

I love a good thick dark beer but will settle with wine. Heck I'm good with whatever.  Beggars can't be choosers people.

I never graduated high school.  A little fact most don't know. Even people who know me have no idea.  

My kids think I'm weird.  They are correct.

I'm nostalgic.  WAY TOO nostalgic.

I have tiny feet.  I blame my toes really.  They are tiny.

I'm curious about food.  Growing it, finding it, preserving it and making it.

I love documentaries. Ken Burns...he gets my goat.  Heck history in general gets my goat.

I carry on way too long.

As you can tell.

Anyways........I want to personally thank your or being my support group.  Thank you for being there when I needed you.  Thank you for giving me inspiration.  Thank you for giving me purpose.  Thank you for letting me be apart of your everyday.  I can only hope that I helped out a few of you.

I hate goodbyes.

Love and peace to you all.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Frugal Things and Some Not so Frugal Things

Remember my charity dinner I attended?  We were invited by a friend so it was free to attend.  I would of loved to bid on something but they were out of our price range so we just ended up spending time with our friends, ate some lovely dinner and danced the night away. Miss Oregon was there, there were free snacks...and I feel as if I'm forgetting something.... Oh and there was wine.  Lots of wine. Since the husband was driving I had a glass or two.....too much. I slept awful and woke up at 6am for my trip very very very tired.  So I ate some breakfast and filled my belly with coffee and we were on the go! 

1. Saved $7.50 by parking in the neighborhood and not in the city street.  Woot!

2. Lunch was just a sausage and only set me back $6.50.  Simple but oh so goooooooood!

My not so frugal thing was dinner.  We ate at a authentic German place and my dinner and drink set me back $30 after taxes and tip.  Yikes! Honestly it was well worth it. Plus I'm going to research and try to learn to make this DIY style! Can't put a price on that! 

3. Instead of going out for drinks we picked up this game at a shop for $13 and headed back to our KOA cabin.  We will never book a cabin at this particular KOA ever again thank you very much. It wasn't a pleasant expierence and Ive been to many KOA camps in Oregon and Washington. But we made the best of it. We brought some brews from home, a book and played this game. Way cheaper than if we had gone out for drinks.  

4.  We headed back into town and had breakfast. I ordered banana bread french toast and a huge cup of black coffee. It was SO GOOD!  Again I will have to make it DIY style at home. Yummo! We went for a walking hike at Blackbird Island right after breakfast.  Free to do and takes about an hour of walking.  While we were walking I was working on a photo project I'm doing for my husbands Christmas gift.  More details at another time for that.  This walk really cleared my brain and completely  soothed my soul.  It was a much needed break in nature.  Oh and FREE!!!!!

5.  Spent 2 whole days with my best friend. Thats priceless! The radio didn't get turned on once and we enjoyed our time together.  I love my best friend so much and cherish our overnight trips we take a few times a year.  She is as frugal as me so our trips are usually fun filled and don't break the bank.  Camping, cabins and cheap hotels. We choose to spend our $$ on memories not lodging.  

My not so frugal thing is how much I spent on stuff.  I picked up a few birthday gifts and a Christmas gift for my girls that totaled $50.  Then I wanted to find something that I could always think of my trip every time I saw it.  This authentic German made Quartz Cuckoo Clock with Swinging girl for $49 fit the bill.  Its flashy enough with the swinging girl to keep my girls fascinated often but doesn't make a cuckoo noise that will drive us nuts.  One day I plan to buy a nicer one but this particular one was in my budget.

So as you can see I had a blast on my trip but also kept on budget.  In fact I have a little extra money left over so I will put it in my grocery budget.  Were cutting back on everything for a little extra $$ for Christmas.  Instead of using credit cards to buy things we save money everywhere we can, plan ahead and use cash.  We also don't buy a ton of gifts but instead get our girls meaningful things they really want.

A HUGE shoutout to Joslin for all the tips you sent me for my Leavenworth Washington trip.  You did a fantastic job of pointing out where to go. THANKS!!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DIY Spicy Sausage Pumpkin Soup

Spicy sausage pumpkin soup I only made in the Fall so we look forward to it all year long.  This soup even converted my husband to liking pumpkin. SHOCK! It is made with just a few ingredients and really is very simple to make.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do.

Pumpkin or squash you like
Spicy sausage of your choice
Milk or broth
Salt and pepper
Optional: bacon 

Cut the pumpkins/squash in half and scoop the seeds out.  Save those seeds and bake them for a yummy snack! Lay the pumpkin/squash flat on a cookie sheet lightly oiled with olive oil.  Bake at 350 degrees till you can poke the pumpkin with a fork and its goes straight in with no problem.  Bring the pumpkin/squash out and let them cool.  

2.  While the pumpkin/squash is cooking go ahead and cook up the spicy sausage.  I am using pork spicy chorizo sausage because it was on sale so go ahead and use what your budget allows.  If the sausage isn't spicy then add some red pepper flakes and spice that sucker up! My husband came up with the idea to add bacon so I threw that in as well.  Once done remove the meat from the pan and set aside.  

3.  Scoop all pumpkin/squash meat and put into the pot.  Here is where you can make it as thick or runny as you want.  Sometimes I just add almond milk and sometimes I just add any broth I have on hand.  Tonight I decided to add a little of both.  Tonight's choice is almond milk and mushroom broth because I had it in the fridge and they needed to be used.  Get creative and try different things.  Once you have done this get your emulsifier out and start getting that soup creamy. If you don't like chunks at all go ahead and add the meat into it as well.  We prefer a little bit of chunks so once I'm done with the creaming I add the meat back in.  Add salt and pepper to taste and there you have spicy sausage pumpkin soup.

Vegan? Don't add the meat.

Dairy free? Add any non dairy free milk you like. Heck just add broth.

Don't like spice? Don't add spicy sausage just add regular sausage.

Now go enjoy the soup.  You can thank me later

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5 Frugal Things

1. My steal of a deal on dried beans at Whole Foods.  These Heirloom Jacob's Cattle Trout Beans were 50% off making them $2.25 a lb which is more affordable for my budget.  Trying new things also gets my girls to eat new foods.  Today I'm soaking one pound of them in hot water so I can cook them later on.  I make a batch of beans about once a month and freeze them in 1 cup sizes so they can be thawed out easily.  These beans are so beautiful and I'm pretty sure you could use them in just about any meal.  If you do the math I'm paying only about .37 cents compared to a can of beans (which they don't sell these types so I compared to other beans) for $1.  Now that is frugal! 

2. Its roasting fire season baby! Today we plan on having our first fire of the Fall season.  Its a annual thing we do each year.  Kids get home from school, I start making a hot yummy dinner and my husband gets home from work and starts a fire.  Can't wait for the smell...oh the smell! The sounds....oh the sounds! My girls will be happy to lay in front of the fire and putting their toes up to get warm.  LOVE!!! Also we turn off the heat and that saves us a bundle of $$.  We saved wood all year long so we can do this.  Free wood from neighbors, left over wood from projects and salvaged wood from everywhere.  Now that is frugal!

3.  Bulk section.  Each Fall I try to take advantage of seasonal sales.  Dried food in the bulk section is ALWAYS a money saver. It takes a tiny bit of preparation but its well worth it.  Not only is food cheaper but its straight up just food.  No fillers and no hidden ingredients as long as you buy just real food.  Some stores have some not so healthy things in there as well.  I buy all kinds of beans, lentils, herbs and even rice.  You see this also helps me save energy.  No storing food in my fridge! No need to hurry and use it up because these can last for months on end.  This is hands down the best way to save on organic food.  Now that is frugal.

4.  Second hand stores.  Now don't get me wrong.  I love going to antique stores to drool over all the vintage clothes, kitchen items and just about everything you can imagine.  But the sticker prices are shocking sometimes!  I like to hit little thrift stores that are out of the way or almost even look like they are out of business.  Thats where you find the good stuff.  Above is a slip from the 50's-60's.  Baby blue with white lace.  Antique store would charge me $10 easily for this. Since I found this at Goodwill Outlet (pay by the lb) I think I paid maybe 10 cents for this. Its as light as air!  Now that is frugal! 

5.  Loved gifts. While I was at Goodwill Outlet I found this beautiful loved book.  My twins 10th birthday is coming up next month and one of them is in love with Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I paid $2 for this 1925 GOLDEN BOOK.  Its old, smelly and been used a ton.  SHE WILL LOVE IT!  I could of paid $14 for it at Powells, $4.99 at a regular Goodwill store but nope I paid $2 at the Goodwill Outlet.  Now that is frugal! 

And I saved the best reason for this book. 

Just look at these illustrations!  Look at the vivid colors! Look at the characters! I mean really.....

This post was inspired by The Non Consumer Advocate and I had her permission to write this.

Now its your turn.  What frugal things have you been up to?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Free DIY Upcycle Art

I helped a friend Sue move & reorganize at her shop and in exchange she gave me some art canvases. These have no signatures and probably some older kids art work. Which means I can paint over them without ruining some works of art worth who knows what. 
I dug around our paint pile and found some water based primer and a old paint brush. 10 minutes later and we have a blank canvas. Free! 
Once dry I'm letting my twins paint till their hearts content. Can't wait to see what my little Picasso's do with these. 

Perfect project that cost me zero dollars and in return endless hours of fun and some beautiful art work. Talk about non consumerism! 

Big thanks to Sue! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

20 Things You Didn't Know About Me

1. I never plan anything. Why? Because I'm awful at it. My brain works in one mode and one mode only.  Anymore and it overloads.

2.  I'm 37 but act 15 and look 25.

3.  I'm a old school nerd when it comes to records.  I have 2 record players and many albums. Seriously nothing beats the sound of a record. Nothing.

4.  I don't eat raw carrots or apples. Its a texture thing. I will eat them cooked but keep those raw things away from me.

5.  Ive eaten steak 2 times in my life.  I don't get the hoopla about steak at all.  Its good but not worth $15+ a pound for.

6.  I wear flip flops 80% of the year and I live in Oregon.

7.  I love old things and this includes my husband. Just kidding he's only a year older than me. But a year is a year baby! From old kitchen items, furniture and even clothes.  LOVE IT!

8.  I'm addicted to liquid energy. MMMMM COFFEE!

9.  I'm just as in love with my husband as the day I laid eyes on him. Its pretty sickening to people.  Mostly our daughters.  Only when we make out in front of them.  In a week its our 15th wedding anniversary.

10.  Although I grew up pretty poor in a single mother household I can honestly say I never felt deprived at all.  My mama is and always has been the most amazing mother ever. Ever!

11.  My favorite juice is grape juice. Hands down.

12.  I rarely buy anything for myself.  Well unless you count sweet sweet handmade pottery I score in thrift stores.

13.  My best friends name is Dulcimer. Yes you read that correct. Dulcimer is an instrument.  She is the most beautiful person inside and out.

14.  When I was a kid I had pet rats, parakeets and a cactus.

15.  I am a half full glass kind of gal.

16.  I can't see at night. I'm blind. Even in my own home. Ive lost count how many times I have jammed my toes on furniture.

17.  Ive been the same size since middle school.  From shoe's to clothes nothing has changed.

18.  I'm a big chicken. No scary movies for me unless its real paranormal stuff which for some reason excites me and scares the pee out of me.

19.  I laugh till I cray. At a certain point my body says sure lets cry now.  AFV gets me every single week.

20.  I care too much. So much that I get anxiety about it. Mostly stuff that I have no control over like global warming, toxic chemicals and where the world is going to.  I'm afraid for my children but know if I continue to be a good example just one day maybe my kids will be the new green leaders and will keep the fight going.

Now share one thing about you that I don't know. Go!

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to Save Money on School Supplies

I have learned over the years many different ways to save money on school supplies.  Having four daughters you can just imagine how expensive it can be.  Maybe these tips can help you out. Enjoy!

At the end of the year teachers send home extra supplies that didn't get used and everything from the students desk they get to take home.  I empty all their backpacks and keep everything I know they will use again.  So here you can see we had plenty of left over pencils which came in handy. This year the teacher asked for 36 pencils for 4th graders which they share. Since I have twins this means I needed 74 pencils.  And can you believe it that I actually had that many? I did.  They are able to reuse scissors, calculators, pink erasers, pens, and pencil pouches. Woot! 

My next stop is to write down everything we didn't have at home onto a paper and head over to a thrift store.  Each of my twins needed a 1.5 inch binder and these easily can cost about $5 a piece.  I found 2 perfectly good binders for .99 cents and $1.99.  Saving myself  about $7 or so. Its recycling, its reusing and its saving me money. Woot!

Next after that we stopped by Office Max to get what I couldn't find at home or the thrift store.  4 folders at .25 cents each, 3 composition books on sale for $1 each, and pencil erasers for a penny a pack.  
We also needed spirals and it was a lesson for my girls in how to save $$.  My oldest was pointing out just to buy a pack of 10 for $3.50.  Yes a good price but we don't need 10 we just needed 4.  I was going to wait to buy these till I found a good price but I was lucky enough to see they were selling them single and a great price.  40 cents each! So instead of spending $3.50 I only spent $1.60.  Yes its a small amount of savings but its savings! 

Once I looked around and things were too pricey for other stuff I left and headed to Target which is in the same parking lot.  Tissue is always a must and only $1.39.  Sharpies were $1.99 (unlike Office Max which were $1.79 each!). Glue sticks .39 cents each, crayons .50 cents each (Office Max $1 each) and colored pencils .99 cents each.  
My girls have eczema so they cannot use any antibacterial hand sanitizer because they break out in a rash and itch.  Last year the school wanted hand liquid but I talked to the teacher and explained our issues.  I ended up buying toxic free hand soap for the whole class and replaced it anytime it ran out.  This year they want wipes and even the "green" ones have some not so good ingredients.  So I headed on over to the baby section and found these Seventh Generation wipes that will work just as well as the ones they wanted us to buy.  They were $2.49 which is around the same price as the mainstream bleach kinds.  

And here is what I came up with.  Everything the school list ask for but at a big price savings.

Tissue- $1.39
Composition books-$3
Spiral Notebooks-.80
Glue sticks-.39
Colored Pencils-.99
Binders-.$1.50 (different prices so I made it even)
4 Sharpies- .99 (2 we had & were free)
Pencils-FREE from last year
Pink erasers-FREE from last year
Scissors-FREE from last year
Calculator-FREE from last year
Zipper Pouch-FREE used ones we found
Ball Point Pens-FREE we had them

Total $13.06

Could of cost us this much more
Average prices I saw today

Pencils would easily cost us $6
2 Sharpies-$1.99
Zipper Pouch-$3
Ball Point Pens-.99
New Binder-$4.99

Total $23.95
Add the total above and your looking at $37.04 for one kid.
That's $74.02 for my twins. YOWZERS!

For my older girls who are in middle and high school we don't have to buy anything just yet.  They do have a suggested list on their school website but honestly they never use any of those items so we don't buy them.  We instead wait till they go to school the first couple of days and my girls ask what they specifically need for the class and then we buy those items.

Lets not forget this doesn't even include backpacks, lunches, clothes and shoes.  For us we reuse our backpacks and lunch boxes each year.  I buy fabric that's good quality so I know it will last many years.

So how do you save money on school supplies? Share in the comments below and lets inspire each other!