Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From Surviving and thriving on pennies!

Taking the day off to spend time with family. Have a wonderful day and spend time with the family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How long will food last?

Here's a handy little list you can print and keep.
Bread............5-7 days
Cereal...........1 year
Pasta.............2 years
White Rice....1 year
Canned Goods... 1 year
Bottle salad Dressing....1 year
Jams, jellies, honey, syrup.....1 year
Peanut Butter....6 months

Bread...........up to 1 year
Ground Meat.......3-4 mos
Beef Steaks.........6-12 mos
Fish..........2-6 months
Whole Poultry.....1 year
Lunch Meat........1-2 months
Fresh Veggies.....up to 1 yr
Fresh Fruit........up to 1 year
Keep this in mind when stocking your kitchen. Take advantage of after Christmas sales on seasonal food. Whole chickens and turkeys are super cheap right now. Cranberry sauce, gravies, potatoes, etc. All are super cheap right now. So stock up, stash away, freeze, do whatever you can. The less you pay now, the more money you will save later.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter things to do

Weve been snowed in for days now and I thought I would pass on what weve been doing to keep ourselves busy. With 4 daughters running around, weve had to get creative.

Board Games-Once I knew it was going to snow us in, I pulled out every board game I could find. Not only is this free, but it brought us closer together as a family.

Craft time-I worked for a craft store for 10 years so I have plenty of craft stuff around my home still to use up. We made ornaments, christmas pictures, and even beaded gifts.

Cleaning-Yep, we did some good old cleaning. Finally cleaned and organized our twins room. Took us about 2 hours to do and we did this as a family. Also got caught up on laundry and the dishes. Take advantage while you can.

Movie time-James Bond marathon this weekend so I dvred them. Plus I also had dvred old christmas tv specials from the last few weeks so the kids loved watching those. I usually will pop some popcorn and the kids will get their blankets and pillows to lay down and watch the movie.

Take a walk-we did this the day after the first day of snow. The snow was only about 6 inches deep at this point so it was easy to walk. Really did get some good pictures too from this walk. Now if I could get them to stop eating snow, that would of made it more fun. lol.

Reading-1 hour a day the kids will go upstairs in their rooms and read a good book. Gives us parents alone time and the kids get some good reads in.

Baking time-Made homemade biscuits with gravy last night for dinner. Since I had all the time in the world to try it, went ahead and tried them last night. Was a big hit! So try some new recipe's out.

Listen to music-Our power never went out so we just would listen to christmas music channel on our tv. Was nice. I try to listen to christmas music to set the mood. Maybe when my girls get older, they will hear the music and remind them of all the good times we had as a family.

Computer time-my girls would take turns playing games on the computer, I would blog it on, and my husband would tinker around too. This took up some time.

Family time-Priceless. You just cant put a price on family time. But you sure can say its frugal. lol

Hopefully ive given you a few things to do when you cant leave the house. My husband was able to get out of the house and buy some milk and toilet paper. Definatly couldnt go on without those. lol

Monday, December 15, 2008

52 Super Foods to help you fight disease

Again, another thanks to Womans Day Magazine. Their January issue is plum full of great articles. Ive always wondered which food to buy to help me fight off colds and what not. They made this huge list to help people like me eat better.
1. Eggs-Each egg has 6 grams of protein and only 72 calories.
2.Tomato Sauce-Its loaded with lycopene (makes your skin look younger). Harvard did a study that found women with the most lycopene in their blood reduced their risk of a heart attack by 34%.
3. Dried Plums (prunes)-packed with polyphenols , plant chemicals that have been shown to boost bone density by stimulating your bone building cells.
4. Walnuts-14 walnut halves provide more than twice your daily dose of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat thats been shown to improve memory and coordination.
5. Brussels Sprouts-they have more glucosinolates (compounds that combat cancer & detoxify your body) than any other vegetable. Super yummy with a small bit of olive oil and garlic.
6. Acia Juice- A glass or two of this anthocyanin-rich berry juice can boost the amount of antioxidants in your blood.
7. Apples-They have quercetin, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of lung cancer.
8. Bok Choy-Calcium rich veggie can protect your bones and even ward off PMS symptoms.
9. Steel-cut-oats-They're less processed than traditional oats, they're digested more slowly keeping you full all morning long.
10. Salmon-You will get omega-3's you need for 1 day just in 3 oz of it.
11. Avocados-Healthy fat keeps you satisfied and helps you absorb other nutrients.
12. Spinach-1 half cup provides more than five times your daily dose of vitamin K, which helps blood clot and builds stronger bones.
13. Canned Pumpkin-Its filled with natural cancer fighters alpha-and beta carotene.
14. Cauliflower-Packed with cancer fighting glucosinolates.
15. Scallops-1 3 oz serving has 14 grams of protein but just 75 calories.
16. Collard Greens-Lots of vitamin A, zeaxanthin and lutein, and these keep your eyes healthy.
17. Olives-7 calories per jumbo olive. Plus healthy oil
18. Brown Rice-Top source of magnesium, a mineral your body use's for more than 300 chemical reactions (such as building bones and converting food to energy).
19. Oysters-3 oz serving of this (6 oysters) gives you a quarter of your bodies daily iron, plus nealy twice the zinc and all the selenium you need.
20. Edamame-One cup has 22 grams of plant protein, as well as lots of fiber, folate and cholestrol-lowering phytosterols.
21. Strawberries-Loaded with ellagitannins, phytochemicals that may hault growth of cervical or colon cancers.
22. Lentils-Great source of meat free protein. Half a cup of cooked lentils gives your body nearly half folate, a B vitamin that protects a womans unborn baby from neural tube defects.
23. Bran Flakes- Keeps your heart in good shape by reducing inflammation and melting away belly fat.
24. Kiwi- Researchers found that it reduces asthma-related wheezing, thanks to a high vitamin C content. One kiwi has 110% of your daily requirements.
25. Black Beans-Loaded with protein, fiber and flavonoids-antioxidants that help your arteries stay relaxed and pliable.
26. Sunflower Seeds-1 quarter cup delivers half your days vitamin E, which keeps your heart healthy and fighting infections.
27. Sardines-3 oz provide more than 100% of your vitamin D. Also a top source of omega-3 fats.
28. Asparagus-1 half cup of this supplies 50% of your daily bone building vitamin K and a third of your days folate. It banishes bloating too.
29. Banana's-Loaded with several kinds of good for you fiber, including resistant starch which helps you slim down.
30. Broccoli Sprouts-They have 10x more of the cancer preventing compound glucoraphanin than regular brocoli.
31. Fat-free milk- With a third of the calcium and half the vitamin D you need in a day, plus 8 grams of muscle-building protein. Its the ultimate energy drink.
32. Baked Potatoes-Each one packs a megadose of blood pressure lowering potassium even more than a banana.
33. Sweet Potatoes-Half of a large baked sweet potato delivers more than 450% of your daily dose of vitamin A, which protects your vision and your immune system.
34. Flaxseed-Loaded with plant omega 3's, it also has lignans(compounds that prevent endometrial and ovarian cancer) than any other food. Store flax in your fridge and sprinkle on yogurt, cold cereal or oatmeal.
35. Greek Yogurt-twice the regular protein of regular yogurt.
36. Dried Tart Cherries-Researchers have found that their potent anthocyanins help control blood sugar, reduce insulin and lower cholestrol.
37. Wheat Germ-A quarter cup of this gives you more than 40% of your daily vitamin E and immune boosting selenium.
38. Whole Wheat English Muffins-you get 4 1/2 grams of fober for only 134 calories.
39. Tea-Both green and black tea prevent hardening of the arteries, according to researchers.
40. Peanut Butter-This has arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels healthy.
41. Blackberries-Boast more antioxidants than strawberries, cranberries or blueberries.

42. Mustard Greens-Top source of vitamin K.
43. Grapes- leading source of resveratrol, then plant chemical responsible for the heart healthy benefits of red wine.
44. Soy Milk-Good source of vegetable protein, calcium enriched soy milk has as much calcium and vitamin D in cows milk.
45. Brazil Nuts- They have more selenium than any other food. One nut delivers your entire days worth.
46. Canola Oil- 1 tbsp of this oil has all the alpha linolenic acid you need in a day plus two differant forms of vitamin E.
47. Blueberries-They improve memory by protecting your brain from inflammation and boosting communication between brain cells.
48. Oranges-One orange supplies more than 100% of the vitamin C you need in 1 day. Good source of calcium and folate.
49. Watercress-Just 4 calories per cup, this cruciferous veggie delivers a heft dose of vitamin K, zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene and cancer fighting phytochemicals.
50. Turkey Breast-20 grams of protein but has 90 calories per 3 oz serving. Yummy!
51. Barley- A top source of beta-glucan, a fiber that lowers cholestrol and helps control blood sugar.
52. Shitake Mushrooms-One serving (about 1/4 lb) procides as much vitamin D as you would get from 1 glass of milk.
Now here's your challenge. I know there is a few of these you say you dont like. Well its time to try them again. There are too many healthy reasons to not eat them. So get over it and eat them up! Try a new one each week or maybe each paycheck. Try ways to hide them into food. Like parents hide spinach in brownies. There's an idea!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Inexpensive Holiday Gifts to give RECYCLE GIFTS

Holiday Crackers

Toilet Paper Rolls, wrapping paper (homemade or bought), and ribbon or straing. You fill with the candy of your choosing. Just cut the toilet paper almost in half so its easy for people to crack them upen. Stuff the candy inside and wrap with paper. Tie ends off with ribbon or string. DONE!

Holiday Hot Cocoa Gift Bag

Clear bags with ties, cocoa powder (I made my own), Marshmellows, and a candy cane. This can be super budget friendly. This is what I used. I put my homemade cocoa powder in a clear bag with tie. These are usually $1 or less because they arent ziplock type. In a seperate one, put the marshmellows. They will dry out if you combine the two. Then I bought large clear bags with ties for $1.32 and marshmellows for $1 from Walmart. Put the two with a candy cane ($1 store) and tied it all together. My daughter made tags from contruction paper we already had and ribbon from our art chest. Wrote on each bag "Add 1 cup of hot water and enjoy!". Super easy and cheap recipe.

You can just buy single serving cocoa in a box for $1 at Walmart and put that in with marshmellows if you like. I made my own version with the directions off the baking cocoa box, and powdered milk. This way all people have to do is add water. I could leave out the powdered milk but its cheaper for them my way.

Each child in our family will get these two items and another gift im in the works with. I will post it tomarrow. Felted ornaments made from sweaters. Its another recycle gift.

Plastic Bags Facts-I challenge you to change

Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.

According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)

According to the industry publication Modern Plastics, Taiwan consumes 20 billion bags a year - 900 per person.

According to Australia's Department of Environment, Australians consume 6.9 billion plastic bags each year - 326 per person. An estimated 0.7% or 49,600,000 end up as litter each year.
Environmental Impact

Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.

Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photodegrade - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.

As part of Clean Up Australia Day, in one day nearly 500,000 plastic bags were collected.
Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC, one group harvests 30,000 per month.

According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, plastic bags have gone "from being rare in the late 80s and early 90s to being almost everywhere from Spitsbergen 78 degrees North [latitude] to Falklands 51 degrees South [latitude]."

Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation.

In 2001, Ireland consumed 1.2 billion plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag consumption tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%.

Approximately 18,000,000 liters of oil have been saved due to this reduced production. Governments around the world are considering implementing similar measures.

July 2003, goes live, advancing the mainstream adoption of reusable shopping bags.

Each high quality reusable shopping bag you use has the potential to eliminate hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic bags over its lifetime.

My challenge to you-Next time they bag your groceries, if you can physically carry the items, do it. They rarely ever ask the question "Paper or plastic?" any more. Sometimes they grumble, and sometimes they even give you a look. But its your stuff and you can have it your way. No plastic or paper bag. Obviously if you have too much to carry, you will need to have a bag. So try to invest $1 in a fabric bag or just use one that you already have. Extra back pack? Book bag? Im sure you have something. Budget friendly and free! I dont advise getting a bag from name brand stores with their name all over it. They arent good quality usually and its free advirtisment for them. I only advirtise things im passionate about. So use what you have! Try this for a week and watch your plastic/paper bag count go down.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Top Tips to reduce plastic and paper bags consumption

Not only is this good for the earth, but its good for your wallet. Ive stopped using plastic ziplock bags and have saved the earth each year from over 1,500 ziplock bags. This is just from my girls lunches. Just add up how many you use per week, x that by 7 days a week, by 4 weeks a month, by 12 months in a year. Makes me sick to think I put that many bags in a landfill. Ive saved myself over $100 a year by not buying them anymore. Here are some tips on bags in general.

Top tips to reduce plastic (and paper) bag consumption

1. Start using reusable shopping bags. Find the right styles and designs to suit your taste and lifestyle. Take a look at our store for ideas. Or you can just use a lunch bag of your choice.
2. Refuse a bag. Cashiers are programmed to keep the line moving and don't always stop to think or bother to ask if you need a bag. If you don't need one, don't take a one. Just carry them out or use a reusable bag.
3. Reuse plastic bags you have accumulated as garbage liners. We use these in our bathrooms along with a paper bag in each for recyclables.
4. Start using Ultra Compact bags. We love these since people tend to forget their bags when they go shopping- Ultra Compact bags are small enough to stash in your purse, jacket, backpack, car, etc. so one is always handy.
5. Get stores to offer cash credits if you bring in your own bags. Winco is a good one!
6. Open your eyes to how many bags you consume: keep count. For instance, if you have a giant plastic bag holding plastic bags in your closet, take 5 minutes and count how many you have. (Ours had 323 and drove someone to start the reusable bags company!) OR, count how many plastic and paper bags you go through in a week.
7. Spread the word to wake up others. Make a statement with our Plastic Bags Blow™ bumper stickers, t-shirts, hats, etc. Open peoples eyes to this massive plastic bag problem.
8. Cut down on plastic produce bags by bringing your own reusable produce bags.
9. Create a safe, eco-friendly lunch kit with our wide range of smart reusable lunch bags, bottles, food containers, sandwich / snack bags, & utensils. I use vintage Tupperware ive found from thrift stores. Saved them from a landfill and I never have to use ziplock bags again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

50 Free ways to be greener

1. Turn off standby on appliances or even better uplug them
2. Fill your kettle only with as much water as you need
3. Wash clothes/dishes on a full load, and use the economy programme when you can
4. Wash clothes at 30C, and use a short wash where possible
5. Turn off lights when you leave a room or dont turn them on during the day.
6. Dry your clothes on hangers and reduce the time and energy you spend ironing . Or hang dry polyester items or lightweight items.
7. Use a washing line, not an electric drier. Use a colapsable.
8. Plan your ironing sessions so that the clothes that need a lower temperature are done first - then you don’t have to keep heating and re-heating the iron
9. Turn off the dishwasher before it has completed its drying cycle – the dishes will dry in the heat inside or turn off heat choice.
10. Don’t leave appliances such as mobiles on charge once the battery is full
11. Defrost your fridge regularly to keep it running efficiently
12. Clean the back of fridges regularly to keep them running efficiently, and also check door seals are working properly
13. Keep your room thermostat no more than 21C and your water no more than 60C
14. Programme your heating to come on half an hour later or go off half an hour earlier. Better yet, turn off when your not home.
15. Keep your windowsills clear to maximise natural light but close your curtains at dusk to keep the heat in


16. Cut vegetables into small pieces so they will cook faster
17. Take bulky food out of the fridge an hour before cooking so it can reach room temperature first
18. Cook with pan lids on
19. Boil cooking water in a kettle first
20. Use glass or ceramic dishes rather than metal as they shorten cooking time
21. Match your pot sizes to your hob rings, and keep the flame under the pan rather than going up its sides
22. Keep the oven door window clean so you don’t need to open the door, letting heat escape when checking on food. Better yet when your done using your oven, turn it off and leave open a tid bit to let the heat into the room.
23. Batch cook and freeze so you only have to reheat food rather than cooking a whole meal again
24. Use a toaster rather than a grill to make toast
25. Keep your fridge and freezer full to maximise their efficiency
26. Let chilled food come to room temperature before putting in the oven to cut cooking time
27. Find out from your local council exactly what can and can’t be recycled locally
28. Compost leftover fruit and vegetable peelings. Use plastic trash bin, drill holes in it everywhere, and keep a lid on it. Bugs can get in, it can compost and you can keep it out of site.
29. Take reusable bags to the shops. try for super cheap bags. or use what you have around the house. library book bag or even a back pack.
30. Make a meal plan to reduce food waste
31. Donate old clothes, books, CDs, DVDs and household linen to charity
32. Reuse aluminium foil for sandwiches etc. Better yet stop using it all together.
33. Check use-by and sell-by dates of food to avoid waste
34. Make a shopping list so you don’t over-buy
35. If you’re preparing a packed lunch take reusable containers for sandwiches

36. Take a (non-power) shower, not a bath, to save both water and energy
37. Invest in a water butt to make the most of free rainwater
38. Turn off taps while you’re brushing your teeth to save water
39. Fill an old plastic milk or fizzy drink bottle with water and place in your toilet cistern – the heavy weight displaces the water meaning you’ll use far less each time you flush
40. Use warm-up water for washing, watering plants or cleaning
41. Wash your car with a bucket and sponge rather than a hose
42. Cut back on water use by filling a large jug with water and keeping it in the fridge so you have chilled water all day instead of allowing the tap to run each time
43. Use leftover boiling water in the kettle to sluice out sinks, rather than bleach, or keep it for next time in a thermos flask
44. If you wash up by hand, use a bowl rather than leave the tap running, and rinse in a batch at the end


45. Stuff old tights with rags to use as draught excluders
46. Don’t throw away old T-shirts etc - use them as cleaning cloths instead
47. Use nylon mesh packaging eg from satsumas as plastic scouring pads
48. Use cardboard egg cartons to make seed starter trays
49. Reuse yoghurt pots, shoe boxes and other packaging as pen/peg holders, food containers etc
50. Reuse old newspaper to clean your windows for some extra sparkle

Thursday, December 11, 2008

20 Ways to save on groceries

Have you recieved your Womans Day January 2009 magazine? One of the best so far. In this issue they show you 20 ways to save on groceries. This is a great list of easy ways to save that wont confuse anyone. Most ive been using forever but some are a new. Here is the list of 20 ways to save on groceries with my twist on them.
Thanks to Womans Magazine!
1. Shop alone-OMG really did you need to put this on the list? As a mom, this is a big tip. How many times did you find things in your cart that you didnt put in? Or realized after you drove home that you were over charged but didnt notice because you were tired of yelling at the kids to stop fighting? Uhh huhhh. Need I go on? Trade babysitting days with a friend so both you can go shopping without the kids. Save yourself a bundle this way.
2.Buy only what you need-Duh. This will save you a ton. Instead of getting things because they sound good, get them because you need them. Think "Do I really need that icecream that is $5?" 95% of the time the answer is NO!
3. Supersize-You usually get the best price on meats when you buy the larger cuts of meat. You can have them cut it for you and pay the same price for not cut meat. You can repackage it and freeze it for later use. I 100% of the time do this. I buy packages of chicken legs for .99 cents per lb, split them up and refreeze them. Same with any other meat.
4.DIY and save-another DUH! Of course if you do it yourself, its gonna be cheaper. My kids just love those small packages of crackers with cheese or peanut butter in them. I buy regular saltines ($1.25 box) and just throw some peanut butter between them. Done. I paid pennies vs the $1.50 for 6 small packs of 6. I DIY everything. No boxed meals, no prepared meals, no easy too cook just add water anything. My kids now prefer me cooking this way. They get stomach aches from any prepared anything. Too much sodium.
5.Dont over purchase-this is a big thing for me. I refuse to pay certian prices for things. I wont buy it unless it stays within my price range. We will just adjust and move on. Produce, refuse to pay more than $1 per lb. Meat no more than $1 per lb. When it goes on sale, I stock up. I make a plan to spend only a certian amount on anything. I shop enough to know whats a good deal and whats not. Some limit how much they can spend on a total grocery trip. This I dont advise. You want to take off one package of meat because you went over by $5? Not advised. Just stay within your spending limits on each item and you will be fine. Plus you will still get everything you need.
6.Say "So long to snack packs!"-These are just smaller less expensive packs but if you add up how many small packs are usually in 1 box and compare, your spending more $. Plus usually these items are not healthy. No snack packs in our house unless they are freebies I recieved in the mail. We save those for long trips to events or family outings.
7. Weigh your choices-When you see oranges $1 per pound, then you see 4 lb oranges in a bag for $1.98. HHmmm which do you choose. Of course the bag. Your paying only 50 cents per lb instead of $1. Do your math. You cant always judge a orange by picking up each and every one and choosing them. The bag has done all this work for you. Do the math!
8. Go generic-Why buy Ritz Crackers for $3.50 a box when I can get Winco brand ritz type crackers that taste the same for only $1.35? Duh! There is no differance between these crackers. They are just price differances. Do yourself a favor and get generic brands. The only reason I will ever buy name brand is if I have a coupon or the item is on sale for cheaper. This doesnt happen often so dont get your hopes up.
9. Compare cost per lb or per unit-Those places like Costco and Sams Club are not always deals. I found that buying diapers with coupons, sales, etc were so much cheaper than getting a big box from these places. Sometimes I get them for free. So remember if you get coupons from these brands, certian stores have them for cheaper, etc. Places like Winco have info on their tags. they tell you how much per ounce each item is so you know which is the best deal.
10.Make friends with the butcher-Ask your local butcher what days and times they do their markdowns. My local Safeway and Fred Meyers do theirs about every other day right after opening. So I hit them up around 10am. Not too early and not too late. Never hurts to ask.
11.Check out the chicks-A precooked roaster chicken is just a chicken they cooked and marked at a higher price. Dont pay more for a differant label, just buy the whole uncooked chicken and cook it. Much cheaper and you can control the sodium, and how much spices go into it. Plus you will have cash left over in your pocket.
12.Think ahead-If your family never finishes a bowl of noodle casserole, then take 1/3 out that you know they wont eat and freeze it before you even bring it to the table. Use it for a lunch later. Same goes for any other meal. 1 whole chicken will be 1 dinner plus 3 lunches for my husband. Plus the bones will be turned into broth. My $4 investment has now turned into many many other things.
13. Invest in a second freezer. I dont need this because my fridge has a huge freezer. Plus im so forgetful that I would forget what ive put in there. But for those who are really organized and have a good memory, this is a must. You can stock pile up on stuff like meat, vegies, and specials. Try to get a Energy Star one so you can save on energy as well. Right now this economy is trying to recover so there are tons of specials., rebates, etc. Take advantage!
14. Shop with left overs in mind-Like whole chickens stated in #12. Or left over turkey. Rethink these items. I save left over dark meat chicken for soups. Much more moist and yummier! Rethink your left overs.
15.Learn when to leave left overs way! Just doesnt work. Dressed salad just isnt the same 2nd time around. Make what you need with these items.
16.Count on discount and clearance stores-Grocery Outlet is fabulas store that sells items that are overstock, froze at sell date, testing products, smashed packaging, etc. I LOVE this store. So I usually will hit this store up before I go to my major shopping. Everything is always cheaper there.
17. Visit price clubs with a friend.-Maybe you dont need that much cheese but its a super deal. Split it with a friend. My mom and I used to get buy 1 get 1 free large packages of meat. We would split the price and each would take a package of meat. Super savings this way.
18.Buy a Sunday or Wednesday paper-this is a must for those who have alot of stores to choose from. I have 2 stores so this doesnt apply to me. I get alot of coupons from my blog freebies post and other blogs. Usually samples come with coupons that are better than the papers plus the expiration date is a year away unlike the papers. Your choice on this one.
19. cut corners on clipping coupons-As stated above this one is by choice. Online coupons are sometimes good besides regular coupons. Keep on top of the blogs or freebie sites. They will post deals that last 1 day only or up to a week. My christmas cards (60 for $3.49 shipped) or build a bear (this week ) 2 for $19 shipped. Keep tabs on these things.
20. Stock up on local seasonal produce-I buy only seasonal produce. Right now pumpkins,etc are on sale. I buy that and freeze them. Use them for later. I do this all year and manage to get my produce for an average of 50 cents per pound. Which is a good deal. So alter your meals around this tip alone and save hundreds each year. Plus how much fun is it to cook differantly every time? My kids can look foward to certian things on each season.

I am happy to announce my top pick for internet sites. is a eco friendly and budget friendly site. I couldnt believe the great deals they had. So now you can feel good about spending your money on something that is eco friendly and sustainable.

This site has reusable bags, containers, water bottles, and many more items. Prices vary from $3.49-$100 depending on what you want. They are having a huge holiday sale right now so hurry before its over. Plus shipping is only $4.95 on anything which is super cheap.

If you have children, this site is for you. I was looking for friendly plastic bottles all summer long for my girls lunches. All I could find was large bottles which wouldnt fit into their lunches. I did find some at REI but they were all $20 and over just for a small water bottle.. This would of been a big investment considering I have 4 daughters. So when I stumbled upon this site, I was amazed that they had some as low as $8.99.

For now I ordered the following which I will be reviewing once I get them

3 Mesh bags made from 100% recycled cotton-used for fruit

1 Womans Med Top Front says "Plastic Bags Blow". 1 way to inform people about how bad plastic bags really are.

All these shipped for around $20. Super good deal.

Anyways, dont take my word for it. Just check out their site and get inspired. Lots of info to read up on, ways to help stop plastic bags from taking over our world, and tons of ways to be eco friendly. Its time to put a stop to plastic bags and paper ones too to be honest. We need all the tree's we can get. Start using reusable bags!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Save where you can and be ECO FRIENDLY!

Ive been trying to come up with super cheap but alot of though gifts. You can be super budget friendly and still give people gifts that are heart filled. Promise! Here is a example of what im doing for my best friend.

She loves coffee, old things, unique things, and loves when I put together baskets for her. Here is what ive come up with this year.

2 handmade vintage stonewear coffee mugs. Deffinatly from the 60's or 70's. So retro and cool!
Paid 25 cents each

1lb Starbucks coffee.
FREE! Used a gift card that I won at a company christmas party.

1 eco friendly bag for fruit
Organic cotton mesh bag bought on for only $3.49. Using this to wrap her gift in.

Whole Wheat Flax Seed Organic Pancake Mix
cost maybe 25 cents to make. I put together this in a small vintage tupperware container I found for 25 cents. Making directions on a handmade tag. Will come with a wooden spoon.

1 small BEE MOVIE bottle of honey (use in pancake mix)
25 cents

Handmade cookies etc.
Free from my pantry

I christmas card I made on . Cost me pennies. This expired already but I paid $3.49 for 60 cards sent to my house. Each card has a picture of my dog, and the words peace, love, 2009. Super cute!

So you see, you can put alot of heart into a gift without spending at on. I think ive paid around $4.75 give or take some. Has tons of personalized details and its all meant for her only.

Every gift this year is eco friendly. Bought used, or its super earth friendly. Plus homemade mix's that are organic and healthy. You would be amazed how many things you can find in a thrift store. Plus you had put thought into finding these things for each person so they will love that idea. I would rather take something from these places so they dont end up in the landfill. I also encourage people to shop eco friendly sites. The cheapest eco friendly site ive found around is and their shipping is only $4.95 no matter much you spend or how many items you buy. Has everything from shirts, lunch bags, fruit bags, containers, water bottles, etc. Lots of bags to choose from. Regular bags, unisex, and even artist bags. You can use these bags as gift wrap too!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Took a break for family

Sorry everyone but I really needed to take a break. Really isnt much going on the weekends anyways so I just took a day off from blogging. It was really hard for me not to pull out the laptop, its become such a habbit for me.
My husband's work had a Christmas Party so we all dressed up and went to it. Balloon man, Magician, face painter and play casino were just a few things that were there. A raffle was done later, which we won 2 $20 Starbucks cards. I was thrilled!! I will save these for later use when money is tight.
These can be used to get regular coffee (less expensive). You will get around 10 drinks instead of the usualy 4. Coffee can get expensive. If you go inside to get your coffee, they have a few shakers with vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon powders. Makes your plain coffee taste like a fancy one. While im in there, I can get a bag of coffee grounds to throw in my garden. These are free as well. Maybe if im really up to it, I will walk up there and use no gas.
But anyways, we ate till our stomach's couldnt stuff anymore food in them. Full buffet with treats after. My childrens eyes were huge when they saw all that food. lol.
Plus we had to leave a little early due to us living an hour away. One good thing was that the girls were able to see lots of christmas lights on house's. They just love driving around to see the lights. One budget friendly thing we do every christmas is looking at the christmas lights. I have a large van so my friend and us usually do this. I make cocoa for all of us in kid friendly mugs (99 cents box of 9 Walmart or make your own for free) and we drive around super slow looking at all the lights around our town. Since gas prices are at a all time low, it really didnt cost us but pennies to do this. My kids just love this!
But im back now and hunting for the deals for you again!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

*New* Product Review Seventh Generation

Seventh Generation has been around for years now and I must say they are one of the best products around. I contacted them to maybe get some product samples so I could review them and put them on my blog. To my suprise they sent me a fabric bag filled with "FULL SIZE" products. They came through in a huge way for me. So a big THANK YOU to them!

Ive used their spray cleaners and dishwashing for a few months now and they are my ultimate favorite in cleaning supplies. As most you know, my children and I are allergic to all perfumes and dyes. We also have excema which doesnt help out. So I have to be really careful what I use in my home. Not only are their products safe but all of them are recycled packaging in some kind of way. Just an amazing company. Here is a review of a few products that I reccomend. These are my openions and you should use with caution. Test these out on small items before using regularly. If you dont have allergies/excema then just use them to green up this planet. They work the same as regular cleaning brands but are safe and natural.

Free and Clear Natural All Purpose Cleaner

Features and Benefits
Non-toxic & biodegradable -
Hypo-allergenic -
Does not create harsh fumes
Not tested on animals

I tested this on my kitchen against another leading all purpose cleaner. (no names but its blue in color). There was no smell, no suds, and I didnt have to clean it again to get any residue off my counters like you usually do with cleansers. I kept having a film on my counters which made me nervious about what kind of chemicals I was leaving on my counters for my children to touch and get in their mouths. No residue here! Left my counters shiny(I have tile counters) and left no residue. No smells, and actually left my hands soft. The bottle contains a min. 25% post consumer recycled plastic.

Free and Clear Natural Dish Liquid

I have a dishwasher but I admit that I actually enjoy washing my dishes by hand. Grew up doing dishes by hand only so it comes natural for me. Due to my allergies and excema, ive had to stop doing them for a long time. Excema and allergies were very hard to pin point when I was growing up and I didnt know I had these until the last few years. So I was excited to try this one out.

Features and Benefits
Non-toxic & biodegradable
Free of phosphates
Safe for septic & greywater systems
Not tested on animals

Perfume and Dye free

I have not seen any differance in this soaps cleaning power than in regular cleaners. Works wonderful! Still very sudsy and gets all food and grime off my dishes. You can get this scented too so if its hard for you to clean without scents, then your in luck. Not only can I use this, but my children actually love doing the dishes as well. Bonus for me! Plus it leaves our hands super soft when done doing dishes.

If every house hold in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 25 oz petroleum based dishwashing liquid with their 25 oz vegetable based product, you could save 81,000 barrels of oil, enough to heat and cool 4,500 U.S. homes for a year! That alone should inspire you to try it out and use it.

Natural 2x Concentrate Laundry Liquid

Like ive stated in the past. I have had to make my own liquid laundry soap for a long time now so I was pretty nervious about trying out this one. So I used it to wash my sheets and blankets. My excema isnt as bad as my childrens so I wouldnt have a problem trying it out. I used it in my HE washer(used half the amount required) and it worked perfectly. I used it along with their Natural Fabric Softner . They came out soft and fluffy as usual. I put them on my bed and went to bed. The next day I had no affects. No itching or anything. They were flannel sheets and were super soft. So the next load I tried them out on my childrens clothing. Again same results. They werent scratchy and their skin didnt blotch and turn any colors. Worked perfectly!!

Features and Benefits
Non-toxic & biodegradable
Free of phosphates & optical brighteners
Safe for septic & greywater systems
Not tested on animals

If every household would replace their petroleum based based liquid laundry soap with their vegetable based liquid laundry soap, you would save 460,000 barrels off oil. Thats enough to heat 27,000 us homes for a year.

I could go on and on about this company. But check it out for yourself at and find a local store who carries it. Ive seen it in just about every mainstream store around. Fred Meyers, Target, small local grocery stores, Whole Foods, New Seasona, etc. Its everywhere. They sell everything from toilet paper, baby whipes, diapers, feminine products, household paper supplies, trash bags, and even baby products.

Sign up for their newsletter and get good reads. You also can get valueable coupons to print out and periodically get sent coupons as well. Save them for when the brand goes on sale and get them for super cheap and stock up.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Yes, even on Thanksgiving im blogging. I cant help it, its addicting. Now that im done getting your freebies, im going to take the rest of the day off. Because isnt that what Thanksgiving is about? Taking a whole day to remember why we love our families so much?
For the next 3 days I will try my best to get you the best freebies around. This will be very hard because we have 3 Thanksgiving dinners in a row. Yes, thats right. I have three days in a row of dinners. I will deffinatly gain a few pounds in these 3 short days. lol
So have fun, spend time with family and cherish this day with them. Oh yeah and eat alot too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting creative

I try to find things I can fix up or paint. Its a habit of mine. I was happy to find in a old Pottery Barn catalog a new line of furniture that's painted. They didn't exactly show you how to do it but showed little pieces of paint layers that they did. They showed which color to do first, then second , and then third. I was so excited to see this. I had just bought a small table that I think might of been a piano chair?? The top opens up and would fit small booklets. It was only $1 at my local Goodwill Outlet. Yipee! It needed some TLC though. So I tightened up all nuts and bolts and sanded it down completely.

I went to the local Walmart and bought the following:

1 4 oz bottle of plaid navy paint $1

1 4 oz bottle of plaid barn red$1

1 spray can of clear spray $1

I painted a layer of navy first. Let it completely dry then painted it barn red. Again letting it completely dry. Then took sand paper and sanded the edges. This is how you get the cool coloring coming through. Looks really good on this piece because of the pretty wood work on the legs. Once I was done I took a damp rag and made sure it didn't have any dust on it. Then sprayed a clear coat on it. Done! So here is my $4 investment that looks just like the paint treatments on the Pottery Barn catalog. I'm in the works with another piece I bought. Its much larger and will be painted black with green coming through. Super stoked!

Note:The brown box is a old Singer sewing machine a friend gave me for free. I told all my friends I was looking for a free or cheap machine that was simple to use. This one was her grandmothers and she never used it. I think it was the first plug in machine, yeah its that old. Ive already used it and it works perfectly! The power of WOM is amazing. (word of mouth).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Out with the old and in with the new

Were in the process of selling our home right now so everything has to be perfect in our home. Which is really hard to do with 4 daughters running around messing it up. One big problem we had was our dining set and rolling island. They were the wrong color and on their last leg. They worked for us when our children were younger but they deffinatly had to go. The dining set seated 6 and was made really sturdy. A few pen marks around here and a scratch around there. But what could we do? Couldnt afford a new set. Then there was the rolling island. I have a island at this home (bought at our old home that didnt have one) so I really didnt need this one. I never cut on it and rarely even used it. So this was our problem. Here's what we did to get ours for super cheap.

We researched what we liked and started looking around. was our best friend. We listed our table set and island and sold both within 1 week. For those not familure with craigs list, here's a quick note. Its a free tool for anyone to use. You can list anything you want to give away or sell and post pictures. People will email you and you come together with a plan to get it. This works well for local pick up. No shipping charges. Reccomended to meet in a public place. Our old dining set we sold for $125 to a family who really needed a set and had many children. Island was sold for $75 to a local older couple. $200 could now be used towards something else.

We found a table at Ikea for $299 and chairs we liked that were $59 each. Would of cost us $550 for a new set. Found the same table with 4 chairs on craigslist for $350. Out of pocket cost $150. Not bad if you ask me. We do need 2 more chairs so were looking for those right now. For now were using 2 chairs in our sitting room.

Then we decided to buy something from the same people who sold us this table. The matching buffet which orginally cost $350 at Ikea, sold it to us for $200. Again this would be out of pocket money but well worth it. It freed up my space in the kitchen. I was able to put all candles, holiday dishes, and many more things in this in return giving me much more space in my kitchen. I just love it.

So yes you can buy new things on a budet. We bought $900 worth of furniture but only paid $550. Pretty good savings if you ask me. This was a need thing. We need a good table set. We eat every dinner together at the table and we all need to fit. So this was money well spent.

We sold our old tv for $300 to a friend and found this flat screen tv at Costco for $699 (everywhere else wanted up to $999 for it). Used our $300 towards it so it was only $3.99. The stand was bought on sale for $150 (originally over $200). Again we sold something we had and bought at the best price we could find. We didnt like our bigger older tv which took up so much more space and opted for a smaller upgraded tv. And were able to do it without breaking our bank. $1,200 worth of furniture for only $550.

Quick note: These items were paid with cash. No credit cards at all. Why go through the trouble of tryinig to save money and pay with a credit card? Interest? No thank you. This way it paid for and out of the way. No bills popping up later. We bought exactly what we wanted but paid way less for it. You obviously dont have to spend this amount on what you want and can get things even cheaper, this is our style and we had the budget for it this month. You can also get stuff for almost free other ways. Swap with friends, there is even a FREE tab on craigs list too. You have to act quick though, they dont last long.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Birthday party on a budget

My daughter had her 8th birthday party today. Ive been trying to come up with budget friendly idea's for weeks now and this is what we ended up doing.
1. Handmade cards. We used paper from the art chest to use as cards and decorated with bits and pieces of other paper. She drew the earth and cut it out. Then we cut out arrows (3) to put around the globe. The reduce, reuse and recycle arrows. Inside were party details. She wanted everyone to wrap presents in scraps of paper they had, and wanted them to bring extra can's of food so she could donate it to the Oregon Food Bank.
2. Found party supplies in thrift stores. Alot of people donate stuff they didnt use at parties. Streamers, unused balloons, party gifts, etc. Found many items this way. Even found a table cover.
3. She picked two differant kinds of muffins she wanted and I made our cupcakes. (banana, and pumpkin) and then made frosting for on top. She suggested flax seed as well. lol
4. Saved my coupon I earned from Fred Meyers rewards $2 off any frozen food. Ice cream was 2/$5 so I ended up getting 2 differant ice creams for only $3.
4. Shop deals. 2 months ago Target was clearancing out their toys for new toys that were coming in. Littest Petshop is my girls favorite and they were on clearance. Stuffed LPS were only $3.50(normally $10) and found a LPS activity kit at Grocery Outlet for only $5.99 (normally $15). Alot of stores clearance out toys to get newer styles of toys and stuff so you can get some really good deals this way.My twins I bought Top Model barbies for only $3.50 each and gave them to them on their birthday 2 weeks ago. I just stashed them away.
5. Take advantage of $1 stores. They have really good deals on party supplies.
6. Use what you have. I used all our dishes and cups. Found disposable spoons made from corn at Whole Foods for only $1.20. They also have cheap party supplies that are recycled or biodegradable. Even cupcake papers.
7. Skip the meal. Alot of parents do the pizza thing or some kind of food. I planned this party around 2pm so it was after lunch and before dinner. This saved me a bundle.
8. Have the party at home. Free to do.
9. Borrow from friends. I dont have a cupcake tier so my neighbor lent me hers. And she borrows things from me. Free!
10. Cheap snacks. Pretzils, crackers, apple slices, pickles, or even popcorn are super cheap to make. Plus healthy. Kids will eat just about anything you throw in their faces.LOL

I think I paid around $20 for everything today. Not too bad. Parties can really add up so try to recycle what you can, try out thrift stores, and dont stress out. You will save alot of money and stress.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ways to save $ at christmas time

We all dread Christmas shopping because we know were going to spend more than planned. I don't have a goal to beat, just as long as I save money. My goal every year is to see a smile and a special moment when the person opens up a gift I have given them. That is my goal. The gift of thanks. Thanks to Woman's Day Magazine,
here are a few ways to save money.
Shopping Smart
1. If you have a gift idea already and know what you want from a certain store, check their website. If they offer free shipping, take it. You save $ by not having to pay gas driving there to get it. Plus a lot of sites have offers where you spend x amount of money and get a free gift with free shipping. You can give that free gift to someone else.
2. You a crafter? Have a friend who loves bath items? Make them simple bath salts. Put it in a pretty jar with ribbon. Recipes are endless on the web and you know you have extra ribbon and a mason jar already. Why spend $10 on bath salts when you can buy a bag for $3 or less and just throw in some oils or favorite perfume you know they like that you have. Works perfectly.
3. Sets-Costco or Sam's Club is a perfect example. They have these basket sets with all kinds of bath items, or snack foods, chocolates, etc. If its saving you money to get the whole basket instead of getting them separate, get it. Then you can separate it and get 2 gifts from 1. Or you can pick up a set of plates, and set of cups. Separate them. Give each person 1 plate and 1 cup, then add a packet of cocoa and some chocolates. Whala! Perfect gift.
4. Give the gift of time. Sounds so simple and it is. Give your friend a card with the promise of a walk or hike just the two of you. Plan a day that you will do this wherever they want. It will be a fun free day for the two of you to chit chat and catch up. Pack your own lunches and drinks to save even more money. Bring your camera and take lots of pictures so you can capture this moment on film forever.
5. Think themes. Say you found pretty soap on clearance. Maybe make some bath salts, look for a rope or pj's on clearance, or make a pretty music CD for them. Theme is "time to relax". Let them have a spa at home. I would love this one.
1. Have a swap meet. Invite all your friends to come over for drinks. Tell them to bring any decorating items they don't want anymore. Everyone puts all of it on the table and then pick what you want. My junk might be their treasure. This is a great way to recycle your decorating items. You get a new item for free! And they get a new item for FREE! Whats not fun about that?
2. LED. Invest the tiny bit extra to get them. They last 10 times longer than traditional lights. Our town is doing this with the Christmas tree they have every year. In the long run it will save us and were all willing to put up the money to do this. There are even solar ones out there. Google solar Christmas and you would be amazed what you will find.
3. Let nature decorate for you. Every season I go keep my eye out for things I can take home to decorate. Right now its fall so I look for the prettiest leaves I can find to put around candles, in glass jars, and my kids like to craft pretty pictures with them. I just love all the colors. Know someone with a holly tree? Ask if you can have some trimmings when they trim it. Wild pussy willow? Cut some and bring it home. Last week I found oak branches with leaves on them in my backyard. Now they are in green vase I had in the corner . So pretty and free! Pine cones, leaves, limbs, nuts, and many more things are everywhere. You just have to look for them.
Wrap it
1. Buy Christmas wrap at 90% off when its clearance after Christmas. You will have to store it but it saves you a ton of money.
2. Use plain brown paper wrap found in the shipping and craft aisles. Let your kids go nuts. Just tell them it has to be Christmas related.
3. Newspaper-Use the comic strips for colorful paper or just the rest of it for a black and white theme. If you can get a hold of foreign newspapers, use them. Much more fun this way. There are free newspapers everywhere. Just look for them a month ahead so you don't have to waste gas money looking for them.
4. If you have to have the pretty paper, use a coupon. Michael's or Joanne has a 40% off coupon almost every week.
Seasons Greetings
1. Deliver your mail. Go for a walk and deliver your neighbors or friends Christmas cards or gifts. Just knowing you took the time to take it to them makes them feel so much better. Or next time your in the area, stop by and give that one friend their gift.
2. A lot of online photo companies are offering deals just for Christmas time. Do your research and remember to even figure in on shipping. That might be free cards you get but is it worth the $8 shipping? Do your research.
3. Make your own cards. This year I took extra blank cards I had and decided to make my own. I'm not a stamp person so I had to get creative. Well I received a catalog in the mail for Christmas cards. Each card had a small picture of it. I just cut out those pretty pictures and glued them to the front of my blank cards. Then I remembered I had a scrap book paper with tons of words related to Christmas. I cut out phrases and glued them on the inside. Free Christmas cards!!! I also made Thanksgiving ones this way. But I also used borrowed leave stamps and gold ink. So pretty.
8 things you don't need
1. Bar-You don't need expensive wines. A inexpensive wine will do just fine. No one will even notice.
2. Appetizers-Just do one little plate with dip and chips. Or spread and crackers. There will be so much main food that they wont notice.
3. Expensive spreads-just put out some hummus, or sour cream with ranch packet mixed in, or just cream cheese and you will be fine. Why spend $5 on something you can get by on $1?
4. Drinks after the main course. People will be too stuffed to drink them anyways. Maybe just bring out some cider? Get in the fall spirit.
5. Sweets sweets sweets. Maybe instead of having 8 different desserts, try 2 really good ones. Or maybe make some yummy cookies. This will save you a bundle as well. Pies and stuff can get expensive.
6. Christmas table linens. Use a solid basic color like off white. Then maybe throw in some pine cones, red ribbon, Or throw some glue on the pine cones and sprinkle with red glitter. Have any red candles? throw those in. Or just wrap a plain candle with red paper(just don't burn it). Table runners can be bought for only $1 at the dollar store. They come in many colors besides red too.
7. Use less meat. Do you really need a whole ham? Maybe do a course with ham in it. Turkey is the main meat anyways, just compliment it.
8. Place cards-Just cut squares and give your kids some stamps and let them go nuts. I recommend covering your table with newspapers first. LOL! Then take a pen and write every ones names. So pretty and FREE!
Guest Lodging
Instead of paying for rooms for your guest, here are a few suggestions.
1. Have your kids share beds, and offer them one of their rooms.
2. Have an air mattress from camping? Set it up with your nice linens like a real bed.
3. RV? Set it up for them as a retreat.
4. Family near by? Talk to them and maybe you can work something out . Maybe they have an extra room some family can use.
5. Rec Room or basement? Set that up as a hotel room for everyone.
6. What about grandparents? Give your bedroom up for them and have a camp out in your children's rooms. Sounds like fun!
For the cook
1. Buy in bulk. If your local deal store has bulk for less, get it this way and save money. Buy what you need, not what size they want you to buy. Saves on packaging as well.
2. Warehouse stores. Costco is our local store. If its much cheaper to buy flour from them, do it. Just separate into other containers when you get home. Saves you a bundle. Chocolate chips are also a good buy.
3. Shop at home first. Before you do your bid day of shopping, take a look at what you have and try to work with it. Have a bag of nuts? Make cookies. Get creative!
4. Buy by the box. Wine can be a good buy this way. Many stores will discount even more if you buy more than 6 bottles. Or just buy boxed wine. Target has many great wines that you can buy. They usually contain a equivalent of 4 bottles of wine. Usually much cheaper this way.
5. Special ingredients-get them early. Need pecans? You have to buy them early or your out of luck. Get these items the weeks before so you know you will have them.
6. Plan around sales-Soon canned cranberry sauce will be super cheap. Buy alot and set aside. My kids love it all year round. I can get it around 50 cents a can right now or wait till they want it and pay over $1 for it. My choice is 50 cents. Also meats will be on sale now and not later. Like turkey. Turkey will be much cheaper now. You can separate it and freeze it for later use. Chicken is also super cheap right now. I do this all year round. Saves me a bundle on my meat budget.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

25 Stocking stuffer idea's for less than $1

Here are a list of best things found in a stocking for adults or children.
1. Homemade Jelly
2. Tin cookie cutters; can be found for SUPER cheap in thrift stores. Just tie together with ribbon.
3. Moms favorite Recipe;make something that everyone just loves? Make a recipe card with the recipe on it.
4. Paint brushes; What kid doesn't like these?
5. Homemade book marks; super easy to make. Or let kids make these for gifts for friends or siblings.
6. A harmonica. Found at $1 store. Kids just love these.
7. A piggy bank. Found in thrift stores or $1 store. Inspire your kids to start saving. Throw in some change to get them started.
8. A diary. Do the first entry for them talking about this Christmas gift just for them.
9. A kite. You can find these at the $1 store all year round. they just love them.
10. Animal crackers in a box. Found at grocery stores for less than $1. My kids love these.
11. Scented candles. Who doesn't love these? My favorite
12. A pin. Either a Christmas one (walmart has them $1) or a all year round one that you will know they will love.
13. Picture in tiny frame. Found at $1 store, frames are super cheap. Just throw in a favorite pic or a pretty picture cut out from magazine.
14. Mittens-Again who doesn't like these? Also found at $1 store or Walmart for only 1 buck!
15. Seeds-a favorite flower they love. They will be excited for the next month when its spring and they can plant them.
16. A little flag. Show some spirit.
17. Sun Glasses-my kids love these. Also found at $1 store.
18. A letter from Santa. This is a big hit in my home. Kids just love getting personal letters directly from Santa.
19. Candy of course! Not a lot but at least a few pieces. Keep the Christmas tradition going!
20. Personalized cookie. Make cookies and write their names on them. Anyone will love this one. Its a little something just for them.
21. Christmas book-Most can be found at $1 store. Write the year on the first page with a little note.
22. Bubble bath-found at $1 store. I received this every Christmas and it was my favorite.
23. Scarf-Found at $1 store. They have really nice scarves that you cant even make yourself for that cheap.
24. Toy cars or bubbles. Huge hit in our house. Bubbles can be used all year round. Boys just love getting new cars.
25. Candy Cane. When I was young, I always received a large straight candy cane. Now days that's too much sugar and makes my teeth hurt thinking about it. Try putting 1 candy cane in there just for them. Maybe make some cocoa Christmas morning and let your children stir it with the candy cane. Yummy!

5 Budget Friendly GIfts for giving

This year will be really tough for many people to get everyone gifts. Working retail for 10 years has helped me figure out budget friendly gifts. Each year I would try to do a simple gift for everyone (staff of about 20-30). Some more elaborate than others but everyone received something from me. So here is a list of small things Ive done over the years. All can be altered however you want. Most edible items can be bought in bulk to save money.
1. Warm Belly Delight-1 coffee cup filled with cocoa mix or coffee mix with a candy cane and handmade tag. Coffee mugs you can find in many stores for only $1. (Michael's, $1 store,etc). Here's a vanilla coffee mix
1 1/2 cups vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup instant coffee granules
Combine all ingredients;store in airtight container.
Instructions:Use 3 tbsp mix for every one cup boiling water.
$1 coffee mug, cocoa packet (zip lock bag), instructions on back of handmade tag, one candy cane.

2. Tasty Herb Mix-Clear glass sugar shakers or old fashioned salt shakers are clever containers that are sure to please. You can find these in thrift shops everywhere. Just add ribbon. Put mix in these.
Herb Mix
1/3 cup powdered milk 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt 1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika 1 tsp dill weed
2 tsp dry mustard 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano 1/4 tsp pepper

Add all ingredients together in a one cup jar or shaker. Mix well. Makes 2/3 cup mix. Attach recipe.
Suggestion:Herb chicken. Combine 4 tbsp of herb mix with 6 tbsp of flour. Coat 2-3 pounds of chicken. Brown chicken in 2 tbsp of oil for 15 minutes on each side or untill juice's are clear when pierced with a fork. Or do the same and bake chicken instead.

3. Noodle Soup Mix. Fill a basket or jar with this noodle mix with a loaf of bread or your favorite crackers. This one is super cheap to make and give.
Noodle Mix
4-5 oz of egg noodles salt and pepper to taste
3 tsp chicken bouillon granules (or 3 cubes) 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp celery seed 3 bay leaves

Mix all ingredients and put in a bag with these instructions.
Combine noodle mix and 6 cups of water in a pot. Add carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Makes 2 qrts.

4. Brownie's-Use small jars, vintage cook bowls, etc from thrift stores. Add mix, maybe throw in a wooden spoon (found at $1 store 4 ct). Super easy and budget friendly. Mix makes enough for 2 batches of brownies.
Brownie Mix
4 cups flour 4 tsp baking powder
6 cups sugar 3 tsp salt
3 cups baking cocoa 2 cups shortening

Combine first 5 ingredients;mix well. Cut in shortening. Store in air tight container or use wrap.
Combine 2 cups of mix, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of optional nuts; store until moistened. Spread in a lightly greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until set in center. Cut in 2 inch squares. Makes 16.

5. Snowy Morning Waffle Mix. Again try to find vintage kitchen bowls or vintage Tupperware containers at thrift stores. Also throw in a wooden spoon ($1 store)This one is sure to please everyone. Can be made as waffles or pancakes. Super yummy!

Waffle Mix
2 tsp brown sugar 3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder 1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking soda

Mix and put into container. Makes 4 cups of mix. Attach these instructions to the mix with a handmade tag(or bought from $1 store)
Instructions: Separate 4 eggs. Beat yolks with 1/3 cup oil and 3 cups of milk; add waffle mix, blending till smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff;fold into waffle batter. Pour onto greased waffle iron (or griddle)and bake until steam stops.

6. Bean soup-MAKES 10 GIFTS! I just love this one. Put into small containers of your choice found at thrift stores. Can be stored for years if wanted.
Bean Mix
1 lb pearl barley 1 lb dried black beans
1 lb dried red beans 1 lb dried pinto beans
2 lb dried white beans 1 lb dried lentils
1 lb dried split pea 1 lb dried black-eyed peas

Mix together into large bowl and divide into 10 containers. Tie recipe card with the directions.
Directions:Put beans into bowl and add water up to top of containers;soak over night. Next day drain water and replace with new water; enough water to cover beans. Add 1/2 lb of ham or bacon chunks.(optional). Throw in 1 clove minced garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or till beans are tender. Add 16 oz can of undrained tomatoes. Simmer 30 minutes longer. Makes 8-10 servings.
Not only does this make a lot of gifts for around $1 each, but they will bring it home and it will serve 8-10 other people. Its the gift that gives so much.

Monday, November 17, 2008

*New* Product Review

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Pillsbury Grand Cinnamon Rolls Review. I was sent coupons to give out to all my friends and one coupon for me to get it for free. Pretty cool huh? I am not a fan of those popping containers they come in, I usually have my hubby open them. Because of this, I dont usually buy them. Im a chicken. But my kids wanted to try them so I used my coupon and recieved them for free. Super easy, just open, bake, and put on some icing. My kids just loved them. I wouldnt let them eat them often, too much sugar and fat for us. But really good for a extra special occasion. Altough good, I wouldnt reccomend them.

Progresso Soup

Again, great coupons to give out to your friends. I dont have a printer but did recently try the soup. This soup is light and very filling. The noodles are not super soft so you actually can eat them and not slurp them. Great combo of vegies, meat, and broth. If I bought soup on a regular basis, this would be the one I bought. Usually around $1.10-$1.50 a can which isnt bad for a lunch. They have options too. Light, low sodium, or regular. I love them all. My favorite is chicken soup. This one is a reccomended soup.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eco friendly Chrstmas Gift Challenge

So every year I put together baskets with a theme for each family. I do this for two reasons. #1 its budget friendly. I can control how much I spend on each basket. #2 I just enjoy the hunt. I'm a dork this way, I actually enjoy figuring out whats going to go in each basket. So this year is no different.
So here's my challenge. Instead of buying a new present for someone and spend $20 easily each person. Try to be Eco friendly and recycle. Hit your thrift stores. Most people love those things that they cannot find anymore. Like for me its Tupperware. Tupperware is close to my heart. Maybe you have a friend who's into vintage kitchen ware? Rubix cube? vintage quilts? Pampered Chef? Vintage board games? You name it, its there still. Lets save something from going into a landfill and recycle something old. Baskets are always in thrift stores. I even found vintage owl wrapping paper for only 50 cents yesterday. Yellow's and oranges and super pretty. Just sit down and think about each person and what they like. Or just pick things you like and want to share with them. Possibilities are endless.
If you are too worried about used things (have some friends like that) buy something recycled. There are so many companies who are selling recycled gift idea's. Or maybe just make cupcakes for everyone using Eco friendly baking cups. Whole Foods is a excellent place for this. Try out Trader Joe's. Another excellent place. Or just order online. Thousands of places to buy from.

Here's what I'm doing this year and how I do it for such low cost.

Kitchen Baskets
1 large basket-Few were found in a free bin at the local thrift store. SCORE! Then a few were found for only a quarter.
Whole wheat pancake mix-I am putting together the mix with flax seed and powdered milk. See recipe below.
Wooden Spoons-bought new at dollar store (4pc per pack). Sanitary to buy new ones.
Vintage Tupperware-for putting the mix in
Vintage Apron-found at thrift store for $1
Honey-little honey bee's from the Bee Movie. 2/$1
Basket filler-saved from packaging
Cookies-will be making and adding these to the basket
Cook books-I ordered for free from Gooseberry Patch , found for super cheap, or found at thrift stores.
Ornaments-were going to recycle items and make ornaments to put in each basket.
So far this is all I have but I'm still on the hunt. Here's how I break down the cost so far

I have 6 baskets to make
Ive spend about $2.50 on each so far.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Budget friendly ways to sell your home

I recently saw a episode of Design to sell on hgtv. It was the top ways to sell your home. Were currently getting ready to sell my home so it was the perfect timing. I thought I would pass on the info to those who want to sell their home but now spend alot of money. Most are FREE ways to spruce up your home. Here are a few.
1. Declutter your home. Pack away all trinkets, kids art projects, extra blankets, things that just lay around and serve no purpose.

2. Buy Beware. Fix everything you can. Dont be afraid, look up how to do it on the internet if you dont know how to. Broken light fixture, easy. Molding come undone, fix it. You get the idea. Most things are super easy, were just putting it off. And most of these things are free and easy to do.

3. Clean it up. Especially the kitchen and bathrooms. They are the most important and they will sell your house. Pull out all the cleaners you have and just clean. Grout, back splash, canisters, appliances, and just about everything. If you dont have money to paint, clean the walls as good as you can. If these places are dirty, the buyer will walk away. FREE to do.

4. Go neutral. If you paint, pick very warm neutral colors. People want to walk in and be able to just put their belongings in your home with no trouble. If you have a red wall, and the buyers dont like red, your out. So paint neutral. Ask friends if they have any left over paint or look for mark down paint in your local store. Alot of people pick the wrong colors, and return the paint. Their loss your gain. Very budget friendly.

5. Design to smell. Basically tell a friend to walk in your home and smell. Whatever they smell, the buyers will smell too. Animal smells are a red flag and buyers will walk away. Mold is another big no. So dont just smell, you wont smell it when you live there. Have a friend smell for you. Clean whatever is smelling or get rid of it. Have a friend watch your dog if thats what the smell is. Most friends will understand and help out. FREE!

6. Spring. Spring is the #1 time to sell your home. Not sure why but when spring time comes, people want to get out and find something new. Winter time is for serious buyers as well. They dont want to fart around, they want to buy and get done. Its too cold to mess around.

7. Clean and clean up. Your yard looking bad? Clear it out and clean it up. Pull weeds and dead plants. If you dont have money, this is the best thing you can do. Trim plants, pull weeds, rake leaves and cut your lawn. If you can budget it, buy some bark. HUGE improvement. Plant a few pretty flowers. Its worth the money. Or ask friends if they have any plants they want to get rid of, work those in. Very budget friendly.

8. Architectual Details. If you have a period home, accent these details. Beautiful detail always sell a home. Take your homes best features and glamour them up. Clean them up, paint them, and tell your realitor about them so they can show them off for you. Very budget friendly.

9. Front porch. This is a big indicator of what your home is gonna look like. Clean up, sweep, replace old rugs, put a few flower pots up there, and make it look welcoming. They will want to go in your home now. Try repainting your door, this is a huge improvement. Usually free.

10. Deck-it-out. You have a deck or patio? Make it usable. If you cannot afford getting patio furniture, borrow some from a friend just until your home sells. Make it look like another space in your home. Your home will look bigger in return. Fix anything that needs to be fixed, sweep it, clean it up and stage it. Maybe a cup of coffee, candle and a flower on the table. Make it look like you had coffee outside. Buyers love this. Very budget friendly.

11. Hello. The front door needs to wow them. Curb appeal is everything. Drive up to your home and just look at it. Walkway need weeded, do it. Plants need to be trimmed, do it. Lawn need watered, do it. Lights need cleaned, do it. Make your home look like they want to come inside. FREE!

12. Fireplace. Fireplaces sell a home. You have a beautiful fireplace? Uncover it, clean it up and have some lots in and burning. When they look at your home, they will feel warm and at home. Put a cup of coffee by it, a warm blanket on the couch, and they will want to buy your home just for that fireplace. Clean it, update it, and show it off. FREE!

13. Furniture placement. Pick a focal point in your room, and work your furniture around it. If you have too much furniture, store it. Make it simple. Work your lighting, and accent pieces. No personal touches. Not everyone loves those log cabin frames. So pack them away and be simple. FREE!

14. Details. If you have a small budget but want moldings, dont worry. You can get chair railing, put it up a few inches below your ceiling, and paint it white. It will look like molding but actually be a budget friendly faux. It tricks the eye. Paint from where the ceiling meets the wall down to the actual moldings. Looks like big molding but isnt. You can find chair railing for around 50 cents per foot. Way worth the money. If you have it already, dust it off and clean it up. Super budget friendly.

15. Dining table. Make it nice. Clean it off, and put a candle or vase of flowers. You can buy some, use silk ones you already have or just pick some wild flowers. Good trick to get rid of those scratches is wax pens. If you dont have them, ask friends. It will make those scratches disappear. Or you can use a fabric table cloth. Dont have one, borrow one from a friend. You want to make the buyers want to eat at your table. Remember to keep the flow in the dining room. Dont crowd it. Too crowded, try taking a chair or two out. Very budget friendly.

16. Know your compitition. Go to open house's around your home. Compare to yours. Watch the buyers point out details they like. Remember these when you stage your home. Use their idea's to spruce yours up. You can also get a good idea on how much you should sell yours. This is completely free and who doesnt like to look at other peoples homes? This one will be fun and RREE!

17. Pear it down. Make it simple. Declutter clossets. Pack away seasonal clothes and shoe's. Get some baskets from thrift stores or borrow some. Make it look like you have all the storage in the room. Storage room sells! Take out furniture if the room is small. Make it look bigger. Take away anything distracting. FREE!

18. Bedroom. Walk to your room and the first wall you see is the wall the bed should be on. Take any personal pictures down and replace with pretty non-distracting pictures. Neutralize any loud paint colors. Make the bed the focal point. Budget friendly.

19. Creat Luxury. Put nice bed linen's. Maybe make some pretty silky pillows. Buy discounted pillows from thrift stores to use their polyester filling. Buy some inexpensive fabric or use some sheets(also from thrift store) and make some pretty pillows. Or borrow some from a friend. Put a candle, maybe a magazine or book, and low lighting. Make it look like they can crawl in to bed at that moment. Budget friendly.

20. Clear out clossets. Organize them. Maybe by color, style, or type of item. This will give the illusion that you have tons of room left. FREE!

21. Price it to sell. If its not selling, cut the price. Look at competitors house's and under price them if you want to sell quick. You price it right, it will sell.

22. Bathroom. If you have the budget, use high end materials. You will get 100% of your money back promise. Master bedroom bathrooms sell homes. Replace old lighting, and paint will do a huge impact. Use #4 for idea's on this one. Check out your local hardware store weekly for markdowns on fixtures. Maybe tell everyone that your looking for one and they might have one thats better than yours that they replaced. Try . Super good deals there too. Another free thing to do it CLEAN IT! Bleech any grout, clean up any tubs, toilets and sinks. Clean cob webs. Buy new clean towells just for showing and dont use them. Or borrow some.

23. Pimp your vanity. Its the only piece of furniture you have. Declutter any storage area. Get rid of those 10 bottles of shampoo you have and pack them away, take anything out that you dont use everyday. When you get your new home, you can put them back. Make it look like you have tons of storage. Get some baskets from a friend or a thrift store. Put out pretty soaps, maybe a candle or even flowers. Make it simple but pimp your vanity. Very budget friendly.

24. Dont pour money down the drain. Dont buy expensive soaps, just use simple soaps. Dont buy things you dont need. You dont need to go buy new toothbrush holder with matching things. Use what you have just make it clean and simple. Or borrow things. This is wasting your money.

25. Wisk them away. Make your bathroom look like a spa. To get an idea of what to do, look up spa's on the internet. Take that idea and run with it. Make a simple candle holder with a plate, river rocks(maybe from your yard or buy 1 bag from $1 tree or $1 general) put a candle on it. Simple and pretty. Maybe spray some vanilla room spray before the buyers get there. Play some soothing music in the home. Very budget friendly .

26. Kitchen. One thing you can do is change the hardware. This can be as cheap as $50. This makes a huge impact. Paint old cabinets if you have the budget. Take out ugly drawer liners, clean off shelves, declutter the counter, clean clean clean, and even clean the trim. Clean everything. Kitchens sell homes. Budget friendly.

27. Counters. They must be clean and cleared. Have just a few key pieces in it. Kitchen aid mixer? Leave that one out. Griddle? Pack it. Paper towels? put it away. You get the idea. The most you put away, the bigger it looks. FREE!

28. Appliances. If you have the budget, replace with stainless steel. You will get 100% of your money back. If not, clean everything. Take off magnets and kids pictures from the fridge. No dishes in the dishwasher. No dishes period. Clean oven covers or replace if you can. Boil them to get them super clean. Clean inside of oven as well. Microwave too! People do not want to buy a home if the kitchen has any food or grime on it. CLEAN IT!!! its free!

29. Open floor plans in kitchen. Have a old home, take out a wall. Old homes kitchens were always seperate from dining rooms. Maybe just a pocket hole. You want to see your guest as they eat. Open floor plants sell homes. This can be done on a budget. Ask around your friends if they know anyone who has done this. You can get the materials, throw a party, buy some pizza and drinks. Most men will do anything for food and drinks. LOL! and same goes with painting.

30. Go with the flow. Have a square dining table, borrow a friends oval or circle one. If its in the budget, buy one. You can find many on or your local paper for 50% or more off retail price. WORTH IT. It improves the flow and makes it look roomier. Same goes with furniture. Make sure people can walk around your home with ease.

31. Trash to treasure. Take a room you dont use and turn it into something else. Small room you use for storage, turn it into a bedroom if it has a closset. Just make it simple and it will look bigger. No closset, turn it into a study. Maybe a exercise room. Turn nothing into something. FREE!!!

32. Match your home to your home style. You have a newer home, make it look more modern. Have a old farm home, turn it a tid bit country. Accent your home with its style. This sells homes! Alot of people look for specific home styles.

33. Complete the picture. Make it move in ready. Fix everything from shoe scuffs on the wall, to wall paint colors, to cleaning the carpet. Home owners dont have to have to fix anything. Do it for them. Most are free fix's or budget friendly.

34. Take what you have and make it better. Clean up wood furniture with wood cleaner. Borrow a carpet cleaner and clean the couch, declutter all shelves, etc. You get the idea. Use what you have and make it better.

35. Go over the top. Think its good, make it better. Ask a friend their openions. Get another persons point of view.

#1 tip is "Dont do nothing" it wont sell your home.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Bread Store finds-Scappoose and St Helens Residents heads up!

I have posted before about The Bread Store but for those who havent read it or heard of it, here I go. In a local town by mine, there is a store called The Bread Store and a Thrift Store right behind it. Its all done by Donations and Volenteers which are all seniors. The Bread Store is a small building kinda like a hidden treasure. Its right on a major highway but no one see's it really. I heard from a freind of mine (thanks Jen!) about it and finally after a few weeks, I found it randomly. I walked in and was amazed. Right inside the door is a desk with a sign in sheet. They keep track of how many people get help by counting signatures. On the Desk is a donation box. They dont require a donation but if you have it, give what you can. Sometimes $1 or sometimes I have no cash or any cash on me and I will give more later. You are allowed to take 2 bags at a time, although ive seen some take more but I think they are there for others too. One table has rolls, buns, and things like that. One shelf has tortilla's, jar pickles, etc. One shelf has english muffins and bagels. Then the next table has white bread, and the next has whole wheat bread. They even have a fridge for parishable items. You pick what you want. Sometimes they have signs saying please take only 1 on this shelf. On the outside of the building, they also have box's of produce for free. All seniors with gardens or fruit tree's will donate the left overs to the store.
You sign in, donate, and take what you want. I go here once a week to stock up on this weeks food. Here's what I brought home yesterday.

1 bag of rolls with poppyseeds. Used with dinner last night
2 bags of whole wheat english muffins. Use for breakfast every morning
1 bag of blueberry bagels. Breakfast this week
4 bags of whole wheat bread. Lunches this week
2 lbs of apples.used for lunches this week
1 large pumpkin-will bake (then freeze) and use for muffins, cake, pies, etc.

All of this is free. I donated $1. These items alone would cost me over $23

Thrift Store
Behind this same building is a thrift store. Again all done by seniors. Unlike Goodwill, they dont care what money they make as long as they make money. Everything is priced super cheap. This store alone has given me almost my entire Tupperware collection. Here's what I bought:
1 Tupperware Dispencer 30 cents
2 small Tupperware cups 30 cents
4 large Tupperware cups 30 cents
This place is the best. I buy anything I can there before I even think about buying something new. Kitchen ware, Halloween costumes (only $3 for 4 costumes!), blankets, Tupperware, shoe's, etc. My girls were the grim reaper, a clown, fire fighter and a vampire. Made the reapers weapon out of a broom handle and foil. I just love this place!

Highway 30 south, pass light at Fred Meyers. On right hand side look for white sign that says "The Bread Store" open mon-sat 10am-2pm. White building on the right. Thrift store is right next door.
I dont have the actual address, sorry!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

11 Budget Friendly Family Idea's

If your like my family, you make it month to month with money. If its not school pictures, its soccer fee's. Hair cuts to an unexpected bill. There is always something thats needing to be paid. So we have found lots of ways to do things as a family and cost nothing or next to nothing. Here are some idea's for you.

1. Take a walk. Its so beautiful right now with all the tree's turning colors, leaves falling all over the place and all animals looking for food to store away for the winter. After dinner, take a walk around the neighborhood. Let the kids bring a bag and find lots of pretty fall stuff. Take it home and do a craft project with them. I let my kids pick pretty leaves that I will put around my home to decorate. We do this every week because the leaves will dry and be britle and make a mess. So try this every week, its fun and you get exercise.

2. Go to the library. We like to go once a week and read books about the current season. Its super fun and free! Plus alot of libraries have programs for free. They will have readings, and even craft projects. Pick up a flyer next time your there and you can plan ahead.

3. Movie Night. Once a week I go through the tv schedule and find kid friendly movies to dvr. I have a old school popcorn popper that I use to make our own popcorn (available in bulk). The kids look foward to this every week. While I pop popcorn, the kids all go get their pillows and a comfy blanket and set up by the tv. We turn almost all the lights off and watch a movie together. This usually will take up a hour and a half.

4. Craft time. I always pick up craft things on super clearance all year round. I put them away and usually forget about them. But when we have craft time, the kids will purge and find what they want to do a craft. Usually we pick a subject to do a craft. Currently its fall. So usually all orange, brown, reds and yellow papers are out. After were done, we decorate the house with what we have made.

5. Story Time at home. I have a shelf full of books ive found for free at our local thrift store free box or will get for super cheap. I let the kids each pick their own book for me to read. We have a rocking chair by the shelf and a space for the kids to sit down and relax while I read a book. My 4 yr olds really love this.

6. Parks-Usually there are several parks within walking distance from your home. Try walking to a differant park each week. Pack a picnic and enjoy the day. Maybe try to find animals , or even pick up trash. This is a great thing to teach the kids. We do this everywhere we go. My kids just love bringing home plastic bottles to put in the recycling bin.

7. Have a playdate. Either with neighbors who also have kids, or friends in the area. Just pick a meeting place and let the kids have fun. Maybe bring some board games, or a movie that the kids havent seen in a long time. Kids will have fun doing nothing as long as they have someone else to hang out with.

9. Cooking-One thing my kids love doing is helping me cook. Either when im making dinner or snacks. This helps us have one on one time with my girls. I teach them how to cook, and they in return help me cook dinner. Its a special time that we have with each other. Having 4 daughters keeps me pretty busy and they still need one on one time with me.

10. Chores-Yes, even chores can be fun. During the spring time we start planting flowers and the girls have their own space for their very own flowers to grow. They are in charge of weeding and taking care of them. During the summer they like to dead head them once a week. And even in fall and winter, they keep busy. We rake leaves together, pull out plants, and have a scavenger hunt looking for oak balls. If you make it fun, they wont know they are doing chores.

11. Cocoa-This is a bonus for my girls. They will do pretty much anything as long cocoa is involved. I go to the bread store once a week, then the thrift store and if they are really good I will get them a cocoa from our local coffee shop. Its only $1 for a kids cocoa. I will get 2 and have them split in half so each of the kids can have one. Their is so much sugar in them that they will get a tummy ache if they drink a whole one. My oldest learned this the hard way. They are on cloud 9 when they get cocoa. This cost me $2 but well worth it. Its our special thing that only we do(me and the kids, not daddy) and im hoping they remember this growing up. If $2 is not an option, just make it at home. On the back of the baking cocoa box is a recipe. Just use powdered milk and it is even creamier. Have any marshmellows? Throw those in as well. Have cinnamon? Make a mexican cocoa. Try it out and just watch your kids eyes light up.

I hope ive inspired you to try these creative idea's. This is what helped us get through this summers high gas prices time. We had to do these things or we would of gone crazy. They were not a option. I really am glad to have that expierence. It tought me that you really just need each other and nothing else to have fun. Makes me appreciate my family all that much more.