A new mom dives into parenthood. Will our heroine survive?

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Frugal Christmas Gifts

Christmas has come and gone, but my frugal memories remain! One of my frugal gifts this year was instead of buying expensive gifts for my brothers and father I made them dinner! The cost of the food was much less than purchasing gifts and I was able to give them something they appreciated much more! My brother especially has begun making his own money and therefore purchasing what he wants when he wants it. So making him a home-cooked meal was probably a better gift than anything I could have afforded to buy him. I made a somewhat fancy dinner for my gift to them, but spaghetti would have sufficed if I'd been on a tighter budget! So next time you need to come up with a nice gift, try giving the gift of time spent in the kitchen! Click for my Christmas dinner post. And for frugal tips visit http://www.biblicalwomanhood.com/

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My first Christmas dinner party

Last night I hosted my first ever family Christmas dinner. My mother recently got me a book called "The One Armed Cook" and its great! It describes, in detail, a timeline for creating a delicious Holiday feast. Most of the menu is cooked and frozen ahead of time, defrosted the day before, and reheated in the oven just in time for guests. Since the author's menu was for 12, and we had 6, I only made a few of the things on her menu. I chose to do an Asian theme: Orange-Glazed Carrots, Curry Chicken w/ Coconut, Asian Noodle Rice, and a soup appetizer of Curried Squash Soup. The food was great and I thought it livened things up a bit to serve a non-traditional menu.

While this wasn't my first time having people over for fun and serving dinner, it was my first experience with "entertaining" in the formal sense. Not that it was all that formal, but I did break out the nice china, and set the table in a traditional style - complete with a centerpiece! I also received some beautiful warming/baking dishes from my brother for Christmas that match my china so I used those to display the food.

The evening went very well and I learned something important about myself. I never thought I would be good at party hosting, or even cooking for that matter! But since becoming a homemaker, I've been trying different things around the house and learning what tastes good in which dishes and I think I've actually gotten somewhat decent at it! Hurray for me!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm back!

After spilling sweet tea in my laptop two weeks ago (is that a southern thing to do or WHAT?!), I am officially back! Thank you hubby for my wonderful new Christmas present!


Frugal Friday, Overspending at Christmas.

Most of us really over do it around the holidays - we cook too much, we eat too much, and we SHOP too much! Stastically speaking, consumers not only buy presents around the holidays each year, but we also consume more ourselves! Have you been a part of this phenomenon? I know I have!

Yesterday we went to the mall to finish our Christmas shopping, but we did more than just that. We had lunch for $11, (which we wouldn't usually do), I got a haircut and purchased the suggested styling product for $18, (which I NEVER do), and I actually almost bought something because it was on sale even though I KNEW I didn't need it! Luckily they did not have the size I was looking for or I would have overspent there as well!

I'm not really sure why this overspending phenomenon occurs. I imagine it has something to do with all that generosity you're bestowing upon your loved ones and so that little voice in your head says, HEY! I deserve something too! Or maybe its all the sales and you just literally get sucked in! I guess its the one time of year many people allow themselves to splurge (As we did yesterday).

But if you're trying to live within your budget, as we are, its important to find that healthy balance between splurging and being frugal. You don't want to be a scrooge and not enjoy the holidays, but you also don't want to over do it and land yourself in debt. So be careful out there! Think about your purchase before you ring it up. Do you really need it? If not, is it something you really truly want? I like to put the thing I want back down and continue shopping. If I can't stop thinking about how much I love it, and if its a worth a trip back to its location then I allow myself to indulge. But if I forget about it, or its not worth a drive back to the store, then I know I really can do without.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More blogging on the way!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to update you all on my computer status - Hopefully we will have it by next Wednesday and then I can get back to blogging! (I've been borrowing computer time from family) Happy Thursday!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and The Laptop...

Saturday Evening, 7pm: I was drinking a huge cup of delicious sweet tea, while working on the computer. I found a bunch of really cute clothes at a yard sale, and was in the process of posting the images on Ebay to see if I could re-sell them. I was really focused on what I was doing and while reaching for the sweet tea I fumbled! It went everywhere, and by everywhere I mean INTO my laptop. My first reaction was to say "crap!" and grab the cup before it could dump anymore tea onto my most important piece of technological equipment.

A voice comes in from the living room, "What?"- I respond, "I spilled tea in my laptop!"

Lay it down flat and put a towel under it!

You mean like this?

No - not an angle! You're draining all the liquid into the hard drive!

Well if you would stop talking maybe I could concentrate!

Your laptop is DONE!

Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

We patiently and calmly waited it out overnight, giving my loyal companion plenty of time to air out. This morning I pressed power - and nothing happened. I plugged it in - was it the battery??? Nope - its gone!!

My computer has finally bit the dust after 3 loyal years of companship. I'm not sure if that is a long lifespan for a computer or not - but I'm honestly surprised that this particular computer has lasted this long.

I recieved this computer in 2004 when I started working as a traveling marketing person. This laptop has been to 42 states, and probably 100 different airports. It went from being packed tenderly into a laptop bag and stored underneath the seat in front of me, to being shoved into a suitcase and thrown into the overhead bins. The hard drive has failed twice and one of the pixels was burned out. And the kicker - I had no "M" or "B" button. The cat knocked the M off and the B came off while I was typing. I've been triggering those letters by digging a fingernail into the empty button space for 6 months. But I'm a frugalizer so I've been making do and hoping it would last a little longer with each passing day that it was still around!

So what's the good news in this story? I'm getting a new laptop!! Oh yeah! I'm so so so excited I can hardly wait! And I have to wait for Christmas! Thank you hubby for such a great Christmas present. And just so I'm giving credit where its due - Hubby informed me this morning that he was already going to get me a computer for Christmas anyway - its just not going to be a surprise anymore. What a sweetie! And thanks for letting me use your yucky PowerBook in the meantime hubby. :)

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Frugal Friday - Use less gasoline

Around here, as in most parts of the country, gas as has become outrageously priced. I long for the days only 10 years ago when I got my first car and could FILL IT UP for about 12 dollars. Boy those were the days. It now costs more than $30. Unfortunately the people who put the dollar signs on our oil know that we have to have it, and therefor they can charge us up the whazooooo and we'll still pay. I believe that it is possible however, to make the price come down a bit.

The problem is that to do this, we all have to make some sacrifices. We have got to stop consuming so much energy. I am probably a hypocrite for even writing this, because today I'm taking a two hour drive each way to visit some friends of mine in my old town - I miss them and I'm going! But I do need to stop driving so much. If I complain about gas prices being high, I have myself to partly blame. Because its a known fact that if you're willing to pay the higher price for something, then big companies are going to charge the higher price.

It might be hard, but we can all make tiny sacrifices to help ease our pocketbook strain during this time. Try consolidating your shopping trips into one big trip. Or postponing a visit until its on the way to another place you need to go. It's not only good for stretching your dollar, its good for the environment!

Check back next Friday for a piece on Helping others during the Holidays. For more frugal tips visit BiblicalWomanhood.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Z-Pak is my favorite friend.

I started coming down with a sore throat last Friday and it, or course, got progressively worse and worse until Tuesday I was completely out of commission. I normally wouldn't go to the doctor unless things were really dire, but now that we have a Goose in the house, I felt I ought to take better care of myself in case he gets it too. Doc prescribed me a Z-Pak and let me tell you - I feel SO SO SO much better today. I plan to be completely back in the game in time for Frugal Friday. Have a great Thursday everyone!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

This week I am apparently using a lot of chicken. They have been recalling a lot of ground beef in our area and now I'm scared to buy it!! I found a great deal on chicken at BJ's, so now every night is chicken night at our house!! :)

Monday - Caesar Salad

Tuesday - Ginger Sesame Chicken

Wednesday - Spaghetti

Thursday - Baked Chicken and Rice

Friday - Cream Cheese Chicken Pockets

Saturday - Leftovers...yummy

For more menu planning fun, please visit OrgJunkie.

Where we buy our milk.

At Wal-Mart this past weekend I saw a gallon of Maola Milk for $6.12. WHAT!? Since when is milk twice as expensive as gas? It is for this reason I wanted to do a quick post about where we buy our milk, and that place is BJ's Membership Warehouse.

When we moved three months ago, I wanted to investigate the savings to be had at members-only stores, so we headed over to BJ's. As we walked around I noticed some prices that were slightly better and others that were slight worse. But then we saw the milk price - $3.14. In our part of the country that is the cheapest milk I've seen.

I calculated the savings of purchasing our milk here for one year and it outweighed the cost of our $45.00 annual membership. So now we buy all our milk from BJ's. They have raised their prices but only to $3.31, and actually this past weekend they were down by 10 cents to $3.21.

If you have any other milk purchasing advice, please let us know in the comments!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Frugal Friday - Finding Affordable Clothing

Finding affordable clothing on a limited budget can be tricky. Its especially difficult to find CUTE clothing on a budget - but in recent years, I've been introduced to a method that does just that. Cute clothes for less! The answer is in Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops. Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops are an excellent resource for any savvy, frugal-minded person. They are generally are filled to the brim with excellent bargains, especially when it comes to clothes.

Of course bargain is in the eye of the beholder. Two years ago, I found a gorgeous pair of high heels at a local consignment shop for $30. To me, this was a great deal - the shoes originally came from BeBe, a super trendy, high end clothing store that I had always avoided like the plague due to the "cha-ching" involved. So when I found a pair of cute shoes that I could afford. that came from there, I jumped on it! But, if I were faced with the same situation now, I'd be forced to relunctantly pass.

You can still find GREAT deals at these shops though. Not too long ago I found a pair brand new Express Khaki Cords for only $10. They had never been washed, and the original price was around $60. And check out this adorable outfit Debbie J. found at a thrift store for 50 cents:

What a Bargain!


So try the thrifts and the consignment shops next time you go shopping. You might be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the garments and, of course, the price!

UPDATE: Debbie J. posted a similar topic today with a better picture of the above outfit, click to check it out!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Television


Is it just me or are all the Christmas Cartoons I used to LOVE as a kid, completely different now? Last night, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was on and the night before that A Charlie Brown Christmas. When I was little, I remember being so excited for these shows to come on television. I remember being glued to the t.v. with Sugar Plums dancing in my ears and Christmas merriment bopping around in my brain.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights when these Christmas specials aired, I got that old twinge of elated anticipation. I tuned in right on time. I muted the dog and the cat, and turned the baby volume to low. Then to my disspointment, I realized that both of these shows are not very interesting anymore and on top of that have incredibly short running times. How the Grinch stole Christmas is only 26 minutes long according to Wikipedia. So I'm not sure, but I think I was tricked into watching 34 minutes of commercials!! Because you KNOW a national television affiliate would never run a 26 minute program in a 30 minute slot and have only FOUR minutes of commercials. Sheesh.

Regardless though, I still enjoyed just the fact that it was on. It brought back happy memories. And even though now I'd rather be blogging or watching Grey's Anatomy, I still feel that the Christmas season has begun when those old school programs begin to run. And I can't wait for our children to get to know Charlie Brown and the Who's down in Whoville. I have a feeling they will renew those old feelings of excitement and possibly even get the sugar plums stuck back in my ears (along with draining all the Christmas cheer from my bank account!)

Tree Decision '07

Kacie at Sense to Save, posted an interesting question the other day - Real Tree or Artificial? It was interesting to me because I had just been considering that same question in terms of what our family should do this year.

I have only had a real tree a few times in my life. I "think" I remember having a real tree a couple of times when I very small. Then when I was living in Boston that first year, my roommates insisted upon a real tree. They dragged it up 5 flights of stairs and had it decorated before I even got home from work. I don't really remember it that much except that it was sitting beside the television for about a month.

This year I thought it would be kind of nice to celebrate our first Christmas with Goose by going out and doing the whole "picking out a live tree" thing. Like how they do on Christmas shows! But then Hubby and I thought about it a little more and figured Goose won't remember it anyway, so lets get another year or two out of our artificial tree and save a little cash.

I think artificial trees are pretty great though - they never wilt or die. Some of are pre-lit. Many of them look better-than real. And you don't have to water them. But I do think it would be a fun tradition to go as a family and pick out the tree - or maybe we can go to Debbie J.'s house and chop one down or something! (Just kidding)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hair Phenomenon Part II

Yesterday I posted about Goose's spikey hair and how it looks just like his Uncle Tator's hair. (Click for Part I) My dear mama, Debbie J., has sent me some additional evidence:

Uncle Tator: Approximate Age: 6 months

WFMW - Newspaper Window Cleaner


A few years ago when my Aunt asked me to help her wash her windows, I was surprised to see a huge stack of newspaper sitting beside the Windex. I was even more surprised when she started wadding it up and using it, instead of paper towels, to dry the Windex she had sprayed on the glass. Of course I followed suit and was again surprised to find that the newspaper not only worked - it worked BETTER. No streaks, No wet spots, No dirt left behind.


So if you have some newspaper lying around, give it a try! Works for me! For more great tips visit Shannon's Blog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hair Phenomenon

When my brother was little, his hair would stand straight up. I'm not exaggerating the straight up part. All over his head until his hair was probably 2 inches long it stuck straight out on all sides. I still remember being in Wal-Mart one Sunday with him and my mom (and I think my grandma too) and someone said to their friend that he looked like we had stuck him in a microwave!! They said this where we could hear it too! Shame... Anyway, I think that Goose has inherited his Uncle Tater's hair!!!!!!!

Here's the preliminary evidence:




Cute and Frugal Christmas Gifts

I have decided to make a lot of my Christmas Gifts this year. There are a ton of people that I always buy a little something for and that "little something" could range anywhere from 5-10 dollars in price. Since we are on a shoestring budget this year, I decided to make Christmas Candy Jars out of Mason Canning Jars. I have only made 6 so far, but they turned out pretty cute. The beauty of this project is two-fold. Number one is the price. Each jar cost approximately $1.50 to make. Number two is the thought behind each one. They may not have cost a lot, but they take a while to make. I really put a lot of care into them, trying to make them cute and attempting to make the bows look right. I hope the recipients of these gifts like them as much as I do!



I like them so much that I was thinking of selling them in an Etsy shop for 3 or 4 dollars a piece. I don't know, we'll see. Here are some pics:





Monday, November 26, 2007

7 things!

I've been tagged by fellow SuperMom, Mrs. Warmth, to list 7 random things about me. Here goes!

1) I majored in Business Administration in college, but what I really wanted to do was be a ballet dancer! I didn't think there was any money in it and I didn't know what else I would be good at, so I majored in Business! (Kind of like you, Mrs. Warmth!)

2) I'm amazed that I'm still breastfeeding. Hubby was the one who actally wanted me to do it and I said ok, but in the back of my mind I was really unsure. It hurt so bad for the first month, but after that it got really easy. I don't even pump anymore because to me its just easier to breastfeed. Now I can't imagine feeding Goose formula.

3) Goose got his nickname because he used to honk like a goose when he ate!! We think its cute, but others have told me to can it before it gets too "stuck". :)

4) I currently have like 4 or so clogged milk ducts. OUCH.

5) I LOVE movies. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I LOVE going to the movies especially. Before Goose was born, hubby and I probably went at least once a week. Sometimes twice! We also love Grey's Anatomy and Lost. We love them so much, we wait until the DVDs come out to watch them because we can't take the weekly suspense (or commercials!).

6) I like soap operas. I know they are dumb, the plot-lines are weak and the acting is cheesy, but I really like them!! I like how I can miss about 10 episodes and still know exactly what is going on because the story moves so slowly!

7) I am really proud of my husband! The parents of his students often tell me how great they think his teaching is. It makes me so proud!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Being Thankful

I know this is a day late, but in honor of Thanksgiving I just want to send a "shout out" to God. He made so much possible for us this year and I am really still in awe of it.

Stuff God made possible for us this year:

1) Led us to a new town
2) Helped us sell our old home
3) Found us an apartment with a lease exactly long enough to keep us housed until our new home was finished
4) Got us into our new home with a week to spare before the birth of our son
5) Found hubby a new job that he loves
6) Gave us a beautiful baby boy
7) Allowed us to keep our sanity while we moved twice in 6 months
8) Blessed us with amazing family and friends that have been wonderful and supportive throughout everything.

Thanks God -You rock! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Biggest Miracle Of All

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WFMW - Coupon Organization

I used to use a traditional accordian style coupon organizer, but it was lost when we moved to our new home. I honestly never liked it much anyway because it was hard to tell what coupons I had, and even more of a pain to separate the expired coupons from the usable ones. So last week I racked my brain to come up with a better system and I think I found it!

I purchased a 1" 3-ring binder at Wal-Mart for about $1, two packs of loose leaf paper for 82 cents each, and two sets of page dividers. I organized the divider tabs as follows:

Food
Baby
Home
Bath/Body
Pets
Restaurants/Misc
CVS
Christmas Reciepts (to keep track of the Cha-Ching!)

I then divided out the loose leaf paper between the tabs and taped my coupons onto the paper according to their category. Now my coupons are on display for me when I open my organizer. I can see exactly what I have, and when a whole page expires - I just tear it out.

Of course, carrying this large book into the store is not very practical, so I plan my shopping trip and tear out the coupons that I need to take with me. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly "Works for me"!! For more great tips please head over to Rocks In My Dryer!

Hello Coupons.

How are you today?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kitchen Tip Tuesday


I've decided to join in on the Kitchen Tip Extravaganza! My first post for Kitchen Tip Tuesday is to use Pyrex Baking Dishes with snap on lids when cooking in your oven.
I have two of these dishes and I just LOVE them. I use them any time I use my oven because when we are done serving ourselves from the dish, we just snap on the lid and slip it into the fridge. Its great because you don't have to scoop the food out and transfer it into a different container for storage. I have a 9x12 dish and an 8x8 dish. I love them so much, I got my cousin an 8 piece set for his wedding in a couple of weeks. Happy Tuesday!

Colic Roars Its Ugly Head - againnnnnnn.

I really wish doctors could explain Colic better than just saying, Oh its an endless bout of crying for no known reason. I mean, there has to be a reason right? Ugh. Goose cried from 7am to about 9pm yesterday, taking small little breaks to nap. He is also suddenly not sleeping through the night, having gone back to waking at 3am for snacks. What is up little man?!

As a breastfeeding mom, the thing I keep thinking is what did I eat this weekend that was different than usual?? I did eat some extremely hot chili on Sunday night. Could that be it? I have read conflicting views on whether what you eat actually goes into your milk at all, so I'm somewhat torn on if that actually caused the problem - but it makes since right?

As for the nightwaking, I've read that babies have growth spurts around 3 months, so that may explain his renewed interested in midnight snacks. If any of you have experience with any of this, please share your story!! It will help me tremendously to cope with the stress of non-stop crying on very little sleep, to hear how others handle it. Thanks for reading!! Signed - Proud Mom to Mr. Colicy Fussy-Pants

Friday, November 16, 2007

Frugal Friday - Yard Sales

On Monday I posted about all the great deals we found at yard sales last Saturday and I thought I'd go into a little more depth today for Frugal Friday. Yard Sales have SO MUCH to offer. I used to think that I didn't want other people's junk, but then I went yard saling and saw that the stuff people sell at their yard sales is not usually very junky! People sell really NICE stuff - you just have to know how to find the right sale. Here's how to have a successful yard saling experience:

1) Know what you are looking for. Last Saturday I was looking for kids clothes and books to resell. We didn't find many good books, but we did hit the jackpot with some extremely gently used, name brand, kids clothes. I'm talking Baby Gap, The Children's Place, Carters...Some of the outfits were brand new. We even found a like-new Halo SleepSack.

2) Once you know what you are looking for - get a newspaper or hit the Craigs List site for your area. Last week we didn't get a paper but went on Craigs List and found all our yard sales that way. Its cheaper (frugal!!) than buying a paper and we had just as much success.

3) Now scour your paper or Craigs List for yard sales that are selling what you are looking for. Whether its clothing, furniture, or pots n pans.

4) Plan your route based on this. We are new to our area, so we planned a multi-stop trip in Google Maps. Probably most people don't have to do this, but if you don't know where something is, look it up and print directions.

5) Go EARLY. All the good stuff is gone by probably 8 or 9am at yard sales. ESPECIALLY furniture. If you are looking to buy a table that was advertised, you can bet someone else is going to beat you to it!

6) On the other hand - Don't show up at 5am before the stuff gets put out and then start helping the home owner to take stuff out of boxes in your urgency to find the best deals. We had a yard sale once and people actually did this. We were trying to get all the boxes out of the house and people were just digging in and taking boxes from us - An HOUR before our advertised start time.

7) Bargain with the owner! You don't have to pay sticker price at yard sales. Last week I found a brand new bread machine for $20 and offered them $15 - they said ok. When you are sorting through clothes that are $1 each, grab a whole bunch and just offer a flat amount. I had about 16 pieces of clothing in my hands last week and offered the owner $10. He said OK!

I'd like to thank my friend Rosemary for introducing me to yard sales when we were neighbors!!! THANKS!

Do any of you have a yard sale tip?? Please leave it in the comments for us! I'm still pretty new to it, so I'm sure I've left something out! Thanks to Crystal at Biblical Womanhood for hosting Frugal Fridays, head on over for more frugal tips!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Soap Box Thursday!!!!!

I'm on my Soap Box Today! Is it just me, or are the prices on Ebay completely ridiculous!!? I was looking into getting Goose a Baby Bumbo or a BeBe Pod to help him sit upright and the prices are really high! One of the BeBe Pods (which was a used one with a crack in it) was already up to 26 dollars (incl. shipping) and had 4 hours left! I just want to email those people and tell them to go to their friendly neighborhood WalMart and buy a BRAND NEW crack-less one for $32.

I guess a part of the reason people do this is just that its fun to bid on things and win. I get it. Maybe some people prefer to have their items delivered than to have to go and get them. I guess I get that too. But I don't like it that the charges for used/broken items are the same as brand new items at the store.

I even saw where one person was advertising a brand new Bumbo with Tray for a buy-it-now price of $54.98. In their item description they said "Compare at $74.98". This infuriated me because it just is not true. I imagine you can probably pay $74.98 for one if you wanted, but the truth is they are around $55 at most stores that I know of. But some unsuspecting, honest person out there will see that in the description and think "What a great deal!", purchase it, pay shipping and spend more than they would have otherwise.

Excuse me while I climb back down from my soap box...ok...SOoooo anyway I still love Ebay. I you have the right stuff you can sell it and make money or if you need something you can always find it there. I just don't understand spending the same amount of money (or more!) on something used and broken as the new item would be.

Are you an Ebayer that gets this concept? Please leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WFMW!! Pet Food Storage!

If you have a pet you probably have bags of pet food just sitting around taking up space or looking messy in a corner somewhere of your home (I know we did!). Here's what worked for us: Plastic Trash Cans!

Trash cans with lids make great storage for something like this. This is a very cheap trash can with a hinged lid, but one day I'd like to get something larger and more attractive - but for now it keeps the bags out of the way, the food gets stored, and it doesn't look so cluttered to have it sitting out in the open. Ours is in the corner of our kitchen. Thanks for reading!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tag I'm it! 8 Random Things About Me:

I've been tagged by my dear mom over at Homemaking Dreams to list 8 random things about me. Here we go:

1. Until recently I lived in a beautiful tourist town on the coast of North Carolina. We lived in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 870 square foot home built in 1942. We now live two hours away in our new home which is twice as big, 65 years newer and cost LESS because we moved away from the beach. But we really MISS you Wilmington and ALL our friends!!!!!!!!

2. My husband is a special education science teacher. He has a Master's Degree in Special Education and teaches young people with severe ADD, Asperger's Syndrome, ect. He was also the bass player in a band for 10 years in Boston that was played locally on the radio and were nominated for a Boston Music Award.

3. I met my husband 4 years ago on Match.com, back when it was still slightly taboo to meet people online. I joke sometimes that I paid $20 for my husband because that's how much my membership cost. He brought me flowers every time we got together for a month straight. On our first date we went to dinner, then bowling, then ate dessert in a park while he played his guitar for me, then we went dancing, and then we got pizza. It was the best and most romantic first date ever.

4. I moved to inner-city Boston by myself after I graduated college in 2002. Having grown up on a farm in one of the least populated counties in our state, this was quite a change. It was the most interesting and exciting thing I have ever done. I met a lot of people, had a great experience, met my future husband, got extremely cold and decided North Carolina was the place for me.

5. I've been mugged at knifepoint by three guys on a dimly lit street beside a dark alley. The most scary thing ever. Do not recommend dimly lit streets. Do not recomment walking alone at night in big cities. I think this may have been God's way of saving my life because up until that point, I was scared of nothing. I would walk around the city and take the subway no matter how dark the sky, no matter how late the hour. Now I am extremely cautious!!!

6. I took tap dance lessons throughout my pregnancy and performed in the Spring Recital. So fun. I took dance for 10 years before going to college, and decided to get back into it last year before I got pregnant.

7. I am almost completely deaf in my right ear. I had lots and lots of ear infections when I was young. Not even surgery could repair the nerve damage. If you talk into that ear the sound gets garbled on the way to my brain and sounds like the adult people in Charlie Brown cartoons - WhaWhawaaaawhawha!!

8. I am the first generation in my family to not work on a farm. My mom and dad, their mom and dad, their mom and dad, and etc, etc. all worked on farms. We live in such the rural south that my Dad can remember not having plumbing, using outhouses and hanging salted pork on the porch to keep it fresh. Thank God for Plumbing and Refrigeration!!! And hot water!! And TV!! And internet and Netflix!!!

I've never tagged anyone and I'm not sure if I'm doing it right but - I tag Kacie at Sense to Save. Is that right?? :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cloth Diapering News

I just wanted to take a moment and thank ClothDiaperingNews.com for highlighting my 2-part series on Cloth Diapers. It is an honor and a pleasure to spread the word on how great cloth diapering really is and to help abolish the negative myths that surround it. Please check out the article by clicking the link above and if you missed the series please click for Part 1 and Part 2.

Thanks!!

Yard Saling Success!!!!

On Saturday Hubby, Goose, and I went yard selling for the first time in our new town. We found such amazing deals! If you can muster the strength to wake up about 2 hours before sunrise and and still have the where-with-all to fight off other buyers from your purchases on just a little sleep, then yard sales are the way to go!


We took $50 with us and spent $44. Here's what we got:

Huge box FULL of Duplo Blocks
3 brand new baby outfits
10 gently used baby outfits (like new)
10 like new kids books
2 hardcover books for me
2 Batman movies for hubby
The Lion King Movie
Pooh Bear decorations for a future play room
Light Meter (for hubby's science class)
Magnet kit (also for hubby's science class)


and the very best find:

A BRAND NEW bread machine - still taped up in its box!! YES!


This was the very best find!! Needless to say I have already made a loaf of bread (Cinniman Raisin) and it was pretty good! I am so excited to make fresh bread for us to use on sandwiches and to have for breakfast, etc. The bread machine is SO easy to use. You just poor the ingredients in and press start! 3 hours later you have bread!! So Cool!

Bread!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Cloth Diapering Part 2: How to fit it in!!

Last week we talked about how great cloth diapering can be! Today I'd like to share with you some ideas on how to fit it into your lifestyle. Whether you're a stay-at-homer or a workin' gal cloth diapers can (and will!) work for you.

The stay at home parent has many options when it comes to cloth diapering. You can use pre-folds and pins, all-in-ones, pockets, or whatever your heart desires. You can tailor the process to what fits your needs. Prefolds work great for me. Prefolds are your basic cloth diaper (they call them prefolds because they're "prefolded" in the center and sewn that way for extra absorbancy). I like using these best because they are one of the cheapest options. I have a few pins and 3 pairs of Dappi plastic pants. You fold the diaper around baby's bottom, pin it, slide on the plastic pants and your done. It actually doesn't take long at all once you get the hang of it.

Now a parent in the working world who uses day care will probably not be able to use this option. Many daycares (or so I've read) will not use them. For this parent All-in-Ones or Pockets might be best. They work the same as disposables except you can reuse them! All-in-ones are great because you just throw the whole thing in the wash. Pockets are a little trickier because they have an absorbant insert that must be removed, washed, and re-inserted. I have 6 pairs of BumGenius Pocket diapers and I LOVE THEM.

The only downer about them is the price. When I purchased mine a couple months ago they were 17.95 each, they have since come down $3 to 14.95. But it is worth every penny to have a few of these on hand. They work great for overnight and are fabulous for outings. I have never had one leak AT ALL. I have had several disposables to leak as well as the prefolds.

You have to weigh the pros and cons when selecting a cloth diapering system. Take into account the price of the product, ease of use, and how long you will be able to use it. I purchased 6 BumGenius One-Size-Fits-All Pocket diapers for a little over $100. That seems like a lot of money up front, but they will be used over and over again for 2 or 3 years on EACH CHILD. I am definitely asking for some more of these for Christmas!!

A few things to consider with Prefolds: If you decide to use prefolds I highly recommend Dappi Plastic Pants. They are old school I know!! But they are CHEAP and work GREAT. I made the mistake of purchasing the One-Size-Fits-All "WonderWraps" at $10 a pop and they don't even compare to my plastic pants that were 3 for $5.00!! WonderWraps are a very neat concept, but I think they need a little more R&D before they will work correctly. Basically they are diaper covers that will expand to fit your child at any age. But the fit is all wrong - Goose's legs stick out at the sides because the crotch is so wide and they leak, leak, leak!! I have, however, heard EXCELLENT things about Bummis Whisper Wraps. I have not personally tried these, but I know WesternWarmth has them and she likes them a lot. Visit her page to read about her experience with them.

I wanted to post some pics of my different types of diapers but I am having camera upload issues today. (SIGH - when it rains it pours! I just hope my laptop can stick it out for another year or so!) So for pics and more info here are some links:

For BumGenius you can click on the Amazon Favorite Products sidebar.
For everything else: KellysCloset

If you have a cloth diaper experience please share it with us in Comments!! And for more frugal tips please visit BiblicalWomanhood.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Cute Factor


Babies have cute factors. Let me tell you, my baby's cute factor is off the charts! (As I'm sure all mothers say of their children!) Goose has really turned up the charms the last few days. He has started taking things in with a look of quiet ingenuity in his eyes. And I think this is adorable!


Yesterday I got an oil change at BJ's and it took over an hour. So I strapped Goose into his "portable womb" AKA the Snuggli Baby Carrier and we walked around the store for the whole time. He opened his eyes so big and just GAZED at all the merchandise (sign of Christmases to come??) He was so enthralled that he would forget to suck his pacifier and I had to hold it in his mouth. The look of wonder on his face was amazing.


He has also started "talking" to his toys. He coos at them for about ten minutes and then starts to get mad when they don't talk back. Its very funny!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday - Help! My neighbors dogs bark ALL THE TIME!

Behind our home is a thin stretch of woods behind which is an older development. Through the woods you can just barely make out a white house with a dog pen in the back. The dog that lives in this pen is a BARKER! All dogs barks, I know - but do all dogs bark all the time?? This one thinks it needs to defend its home against everything. If we so much as open our back door the dog will bark incessantly. Keep in mind we can't even see the dog from the door - we have to walk down to the property line to actually make him out through the woods. So why does he think we are trying to invade his property when we sit on our back porch!?

I can imagine its possible the owners of the dog are also frustrated. For years they lived with no houses on the other side of their woods (I think this was farm land, either that or more woods) and now they have us to contend with. Maybe the dog thinks we built a house on HIS property?

Sigh...So my Works For Me Wednesday question is - Have you ever faced a similar problem and how on earth did you fix it?

I hope that with time the dog will adjust to having us here. I am an "outside" kind of person and I hate to think that I will not be able to peacefully use my own backyard thanks to this dog!

Thanks everyone for visiting!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hello....47 Cent Can of Cream of Mushroom...

My trip to Aldi yesterday was a success, albeit a tad stressful! Goose was hungry and I had to breastfeed him in his carrier while navigating the unfamiliar layout of my new favorite store. I was pushing the cart with one hand, holding a blanket over my chest with one hand, holding the carrier in place with one hand, and checking off my grocery list with one hand - oh wait - I only have TWO hands...! Maybe that's why I was so stressed!

Anyway, I got some good loot! There are definitely some items at Aldi that are significantly cheaper than what I normally pay. I got the majority of what was on my list and picked up a few other items just because they were SO cheap!

For $22.08 I purchased:

5 1/2 pounds of ground beef
Wheat cereal
Large box of Spaghetti
Tortillas
Salad
Coffee Creamer (French Vanilla!)
Bread
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Box of Stroganoff
Cream Cheese

Of all the items the beef was the most expensive at $10.00 (or $1.79 a lb). So that means the rest of my items only cost an average of $1.33 each. Pretty good I'd say! I was most impressed with the price on everyday ingredients that I use. The Cream of Mushroom soup being only 47 cents is a good example of this. Another example is they have boxes of Powdered Onion Soup for only 50 cents. That is a pretty huge savings considering they are over a dollar for the name brand (Lipton's).

As for the shopping experience at Aldi -MAN do they check you out fast! The Cashier was literally THROWING my groceries into the cart, I could barely get my money out fast enough! As for the "no shopping bags" concept, I was a little worried because I had forgotten my shopping bags, but I noticed no one else in the store had bags either. So I just put the items directly into my car with no bags, which I thought was just fine.

So all-in-all a great experience and I plan to do PLENTY of more shopping at Aldi. It was definitely worth the trip into town.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Over the Highway and through the traffic, To the ALDI Store I go!

Today is a great day because I am going to ALDI for the first time today! I am so excited because I see all the great deals Kacie over at SenseToSave is saving and want to join in the fun! Plus it sounds like a cool shopping experience.

I had no idea we even had ALDIs down here until I noticed my mom from HomeMakingDreams commenting on Sense to Save that her nearest ALDI was 30 minutes away. Well if my mom has an ALDI then surely I must!! (We live close to each other) I went on the website and BLAM KAZAAM (that's the sound my computer made) I have an ALDI!

A few things I love about the ALDI concept:

1) Bring your own shopping bags. This is so awesome. It takes about KAJILLION KAMILLION years for plastic bags to break down in landfills. Plus, it takes OIL to make plastic. And I am all about the U.S. not needing as much of it. So I just love the idea of reusing bags.

2) Quarter for a shopping cart. I seriously hate seeing people not put their carts back. Everytime I go to the store I see someone just push their cart into oblivion and inevitably THAT is the cart that will reappear next to my car when I come out of the store - along with a huge ding! So I love having an incentive to put carts back.

3) Generic AKA "Private Label" Brands. I like that I won't be bombarded with typical marketing when I go in. I am not a cow - I do not need to be "branded".

I'll let you know how it turns out! To find an ALDI near you click here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I LOVE Cloth Diapers, Part ONE

Before my son was born 9 weeks ago, I was skeptical on the business of cloth diapers. Would I rather put my baby in disposables and be on my merry way? Sometimes..... But do I crave a penny saved? YES! Am I a frugalizer? YES! Do I even have a couple thousand dollars lying around somewhere to pay for this convenience? Uh, NOOOOO!

It is for these reasons we decided to use cloth diapers. I was planning to stay home with my baby and that meant all extras were to be cut out of the budget. For us, cloth diapering was born out of necessity. But "if I had a million dollars" (as the song goes) I would STILL choose cloth now that I know how good it is not only for the budget, but for baby's bottom AND the environment. Plus - it's WAY easier than I ever thought it could be.

Most of my traditional cloth diapers, the ones you fold and pin, were given to me by loved ones before Goose was born. So my continued investment has been minimal. I have spent around $150 to date on cloth diapering. That money was spent on diaper covers and a few nicer diapers for outings and overnight. That $150 is a one-time investment. Had I been using disposables I probably could have blown through that in a month, two at best, on diapers that just got thrown in the trash.

What originally scared me about cloth diapering, I have found to be completely false. So I want to take a minute to shatter these myths for anyone who might be hesitant about cloth. I'd love to sway your opinion over to the "cloth" side!

Myth #1 - They are WAY messier than disposables

FALSE. Whether you are changing a cloth diaper or a disposable - you are still engaged in hand to hand combat with POOP. No matter how you slice it, if you have a kid you are going to touch their poop at some point. It really doesn't matter if you get to throw it in the garbage or not. The difference with cloth is that the diapers get washed. I honestly thought I would have to manually scrape poop into the toilet with cloth. But I was (Thankfully!) wrong. I had read online that many parents just throw the diaper straight into the wash. This is what I do and it works great. My diapers come out clean and fresh. It really is just like doing an extra load of laundry.

Myth #2 - The money saved will be wasted on the water and electricity used to wash the diapers.

FALSE. My water bill is only $20 dollars a month and our electric bill has actually gone down. Granted we DO use more water and electricity than a family NOT using cloth diapers, but that cost is minimal compared to the money spent on disposables. Plus, you can hang your diapers to dry on a rack or a line and your electric cost will be almost nonexistent. Even if the total of our water bill each month was from washing dirty diapers, that would STILL be cheaper than buying new diapers each week.

My drying rack and diaper basket

Myth #3 - It's time consuming and I don't have the extra time.

FALSE. Once you get the hang of it, it only takes a minute or two longer to change a cloth diaper. I think its kind of fun. Goose is usually at his sweetest when getting changed, so I don't mind a few extra seconds spent watching him smile and listening to him coo.

Here's a few more good reasons to use cloth:

1) Bye bye Diaper Rash. Goose can only wear disposables if you cake his butt with Desitin. With Cloth he has NO problem.

2) They actually make cloth diapers that work just like disposables, with velcro tabs and such. Only difference is you don't have to buy MORE.

3) It's a really nice thing to do that makes you feel good! I feel great just knowing I did not throw another dirty diaper into a landfill. Every little bit helps right?

So there you have it. I LOVE cloth diapering! Check back next Friday for Part 2 where we'll highlight different types of cloth diapers and how to tailor it to fit your lifestyle! For more frugal tips go to http://www.biblicalwomanhoodonline.com/blog.htm

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Baby Must-Haves

I'd like to share with everyone a few "tools" I've found work wonders on a baby. Goose loves these items, and when baby's happy - Mama's happy!


The first item is the bouncer seat. We have the Fisher Price Safari Animals edition, but I'm sure they all accomplish the same task. I would like to add that this chair was one of the cheaper ones I've seen and it works great, leading me to believe that higher price does not necessarily constitute a better product in this category. Here's the effect this seat has on Goose:


I also really like our swing. This swing is actually my sister-in-law's but her kids have recently outgrown it. Little "d" loves sitting in this! He smiles at the toys and will usually fall asleep. This swing is made by Graco:



And now - for my absolute FAVORITE item - a true miracle. The product is the Fisher Price Rainforest Waterfall Soother. Here's how it works: You install it inside the crib and it plays soothing nature sounds and music while a waterfall lights up with blue falling water and a cute little monkey swings back and forth. It mesmerizes our child and after a few minutes he will usually fall asleep. If he doesn't fall asleep it will at least keep him occupied for a few minutes while I finish up dinner or something to that effect. Fisher Price has a few different versions of this item and I'm sure they are all at least as good as this one:If you don't have at least one of these items you are missing out! Have a great Thursday everyone!

Colic

Well my sweet little son has colic. I have always heard parents talking about colic and how awful it was, but not having experienced it myself I just took their stories with a grain of salt. I mean, techinically speaking, Colic is just long stretches of inconsolable crying and certainly my baby could never be "inconsolable". Not with such a loving mom as myself! Surely he can always be comforted by my gentle nature and loving touch?. NOPE! Colic is awful. All the stories are true. Goose is not comforted by my gentleness or love!

To describe Colic to those of you who have not experienced it: Imagine the most annoying sound you can possibly think of. Some good examples are nails on a chalkboard, the monotonous beep of the Emergency Broadcast System weekly test, and the sound a phone makes when left off the hook for too long. Got your sound? Ok - amplify the volume x10 and multiply the intensity by 2 or 3. Now listen to that sound for 4 or more hours straight per day. Also, take away any option what-so-ever of turning off the annoying sound. The sound can only cease of its own accord for a reason that you do not nor ever will know. THAT, my dear friends, is Colic.

Poor Goose cried so much, I finally concluded that something must be wrong. He wasn't eating normally and barely sleeping during the day. I took him to see our doctor yesterday thinking he must have an ear infection or SOMETHING. There was nothing wrong with our child at all. To top it off - Goose ceased all crying while at the doctor's office. In fact, he turned on all the charm he could muster! He made eyes at the doctor and cooed those sweet little sounds. "I swear he was not like this at home doctor!" I said. Sigh...The doctor left the room and Goose started up with the crying again!

At any rate, he was diagnosed with Colic and it was suggested that I try Mylicon Gas Relief drops on the child. Apparently they work on some children and not on others. Well - I'd like to send a big "shout out!" to the makers of Mylicon!!!! My kid is one of the kids that it works on!! YES!

Goose stopped crying. He also slept for hours after we got home, went to bed for the night an hour earlier than usual and slept this morning until his usual time. Thank you Mylicon!

If anyone has any experience with Colic, please leave your stories and suggestions here in the comments. I would love to hear what works for this!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Do It yourself cat litter box....?

Ok, here's my silliest sounding frugal post yet, but YES I did make my own cat litter box and YES it is the jam!


If you have a cat and are broke for whatever reason (my reason is having a child but take your pick!) then this cat box is for you!


All you need is a pair of scissors and a large rubbermade storage container with snapping lid. The container should preferable be one you already have (that makes this a free project) and it should also be opaque in color, this is so you can't see the yucky cat poo inside.


Do you have your materials? Great! Now cut a big hole on the right hand side of the lid. The hole can be square or round or whatever. It doesn't have to be perfect, just as long as its big enough for your cat to get in there. I made ours about 9"x9".

The Box: Leroy

The Cat: Georgie
After you cut the hole, you fill the box up with about 3 or 4 inches of litter (we use fresh step as we've found it smells the least disgusting!) and then snap the lid on. Next, find your cat. He or she is probably hiding under the bed or in the bathtub. Put your cat as gently as possible into the box through the hole. This is so they will know where the litter is now kept and how to access it. Now just sit back, relax, and let your cat do the work!

The beauty of this litter box is not only that its cheap but also because of its functionality. That was the original reason for my doing this. Our old cat box had a swinging door that kept getting stuck. Well...when the door was stuck the cat would just pick a new place to go - as in on the carpet!


So this box not only solved that problem, but also keeps the litter in the box. I mean, some of it still gets all over the place because thats just how it goes with cats, but most of stays in. We have much less of a problem with that now. And the cat loves it because its private.

Anyway, that's my Works for me Wednesday post! Check back here for more frugal tips and mommy stories!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Menu This Week

I am taking Crystal's (Biblicalwomanhood) ecourse on Grocery Savings and am trying to stick to around $30.00 weekly for groceries. I started by planning a menu, then checked off what I already had, then I went to the store to buy what I didn't. Before doing this I checked the local circulars online to see who had the best deals going. The only sale I could find was on potatoes at Food Lion so that is where I went. Here's the menu:

Monday - Spaghetti (already had ingredients)
Tuesday - Chicken Cream Cheese Pockets
Wednesday - Chicken Casserole
Thursday - Chicken Stroganoff
Friday - Pot Roast
Saturday - Chili

For Breakfast I got oatmeal and for Lunches I got bread for sandwiches.

All of the ingredients I needed for all these meals I found at Food Lion for a total of $25.55. YES!

Hopefully we will have lots of leftovers and then we can stretch this $25.55 out into next week. I love being frugal!

CVS and Walgreens Deals

Well I finally jumped back into bargain shopping today. Since Goose was born I just haven't been able to do it, but Sunday I grabbed a paper, clipped some coupons and got geared up for savings!

All of my previous ECBs have expired, which stinks because I had some GOOD ones. So I had to make a new investment in order to get new ECBs. Sundays paper had a $2.00 off coupon for Shick Intuition Razors and 75 cents off 2 Colgate Toothpastes. CVS is currently running specials on both of these items in our region. The deal was $4 ECBs on the razor and $2 ECBs on the toothpaste. Also, lucky me, I earned a $2 ECB reward for purchases I made last quarter. So my total with the coupons was $14.30 and I got $8 ECBs. YeeHa! I don't really need either of these items at the moment, but with Christmas coming up I figure can I use them in the Shoebox drive or put them in an Angel Tree gift. Plus I have $8 ECBs now for next week!

Walgreens had some pretty good coupons this week as well. They had spices for 50 cents each and OF COURSE they were cleaned out! The only good ones they had left were Italian Seasoning and Basil. Also, they have generic brand bar soaps 5 for $1.00, Chapstick 2 for $1.00, Arm and Hammer Deoderant for 99 cents, and Campbell's Tomato Soup for 50 cents. So at Walgreens I got 3 deoderants, 2 cans of soup, 5 bars of soap, 2 chapsticks and 2 spices for $7.50 including tax - Go ME! (The two spices alone would have cost that if I'd purchased them at the grocery store!)

Karma, or, Our First Glimpse Into Goose's Personality

My karmic retribution has arrived in the form of a tiny, adorable, helpless creature. My child is me...Stubborn and determined to do what he is not yet able! Irritated by his inabilities. Curious beyond all curiousness!!

Yesterday my child cried all day. This is not an exaggeration. He had small breaks in between the crying, but really he just cried all day. All day I tried to figure out what he wanted. Two days ago I could have just offered him milk and he would have been sublimely happy - but not yesterday. The "feed me" signals were going haywire and when I tried to feed him he would scream. This went on into the night when we finally figured out he wanted to be up and about LOOKING. He wanted to be held in a facing forward position and he wanted to be carted around the house for the rest of eternity.

Around 10.30pm he got drowsy and we put him in his crib and turned on his mobile. This got him so excited that he was up for another 2 hours! I thought mobiles were supposed to help babies sleep, not get them all riled up!

He would stare up that mobile and smile and then suddenly start kicking and swinging his arms as fast as he could and then he we would stop and cry. This scene just kept getting repeated and getting repeated. He was trying to get up there to play with his mobile! Poor thing! He just kept moving and moving and then not getting anywhere. He was very frustrated. So I picked him up and brought him level with the thing and then he cried even more! This is just like me - to be frustrated with my inability to do something BY MYSELF. Oh boy. Karma.

He is just like me I know it. He is going to want to do everything for himself and then get frustrated when he can't. He is going to fight with his stubborn nature until 20 years from now when he learns how to graciously accept help. As we southerners say - "Bless his little heart!"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Inexpensive Yard Project

Yesterday I undertook a project I had been putting off and I decided Sunday was the day! What was this amazing project you ask? I created a stone stairway!!! (Exciting I know...)

When we first purchased our lot we had two options. We could select a sloped lot or a flat lot. The choice seems clear right? Who wants a hill for a yard?? Only here's the catch. The flat lots are incredibly small and by the time you put a house on it, your back yard is almost nonexistent. Plus, those lots will eventually have houses behind them so the privacy will be nonexistent as well.

The sloped lots however have a wooded view and are larger. So you get pretty scenery and an actuall back yard - even if it is downhill! Our yard is slightly better than our neighbors though because we selected a lot that flattens towards the bottom so that Goose will have a place to play one day. Here's a pic of the pretty view from my kitchen table:


Anyway, getting back to the project, the area coming down from the steps on our deck is very steep. I can't get down the incline safely unless I hold on to the deck posts as I go. So I decided to make some steps!

This is a very cheap solution to the problem: We bought five 2'x2' stones at Lowe's Home Improvements. I think they were $1.50 each. I already had the shovel so the cost of this fix plus tax was approximately $10 or less.

Basically I shovelled and scooped and stomped until I created a dirt staircase! With each dirt step I would create a place to set in the stone so that it would be flush with the dirt, and what will eventually be grass!!

Even if you don't need a stone staircase, you can still use the stones to create walkways through flowers for an inexpensive landscaping project!
Here's the finished product:


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday Spotlight - Supermom with Breastcancer

My friend Lisa is the exact opposite of what you'd think of when you think of anyone who might be sick. She's young and energetic. She's hard working and on the go. She's the devoted wife of a youth pastor and the loving mother of two young boys. But Lisa is sick - she has breast cancer. How does this happen? It truly makes you question your faith. In our human ways we automatically think that this should only happen to a bad person who "deserves" it. Why should a good woman be thrown into the ring with cancer?

Lisa is our Saturday Spotlight this week because she thinks of her cancer in exactly the opposite way. She considers it a blessing in disguise because through her struggle, she might be able to help others going throught the same thing. In fact, when talking with her throughout all of this, she has a way of putting YOU at ease, when you feel like you should be the one to offer comfort. But that is Lisa's way. She is a very optimistic and glass half full kind of person.

Lisa's battle with breast cancer began about 2 months ago when she discovered an abnormality on her areola. After discovering this was a symptom of Padgett's Disease, a rare form of cancer, she immediately went to the doctor. The doctor looked at this abnormality, which was like a blister, and told her it was unlikely it was cancer because of her age and history. There is no breast cancer is Lisa's family and she is only 35 years old. Apparently Padgett's Disease RARELY presents in anyone younger than 65. So the doctor prescribed some topical cream and told her to come back if didn't go away.

But that wasn't good enough for Lisa. She said that "the Lord just wouldn't let me let it go", and so she demanded to be tested. The doctor didn't feel it was necessary but did so anyway. When the test results came back, they were positive for Padgett's.

Padgett's Disease is a form of breast cancer that usually presents in woman over the age of 65, and who have ANOTHER underlying form of cancer. So the fact that Lisa had Padgett's meant that she likely had a another cancer as well. Time for more tests - luckily no other cancer was found.

In addition to all this, Lisa was tested for the "Cancer Gene". Apparently there is a gene that makes some woman 80% more likely to have breast cancer and because of her situation's rarity she was likely to have it. If she tested positive for this gene, Lisa would need to undergo surgery for a double mastectomy to avoid cancer in the future. Thank God, this test was also negative.

Two weeks ago Lisa underwent surgery for a single mastectomy and reconstruction. She is currently home for 6 weeks of recovery. I am SO happy to say that all of the cancer was removed during the procedure and she should be fine. Lisa is facing all of this with such courage and optimism. She is truly an amazing person and a fabulous Super Mom!

Her story has inspired me and also taught me a lesson in prevention. I have never once given myself a breast exam. I always thought I was too young to worry about that - but now I know it can happen to ANYONE. Lisa said she hopes to save others through her experience - who knows - maybe she saved me? Maybe someone out there will read this and get checked and maybe that will save their life! Thank you Lisa for being such a wonderful person and for sharing your story!

For more info on Breast Cancer please click this link: http://www.breastcancer.org/

Update - Pantry Stretch Challenge!

Well I made it!!! It's Saturday and we avoided buying major groceries until today. Thursday night we had Sloppy Joes and last night we made spaghetti. The only meal that wasn't up to par was the Sloppy Joe Meal. I had no tomato paste or sauce (or catsup!) so I tried a can of tomato soup. The effect wasn't awful, just not very good either. Anyway it all worked out and we stretched our budget and our food just a few more days. Hurray for us!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Frugal Friday!

I never knew that Habitat for Humanity had a store, but my good friend (the same one who helps me clean!) introduced me to it a while back and the savings there are amazing! The Habitat for Humanity Store is an outlet center for donated items that can't or haven't been used yet in homes. You can find anything from strollers to bathroom sinks and money from purchases goes back into their funds to help build more homes. Great Concept!

Back while I was still pregnant I think my friend must have found me the deal of the century at Habitat. I had been looking at all the usual spots in town for a cute baby bedding set. Most of these sets only came with bumpers, a bedskirt, and a comforter, and the price for just these three items would start around $80 and go right on up uP UP! In addition to the horrendous prices, I just plain didn't like a lot of the prints. They were just "ok". Nothing really spoke to me and said, "Hey YOU - with the cute belly and empty bank account, BUY ME!"

That's where my friend comes in. She called me up from Habitat one Saturday morning and said - "They have the cutest baby set here - and its only 35 dollars!" Well, my friend has excellent taste, so I decided to trust her judgement without having seen the items. Let me tell you - It was THE CUTEST BABY SET I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! Honestly, it was literally what I had been picturing in my mind. And we got so much for our money.

Here's what $35 got us at Habitat:

Froggy Embroidered Bumpers
Froggy Embroidered Comforter
Matching Curtains
2 Matching Sheets
Matching Crib Skirt
Matching Froggy Night Lamp

After we bought the set, I went online to see how much the actual retail price would have been. It was $170 for JUST the Bumpers, Comforter, 1 Sheet and Crib Skirt. WOW.

Here's a pic I found online of the whole set (click to enlarge and see the detail):


Here are pics from our nursery(click to enlarge):

Cute Right? Hard to believe the items were gently used prior to our purchase.
To find a Habitat store near you please visit: http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/
And PS - The cute little froggy mobile you see picture on the crib, was only $10 on Craig's List - again thanks to my bargain finding friend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Pantry Stretch Challenge

Last night I posted on how I try to stretch out our shopping trips by scouring the pantry and internet to come up with recipes that use ingredients I already have on deck. Our meal last night, despite a couple of substutions, was very good! (If you want to try out, please visit the link in the post.)

So, since I had a success last night, I've decided to try doing the "Pantry Stretch" each night for the rest of the week! Yikes!

Here's what we're having to night:

Old Fashioned Goulash
http://busycooks.about.com/od/groundbeefrecipes/r/goulash.htm

The ingredients include: condensed tomato soup, onions, diced tomatoes, cheese, and pasta. All of which I just so happen to have! Actually the Tomato soup I thought I'd never get rid of!! The total apx cost of this meal is $1.50 per serving (4 servings). Awesome! And the best part is, I saved money because I have stretched our pantry stock yet another day. Can I make it the whole week? Tune in to find out! :)

GULP - I'm Getting Organized!

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not what some would call "naturally"organized. I am the kind of person that gets overwhelmed easily by household chores and thus, they are not usually done in a timely manner.

For example, my husband's and my previous home did not have a dishwasher. I would cook and cook and dirty up all our dishes, and then we'd have a huge pile in the sink. Well, after cooking I'd be too tired (lazy?) to clean up, so I'd say I'd do it tomorrow. Well "tomorrow" would come, I'd see those dirty dishes, feel my tummy rumbling with hunger and feel completely overwhelmed and of course NOT do the dishes! So we'd go out to eat...and spend money...There is no telling how much money it cost us to NOT have a dishwasher back then! Anyway, luckily hubby would rescue me from those awful dishes. I also have a wonderful friend who at the time was my neighbor and she cleaned my house for me on more than one occasion! (Thanks Rosie!)

So, now that I am a parent and now that my age can be rounded up to 30 instead of 20, I've decided its high time - PAST time - for me to get organized and get those chores done! Here's my plan:

Piddily Looking Notebooks


How exciting, you must be thinking, to have a such a great plan of two piddily looking notebooks! Well you are absolutely right, my friends, it IS exciting! I am going to start planning my day each morning, and filling the day with household chores. (gulp). The notebooks are for scheduling and note-taking.

This will hopefully keep me from feeling overwhelmed by allowing me to get things done before they get out of hand. So instead of vacuuming when I can see a thin layer of dog hair on the carpet, I'm going to schedule vacuuming in BEFORE it gets yucky!


Today I have only 5 things on the list because I'm not sure how this whole "scheduling" thing is going to fit into the baby's day. But if it goes well, I'll add more tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tonights Cheap Meal

Occasional I forego meal planning for a week and try to only use what's in my pantry, rather than going out for a huge grocery run. To accomplish this I try to find recipes that utilize the ingredients I have on hand. Once I find a recipe that comes close, I make substitutions for the ingredients I don't have and viola! Dinner is served!

So here's what's for dinner tonight, along with approximate cost:

Easy Hamburger Casserole
(recipe located at: http://southernfood.about.com/od/hamburgcasseroles/r/bl30221o.htm)

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, browned
1/2 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper
3 large potatoes, sliced
2 Carrots, shredded
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Prep:

"Brown ground beef in a skillet with chopped onions; cook until onions are tender. Drain off excess fat; transfer ground beef and onion to casserole dish. Add layer of sliced raw potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper; shred carrots to cover potatoes. Put soup over carrots. Bake at 350° for 40 to 50 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle shredded cheese over top and bake for about 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.This easy ground beef and potato casserole serves 4 to 6."

The only ingredients I didn't have were the carrots and I only had one potato so I only used one. I did have 80z's of frozen mixed veggies in the freezer so I used those in place of the carrots.

As for cost:
1lb ground beef: BJ's 90% lean, $2.29/lb
1/2 Onion: apx 30 cents
Salt n Peppa: negligable
Potato: $1.00 per pound, so probably about 60 cents or so...
Mixed veggies: 50 cents?
Cream of Mushroom Soup: 75cents
Cheese was probably about $1.00

So the approximate cost originally was $5.50 for this meal - BUT I stretched our last shopping trip yet another day, PLUS we never eat all of a meal. So this will be both our lunches tomorrow and maybe even the next day. Even if we only stretch it out to lunch tomorrow that's still only $1.38 per serving. Nice!

PS The best deal I have found yet on Cream of Mushroom Soup, which is in a ton of recipes that I use, is at BJ's. I buy it in bulk there for 75 Cents a can.

First Night Away From Mom

I was looking forward to this day, though I admit I was hoping for a bit more separation anxiety on his part (because I was anxious and he was just like whatever mom). What I was looking forward to was Gooses's first night in his own room since arriving home from the hospital. And, despite my anxieties, it was a wonderful night for all.

We were going to wait until he was 10 weeks old to move him into his crib, but when 11 pm rolled around last night and he was still being fussy and my huband and I were about to keel over for want of sleep, we decided to just put him in his own room and let him be fussy all he wanted! As it turned out, his fuss completely diminished after we placed him in his crib and swaddled him. He didn't immediately fall asleep, but he seemed happy so we decided to go to bed.

But, wait a minute honey! What if he suffocates in the bumper pads? Well, I don't know dear husband do you think thats really possible, the bumpers seem really secure...Why don't we check it out online to be sure? Hmmm "The American Foundation of This and That" recomends against bumper pads. Help me get them off. But what if he bumps his head and gets hurt?? No, the "website of whatever and then some" says thats next to impossible. What if we can't hear him when he cries? Lets EACH put a monitor beside our bed on high volume just to be safe.

Its a wonder we ever fell asleep with so many dangerous situations just waiting to pounce on our son as soon we pulled up the sheets and closed our eyes! But sleep we did - and let me tell you - it was FABULOUS. It was uninterrupted. There were hours of it.

How much Goose slept I will never know. He was still making baby sounds at us through the monitor when I finally drifted off. What I do know, is that he did not wake me up for anything during the night and didn't wake me for breakfast until 7am!! After he ate breakfast, he decided to take a nap, so I put him back in his crib and here I am enjoying my 10 cent cup of coffee and indulging in a little me time. Ironically last night was also Goose's 2 month birthday. What a great night for a new milestone!

Taken by Dad at 5.52am
Still Sleeping!


For more tips on crib safety please visit: http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5030.html

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Drought Gets Worse

This Mornings Headlines:

Southeast suffers worst drought in century
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Communities in the Southeastern United States were urged to adopt conservation measures in the wake of the worst drought in more than a century.
Although rain was due Friday across parts of the region, it wasn't expected to put a dent in the 16-month drought and the driest September in 113 years, USA Today reported Friday.


Georgia declares state of emergency
Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:11pm BST
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia has declared a state of emergency over its worst drought in decades and appealed to President George W. Bush for federal aid.


No Backup Water Plan in Place for Drought-Stricken Atlanta
Friday, October 19, 2007 - Associated Press
ATLANTA — With the South in the grip of an epic drought and its largest city holding less than a 90-day supply of water, officials are scrambling to deal with the worst-case scenario: What if Atlanta's faucets really do go dry?

Please read my next post to see how you can help!!

Saving Water for the Environment and your Pocketbook

It was recently reported on the news that if we continue our current drought conditions, our area water supply will be depleted (as in NO water) by January. In the South, a typical summer day includes sunny skies, muggy air, and afternoon thundershowers. Well this year, I can literally count the times its rained on my fingers. In fact, its been so dry that when we finally did get a thunderstorm back in July, lightning hit an apartment building in our neighborhood and it caught on fire! The building was totalled.

So, you can imagine my anger when, despite these awful conditions AND legally binding water restrictions, I see people hosing down their driveways, washing their cars, and watering their lawns DAILY. This is such a frivolous misuse of our precious resources and when January comes and we can no longer drink from the tap, bathe, or flush our toilets, perhaps these same people will feel some remorse.

In our home we are very conscious of our water consumption. It actually began as a money-saving endeavor but has spilled over into environmental protection since our drought began. Our water bill last month was $20 and I'm trying to lower it even more. Here's how we are not only cutting costs, but attempting to grant our frivolous neighbors one or two more days of water use:

1) No Grass. Sounds weird I know, but actually we live in a brand new development and our grass has not yet been "installed". Last week we received a letter from the builder informing us that it would be our responsibilty to keep our grass alive after installation by watering it every day, despite the drought conditions, and that we should get a watering permit from the town. To this we said "Nay!" and called the builder to postpone the sodding of our yard until drought conditions improve.

2) No Car Washing/Driveway Cleaning. It breaks my heart to see all that precious water draining down the sidewalk into the gutter just so someone's car will look a little more shiny. For this we are also waiting until drought conditions improve and then only occasionally to save on our water bill.

3) Shorter Showers/Baths. As a new parent I find it hard to shower anyway (haha) but when I do (which I assure you is everyday!) I try to keep it short. When I choose to take a bath, I don't fill the tub up luxuriously, I just fill it enough.

4) Ice to water plants. This may sound silly, but if we have a drink with ice in it, say from a fast food restaurant for example, we don't just chuck it in the garbage, we pour the ice around a plant. I know this probably doesn't really help that much - but it makes me feel good!

5) Toilet Flushing. Gross - I know, I know! But it literally saves gallons of water per day to just not flush the toilet unless you need to - and you'll know when its time!!

6) Laundry. This one is hard for us because we are cloth diapering and the diapers just simply HAVE to be washed, but if you can, cut back on your laundry. Don't wash clothes you've only worn for a few minutes or that you haven't gotten dirty.

7) Rain Barrel. This one is also hard for us, since we don't seem to get rain anymore but we are going to do this anyway. You can install a rain barrel under your gutter pipes and use the collected rain to water lawns or plants, or even flush toilets.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cheap Coffee

Aaahhh. Since Goose is still sleeping, that means I get to indulge in one of my many guilty (yet cheap!) pleasures. Coffee....Yum.


My Morning Coffee

Let me preface this by saying I am a recovering Dunkin' Donuts/Starbucks addict. Oh how I love the sweet, caffeine goodness of a Medium Iced French Vanilla with Cream and Sugar on a hot summer day. Or a Chai Tea Latte on those first cool days of Fall. mmmmmmmmm. Well since we've been down to one income I've had to forgo these wonderful, tasty, delicious treats. One good thing about it was that during my pregnancy I just could not drink coffee. I was very sick for 8 out of the 9 months and coffee just turned my stomach. So in a sense it wasn't too hard to give up, but now my old cravings have returned and it gets really difficult to drive by both "The Dunks" and Starbucks on my way to the grocery store (or anywhere for that matter!).

So I have discovered a very cheap and kinda tasty alternative - coffee at home. Not nearly as exciting, but it usually satisfies the urge. Now, I think prices are different around the country, but lets just say that a medium flavored coffee is about $3 dollars at Dunkin Donuts. Well MY coffee is only 10 cents a cup. Even if you only "indulge" once per week (that's $156 per year) at a coffee establishment, my coffee, drank every single day, will only cost you approximately $36.50 - for the whole year.

Here's how I do it: I buy my coffee supplies in bulk at BJ's Wholesale. (But I'm sure pricing is similar at Sam's Club, Costco, Etc). I purchase 360 cups worth of coffee in a single container for $10 (including tax). I purchase a 120 count package of Coffeemate Vanilla Flavor creamers at $8 (including tax) and an 800 count package of Equal Packs for the same price. So when you add it all up it comes to 7 cents per cup of coffee!!! Now most people will need to buy more creamer and coffee over the course of the year, so I rounded up to 10 cents for the approximate price. Cool huh?

Of course, it doesn't taste quite (ok NEARLY) as good as Starbucks, but it's very inexpensive and gets your caffeine fix in for the day.

Have a great Sunday!!

Small Miracles

Is this just a fluke little man, or are you really still sleeping at 6AM?!?!?


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Frugal and the "Re"-Gift

Has anyone ever "re-gifted" an item? You know, you receive something for a gift you either don't like or already have and so you RE-gift it to someone else? I have never actually done this, but have often thought it made a lot of frugal sense. I mean, no one would ever know you had not actually purchased the gift yourself, and then you save the money you would have spent on a brand new gift and everyone wins...right? Well...

Back in April these friends of ours brought a sweet baby boy into the world. They had not been given a baby shower that I knew of, so I went out immediately to do some shopping! I looked around the children's clothing department to pick an outfit that would be the cutest, most adorable outfit in the store, and when I found that PERFECT outfit, I bought TWO! Yes, one for my baby boy (still in the oven at that point) and one for our friend's baby boy. When I got home later that evening, I tenderly packed one of the outfits away for our baby, and wrapped up the other one for their baby. I then mailed it and haven't thought of it since - until last Wednesday.

That was the day we got a package in the mail from these same friends. When I saw the package, ever-so-sweetly addressed to our new son, I ripped open the wrapping to see what cute new outfits or baby gadgets it might contain. Well, what was in there was cute all right! It was the exact outfit I had sent to them 6 months ago in April!!!!

Now, I will admit this hurt my feelings slightly. My optimistic side said maybe they had recieved two and sent me the spare. My pessimistic side said maybe I have poor taste and they just plain didn't like it. Either way, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had recieved a RE-gift. After the initial shock wore off, I found the obvious humor in the situation. I mean, it really is funny! And, luckily I have a cousin whom is also preggers with a little boy, so I figure I'll give it to her and it won't be wasted. The question is this: Is it a re-gift if you re-gift an item that was re-gifted to you if you were the one who bought it in the first place?

The moral of the story? YES, Re-gifting is a very frugal way to give presents. But just make sure you don't re-gift it to its OWN giver! That's all I'm saying! :)
I've Been ReGifted My Own Gift!!