Sunday, September 17, 2017

Menu Plan for the week of September 18th + Food Goal

Breakfasts this week will be scones from the Washington State Fair and yogurt parfaits.

Lunches for me will be leftovers and oatmeal.

Food Goals:
  1. I've been a bit stressed out so I'm keeping things simple this week.

This is the meal plan white board I use. 

What's on your menu this week?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recent Frugal Efforts

  • My son and I picked blackberries off the bushes in the yard for my mother in law.
  • We made foaming hand soap.
  • I picked up a huge stack of books from the library for myself and my son.
  • We have limited the use of the air conditioner.
  • I hung several loads of laundry outside to dry.

  • I made my sister's birthday cake. I attempted a purple and white zebra pattern, but it didn't work as nicely as I thought. (my son wanted the middle piece.)
  • I also made her birthday card.
  • I took my stainless steel water bottle to work.
  • I brought food to work. One day I had a work meeting, which turned into a free meal plus leftovers for another meal.
  • I followed up on my Ebates shopping trips that didn't credit, and I "earned" $5.xx
  • I received a free full-sized shampoo and conditioner to review.
  • My mom brought over a potty chair that she got from the local buy nothing group. I'm really hoping it will encourage my son to be interested in potty training.
  • I donated my Ebates rebate to a local food backpacks for kids program. 
  • I spontaneously made a double batch of banana bread.

What did you do to save money or be frugal last week?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan for September 11th + Food Goals

Breakfasts tend to be something quick like organic cereal, homemade waffles, homemade muffins, or a protein bar for my son or those Belvita breakfast cookies (big box from Costco) or a strawberry fig whole wheat bar for me. Sometimes I'll make a yogurt parfait or a protein drink. Plus coffee. Always coffee.

Lunches tend to be leftovers, pizza, Annie's mac n cheese, salad, oatmeal, or sandwiches.

Food Goals
  1. I want to use up things in the pantry, fridge, and freezer so I can clean them out and reorganize the contents.
  2. I want to keep dinners simple so my son can go to bed early since school starts this week.
One of my frustrations is that I didn't learn how to cook or eat healthy growing up so I'm trying to learn that and provide decent food with the limited time I have. I really do believe that when I eventually stay home I can take extra time to prepare healthier food. In the meantime I have to do the best I can.

This is the meal plan white board I use. 

What's on your menu this week?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thankful Thursday.

Oh, how I love books. I grabbed this inspiring stack of books for free from the library yesterday after a meeting. I am so grateful to be able to take all of these books home without paying for them (as long as I give them back on time.) If I had to purchase every book I had the good intention to read I'd be beyond broke.

The two bottom books are about makeup. Early yesterday afternoon I was thinking to myself that even though I don't wear much makeup, I want to wear less and be comfortable going in public that way. One book will teach me what kind of makeup to use for my skin type, and the other will teach me how to eat better in order to achieve healthy skin.

The other books are about slowing down, Hygge, and how to be happier through simplicity.

I love learning new things.

What are you thankful for this week?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Recent Frugal Efforts.

I took advantage of the heat and hung lots of blankets and sheets out to dry instead of using the dryer. I use this Portable Umbrella Clothesline Dryer.

I made foaming hand soap.

I redeemed an Amazon gift card from Swagbucks.

I canceled several items on my monthly Amazon Subscribe and Save. 

I made an art wall in the hallway using all the projects my son made in preschool and at the library from the past several months. It made him happy, and eh, why not?

My son and I "donated" five books to the neighborhood library shack, and he picked out five books to take home.

My mom brought over a box full of pajamas and some shoes in larger sizes for my son that she got from a garage sale.

What have you done lately to save money?

This post contains affiliate links. This just means I would get a small commission if you happen to make a purchase via this link. It supports my blog habit. :)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thankful Thursday

I was having a blah day at work contemplating another cup of coffee when suddenly a coworker comes to my door and says that he brought in some stuff to make root beer floats. I have to admit that I was touched and completely surprised! It was the perfect pick me up, and I had been craving a root beer float for a couple years now.

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Moment of Pause #19

I love this picture. I was outside with my son getting the mail after a rainfall, and I happened to walk past this wet moss on a tree branch. The vibrant green of nature after fresh rain is so beautiful and refreshing. It makes me very thankful to live in the Pacific Northwest since greenery and rain are common themes here. And the smell--it's like the way life is supposed to be experienced.

It didn't dawn on me until just now, but before I moved into this house I never admired the environment right outside my home before. Not like this - where I want to take pictures of all the things I see in my yard. Sure, when I visited the local rain forests and Maui I would be taking pictures of nature nonstop, but this house is different somehow.

I'm thankful to be living in this space I'm currently in, and that my son has the opportunity to experience real, raw tokens of nature.

What has made you take a moment of pause this week?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thankful Thursday

I am late posting this, but for Mother's Day I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my brother bought chocolate covered strawberries for my, my mom, my mother in law, and my pregnant sister. It's such a thoughtful gesture on his part for many reasons I won't get into.

I was really touched.

There were white chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate covered strawberries to choose from. We split them up between us. They were pretty tasty, and I think I'll have to make them at home one day.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Frugal Fun - Cardmaking with a Preschooler.

My son's classmate recently invited him to her birthday party. This was his first party, and a real live pony party at that! Her mother told me she didn't want any gifts so I thought my son would enjoy making her a birthday card. 

I looked through my card stock and found a pretty, feminine sheet. I cut a rectangle out, folded it in half, and stamped a couple birthday quotes on the inside. I took the quotes from these sentiment stamps. Once he was done with the card I tied a purple ribbon around it for an extra special touch.

Then I let my son go to town. I gave him stickers, self-inking stamps, and washable markers to have fun with. Helpful hint: The blue mat in the picture is a "project" mat I got from the dollar store in the school supply aisle. I have him do his crafts on that so as not to damage the table as much. It's survived glue, markers, scissors, play doh, paint, and more. It's still going strong.

One of my goals this year is to make cards instead of purchasing them. I want to teach my son the value of handmade. I'd also rather not spend $5+ on a card for a pre-schooler. Plus, this is another excuse to spend some quality time together.

Have you made anything with your kids recently? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

This post contains a affiliate links. This just means I would get a small commission if you happen to make a purchase via this link. It supports my blog habit. :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Recent frugal efforts.

My son and I planted a free tree that he got from school.

My husband and I signed up for texts from the local pizza place for the chance to win free pizza for a year.

I called Comcast and lowered our bill by ~$15/month.

I filled out the survey on a grocery receipt for free fuel points.

I received a decent sized free sample of laundry detergent.

I received two free boxes of pasta from BzzAgent.

I read free ebooks from the library and my free trial of Kindle Unlimited.

I redeemed points for a $5 Amazon gift card from Bing.

I redeemed $25 PayPal cash from Swagbucks.

My son and I made gluten free raspberry muffins as well as some chocolate chip muffins.

My mom has started using Facebook more and discovered her local buy nothing group. She got my son two pullover sweaters and three pairs of shorts in bigger sizes at no cost.

I scored a bunch of diapers thanks to really good price drops on Amazon. I may have 9 boxes of diapers waiting for my sister's baby shower next month...

My son picked out a couple books from the free little neighborhood library cupboard thing. I grabbed a stack of books off my bookshelf to return the favor.

I emailed a coffee company about their latest batch of coffee tasting burnt. They ended up replacing my latest purchase for free, and at their request I sent some samples of the burnt coffee for them to test.

What have you done to save money lately?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Meal Planning - Pity Party and Action Plan

This is my meal planning whiteboard. There are seven spaces - one for each day of the week. There is ample space to write out a meal idea. So why then, do I always feel the struggle to fill out those seven slots of white space?

(In case you're curious I got the magnetic dry-erase board from Amazon.)

Here are my excuses:
  1. There are three people in this house with different tastes and aversions.
  2. One spouse is on a different work and life schedule.
  3. I am battling time management issues.
  4. I don't do most of the grocery shopping myself.
What am I going to do about those excuses?

#1 I need to gather information. I need to track what food we are eating on which days for a month or more so I have evidence of what actually works. I've written about that before, but I've fallen off the wagon and need the reminder again.

My son eats almost nothing, and his tastes on certain nothings changes constantly so his meals are always a frustrating guessing game. Even if I make what he requests lately he has been saying he's not hungry as soon as it's served.

But if I have evidence of the nothing he eats I at least have a loose backup plan to use when he refuses what I make. 

#2 is a challenge. It's easy to say to plan meals that that spouse doesn't care for when he isn't home, but then if there isn't leftovers he is more apt to spend money eating out everyday, which is a huge financial drain. So am I stuck making two or three meals a day to make sure everyone eats? I need to contemplate this challenge for a bit.

#3 And about the lack of time to plan a meal? Like I'm saving any time when I stare at the pantry. I need to switch on self discipline and get a plan thought out even if it cuts into my own screen time. There, I said it. Fair or not in this family it's up to me to make a plan or money is wasted on eating out.

#4 is pretty much just an excuse even though it's an honest frustration. I can plan meals out of the food we have in our pantry and freezer.

Hey, I'm still learning.

Do you have meal planning struggles? Care to vent your frustrations or post some advice in the comments? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

This post contains an affiliate link. This just means I would get a small commission if you happen to make a purchase via this link. It supports my blog habit. :)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Recent Decluttering.

I used to write lists of every single item I decluttered, and after getting out of that habit it's now hindering me from decluttering. I move faster if I don't have to keep track. Plus the longer I sit on something the longer it can try to change my mind to keep it or to "eventually" one day sell it.

So from now on I'll post pictures of my scheduled donation pick ups, like this:

Five boxes of stuff and a magazine holder are now gone from my house, and I never have to look at the contents again. Included in this pile are two dolls my deceased grandmother made. They harbor a lot of negative emotions, and now they are gone forever and cannot haunt me anymore. Hopefully they find their way into someone's life that will get pure joy out of their existence.

What have you decluttered lately?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Recent Frugal Efforts.

My work was giving a lot of things away so I scored a free wooden dining table with three chairs along with various craft supplies.

My son and I made lavender goats milk soap as part of a Mother's Day gift.

My son and I started making Mother's Day cards.

I opened my Etsy shop. My camera broke right before I started taking pictures so I had to make due with a decent one.

I unplugged and put away the space heater until Fall.

I entered Dave Ramsey's $20k giveaway.

I listened to The Minimalists free podcast.

I borrowed free ebooks from the library.

I attended a free class that helps parents get their kids ready for Kindergarten. They gave each parent some toys and tools with instructions on how to use them in a creative/educational manner. 

I used some of my credit card rewards points to buy more ink for my printer since it was a good price.

Someone in my area set up a little free library stand by their driveway. We picked two books, and we'll be looking for some books to donate to that library. Such a cute idea.

What have you done to save money recently? Are you planning a frugal Mother's Day? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How to make lavender goats milk soap.

This post contains an affiliate link. This just means I would get a small commission if you happen to make a purchase via this link. It supports my blog habit. :)

Mother's day is coming up, and my mother in law let me know that her soap stash is almost depleted. I used to buy her lavender goats milk soap, but I spent $20-$25 for four bars shipped. I decided to try making my own.

Supplies needed:

1lb melt and pour goats milk soap base
1tsp lavender essential oil
4 cup liquid measuring cup
a knife or pastry cutter thing
cutting board
Soap Mold

I bought a Soap Mold on sale on Amazon for $7.xx

I bought my soap base from Bramble Berry. I had the base in my cart for a few days, and they emailed me a free shipping coupon. The base cost $3.30 for a one pound block.

I already had the other supplies on hand.

How to make the soap:

1. Unwrap the soap base and cut it into small cubes.
2. Put the cubes in the measuring cup and microwave in 30 second intervals until completely melted. It's good to stir in between to make sure it doesn't burn.
3. Stir in 1 tsp lavender essential oil.
4. Carefully pour soap into soap mold, as it will be hot. 1 pound of soap base ended up filling 4 soap bar cavities all the way, and a fifth one about 3/4 of the way.
5. Let sit for approximately 3 hours so the soap can cool and harden.

Once the soap is hard you can easily pop them out of the mold (if you used a silicone one like I did) and wrap them in plastic wrap. Some people say to gently blow dry the wrap so it's more secure? I skipped that step and put my wrapped bars into decorative organza bags perfect for gift giving.

This was super easy, and my son enjoyed helping. I can reuse the soap mold so I plan to make my brother lots of soap for Christmas. (that's what he always asks for.) I can reuse the mold when my mother in law needs another soap stock up.

This turned out to be a fun money saving activity. Have you ever made soap?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday.

This week I'm thankful for my $2 slow cooker. After soaking vegetables in vinegar water for 15 minutes I put them and some meat in the slow cooker and turned it on low for 8 hours. In 8 hours my family and I will have a hot, tender meal to enjoy for dinner with little to no effort on my part.

This is amazing. Now once I start using this beautiful technology more often it will be uber amazing: low energy usage, less dishes, less mess, less stress, and lots of leftovers!

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Recent frugal efforts.

We attended a free event at the library where we got to make a mason jar garden. (they also had St. Patrick's Day cookies) My son wanted a "flag" for his jar, and I labeled mine "Live!" because I am not good at keeping plants alive. I'm hoping if I put it in my window at work it will feel inspired to live.

I decided that my life would be a little easier if I had more than two pairs of pants that I regularly wear. I was considering saving up money to buy more from Target because that's where I got my pants last time, and I know the size so I don't have to bother with clothes shopping. (I dislike clothes shopping a lot.) Then after the library event I decided to stop into the little thrift store, and I found a nice pair of jeans for $4. $25+ saved!

I listened to free podcasts. I watched free videos on YouTube that I found inspiring.

I borrowed a book from the library instead of buying it.

And to counteract the above, I found a book at the thrift store for $0.25 or $0.50 that I've been waiting to read for 11 months because the library's ebook hold list is long for this particular title.

I brought food, water, and coffee to work most days. (bought coffee from a shop a few times.)

I received a free full-sized fancy toothpaste from BzzAgent to try.

I rescued various sized gift bags from work. They were cleaning out some old stuff, and these clean new gift bags were set to be tossed. I asked if I could take some. Even though they're branded I'm going to use them for future gift giving occasions. I grabbed some extras for my mother in law and son. He's at the stage where he loves filling bags with random stuff.

I redeemed a $5 Amazon gift card from Bing.

My son attended a free indoor playground.

We made foaming hand soap.

What did you do to save money last week?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for hot, delicious coffee that magically appears in my cup at any second I choose, and all I need to do is press a button to make that happen.

I am thankful for my broken couch that has held up over the years. It's still comfortable and functions.

I am thankful for my Kindle Paperwhite. It allows me to read books in a digital format that does not damage my eyes. It allows me to obtain free ebooks to read. I can carry hundreds (maybe more?!) of books without the need for a wheelbarrow to haul them. I can read in the dark. I can read in the car. I can read in the sunlight without glare.

What are you thankful for this week?

This post contains an affiliate link. This just means I would get a small commission if you happen to make a purchase via this link. It supports my blog habit. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Moment of Pause #18

It recently snowed here for a day. It was actually quite strange. In the morning it was pouring rain, and my mom texted me commenting on approaching snow. All I could think was "yeah right!" but sure enough in the afternoon the rain slowed then slowly turned to snow. It snowed about 6 inches, which hasn't happened here in a few years.

Of course I had to take my son outside to enjoy it. I love seeing tree branches covered in snow so I was pleased to take this picture of a snow dusted tree branch. Unfortunately shortly after this picture it started to rain again, which melted all the snow off the trees.

What have you seen lately that made you take a moment of pause?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Recent frugal efforts.

Due to snow days and sick days the cookies we bought for a school activity never made it to school. The best buy date passed so I stuck them in the freezer for us to enjoy later.

I redeemed a $5 Amazon gift card from Bing.

I started using again. We have variable income, and I haven't found the perfect way (for me) to budget stuff so at the least I'll use this to keep good track of how our money is being spent.

We made foaming hand soap.

My son borrowed books from the library and participated in the story time craft.

He also went to a free indoor playground.

I listened to Dave Ramsey's free radio show via his website.

I use handkerchiefs instead of disposable tissues.

I brought reusable water bottles and glass containers to work. I do bring ziplock bags sometimes, and I try to get multiple uses out of them, but that doesn't always happen. 

I donated my $14.xx Ebates PayPal credit to a local organization that provides food to children on the weekends so their families can eat.

What have you done to save money this week?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

How to make foaming hand soap.

 For a long time we were buying Method foaming hand soap. Each refill bag was $5 if I could find it on sale, and that only lasted for 3 refills. If my husband wanted a scent that didn't come in the refill bag then that pump dispenser was $2.50-$3.

When I first became interested in saving money I stumbled upon how to make foaming hand soap. I tried it, and it didn't work. Then sometime last year I tried again, and it worked! And my husband actually approved! This is huge because he's very particular about certain things.

Here is how I make foaming hand soap.

What you need:

a foaming soap dispenser
liquid Castile soap

I reuse a foaming dispenser. I use Lavender Glownaturals Essentials Liquid Castile Soap from Vitacost. It's cheaper than Dr. Bronners, and I feel it's very comparable. (if you use my referral link here you get $10 off your first order, and I get $10 too.)

My dispenser has a little bit of foaming soap left in it so let's pretend you're starting with an empty dispenser.

Fill it with about 10mm (1cm or a dime) of liquid Castile soap.

Then add water leaving enough room for the lid thingy to fit inside the bottle. My son likes to shake it up. Then it's ready to use!

Super simple.

I've heard people use leftover shampoo in a pinch.

Soap + water + foaming dispenser = foaming soap!

If I had to guess I'd say that one refill lasts about a week in my house. I have one in the main bathroom and one in the kitchen.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Moment of Pause #17

I've had a cold for a week now, and I wasn't feeling up to much today. After watching a YouTube video from this busy mom of several kids I decided I could bundle up and take the little one outside for some fresh air.

He enjoyed thoroughly it since he's been stuck inside with his own cold lately.

I'm not sure why I walked to this side of the yard, but I happened to notice what I think is a bird's nest on the ground. There were no eggs or signs of birds in it, but we both thought it was pretty awesome. I don't remember seeing a real birds nest before, at least not this close. He's going to check on it every time he goes outside to see if any eggs appear.

What made you take a moment of pause lately?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

January Decluttering Efforts.

My goal for this year is to purge at least 2,017 items from my house. I've tried doing the 30 day minimalist game challenge, but I always drop out of it before the end. With a large number I have the flexibility to go as fast or as slow as I want to as long as I reach that number by December 31st, 2017. I have a feeling I'll surpass that number.

Here are the items I purged for the month of January:

  • toy dragon
  • x3 spatulas
  • water infuser bottle
  • pie pan
  • serving tray
  • plate
  • k-cup drawer
  • toddler slippers
  • sweater
  • 21 books
  • 2 pieces of toddler artwork
  • stylus
  • phone book
  • stack of paper
  • framed art print
  • snow globe
  • x2 cell phone wallets
  • mini drill
  • broken toy
  • old candy
  • x2 pillows
  • nick nack
  • humidifier
  • bath toy holder
  • toddler shoes
  • x2 seed packets
  • x2 plants
  • x4 towels
  • 2 things I can't remember what they were 

Total items purged: 60/2017

What have you decluttered lately?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Last week's frugal efforts and fails.

Our washer and dryer have been acting up lately. I'm not sure how he fixed the dryer, but my husband also fixed the washer. The drainage hose was plugged up. I'm thankful to have working appliances! I was worried I'd have to hand wash some clothes in the tub.

I made foaming soap for our reusable foaming hand soap dispensers.

I've kept the thermostat off during the day since our system is occasionally acting up.

I picked up a free reusable tote bag from the local grocery store.

I filled out the grocery story survey for free fuel points.

We took advantage of some pizza deals so we got two large pizzas for a great price with plenty of leftovers.

I suddenly had the desire to work on my latent Etsy shop. I went through things I already had on hand as well as made a list of materials that I needed. I'm making a solid plan from how many items to start with to how often to post on my shop blog/website. If you use my link you can get 40 free Etsy listings (and so do I!)

An ebook I requested to be added to my library's online catalog was finally added so I borrowed it for my Kindle right away.

I filled out a survey for pizza to get $3 off our next purchase.

We're continuing to eat down our pantry and freezer.

I listened to Dave Ramsey's and Chris Hogan's free podcasts.

My frugal fails:

I forgot to keep up with my son's library books so I owe about $3 in fines.

My husband bought the wrong coffee creamer. I tried to drink it, but some of it did end up going to waste.

For accountability: I took advantage of PayPal credit to get some supplies for my Etsy shop. The total is less than $400, and if I pay it off within 6 months I don't have to pay interest. If for some reason I don't generate enough in sales to cover that I'll use my personal money so no interest will be paid.

What did you do to save money last week?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Last week's frugal efforts.

We made four loaves of banana bread. I used a cast iron bread pan and a glass Pyrex bread pan. I think the cast iron pan made the better loaves. I snuck in some chia seeds on the second batch.

I redeemed points for a $3 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks.

I ended up using some of my Amazon credit to purchase a set of two mini angel food cake pans so I can use those for future gifts of bird seed wreaths. I also got an ink stamp set with some all purpose greeting stamps. One of my goals this year is to make all cards instead of buying them.

My Keurig stopped working, and just as I was starting to rage I took a minute to Google it. I found a YouTube video that showed me the problem: a clogged pin. I'm happy I was able to fix it, and it was a nice learning moment for my son too.

We made foaming hand soap. Water + liquid Castile soap in a foaming dispenser we already had on hand.

It turns out that my dryer isn't broken. So it's great that I don't have to buy a new one, however, if it truly was broken I think I'd be okay with hanging things to dry for awhile.

I ate leftovers all weekend.

I brought food, coffee, and water to work in reuseable containers. (mostly)

I borrowed free ebooks from my library.

My son is using a handkerchief for his cold.

What have you done to save money last week?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Moment of Pause #16

I recently took a day trip to Sequim for work. I was standing in the parking lot and looked to my right to see this beautiful view of the Olympic Mountains. It was a fairly overcast day and not too cold. I've seen these mountains before, and I wouldn't mind sitting and staring off at them again for a whole day.

What have you seen lately that made you take a moment of pause?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Last week's frugal efforts.

I wasn't really planning on it, but I ended up hanging my clothes up inside to dry. The dryer wouldn't turn on. It's curious because earlier in the day I was reading a post about how to hang dry clothes inside and was thinking that I needed to get back to doing that sometime...I just wasn't expecting to so soon!

I composted when possible.

I brought food, water, and coffee to work in reusable glass containers and stainless steel. I keep a cat mug and a spoon at work.

I've kept the thermostat down and wore a sweater around the house when cold. I even got the little one to wear a sweater!

I've continued to eat down the pantry and freezer. I want to use up what we have then start intentionally eating better.

I redeemed a $3 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks.

I redeemed a $5 Amazon gift card from Bing Rewards. I'm not sure what to use these on yet. There is something about January that robs me of the desire to purchase things.

I've been burning candles to use them up. I find it relaxing too. The little guy sometimes does a candle flame dance. : )

Little Man is going through a phase where he asks for something then changes his mind and wants something new to eat. Um...nope. So I save his snack or meal to eat later. It's hard sometimes, but overall it seems to be working.

What have you done to save money this week?
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