Saturday, December 26, 2009

Deal Killer!


I spent over an hour last night going through coupons and getting things organized to do some shopping today. But alas, I wake up to this. Still snowing and really cold. Not a good day to be travelling 3 hours each way (I was going to the city where my Grandma is staying so I could visit her as well).

So instead, I'll be staying home snuggling with kids, playing with new toys, and (hopefully) cleaning and straightening up a bit for our 'Cousins Christmas Party' tomorrow evening.

Hope you're all having a fun weekend, staying warm and enjoying your blessings.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There WILL be coupons this weekend!

Sorry, guys--got some misinformation. There will be one coupon insert in the newspaper this Sunday from P&G. Keep an eye out for it!

Also, did you know about THIS website? You can get a preview of the coming weekend's coupons a few days in advance. If there are some good ones coming out, you'll know to buy more papers!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Great Toaster Strudel Coupon!

I found a coupon this morning for $1 off ONE box of Pillsbury Toaster Strudel! I'm really excited about it because I, um, I mean *my kids*, LOVE these! Usually you only find .55 off 2 coupons, so this one is awesome. Don't forget to hit your back button a few times to be able to print it one more time!

Click HERE for your coupon!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Caregiver's Marketplace

If you're caring for young kids or a parent/grandparent, you've got to check this out. Caregiver's Marketplace is helping caregivers save some hard-earned money on brands such as Huggies and Pull-Ups, Nature Made, Ensure, Polident, Icy Hot, and many more.

You simply register at their site, then print off the form and send it in along with your register receipts for at least 5 eligible items. Very easy to do, and you get between .75 and 2.00 for items you are already buying. Click HERE to learn more.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Coupon Inserts for Two Weeks

Just a heads-up that there is no need to get your Sunday papers this weekend or next (if you're like me and just buy them for the coupons). That will leave us plenty of time to enjoy with friends and family over Christmas and New Year's. Enjoy it, because I seem to remember being inundated with new coupons after the New Year, especially for 'healthy' and 'diet' items. *smile*

Free Christmas Music Downloads

25 days of free music from Amazon.com HERE.

They've got some great music to choose from! I know I'm posting this pretty late, but I just now got the chance to actually download the ones I wanted. Thought I'd share, anway--better late than never, right?

Friday, December 18, 2009

$5 Alice Gift Card from Swagbucks!

***I misunderstood how this works originally--I just snagged one of these gift cards, and in the 'fine print' it states that it will only allow one gift card/code per swagbucks account, and the cards/codes cannot be combined with each other. So, not free stuff, but cheap(er). Sorry about the misinformation! I'm very bummed about it, myself. :(

You all know how much I love Swagbucks. I have the toolbar and use it anytime I need to do an internet search. I sometimes use it to 'search' for sites I want to visit anyway (and know the address for), just to give me an extra chance to win those digital dollars.

I've always used my swagbucks for $5 Amazon gift cards--they're just 45 swagbucks, which I can earn in about a month. It's like free money just for doing your thing online! I used the gift cards that I had saved up to help with Christmas shopping this year--every little bit helps, right?

Well, it has come to my attention that Swagbucks is now offering $5 gift cards to Alice.com for ONLY 20 swagbucks!

If you've never heard of it, check it out--Alice.com is a pretty new shopping service for nonperishable grocery and household items. The best part is that they offer FREE SHIPPING on every order (I believe they require a minimum of 6 items per order). Another plus--they offer 'coupons' on some items, turning their already-reasonable prices into some pretty good deals.

I think that during times in life when you just don't have time or are physically unable to get to the store, this service is great. If you're in the last few weeks of pregnancy or just had a new baby, this will save you (or your husband :) a trip to the store just to grab those few items you're running low on.

I'll definitely be giving this service a try now that I can use my 'free' money from Swagbucks! When you go that route, it's like free household items. It doesn't get much better than free!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cool Crafty Links

Thanks to my friend Paula over at Hearty Works, I've been enjoying a few new-to-me crafty blogs this morning. Here are some highlights:

Giver's Log: Hot Chocolate on a stick! And if you need more incentive than that to check out the site, you may not be human. Or you were never a kid. Take some time to look around at all her great gift ideas--not all homemade, but all are thoughtfully categorized for the perfectly suited recipients.

Design Mom: She has some great ideas for displaying children's artwork HERE.

Infarrantly Creative: Beautiful Christmas on a Budget series begins HERE.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shop at Home $100 Gift Card Giveaway

Toni over at The Happy Housewife has a giveway for a $100 Gift Card to any online store on the Shop at Home website. I've used this site several times in the past couple of months to find coupon codes for free shipping and other deals. Check it out!

Shop at Home $100 Gift Card Giveaway

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How often do YOU cook?

I cook pretty much every evening these days, but breakfasts and lunches are usually cold stuff or warmed up leftovers.

In the past, I sometimes did some 'planned leftover' type of cooking. I would brown 5 pounds of ground beef, then package it into meal-sized portions for the freezer. Or cook a couple of chickens, or a 10 pound bag of leg quarters, then de-bone and freeze the meat for later meals. This helped a LOT (and I should probably do that again sometime).

But one activity that sounds so helpful, is Once A Month Cooking (OAMC). I've done this only 2 or 3 times in my cooking career, and let me tell you--it's work. But it pays off exponentially throughout the month, when you simply pull meals out of the freezer and reheat them. It's wonderful. But it's a LOT of work.

Money Saving Mom is hosting a Freezer Cooking Day over at her blog. I hope you'll go check it out and click all the links for some great recipes and strategies.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Drive-by blogging

Hihowareyou? We'refinejustreallybusy. I'msureyouare,too. Hopeyouhadahappythanksgiving. Hereisagreatrecipethateveryoneshouldknowhowtomake.

And I'll even use punctuation.

Scotch-a-roos

1 c. white sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 c. peanut butter (creamy, please)
Rice Krispies--I used about 10-11 cups, 7 or 8 might be enough.
2 c. Chocolate and/or butterscotch and/or peanut butter chips

Put cereal into large bowl. In medium saucepan, combine sugar and syrup. Bring to rolling boil, then remove from heat. Add peanut butter and stir until combined. Pour over cereal in large bowl and stir to coat. Press into buttered/sprayed 9x13 pan (when I used 11 cups of cereal, I needed all of my 15x10 cake pan).
Melt chocolate/flavored chips in microwave, stirring every minute, until melted. Spread over cereal mixture in pan.

print grocery list
Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Day Away

My dear Mother-In-Law gave me an evening away yesterday. I got to drop off the kids at her house at 2:30 pm. and didn't have them all back until about one o'clock this afternoon. Granted, I did pick up 3 of them to drive to a dentist appointment this morning,but she still kept the others! :)

What did I do with my 'time off'? Well, dh was at a job training/class, so I went shopping! My friend and I traveled to the nearest large town/small city to do take advantage of some Target and Walgreen's sales. Now, I was driving, and it wasn't pretty, so we didn't exactly make good time on the traveling part and it was 12:30 a.m. when we returned home! Talk about some serious shopping!

We stocked up on some major sales for Thanksgiving. Did you know that Walmart has turkeys for only $.40/lb? The limit is 2, and we each got our limit. At that price, I couldn't afford not to get that. Even chicken rarely gets lower than .69/lb around here, and it's so nice to roast a turkey and freeze a bunch of leftover meat for easy meals later on. When I don't have time to look up recipes specifically written for leftover turkey, I simply use it as I would use precooked chicken in favorite family dishes such as chicken/turkey pot pie, noodle soup, or a rice or stuffing bake.

Can't wait for Thanksgiving! What are some of your favorite side dishes for the big feast?

Williams-Sonoma style for $3.00!

Check out this blog post for a beautiful craft that won't break the bank and would make a wonderful gift. It's so pretty, I want to make a million of them and give them to everyone I know. And keep a set for myself. :)

Thank you for sharing, Melissa!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Great Photo Deals!

I just ordered my Christmas photo cards for FREE from Seehere. Get 50 free cards plus FREE SHIPPING! Use the code freebies4mom-1109 when you checkout. You might be able to add other gifts or prints to your cart as well to take advantage of the free shipping--I meant to try but forgot in all my excitement! LOL

Also, go HERE to find out how to get 100 free prints from Snapfish--today only! Thanks, Amy!

Free Mini Makeup Kit at E.L.F.--my review

Over at e.l.f. cosmetics, they're having a promotion that you might be interested in--get a FREE mini makeup kit with ANY purchase. I was so surprised when I first checked out this website--there are MANY things that are only $1! Most of their individual cosmetics and tools are--from makeup brushes to lipstick to bronzer and eye shadows. They have cute stuff for teenagers and more sophisticated stuff for adults.

Just add any item to your cart (or as many other items as you'd like!) and use the code LOYAL when you check out. It will add the mini makeup kit to your order for free. You will have to pay shipping on the order, which was 6.95. But I was pleasantly surprised to find an extra lip gloss in my order as well as the makeup kit, with a label calling it a 'gift from e.l.f.'. Sweet! I'm saving it for a stocking stuffer, so can't review that item yet. :)

I just got my first order from e.l.f. last week. I was really pleasantly surprised! I was worried that the makeup would be of poor quality, but so far I've been really happy with it. I had read some reviews saying the makeup didn't stay on very long, but that has not been the case for me. When I wash my face at night, I still see plenty of eyeshadow on the cloth. Also, the lip color seems to stay on pretty well. It's not an all-day formula, but I still notice color several hours after application.

I also like that there are several matte colors and some glittery colors of both the eye shadows and the lipsticks. There is only one blush and one bronzer, but the colors seem neutral enough that most people could use them. I personally really like them both. There is also a dark brown brow powder, which is something I've never used before, so that's fun.

My personal favorite, though, is the sparkly clear lip gloss to go over any lip color or wear alone. It's shiny and makes my lips feel great, and that little sparkle is just fun. There is also a white cream eyeshadow, which you're supposed to apply to the inside corner of your eyelid, to make your eyes look more open and 'awake'.

All in all, I've been really happy with this product, and the fact that it was FREE is super sweet. I'm considering doing this deal again, since there are a few other e.l.f. products I'd like to try for myself, and I could give the compact as a gift.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Click To Give

Here is an easy way to help several different charities. Just click and the advertising money that is generated from the site goes to that charity. You can click once a day--why not?

Click to Give

Creative recipe

What to do when you're out of bread for sandwiches at lunchtime:

Bean and cheese quesadillas

1 can refried beans
12-16 oz cheese (cheddar or colby jack for us)
some chopped onion (from freezer)
chopped green pepper (from freezer)
1/2 cup (more or less) salsa

Mix all together. Spread about 1/3 c. on flour tortilla. Top with another tortilla. Microwave or grill/fry until melty. Yum.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In the world, but not of the world

I'd like to share a post by a fellow blogger, Ashley at Frugal Coupon Living, who reminded me today to remember God in EVERY area of life, even shopping and couponing.

I've surprised myself a few times as I shop with coupons, finding great deals. Sometimes I get greedy, wanting to get as much as I can when I find a great bargain. I've been guilty of clearing a shelf here and there, leaving little for others to enjoy.

But I've also been fortunate enough to be able to share many of my great finds with others. I'd like to encourage you all to share your blessings as well. This time of year is difficult for so many families. I'm sure that even those of us with small bank accounts have an abundance of something--whether it's time, talents, willing hands, or material blessings. Let's not forget to share that abundance with those who need it.

Read Ashley's post here.

"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
Hebrews 13:16--New International Version of the Bible

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Family Photo Fun

I like to have group photos of my kids--who doesn't? But...what. a. CHORE!

I've been putting it off for several weeks now, so today I just bit the bullet. Got the kids their breakfast and asked them to go find shirts that were blue or white, and blue jeans to go with.

The girls got excited. The boys started groaning. :)

Found clothes and arranged the shirts on the couch to find best options, so when we actually went outside (I love natural light for photos), we could get right to it.

Trimmed boys hair above ears (they needed it!), combed and washed faces. Missed one, though, and didn't find out until photo shoot was 1/2 over. sigh.

Fixed girls' hair, got baby washed up and dressed, went outside to finalize the location.

I originally planned to hang a sheet from our deck and put the kids on the ground in front of the sheet. Well, the sky was dark and it had apparently been sprinkling for a little while, because the ground was wet.

I didn't want muddy photos.

Looked around for other options and noticed our old, dilapidated shed. A perfect rustic backdrop for casual family photos!

Got the kids arranged and started shooting. I used the 'burst' mode to capture 3 shots at a time, hoping to increase my odds of getting a good one.

Took over 50 photos.

Not one photo with everyone looking at the camera and smiling.

Maybe next year.

Stockpile Secrets

A friend recently asked me, "Where do you keep all those groceries?" When you buy 36 boxes of cereal, they don't exactly all fit on the top of the fridge. :) So, I've had to get a bit creative, and I imagine I'll have to hunt up some more 'hiding places' for my stockpile as it continues to grow.

The first thing to do when starting a stockpile, is to clean and organize the spaces you already use. My cabinets and pantry had become so disheveled and cluttered that I didn't think I could fit much more in them. But re-organizing and throwing out things that were unusable or unwanted, made a world of difference! It's amazing how much space you can free up after this step.


I also paid my dd (with video game time :) to clean off the big shelf my husband built for me in our laundry room.


And then there are a few things just shoved wherever they'll fit. :)

A few tips I've gleaned from others:

Items do not have to be stored in traditional locations. Canned goods can fit under couches/beds/other furniture. Try putting your bed on risers and using under-bed storage boxes.

Do you have unused cabinets up high or down low in your house? Stash extras there, then replenish your 'regular' cabinets as needed.

Can you or your spouse install some extra simple shelves in an out-of-the-way location in your home?

What about a garage or storage shed? If the garage is attached, that would be perfect for canned goods, or bottles of laundry detergent, shampoo, bar soap, an other items that animals wouldn't be tempted by. You just want to make sure that liquid items wouldn't freeze. Dry goods would be fine in these locations as well, as long as they were sealed up in plastic totes or buckets to keep pests out.

If you have a basement, that's another great place for a shelving unit to store items.

If you don't have these extra spaces available, what about finding an extra corner or shelf in a closet in your home? Can you declutter unneeded items to make room for your stockpile?

These are just a few ideas--get creative and work with what you've got! Stockpiling is an important part of saving as much money as possible on groceries and household items. You'll be seeing the savings add up in just a few weeks.

Cool New Site

Just a heads-up: there's a new site that pays you every time you go to Facebook, twitter, yahoo, and lots more popular sites. Every click adds up quickly! Check it out here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

$2/1 Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice -- $0.50 at Walgreens next week

$2/1 Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice -- $0.50 at Walgreens next week

Here's a great coupon to save for Walgreen's next week!

Today's Shopping Trip

It went well this morning. Baby boy woke me up at 6:30 to nurse, so I was up in time to get to the store as soon as it opened. Everything was well-stocked and there weren't too many shoppers (though more than I'd expect at that hour!) Here was my haul:

The cheese (8 pounds!), Purex, and potatoes were on the one-day sale. The trash bags and aluminum foil were just because we (really!) needed them. The rest of it was a special deal the store was running. They put a coupon in their ad for $5 off any 10 Smuckers products that are on sale in their ad. That includes Crisco, Hungry Jack, Smuckers, Jif, Pillsbury baking, and Eagle brand milk. I've got tons of coupons for these items, so I will probably be going back again. The Pillsbury cake mixes AND frosting tubs are only .38 each after the $5 coupon, so I will definitely be getting some of those on my next trip--I don't think you could make cake and frosting from scratch for much less than that!

And guess what I spent on all that? I figured up that the cheese alone would have cost at least $20 at Aldi.....But my total was only $26.26. Not too bad! Now, I *did* use a $6 coupon that printed out from the cereal deal a couple weeks ago (and I tallied that against the cost of the cereal), so really, my total was $32.26. Still a pretty good deal considering what I got. And it feels good to shop at my local grocery store once in a while instead of having to drive for an hour. :)

Hope some others are getting some good grocery deals this week, too!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cheap cheese at Hy-Vee Friday!

Our local grocery store, Hy-Vee, is having a one-day sale tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 13. There are just a couple of items that I was really interested in:

Hy-Vee shredded cheese, 8 oz., 10/$10. This is just $2/lb--a great price by itself. But combined with a printable coupon for $1.50 off ANY 2 lbs. of cheese, brings it down to just $1.25/lb. It doesn't get much better than that around here! And let's just say, my family kinda likes cheese. :)

**I'm really sorry, they've taken down the coupon I printed a few weeks ago, or I would link you to it. Check Coupons.com at least weekly, and print any coupons you might use immediately! They only allow a certain number to be printed, and when they're gone, they're gone! They also reset the coupons each month, and add new ones every week. It's worth a few minutes of your time each week.

Another HOT deal at Hy-Vee is the Purex laundry detergent for $1.99. This is the smaller 50 or 60 oz. bottles, but it's the 2x concentrated kind. It's an excellent price for laundry detergent, especially paired with the 35 cent coupon from the Sunday paper a couple weeks ago, making it 1.64/bottle.

If you like Hamburger Helper, that is .88/box, combined with the abundant .75/3 coupons makes it .63/box. Not bad!

So if you're near a Hy-Vee, stock that freezer with some cheese! I see lots of quesadillas and homemade pizza in our future!

The Grocery Game--Final Review

OK, I promised you all a review of this program, and I just realized I never really summed up my experience.

First of all, I think this is a great *idea*. It would be nice to have a place to help you maximize your coupon saving at your local stores, without you having to do all the work yourself.

My first impression after signing up for the free 4-week trial (here) was 'wow, this lady has developed quite a brand for herself.' Her name and photo are all over the site, and she has some other site/message board besides the grocery game, which she promotes in banners/buttons all over the site. She seems to be a talented marketer.

There is the main product, The List, as well as forums to discuss or ask questions about couponing in general. Discussion involving specific deals or references to specific items on The List seems to be frowned upon.

I printed off the list the first three weeks of my trial, and it was a time saver to have that part all done. However, I felt that she neglected several deals that I wanted to take advantage of. My local store usually runs major sales Thurs-Sat, with the occasional 1-day sale on Fri or Sat. Well, the owner of this website encourages shoppers in my area to wait until Sun-Tue. to shop, to be sure to get the maximum savings from coupons in the Sunday paper.

Also, the list owner assumes that you will only buy one copy of the Sunday paper each week. This keeps a person from maximizing sales for Buy-1-get-1-free items.

Personally, my feeling is that a person needs at least 1 Sunday paper/insert per 2 people in the family, though I've often seen it recommended to get 1 paper per person. Currently, I buy 4 each week for my family of 10 and it's working out well. I can see that I may need to buy more as the kids get older, though.

I was especially disappointed in The List for Walgreen's, as it didn't seem to take into account the register rewards that are printed for certain items each month. These rewards are actually coupons that are like 'Walgreen's money'--you can use them on anything in the store. I felt that this lack of information was a huge disadvantage. I like to visit the forums at A Full Cup for my Walgreen's 'strategy' every week or two.

So, all that said, I cancelled my Grocery Game subscription before my trial was over. I didn't even print out the list on the 4th week. There is a Hy-Vee forum at A Full Cup where I can see a shopping list with coupon match ups for free (and they include coupons from other sources besides the newspaper, as well). That site also has a coupon database so you can easily search for coupons for any product you want, and it tells you where to find those coupons. Very helpful and a huge blessing to this busy mom!

I hope this helped someone, and happy couponing to all! :)

Surveys and E-mails

Along the same lines as my post from yesterday, I just wanted to share some other ways I've been 'working' from home lately. I feel very blessed to be able to help my family financially from home. My dh and I are working on paying off credit cards (our only debt besides the house) and this is really the only feasible way I can do it. It's really not feasible for me to work outside the home--my kids need me during the day, and in this small town, there's no gainful employment to be had in the evenings.

So, first of all--Swagbucks! If you're not signed up there already, why not?!? LOL If you ever use Google or Ask.com to do searches, this is the SAME THING! You simply go to Swagbucks.com and do your search from there. Or, to make your life even easier, install their toolbar and search with it, wherever you are on the web. You randomly win 'swagbucks' when you do searches--not every time, but I average a swagbuck in my first 3 searches of the day, then maybe another one or two later on in the day. I easily average 2 swagbucks a day, and they often put out codes for extra ones through the toolbar, blog, twitter/facebook, etc.

As your bucks accumulate, you can spend them in their swag store on fun merchandise or gift cards! I personally have gotten a $5 gift card from Amazon.com for every 45 bucks I've earned. I've gotten 4 so far, and will probably have another one by the end of the month. It took me a while to realize that I could use their search a LOT more than I used to, and earn a LOT more than I used to. Now, when I want to go to a website, I just type the main title or name into the search box to try for a swag buck. When I want to go to Amazon, I just type 'amazon' in the box and let it search, then click on the link. Just takes an extra second, and my earnings have increased.

Also, they have programs where you can trade in old cell phones or video game for swagbucks, or shop online through their links to earn swagbucks according to how much you spend at those sites. Lots of ways to earn and get FREE STUFF! Be sure to use my e-mail ( scrapcat79 at yahoo dot com) as your referral, then tell all your friends so you can get more swagbucks, too!

As far as surveys go, I've signed up for several sites so far. I haven't qualified for many surveys yet, but I keep trying, LOL. Here are a few of the sites I'm using in case you want to check them out:

Inbox Dollars -- earn points just for reading e-mails and they have occasional surveys as well.

Reward Port -- same deal, but they send a lot more e-mails so more points are accumulating.

ZoomPanel --surveys only.

The first two are the main ones that I really seem to be racking up the points with. Now, no one is going to get rich doing this stuff, but if you have easy access to the internet at home, and you can spend a little time doing something productive every day, it adds up. My time for surveys has been limited, but it's very quick and easy to look through e-mails and click on links to earn points.

Just a tip, in case you haven't read through Money Saving Methods yet. Set up a separate e-mail account for these things so you don't clutter up your personal inbox. In fact, Carrie recommends setting up separate accounts for surveys, paid e-mails, offers, and other stuff that she does, so you don't get distracted by surveys when you're supposed to be completing free offers, etc.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My first product review online!

If you haven't joined ExpoTV yet, you might want to check it out. They offer invitations to do video reviews of products you already use or might want to try, then you earn points when you upload your video reviews. I've only done one review so far, but now that I've got that under my belt, I look forward to doing more!

Check it out for yourself! If you decide to join, my user name there is many2knit4 And, here's my video (excuse the lack of make-up, please!)...


See all Skin Care reviews at Expotv

In my mailbox.....

The other day, I opened my mailbox to find several samples awaiting me, as well as several envelopes. I love getting freebies in my mail! It's so fun getting packages without having to pay for them, lol.

I got some *ahem* feminine products, a sample of an omega-3 supplement (which got squished by the USPS and unusable, but it smelled good--really!), a children's book about asthma, and a $25 Target giftcard! Yes, that's right--free! Woo-hoo!

I've been reading the blog, Money Saving Methods lately, and wow--is she chock-full of information! She has saving and making money for her family (from home) down to a science, and she has a passion for teaching others how to do the same. I've been so blessed by her information already, and I look forward to slowly implementing more of her methods as I am able.

I received the giftcard by signing up for one of those 'free trials' of a certain buying/shopping service. They offered it as a free gift just for signing up and giving the service a try. Carrie at MSM teaches you to be very organized in trying these free offers. Use a planner to write down the date when the free trial ends so you can cancel before being billed (if you decide it's not for you). Write down the phone number right there as well, so it's handy. Make sure you read all the fine print when you first sign up so you can be sure to meet all the requirements, and keep records of everything you do.

This particular offer was very easy. It's the only one I had going at the time (wanted to 'get my feet wet' first), so I could keep better track of things. I simply filled out the online form and waited for the 'welcome kit' to arrive. Then, I had to fill out a simple reply card and send it in promptly (before the free trial ended), to receive my gift card. Most of these offers require that you be an 'active member' before sending your incentive. Therefore, you can't just sign up, then cancel immediately and expect to receive anything. That's where your planner comes in to remind you of what you need to do and when.

I was so excited to actually get the gift card in my hands! Now I feel more confident about signing up for other offers as well. I still plan to go slowly with this (I'm not very organized! But I'm trying!), but every little bit helps.

Go check out Money Saving Methods--you'll be surprised at how many ways there are for you to financially help you family from home!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A good Walgreen's trip


Now this caused a coupon high when I got home! This was from my shopping trip last Thursday night. (nothing like time-delay blogging, right?) I spent about 2 hours at Walgreen's shopping and checking out.

If you've never shopped at Walgreen's, or never taken advantage of their register rewards program, go read this. Then you can come back here and make a bit more sense of my gibberish. :) (thanks to my friend, AuburnChick for introducing me to that site! :)

I bought 9 triaminic products, 6 theraflu, 3 Vaseline lotion, 16 Trident Layers gum, 3 Gillette fusion razors, 5 boxes of Zantac, an emergen-c energy booster, 2 dental floss, 7 chapstick, 2 halls refresh, 2 fun size snickers, 2 m&ms, 3 (or 4) glade scented oil tins and the same number of refills, a frappuccino, and a few miscellaneous 'filler' items.

Grand total: $51.76 for $314 worth of products. Now, that total value is retail price, I believe, which I would *never* pay to begin with, but to give a more accurate idea of what I saved, I used just over $220 worth of manufacturer coupons on these items. The best part, though? I came home with $65 worth of register rewards to use on my next shopping trip! I spent some of these last Saturday on some things that my family needed for the week, but I've still got about $27 left for today's trip!

The trick is to only do a few items in each transaction, so that the register rewards that print from the featured items can be used on a few more different items in your next transaction. That's one of the more time-consuming parts of the process, but I like to step to the side after one of my transactions to let another person check-out if there's someone in line. I don't want to be rude and monopolize the cashier's time. I want my cashiers to like me. :) LOL

Anyway, I'm headed back to Walgreen's today for this week's specials. I'll be picking up some more chapstick and hall's (I'm donating the chapstick to our church's college student care packages, and my dear Gram loves those hall's refresh). Also some Quaker oats and Dove shampoo/conditioner, beano, and maybe Dr. Scholl's foot care.

This won't be nearly as big a trip, since I'll have a few kids with me, but it will still be fun! I love saving enough money that I can donate to needy causes and share with family and friends. It's quite a shock going from these kinds of deals to the superstore's regular prices!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Grocery Game, week 2

Well, I've received and used my second LIST from the Grocery Game now. Just thought I'd check in and let you all know what I think so far.

First of all, I think I have a shortage of good grocery stores.

Second, I think the theory of the GG is excellent, and would be completely worth my money if I lived in an area that had several competing stores with wonderful specials and savings programs and such. Week one was pretty good and I enjoyed using my list and feel like I paid less than usual for my family's groceries. This week, well... At no fault of The List, I missed out on several good deals simply because my store was out of stock of all the great deals. Disappointing.

I actually meant to go back on the last day of the sale (yesterday) to pick up the deals I missed, but life got in the way and I didn't make it.

So, aside from that one grocery store, I'm also receiving The List for a Walgreen's store in a nearby town. If I end up deciding to pay for this service, I'll be downgrading to not get the Walgreen's list. I'm a member of a different couponing forum where a wonderful person types up all the great deals each week and tells you exactly what combinations to buy things so as to pay the least amount out of pocket. That's just too easy, and it's free.

I have found no such luxury to help me with my grocery store, however, so for that reason I may consider paying for the GG subscription. We shall see what the next two weeks bring.

Hurry Up, Liesl!

For some reason, this sweater isn't in any hurry to join my wardrobe. Maybe it's just because I've been really super busy with a bajillion other things, and this sweater is jealous. Maybe it's because it wants me to find some buttons first. Maybe it's because I can't decide how long it should be.

Probably mostly number one. Yeah.

I've done a little bit of knitting on this, and am past the armholes a good couple of inches. At first I wanted this to be a shorter cardigan, but I tried it on the other day and well....I'm just not sure my non-existent waistline can pull that off. So now I'm debating on whether to make it just past my waist, or a little longer, to at least hit the top of my hips. I just really wanted more of an accessory-type cardi, this doesn't need to be a major coverup or keep-warm type of thing.

I know that I want 3/4 length sleeves. There's one decision made.

Oh, and the computer thing? Well, BIL installed all the parts (look! new processor! Oh, shiny motherboard! Yummy RAM... ). Hit the power button....nothing. Figured out that the switch went bad at some point between last Friday and just this evening. While it was sitting on my desk not being used. *sigh*

Being a mechanic (and son of a mechanic, and brother of a mechanic), BIL then commenced to 'hotwire' my computer. And it worked. So now he's re-installing a bunch of stuff and doing some other computer-person mumbojumbo and chatting with his brother while he waits for that stuff to happen.

So maybe I can post pictures again. In the near future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And the Binder Is....

The Blue One! ((((((*loud applause and cheering*))))))

Pics and more when my computer is fixed! :)

Excuse me, computer--could you work now?

I hate computer problems, and when it rains it pours.

We were just getting a chuckle a couple months ago out of the fact that we have no less than 4 working computers in our home. Now, granted, we have 8 kids, 4 of which use/have used the computers to do school via a software-based curriculum. And two of the computers were given to us by my brother-in-law (who is a computer/video game guy and is constantly upgrading). A third was bought on clearance at wal-mart, so no big bucks shelled out or anything. :)

Within the last week, 2 of the computers pretty much died. Another computer is an 'offline' setup, pretty much only good for the kids' school. So I'm working on the lone internet-accessing computer in the house, and it feels weird. My 6th grader uses this computer for her schoolwork, and dh has stuff to do online as well, so all of a sudden this spoiled family is sharing one computer.

In addition to that, I didn't have a printer installed on this particular system, so no printing my beloved internet coupons. I tried installing our printer over here the other day, but I couldn't find the original disk and had to download the software. Well, there's a problem somewhere because it's just not working. I went through the manufacturer's website, following every step of it's troubleshooting documents, and no dice. I thought I had it fixed at one point, actually getting something to print, but the next thing I tried, it locked up again. *sigh*

The good news is that my favorite brother-in-law (Hi, Darin!) spent some time over here the other day, diagnosing 'my' computer and ordering parts for it. Well, the parts arrived today (woo-hoo!), so I'm hoping I'll be back in business again soon.

As for my dh's laptop, well....it doesn't look good. We think the processor is fried and BIL didn't have time to look at it the other day, so it awaits it's diagnosis and (hopefully) cure. Soon. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Decluttering

We're spending the day around here decluttering and cleaning the upstairs.

Not fun.

I rarely venture upstairs except to put the baby to bed and go get him when he wakes. There are always hazards in the hallway to navigate through, and I seldom make the journey without stepping on a lego or getting tangled in dress-up clothes.

Well, I had a conversation with a friend last night. A friend who has the most clutter-free house I've ever seen. She has 3 young boys and still manages to have a house that looks nice all the time. If it's a mess, it takes about 5 minutes to have it looking wonderful again because EVERYTHING HAS A PLACE. When I asked her to share her secrets last night, that's what she told me. She strives to have a 'hiding place' for everything (an actual home, not a closet that she throws everything into). She said she hates seeing 'stuff' just out in the open, so she puts things into drawers (with dividers/organizers), cabinets, baskets, boxes in closets--whatever. If a storage area becomes too full to close, she purges.

I asked her about those things that aren't being used at the moment, but you know you'll need them in the next year or two. Or things you aren't sure you'll use again, but want to keep 'just in case'. She shared that she uses the boxes that paper comes in (her husband's job gives her as many as she wants) and stows things away in these, with clear labels, which are then lined up against a basement wall. ANYTHING that is not being used at the moment, is put back in it's place immediately. And she's not sentimental about things, so unless it's just SUPER special, she doesn't feel bad getting rid of it.

Maybe you are all better at this than I am, but I am naturally a 'messie'. I get stuff out, then get distracted by something else. I'm too tired, too busy with something I'm enjoying, too busy with something that must get done NOW. I hate cleaning, though I truly appreciate a clean, clutter-free living space. So, with the image of a less-messy home motivating me, we began upstairs--the kid zone.

I knew that it would be easier for me to get rid of the kids' junk (not good toys--but the JUNK that accumulates), and might get me on a roll, ready to tackle my own stuff in the rest of the house. Well, we worked all morning/afternoon, and now we're taking a break. Our reward will be a family movie after supper tonight, once all the debris is cleared out and we can see a finished product. We're getting tired, but everyone seems to be motivated and is working together well.

We've collected 4 boxes of toys to donate and have thrown out nearly 3 garbage bags full of stuff so far. It *does* feel pretty good!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Check this out! DIY Electric Spinning Wheel!

My dh walked out of the 'reading room' last night, holding my new copy of Spin Off magazine. He had been studying a photo of a spinning wheel (I don't own one yet), trying to figure out how it worked. I shared with him what little I had figured out from reading about them. He shared with me that he would like to figure out how to build me an 'electric spindle'.

You see, I learned how to use a drop spindle over the summer and really enjoyed it. I've made two spindles from CDs, which have worked ok for me, aside from the wobbling due to poor balance. He has asked me several times about spinning wheels, wondering if I thought I would use it enough to justify the cost. Really, as much as I'd like one, I really wouldn't have the time to use it as much as I would want. Also, 8 kids in the house. 'Nuff said.

He had wondered about some kind of compact electric version, but I didn't really know what options were out there. I thought it sounded good--just some way to keep spinning without having to stop every yard or so to wind the yarn around the shaft of the spindle.

Anyway, we did a bit of searching and checked out YouTube last night and found a gem. Here's a site that gives ideas, supplies, and general directions for how to build your own electric spinning tool. I think it looks great! Dh is going to check into how to build it as economically as possible without sacrificing on function or durability. He's a mechanic, so he's thinking metal. :) Check out their YouTube videos showing it in action. Too cool!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Help with an Irrelevant Decision

OK, maybe I'm taking this couponing thing a little too far, but I need y'all to help me out here. I've looked at a few coupon-organization options online (blogs, message boards and such) and decided I'd like to try the binder option. This is where you use a 3-ring binder with baseball card pages--the kind with 9 pockets. Then you've got lots of small pockets to organize your coupons (I'll use dividers to make alphabetical sections). OK, so I've been keeping an eye out for a zippered binder (because the last thing you want is for all your coupons to fall out if you accidentally pick it up the wrong way). Haven't seen one for the last few weeks, at least not for a price I wanted to pay. I've kept an eye on eBay and Amazon, too. Well, I'm so desperate to have my Q's organized, that I was ready to pay for one.


So, I went to Walgreens tonight and found a zippered binder with a nice expandable file section that you can access from an outside zipper, or inside the binder when it's open. I would love to have that file to hold copies of store coupon policies, organize shopping lists and 'intending to use' coupons, store fliers, restaurant coupons, etc. It has 2" rings and is made by Mead.


My dh looked over it and thinks it's a good quality, with plastic sides instead of cardboard inserts. It cost $15 (heart attack), but I bought it. I figured if I could get one on eBay or anywhere else, I could make do. I was really hoping for a Case-It brand, because they have a handle on the spine, as well as a shoulder strap. Since I often shop with kids, having one less thing to hold onto is just good.

Well, next I went to Wal-Mart. After picking up the things on my list, I had some time to check over the clearance section. Guess what I found:


A bunch of Case-It binders for $9. I couldn't resist.


Now, I'm still not completely convinced I should use this one. I read some reviews on Amazon saying the zippers broke soon after putting them into use, and there were other complaints about the durability of the binder rings themselves. Aside from that, I'm not sure what to make of the fact that there are two sets of binder rings. You can see them in this photo: Each set is about 1.5" deep, so I'm getting a total of 3" of capacity, as opposed to the Mead's 2". But I'm afraid the fact that there are two sections will be a pain.

The other thing I really like about this one, though, is that there are way more pockets to hold stuff.

I can keep pens and my calculator, scissors, even the contents of my wallet in there, if I'd like (not sure I would, though). The Mead only has one velcro pocket and one mesh zipper pocket inside of it. (But it's got the file!) I'm not sure where I would keep all my larger papers in the Case-It binder. I guess I could just put those things in regular page protectors and keep them at the front or back of the regular coupons.

My Dh feels that the Case-It is a lesser quality, with a lot of extra pockets that I wouldn't use.
(note the extremely shallow outside pocket)

I'm not entirely sure he's wrong, but I sure would like that shoulder strap!

So, I'm debating on whether to return one and use the other, or just return both and buy a different model of Case-It binder on eBay. There is a different model that has the interior/exterior file section (and the shoulder strap/handle), but it runs about $20 plus shipping. Any ideas? What do you all think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are you Swagging?

You may have heard about the awesome internet search tool that rewards you with prizes, gift cards or even cash....but just in case you haven't--go check out Swagbucks right now! It's so easy to use and I've just about earned my third gift card (I get the $5 Amazon cards--they're only 45 swagbucks). I don't even really search that much, but they also offer extra bonus 'codes' that you can enter on their site for an extra buck here and there.

The basics: use the swagbucks.com website to do your searches--it uses google and ask.com to find your info, so you know you're getting quality results. You are randomly awarded swagbucks when you search. I installed their toolbar to make it super easy to search any time I need to--I don't have to go to their site first.

I'm sure you've also noticed the widget of in my right sidebar. This is easy to install on your blog or facebook, and helps you get referrals (which you also earn bucks for) and makes it easy to check the blog for swag codes.

I just really appreciate getting awarded for doing something I'm going to do anyway! How cool is that? So play with the widget over there on the right, and if you're interested, just click on the 'sign up' button in the bottom right. It will take you to a page with a little more info and get you all set up. Happy Swagging!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A great couponing blog...

I found a great blog a few weeks ago that has helped me so much as I strive to help my family become debt-free by saving more money on groceries and household items. That blog is called Frugal Living and Having Fun, written by a sweet lady named Deb. She shares weekly shopping lists for numerous stores, matching up sales and coupons for the biggest savings. I've utilized her Walgreen's list several times and it's so helpful. She also helps out for Target, Wal-Mart and several grocery stores that I don't have in my area.

On top of the couponing, she posts links to sites offering freebies or other great deals. There's even some budget-friendly recipes and weekly menus to top it all off! I sure appreciate all the time and effort Deb puts into her blog--why don't you go check it out and let her bless you, too! Be sure to leave her some comment luv! :)

Oh, I almost forgot! She's having a giveaway for a $20 Target gift card right now! Go check out this post!

Thanks again, Deb!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Grocery Game

I just signed up for a Free trial of the Grocery Game, this week. So today I'm printing out my first List and clipping/gathering my coupons for a shopping trip either tonight or Tuesday. Check it out for FOUR free weeks of the List for store(s) in your area. Be sure to use my e-mail (scrapcat79 at yahoo dot com) as a referral--you can earn free weeks by referring your friends, too!

After I've used my free trial, I'll post a review of the service and whether I plan to continue the subscription. It sounds like an easy way to maximize my time in the area of couponing. We shall see....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

One Year Old


My youngest is one year old today! It's so amazing how quickly that first year passes, and yet how it seems to drag on forever while you're in the midst of it.

This boy seemed to take forever to give us that first smile--he was something like 6 or 7 weeks old before we got one. But he hasn't stopped since! He loves his brothers and sisters, and is even starting to warm up to Daddy. Started sitting up at 6 months, then crawled a week or two later. Has been busy working on forming new consonant sounds since then, we're up to 'mama', 'dada', 'baba', and a couple of others that Ican't remember right now. :)

He took his first steps about two weeks ago, and is now taking two or three at a time before dropping to the floor to crawl the rest of the way to where he wants to go. His 7th tooth popped through this week (bottom far left), and he's loving his sippy cup more and more each day.

He's a snuggler and loves to hug and kiss. He'll pucker up and make a kissy sound, too, which is just adorable! He waved bye-bye to some friends last night, which we've been working on for a while, but his timing has been off--you know, he'll wait until everyone has actually left, then wave. :)

Having eight kids has been a challenge, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how everyone just fits in our family. The Lord has put personalities and temperaments together in such a way that every day has it's good moments and bad, conflicts and cooperation, but we all love each other and are happy to have such a wonderful family.

We're so thankful to have this happy little guy as a part of that. He is such a joy to all of us!

Friday, October 9, 2009

What I've been up to....

I realize that I haven't been blogging regularly, well, ever. But I've been especially neglectful lately. I plan to do much better in the future. I've finally figured out how to schedule posts (yay!) so perhaps I can write up several in one sitting when I get a chance, but you can all have something to read throughout the week.

I've been reading TONS of great blogs about being frugal and saving money. I feel like our family has always lived pretty frugally, because we've never had much money to begin with--we just had to! But I'm slowly learning that there are ways to save money which I've been neglecting.

Once upon a time, I was quite the coupon queen. However, when a special-needs child came along, everything got put on the back burner, and couponing was one of those things that I just never really picked up again. Well, a friend has been doing great in this area, and she inspired me to jump right in! There are SO many more printable coupons today than there were 5 years ago. I see a huge potential for saving a load off of my already-low grocery bill. I do not buy many pre-packaged, processed foods, but what I do buy, I can find coupons for. My 'scratch' ingredients (flour, sugar, milk, eggs, etc.) are harder to save on, but there are ways, which I'm slowly learning.

There are also tons of coupons out there for non-food items, which are easy to get free after coupons at drugstores such as CVS and Walgreen's. I figure if I can get all/most of our non-food items free or at a great savings, then it's worth my time to try to keep that money in our pockets. I'm trying to be organized about money-saving/making activities I can do to benefit our family without me leaving the home--viewing it as a part-time job that I can do right here at my own desk. It's hard to discipline myself to do this, but it will be worth it if I can just form the habit.

I'm going to list here a few websites/blogs that have helped me navigate my way through the beginnings of this journey. Hopefully this can be a benefit to others as well!

That should get you all started. If you all have some favorite money-saving/couponing/frugal living sites or blogs to share, please post in the comments!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Actual Knitting

Did I tell you about Multnomah(rav link)? She's a beauty of a shawl, simple and beautiful(non-rav link).



I used one 100g skein of TOFUtsies, a fingering weight yarn blended from 50% superwash wool, 25% soy silk, 22.5% cotton, 2.5% chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells!) The chitin is supposed to have antibacterial properties, which would be especially beneficial when making socks. However, when I was considering knitting a pair of socks from this yarn, I was deterred by the MANY plies and the thinner-than-my-usual-fingering weight. I figured I'd have to use size 0's to get a decent fabric for socks, and had a feeling that the combination of 0's and thin, many-plied yarn would result in a splitty nightmare.

So, I detoured to the Shawl department of Ravelry. They had quite a nice selection, which I browsed for quite a while before settling on this lovely.



Shawls on size 6's with fingering weight yarn--they're a joy. I'm not sure about lace weight shawls, 'cause I haven't finished one yet....



So, now that I'm (cough) finished with Multnomah (cough*exceptforweavingtheends*cough), what should I do with myself (besides cast on a pair of vanilla socks with some self-striping yarn, on my to-do list)?

Cast on a sweater, don't you think?



This is Liesl(rav link), by Ysolda Teague. I'm pretty sure this is the first pattern I've ever paid for. I've been admiring this pattern for months (a year?) and gave in this spring. I made the first one for my dd as a test-run with some inexpensive yarn. It went great, so I bought some slightly-pricier yarn for myself. I used Rowan Summer Tweed, an Aran weight mix of 70% silk and 30% cotton. Hey, I got a pretty good deal. :)



Factoring in that Liesl doesn't require much yarn due to the lacy patterning, I spent much less than a lot of knitters do for regular sweaters. I'm working up to buying sweater-quantities for 'real' sweaters.

Can't wait to wear it now that we've got nice, cool fall weather again! What's on your needles?

Old Houses

I wrote this post back in June and just never published it. But I think it's a good reminder to do an 'attitude check' once in a while.

Oh, and I *really, TRULY* have knitting to show you. The photos are right here in my camera, just have to get them transferred--I'll work on it this afternoon, I promise!

Here's the post:

Ok, I was going to rant about the problems with our old house. It's over 120 years old. Wet basement, roof that needs replacing, old plumbing. But as I started to think of what to type, the Lord laid it on my heart to be thankful. I'm suddenly convicted about what a bad attitude I've had lately. So I'm going to list some things I'm thankful for, about the house specifically, and maybe some general stuff as well. I hope it will inspire you to count your blessings, as well.

1. This house is big enough for our large family. We have plenty of room for us, and friends as well.

2. This house has an awesome deck where I love to sit and watch the kids play in the large yard. I swing and knit and feel at peace.

3. The laundry room is on the main floor, in the large bathroom. I"m grateful for this daily, as it's easy to 'reboot' the laundry in the middle of my day.

4. The kitchen has plenty of cabinets, and is large enough for my friends to chat with me while I'm cooking.

5. The arched doorways feel like a luxury that I probably couldn't afford if I were building a house today.

6. Same with the amazing diagonally-laid wood floors. Everyone always comments on how beautiful they are, even though they've taken a beating from our kids in the last 7 years that we've lived here.

7. I'm thankful the roof has held out this long, without leaking (much).

8. I like the covered front and back porches, where we store seasonal items and start plants in the spring.

9. The full basement is handy for our deep freeze, bikes in winter, and dh's tools.\

10. The wood stove in the basement saves us tons of money in winter.

11. It has large, modern windows to give lots of natural light.

12. The rooms are on the large side for such an old house.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Letting go of perfection...

All my life, I've been a perfectionist. I'm not sure if it's genetic or environmental (my mom is the queen perfectionist), but it came through in so many ways. If I was going to do something, I worked out the steps in my head to get the best results in the least amount of time. My room was a mess, but I got straight A's. If I found out I wasn't naturally gifted in a certain area, I just avoided it. Therefore, I didn't play sports at all and was content to be considered a 'nerd' in school. I worked a part time job or three all through high school and always made sure my boss considered me the best worker he or she had. When I made a pizza, all toppings were precisely distributed so that each bite was consistent. It was a bit obsessive.

It struck me today that I've changed. Years ago, as a young mom with 4 little girls under the age of 4, I struggled to keep that perfectionistic side of me. I worked so hard to keep my house clean, which we all know is futile--especially with babies and toddlers. I was constantly cleaning kids, doing dishes, folding laundry and trying to do each job just right. Over the years, my kids worked on me. Guilt over yelling at little ones to leave me alone while I was trying to perfectly decorate their birthday cake. Saying 'no' to playing a game with the sweet girl I was cooking dinner for. What would my kids remember about growing up? What would it matter if dinner was perfect if all my kids remember is that mom was always too busy for them?

Well, my oldest son (fifth child) turns 6 today. His dad has been planning a fun campout with friends, complete with a bonfire, fun games, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Instead of the 'perfect' cake, this year the birthday boy helped me frost a plain 9x13 cake with orange frosting, which we then crowned with a paper cutout of the emblem for his favorite football team. He helped me choose the clipart and cut it out, and he was SO proud to be the one to carefully place it on his cake. It ain't pretty, let me tell you--the me of 5 or 8 years ago would be mortified to serve such a thing on an important occasion (with company!) But he is so happy and we've made memories this morning. I'm learning to be content with what is really important, instead of what is just 'perfect'.

Friday, August 7, 2009

14 pints and counting...

Salsa, that is. I love homemade salsa. I love trying new recipes, though I won't try them without the recipe meeting a few conditions.
  • Not too much cumin.
  • Cilantro is wonderful.
  • Not too spicy--a few jalapenos are fine, but nothing hotter than that.
Boring, maybe. But I love it. Here's the fabulous new recipe I found a couple weeks ago. Wonderful Salsa

The first batch I made as written, but with about half the amount of jalapenos. Very good--a tad spicy for my sensitive tastebuds, but I think it was actually the ton of black pepper rather than the jalapeno peppers. I made a second batch today with some modifications. My local grocery had fresh cilantro on sale, so I bought a couple packages and used some in the salsa, omitting the cumin and black pepper (wasn't sure how those flavors would work together). I LOVE it, it's just perfect. Oh, and I also used fewer jalapenos than called for, but made up the difference with extra green bell peppers (had a ton from the garden).

Also, I used to dread all the chopping that salsa required, but I got the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer a couple months ago, and it makes the PERFECT salsa! It's the same consistency that they have in the Mexican restaurants around here. SO easy, just peel/cut into chunks/shove it in the grinder.

I've also got about a quart of salsa in the freezer. Now this is a different recipe: Tomato Freezer Salsa. I love the fresh lime juice and cilantro. So tasty and easy to fix. You can have a little bit of summer in the middle of winter, it tastes so fresh!

Still stalking twitter for Sock Summit details. I'm such a dork. But I've got about 5" knitted on my sock!

Tomorrow: Family Fun night with our church family. A bounce house, other inflatables/games, and free school supplies for community kids. It's going to be awesome. Especially if the heat index doesn't get to 107 as predicted, ugh.

Off to bed, have a great weekend where you are!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sock Summit Envy

I should knit socks non-stop the whole time Sock Summit is happening. You should, too!

I just joined Twitter. Follow me @many2knit4 . Or just join me in reading all the tweets about said international sock-knitting conference. Amazing history-making coolness. *sigh* My family is starting to worry.....

And yes, I will finally upload current knitting photos and share them with you. Eventually.

I have the feeling I'll need coffee in the morning.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cooties, CraftLit, and Canning

Some random thoughts...

We've been sick. Some kind of virus-plus-strep throat (for at least one of us). Doc put the whole lot of us on antibiotics which has helped the strep-py kid. The dh and I though? Not so much. Still have sore throats and dh has been very achy and tired. Better today, though--finally! Really not looking forward to winter sickness. We've stayed pretty healthy this summer, but it seems like when the cold weather hits we're sick a lot. And of course, we pass everything around to the whole house, so. Fun. Last winter wasn't as bad as usual, though. Don't know if it's because the older kids have learned to wash their hands more (cutting down the cooties brought into the house) or if it was all the Emergen-C we took. (You can get it at your local health food store or wal-mart.) Anytime we went somewhere, we all took some. Anytime one of us started feeling bad, we all took some. And I think it really helped. Not terribly expensive compared to a trip to the dr. and subsequent prescriptions.

Do you listen to CraftLit? It's an amazing podcast that I started listening to about a year and a half ago. It's done by an English professor, who taught high school for years in New York before moving to Arizona. She does some crafty talk--she knits, spins, draws, paints, etc. Then she teaches about the chapter(s) of the book for that show which is just SO wonderful. I've learned sooo much, which has been an incredible blessing for my dormant-bookworm brain. I used to read ALL.THE.TIME. before I started having baby after baby. I let the urgent everyday stuff fill in all that time that I should have been keeping my brain sharp. Anyway. Gift this podcast a listen. It's a good thing. OH, and she's got CD compilations off all the podcasts, divided by book, in case you've got dial-up or can't otherwise listen to the downloads. You may need to e-mail her for those--I know she's taking some to SOCK SUMMIT (where she's teaching a heel techniques class and a couple podcasting classes). BONUS for listening--her gramma's banana bread recipe. Oh yeah. Made two loaves last night. Let's just say it's a hit for breakfast.

Also, Librivox. In case you want MORE BOOKS! (Sometimes one or two chapters a week on CraftLit just isn't enough.) All public domain, recorded by volunteers. Some good readers, some not so good. But FREE!

Now, canning. I've only canned a few pints of salsa a couple years back. I always think I'm going to do it, I'll can whatever produce I can find good deals on. But I never do it. I chicken out. Right now I've got pint and quart jars that I bought, lids, rings, canning salt, vinegar, a pickling mix, tons of tomatoes and cucumbers exploding all over the vines, and.....um......a freezer salsa recipe that I've already made two batches of. What's my deal? I think it's the intimidation of cooking all the salsa/slicing the cucumbers, then trying to get everything hot at the same time, jar it up without burning myself, and the really scary part? Thinking that I have to keep things STERILE in MY HOUSE. I just don't think it can be done. Too many littles. Too many older kids who like to stick their fingers in things for a taste. I dunno. Maybe I'll get the salsa all ready today, put it in a pot in the fridge, then cook and can after bedtime. Think that would work? We'll see.

In other news? A knitting-related post--coming soon!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cucumbers and Onions

I don't know if any of you are familiar with this, um, pickle? Side dish? Concoction? Anyway, I was introduced to it by a good friend a couple years ago. She said you just mix vinegar, sugar, and water to get a 'flavor' that you like, then add sliced cucumbers and onions. Well....mine aren't right. I seem to remember hers being crunchy-ish. Mine are.....floppy. Like, REALLY limp. I ended up doing a mixture that is equal parts vinegar, water, and sugar. I love the flavor, and the onions are nice and crunchy, but the cucumbers are kinda grossing me out. Anyone have a solution? I'd sure love to know what I'm doing wrong. Maybe I'm remembering hers wrong, and mine are actually the way they're supposed to be....hmmm......

Oh, and I made a lot of the 'brine' for only a couple of cucumbers and one onion. She told me I could keep the liquid and just add more cucumbers and onions as needed. Would that affect the cucumbers if there was just too much liquid?

Thanks for any tips!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Catching Up



Did June happen? It's all such a blur...

There's so much to tell--there were many times when I thought of ideas for blog posts, took pictures, then proceeded to get distracted by the next thing and missed the chance.

I went to the Farmer's Market!



I updated my Ravelry page!

So many things on the needles right now, and all I can think about is what I want to cast on next.

Kids were crazy over the weekend. It might have had something to do with an abundance of sugary snacks and a deficiency of sleep. Also, the full moon. And fireworks. Just sayin'.


homemade patriotic parade, copyright 2009 by mycrazykids

I started using our cloth diapers again. The Happy Housewife had a post about CD'ing today, actually. A couple of weeks ago, we were running low on disposables that had been given to us, and I just decided I wasn't going to buy any more, at least for a while. I knitted up a couple of cute wool soakers and am really happy with how they're working. There's lots of info out there on the benefits of wool, so I'm not going to go into it here. I'm sure you can find some of it at Cloth Diaper Nation. I'm not a member there, but it was recommended by an acquaintance, and looks very comprehensive. So, I just use plain ol' chinese prefolds with a snappi, under the soaker or a homemade polar fleece cover I made a couple years ago. They work really well, too.

The weather cooled off this evening, bringing a shower along with it. After the very warm and humid afternoon, it was quite a relief. The short rain didn't deter my dh from taking off to go 'tubing on the lake with his buddies, though, leaving me a bit disappointed to not have a family dinner together. I cooked a ham in the crockpot on my back porch this afternoon, and whipped up some mashed potatoes and gravy, and some corn to go with it. He didn't know what he missed.

I think I'm gonna go warm up some bread and gravy right now. Sometimes, life is just better with gravy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On the needles

I had been trying really hard to keep my WIPs under control. I'm such a magpie when it comes to pretty knitting projects. Ravelry does not help. I was doing really good this winter/spring, and only had one or two active projects going at a time. I put off casting on a new project until I finished one. But....something happened....

I blame it on Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls podcast. She's always saying how we shouldn't have any guilt or shame when it comes to how many knitting projects we have going at a time. It's just knitting--what's the big deal? It's a hobby-- shouldn't we just enjoy ourselves and cast on/knit whatever we want, whenever we want?

I thought about this....and couldn't really come up with a good argument. It's frustrating to be slogging along on something you don't really like anymore when you're wanting to cast on something new. Personally, I think I was holding guilt because many times, to cast on that new project I needed to purchase new yarn. We just can't afford to do that--I have a set yarn/knitting budget each month, and I simply cannot go over. BUT, I decided that if I have yarn for the 'new' project already in my stash, or I can buy it while keeping in my budget, then why not go ahead with it? And if I don't have the yarn, I can save up to buy it if I need to. What freedom! LOL

So, to say the least, I've gone a bit crazy with the start-itis lately. Every project bag I own is occupied. Here's the rundown:

Green GoKnit bag: Garter stole in shiny yarn

Blue Batik bag (from here): Blue Jeans lace leaf shawl

Pink batik bag (from same place): Striped Bronco scarf for DS

Green cosmetic bag: ribbed socks in KP Felici yarn, Mixed Berries colorway

Black & White Piddly bag: Anastasia Socks for me in Claudia Handpainted, Peppermint Mocha colorway

Basket by chair: Clapotis in Dream in Color Classy, Happy Forest colorway (from The Loopy Ewe)

Blue Options bag: Liesl for me, in Rowan Summer Tweed, powder colorway.

OK, I think that's mostly it. There is at least one older project languishing in my closet, and I'm thinking about casting on a stuffed toy for the baby, to serve as a lovey as I'm trying to get him to sleep better for naps and nighttime. But that's another story.... :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crawling

Well, I'm officially the mom of a crawler. At 7 months, he now thinks he has full reign of the house. Just a month ago, baby H was barely sitting up, and just at his peak of rolling-around-the-room-ness. Then his rear end flattened out so he was a pro sitter, he scooted himself around the room backwards, and finally took his first real forward-crawl last week. The next day, I went into the room to get him up from his nap, and he was holding on to the side of his crib in a semi-stand! Why do babies have to grow up so fast?

So, he's been eating solids for about 3 weeks and is doing wonderfully with that. I start my babies on fruits and veggies, skipping the grains for as long as possible, usually 10-12 months. I think this general philosophy has its roots in Nourishing Traditions, but honestly, I can't remember for sure.

Which leads me to a frugal baby-food tip. You thought I was going to say make your own, didn't you? While this would be ideal, and something I aspire to, I just can't right now. There's no produce in season in my area (yet), and I just haven't gotten it done with store-bought stuff. So yes, I'm using the evil jarred processed stuff. Anyway, the tiny stage 1 jars (2.5 oz) are 48 cents and the stage 2 jars (3.5 oz) are 53 cents at my local grocery store. The only real difference is thickness, which can be remedied if your baby needs something thinner, by simply adding some water or br3astmilk. So I get the stage 2 jars, and just dump the small amount needed into a bowl.

I got the May 2009 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and on the cover is a fabulous photo of fresh strawberry bars. I tried out the recipe last week and thought it was super yummy--but I think a more appropriate name would be peanut butter and jelly bars. The base is like a thick peanut butter cookie, then it has a thin layer of strawberry jam topped with fresh sliced strawberries. I loved it--just delicious!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another busy week....

Just when I thought things were going to normalize for a while, one of the twins burned her hand pretty badly last Saturday night. We were at a friend's house, and they had built a small fire in their firepit so the kids could roast marshmallows for s'mores after supper. You know it--kids + fire = emergency room visit. So we've been cleaning and dressing her burn twice a day, plus keeping on top of her pain with meds every 4-6 hours. She's been a trouper through it all, and is learning to do lots of things left-handed because of it (of course she'd have to injure her dominant hand).

Today was a great day, even though it was rainy off and on this morning. Dh took half the kids for a work day at church camp, so I kept the laundry going, fed the rest of the kids leftovers, and KNIT! I started up a Liesl sweater for my youngest dd. I started up a plain-jane stockinette sweater for her a while back, but quickly realized I just didn't have enough yarn for that. I thought something lacy would make the yarn go farther and I've loved this pattern for sooooo long. There were a couple of child-sized projects done on Ravelry, so I went for it. I'm knitting the smallest size on 7.0mm needles (KP options), using Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Bubblegum. It's a discontinued color, so I hope I've got enough.

I've been bitten by the startitis bug lately. I'm usually pretty monogamous--finished objects really keep me motivated. Recently, however, I've just been frustrated at how little progress I'd been making on my plain vanilla socks. There's just so much more I want to knit! Inspired by the Knitmore Girls' Jasmin (who claims to have 100+ WIPs), I decided that since knitting is my hobby and I do it for the entertainment/enjoyment, I may as well be ENJOYING my projects--whether I've got 1 or 10 or 100. So I cast on for two other pairs of socks as well as this sweater. I've also got a lace shawl on the needles, but it doesn't see much action lately due to lack of brain bandwidth.

Signing off to enjoy my kids before bedtime--they've actually been pleasant to be around this week! (it was a crazy full moon last week, let me tell ya--whew!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Time keeps on tickin'

...even if I'm not blogging. OK, so maybe I'm not cut out for regular blog-posting. Or maybe it's just been a crazy few weeks that have (hopefully) been an exception to the rule. My absence on the blog can pretty much be summed up by telling you that my mom had double knee-replacement surgery last week.

Ahhh, now you understand.

Let's just say that I used to think that my 11 year old was pretty much ready to take over the household duties should anything ever happen to me. Now I know that we've got a lot more work to do. My dear, 80-something-year-old grandmother helped watch kids for some of the time I was away. Sounds bad, but really, Gram is awesome and did a great job of managing things. She knows how to delegate. :)

We've also had a couple of MOPS meetings since I last posted. Bunko night was awesome, I think everyone had a lot of fun. I used to think I was a fairly good communicator, but after trying to explain the rules of Bunko and half the people getting thoroughly confused, I'm not too sure anymore. We've had a couple of new people at these meetings, which has been very encouraging.

At the moment I have four sick kids. This morning was our church's Resurrection Egg Hunt, so dh and I had to make the decision to let him take the healthy kids out to that while I stay home. It's cool with me--it's kind of windy out and I've got a scratchy throat, myself. But the kids, who were already sick and grumpy, are now even more so. I let them watch a movie, but now it's over and we're back to whiney, fighting, grumpy kiddos.

Which reminds me, I put the baby in the crib while I dealt with the toddler, and the little guy apparently fell asleep, because I forgot to go back for him. Haven't heard a peep, so he must be happy. ;) Yes, I'll go check on him.

I'm back, he's fine. Rolled over and zonked out in just a t-shirt and diaper (well, and socks). I had him half-undressed because he spit up ALL OVER himself, TWICE, while I was trying to mix up the dough for some crescent rolls. Did I mention I'm fixing Easter Dinner for dh's family? And half my kids are sick? I'm thinking about calling my MIL and saying, "Forget I ever volunteered for this." Wow, I should probably clean my house..../looks around.....yeah, I should REALLY clean my house. Oh dear. Guess I better get to it.

Jesus Is Risen! (Happy Easter!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Day for Sumo

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Years ago, when we first bought the VeggieTale, 'Sumo of the Opera' I was surprised and pleased to find a small story about St. Patrick's Day and the history behind it. Very cute and entertaining, I just loved it. Ever since, it's been a tradition to let my kids watch that every March 17. I'm sure a lot of you probably do the same thing, but just in case...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday




I'm a little behind on this, but I love planning out my menus for the week ahead of time so I don't have to think about 'what's for dinner?' at 5:00 every night!

Breakfasts: Cereal, cheese grits, scrambled eggs/toast, oven pancake

Lunches: Sandwiches, leftovers

Dinners:

Monday-EASY Red beans and rice, carrot sticks

Tuesday-Italian Chicken w/rotini pasta, breadsticks, peas

Wednesday-Frito Chili pie, mixed veggies

Thursday--French Fry Casserole (recipe later), corn, crescent rolls

Friday--Birthday Pizza Party! Pizza, Birthday Cake and homemade Ice Cream. Sweet Chex Mix and pretzels for snacks.

Saturday--Baked Potato Bar w/leftover chili and other fixin's

Sunday--Chicken Pot Pie

Menu Plan Monday is being hosted by $5 Dinners this week, so check it out!