Sunday, March 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday March 29

March has just flown by! We had The Boy turning 13 and next week, little miss will be a year old! A fun little factoid: This will be Little Miss' SECOND Easter and she won't even be one yet! It just so happens she was born the weekend before last Easter. I remember insisting on finishing up my Easter shopping while I was in early labor. Then, I forgot to tell D that all the chocolates were in the van...and they sat there...melting. He had to go off Saturday night looking for Easter goodies.

The Easter bunny usually visits our house in the wee hours of Saturday morning. He knows that Saturday is all about the candy but Sunday is all about Jesus. And, he also knows little children do not need to pig out on candy before church Sunday. We are very excited about decorating eggs Friday night. Sunday, we'll do a nice dinner.

This week we're exploring the Betty Crocker recipe website. Costco was out of my favorite pancake mix so I ended up buying bisquick. which I *never* buy. So we're going to see how useful it is.

Menu:

Sunday: Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie
Monday: Chicken and dumplings
Tuesday: Baked Chicken and potato salad
Wednesday: Buffalo Chicken Pasta (crockpot)
Thursday: Southwest Chicken Casserole
Friday: Pasta
Saturday: Pizza and Lemon Lovers Cupcakes

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

wow! coupon update

As you all can see from my ticker off to the side, in two weeks, I've already saved nearly $35 in coupons alone! If I total up all the sale items, my savings are in the range of $200.

Right now, I have a freezer and pantry stocked full of vegetables. It's pretty amazing. I did my big coupon shopping today and with what I have left to buy for this week, I will spend a grand total of $50 for my family of 8! This includes toilet paper and diapers and meat. It's absolutely CRAZY. People thought I was the queen of frugal before for only spending $100 a week on groceries!

I just wish I could print off more than two coupons. For many families, two would be use one and store one. That's not the case for us. It's use two, store none.

Elsewhere on the home front, I am still in the process of weeding our garden patch. I want to plant just a few things this year. Less is more when you have a black thumb. I just want to grow SOMETHING and not kill it.

The weather is turning sunny and warm. Pretty soon I'll be complaining about running the air conditioning! School gets out in 8 weeks. And baby girl's birthday is in 15 days. No big plans for her first birthday. I'll make a cake. She'll make a mess eating it. We're not so big in to birthdays.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

busy week!

I haven't been posting much because of Spring Break. The kids are all home!

The fun things this week: Leelee is being a mother's helper for a friend of mine. She's getting "baby sitting" training with a mom right there. It's been great for her. She's going to be so ready to babysit for real pay soon!

The other great thing (and the main reason I haven't been blogging) is D decided to repaint the living room. It's a softer color than it was before. The boy swears it's the same color, but it's not :P The color before was called Cork by Benjamin Moore and now it's something closer to the leather patch on a pair of Levi's. I can't remember what it's called. We bought it ages ago and had it mixed at Walmart rather than the fancy paint store. It took three days between the painting and priming. And now, I have my living room and computer back.

This weekend I'm headed to Mississippi for a retreat for the organization I volunteer with, and I'm super excited. So you probably won't hear from me til next week!

Oh and coupon news...check out the ticker! I saved $15 this week in just coupons. I spent $12 before taxes and saved $33 between coupon and store savings!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eating my words...coupons

I'm not quite ready to take it all back, but I might be changing my feelings on couponing.

For the most part, the coupons in stores are not for things my family buys. We don't eat convenience foods. And with my goal of minimizing preservatives in our foods this year, that means fewer and fewer premade foods. There are a few things that we do get like cereals and cleaners that have coupons, but it was never really worth my effort to save a few dollars.

A few weeks ago, a friend turned me on to a deal at the store where the entire dinner was $1 after coupons. That was just a crazy cheap deal, so I decided I'd give this coupon game a try. I don't get the Sunday paper, so I'm having to rely on printables online.

For my southern friends, Southern Savers takes care of all this matchy dealy stuff and it's free. I know there are other websites that charge but I don't want to pay money to save money!

I tried the coupon thing last week with moderate success. There just wasn't a whole lot our family would use. This week, again, not a lot but huge savings. I spent $15 pre-tax and saved $33!

This is the point where the wheels in my head start turning. D is going to his family reunion in July. We are trying to find a way to save money for his trip. My plan is to put this couponing to the ultimate test. I want to see if I can save in three months of couponing enough money to buy a plane ticket from Atlanta to Seattle. Heck, even if I don't make it, just having 3/4 of the ticket paid for with coupons would be a bonus!

Each week, I plan to write myself a check (and cash it!) for my grocery savings. In to an envelope that money goes. I'll be keeping a running total if I can figure out how to do a ticker...


Do you think I can do it?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--March 8

This week is going to be topped off with a Birthday Party! The Boy is turning 13! I can't believe that 13 years ago this week I was confined to a hospital bed trying to keep him from being born. And in just a month, the little miss will turn one! Big, big milestones happening here!

We have a couple fun family birthday traditions.

The first we took with us when we left Oregon. D's family gets together once a month to celebrate all the birthdays for the month. The birthday person gets to pick his/her meal. It's just a small way to make that person feel extra special. Having birthday dinner for us is the favorite meal, cake and presents.

The other tradition is breakfast cinnamon rolls. My cinnamon rolls are only made on special occasions: Christmas, Easter and birthdays. I find a little bit of pleasure in making my kids wait to certain times of year for certain treats. But, with 6 kids and how the birthdays fall, we end up having them every other month LOL

MENU:

Sunday: Baja Chicken Tacos (No recipe. they were gross)
Monday: Spicy Hot Pot with Noodles
Tuesday: Ranch Style Chicken Chili
Wednesday: Asian Pepper Steak
Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie
Friday: Uptown Tuna Casserole
Saturday: BLTs (The Boy's choice. His favorite food is BACON)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Closet Before and After...organization challenge

I wanted to start small on my closet. I posted about it a few weeks ago when I finished but since this is for a challenge, I need to follow the rules. :)

The biggest challenge for me when it comes to staying organized is long term functionality. When you have six children with very different abilities, making things work for the long haul is hard! But, I have to say, we're over the hump on the closet and it is going great!

Here are some pictures to refresh your memory.
BEFORE



Please note the overflowing shoes, games about to fall, costumes, file cabinet that won't shut and what everyone needs in their closet...a broken air mattress and 50 deflated mylar balloons.

And we turned that in to this beauty of organization:



and up close on my solution for the games. I am thrilled with how this is working out for us!




1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?


The hardest part of the challenge for me was feeling like I was wasting my time. So often when I get the brilliant idea to organize something, it doesn't work for our family. The kids just aren't on board or D thinks it's craziness and without their support, I can't maintain things.


I was able to overcome it this time! I'm excited! In order to make this work, I had to explain to D exactly why I was taking all the games out of the boxes and in to ziploc baggies. Turns out, he wanted to see how it worked for others first. I showed him pictures of people who made it work. I also had to lay out my plan for making it work for us. That means before I started on the project I needed to be organized!


2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?


Habits and changes? First of all, I'm loving the idea of things labeled. Most of my kids can read now, so labels are extra handy. They know where the games go. They know where their shoes go.


And, it's harder to get to the games, which is a good thing. They need to ask to get games out. So only one game comes out at a time. They can clearly see the pieces and what they need. No more rummaging around. This means less mess!


3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?


What was broken was thrown away, like the air mattress. Other things, like the excess shoes and mylar balloons were given to charity. I prefer freecycle, but lately, no one is coming to pick anything up.

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?


My creative solutions were to use what I already had. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something I didn't think was going to work. BTDT. This was probably my biggest limitation.


I used plastic bags from the dollar store to hold all our game pieces (except for a few games). I placed those in fabric baskets I picked up on clearance and had never found a use for. These baskets are great because they have a chalkboard on front for easy labeling.


I didn't want to store my gameboards in a way that they would get knocked down whenever someone got the pieces basket out. I used a plastic cereal storage box I was saving because I lost the lid and was sure I could repurpose. And I know everyone has BTDT...holding on to something to find another use.


I also needed to find a place to store my picnic baskets. They were getting tossed around in the "find it in the closet shuffle." I use them often enough that I wanted them accessible. The top of my shoe rack was perfect. And once the costumes were out of the way, they stayed put!


5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?


I should win this challenge because of how this has had a trickle down effect in other areas of our home! I was so surprised how just organizing the front closet has helped to organize other areas!

The kids finally "get" the basket idea. It's enabled me to get more cloth dollar store baskets and find places for the toys that stay in the living room, organize our Wii games (they fit perfectly in the 6x6 baskets). Board books, blocks, mega blocks...everything in a basket and when it's clean up time, they put them away!

One of the unexpected benefits of having the closet actually usable was with our school uniforms. Each night, the kids hang their uniforms in the closet. When they get dressed in the morning, they pull the clothes out of the front closet and leave the hanger. Now, when I go to wash clothes, I don't have to try to figure out what they did with the hangers. I was constantly pulling them out from under beds, behind dressers, etc. My life has been made so much easier! When the older ones fold laundry, they now know exactly where to get the hangers!

The overall effect this has had on our family and the fact that I was able to do this for a whopping $2 worth of new materials, is why I should win :) Organization on a budget that works for a large family.