Friday, November 26, 2010

Alien Abduction Lamp

Want to make a fun, economical gift.  How about this geeky little lamp made from items from your local dollar store?  For better pictures and complete directions head over to

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Day Fundraising

Although I have never had a desire to make jewelry, it has turned out to be my best money maker for fundraising. Saturday I spent the day outside Sam's Club peddling my wares, and I am happy to say combined with what I have sold to friends and family, I am half way to my initial goal of $1,000.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Born again - for the third time

I will never forget the first time I held my son in my arms and gazed upon his face. I knew then and there I had been trusted with something very special. Every single day of the past nearly twelve years, I have had the privileged to see his shining face, and I have been in awe of him. He fills my heart with such joy I cry looking at him sometimes. Yeah, I got it bad - I know! Sometimes, when he was a baby he would look up at the corner and smile, behaving like someone was there talking to him. As he got older and could talk, we would ask him who he was talking to, "Jesus," he would say. Now mind you, we didn't go to church, and although we considered ourselves Christians, he was not exposed to God enough to come up with this on his own. It was then no surprise when he was old enough, that he became born again for the second time.

Recently my precious baby boy experienced a third rebirth. A life altering change so severe, his day to day life will never be the same again. He has type 1 diabetes. Every single meal and snack he eats is preceded by strict carb counting, blood testing, a math formula, and a shot. Even with all this, factors such as heat, exercises, stress, and hormones can cause his blood sugar levels to rise or even worse, drop. There now is the constant fear that he could suffer a seizure (or God forbid something even worse)in his sleep, (or any time for that matter) and he will fight a life long battle against heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, and circulatory disease.

I started writing this post almost a month ago, when David was still in the hospital. I am finally able to finish it without tears. We have started our new normal and habits are starting to form, although still difficult and somewhat awkward. We are blessed and thank the lord that it was caught in time, that through modern science and medicine we can manage this illness fairly well, that we have a wealth of information at our fingertips via the internet, and that David is a fantastic kid who is handling this like a trooper without complaint. I am even more in awe of him than ever. I think I will stop here and beat the tears this time. :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

PLEASE Drive Safely

This is quite disturbing to watch, but I beg you to pass it around, post it on your blog and/or Facebook, have everyone you can over the age of 15 watch it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Walking for a Cause

I did two 5k walks this weekend. The ARC of Schuyler on Saturday, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday. In past years I have also walked and raised money for our local SPCA and a walk in memory of two local police officers that were killed in the line of duty. Now that I think about it, I have been doing them for almost ten years now. I strongly encourage people to get out and participate in walks like this. It's a great way to get involved in your local community, meet new people, raise money for good causes and in doing so make a difference, and get some fresh air and exercise at the same time. If you don't want to or can't walk you can also look into volunteering at them.

Yes, those are boobies on my friend Shelly's hat. She wears them for breast cancer walks. That is her friend Judy in the wheelchair, and my daughter Sarah in the middle. Sarah ran the whole 5k this year. A piece of cake for her since she is a cross country runner, but I'm still very proud of her! Yay Sarah!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Healthy = Frugal = Green

I think the single most important thing an individual can do to be frugal and/or green is to be healthy. Healthy food doesn't come with over packaging that ends up in landfills, and contrary to what the media tries to tell folks, it is cheaper to eat healthy. Ever check out the price of a pound of dried beans? Brown rice? How about raw veggies like carrots, onions, and broccoli. I'm not just talking about vegetarian food either. Lean meats like turkey and chicken often go on sale for a dollar a pound or less, and one pound will feed more than one person. I can sure buy a lot of these healthy items for the cost of one fast food meal for my family, even if we only ordered off the dollar menu.

Another great benefit to being healthy is cost of health care and medications. My children and I have each gone years without having to go to the doctor due to illness. My children also rarely miss school. It is not uncommon for them to go the entire year without missing a day and one child went the entire time she went back to public school, eighth grade and all of high school, without missing a day. Now don't get me wrong, we do eat far too much crap, but I believe we are still overall pretty healthy due to some basic rules I have always stuck to - but those are for another post. Here is the biggy in regards to the environment when it comes to medications. Did you know that when you take meds they pass through your system and into the water supply. (The same, of course, goes for flushing them down the drain.) Water treatment plants cannot removed all those meds from the water. Here is one of many articles about this issue. I urge you to at least glace at it.

So here is where I tell you what a hypocrite I am. I quit smoking a few years ago. Actually, I quit smoking many times, sometimes many times in one year, over the past 20 something years. I hate to even say it - hate to admit I ever smoked! I never enjoyed it and quitting was the hardest thing I ever did. The result of finally quitting is that I let myself gain weight - a lot of weight! I have lost weight before and I knew that if I could beat nicotine addiction I could most certainly drop the weight. Well, it turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. "They" say (I have no idea who - just go with it) that your metabolism drops after you quit smoking and takes about a year to get back to normal. I really have no idea if that's true but it sure seemed that way. Fortunately for me I don't take medication for anything - yet, even though due to genetics, I am at risk for type II diabetes and high blood pressure.

So here we are, the entire point of this post - well, most of it anyway - it to say this out loud to the world. I have joined in on a weight loss competition with some of the folks I work with, and I'm going to try like crazy to win! I know I rambled all over the place with this post - let's just blame it on lack of fructose and leave it at that!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ugly Dolls and Craftster

If you are remotely crafty and have never visited, Craftster, I highly recommend checking it out. It's a melting pot of every thing creative, including cooking, sewing, knitting, and crocheting, which are my personal favorites, although I have definitely been inspired to try new things that I didn't even know about until I saw them there. Members share their creations and you can even get into doing swaps if that's your thing. I found this pattern for Wayuki's interpretation of an Ugly Doll, and (as you can see) just couldn't stop making them. It was so fun putting my own twist on her pattern. I do think it's a bit hard navigating around the site for the first time, so I recommend starting with "Recent With Pictures." You will find it on the front page, right side. I like scanning through the pictures for inspiration as well as new patterns and techniques to try. I, unfortunately, do not recommend Craftster for children. Although rare, there are some "mature content" type crafts on the site. Why someone would want a tea towel, with x-rated material embroidered on it, hanging in their home is beyond me. Any who, I still strongly recommend the site, especially if you are looking for something outside the mainstream style of crafts.

Monday, April 5, 2010

One Month Shopping Challenge - Week 3 & 4

Well, I have to confess I blew it, I went shopping Saturday. It started out harmless enough, I had some basics (milk, eggs, etc) to pick up. But the weather has been unseasonably warm so I broke the challenge and picked up a few pairs of capri pants, hanging flowers baskets to plant fuchsias in for my front porch, and some other miscellaneous items, some of which are for some craft projects I have been wanting to make. All in all I spent about $100, and since I know I won't be doing any shopping for the rest of this week (week 4), that puts my total for the month (including gas) at a little over $150. An average of less than $40 a week for all out of pocket moneys spent this month really isn't too bad.

My purpose for the whole thing was really only to break a bad spending cycle I had got myself into. This usually happens at the beginning of every year when I am doing a large chunk of my Christmas, birthday, and clothing shopping for the up coming year. I just need to know when to say, "enough!" My focus now is to clean out and use up anything and everything I can. We are still trying to decided on having a yard sale verses hauling it all to the Salvation Army. Guess I'll have to wait and see how much stuff we want to get ride of! ;-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Month Shopping Challenge - Week 2

Well, this second week of my month of no shopping went ok, unfortunately I did end up having to shop. It was brought to my attention that we were in desperate need of cat litter. Turns out the two plastic totes in the garage I thought were full, instead were very empty. My job is just to buy the stuff - the deal has always been I don't feed or clean up after any animal in the house. Four kids is enough for me to deal with in those regards. I knew I wasn't going to get through the entire month without shopping at all, especially since milk doesn't last very long around here. I also had some coupons for free stuff I didn't want to expire so I just combined it all into one trip. After 20 minutes at the checkout at Target, and talking to three different employees explaining the difference between one coupon per purchase verses one per transaction, I finally made it out with $60 worth of goods for $25.10 and a $5 Target gift card. Not too bad considering that is the only money I have spent in the past two weeks. I haven't even had to put gas in my car - I love that little Versa! So here it is - my menu for the past week.

Was my daughters birthday - ate out. This was planned from the get go.

Chicken Cacciatore with Whole Wheat Linguine
Mixed Greens Salad
Rocky Road Brownies

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Shrimp Vegetable Rice Medley

Buttered Pasta with Parmesan Cheese
Mixed Veggies

Garlic Smashed Taters
Green Beans Almondine
Rocky Road Brownies (My daughter requested them again because she had a friend over for dinner.)

Poached Salmon or Tilapia (I let everybody pick their favorite.)
Potato Galette
Left over Green Beans Almondine
Pizza Cookie

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Buttered Pasta - Kids Choice

There was a time when my kids didn't get much say at all in what we had for dinner, but I have gotten older, tireder, and sometimes I just don't want to decide. So it happened tonight that thee kids and I were standing in the pantry staring at food. My first thought when someone blurted out, "Buttered pasta with Parmesan cheese," was, "No, that's a side dish." Then I reached out a grabbed a box of Barilla Plus Elbows and read the nutrition label. A 2oz serving (1/7 of a 14.5 oz box) has 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. I had no idea the protein was that high. So paired with mixed veggies on the side, tonight we had another quick and easy dinner. Lucky me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shrimp Veggie Rice Medley

So part of reason for this one month challenge from shopping is to use up some food stuff that has been hanging around. Although I do like frozen veggies, I don't ever recall buying them with sauce on them until the Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers came out, and the only reason I did buy them is because they were super cheap with a coupon. So there they sat and sat in my freezer. Well as it happens there were only three of us for dinner tonight, and therefore I put off what to make until the last minute. I was going to go with leftovers, but to my surprise there aren't any! They have actually been listening and taking them for lunch, and not eating out - yay!! So here is what I came up.

14oz Bag cooked shrimp
12oz bag Valley Fresh Steamers Buttery Rice and Vegetables
12oz bag Valley Fresh steamers Basil Vegetable Medley

I cooked the bags for half of the recommended time in the microwave. While they were going I got the shrimp started in a covered skillet. I just dumped them in on med high heat and covered until they were thawed and just starting to warm. Finally I combined everything in the skillet and cooked until heated through. This would be a great dish for someone living in a dorm because the whole thing could be done in the microwave. The kids liked it fine, but I probably wouldn't purchase these items specifically to make this dish again. At least not without some great coupons! ;-) Oh, and FYI each serving came out to only about 275 calories.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One Month Shopping Challenge - Week 1

Last Sunday I decided to challenge myself to not shop (except for necessities like milk, etc.) for one month because...well..Okay I'll admit it - I shop too much and a deal isn't a deal if you just can't use it. I have too much food in this house and it's time to clean it out and start all over. After a week of this I am beginning to think I could make it two or more months quite easily. Which really is a good thing with the threat of an inevitable zombie attack always looming on the horizon. My goal isn't to wipe out my stockpile completely, but to A. alter my shopping habits, B. get back to cooking 99% of our meals, and C. use up some of the stuff that has been sitting around a while.

Let me interject here a few of my feeling regarding breakfast, lunch and snacks. Except for my youngest, it's every man/woman for him/her self. I make dinner leftovers intentionally for lunches, and I (starting again this week)am making muffins a few times a week for breakfast and snacks. My muffins are made with oatmeal, wholewheat, wheatgerm and other healthy stuff like that. If cold cereal is eaten for breakfast during a school day it has to be high in fiber and low in sugar. Sugar cereals are for treats, and weekends. I also keep fresh fruit, veggies and garden salads on hand to round out meals and for snacks.

Although I have stopped doing my own reclaimed food pantry my friend still does hers, God bless her. Two years and a completely worn out minivan was enough for us. Because she sometimes has a surplus, and because my family will eat fruits, veggies, and whole grain breads that a lot of folks don't seem to care for, we are fortunate to be able to supplement our food budget with these items. So if you notice during the last few weeks I list salads and fresh fruits in my menu you'll know how that is possible.

I'd also like to point out a few other observations from this first week. I had two friends approach me with fundraiser stuff their kids were selling. I usually (but not always) would buy something even though I didn't want it, need it, and it's horribly overpriced. But because I have a specific goal it was easier for me to say thanks, but no thanks - I'm not buying anything this month. I have also found something else to divert my attention to - spring cleaning and organizing my house. It's a win win situation this month!

Week One Menu

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Meatballs
Garden Salad and Italian Bread

Beans and Rice
Sliced Kiwi
2 dozen Banana, Oatmeal, Pecan, Choc Chip Muffins

Baked Ziti with leftover Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce
Mixed Greens Salad
Fresh Cantaloupe and Pineapple

Crockpot Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Onion, and Cabbage
Salt Potatoes
Mixed Greens Salad
2 dozen Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Ham Steaks
Mixed Veggies
Instant Mashed Potatoes
For some crazy reason my kids love this TV dinner like meal.

15 Bean Cajun Soup
Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Pizza Cookie (Used a package of sugar cookie mix instead of cake mix)

Big Fat Loaded Grilled Cheeseburgers on Italian Bread
Cole Slaw
Tater Tots (I love them!)
Peanut Butter Bars

Exceptions to the plan - Monday it dawned on me that Easter was in the middle of my shop free month. Although I have already purchased the kiddie type stuff, we are having company for dinner that day. We have decided to try and stick to the plan as much as possible and forgo the traditional ham dinner for BBQ short ribs and chicken, but there are still a few things I will need to pickup. Combined with things like milk and eggs we will need, I have set a limit of $50 for the month, but will still try and keep it as low as possible. Also, my daughter's birthday is tomorrow and we will be going out for dinner - this was planned weeks ago.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monogram Plaque

I am finally getting around to making some of the projects I have bookmarked from Dollar Store Crafts. This Monogram Plaque from Southern Hospitality was quick and easy, and I enjoyed making it. As usual for me, I didn't follow the directions to the T, but I am very happy with the end result. By time I got around to picking up the supplies the Dollar Tree didn't have a wooden "A" left, so I ended up buying what I needed at Jo-Anns. Since they were having a coupon commotion sale, I got the wooden plaque, initial, and scrapbook paper for for a little over 3 dollars. I also picked up the easel, regular price $8.99, on clearance for $1.97 - Yay!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Scalloped Chicken

This is a good way to use up left over turkey or chicken, and stuffing or dressing. If you don't usually have a lot of leftover meat at any given meal, just keep a zippy bag in the freezer and add to it here and there.

2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces American Or Velveeta cheese
1 box Stove Top Stuffing or about 3 cups leftover stuffing/dressing

Prepare stuffing according to package directions. In a separate pan heat cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, and American or Velveeta cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted. In an 8x8, 9x9, or 2 quart casserole dish, layer chicken or turkey, then cover with melted ingredients, and lastly top with stuffing. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly and stuffing starts to brown. This dish can easily be doubled and cooked in a 9 x 13 size baking dish. I always do!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two Easy Side Salads

I love mayonnaise laden salads like potato and macaroni, and I make them pretty well, but let's face it - they aren't very healthy. Not only that, but they don't travel well, and by the third summer cook out they become quite monotonous. I have made many a veggie, pasta and Italian dressing salad as well, but we aren't really big fans of Italian dressing and they are just too mundane. This weekend I hit the jackpot and now have two fantastic salads to add to my recipe box.

The first one I just threw together as yet another desperate attempt, and lo and behold they loved it. I hate writing down recipes and I don't usually do exact measuring when I am creating a dish, so here is the approximate ingredients. Just toss it all together and adjust to your own taste. I recommend refrigerating a few hours - to overnight.


1 12 oz Jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts - drain 1/2 the liquid
1/2 a 12 oz Jar Roasted Red Peppers
1 6oz Jar Green Medium Pitted Olives (not stuffed olives or use black olives)
1 15.5 oz can Kidney Beans - drained and rinsed (I might use cannellini next time)
2 5oz Cans Tuna - drained
1/2 of an 8oz Jar Basil Pesto
1/2 a bag Wacky Mac Veggie Shapes Pasta - cooked and drained

The second salad, PEANUT COLESLAW is the one pictured above and comes from a blog I stumbled upon this weekend, The 99 Cent Chef. I'm not sure what exactly intrigued me about this recipe, but I couldn't wait to run out and get some cabbage. I doubled his recipe, used both kinds of cabbage, extra light tasting olive oil, and Mr. RBT and I both thought it needed a little salt as well. The final result was a smashing success and is being devoured as I type.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Today was our second snow day in a row and it's still snowing. I have officially had my fill of snow and winter. I am ready for sunshine. For garden weeds and grass that needs mowing. For salads for dinner because it's too hot to cook. For box fans in the window to ease the stagnant heat enough to be able to fall asleep. For days and days of such torridness, I would pray for snow to come again! ;-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Check That Receipt Update

I went back to Wal-Mart last night and ended up getting the same cashier as before. As it turns out I was paying attention, and she did scan my coupons. I had two more Muir Glen Organic Tomato coupons last night, and after she scanned them she checked the register, sure enough they just didn't show up. She said, "I knew I scanned them before!" Even more reason to check your receipts, know exactly how many coupons you use, and what the value of them is.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Check That Receipt

I try very hard to pay attention during checkout, but I get distracted quit easily. HaHa It never seems to fail that when I do, I find a mistake on my receipt. Yesterday, I was having a great shopping day at Wal-Mart. My total was approximately $85 and after coupons should have been about $23, but instead came out to $29. Turns out the cashier forgot to scan 6 $1.00 off coupons. Always look your receipt over before you leave, and don't be afraid to speak up- politely, of course!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gift Journal

I have been keeping a gift journal for so many years I don't even think about it, and am surprised to learn most of my mom friends do not keep one. Any notebook or journal will do, but a small one has the benefit of being easy to hide and will slip into my purse - if I'd ever remember to take it with me when I go shopping. I also like one with enough pages to last for a few years. Then I can reference back to previous years and avoid giving someone the same thing. Yes, I have done that and it is very embarrassing!

So what do I write in it? For my immediate family (husband and kids), I have sections not only for Christmas and birthdays, but also for every holiday I buy stuff for, such and Easter and Valentine's day. I also track back-to-school supplies and ALL the clothes I buy for the year. I list what I bought for each person and how much I spent. This really helps me stay in budget. I also list the full price of the item, as this really helps me to not over spend. I might have only spent $10 for a gift for my niece and feel like maybe I should get something else, but if I see the retail price was $40, I won't be tempted to over spend. I only give Christmas and birthday gifts for extended family and friends so I track their items on the same page. That way I can see at a glance what I gave/am giving them for both occasions. For items I bought, but haven't decided who I want to give them to yet, I just list them all on one page and then cross them off as I assign them.

One last section that is often overlooked, and can eat away at a budget, is gift wrap and party supplies. I would also include cards, craft supplies, and decorations for particular holidays. These items I especially try to find during 80%-90% off clearance sales, because they can wreck havoc on a budget.

I am really not a very organized person and I am sure someone with much more enthusiasm could find a better way. The idea is just do what works for you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

At Last

Ahhh, my seasonal job is finally over and I couldn't be happier about it. I have really missed my family and my routine. But that's not what I really wanted to talk about, I just couldn't help but mention it. ;-) If you haven't been to the mall or department stores in the past few weeks I strongly encourage you to venture out. Not only have I got a big jump on birthday and Christmas shopping for the coming year, but also school clothes shopping for the fall. Most of the larger stores have their clearance items at 75% - 80% off. Today I picked up king size pillows that were originally $60 for $7, twin sheet sets for $6.50, and a lot of clothing items for super cheap. In the past few weeks I have also found men's and boy's underwear, socks, and undershirts on clearance. I will pack up all the clothes and in the fall will have most of my back to school clothes shopping done. This is also a great time to get P.J.s, robes, slippers, sweaters, and coats. The trick to maximizing your savings is to think about what you need for the entire year, not just the season at hand, and plan ahead. Except for some jelly beans, I have Easter done too.

Proverbs 27:12 (New International Version)

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In my Head

This is in my head - so I thought I should share it.

Romans 10:9-11
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Still Here

Well, my little neglected blog, I just want to you to know I haven't giving up on you. This year I decided to get a seasonal mall job and it turned out to be much more intrusive into my family life than I had anticipated. The plus side is that it more than paid for Christmas, and since the job isn't quite over I am now using the money to buy back-to-school clothes and items for my gift closet at all the clearance sales. I do this every year, and normally have to budget for it well in advance. Most stores are now at 70% and 80% off for their clearance items. So even with all the chaos, I am still considering doing it again next year. I will just have to be better prepared time wise.