Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Frugal Menu Planning: Using Up What You Have

One of the best ways to cut your grocery bill is using up what you already have on hand.

Sometimes though, it can be challenging to come up with a new recipe and who has time to go through a whole bunch of cook books to find a new recipe? I usually have some staples on hand, but sometimes I get in the mood for something new. But there are occasions where I have a few ingredients that I really want to use up but need some creative ways to do so! I have found a great online site that works for me called My Recipes.

On this site, I can simply click what I have on hand, what I want to exclude and with a hit of a button, I can have a variety of recipes to try out! I really love that it also has reviews from other people to help me choose and also the reviews will often include how others have modified the ingredients. This is just one small portion of this great site though! They have menus, quick and easy meals, a section on gifts from the oven and more!

Do you know of any other recipe sites that have this feature?

Making Your Home A Haven Day 3

Today is day 3 of the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge which has really been very fun and motivating!

1) Refresh Your Spirit (5 minutes)

The three things I am thankful for:
1. That Christ came to die and take away my sins
2.A husband who loves the Lord and works so hard to provide for us
3. My 3 children, who are growing into such wonderful servants of God!

STOP: Is your morning routine done? Don't move on to #2 unless it is!
Morning Routine:

Here is mine:

*Get up @ 5am

*Start Coffee

*Assemble Husbands Lunch

*Pray with my husband before he leaves for work

*My quiet time

*Get dressed


*Prepare Breakfast for children

*Wake Children up (7am)

*AM Chores

*Check childrens chores

*Older children begin quiet time/prayer time

*Devotions/Bible reading with younger child

*Family memory verse and hymn practice

*Begin Homeschool day (by 8:30)

All complete....

2) Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)
My to-do list today:

1. Make a new batch of Kefir (waiting for more milk)
2.Print out Dec. calendar and plug in due dates/events website down :(
3. Finish Nov. Spending tracking, update Dec. Budget (done)
4. Ebay: respond to buyers, print shipping labels and ship items (done)
5. WFMW post (done)
6. Call about Hanukkah party-what to bring (done)
7. Find out date/time for prayer meeting (done)
8. Update Netflix Queue (done)
9. Have Menorah ready and Hanukkah readings/blessings out for this evening (done)
Also, I lemon oiled bathroom cupboards, made several phone calls and organized my bill drawer and HMB binder!

3) Do Something! (15 minutes or so) Today we're going to focus on the laundry and laundry room.

I start my laundry on Sunday with the goal of having it all done and put away by Monday, and then I strip the bed on Tuesday and wash the sheets. This is the first week in a long time that I have actually met my goal (so far)! I have to confess, my mother helped me with folding so that was one reason I was able to get it done. Weds. is my daughters laundry day, Thursday I will do my husbands (I do his seperate, he has his own hamper in the closet. Just easier that way!) and Friday I do all the kids bedding. This schedule works for us for now.

I have a combo laundry room and 1/2 bathroom which is acutally my daughters chore to keep clean. But I have not done a deep cleaning for quite a while, so that is my thing to do today. I vacuumed out the dryer lint vent, and in and around the washer/dryer. I shined the appliances, pulled out the hamper and swept behind it, dusted the ceiling fan etc. It did take me longer than 10 minutes, more like a 1/2 hour! I didn't wash the floor, nor sort the cabinets which I KNOW need it. But if I keep chipping away at it, it will get done! I did this first thing along with my morning routine, because I homeschool and needed to get it out of the way before we started school! I forgot to take a before pic again! Here is what it looks like now that I am done though:

See those two poles? Those are my lifesaving cleaning tools: the swiffer sweeper and hoover floormate. With a big house of mostly tile/wood these two tools save me so much time! I absolutely love them! And the floormate does just as good a job cleaning floors as doing it on my hands and knees would, although I cannot convince my mom of that, it is true!

Now it is time to plan for dinner, I am making Chicken Pot Pie. I have the chicken out unthawing, and I should be able to assemble it at noon time and then pop it into the oven at dinner time. I will also make extra chicken up to use another time! For lunch we will be having bean burritos which are all ready to be reheated.

I was unable to get this ready by noon time, but that is ok! I will try that goal again tomorrow

I will be back later to update my to do list to DONE!

Happy Hanukkah!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Making Your Home A Haven Challenge

Whew, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind and my routine has been completely thrown off! Between Thanksgiving, my parents have been staying with us, and an unexpected death in the family, any form of routine that I did have is gone! I am one who thrives on schedules, lists and organization so you can probably imagine what this has done to my nerves as well! I am so grateful that Crystal is doing a two week challenge on creating your home to be a haven, because I really need to get back on track!

1) Refresh your spirit (done during morning routine)

2) Morning Routine:

Here is mine:

*Get up @ 5am

*Start Coffee

*Assemble Husbands Lunch

*Pray with my husband before he leaves for work

*My quiet time

*Get dressed


*Prepare Breakfast for children

*Wake Children up (7am)

*AM Chores

*Check childrens chores

*Older children begin quiet time/prayer time

*Devotions/Bible reading with younger child

*Family memory verse and hymn practice

*Begin Homeschool day (by 8:30)

3)Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)

*School time with the children (done)
*Wash Kitchen Floor

*Strip Bed, Wash Sheets(done)

*Put away laundry(done)

*Plan dinner meal (with my parents here this has become a day by day thing, not my choice!)(done)

*Wrap Hanukkah gifts (I know, running last minute here!)(done)

*Take out menorah and oil, dreidel and coins(done)

*Return Netflix movies(done)

*Go to grocery store(done)

3) Do Something! (10 minutes)

Yesterday it was the entryway and today the challenge is the living room. My entryway and living room are combined so I did them together yesterday. Although with all of the snow we had the other day, my children are loving the snow so my entryway looks like an eskimo explosion! So I will tidy up both areas today again, and shine my appliances and do my kitchen floor which is really needing some attention! I will also take out some decorations to randomly place around the house for Hanukkah. I am really running late on this! I also love poinsettas, so I am planning on purchasing one at the grocery store today to add a decorative touch.

I am sorry I do not have any time for pictures today! I will try to get them soon, as I am really enjoying seeing everyone else's pictures posted!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Using Your Homeschool As A Ministry

One of our greatest joys is finding ways that we can minister to others as a family. It is extremely rare that my husband and I participate in any ministry that require us to seperate each other or our children. We also strongly believe that being home together as a family is important, as this is when we have our meal and family worship time. We protect this time together fiercely, as it seems to be the first thing to get pushed aside if we let it. While we feel strongly about these things, we also want to develop a heart of ministry to our children.

A long time ago, I realized that our reasons for homeschooling were not simply to pour knowledge into my childrens brains, but to train up their hearts to love and serve the Lord. I try to be creative in finding ways that we can use our homeschool for God's glory. A very simple idea came to me about a year ago, and it has been one of the greatest blessings to our family. How often we try to make things much harder than they should be!!

What works for us in combining our homeschool and ministry does not require a lot of time, it does not require us to leave home, and does not require a lot of money! It is so simple, you may never have thought of it. So what do we do?

We write letters.

Yes, that is it. Or that may seem like that is it. But it has actually become more of a ministry than I ever imagined. We have compiled a file box of addresses of family and friends. Once a week, we will choose a family or person to write to. I havent set any precedence for what they write, I just let them write about whatever is on their hearts. My youngest, who is five, will draw pictures and write a little, and my oldest will usually write a page or so. We combine them in an envelope together, pray for the person we are sending it to and send them out. So many people have been blessed by their letters. Many times people will write back and that is always a delight! We have had so many tell us how these letters have brightened their day, how they save each letter, how it came at "just the right time". It has become an activity we look forward to.

While writing, our children are developing skills such as spelling, grammar, handwriting and more. To us, that is just a side benefit though. I would encourage everyone to incorporate this into their family! In a day where most people communicate by email and there is so much junk mail in our mailboxes, a handwritten letter of love is a rare thing.

What are some other ways you use your homeschool as a ministry? What about family ministry opportunities?

You Just Never Know....

We are all in shock at the news of the sudden death of my husbands Uncle on Monday night. Please pray for this family as they try to cope with this loss, especially at this time of year. This has struck me so deep, not only because of the surprise, but because I came close to losing my own husband a year ago in a ladder accident. Praise God that He spared him. I was doing well comforthing her until she asked me this: "How will my heart ever heal? He has been the love of my life for 40 years!"

We tend to think that the ones we love will always be around. We say sharp words, spend too much time on other things, and let life get us too busy. We just never know if God will give us another day. I looked at my husband and realized that someday one of us will probably be asking the same question. I have loved my husband for so many years, that I cannot imagine not having him right here with me. But how often I still take for granted that he makes it home safely to and from work, that he sits and has dinner and prays with us each night, that he faithfully calls me from work on his lunch break everday.....

As my husband and I were sharing our memories, I realized it is the little things we remember about people. One of my husbands memories is of a hand squeezing game they played when he was a child. So simple, yet that was what he remembered. I remember Uncle Joe giving us a tomato plant for our new garden, and he was so proud of that plant!

How we impact others lives can be so simple, but yet we often complicate matters by focusing on the big things. It has me wondering if I count my blessings enough? If I think outside of myself enough? No, I don't. I pray that I would remember these thoughts as I go about my days. It is the little things, the daily blessings that really count.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I will be taking a little break from blogging to enjoy family, and prepare to host a large Thanksgiving meal at our home.

Is anyone taking advantage of the many Black Friday sales? I will not be going to any, I much rather shop online. There are some great ONLINE Black Friday sales that you can take advantage of online.

Biblical Womanhood is having a great $2 sale, including a free ebook with each order!

Teaching Good Things is also offering 75% until midnight Nov 23

That means you can get :
Learn How To Quilt in Five Easy Lessons that sells $29.75 for $7.25
What To Do When Your Daughter Hates Being in the Kitchenthat sells for $4.95 for $1.25
How to Comfort Grieving Parents that sells for $4.95 for $1.95

Hearts For Family is offering Buy One, Get One Free--ONE DAY ONLY!
Buy one of the Scripture Songs CDs, and get one FREE!One day only--Friday, Novemeber 23They make great Christmas gifts!(Limit two offers (total of 4 CDs) per family.)

Be sure to check out Deal Taker to see a comprehensive list of great items in store and online.

Do you know of any other great sales going on? Let us know about them!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Season Has Begun.....

I typically do my grocery shopping/errands around 2 in the afternoon. The stores seem to be less busy, and the shelves seemed to be well stocked, and the reduced rack is usually out!

Except yesterday.....

I didn't plan well enough that Thanksgiving is coming up this week and the stores were completely mobbed, shoulder to shoulder. Not only that, they were mobbed with unhappy, impatient people who DID NOT want to be there.

I don't do very well in those situations. They make me a little anxious. I had only one of my 3 with me, so that helped. I ended up pulling into an aisle that did not have any traffic. How I found that, I don't know but the natural foods section is usually a safe choice if you need to get your bearings in the grocery store :). Perhaps God cleared the aisle for me....

Anyway I took a deep breath and said a quick, desperate prayer that the Lord would help me graciously through this mob. And I continued on.

As I felt like screaming, as a very very impatient loudly sighing woman behind me let her thoughts be known without speaking, that if all of you ladies would just remember the lessons you learned in kindergarten we could all get through this!! You know, single file, no pushing, no shoving, wait your turn, one at a time! Instead, I looked back and said "I'm sorry I am in your way, here go ahead in front of me." She looked slightly surprised and huffed her way by. I saw her in the next few aisles, and she seemed a little less stressed. I would like to think that a little act of kindness softened her mood.

So we finally made it to the produce section, our last stop, and I think they moved everything while they were increasing the prices. I couldn't find half of what I needed, little guy was losing patience as this trip was taking twice as long due to the crowd. And the reduced rack only had boiling onions on it! Feeling kind of like a trapped rat, I made my final selections and headed to the checkout. With lines longer than I have seen in a while, I got into one. After waiting a while, I noticed one two spots down that was almost open. So I proceeded to move over to it. An older gentlemen with a small basket full of stuff was heading in the same direction. He became angry. So I offered him to go in front of me. He angrily huffed a grumbled "Never mind" and I said "No, really go ahead" and he pushed past me and got into another line. I couldn't force him!

Finally we made it out of the store wiped out.

Yep, the holidays have begun.

Time to change my shopping time. I will now go first thing in the morning right when the store opens.

But just remember that our testimony lies in these little things, even though my patience was stretched I really tried to be kind. Not because of the holidays, but because I am a Christian who loves the Lord. You may be the only one who is kind in a busy store, but don't get caught up in the mayhem. Remember to keep your never know if you might see one of those people in your church someday. Wouldn't you much rather they remember you as a happy, kind shopper rather than an impatient, unhappy shopper? So if you brave the busy stores these next few days and in the next month, just be a happy, patient and delighted shopper!

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Weeks Menu Plan

This will be a pretty easy week, considering Thursday is Thanksgiving, and there is always lots of leftovers to count on! My budget for this weeks menu is $50.

English Muffins w/ PB
Scrambled Eggs

French Toast Sticks with Syrup
Fresh Fruit

Bagels w/ Cream Cheese
Fresh Fruit

Kefir Smoothie

Eggs, Homefries, Toast
(day after Thanksgiving!)

Spaghetti (leftovers)


Tuna Salad

And more leftovers!

Chicken Barley Vegetable Soup

Homemade Bread

Tuesday: Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells, Salad

Wednesday: Chicken Broccoli Braid, Salad

Thursday: Thanksgiving!!

Friday: Shabbat, Butternut Squash Soup

Saturday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Deals in NH Shaws, Demoulas 11/16-11/22

Post cereals (including Shredded Wheat) are on sale 2 for $2. If you have the .75/1 Post Shredded Wheat coupons that were in the Living Well booklet to get them for .50 a box. also has a printable for $1/3 Combine this deal with the Free Milk (1/2 gallon) wyb 2 post cereals.

I have also heard that there is a new Post Shredded Wheat promo for a $3 catalina when you buy 4 post Shredded Wheat. If this ist true, the first order you get 4 cereals & (2) 1/2 gallons of milk for $2. Then your $3 catalina prints which you can roll into the next order for $1 overage! I think Walgreens is running this deal also, but at Shaws you will get the free milk!

Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta $1 - $1/1 coupon Free!

FREEHunt's snack pack $1 - $.50/1 (dbl'd) magazine)

New England coffee B1G1F - $1.50/1 = _____ (If you have 2 of them it would make them about 2/$3 or a little less).

Pepperidge Farm garlic toast $2 - $1/1 = $1

Kraft Minute Rice $1.50 - $.40/1 = $.70

Chapstick $1.00 - $1/1 (Naturals) from 9-16 = FREE

Zone Nutrition $1 - $.55/1 (dbl) = FREE w/ overage [SS 9/23] (until 11/29)

Mueller's Whole Grain Pasta $1 - $.55/1 (dbl) = FREE w/ overage [SS 9/23]

Philly Cream Cheese Bricks, Buy 3 for $1 ea. - $1/3 = $0.67 each (from 11/11)

Betty Crocker Brownie Mix $1 - $.50/1 (dbl'd) = FREE

Betty Crocker Box Potatoes $1 - $.40 coupon = $.20 per box. Welcome to, and @

Birds Eye Steam Fresh Veggies, Buy 2 @ $2 ea. - $1/2 coupon = $1 ea. (

Demoulas ran a two week sales flyer last week, so I won't go over any deals here but you can see my post from last week to get some idea of what they have!

Hannaford deals:

Frozen Marval Turkeys are .49/lb, cheapest I have seen!
Navel Oranges 2.99/bag
Bounty 12 roll 9.99 (same deal as Demoulas)
2 liter soda .88
Libby canned vegetables 2/$1
Heinz Gravy 5/$5 (same as Shaw's & Demoulas)

Do you know of any deals in this area? Please share with us!

Super Saturday Savings: Stocking Up

I did a small trip to Walgreens this week to take advantage of the deal with Mayo and Pasta Sauce. Nothing too exciting there!

I took advantage of some unbelievable deals at Shaw's this week! It took me much longer than usual to plan this trip, but this one will feed us for the next two weeks just about, besides milk and eggs! Before coupons the total was about 198.00!

After coupons? A mere 89.00! That is exhilirating! My best deal was 10 cans of Pam cooking spray for only 10.00 and I recieved a $10 catalina. I also recieved a catalina for 2 bags of chocolate chips and use a catalina from last week for free bananas. Hmm, just the right ingredients to make Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins! I was also able to get 6 boxes of crackers, which will help me out when I need to bring something to a holiday party. After coupons, I paid $1 a box for Ritz, TownHouse, and Club crackers. I also fortunate to find a lot of reduced meat this week. My kids were pretty excited that I bought some Apple Jacks, as I never usually do that. But for $1 a box I figured I would indulge them just a little (I like them too!)

Now for the rest of the month I am planning on doing some very lean shopping trips, and most likely skipping Walgreens, Rite Aid etc. My bathroom stock basket is overflowing with all of the recent deals.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Budget Friendly Window Treatments

When we moved into our current home, we were faced with purchasing all new window treatments for lots of windows! We were blessed that our first home we bought came with window treatment, but when we sold it the new sellers requested that we leave them there. Never having bought window treatments before, I was shocked at how expensive it would be even if I shopped at the bargains. I tried thrift stores and Goodwill but I could never find a matching pair or the correct size.

So my frugal brain went to work. What to do? I decided to go to a local fabric store and was blessed to find some pretty fabric in exactly the color I wanted on clearance. As you can see this is a very simple window treatment, and looks elegant also. I purchased 6 yards of fabric for a mere 20.00, compared to a similar window treatment in another store that would have cost upwards of 70.00! The grapevine was given to me, and I thought it would go well with the Tuscany theme I am trying to achieve. I left the edges raw, they really didn't need to be hemmed! So there you have it, some frugal window treatments that look as though you paid full price! So many people have asked me where I got this particular curtain!

Now if I could just decide on a paint color................

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

But Mom, I Am SO Hungry!

How many times have you heard that before!? I have heard it often, too often! As I was preparing breakfast the other morning, I came out to check on the progress and here is what I found:

He had actually dosed off while waiting! He told me the "alarm clock" on the stove would wake him up!

I can't say I blame the little guy, as these are our favorite breakfast splurge. After we drink our fresh juice mind you :)

I got this recipe from Tammy's recipes and it is also in a few of Crystals ebooks. I have adjusted it to be a tad more healthier my cutting back on the sugar and chocolate chips. I have tried to make these with carob chips but they didn't taste very good at all. Here is my adapted version:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon sea salt

1 egg

1/2 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

3 ripe bananas (the riper the better!!)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. I put everything in my Kitchen aid (except the chocolate chips), I don't even mash up the bananas I let the mixer do the work!

2. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full; sprinkle tops with chocolate chips. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until muffin tests done with toothpick. Allow muffins to cool 5 minutes in the pan, and then remove to wire racks to finish cooling. Store loosely covered.

These are also delicious as mini muffins and make a great day time snack! You can also use the orginal recipe found here!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Walgreens Money Maker Deal Alert!

Right now you can get the Glade flameless candle at Walgreens on sale for 7.99. Recently there were coupons circulating for $3 off one, and also a rebate up to $6 on two. This evening I just opened and email from Glade with a B1G1 coupon.

This would make a very sweet deal:
Use the $3 off coupon on one, then use the B1G1 coupon, bring your total to 4.99 for two candles. Then the rebate would be $6 on both candles, so you would make a little over a dollar on the deal!

This would definitely work for me as a great gift or even a hostess thank you gift over this holiday season!

Home Cooking: Making Your Own Alfredo Sauce

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to learn how to make those convenience items from scratch. I have actually met people that are surprised to hear that you dont have to have spaghetti sauce from a jar!

I had a great recipe to try out that called for Alfredo sauce. I know the store bought stuff is expensive and not very healthy. I had to do some searching but I finally found a recipe for homemade Alfredo!

Just a reminder too, when you begin to cook from scratch it may take your tastebuds some time to adjust to the texture and flavor initially, especially if you have only had store bought of the item you are making. But don't give up! You can adjust the recipe to suit your taste, and after a while your tastebuds will adjust and you will begin to LOVE the homemade version. Except pie crust, I think that is the only thing I may never attempt from scratch...but you never know! Now for the Alfredo Sauce recipe:

3 cloves minced garlic

1 TBSP minced onion

1 1/2 c. whipping cream

1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp pepper

In medium saucepan cook onion and garlic until tender. Increase heat to med-high and add whipping cream, cheese, and pepper. Cook until sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened.

I have also found you can make your own cream soups (cream of chicken, cream of mushroom) which comes in handy in my chicken pot pie recipe, as well as your own onion soup mix, your own garlic and onion powder etc. And the fun thing is, these things are really not all that hard!

Do you have a kitchen tip to share?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Food, Frugality and Nutrition Part 3

She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:12

In the first part of these series, I mentioned that many of the food deals we see are on foods that are loaded with chemicals, dyes, additives and many other things that zap it of its nutritional value.

These dyes and additives are poisons. If you were to feed your children rat poison,whether it be all at once, or a little at a time, you would be punished by the law, and the world would gasp at the maliciousness of the act! Who could poison an innocent child? But are we already poisoning our family, albeit not intentionally but perhaps ignorantly?

I know, this sounds harsh. But it is true! I know that you can read so much conflicting information about what is and isn't healthy that it gets confusing! One day a food that cures cancer causes it, or a drug that prevents disease causes another disease. Let's just take a look at something . Do you think these major food companies are going to risk their profits by telling you their foods will kill you? Of course not! That would be bad business. Keeping the consumer confused may actually be their tactic!

As a virtuous woman, we need to educate ourselves on the foods we choose to feed our family. We cannot rely on the media to teach our children, nor the public school to educate them, and we should feel as strongly about not letting the media and public school teach them how to eat either. We must be as proactive in this regard as we are with all of the other areas of our children's lives. There is truth out there that we need to uncover!

I discussed here the benefits of not always purchasing the cheapest thing, in regards to things like appliances etc. The thrifty woman finds a way to purchase quality food that is lifegiving to our bodies, not just an abundance of food in quantity.

Look at this quote from a recent study that we did:

Thriftiness is the skill of trading things of lesser value for things of greater value.

You must understand your role as feeder and nurturer of your family, and the awesome responsibility that you have. As feeder of our families, we prepare over 1000 meals a year! A wise food manager can maximize the amount of nutrition at the same time as minimizing food expenses.

If you haven't read parts 1 and part 2 of this series you can find them here and here.

Are you ready to revamp your grocery cart and food pantry? Next we will begin discussing some of the chemicals to avoid!