Category: ideas


My mom wasn’t too thrilled about my left over storage containers when she came to visit.  She took a little trip to Walmart and got me some new ones.  I like my new containers but I still save all of my cottage cheese containers, whipped topping containers etc that have lids.  They make great storage containers for freezer meals (you don’t have to BUY new containers if you are trying to cook several meals at one time).  They also make great containers for taking a meal to someone because the recipient of your generous meal does not need to bring  back the container–it is essentially disposable.    Hurray for free containers.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.

$$$$ left in the grocery budget

There are 3 more days left in the month and I still have nearly $90 left in my grocery budget.  This is certainly the exception rather than the rule as far as my grocery budget’s history.  Nonetheless, it’s kind of exciting….what to do with it????  Dave Ramsey would certainly recommend gathering that up into snowball form and toss towards our loan.  It’s been such a mild winter-we haven’t seen any snow….although I’m inclined to do just that, I have a couple of reservations….the price at the gas pump being one of them.  It’s kind of scary to me how much gas has gone up.  There are quite a few items that have been used in our storage that could use some restocking–staple things that rarely go on sale:  rice, shortening etc. that I think I’m going to stock up on before the cost of food jumps again.   Our med school debt is quite patient and we will be making a significant payment towards it this month but the $90 left–I think I’ll be using it to stock the pantry to the hilt–or at least as far as that $90 will take me!

I’ve always been fascinated by constellations etc. I was very excited to see this on facebook. Click here for the article.  I thought this would be fascinating to see. I will be looking to the west after sunset tonight. Thanks Jen for sharing!

There are very few things that I won’t share with my kids besides my bed.   After they are 2 months old–not a chance pal of sleeping in the kingsized bed.  But foodwise-most anything  is game.  There is one exception-KEEBLER graham crackers.  The ALDI generic is not the same.  About once a year, I splurge and buy the mother of all yummy graham crackers–KEEBLERS–and I don’t share.  They were 50% off @ Hyvee a couple of weeks ago.  But, they didn’t ring up 50% off.  The manager actually had rung up the given item–double checked the price on the shelf after I brought it to his attention and per their policy (if it the prices on the shelf and the price the item rings up for don’t match–the item is free–for you local yocals–this is the Hyvee on Englewood)–the item became FREE!   I didn’t realize this was their policy–all the Hyvee’s are owned by different people so the store policy varies….but I love it when store policies work in my favor.  This selfish indulgence was so good that because they were free-I even let the kids have a sample, this time!

Room transformed

I’m not very good at decorating but I have high hopes of getting better! I bought some construction decals over a year ago for Ben’s room. I didn’t put them up. I found this picture on the wall at a yard sale last week (it was nice enough weather for a yard sale). It was perfect and I paid 1.50 for it! It inspired me put up the decals and the letters we mod podged for Christmas!  It totally transformed the room to have more than blank walls! Ben is thrilled about it and says choo choo whenever he comes in. I love it too!  Proof that decorating doesn’t have too be expensive–amazing what you can find at a yard sale or even in your basement.  Now it makes the girls room look a bit shabby. I’m not quite sure what we’ll do in there!

A gift box for me

I almost always have several things collected for the kids when their birthdays, Easter, etc. comes around so I don’t have to go pay full price for a gift on the appointed day. Most recently, I have started a small collection for myself of things I’ve purchased on clearance. Rather than using my purchases immediately-I’ve decided to hold off on my gratification and save them for later. I’ve decided that my finds can be a collection from which John can draw from when Valentine’s day or some other day when a similar societal expectation (or wifely expectation) requires a gift/token of love. John would most assuredly do well in the gift picking given the time. But, he is rarely able to find the time to go shopping so—a selfish collection of presents it is….just waiting to be gifted when the moment is right. It saves money…I get a fun present…and he gets to give me a present. A win win!

We’ve never actually tried a cash envelope system. I was momentarily tempted to try it out during the month of January just because I wanted to add or not add my testimonial to the hoards of people who swear by it. However, I have a very strong tendency to lose things and how unfortunate would that be to lose my whole week’s allotment of grocery money at one time? A better system for me is just to simply update my budget often. I try to do just that every Friday and sometimes more frequently. It is as effective for me as peeking into my envelope and seeing how much cash or lack of remains. I can look at how much I’ve spent and how much I have left.

I have made reference to our budget excel sheet before. As I enter groceries, it is programmed to tell me what percentage of the month is gone vs what percentage of my grocery money is gone as that is the category that spends the easiest. I love this feature and was TOTALLY John’s doing as I’m not very EXCEL savvy. It is my cash envelope! Today, while updating-I discovered 2 positives….The month is 58% of the way through—I’ve only spent 45% of our grocery money. The 2nd was probably more exciting—OUR TAX RETURN HAS BEEN DEPOSITED INTO OUR ACCOUNT! Wahoo! Look for a post about what we’re going to do with it sometime next week! If it has been a while since you last updated your budget—take a few minutes today and just do it and try to do it frequently enough that it too can act like your cash envelope system.

Making your own TV antennae

Shortly after we moved here, we looked at getting cable tv. After about 30 seconds and realizing our tendency to watch tv (or not), we decided against it. Still hoping to get the history channel, John started looking at antennaes that we attach to the roof to optimize our channel viewing capacity. After about 10 minutes of that, John decided he’d make his own and thus he did. Here is a picture of his homemade television antennae made from cookie cooling racks from the dollar store, copper tubing, screws and a piece of wood. He used some old wiring that we had. Miraculously, it worked! We pick up 22 channels perfectly! Of course, since the Olympics, our tv viewing has been pretty minimal. Nonetheless, we could watch tv if we wanted!  It’s attached in our attic channeling in television love.

We go through a whole lot of tortillas.  My husband thinks I am part Mexican.  I’m pretty sure it’s my ability to tan (ha ha) and my fluent Spanish (even funnier–I can understand it well but without fail–when I try to respond–it comes out French).  More likely, it’s the amount of Mexican dishes (maybe I should say Americanized Mexican dishes) we consume.  I try to limit ourselves to Tuesday night Mexican-but sometimes I can’t help myself and we eat Mexican food other times during the week and snack heartily on bean burritoes and quesadillas.  At any rate, between sandwich making for lunch and our tortilla consumption-we end up with quite a number of tortilla “ZIPLOCKS” and empty bread bags.  I like to think we save a great deal of money by not using our small stash of ziplocks and not buying more–it probably isn’t a lot but it is one less thing to buy.  The tortilla sacks work great for anything a ziplock would be used for and the bread sacks work when my little sandwich containers for the kids’ lunches are dirty.  I reserve the right to use real ziplocks when it is something that would cause undue embarrassment for the kids (taking their boxtops for education in a tortilla sack? No).  Otherwise, my generic FREE, reusable, Ziplocks work just swell.