E: Mommy, can I help you cook dinner?
Mommy thinks: Ugh. NO!
Mommy says: Sure, sweetie!
E: What can I do? What is that?
Mommy: A recipe.
E: I want one! Can I write on this? Can you please give me a crayon so that I can write on this so that I can have my own recipe. Please? Please? Please?
Mommy: Okay. Let's see. First we need some tomato paste.
E: Can I open that Mommy? Can take off the label? What is that Mommy? Can I try it? Can I stir it? I want to eat it. I'm hungry.
Mommy: Okay. Let's open the can and put it into this pan here, okay?
E: What can I do Mommy? I want my own recipe. I want to stir something. Can I stir something? I'm thirsty.
D, from living room: Hunnnry hunnnry hunnnry.
Mommy: Here's a spoon, do you want to stir the tomato while I pour in the salt and milk? [Noticing how unbelievably filthy child is.] Wait. Let's wash our hands and face first, okay?
E: Okay. Let me go get the stool. I need the stool to wash my hands. Can I use the dish soap to wash my hands? I want to use the dish soap not the hand soap. Can I do that Mommy? Can I? Can I? I'm hungry Mommy. I want something to drink. Can I have something to drink?
Mommy: Alright. Dry your hands. Okay. Go ahead and stir the soup while I get out the bread and cheese okay?
E: Oh thank you Mommy, thank you thank you thank you thank you, uhhh... uhhhh...
Mommy: Stop! Cover your...
E: [Sneezes.] [Wetly.] [Into soup.]
Mommy: [Dies a little inside.] Hey. Maybe let's watch a video instead, huh?
Total cost: .75 Total soup: 0
Saturday, September 29, 2007
E: Mommy, can I help you cook dinner?
Friday, September 28, 2007
1. Do you get a huge (or moderately largeish) tax return every year? Reduce your withholdings.
2. Reduce your life insurance.
3. Reduce your retirement savings.
4. Get your bills current and stop paying late fees!
5. Stop using your credit card. If you can't afford something, you can't afford it plus 20% interest. Duh.
6. Get rid of or reduce cable.
7. Refinance your mortgage. Only if you can get a good deal. NO ADJUSTABLE RATES!
8. Cell phone or land line. Not both.
9. Switch to dial up. Or use the library's Internet.
10. Quit smoking!
11. Stop eating out.
12. Save money on gas - ride your bike, walk it, consolidate trips.
13. Shop around for lower insurance rates.
14. Sell your stuff - rummage sale, consignment stores, ebay.
15. Spend less on gifts. Make stuff. Do stuff.
16. Use the library. It's free, yo.
17. Stop buying new clothes. Consignment stores rock, if you haven't heard, and will often let you earn credit by selling your stuff so you can get new stuff free.
18. Stop drinking soda.
19. Do it yourself. If you can't pay your bills, you can't afford to pay someone to mow your lawn or clean your house or bake your bread. Ouch.
20. Stay home more - get out those board games, read a book, talk to each other!
21. Sell your car. Or one of your cars. Or that motorcycle. Or the boat. Or the camper. Or all of it!
22. Move. Get a smaller, cheaper home that YOU CAN AFFORD!
23. Make a commitment to living within your means so that you can get back on track and afford to do things like save for retirement.
24. Stop making excuses.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuna Noodle Casserole
GF macaroni (free sample from conference - the kids ate this better than any other GF pasta so far, plus it's paritally made out of bean flour, yay protein!)
Cream of whatever soup (.50)
One can of tuna in water, drained into bowl for spoiled and fat kitties (.50)
I just skipped the crackers (and the baking, actually), and it was fine
I served this with cooked green beans (.46), which no one ate because they were "rubbery and waxy." I wouldn't know because I can't eat green beans anymore after gorging myself on them the last time I was on a diet. Ditto Jell-O.
Verdict: The kids loved this. Loved. Three plates full of love. Maybe because I encouraged them to compete over who could take the biggest bite.
When it comes to clothes, I believe in outfits. I do not believe in separates. Especially when it comes to kids. When I buy clothes and when I fold clothes and when I put clothes in the dressers, I do it by outfit. Do I ever mix and match? Sure, but I do it at the laundry level, not at the pick-out-the-clothes level. Each outfit is together, shirt on top, ready to be grabbed and put on. This eliminates the digging which eliminates the messy drawers and wrinkled clothes and forgotten items (um, not that that has ever happened to me, oh no. hee). Plus, we don't end up with some adorable item that doesn't match anything else and therefore can't be worn. That said, it's always useful to have a few more shirts than pants, as those tend to get spilled on/stained/wet/whatever more than pants. But all things are possible.
I don't know how frugal this is, but it sure is gluten free! ;)
This pay period, we did a bit of traveling, and never ended up going to the bank for cash. We didn't plan it this way, but that's how it worked out. We kept the money in our checking account and used the debit cards for everything. I was a little nervous, because how that usually works is that we spend and buy and buy and spend and then finally get around to balancing the checkbook, only to see that we've spent everything in our savings as well.
But. Like someone who has been on a diet for awhile has a pretty good idea of how much to eat, we knew what to spend. We are now two days from pay day, with $16.54 in the checking account, and $576.00 total in the various savings accounts (Christmas, taxes, etc.).
We'll be going back to the cash budget with this next pay period, because I like the way it gives me an idea of where the money is going and where we might need to adjust. When it's all lumped together it's too easy to spend the gas money at a restaurant, for example.
I also think, for the first time, that SuperDad is managing the photography business the right way. This will be the second year he's published a calendar featuring his local landscape photography, and instead of just putting those printing costs on a credit card, he had the money in his business account and paid for it. Sure, some of that money was allocated towards the annual income tax, but he's borrowing from his own account rather than on credit. PLUS, he's already sold enough calendars to make up the printing costs. Woo!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The ingredient search on www.allrecipes.com is great also.
I know lots of people have great luck building up a stocked pantry, but we try to use up everything before we buy more. I have a hard time keeping track of things if I have too much. (Um, like I have THREE containers of garlic powder in the cupboard.) So I'd just rather clear things out every two weeks, then base the next menu on what's still in there.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Last Friday I went to a local Celiac Disease conference, which was wonderful, and I hope to share some more info that I learned down the road.
There was a woman there, discussing her struggle to take advantage of the school's reduced lunch program, when the school was incapable of making a lunch free of her child's allergens.
Well. See. I'm broke, I hear ya. But when it comes to my child's health? I'll give up a lot of things. There is *no* *way*, and I honestly don't care that the child has a *right* to that school lunch, but there is NO WAY (can I say that again? NO WAY!) I would take that risk. I cannot trust that every person that works in that lunchroom understands the precautions necessary to keep my child healthy. I cannot risk her health and well being to save... what? A few cents a day? I mean, really, what does it cost to send a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (EVEN on gluten free bread) and a banana? (Ahem, especially when this women then went on to describe all of the restaurants that have made accomodations for her child. Ever heard of reallocation? Priorities?)
I'm just saying.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
1. Bras (1 bought, 11.99)
2. Black tank (bought, 9.99 at Target)
3. White tank (bought, 9.99 at Target)
4. Fall jacket (bought, 24.99 at Target, then bought a second for $8.00 at thrift store)
5. Summer shirts (6 bought, on clearance from Penney's and Sears, spent $9.00 total!)
6. Black skirt (bought, on clearance, 4.99 at JC Penney's)
8. Black dress pants (hoping that I don't need these, as I lose weight)
9. Dark denim skirt (14.99, Kohl's)
10. Winter shirts
12. Dress for weddings (bought on clearance at Younkers, $3.72 on clearance from original price $72.00!)
14. Dress for funerals (again, God forbid)
I also bought a pair of jeans for $11.00 at a thrift store.
I additionally decided that it would be okay to spend some of my clothing budget at Weight Watchers, which will hopefully help me fit back into some of the clothes I already own.
Remaining clothing budget: $154
This article is just fascinating, and a bit heart-wrenching. But if you have a child with gluten intolerance or autism, I highly recommend checking it out!
Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete discuss their battles with autism on Oprah
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Three months ago, we were spending all of our savings every month. AND dipping into the next paycheck before the current pay period was half over. I didn't know what we were going to do. Send SuperDad out into the 9-to-5 world? Shut down his photography business? Put the kiddos in "cay dare"?
OR. Reign it in. Quit it out. No more extra spending (and being visious about labeling things "extra"). Making savings a priority. A cash budget. Taking a $20 bill to the store, and knowing there were no credit cards or debit cards in my purse to back me up, just in case. Not give up the lifestyle that matters to us so that we can have more stuff.
And here is where we are, three months later:
1. $1000 emergency fund!
2. Credit card debt GONE!
3. Last weekend's trip out of town, paid for, in cash.
4. Next weekend's trip out of town saved for.
5. New glasses, paid for in cash (Um, okay, so they only cost $25 thanks to my awesome insurance. But previous years? I just bought whatever I felt like, even what wasn't covered by insurance and paid with my credit card.)
6. 1/2 of Christmas budget already saved.
Not too shabby for three months' time.
I was concerned that by making the budget a priority, things would start falling by the wayside in other areas. Like that I couldn't focus on losing weight or organizing the house if I was focusing this much on the budget. But I've really found that by making the budget a success, I've felt much more capable in every area of my life, and things are starting to come together rather than fall apart.
Monday, September 17, 2007
When a baby is born at my office (OKAY, they're usually born at the hospital, we haven't yet had an in-office birth) or when someone gets married, we throw a shower. When there's a funeral, we send flowers and a remembrance gift.
In a previous department, we were required (if we chose to particpate, but please, who wouldn't participate?) to give $2 a month, every single month, then followed a set of rules that was set by the results of a survey. Complex much? Not to mention the $300 balance that sat out there indefinitely until someone decided we should use it to have a pizza party or something. (Insert giant eye-roll here.)
I'm in a newly-formed department now and was more than a little pushy at getting my way about how to handle these gifts. Now, we send around an envelope with a card, and everyone can put in, anonymously, whatever amount of cash they feel is appropriate, and the gift is purchased from that amount.
Is it fair? Maybe not. But it works.
Mmm. I'm not usually one to include potato chips as an ingredient in a main course, but desperate times call for... chicken nuggets? Anyway, after initial hesitation, the kids loved this.
While out of town this weekend, we visited a natural foods store. I let E pick out what she wanted, up to $20. Then she came across GF waffle cones. They were $8.36 for a box of 8, which, YIKES. So, I told her she could have them if she put back two of the other things she had picked out, and she did. Gladly. She was so excited for these. We went and bought some Breyer's yesterday and she had her first ice cream cone since going gluten free. She was absolutely thrilled. $8 well spent? YES.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I shouldn't even really post this because we didn't love it. Though, I think if I'd just cooked the chicken by the recipe and then served it on white rice, it would have been perfect.
Total: About $4.00
Additionally, it stained my favorite skinny spatula, which makes me un. hap. py. ;)
The upside of the fact that we ate out a bunch this pay period is that we still have the groceries to carry over for meals into the next pay period, which helps out on that budget.
Tomorrow, we're headed out of town with our "big" wad of blow money. Woo! Of course, I'm sure a disproportionate chunk of that will be spent at that natural foods store, but, meh. Oh well.
Do you also have heart problems? Just curious. My kids were born with minor heart defects - narrowed pulmonary valves that result in heart mumurs. Our friends' celiac daughter was just diagnosed with a fast heart rate - resting at 120.
Anyone else experience both gluten intolerance and a heart problem?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
My parents were always hard workers, and always good with money. Of course, it wasn't until we didn't have any that it meant anything to me.
When I was little, we traveled a lot, and shopped a lot, and I got an entirely new wardrobe every fall and spring. I had crazy toys, like my Barbie hot tub. I had all the things that, as a young girl, I thought I *had* to have.
Then, when I was 11, my mom lost her job when the company went out of business. Okay. She went back to college, so we tightened the budget, and everything was fine. Of course, up to that point, I had no concept of budget or cost or price tags, and suddenly those things became more important. However, my mom's paycheck had really just been spending money anyway.
Three years later, as my mom was beginning her senior year of college, my Dad was laid-off from his job. They had a nice savings, so we lived off of that for six months until he took something new (at 1/4 his former salary). Things changed very quickly for us.
However, I learned a lot of great things. Like how to comparison shop, how to eat on a budget, how to wait for a sale, how to know whether something is worth the money or not, how to make things instead of buying things, how to appreciate a really good bargain. Well, I learned this stuff eventually. In the meantime, I did a lot of screeching, being 14 and all. Sigh. Sorry about that.
But really, looking back? I certainly learned much more useful life skills by growing up broke than by growing up "rich." And I hope that my kids grow up knowing that they have what counts.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
So. Three days until pay day. Zero dollars in envelopes (except travel, which we haven't touched).
We've actually been able to maintain our savings, so far.
I think two things happened this pay period:
1. Medical expenses. While we're reimbursed for the medical expenses that insurance doesn't cover through my flex program, it takes about a week. During that time, we have to float the expense in our budget. It comes out okay in the end, but it makes for some tricky organization during the wait. I'd like to build up about $100 in a medical float account for this, and am working on it!
2. Eating out. The truth is that we just can't afford to eat out, and we decided to do it anyway. Though I have to admit that the 2-for-1 burger night and the happenstance of a celiac waitress (who got a very nice tip for making sure our kids got GF food!), was worth it! As we're able, I'd like to build a bit more into the budget for this kind of family outing.
In some ways, a budget that is too restrictive is just too hard to maintain for a long time, so I'd like to find a way to loosen the budget just a bit. However, in other ways, I think that it's just easier to get used to it than to fight it. For example, it's been hard for me to spend this clothing budget, because it's hard to go out and "spree" shop, then go back to being really strict with money.
I did spend some of the budget, though, on the following, at Target:
1 black basic cami, with shelf bra: $8.99
Ditto in white: $8.99
1 bra: $10.99
Fall jacket: $24.99 (this really felt like too much of a splurge, but I really love it)
Canola spray (?)
Frozen hash browns - I like the regular Southern style, though I think the original recipe called for the ones that include peppers and onions (.50?)
Eggs - maybe 6 for a square dish, a dozen for the lasagna dish, however big that is, I am NOT at all good at size/shape concepts. We actually only had 3 eggs left, so that's what I used last night. (.36)
Breakfast meat of some variety - I used ham, because we eat a lot of ham, because we're "healthy" that way (.50)
Shredded cheddar (1.00)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray dish with canola spray. Cover bottom of dish with hash browns. Pour beaten eggs over top. Sprinkle meat on top of that. Sprinkle cheese on top of that. Bake until eggs are set. I swear it takes longer every time I make this. The original recipe called for like 20 minutes, but I crossed that out and wrote 40 minutes. But last night, it actually took more like 50. Yarg.
This recipe also included the note "reheats beautifully." I think that's kind of funny and I giggle about it every time I make it. It's true though, it does reheat rather attractively.
Anyway, Total: $2.36 Again, we're trying to eat our way out of a house that seems to made entirely of cantaloupe.
Which reminds me, today was our first day to bring treats to preschool. I really hope the parents don't mind that their kids will be coming home covered in watermelon stains. Oops.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Tater Tot Casserole
1 lb. ground turkey, browned and drained ($1.57)
3/4 can of corn, drained (.35)
Tater tots, take time to ensure GF (.50)
Cream of whatever soup (.50?)
Mix and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until whining of family becomes intolerable.
Mmmm. Okay, so this isn't the healthiest thing in the world, but some definite comfort food, and the kids loved it.
I particularly love cooking casseroles because they are pretty much a complete meal in one dish. We served muskmelon as dessert. The kids would think I was the world's best mother if I told them that from now on, we'd be eating nothing other than melon and cheese.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Being frugal isn't so much about what you do, as it is about what you don't do. I'm not going to use credit cards, ever again. I'm not going to spend more than I have. I'm not going to buy things (well, non-chocolate things, anyway) that I can't afford.
But it's easy to run out of steam. To feel like you're not getting anywhere. To get tired of the work.
So, when I get tired of the work, I turn to something that inspires me.
I listen to Dave Ramsey's radio show.
I reread The Tightwad Gazette.
I pick something to read off the Frugal Blogroll.
I read Living on a Dime's newsletter (which is giving away a TON of free e-books right now, just for signing up!).
Sometimes, even fiction can inspire me. Books like the Little House series. And A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. (If you know of any other novels that provide frugal inspiration, I would LOVE to hear about them!)
Sometimes -gasp!- even reality TV can inspire me. I taped a series off PBS a few years ago called "Pioneer Quest." It was awesome, and always inspires me to make do with what I have!
A little inspiration (and a moment to think about how very much I have) can go a long way!
Labels: frugal living
I need to replace virtually all my clothes, partially because I've gained weight (though I'm working on that!) and partially because what I have is worn out. I have $385 to spend. I have a prioritized list, that goes like this:
2. Black layering tank, shelf bra would be nice.
3. Ditto in white.
4. Fall jacket.
5. Summer shirts.
7. Black dress pants.
8. Dark denim skirt (long).
9. Winter shirts.
10. Cardigan sweater.
11. Dress to wear to weddings.
13. Dress to wear to funerals (God forbid).
I haven't had the best luck at the local consignment stores finding these kind of basics. The store at which I think I could get the farthest down the list is Old Navy. But part of me wants to buy really nice stuff, maybe organic cotton or hemp, and get down the list as I can.
So. 7 days until pay day.
Last night, we checked the envelopes, and here is where we sat:
We still have plenty of food for our meals, but we were getting low on snacks for the kids (And, ahem, us.), and some essentials. So we bought:
Bananas: $1 (always a good deal)
Eggs: $1 (ditto)
Pop: $5 (I know! We need to quit this. It's not good.)
Rice milk: $3 (Yikes! D's been "sicking up" lately, so we're eliminating dairy right now, fun fun.)
And I made peanut butter cookies. Mmm. I mean, for the kids. Yummm.
I don't really know how we're going to make it another week without money. I assume we'll end up dipping into some of our saved funds, probably the travel one or the clothing. I'm finding it hard to stick to the skimpy food budget, knowing that there's money sitting in another category. I better get to buying those clothes already.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
SuperDad hasn't always been a fan of things like generic foods. He used to worry that our kids would, one day, go to school, where the teacher would ask, "What did you have for breakfast?" And our kids would be embarassed by having eaten some weird off-brand with a funny name, which I would have bought because it was cheap.
How ironic now that we pay up to $5.00 a box for gluten-free cereal, and our kids will still be faced with the same dilemma.
I, however, have a different view on this. Firstly, I don't think there's anything wrong with learning a lesson about being different. But what do I know? I grew up on Cap'n Crunch.
Maybe we'll just serve toast.
1 lb. ground turkey (1.57)
brown sugar (?)
salt & pepper (?)
Sorry. I don't have a good price estimate (or recipe - every time is different) on this one. My mom used to serve BBQ (okay, okay, Sloppy Joe) meat on top of rice. I haven't yet done that for my kids, they eat this meat just fine as it is, with a slice of bread on the side (.25), an apple (.22), and some raw carrots (.15).
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
E was never an easy baby. Difficult pregnancy, difficult delivery, difficult baby.
We were in the hospital for two days after she was born, and she was awake almost the entire time.
We brought her home, and she began to cry. She cried for the next six months.
At her two week doctor's visit, I brought a list of my concerns:
Spitting up (projectile vomiting is more accurate)
All over skin rash
Back arching during nursing
Pulling off during nursing
Days that went like this: 45 minutes of screaming, 15 mintues of napping, 45 mintues of screaming, 15 minutes of napping
If someone showed me that list, I would tell them, immediately, that they were likely dealing with a food allergy. But of course, my doctor saw a young and tired new mom, overly concerned over normal baby things.
And what did I know of normal? I saw my friends' babies, who would sleep in their car seats or baby swings for hours at a time, and my exhausted post-partum brain told me that I was just not as good of a mother. But I didn't know how else to do it, so I walked my baby, in my arms, for six months.
At six months and beyond, she started getting a little better, happier, sleepier. As we tried out different solid foods, we noticed some reactions. To pizza. To spaghetti. We thought she had a tomato allergy. But eliminating tomato didn't totally solve things. We tried eliminating chocolate. And dairy. And nuts. And corn. (My diet and hers.)
Time went on, and things would get better, and then worse. But we figured that, whatever it was, she would outgrow it soon enough.
Finally, just before her 2nd birthday, we had her allergy tested. She was still pooping five or more times a day. She still had diaper rash. She was fussy and difficult. And then the results came back. Gluten. Intolerant to gluten. I wouldn't have, ever, guessed it on my own. And it was in everything.
We eliminated gluten. She was suddenly actually processing the food that she ate. She shot from the 5th percentile to the 25th. She grew and changed and is healthy. Is she still difficult? Oh my yes. But she's healthy.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
On Saturday, we hit rummage sales. I bought:
1 boys Old Navy long sleeve t-shirt 2T .50
1 boys Old Navy short sleeve t-shirt 4T .75
1 boys Gap jacket and pants set $2.00
1 book about llamas (for the kids, this isn't SO much my cup of tea) .25
For herself, one stuffed bee, orange and black $1.00 (this is way too much, but it was her money that she earned by helping around the house, plus then she offered to buy for her brother:)
One stuffed soccer ball .25
She learned a good lesson by seeing lots of good deals after that, but her money was gone.
Yesterday, we splurged on one final trip to the water park, for $15. Spending a tiny amount on clothes so that I can splurge on something really fun? Well, that's a deal in my book.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
I'm curious too as to what brands you get for your GF products? I've not found GF egg noodles yet either. Thanks.
Hmmm. Well, for the most part, we really do try to eat GF in a way that doesn't involve buying GF products, because, for the most part, they kind of taste, um, ewww. And also: $$$$$ But, of course, some products are must-haves. Yesterday I hit the health food store, and this is what I bought:
This haul cost about $20. It hurts my heart a bit, considering everything else I bought to last us the next two weeks, including diapers, wipes, cat food, and kitty litter, cost $105. (Literally - it was $104.97 - is that crazy close to my estimate or what?) Oh well. Such is life.
--We stick to the corn pastas, because they taste the best to us. That probably varies from person to person. Some GF people also have problems with corn, but that hasn't been our experience.
--The cookies are a special treat, and are for E to take to preschool with her. Parents are responsible for bringing the treats, and I want her to have a really good selection on hand in case someone brings cupcakes or something. We always, always keep a bag of Midel animal crackers in the house. Except that we don't have any right now. They are invaluable to us.
--We've found the Ener-G products to be consistently good on the whole. The kids really love these pretzels, and also the round ones with the sesame seeds.
--With cereals, it's often just a matter of a company caring enough to avoid cross-contamination or to leave out the single ingredient that contains gluten, and so every kind we've tried has been good. The kids recently finished off a box of Apple Cinnamon Perky-O's (how's that for a name, right?), and really loved those. Plus, E loved that it felt like they were eating Cheerios like everyone else.
Okay, hope this answered the question - kiddos up from naps, so gotta run!
Labels: GF products