Monday, December 31, 2007

Super Easy Chicken

5 frozen chicken breasts ($6.00 on sale)
1 packet of dry Italian dressing mix ($3.00-ish?)
1 c. of warm water (mostly free)

Place all in slow cooker. Heat on high 1 hour. Turn down to low, heat 7 more hours. Yum.

I served with sliced raw apples and toast ($0.50?)

Total cost: $9.50, with plenty of leftovers. I'm planning to make a chicken pizza later this week. We spent a lot (for us) on this meal. But it's faster and easier than eating out.

Verdict: I cannot get D to eat chicken. Or any kind of meat. Anything beyond milk is really a stretch for him. But I will be patient. E liked this a little, and the grown ups liked this a lot.

Friday, December 28, 2007


For those of you who live near me, mark your calendars! As of the week of January 20th, Ken's will have an all-new gluten free section in their store. How do I know this?

I know because the manager called my house. To ask our opinion on how to do it! (I'm so famous! Squeee! Ahem, sorry.) So we suggested, please, to put all the gluten free items in one area. What they have now is scattered throughout the store, and as anyone with Celiac's knows, walking down the flour aisle is a risky proposition.

Also, please keep the tiny shopping carts. Because pushing those around is pretty much my kiddos' favorite thing to do. In the world. Additionally, you might want to avoid us, because they can't steer so well. I'm just sayin'.

Gratuitous Christmas Picture Sharing

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Gluten Free Christmas, Ev-e-ry-bo-deeee!

We had a wonderful Christmas. Lots of family, lots of fun, lots of great gifts. Enough pajamas to last at least another year. More toys than any child really needs. And, oh my gosh, I never thought I'd say this, but TOO MANY BOOKS! :) Or, maybe it's a matter of not enough bookshelves. Hm.

I made Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free brownie mix. YUM.

I made Hobo Dinner for nine.

I made Fruit Salad:
3 apples, diced
1 pear, diced (which I then picked out of my portion, because, ew pear)
1 can of pineapple, drained (juice reserved for my children who never get juice and think this is an awesome treat!)
1 orange, peeled, sectioned, and diced
Or whatever fruit you have.

Mix all fruit in a bowl.

In a jar or other small container with lid, mix:
1 T of oil (I used canola)
1 1/2 t of poppy seeds
2 T of lemon juice

Shake well. Pour over fruit and mix. Mix before serving. Enjoy.
This recipe is from the Betty Crocker Cooking Basics cookbook, which is awesome.

I also made Deviled Eggs. Here are my deviled egg "secrets":
1. Start with old eggs. They should be in your fridge a week or more. New eggs don't peel. Trust me.
2. Start with cold water when you hard boil your eggs.
3. After hard boiling, cool the eggs in ice water.
4. You've got to use Miracle Whip. Mayo just doesn't do it.
5. I know you know this, but maybe you don't know this. I set up a baggie inside a heavy glass. I put the yolk filling into the baggie. I cut off the corner of the baggie. I use this to fill the eggs. This is much prettier than trying to use a spoon and your finger and getting mad and yelling at your husband when he was really just walking by. Or something.
6. My kids don't really like deviled eggs. Even though they are awesome and also gluten free.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Check Out the Debt Snowball

My goal this month had been to pay more toward debt than we did the month before. But, life happened, as it is wont to do. The brakes went out on our car. And then we got a flat tire and the tire guy was like, "People. Please, for your safety, don't just patch these again." So, we dipped into the emergency fund to fix our car. And while we didn't meet our debt-paydown goal, we also didn't have to use credit to pay to have our car fixed. And that's a success in my book.

We think we can have the emergency fund back on track by mid-January, and then we'll really get rolling on the debt paydown.

Speaking of Consumerism

We've finished our Christmas shopping.

We had a $500 budget. We had $500, in cash, actually saved for Christmas. Our list was 25 people long, including the two littles that live in our house.

All told, we spent $531, only slightly over. And the overage mostly had to do with me completely forgetting to plan for a couple of people.

It's amazing how much of the Christmas season I spend thinking about how I should spend more, and worrying that people will be hurt that we haven't spent enough on them, and caring (a lot) that maybe they've spent more on us than we have on them. And I would bet I'm not at all alone on that.

But the thing is? I can't even remember what I got for Christmas last year. I can't remember what I bought for Christmas last year. How ridiculous is it to overspend our budget, to put ourselves into debt, to make payments on things that we can't even remember?

The kids visited Santa yesterday. E asked for Wizard of Oz dolls and footie pajamas. D asked for a new Wiggles Dance Party DVD (for months he's been sad that he broke the VHS of this). I'm proud that they didn't ask for a single thing just because they saw a commercial for it. In fact, they very rarely see commercials at all, and usually only at other people's houses. I know we won't always have such reasonable requests from our children, but this year, before they're old enough to be conscious consumers themselves, I plan to enjoy it.

Story of Stuff

This video says it all. And so much better than I could.

Monday, December 10, 2007


SuperDad was asked last week, "What would possess you to put your debt and everything out for the whole world to see?"

What indeed.

  • For one thing, we're not embarassed about our debt. Debt is pretty normal, from what I can tell. However, I don't want to be in debt just so that I can "own" things I can't afford. I want to be out of debt so that I can afford the things that I need.
  • We wanted some accountability for living within our means. Readers have been amazingly supportive of our journey out of debt and toward a more stable financial future. Plus, the reality check factor of knowing what is truly a "need" has been really motivating.
  • I just honestly couldn't find any information about living gluten free on a budget. It just wasn't really out there. Plus, most gluten free bloggers are a bit foodie, which doesn't really work for my kids. "Normal," cheap, healthy, AND gluten free is always my goal.
  • It's my blog, and it's my rules. So there. :)

Friday, December 7, 2007


Thanks, everyone, for your comments on how to allocate our new, larger monthly budget.

I was truly leaning toward putting the entire thing toward debt. I mean, when you plan a portion of your money to go toward debt every month, that's all it is, a plan. Which means, if I really wanted to redo the livingroom this month, I could just reallocate that money this one month.

However, after reading so many excellent comments, I think I'm understanding a need for more balance in our budget. An extra $100 a month for food, gas, and clothes can go a long way, and WILL go a long way, since this is what I've decided to do.

It might make the blog less "thrilling" though. I know you were hanging on the edge of your seat waiting to see how we bought groceries for $40, right? Hee.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

How to Allocate Extra Money

I mentioned previously that I just changed my withholdings so that we won't get the big tax return every year. Now I have to decide how to allocate this $400 every month.

Initially, of course, the idea was to use all of it to pay down debt.

BUT, part of me feels like maybe we should start saving for a vehicle, as one of our cars seems to be on it's last legs.

BUT, we could really use some more money allocated into the food, gas, and clothing budgets, just for a better comfort level there.

BUT, I really want to start redecorating the house, because I'm really sick of looking at the wallpaper the last owners picked out.

BUT, I feel like maybe we should continue to save for our taxes anyway, just in case my tax estimation skills aren't up to par.

BUT, of course, debt is supposed to be our #1 priority right now.

Scenario 1:
Entire $400 goes towards debt = Debt-free (other than house) in 22 months.

Scenario 2:
$300 toward debt, $100 to make budget more comfortable = Debt-free in 25 months.

Scenario 3:
$120 toward debt, save for car, budget increase, home improvements, and taxes = Debt-free in 33 months.

I'd really love some input on this. How would you allocate the $400? What would your priorities be?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

$40 Grocery Budget

It happened that we only had $40 to spend on groceries this week. I know other people who are able to pull this off every week, but this is a very tight budget for us.

Here is my dinner menu:

Chicken ranch pizza (with homemade GF and non-GF crust) - recipe to come, maybe
Hamburger rice meal
Grilled cheese sandwiches (on GF and non-GF bread) and baked beans
Taco soup (made from leftovers)
Pancakes and peaches
Mashed Potato Pups

Thanks to SuperDad's supermarketing, we only spent $36 of our $40 budget.

We bought:
Chicken (a very small amount is really needed for pizza, which is nice)
Shredded cheddar
Ground beef
GF Bread
Baked beans
Hot dogs

We already had:
All-purpose flour
GF flour
Ranch dressing
Beef bouillon cubes
Cheese slices
All ingredients for taco soup
Pancakes (frozen leftovers from last time)
Instant mashed potatoes

One Final Note on the Local Thing

For those of you just tuning in, November we bought only locally. I knew when I set up my rules, that certain businesses might take exception that I was excluding them because they were chains, even though they are locally owned. I made the decision not to do chains, partially because of that portion of money that leaves our community, and partially because I wanted to experience a world without big-box stores and multi-national chains. I wanted to be forced to go to those businesses that were developed completely from local ideas. The disappearing mom-and-pop business, in other words.

So, I just wanted to mention that, and that now that my month is over, we are very, very excited to add the local bookstore and Taco John's and McDonald's (all locally owned, as I understand) back into my life.

Monday, December 3, 2007

When it rains, it pours

Bread machine: Died an untimely, smoky death. Thankfully, we can buy bread.
Car: Brakes out. Thankfully, our neighbor is mechanic and is helping us out in exchange for photography services. And thankfully we have a small emergency fund to deal with this. And thankfully SuperDad has been working a second job over Christmas. And thankfully we actually saved up for Christmas this year, so his income isn't already spent.
Garage: Has no electricity anymore. Thankfully, SuperDad showed me that it's possible to open and close a garage door by hand. Who knew?
Roof: Leaking. Maybe. Thankfully, we have saved money to fix it. And by "saved" I mean "allocated the tax return."
Car seat: Almost not fitting carpooling preschooler anymore. Thankfully, it still fits right now. Maybe she'll stop growing?
Clothes: Not fitting. Thankfully it's because I've lost weight!
DVD Player: Broken. Thankfully we have a VCR. (Okay, that one's a stretch, I know!)

This morning, I changed my W-4 so that I'll soon be bringing home more of my paycheck. I'm hoping this is a change that will give our budget a little more breathing space while more quickly paying down our debt.

Gone Crunchy

You know how when people are dating and they guy loves to show the girl how to bowl or throw a football or whatever? I was never that girl. I didn't particularly like (that's an understatement, actually) being told how to do things, even if it meant I would never learn how to throw a dart (which, by the way, did get *much* easier after I got glasses). Which is why my husband is a photographer, and yet I take photos like the one here.

Honey Baked Granola
1 c. SAFE gluten-free rolled oats
1/8 c brown sugar
cinnamon, some
pinch salt
1/8 c honey, warmed until liquid
1/8 c light olive oil, or 2 T melted butter (I used the oil, because I was too lazy to heat up something else. I mean, really.)
1/2 c raisins or other dried fruit

Mix together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the honey and oil (or butter, if you're not lazy, like I am) . Bake at 325 for 15-25 minutes or until crunchy. Stir once, half-way through baking.
Add raisins before serving.

My kids really liked this!

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