Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Go Green with the USPS

I adore these Go Green stamps from the USPS.  Not only do they show simple green acts, but they're also Forever Stamps. While all of those things are fabulous, perhaps my favorite thing is that you can get these (or any other) stamps ordered to your mail box!  It saves a trip to the post office & the accompanying emissions & only costs $1 for handling. 

The $1 fee is applied no matter the size of the order, so it is advantageous to purchase multiple sheets at a time.  For instance, I ordered $28 worth of stamps, paid the $1 handling fee, & saved the trip to the post office.  Saved time & saved gas.  Piece of cake.   

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monthly Breakdown: Grocery Shopping on $150 a Month

My New Year's resolutions were to utilize menu planning each month & to use $150 cash for grocery shopping.  As the month is coming to a close I'm happy to report that I met one of those goals quite easy, unfortunately it was the menu planning, not the $150 grocery goal. 

After my initial shopping trip & mid-month perishable replenishment, I had $11 left.  Unfortunately I made a HUGE couponing mistake at Target & ended up stocking up on Plum Organic purees for a not so great price.  Not only did I miscalculate the amount the store coupon would take off, but I also miscalculated the manufacturer's coupon & over spent by $21.12.  Sad, sad, sad. 

To make matters worse, JC stopped by the store to get milk this week & came home with another $20 of stuff.  Ugh, husband.  Good thing he's so dang sweet & helpful.  THEN, today we spent $9 stocking up on Biore products because I had coupons that were expiring. 

That brings our grand total to approx $200 instead of $150.  On the upside I was able to stock up on extremely cheap Biore, Kashi, gingerbread cookie mix, el pato, grapefruit juice, & carrots.  I'm hoping that our overspending this month will balance itself in February.  Despite our overspending, we still ate at home more & spent less than usual.  How did you do on your financial goals this month? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Freezer Cooking: Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna

I'm trying to fill our freezer with meals & baked goods for the impending arrival of Little Baby.  The dish I made today is Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna, which to me, is heaven in a casserole dish.  If you don't want it to be vegetarian, by all means, add some meat.  Conversely, if you're looking to add a meat free dish to your repertoire, this is certainly a great place to start.  I love it because it's quick, it's easy, it's a great way to use up undesirable leftovers, AND it can be frozen.  Here's how it's made:

1 cup of brown rice cooked according to directions                    1 can of black beans
1 cup of diced green peppers                                                         1 can of corn
1 c diced onion                                                                              4-6 tortillas
1/2 can of El Pato                                                                          shredded cheese
1 can of diced tomatoes with chiles, or 3 fresh tomatoes diced, or 1 cup of salsa

1/2 T of Cayenne Pepper                            1 T Cumin (not pictured)
1 T of Chili Powder                                     1T Garlic Powder or several cloves of garlic

Saute veggies & spices

Rinse & drain corn & beans.  Mix in salsa, peppers, onions, rice, & El Pato & thoroughly incorporate.  

If you intend to freeze the lasagna & don't have a disposable pan, line the pan with foil going both ways.  Lay down a tortilla.

Cover with veggie/rice mixture.  Then cover with a layer of cheese.  

Layer again with an additional tortilla.   (I took this opportunity to use up tortillas that had broken & would have otherwise wound up in the trash.  Yeah saved food!)  Repeat process until all of the veggie mix is used & cover the top with another layer of cheese. 

 If you plan on freezing, cook the lasagna for 10 minutes at 325°, allow to cool, wrap & freeze.  If not, place lasagna in the oven at 325° for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted/brown. Garnish with sour cream & enjoy! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

5 Reasons One Parent Should Stay Home

When I became pregnant I read about calculating the true value of my second income.  After we took out the cost of  into daycare, using disposable diapers, purchasing baby food &other contingencies we figured that, best case scenario, I would make around $3,000 a year.  To us, it just wasn't worth the money & sacrificed time with Little Emerson for me to have that second income.

While I'm certainly not saying that staying at home is the right choice for everyone, this article certainly sheds light on the decision making process of one parent staying home.  If you're trying to make that decision, this is definitely worth a read.  (Thanks Julie!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Goodwill Goodies

I rarely purchase new clothing for Emerson.  We have been blessed with hand-me-downs & if I purchase clothes for her I prefer used clothes because I already know how they're going to look when washed & find it so disappointing when new clothes don't wear well.  $1 (or cheaper) prices can be found with sales at Goodwill or garage sales, so those are my favorite places to hunt for kids clothing.  I haven't had much luck at our local Goodwill, so when we traveled to Indiana & to Texas I had to hit up some of my favorite Goody stores. 

Here is just a sampling of some of the items purchased: 

From the left:  Cherokee sweater, Hanna Andersson skirt, Disney jeans, two Carter's night gowns (my favorite for newborns), Baby Gap sweater, & Gymboree dress.  All for $7!  Many of the items are beautifully detailed & in absolute immaculate condition.  Not only are these items for our girls precious, but I find such joy from finding beautiful treasures on the racks. 

Perhaps my favorite treasure from my recent Goodwill adventure are these brand new, cutie pie Missoni wellies!  They were a splurge at $12 for the pair, but I figure both of our girls will get to wear them, so that brings down the price to $6 per daughter...right?!

If you haven't considered buying clothing second hand, I HIGHLY recommend it.  Not only is it good for your wallet, it's good for the environment too.  In my book, there's nothing to lose. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When It's Ok To Pay Retail

I am currently 1 week away from my 3rd trimester & with Emerson coming 3 weeks early, I am beginning to feel the clock winding down.  One of the many, many things on our to do list was to get E in a big girl bed before the arrival of Little Baby.  At the suggestion of you lovely readers I searched craigslist & freecycle to absolutely no avail.   After weighing all of our options & with time winding down, we finally had to bite the bullet & buy a brand new bed as economically as possible. 

Using the refund from our Flex Spending Account we bought these bunk beds& trundle from Amazon for $422 after a $20 deduction from my Swagbucks giftcards.  Though I doubt we will use the trundle as a bed, we essentially paid $141 for each bed, which seemed to be a fair price.

We chose to build the top bunk as E's bed so as to avoid (for now) purchasing 2 additional mattresses &  additional guard rails.  We then bought a Serta twin mattress for $99 from Big Lots, which was by far the cheapest price I found for a name brand mattress in our area. 

When it came to bedding I spent absolutely no money.   I have sheets & a blanket leftover from my freshman year of college & my MIL gave my husband the above quilt when he was having house guests for our wedding.  Emerson has been very excited about her bed & I feel pleased that we purchased he a lovely bed as economically as possible.  On to the next thing on the to do list...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pregnant Lady Fashion Show

Dressing during pregnancy & finding clothes to fit make the word style all but impossible.  I've been trying to be more adventurous with my clothing selections & use of non-maternity items.   Here are a few of my looks of the last week.

Maroon & Brown Shirts--Hand-me-up (thanks sisters!)
Belt--Target several seasons ago
Skirt--Local Hippy Shop
Boots--Unknown origin?  They were one of the pairs I had resoled, needless to say I've had them a while.


Leggings--JC Penney $2 after coupon!
Boots--Steve Madden

 Don't mind the incredibly poor picture quality & smudgy mirror, just a little reality for you...

Scarf--Unknown, Christmas present years ago
T-Shirt--Motherhood Maternity
Jeans--Calvin Klein// These are actually my regular jeans that are held up with the help of a rubber band & a belly band.  I've finally perfected that combo. 

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Much Is a Homemaker Worth?


I stumbled upon this article yesterday that gave a very precise breakdown of the value of a homemaker's daily work.  I found it extremely interesting & wanted to pass it along.  To all of you lovelies who stay at home, your work is valuable, & I give you a sincere, heartfelt thank you.  Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cloth Wipes & More Found Flannel

It appears that unless some miracle happens, we will have two in diapers once Little Baby makes her appearance.  In anticipation I was hoping to make more cloth wipes, but I had run out of flannel & couldn't bring myself to go out & buy some. 

Fortunately, over Christmas my Mother-in-Law let us "shop" her basement & I came away with some receiving blankets that were perfect for wipes!  Then my flannel cup runneth over when a two pairs of pajama pants ripped at their very stressed seams & after trying to mend them once before, I figured it was time to give up the ghost.

Out of 1 1/2 of the receiving blankets I made cloth wipes, & out of the remainder I hope to make some cloth diaper doublers.  I'm not sure what I'll do with the 4 panels of flannel from the pants, but it's rather thin, so I think it might be better suited for cotton face pads.

Any other suggestions for my fecundity of flannel?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Resole Those Tired Old Shoes

Don't mind my fantasy shoes...
We don't have a cobbler around us, so when we headed to Indiana for Christmas I brought along all of my janky broken down shoes to be repaired at our local Meijer.  I had two pairs of leather knee high boots & a pair of heels that were down to little nubs instead of soles.

For the cost of $40 I had three pairs of shoes repaired & prettied up, far cheaper than even a single pair of boots.  Shoe repair is a totally green & totally frugal choice.  If you're able to find a cobbler near you, hit them up & get those  fixed, you won't be sorry. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quick Target Shopping Trip

We're between trips right now, so I didn't have much time to shop.  My New Year's resolution is to use $150 CASH per month on shopping & so far so good.  (I'd previously thought I was spending that much each month, but with the slipperiness of a debit card it usually wound up closer to $300).  I spent $85 on essentials at Aldi & made a brief shopping trip to Target to stock up on Kashi.  Here's the break down:

I bought 6 boxes of Kashi cereal on sale for $2.75 each.  I then used $2 manufacturer coupons on each box from Recyclebank & 3 $0.50 off two Target coupons.  That brought each box down to $0.50, my ideal stock up price. 

I also impulse bought a package of onesies for Emerson, but they were 70% off and only $2.98 for 4, so I didn't feel too guilty. 

I've got $59 left for the month, so I think we're in good shape. 

Did you set any financial goals for 2012?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Recovering from Christmas

Christmas presents from my lovely sisters (Do they know me or what?!)

We have just recently returned from a month of travel & will be home for 4 days before we jet off  to yet another state.  We are blessed to be able to travel for such extensive lengths of time & have truly enjoyed seeing our friends & family.  Our house is in shambles & we have t-minus 15 weeks until Little Baby arrives (assuming she doesn't decide to come 3 weeks early like Little E did), but it was worth every second of time with family.

I've got some serious frugal gems in the works, but for now, I just wanted to check in, wish you a very belated Merry Christmas & Happy New Year & let you know regular blogging will resume next week. 

In the meantime feast your frugal little heart out on this list  from The Consumerist of 112 Ways to Save Money.  See you soon!