Friday, July 30, 2010
One of my favorite ways to save money on produce is Bountiful Baskets. Bountiful Baskets is an amazing food co-op that has pick up sites in Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Texas.
The baskets are a 50-50 offering of fruits and vegetables. I pay $15 plus a $1.50 fee each week that I order, and I love what I get. We have received an amazing array of fruits and vegetables every week and have saved lots of money. It also keeps our family on target with eating food that is healthy. The variety is great and allows me to learn to cook new veggies. If it wasn't for Bountiful Baskets I probably never would have tried Swiss Chard, baby bok choy, acorn squash and kale (love kale chips!)among others. It is also a great opportunity for my son and husband to try new vegetables and fruits.
Another cool aspect of Bountiful Baskets is you can purchase different healthy baked goods. This varies week by week as well. My faves so far have been the 7 grain breads (super tasty and freezable) and tortilla packs (an amazing deal and also freezable). We have also picked up some amazing cookies and cool cookie decorating kits during the holidays.
If you are in any of the states served, you should totally check it out at Bountiful Baskets. Each place has a set ordering time. For example in Arizona, I order on Tuesdays between 9 am on Tuesdays and 10 pm on Wednesdays until the slots are filled. For the most part, I order on Tuesday so I don't miss out. Truly I love being a part of this.
Oh...and did I mention that our pick up is 7:00 am. This is great for me because it forces me to get my lazy bum out of the bed on Saturdays and get a little light cleaning done before my husband wakes up. Don't worry though. All pick up times vary too. :)
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I love music. It is amazing how a song can take you to a different place in your mind and sometimes even a different time in your mind. When I listen to old 90s music or 80s songs, I often recall life as I was living it when those songs were popular.
One of my favorite music genres lately is Christian music. One of my favorite bands is Caedmon's Call. I was super excited when I found out that I could get two preview songs from their new album for free from Noise Trade.
Noise Trade is an awesome site. You can download some wonderful music. You can leave tips for the band to pay for what you download or you can help spread the word via Facebook, email or Twitter. I am going another step by telling you about it here. The nice thing is it really gets the word out there about some great artists which will increase their exposure.
If you want to check out the free songs, head over to Caedmon's Call's website: Caedmon's Call
Check out Noise Trade too. They have all sorts of great artists not just Christian.
Small note that has nothing to do with anything...much. Okay, do you ever wonder if your hand has a mind of its own? Every time I typed "noise"...I actually typed "nose" and had to fix it. If I still have "nose" typed here anywhere, please excuse me. :) I had that same problem a while back when I typed "freedom." I kept typing "freedome" and of course it was during Independence Day, and I was helping promote a song called This is Freedom by Justin Unger. It drove me BATTY! By the way, I did it again. What is up with my hands?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
When I browsed some of the fabulous blogger menus for Menu Plan Monday, I saw quite a few menu ideas that really caught my eye. I thought I would put them here in order to have them on hand for another Menu Plan Monday. With over 300 posters I obviously couldn't check out everything, but I do think these will be marvelous!
The blog name had me intrigued so I had to check out the posting at The Fruit of Her Hands. I was so glad I did, because her blog looks fantastic. I was immediately drawn to this lovely woman's words. I especially appreciated her desire to be the woman God has made her to be. The food that caught my eye was actually her recipe for pizza crust from her Friday night pizza night. I love making pizza at home, but I must admit I have never made my own crust. When I lived back East I would just buy some dough at the bakery. Now in Arizona I am more likely to buy some Bobelli which is tasty, but probably not going the more thrifty route. In fact this week I am planning on making veggie pizza and just might have to try the crust recipe that night.
This next one is from one blog linking to another. I love stuffed peppers, and I am always looking for different ways to make them. Benza Bulletin had stuffed peppers on the list with a link for the tasty recipe! I was thrilled to have another recipe for stuffed peppers. I am definitely going to keep this in mind for the weeks ahead.
Today's Specials had a link to what made my mouth water when just reading the name. Imagine BBQ Chicken Braid! I don't think this is something I will be able to work out immediately, but once I get a good mixer, I am on it!
While reading Greta's post at Mom Living Healthy, I was drawn to the apple granola recipe she got from Finding Joy in My Kitchen. They had it listed for breakfast so many times, I just had to look it up. I have quite a bit of cereal stocked up right now for my husband (he loves cereal), but I think he will flip for this recipe too!
I love salads. I get a lot of great fruits and vegetables from bountiful baskets, and I am always looking for ways to incorporate each and every one into our diet. Trina at Tidbits of Happy had a cucumber salad on her Menu Plan Monday posting. It looks so good! I just picked up two HUGE English cucumbers this weekend. I think I will try this on Sunday with our leftovers.
After seeing my fantasy coffee cup in the hands of the A Need For Caffeine, I had to pop on over and see what was the week's menu plan. I was immediately giddy over the idea of a crock pot apple dumplings. I made two apple crisps in the past two weeks and think trying the apple dumplings would be a blast. I also just love using my crock pot for anything I can.
Amanda at First Day of My New Life had a recipe link for strawberry banana bread (from A Few Shortcuts) that again had my mouth watering. I always seem to have bananas on hand, and this looks like a seriously tasty way to put them to good use (beyond my typical choice of banana bread or banana muffins). Looking at the pictures at the recipe site reminded me again that I need a good mixer. Maybe for Christmas.
Charla from Healthy Home Blog has a recipe for chicken tortilla soup. I have a recipe that I use but I was thrilled to find another option. It looks like a winner!
Unorganized Housewife has a title that kind of describes me, and a recipe that is definitely a must try. It is called Murphy's Hot Hamburger. We have a Murphy's here (well not the Murphy's that makes this burger), and after looking at the picture I was hoping that it was our Murphy's. Well it isn't so I am going to have to make this myself. Thank goodness for the recipe!
Food on the Table had me with this lovely recipe for pineapple shrimp rice bake. It contains everything I love, and I am pretty sure my son and husband will like it too. Of course, I have to wait for a good shrimp sale.
Alicia's Homemaking had some great recipes to share, but the one that really caught my eye was for blueberry zucchini bread. I have always loved zucchini bread, and this sounds like an awesome option. The vegetable pasta primavera looks pretty awesome too. She has a great picture. My only fear is my husband's lactose intolerance. :( Poor guy.
Oh the joy! More granola! I really am so excited about my granola making prospects thanks to another recipe this time from Alli 'n Son! Granola really can satisfy, and now that I have found a delightful yogurt recipe, I am ready to make that too and mix up the yummy duo!
I was thrilled to find Eat At Home. Not only are their recipes but also a grocery list accompanying her menu plan. I was especially taken with the Garden Rotini with Grilled Zucchini and Chicken. Summer is totally zucchini season!
Well that is it for this week. If you haven't yet, you just might want to head over to I'm An Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. It has helped me regain more time in my week and more order. :)
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Oh man what a day! My son and I headed off to his high school this morning to pick up his class schedule, pay fees, and take pics for his student ID. Last year was absolutely chaotic. Somehow his registration did not get processed, and we spent all day at the school! It was a bloody nightmare. Today was fairly smooth sailing. We stood in a huge line until the doors opened and then a few minor lines and by 10:00 am, we were on our way! Oh what a dream!
Of course it didn't end there. We picked up a few back to school supplies yesterday, but today was our back to school shopping day. My son Alex and I hit Ross today for some back-to-school bargains. I love that place. I also love that I have such a wonderful. He is an amazing kid, but he is also a kid with very down to earth tastes. My son has never groused at shopping clearance racks, thrift stores and yard sales. Of course that is how we have always done it so it is all very typical. Give him jeans and t-shirts and he is a happy boy. Thankfully Ross had plenty of both. We picked up two pairs of Polo jeans that Alex just loved. I was so used to Polo being a little over the top preppy for my taste, but these are perfectly casual and look great. We also grabbed two pairs of Quick Silver jeans in a nice dark denim, five shirts (the usual faves for my son which are basically Quick Silver, Hurley and No Fear) and one zip hoodie which was a must. Alex has to catch the bus at 6:30 am so I figured it would be a good idea to have something warm enough for the morning but light weight enough to toss in his back pack and not take too much room.
Our total was $166.43. I did throw it on the credit card. I pulled the cash out of the bank this morning, but that will actually go to the hubby who pays the credit card bill (we love gathering up points). One thing I thought of when I saw the bill was how I just hate paying taxes on clothes. That is one of the things I definitely miss about living in Rhode Island. I hate paying sales tax on food and clothing. It just feels so wrong.
Those clothes combine with some amazing thrift store deals I picked up when in California have really put us in a good position clothing wise for the upcoming school year. Now all I really need to do is pick up socks and underwear! Yay!!!!!
My son and I hit Target after Ross. My main goal was to pick up some spiral notebooks (5 at 15 cents) and index cards (10 packs of 100 at 44 cents) and filler paper (3 at 75 cents). There were also some really good deals on colored construction paper (88 cents for 96 sheets), crayons (20 cents -we picked up 3 for 5 cents at Office Max) and Elmer's glue sticks (six pack for $1.00). We grabbed a bunch of these goodies for one of the charter schools in the town. I know one of the TAs (actually with budget cuts she is the only TA), and we thought it would be nice to gift some deals there way. The index cards were an absolute must as my son is taking Japanese and he is constantly making homemade flash cards plus who can pass up 44 cents per 100? Our Target total was $13.29.
All in all it was a great day. We did one thing though that we hardly ever do. We ate at Wendys! I don't justify this at all. I do give us a pass today as we pretty much do fast food once every six months or so. I have to forgive myself this one. Plus although I am working on being thriftier. One of the things I am also doing this month is keeping track of expenses so I don't want to cheat by not doing something I normally would do. When we have a son and mom day, my son and I usually do get lunch together.
Now I am off to organize two dresser drawers. Oh what total joy! ;) I took today out of work to be there for my son, and now it is time to get a little organizing done. My husband is a neat freak so he will be thrilled.
Monday, July 26, 2010
An important part of saving money is definitely getting a handle on our food menu. I have participated in Menu Plan Monday in the past from Laura's blog I'm An Organizing Junkie, and it definitely helped me not only save money, but it helped me save time. I often was totally overwhelmed after work and wondered what we should have for dinner. I would often stop at the store to pick up an ingredient or two. Menu planning really takes a lot of that load off.
Taco salads for the grown ups and tacos for the teenager and cinnamon crisps for desert.
Slow cooker pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob. Cherry jello for desert.
Creamy Italian tuna pasta salad
Roast beef and gravy (using leftovers from slow cooker pot roast) over rye bread and green leaf lettuce salad.
Beef enchiladas and cheese enchiladas (using leftover beef from the pot roast).
Leftover round up
I have been giving a lot of attention to ways to save money at home and outside of the home. One of the things I have looked into is beauty treatments. Taking care of myself on the outside has been a light priority since I got married and started working a day job. Time for me became really limited. I have realized that I cant put myself on the back burner. I can make some time for me, and still care for my family. I can take time for me, take care of my appearance and not have to make a large dent in my finances.
One way to take care of my outside has been my loofah sponge. I have been a huge fan of my loofah sponge for exfoliating, and kicking up circulation. I am also looking forward to its cellulite diminishing properties. My aunt recommended loofahs to me for just that back when I was a kid. Of course back then I didn't have cellulite, but I was aware of what it was and more than happy to file that information in the back of my mind. I am happy to say that I went throughout my twenties and thirties without cellulite. I am a little whacked up now with it, but I kind of blame that on the extra poundage from being hypothyroid. Hopefully once those extra pounds slide off, I can get the cellulite to go with it.
Today I tried a new to me budget beauty treatment. I love scrubs. I have used sugar scrubs in the past and salt scrubs, and I just love how they make my skin feel. Nowadays I just don't have the money to purchase these treats so I have been looking for new ways to get those treatments without the cost. The other day I was browsing through Babushka's Beauty Secrets by Raisa Ruder and Susan Campos, I read about a coffee scrub. I have seen these in stores before, and thought that this would be a great thing to try. It is very cost effective because it is something I already have on hand. We have cut down on coffee significantly, but we still enjoy it on the weekends. By the way, I won this book from One 2 Try. Check out that blog for awesome reviews and giveaways.
Coffee brand - Dunkin' Donuts. The book obviously wasn't specific on the brand. My husband and I are both East Coast transplants and Dunkin' Donuts is our brand of choice.
This weekend I put all out used coffee grounds and filters in an old canning jar with plans to try this as a scrub. Today I took a shower as usual but turned the water off after applying my conditioner. Using my hands I scooped up palmfuls of the used coffee and rubbed it into my body in circular motions. I also used one of the old filters to rub it in on those harder to reach spots. I kind of just hung out for a few minutes all speckled and aromatic until I was pretty sure I couldn't stand there any longer. I think the book said to leave it on for 15 minutes, but I probably left it on for 8 to 10. I'll try to hold out longer next time. I have also read that you can wrap yourself in plastic wrap after applying it, but I am not sure I am going to go that route. That seems to be the step for using the coffee grounds as a cellulite treatment, and right now I just want to take advantage of the scrub itselt.
Now the results.
My skin felt amazing! Seriously, I could not believe how soft my skin felt (I even applied it to my face). My make up seemed to go on smoother too. My skin has been extra dry (another thyroid side effect) so I was simply thrilled with the way my skin felt. I can't wait to try it again! So far this is THE best scrub I have ever tried. I can't wait to dig more deeply into this book, and see what other beauty treats I can try! If you are interested in this book, you can check it out at Amazon.com below (this is an affiliate link by the way). You can also get more details at this link which will take you to the publisher's site: Babushka's Beauty Secrets: Old World Tips for a Glamorous New You
Ahhhh the great question? Okay, the great question for myself. I honestly don't expect anyone to notice this little blurb in the massive blogosphere. By the way, right now I am totally multitasking. I am typing a blog while watching a movie. I don't even know the title of the movie. All I know for sure is Brittany Murphy is in it, and it is about a man who is coming to kill a man who is having an affair with his wife. Brittany Murphy may be the wife. I don't know yet. I will surely find out sooner or later.
This may or may not be a good use of my time, and it is certainly not getting me any closer to answering the question that basically I am asking myself. Why I am doing this? Why am I starting this blog?
I am among many individuals who are trying to make ends meet and have a little left over. I am good at living beneath my means to a degree or I CAN be good if I put my mind to it. I tend to slack a bit here and there, but now I need to live farther beneath. I want to save money. I have some pretty high medical expenses. Nothing outrageous, but when you add all of life's other necessities, it really has become more important to figure out how to save some extra cash.
This blog is going to be my little money saving experiment. I figure the focus will be good for me. I have dusted off some of my favorite money saving books, and I am going to see what works for me. Blogging about it seems like a good way to keep a record of what works and doesn't work. :)
Now it is entirely too late to really get moving, but I will be back.
PS I had to stop watching the movie. It just wasn't sticking in my head. Maybe I'll watch it tomorrow night.