Thursday, October 8, 2009

What's For Dinner

It is a question asked in every household. So what are you going to make for dinner? If this question is not easily answered then you need to look at making a meal plan ahead of time. Don't have time? No problem. Tired of the same thing over and over? No problem. Now for the hard part. . .you live on a budget and want to buy according to the ads? No problem. Even if you want to eat a certain way it is really not a problem.

Take a few minutes and go to Talk about making shopping easy! After you choose the plan of how you want to eat they make a meal plan, give you the recipes, and then you can print out your shopping list. They even separate it by sections of the grocery store. Now for the best part, they use the sales ads for the week to make up the meal plans. It is a great website that I have been using for a while now. So far we have enjoyed every meal I have tried off of it, and amazing enough so have my kids! Try it out. It will save you time, energy, and stress.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No More!

I have neglected myself for too long. I have allowed myself to get fat, out of shape, and have dedicated myself 1100% to my family. The problem with giving them 100% is that I feel run down, neglected, and taken for granted. So when my wonderful husband signed us up for the gym I jumped on it. Today is day 2 of working out, and I already feel better. There is nothing like getting away from the kids for an hour a day and putting that time into improving myself. I so want to look nice at that elegant Christmas party for his work. I want to be the trophy wife that he is proud to show off. I know it won't be perfect this year, but it can be better than last year.

So ladies do not let yourself go. It is too easy to forget that if we do not take care of ourselves we do not have the energy or good emotional place to take care of others. Take an hour, or even just hlf an hour and do something for yourself. I read at night, but I am too tired to enjoy it. Now I work out in the morning and I carry that energy through the day. As Nike would say, 'Just Do It'!

The cleaning chore for the week is the closets. Clean them out completely, Shelves, Droors, walls, and every nook and cranny.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Turning Clutter Into Money

One challenge I am faced with is that I am a packrat. I hate getting rid of stuff, because I find I usually need it after I get rid of it. So I go through periods that the clutter becomes too much and I have to get rid of it. I do a focused cleanup in the spring, but some of my fall cleanup requires me to get rid of stuff as I do my big cleanups. After cleaning out the garage this weekend and waiting for the stuff to sell I am reminded that some people may not be educated on ways to get rid of clutter. So as you do your cleanup in a room make 4 piles, keep, donate, sell, and trash. Now lets go through those piles.

The keep pile should be stuff that you use, will make or save you money, or that you love. If it does not fit into those catagories then get rid of it. Donate is stuff that is in good shape, but is not worth the trouble of trying to sell. The stuff you sell you can do in a garage sale, Ebay, or my favorite I prefer craigslist because I rarely have a day to just sit there waiting to sell stuff, and in the weather never fits my schedule. Don't forget to seperate the trash into recycle and landfil.

This sounds a lot easier than it is, but you will feel much better after it is over, and hopefully you can turn some clutter into cash.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cheap and Fun Mom Time

Every mom needs to take care if herself just as much as she takes care of her family. Yes it is the easiest thing to blow off, but it will also hurt you the most to do so. This is the one area I really struggle in. So here are a few ideas to get you started.

1.) is a great place to find a group to belong to. It is also a good way to find playgroups. If something does not fit you, make your own group!

2.) Have you husband baby sit and go read somewhere (park, coffee shop, etc) all by yourself.

3.) Arrange with a friend to meetup for coffee.

4.) Shopping by yourself. I love grocery shopping as long as I can leave the kids and husband at home.

5.) Work out. Most fitness centers have child care on site for cheap.

FALL CLEANUP CHALLENGE: Garage. We have a ton of stuff up for sale on craigslist, and just waiting for that to sell before we can put the finishing touches on the garage. My wonderful husband did most of the work while I kept the kids busy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Winter and Fall Cleaning?

Yes I know, it is supposed to be "spring" cleaning. Not in my house. I have a fall and winter cleaning. Why should I deep clean my house in the spring when I will not be inside to enjoy it! My spring cleaning is all about getting rid of stuff, but my fall and winter cleaning is about getting the house ready for us to be inside it all the time. My tip is find 1 task to complete extra per week. Spread that work out all winter while you are trapped inside. Scrub those walls, clean out the cupboards, and any other thing you think may need to be done. I will tell you each week what I accomplish and if you dare you can keep up with me. This week was a big fat zero. Just maintaining the house with everyone being sick is my accomplishment! But that is my cleaning tip of the week, do the inside jobs when it is cold out and spread them out.

Flu has hit!

Sorry ladies but the flu has hit my family. It has been crazy. So I am back and coming back strong. But I have a family strong recipe to help you get into the winter mood! My mother's chili recipe that has been passed down her family. This is my comfort food during those cold months. It is cheap to make, and it works great to make a double batch and freeze half for an easy meal later. You can also freeze it in small containers for fast lunches.

Mom’s Chili
2 cans pinto beans
½ large onion chopped
½ green pepper chopped
1 lb ground beef or venison or ground turkey
14.5 oz can tomatoes (I use diced)
8 oz tomato sauce
1 ½ tsp salt
Dash: Paprika
Dash cayenne pepper
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 - 2 tsp chili powder

Brown onion, green pepper, and meat in a pan. Throw in crock pot and add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Simmer 2 hours adding water if needed. Add beans, heat completely and serve.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cleaning Tip: vinegar

Vinegar is a great, cheap cleaner.Don't worry if you don't like the smell because it disappears soon after you use it. The only place I know of where you do not want to use it is on Granite or marble counter tops. So here is a list I found at .

"Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen has cited numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar such as you can buy in the supermarket kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can't claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial.

Here are twenty-seven uses for vinegar:

* Deodorize your sink drains: Pour a cup down your drain, let stand about thirty minutes, then run cold water.

* Unclog a drain: Dump 1 cup of baking soda down your drain and follow it with 1 cup of vinegar. When they mix, they foam and expand, cleaning your drain. Allow a few minutes for the mixture to do it's job, then flush with hot water for several minutes.

* Disinfect and clean wood cutting boards: Rub with vinegar to disinfect and clean. If your cutting board has deep grooves, you can also soak the board in vinegar for 5-10 minutes.

* Cut grease: When washing greasy pans or dishes, add a few tablespoons of vinegar to your soapy dishwater.

* Clean the dishwasher: Vinegar reduces soap build up, so throw a cup of vinegar in your dishwasher and let it run a full (empty) cycle once a month or so.

* Clean the coffeepot: Hard water can clog a coffeepot and cause yucky buildup inside it. To remedy this, pour 1 cup vinegar in your coffeepot, fill the rest of the way with water, then run it through a cycle as usual (without coffee grounds in the filter). Rinse the coffeepot out. Fill it with fresh water and run another cycle without coffee to rinse the inside of the coffee maker.

* Loosen food grime and clean the microwave: Place a microwave-safe bowl with 2 cups water, 1/2 cup vinegar inside the microwave and microwave on full power for 3-4 minutes (it needs to boil). Keep your microwave closed for a few minutes to allow the steam to loosen the grime, then open your microwave, carefully remove the bowl, and wipe clean!

* Clean windows: Mix 1 cup vinegar with 5 cups water, and you've got a great window cleaner. If you must have blue window cleaner, just a few drops of blue food coloring!

* Remove grease from kitchen walls: Put straight vinegar on a dishcloth to wipe grease off kitchen walls, or the stovetop.

* Remove pet urine stains (and smells) from carpet: Mix about 1/4 cup of vinegar to a quart of water. Soak a washcloth in the mixture and blot the area several times.

* Clean kitchen and bathroom faucets: Soak a paper towel in vinegar then wrap it around your faucet to remove mineral deposits.

* Clean and shine no-wax vinyl or linoleum floors: Mix 1 gallon of water with 1/2 cup vinegar in a bucket, then mop or scrub your floor with the solution.

* Inexpensive scouring powder: Combine two tablespoons each of vinegar and baking soda for an effective scouring powder.

* Clean the toilet rim: Put straight 5% vinegar in a squirt bottle and use it to clean the rim of the toilet. It disinfects, too!

* Prevent mold and mildew in the shower: Wipe down tile or Formica shower walls with a sponge or cloth dampened with water and vinegar. The vinegar will clean the walls and inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.

* Unclog the showerhead: Mineral deposits from hard water can cause a sputtering, clogged shower head. Place the showerhead in a pot, add enough vinegar to completely cover it. Heat the vinegar to just below boiling, then remove from heat. Allow to sit for at least 6 hours. The acid in the vinegar will eat away the deposits. Rinse the showerhead well, and it's ready to go again.

* Get rid of the funky smell in that lunchbox: Soak a piece of plain bread in vinegar, then place it in the lunchbox overnight and the smell will disappear!

* Remove rust: To get rid of rust, soak items in vinegar (do not dilute). This will work on any metals.

* Remove residue and styling product build up from hair: After shampooing, rinse your hair with a mixture of 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 warm water to remove all the build up and get rid of that dullness.

* Eliminate smells: Run a hot tub of water and pour in one or two cups of vinegar. Hang smelly clothes on hangers along your shower curtain rod. This will remove smoke and other tough smells.

* Get rid of stickers, decals and sticky residues: Rub a few coats of vinegar on the area and allow to soak. Then wash off with a wet washcloth and the sticky will rub right off.

* Polish patent leather purses and shoes: Place vinegar on a clean cloth, then rub over patent leather. Wipe dry with another clean cloth.

* Remove stains: Rub a small amount of vinegar gently on fruit, jelly, mustard or coffee type stains and wash as usual. No more stain!

* Clean your glasses: Place a drop of vinegar on the lens, then rub with a cotton cloth.

* Get the smell out of your cloth diapers! Next time those cloth diapers start to smell, add a 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar in your last rinse.

* Polish your car: Rub vinegar on chrome to clean and shine it.

* Remove bumper stickers: Soak a cloth in vinegar and lay it over the bumper sticker. Allow to soak a few minutes. The bumper sticker should peel right off. Rub vinegar over the area to remove the sticky residue, if necessary.

* Next time you have a sore throat, try gargling with cider vinegar! "

And a tip for vinegar of my own is to run it through your coffee maker once in a while to keep coffee buildup from changing the taste of your coffee. Just make sure to run a few pots of water through it afterwards.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jodi Picoult

Every mom needs to take time for herself. You cannot be 100% for your children and remain positive toward your life. We all love our children, but we cannot lose ourself in raising them. Remember that when they have moves out of the house you will be left to continue with your life and they will not want you involved every day. Give yourself some time to get back to you, enjoy some recoup time, and be refreshed and ready to be there for your family. It doesn't matter when you do it, or what you do. Pick something you love and do it, even if it is only when they are in bed.

I love to curl up in a good book and get lost in a good story. I have many favorite authors, but today I will introduce you to one. Jodi Picoult is an amazing author that most women love. She educates herself on her subjects and writes a story that you will more than likely cry, laugh, hope, and dream along with. A good example is 'My Sister's Keeper' and that book has been made into a movie that was released into theaters in June. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the book was an experience in itself. After reading 'Change of Heart' I was compelled to read every one of her books. If you are not afraid of a book that will bring out a wide variety of emotion I highly suggest Jodi Picoult. Just pick any one of her books and be ready for an amazing story as she shows the woman's outlook on religion, relationships, illnesses, and more.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Child Care

There are so many experts on how to raise your kids, and things change on a regular basis. To be honest I have one set of ideas that I find help make the household a nicer place to be and the kids really respond to. I will not get into too much detail today, but I will give you a basic outline of Love and Logic.

Love and Logic teaches kids through empathy not anger. It also teaches kids with real world consequences while the prices are still small. Give them lots of choices, use empathy instead of anger, and let the consequences teach them. Love and Logic is hard to break down into a quick overview, but do a little research and you will love the rewards. It is amazing how my kids respond when I am empathetic (even when I have to fake it) rather than angry. The Love and Logic Institute can give you the tools to deal with any age, and almost any circumstance. You can visit them at If you do not want to buy the books right away look into your local papers. In my area there are seminars and events taking place almost every week for free or for small fees. Also talk to your schools since most have implemented Love and Logic into their daily discipline.

Now if you will please excuse me I feel an 'energy drain' coming on strong . . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finances start with a budget

All finances should start with a budget, so I will tell you the basics of making a realistic budget you can stick to. It takes time, but you will be amazed at how much of your money is being thrown away. The hard part comes first. FOr one full month you need to only buy what you NEED. If it is not necessary to buy for survival, recurring bills, or necessary for a job then you do not get it. Keep track of your money during this month by getting a receipt for every transaction and that means even if it is just a few cents. By the end of the month you have accomplished two important things; 1. You know how much money you need to survive. 2. You know where to budget your money.

After the first month you can sit down and write down a realistic budget. Remember to add in a form of entertainment, but keep it within reason. A few things you should really budget for is savings and college for your children. If all goes well you will have expenses paid, savings set, and have some extra money. If not then check back for my posts on working from home.

The most important part of a budget is following it. Be strong ladies, and make sure your husband sticks to it. Just having a budget on the table will help you control the expenses. Give it a try ladies, and enjoy the reward of spending your money in the places that actually mean something to you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cleanin tip - crayon cleanup

“Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow
So quiet down, cobwebs
Dust, go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.”

As a mom, one of the hardest things I try to do is balance my priorities. I want a happy family, clean home, and still manage to make money. It has taken me a long time to realize that I can not do it all. I have also found that the key is to do things the best you can in the time that you have. So here it is ladies, the cleaning tip of the week. Something that will help you save time cleaning and give you more time to spend with those who need you the most.

Crayons can be easily cleaned off most surfaces with Scott's Liquid Gold. Yes ladies, I am serious. Stop spending the money on the Magic Erasers! I found out this gem from cleaning the crayon off my son’s dresser. Now it just takes minutes to get that crayon off the wall, baby gate, windows, and whatever furniture caught my little artist’s eye while I got distracted cooking. The only downside of using this method is you may have to wipe it down again with a rag wet with water afterwards since Scott's Liquid Gold is oily, but my walls have never looked cleaner.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pudding Delight

Every woman should have a recipe that everyone wants. This is a recipe that is great for company, family, or potlucks. It is easy to make, and leaves them wanting more.

1 1/2 cubes butter
1/4 c flour
1 1/2c chopped walnuts
8 oz softened cream cheese
16 oz Cool Whip
1 c powdered sugar
2 boxes Chocolate or lemon instant pudding
3c cold milk

First Layer: mix together butter, flour, and walnuts. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before adding second layer.

Second Layer: Mix together cream cheese, 8 oz Cool Whip, and powdered sugar. Spread on top of the first layer.

Third Layer: Mix together pudding and milk as directed. Spread on top os the second layer. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Top with the remaining 8 oz Cool Whip. Decorate if desired.