Monthly Archives: October 2009

Frugal Friday: Wait


The question asked?  How do you save money.

I have two answers…both of them simple.  At least on the surface.

Using cash for daily/regular expenses like groceries, gas and household items has saved us tons of money!  I talked about it here.

Today though I would have to say waiting is on the top of my list.  Let’s face it…instant gratification is expensive.

All too often it is easy to run out and buy that thing you ran out of today.  Oh no!  I don’t have any chili powder!  So off to the store I go.  Hmm, look at those sale prices.  I better get a few other things.  There goes $20.  Ask me when I used the $2 chili powder.  Couple weeks later.  Didn’t use the other things right away either.  Was the time and money involved in that trip worth it? A few years ago I would’ve said yes.  Those are necessities so its good I ran out to buy them.

That was then.  This is now.  In SmallTown things changed.

Today I made chili.  When looking for the chili powder I remembered that I used it all last month.  Guess I forgot to put it on my grocery list.  No worries though.  I substituted some other spices and it was good.  Now chili powder is on my list for my next trip out-of-town.  I talked about my two list system a while back.  Having a second list full of items that can wait has helped me really evaluate needs.  Because not all needs are equal.

And here is a story that still makes me laugh…it shows that even with cash I sometimes wait.  Just because I’m stubborn like that.

There are more frugal tips over at Life as MOM for Frugal Friday…check it out!



Filed under Attitude, Lists, Making Do, Simplify, You Don't Have to Like It

Menu Plan Monday: October 26


I bought a new cook book today.  It is a crock pot cook book and I’m anxious to try some new recipes.  I’ve been on a Christmas planning kick ever since ordering Christmas cards a couple weeks ago. One area I struggle with is serving food to company for several days.  I plan ahead but time and circumstances always seem to get in the way.  This year I hope to test some new crock pot recipes early so they are ready for company to come, as well as the ever typical busy everyday.

So here’s what I’m thinking…


lunch – sausage, pancakes, banana, strawberries & milk

supper – everyone will be gone to different events & eating there


lunch – Cauliflower & Tuna Casserole, peaches & milk

supper – Three-Bean Burrito Bake, chips, corn & milk


lunch – shredded chicken on buns, baked beans, apple slices & milk

supper – Cheesy Chicken Casserole, green beans, salad & milk


lunch – pepperoni pizza, salad, carrots, milk

supper – leftovers


lunch – spaghetti & meatballs, green beans, milk

supper – brats, potato wedges & fruit


lunch – pb&j sandwiches, carrot sticks and fruit

supper – snack food, sloppy joes, other fun food since the kids are both having friends over that day to go trick-or-treating with them


lunch – leftovers

supper – potato soup, cheese & crackers, fresh veggies

There you have it…some new recipes and easy favorites.  Breakfasts will be the usual, fruit with some combination of cereal, bagels, english muffins, pancakes or oatmeal.  I might try a new scone recipe, we’ll see.

For tons of menu inspiration check out all that is part of Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie.

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Filed under In the Kitchen, Menus


Taken on a gloomy Saturday a few weeks ago on a drive through one of the MN State Parks.

Taken on a gloomy Saturday a few weeks ago on a drive through one of the MN state parks.

Outside is gloomy and wet, my house is not very tidy and I’m trying to be ok with that.  The perfectionist in me always thinks she should be cleaning or doing something productive. The rest of me gets a little sick of her.

Today I got the one main thing on my list crossed off.  Mail (belated) birthday gifts to relatives.

And then I spent a few hours feeding my creative side.  I played with my new cartridge for my Cricut and made cards for family.  Then I put the kids’ school pictures in those cards and even mailed most of them.    I also sprayed an old metal tray with chalkboard paint.  Chalkboard paint always makes me happy!  I went to the coffee shop for a yummy chai tea and even checked out a gift shop that is closing on Monday…there were good deals but I only bought one small gift for a friend for Christmas.  Then I had to visit the other gift shops neighboring that one.  There were a lot of cute things but I resisted.  Last stop was the thrift store.  I bought a valance that I think I’ll make into an apron, a metal bucket that hangs on the wall (and promptly painted that with my chalkboard paint too) and another small piece of material that I liked and think I can put to use.  Total for today (other than postage) was only $10.  Not bad.  And then I went and worked out for half an hour on the treadmill.

I feel pretty lazy.  No cleaning.  No cooking.  Can you believe my kids scrounged around for their own lunches and I made pizza rolls for me and my man for lunch?  Lame but true.  And this is the point in the day where I fight the guilt over not accomplishing anything today.  But if I look at what I did do…a few things got accomplished.

I’m still learning to relax and just enjoy doing my own thing sometimes.  It’s kind of fun.

Now I’m going to go make some supper for the kids.  Although driving home from the community center had me eyeing Subway, I’ll make some soup and sandwiches here.  And then I’ll maybe curl up with a book I’ve been reading.

So tell me, am I the only one who fights the GUILT?  What are your tips for enjoying a lazy day?

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Filed under Attitude, Just Me, Lists

Yep, THAT Family.

I wrote recently about my accident prone kids here.  What I didn’t say is that no one was truly surprised by our series of events that happened so close together.

Examples?  Oh yeah, I got examples.

My kids went to grandma’s for a few days.  The boy came home without his glasses.  That was 6 weeks ago and we’ve given up hope that they’ll turn up.  I think they got thrown away at a movie theater where he’d taken them off to put on the 3D glasses.   About a month later my husband and daughter spent a weekend away for a mini hunting trip.  She came back without her glasses.  The hotel did have them turned in.  Someone found them in the parking lot.  They had been run over.  Thankfully the case took the brunt of it and they could be bent back into shape.  This time.

Two weeks prior to my son breaking his teeth I received a call from the nurses’ office at school.  He had hurt his arm playing kickball and she wasn’t sure if it might be broken.  It wasn’t, but what was funny was that the next day at flag football practice a teacher who is a friend of ours asked Dan if Stanley had been the kid who got hurt at kickball.  Dan confirmed that it was indeed our boy.  Apparently she heard that a boy had gotten hurt and asked if it was “Stanley SmallTown” to which the others said that they didn’t think so but it was a Stanley…She said she nodded and told them that she was sure it was him then.

It’s nice to have folks know who you are…especially when you are relatively new to that town.  But really?  Is this how we want to be known?  As THAT family?

Kristen is having a great Blogoversary Carnival over at her place, We are THAT Family.  Check out the fun stories!

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Ultimate Recipe Swap: Monster Bars


My family LOVES these.  They are moist and freeze well too.  In high school our cafeteria sold big monster cookies that were so soft and yummy!  Dan & I had never had any as good (we’re high school sweethearts) until a friend served these bars a couple of years ago…we were hooked!

Monster Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups oats (either quick cooking or regular)
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (I use regular)
  • 1 cup mini m&ms (again, I use regular…& seasonal are fun!)

Mix butter, sugars and peanut butter.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix in soda and oatmeal, then chips and m&ms.

Spread in jelly roll pan and bake @ 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Do not over bake.  The edges will just start to turn a little golden.  Enjoy!

Check out Life as MOM for more recipes…they look good!


Filed under In the Kitchen


Can you believe I’m going to tell a story of forgiveness as it relates to a credit card company?

I made a mistake yesterday.  And I hate to make mistakes.  I paid my credit card payment late. By 20 minutes.  Panic set in that my interest rate would jump to 30% and then there would be the $39 late fee.  Really the late fee would’ve been the least of my worries.  This is the only credit card we still carry a balance on.  We owe them thousands of dollars, and while we plan to have it paid off within the next year a jump in interest would ruin our plan.

I panicked.  How would I fess up to this mess?  How would I fix it?  There are so many reports of how awful and unforgiving the credit card companies are…

I knew that we could move the balance to any of the three credit cards we have already paid off.  I thought there might be a slim chance to avoid the penalties from this company.  But I didn’t have a lot of faith.  I prayed.  I prayed for forgiveness for leaning on me and not Him.  I prayed for some grace.  Ironically I didn’t pray that the problem would be alright…I prayed that I’d be alright with what happened next.  That it would work out.

After supper I called the company.  I had decided I wasn’t going to try to come up with a bunch of excuses as to why I didn’t pay earlier…I was simply going to admit my mistake, point out that I made a payment several hundred dollars above the minimum (and do every month) and ask what they could do to help me.  I was nervous.

A nice woman on the phone heard my first line.  “I’m calling because I made my payment about a half hour too late today. I’m sorry about that.”

Her response?

“Yes, Mrs. X   I see that.  I also see that you are a charter member with us, since 1994.  And you have such a good credit history…great job on that.  I’ve taken care of it.  You won’t be charged a late fee and your interest will remain the same.”

I was amazed and I don’t think I really believed what I was hearing.  I didn’t even have to ask!

She proceeded to tell me that since I’m such a good customer she’d like to offer me a 5% cash back reward for the next three months on all charges on this card, up to a $100 statement credit.

Really?  Astonishing.  Before we hung up I asked again if I heard her right…no fee, my rate would stay low AND I had a 5% cash back reward for the next 3 months? She assured me that was right.

It is often hard for me to understand how big God is.  How all encompassing His grace really is.  That I am FORGIVEN.  But isn’t that just what God does for us?  Before we can even ask, our sins are on his screen. He knows.  He says “it’s alright…I’ve taken care of it.”  And then we get the reward in Heaven!  For eternity, not just 3 months.


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Filed under Just Me

Cooking Lessons

I remember being in the kitchen a lot as a child.  Sometimes my grandma’s kitchen,  most the time at home.  My mom and dad both cooked.  My mom is a great cook…one of those people who doesn’t really have recipes, just knows how to add some of this, a little of that…that type of thing.  My dad made stuff like hamburgers, macaroni & cheese,  salmon patties  and side dishes.  He made the best Rice-A-Roni.  Absolutely the BEST.  He made other stuff too, I’m sure.  I just can’t remember what.

Anyway, back to my story.  I don’t remember anyone specifically teaching me to cook, I think I just picked up a lot of it by hanging out in the kitchen.  I was interested.  And I’m a pretty good cook now.  My sister?  Not so much.  She still has a  limited repertoire…and that’s ok.  She has mad skills in areas that I could never compete with.

I do have one kitchen failure that will always follow me…until the day my mother dies.  And my sister, but she can’t really make fun of me when it comes to the kitchen.

I was maybe 9?  Anyone remember Fudge Jumbles?  They were a box mix.  You put the crust/dough ingredients together and pressed part of it in the pan, then layered on this packet of  fudgey filling (or whatever flavor you bought, there was a variety) and sort of sprinkled/spread the rest of the doughy stuff on top.  Bake and eat.  Pretty easy.

So I really wanted to make some one day while my parents were watching TV.  My mom told me to go ahead…just read the box.  That’s exactly what I did.  Until I had the ingredients in the bowl and came to the part where it said to “stir by hand”.  hmmm.  I asked my mom if I was really supposed to stir them by hand.  She said that was right, so I went back to the kitchen.  Read it again…but I wasn’t so sure that I really should stir by hand.  Asked mom again.  Same answer…stir by hand.  Ok then.  Shortly after (probably a commercial break) my mom came in to see how it was going, only to find me with that sticky dough almost up to my elbows!  I was stirring by hand, and now most of it was smeared up my arms from trying to get it off me!  Mom laughed and laughed and cried and laughed.  She probably wet her pants a little too…but she’s never admit it.

I don’t remember how they turned out.  I’m sure they were ok…just not the usual look.  And to this day I always think twice when a recipe says to “stir by hand”!

Well, Grace now has her own kitchen story.  One  Saturday while Dan & I were scouting out rummage sales she called to see if she could make cookies.  I told her to set the butter out to soften and she could make them later.

Sometimes it is so hard to wait.  She and Stanley were so anxious to get that dough made that they went ahead and mixed up some chocolate chip cookie dough.  Or at least they tried.

Grace added all the ingredients in the order they were listed on the bag…butter (not soft), flour, salt, baking soda, sugars, vanilla.  You get the picture.  Thankfully she didn’t put in the eggs or chocolate chips right away.  Then her brother got down the mixer for her. Except it was the broken one from the back of a cabinet.  We came home to find an interesting mix in that bowl.

Grace thought she was in trouble for sure.  All I could think of was Fudge Jumbles.  I laughed and shook my head.

Then I got the mixer that worked and we got those mixed up.  By now the butter was soft and mixed much better.  We added the eggs and chips and baked some cookies.  They aren’t like any chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made, but that’s OK.  With a glass of milk, does it really matter?

She had an important cooking lesson that day.

One she won’t forget until the day I die.

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Filed under Family, In the Kitchen, Kids