Saturday, January 31, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff; But It's the Small Stuff That Drives Me Crazy!

If I were to go insane, hypothetically speaking of course, it wouldn't be some huge, major event that would drive me over the edge. No, it would be something small. Those seemingly insignificant inconveniences which just gnaw at me! Case in point, our beloved LG dishwasher - so quiet, so pretty with it's stainless steel tub. It's the workhorse of the kitchen. As apart of my usual Saturday morning routine, I loaded up the dishwasher after breakfast. I went about straightening up the rest of the kitchen when the dishwasher started to beep. Opening the door, I see this cryptic message flashing on the control panel - LE??? I check the owners' manual on-line, but no mention of "LE". So I call customer service. Diagnosis - motor issues! The representative then tries to direct me to a repair service which is about 40 miles away from here. No thanks!

With the payoff of our HELOC looming on the horizon, talk of emergency repair or replacement has been put aside. So what's a girl to do? Roll up her sleeves and get to it! One hour (and one pair of dish pan hands) later, the dishes are done. I know on the scale of "major-ness", this barely registers. Some people don't even have dishwashers. Some people in this world wash their dishes in watering holes where clothes are washed, people bathe and animals come to drink. Yeah, I get it's not a big deal. But it so irks me nonetheless!

Happy Birthday Clayton!

Clayton Turns 4 Years Old Today!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little boy,

With the biggest brown eyes and the most delicate of souls.

I'm so proud to be your mother!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let's Go Krogering

verb - The act of shopping at Kroger grocery stores for awesome Mega Event deals, great sales on organics and the best markdowns in town!

A quick stop by Kroger yesterday -

4 Juicy Juice -- sale 2.49 - .50/2Q doubled (1/4 SS1)

2 gallons Horizon Reduced Fat Organic milk -- markdown 3.29 ea

2 Kraft Mozzarella shredded cheese -- sale 1.99

3 Kraft 2% Hormone Free shredded cheddar cheese -- sale 1.99 - .75/1Q (blinkie next to cheese)

1 Kraft 2% Hormone Free singles -- sale 1.99 - .75/1Q (blinkie)

1 King Arthur unbleached white, whole wheat flour

Less $5 Mega Event promotion

Total oop: $23.81
Total savings: $23.04

Let's Go Krogering is hosted every Tuesday by The New Frugal Mom

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan

Our meals for the week...

Saturday - Garden Pasta sauce using fresh organic tomatoes (and some organic canned!), organic zucchini & squash over whole wheat rotini

Sunday - Momma takes a break - dinner out!

Monday - Lentil Chili with Homemade Cornbread (subbed ground flax seed for wheat germ in the recipe)

Tuesday - Roast Chicken with organic brown rice & steamed veggies

Wednesday - Brown Rice & Black Bean Burritos

Thursday - Crockpot Chicken with Mushroom gravy, organic brown rice & steamed veggies

Friday - Baked Lemon Chicken with New Potatoes & Vegetables

I've Officially Lost It!

This morning started like most mornings - me stumbling out of bed, much later than I should. Mumbling about the coldness of the house and telling Dave, "I don't really want to go to work today". To which he replies, "You say that every day!" Stand in front of my closet looking for just the right black pants to go with a new gray sweater. Can't find the pants, they are lost somewhere in the closet. Make a quick outfit change to my usual Monday outfit - my fav black sweater (the one that looks great with everything and is slimming!) and fav gray dress pants.

Get a sleepy Ashleigh out of bed. Get her dressed while she's still mostly asleep. She finally awakes and makes her way to the bathroom to brush her teeth. I head down stairs to start breakfast - in the words of Clayton, "Oatmeal, AGAIN!" LOL. Back up stairs to do Ashleigh's hair. Get some clothes out for the boys and ask Dave if he's moved Ashleigh's car seat from the van to his car yet. Grab my stuff, a little bit of breakfast, my Mom's mail and I'm out the door.

Get to work, turn on my computer, the phone rings...

Dave: "Hey Honey, somebody wants to talk to you"

Ashleigh: "Hey Momma, I went to school and there was nobody there. No students or anything!"

Me (in disbelief): Really?!?

Dave: "Yeah, there wasn't anyone there. It's a teacher work day today"

Me (still in disbelief): Are you sure?

Quickly pulling up the school's website on-line.

Me: Oh....

Yes, I think I've officially lost it!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grocery Totals & Ponderings

It's been awhile since I've listed my weekly grocery totals. But my grocery budget has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Last year my journey towards healthier eating for the family began by learning to cook meals from scratch instead of buying boxed, convenience foods. I've even impressed myself with the things I've learned to make on my own. Dave is especially pleased because when we were first married the extent of my cooking was baking frozen chicken breast in tin foil tents and mixing canned veggies with instant rice.

As I read more about whole foods and traditional diets, I feel this is the direction I want to take our eating. However getting there can't happen overnight. And for us it may not mean going "all the way". But just continuing to educate ourselves and make better, healthier choices along the way.

The amount of information regarding nutrition is at times confusing and overwhelming. There's a pro and con argument for almost everything under the sun. I'm also trying to resist the urge to jump into this with both feet and just focus on the following small steps:

(1) Continue to cook meals from scratch; focusing on simple dishes to save time and expense.

(2) Increase the amount of organic vegetables and fruits in our diet (while shopping with the Dirty Dozen list in mind)

(3) Begin using natural sweeteners for baking (not sure what I'm going to do about my sweet tea!)

(4) Learn how to make from scratch versions of meal components like cream of soups, broths, soup mixes, etc.

(5) Explore the benefits of cooking with coconut oil (I have to admit, I'm a bit hesitant when it comes to coconut oil because it is high in saturated fats. But there seems to be a ton of health benefits associated with it).

(6) Begin eating organic or free range eggs (since these can be pricey, it may mean learning to cook with inexpensive egg substitutes like ground flax seed)

With this new undertaking, I'm going to have to get back to the basics to make sure our grocery budget doesn't go spiraling out of control. That means consistently shopping with cash, keeping a price book and meal planning.


Total spent: $112.36
Total savings: $37.73

Whole Foods:
1 can pineapple chunks
1 can organic tomato sauce
2 lemons (sale 2/$1)
3-6ct frozen Organic whole wheat tortillas
1 bag frozen organic corn
1 whole chicken (sale .99/lb)
2lb organic bananas
1 organic green pepper
2lb organic braeburn apples (sale .99/lb)
1/2lb fresh green beans
3lb organic red potatoes
3/4lb organic seedless raisins

Total oop: $29.49

Harris Teeter:
1 reduced bag of organic tomatoes -- 1.17
1 reduced bag of organic roma tomatoes -- 1.15
1 reduced bag of organic zucchini -- .80
3 gallons HT organic milk -- sale 4.99 ea

Total oop: $18.45
Total savings: $1.80

Lowes Foods:
4lb bag sugar
3 Fixodent denture cream (for my Mom!) -- Lowes Q 2.49 - .75/1Q doubled
1 LF chili powder -- sale .99
1 dozen Full Circle Cage Free brown eggs -- sale 2.79
1 Smart Balance oil -- 2.95 - 1/1Q
3 Quaker Old Fashioned oats -- sale 1.50 - .60/1Q doubled
1 Pace salsa -- sale 1.99 - .50/1Q doubled
1-3 lb bag PAWS dry cat food -- sale 2.49

Total oop: $15.71
Total savings: $23.33

10 Juicy Juice -- sale 2.49 - .50/2Q doubled

Less $5 Promo

Total oop: $15.35
Total savings: $12.60

for diapers and shredded cheese -- $33.36

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - January 19th

Last week was so incredibly busy at work! Hasn't let up but we might be getting a day off as SNOW is in the forecast for tomorrow! I just love snow! Probably more than any adult woman should LOL!

Here's our menu for the week!

Weekend Meal Prep:

I didn't get around to doing any dinner prep over the weekend (shame, shame!), but I did make some breakfast/snack items.

Homemade organic yogurt in the crockpot!
Homemade brown sugar granola


Saturday - Homemade Pepperoni Pizza with whole wheat crust (Anne Jisca's Easy Pizza Dough - 1 1/2c whole wheat flour, 1 c unbleached, white whole wheat)

Sunday - Ashleigh's birthday dinner out - she chose Applebee's!

Monday - Spinach Enchiladas using organic, whole wheat tortillas

Tuesday - Sloppy Lentil Joes

Wednesday - Autumn Chowder

Thursday - Crockpot Chicken & Quinoa (from Nourishing Gourmet)

Friday - Cheese Quesadilla using organic, whole wheat tortillas & Black beans, brown rice and corn

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Ashleigh!

Ashleigh Turns 6 Today!

Wow! It is so hard to believe that my dear, sweet surprise blessing from God is turning 6 years old today! I still remember every moment of your pregnancy. From rushing off to Target to buy a pregnancy test and being so nervous I couldn't pee! To being absolutely speechless the first moment I saw your face.

My daughter, you are simply the personification of joy. If there's any good to be found in the bleakest of days, you will find it. You will love it and live it to its fullest.

Though you have grown and life has changed, I still feel as I did six years ago on that snowy January afternoon - so undeserving, yet so richly blessed to be your mother!

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

- My Wish by Rascal Flatts

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - January 12th

This week I had to get creative and bring together the menu plan based on our pantry and freezer stockpile. With unexpected car trouble taking a big chunk out of our emergency fund, I decided to limit groceries to just needed items - milk, diapers and the like. Thankfully, due to triples and some really good meat sales, we've got some pretty good stock on hand!

Weekend Meal Prep:

- Cooked organic brown rice
- Soaked & cooked organic black beans
- Made gallon of sweet tea

Dinner Menu:

Saturday - Homemade Pizza with Whole Wheat crust (using Anne Jisca's Easy Pizza Dough recipe from Tammy's Recipes - 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour, 1 c unbleached, white whole wheat), Pepperoni, Onions, Green Peppers & Mexican blend cheese

Sunday - Marinated London Broil with organic brown rice & steamed sweet peas

Monday - Cheese Quesadilla with organic whole wheat tortillas & Black Beans, Rice and Corn

Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken & Mushroom gravy with organic brown rice & steamed veggies

Wednesday - Garden Vegetable Soup & sandwiches

Thursday - Veggie Lo Mein

Friday - Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Learning from the Bumps in the Road

Doesn't it always seem like when you're moving towards a goal, something pops up and gets in your way? We've definitely experienced this on our journey towards debt freedom. As you know, we're getting closer to finally paying off our HELOC. We've been "snowballing" this debt since July. Meaning at the end of the month, we send all extra money to the HELOC. In our excitement over nearing the end of our goal, we decided to send a little extra money in last week. We figured it would be the perfect week since the mortgage had already been paid the week prior, our other bills weren't due until the end of the month and our only expenses for the week were just grocery and allowances. All was well until Friday morning.

As Dave was driving Ashleigh to school, his car engine started stumbling and the check engine light came on. He stopped and checked the oil, which was very low. He filled it up but the check engine light remained on and the sputtering continued. He dropped Ash off and made his way to the garage and called me at work to come pick him up. We certainly weren't counting on pricey auto repairs when we transferred our extra money to the HELOC the day before.

On my way to pick up Dave, I kept thinking about how as we move closer to becoming debt free, we're experiencing more attacks or visits from "Murphy" as Dave Ramsey calls them. For us, car issues are particularly stressing due to having lost an engine several years ago as a result of an improper oil change. Since neither one of us are car savvy, we're left to depending on repair shops and possibly opening ourselves up to being overcharged. And having major car trouble was one of my biggest reasons for holding onto credit cards in the past.

But I've come to the realization, these attacks are really lessons to help us get over our fears. I feel strongly that the way we are moving financially, is the way in which God would want us to live. He would not want us bound by debt or relying on credit. He would not want us living in fear. We used our emergency fund to pay for the repairs and are now moving on feeling enriched by the experience. We're claiming victory over our debt and will not be deterred!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Financial Goals for 2009

Almost a year ago, we started our path towards financial freedom with Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. We've been steadily working the "Baby Steps" and are coming closer to having all our debts paid off except for the mortgage!

We sat down and put together our financial goals for 2009. With the economy in the state it currently is, we feel more than ever the path we've taken has been a wise one.

Financial Goals for 2009

~ Pay off our HELOC, thus completing Baby Step 2!

~ Start Baby Step 3 (Save 3 to 6 months of expenses)

~ Complete Baby Step 3

~ Generate additional revenue streams

~ Educate ourselves about investments in anticipation of Baby Steps 4 & 5 (Retirement & College Savings)

~ Begin paying extra on our mortgage (Baby Step 6)

Stay tuned for updates!

For more information on the Total Money Makeover Plan, visit Dave Ramsey's website.

To meet others working the plan, visit Living Like No One Else, a free forum devoted to the Total Money Makeover Plan.

Ringing in the New Year with Savings!

I got up early on New Year's Day and braved the cold for the first triple coupon event of the year at Harris Teeter! The first day is always the best for me and I love getting there before the crowds. Here's what I got over the course of the four day event:

4 Dawn dish liquids 14oz --- 1.79 - .50/1Q = .29 ea

3 Pampers wipes --- 3.49 - .50/1Q = 1.99 ea

3 Luzianne tea bags 24ct --- 1.99 - .60/1Q = .19 ea

1 Synder's Multigrain Sunflower chips --- 3.49 - .75/1Q = 1.24

1 Synder's Multigrain Cheese Puffs --- 3.00 - .75/1Q = .25

9 Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes --- 2.45 - .75/1Q = .20 ea

3 Muir Glen Organic tomato sauce --- 2.45 - .75/1Q = .20 ea

6 Arnold Natural Whole Wheat bread --- 1.99 - .55/1Q = .34 ea

3 Wet Ones wipes --- 2.99 - .75/1Q = .74 ea

4 Halls sugar free cough drops --- 1.50 - .50/1Q = FREE!

3 Downy Pure Essential fabric softners --- 3.94 - 1/1Q doubled = 1.94 ea

3 Cascade dishwasher gel pacs --- 3.99 - .50/1Q = 2.49 ea (I should have just waited for the awesome half off Finish/Electrasol coupon in Sunday's paper!)

4 Coffee-Mate powder creamer --- 1.99 - .50/1Q = .49 ea

3 Suave deodorants --- 1.77 - .55/1Q = .12 ea

3 GUM toothbrushes --- 1.99 - .75/1Q = FREE!


4lb bag sugar

1 Smart Balance cooking oil

6 packs Perdue boneless, skinless chicken breasts --- sale B1G2F

3 Motts for Tots apple juices --- sale 2.89 - 1.00/1Q = 1.89 ea

3 organic green peppers --- sale 1.99 ea

Total spent: $69.38

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Reed!

Today, my baby turns 2!

I'm still trying to digest the fact that my BABY is 2 years old! It seems just like yesterday we were on a mad rush to the hospital wondering if we'd make it in time. As fast as you arrived, it seems like you've grown even faster. Someone told me the other day, to not lament for the past but to enjoy the current stage. It is true the present brings it's own gifts. But just know my big boy of 2, when you fall off or out of something, when big brother refuses to share trucks, cars and trains with you and when big sister banishes you from her room, Momma's arms are still here just like when you were a baby.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year

Full of promise and possibilities.

May yours be blessed.

Happy New Year!