Friday, May 29, 2009 2 comments

Once-a-month cooking, adapted

I've found myself dragging in the late afternoons lately, and we've resorted to hamburgers or hot dogs more often than I want to think about. It's still home-cooked, but it's certainly not the nutrition I want to live on.

So I decided it was high time to try the once-a-month cooking experiment. As I was searching online for recipes, I came across an article that had a great suggestion. The writer suggested that you focus on one particular meat each night - the meat you're already making for supper. So if I were making chicken for supper, I'd make all the chicken meals for the month, too. That's a lot less formidable, let me tell you!

So yesterday I actually doubled up and did the chicken and ground turkey (what we use in place of ground beef) meals for the month. Today I'm planning to finish the sausage and ham meals, and then I should be pretty well set ... Unless I decide to do some baking, too. You know, my butter rolls go great with the chili I made yesterday. :)

So how long did this take me? In six hours, I managed to get 18 meals into the freezer. Several of the foods were enough for two meals for our family of four, so that helped it go quicker. I was very pleased, and my husband was impressed! And I still had the energy to clean up the kitchen when I was done! :)

Have you ever tried once-a-month cooking?
Thursday, May 28, 2009 0 comments

Kids and spending money

I enjoy reading Meredith's blog as often as she writes. She always has such great ideas, and she's a frugal mom after my own heart. Now I know she's a genius, too!

Yesterday she wrote about her "family general store" where her kids "shop" as a reward or when they have a stash of money accumulated and want to buy something. This is pure genius, and I'm going to figure out a way to make it work for us! (I already have a stash of items to get us started ... )

Go check out her post here for more details about this excellent idea.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 3 comments

The rest of my "vacation" cards

As you'll soon see, I made lots of cards while we were on vacation. It was fun, and I challenged myself to use only a limited range of patterned papers and stamps, since I only took certain ones. I enjoyed the challenge of using supplies that I had barely touched! So here are the cards ...

This first one is a bookmark card. It opens in the middle, and the inside (below) has a detachable bookmarker on the right. This is the men's version, using Tim Holtz stamps and travel-themed patterned paper by ATD.

Next up is my ladies' version of the bookmark card:

And the inside:

Stamps: Tim Holtz (bookmark sentiment), Inkadinkadoo (flower), Scrappy Cats (swirl on bookmark). Patterned paper: ATD

This one was a bit time-consuming, but it was cute. Stamps: Studio G (wood-mount cupcake and clear acrylic candle), unknown (sentiment). I colored it with BIC Mark-Its and embossed with Swiss Dots.

Then I made a bunch of gift tags using the same stamps.

This is a ladies' birthday card. Stamps: Stampin Up (sentiment), Studio G (decorative focal point). I used patterned paper by ATD and an EK Success corner punch for the corners.

Here's a slight variation that uses the EK Success fleur de lis border punch in place of the corner punch.

The inspiration for this card came from the patterned paper itself. I just stamped the clocks on the blank squares (a perfect fit) and then added the sentiment. All stamps are Tim Holtz, and patterned paper is ATD.

This was another card that took a little while, but I loved the effect. I used Versamark to stamp my Martha Stewart monogram stamps onto squares, taped those down to another sheet, cut out the Top Note shape, then ran it through my Cuttlebug with the D'vine Swirls embossing folder. I just used an extra square on dimensionals for my focal point.

And finally, this was the very first card I made on vacation, and I loved it. I was especially proud because I used all $1 stamps (Studio G)!! :) My husband will be getting this for Father's Day from our kids.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 0 comments

Blue Ridge Impressions stamps (and cards)

I thought I'd pass along a recommendation for a great company that I recently did business with. While we were at Massanutten Resort, we also happened to be 12 minutes away from a rubber stamp store that I had wanted to order from for awhile now (like a year or so!). Anyway, I stopped by and bought some stamps and was thoroughly impressed with them. The stamp company is Blue Ridge Impressions. They are Mennonite-owned, if I have it right, and they are some of the nicest people you will ever do business with. Not only that, but their stamps are very high-quality, affordable and Christian-themed. It doesn't get any better than that! Go check them out.

I bought the large ship, the buck head, and several sentiments. I'll share the cards I made:

Doesn't this make a perfect sympathy card? The ship and sentiment are both from Blue Ridge Impressions.

And here's a great masculine birthday card! The ship is from Blue Ridge Impressions; the compass and background stamp are from Hampton Arts. A huge bonus: the ship requires almost no coloring to look great.

And here is the buck stamp, the best purchase I've made in a LONG time! Both sides of our family have avid buck hunters, and I now have the perfect card for all those guys that were so hard to make cards for. :) And in case you're wondering, I colored the buck with BIC Mark-Its and used a white watercolor pencil on his rack.

Do you want to know how reasonably-priced these stamps are? The large unmounted stamps average $6 - 6.50. These are the "K" size stamps you'd pay $15+ for mounted. Not only that, but there are coupons in their catalog. I used a BOGO stamp and got both the buck and the ship stamps for $6.50 total.

Monday, May 25, 2009 2 comments

Book spotlight: Professionalizing Motherhood

While we were at Massanutten Resort, we hit the local thrift shops and found them to be quite good. I was especially pleased to find the book Professionalizing Motherhood by Jill Savage (about stay-at-home moms) at the Salvation Army - for $0.50! I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. Now that I've read it, I assure you it has earned its place on my "keeper" shelf!

There are so many good things in it that I hardly know where to begin, so I guess I'll spotlight the biggest thing that struck me when I read it: shame-based parenting vs. grace-based parenting.

I'll be honest - I saw myself here, and I didn't like what I saw. After reading that chapter, I took a hard look at how I treat my children and how they react to me. I've been guilty of wanting my children to be perfect, to respond like mini adults, simply because our family is in the spotlight and I don't want them to embarrass me. That's not fair to them.

My kids need permission to make mistakes without me telling them that they do this "all the time." They need me to respond to spills as the mole hill accidents they are, not the Mount Everest transgressions I make them out to be.

I've been mulling this over in my mind for a few days, and I've on purpose paid attention to how my kids react when they've made some childish mistake. It bothered me to notice that my daughter seemed afraid to tell me that she spilled the water she had been using with her watercolor paints. I checked myself before I responded with my habitual comment about her clumsiness and all the work it makes for me. (She does seem to have two left feet ...) Instead, I hugged her, kissed her, and went to clean it up. She seemed surprised, but relieved, too. [Note to self: Get out those no-spill paint cups in my homeschool supplies!]

I need to work on this and think before I speak. I don't want my kids to think of me as a tyrant. Sure, there's a place for correction. But I need to remember that my kids are only three and five - not sixteen, or even ten. They will make childish mistakes that are not life-threatening or harmful in any lasting way. They need me to respond with grace ... exactly the way I want God to respond to me.

Would I want God to respond to me the same way I respond to my children? That's a mother's equivalent of the time-honored question, "What would Jesus do?" It's what I'm focusing on for awhile.
Saturday, May 23, 2009 2 comments

Back from vacation - photos!

We got back yesterday around 4:00 in the afternoon, thanks to Memorial Day beach traffic. (It would have been much sooner otherwise.) I had to unpack and then bake cookies for a bake sale, so I'm just now getting a few minutes to share some pictures with you.

We had a great time and enjoyed ourselves immensely. There were several days that we just sat around in our pajamas all day (something we never do!) reading or listening to Focus on the Family Radio Theatre CDs. That's my idea of vacation!! :)

As you can see by the pictures, our accomodations were top-notch. If you're looking into buying a timeshare, we're extremely pleased with Massanutten Resort. We didn't do many of the activities, but the place is loaded with them. We enjoyed the chair lift rides to the top of the mountain (breath-taking views that I'll share in another post), mini golf, and playing basketball and ping pong at the recreation center. But let me show you our accomodations! (Please disregard the fact that they're in no particular order. The main entrance was by the kitchen/dining/living area.)

The master bedroom - these will soon be upgraded to king-sized beds with pillow-top mattresses.

The other end of the master bedroom that leads into the attached full bath.

I liked the little desk, although I didn't sit at it to write. I preferred the table over by the window because of the view.

This is the kitchen/dining area. There is a buffet server in the corner (you can't see it in the picture), and I was able to unpack all my craft supplies into a drawer so I could craft until dinner, put my supplies away, and then get it all back out afterward if I wanted.

Here's the living room with the gas fireplace. I think they're planning to make these electric fireplaces in the upgrade, too. The balcony beyond the French doors was screened-in, which was perfect for me (the bug hater).

This is the room the kids slept in. I was surprised that they actually slept in these beds most of the night every night, so my husband and I were able to have our entire queen-sized bed to ourselves. It feels a lot bigger without two little kids in bed with us! :)

This is the other side of the kids' room.

And here is the jacuzzi that we thoroughly enjoyed. It turned out to be in its own separate bathroom instead of inside the master bedroom like I was originally thinking. That's okay, though, because it was absolutely perfect! (Disregard my reflection in the mirror.)

I'll post more next week, but I thought I'd let you know we're back!
Friday, May 15, 2009 0 comments

Blogging break for a week

We're taking a weeks' vacation, so I'll be away from the computer at least until the end of next week, possibly as long as the beginning of the next.

I hope to come back rested and relaxed, since we are all sorely in need of it! I'm planning to spend lots of time in the jacuzzi built right into the master bedroom of our condo, as well as crafting as I get the urge.

Hopefully I'll have lots of ideas and thoughts to share with you when we get back. :)
Thursday, May 14, 2009 0 comments

Good deal alert: GoodNites sleep shorts/boxers

I was in Walgreens today to use up my Register Rewards before they expire, and I ran across a great clearance deal. They are clearancing the GoodNites brand of sleep shorts and boxers (jumbo packs) for $2.89 a pack at my store.

I'm pretty sure there have been recent $2/1 coupons, but I didn't have my coupon binder with me. Even if there aren't current coupons, they do qualify for a $0.75 rebate on each pack through Caregivers Marketplace, which means they would be $2.14/pack without any coupons.

I hope that helps someone!! :)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 0 comments

A somewhat-failed experiment

This was a great concept, but unfortunately it didn't work as well as I had hoped. The original idea was to stamp using StazOn ink on a transparency and then insert it into a bottle of transparent liquid hand soap. I got to thinking, if StazOn is alcohol-based, wouldn't my alcohol-based markers work, too? So I tried it. You can see my creations below:

This first one used a stamp and StazOn ink, then I colored it with BIC Mark-Its.

This second one was designed on my computer (with clip art) and then copied to the transparency entirely with BIC Mark-Its.

They looked great ... until a few hours after I inserted them into the hand soap. As you might be expecting by now, the color ran after a few hours of sitting in the soap.

In the original image, the stamped image remained, so that part was not a failed experiment. Since I used transparent blue soap, I was still able to salvage the project and make it look half-decent.

After mulling this over for a few days, I think I might try a different approach to get the same effect. I'm thinking of creating a colored design on a transparency (again), but this time running it through my Xyron to put the design down on the sticky side. That would put my design against the dispenser, hopefully protecting it from being erased. It's the same idea as the preprinted labels companies put on them.

I probably won't get to that project for a week or so, but I'll let you know how it turns out when I do it!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 5 comments

Using my stash: recycled glass bottles

If you've never seen my craft room after I've worked in it for awhile, let me tell you why: I will never post a picture of my messy craft room for the entire world to see. :)

I love organization. I read (and collect) books about organization. I even organize for other people. But do you think I can keep my craft room under control? No way!

Part of my problem is that I hoard things. I have an excuse: it's in my genes. My great-grandmother did it, my grandmother does it ... Well, I better stop there since my relatives read my blog, too! :) Let's just say that I have a direct line to those genes!!

At least my older relatives have an excuse: they lived through the Great Depression when it was foolish to throw almost anything away. Me? Well, I just think I'm too cheap, er, frugal to throw away perfectly good items.

And what does this have to do with my craft room and this post (and these pictures)? Well, I have a stash of things I've been collecting because they have great potential as gift containers and what-not. But I haven't used any of them in over two years. So I decided that I need to start making things with them, and if I can't find a good use for them, they have to go in the trash can.

I started with the glass bottles leftover from my good deals on Fuze and Gold Peak tea. I have at least a dozen of them sitting on a shelf taking up space. I saved them because I thought I could fill them with candy or something as a small gift when we had an overnight guest. The only problem is that it takes a lot of M&Ms or Skittles or pretty much any candy to fill one of these things. Do I need to reiterate the fact that I'm cheap? The whole idea was to create an inexpensive gift, so I knew I would never get around to filling them with small candies.

Then I had a brainstorm. We live near the ocean, and I like to capitalize on that when I give gifts to overnight guests. I happened to remember those $1/box Stauffer's whale crackers that my kids love, and I knew it would be the perfect little (inexpensive) gift in one of these bottles. So here you have my first recycled glass bottle gift ... I used a Studio G kids' stamp from Michaels for the large fish. They originally came on plastic knob-type handles, but I unmounted them and just use them on my acrylic block. The blue paper is from Creative Memories. I have several sheets of it since I never could find a good use for it in my scrapbooks.
See the lid? I needed to cover up the Gold Peak Tea logo, so I freehanded my own mini fish "cracker". I thought he was pretty cute. Then I added a tag around the neck that says, "Relax," which is what I hope each of my guests does when they visit. I tied it with some green and blue swirly fiber.

I was pretty pleased with it!
Monday, May 11, 2009 0 comments

A happy Mother's Day!

We had a busy weekend with a church work day on Saturday and then all the extra responsibilities for making Mother's Day special at our own home as well as church. We survived and actually had a good day!

Check out my little darlings and how big they're getting (I'm kneeling, in case you're wondering): I wish now I had taken a better picture of my dress. It was fabulous! And I certainly couldn't complain about the price tag: $4 at a local thrift shop. My daughter's dress is the $1.25 dress from our thrift store foray into Virginia Beach. My son wore clothes he's worn before, simply because he has lots of dress clothes and who really notices what the boys wear? ;) Seriously, if he had asked for something new, I would have gotten it. But he was fine with this, and it was lots easier.

My husband took the pictures for me. I thought he did a pretty good job. I only get pictures of me with my kids once a year (on Mother's Day), so I like to make a point to get them taken!
I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day with lots of pampering like I did!
Friday, May 8, 2009 1 comments

Walgreens and Big Lots deals

I know I've been posting a lot of shopping deals lately, but please bear with me for yet another post! Thursday was my day for running errands and picking up weekly deals. Here's what I got at Walgreens with last week's Register Rewards:

Transaction #1
  • Right Guard Xtreme deodorant ($2.99)
  • Bayer quick release crystals ($2.49)
  • rubber ducks ($2.99) - I need a filler, and I needed these for Cousin Camp.

Total before coupons: $8.47
Coupons I used: $1 on Right Guard, $6 Register Reward (from last week)
TOTAL: $1.47, but I used my gift card for all but $0.15, so my out-of-pocket (oop) was $0.15!
I got $5.50 back in Register Rewards.

Transaction #2
  • Listerine Total Care ($4.50)
  • Listerine Smart Rinse ($4.50)
  • Colgate Sensitive Whitening toothpaste ($4.49)
  • 2 Walgreens breath freshening drops as fillers ($0.15 each)

Total before coupons: $14.08 (includes tax)
Coupons I used: $2 on Listerine Total Care, $1 on Colgate Sensitive toothpaste, $3 Register Reward (from last week), $5 Register Reward (from last week) and $2.50 Register Reward (from this week).
TOTAL: $0.58!
I got $9 back in Register Rewards.

So that means I spent a total of $0.73 oop and I have $12 in Register Rewards for next week. I think I'm liking the Register Rewards in place of EasySaver rebates. :)

My other great find of the day happened to be at Big Lots. They restocked some Hampton Arts rubber stamps that my friend got a few weeks ago and I was unable to get. Not only that, but it looks like they added some new ones! Check them out:

The retail value of these stamps is over $50. Big Lots had them marked at $1 each, so I only paid $6.36, which includes tax. I was pleased! :)
Thursday, May 7, 2009 0 comments

Thrift store shopping extravaganza!

Some of our best friends also enjoy thrift shopping, so we took the entire day on Tuesday to go to Virginia Beach and hit all the thrift stores. It took us all day, and we still didn't get to them all! We had a lot of fun, even though my kids were pretty cranky.

I don't have pictures of my husband's "stuff" since he hauled it up to his study before I could take pictures. But I'll show you most of the things we got for me and the kids.

First of all, I got myself two skirts for only $0.99 each:

Then I found two lightweight, summery, yellow shirts that I can wear over my sleeveless shell. The one on the left still had original store tags on it, but I only paid $2.50. The one on the right was only $2:

While my kids were distracted with our friends, I managed to sneak a few toys into my cart. This felt book appears to have all the original pieces. The price on the back said $29.99, but I only paid $0.99. The monkey is an interactive one that retails for anywhere from $20-40. I paid $0.99. And I couldn't pass up the John Deere tin for my son for only $0.55!

Then I got a few things for myself:

A new-in-package 12x12" frame ($3), noise machine for my sister-in-law ($4), some kind of wooden crate that's the perfect size to store my Sizzix dies ($3), a magnetic Barbie fashion case that I'll transform into a regular magnetic paper doll case ($0.49), and 4 packages of ultra-fine glitter ($0.50 each).

Now check out the darling clothes for my daughter!!

This first picture turned out blurry because I had the wrong setting on my camera, but I didn't feel like pulling this all back out again, so you can get the general idea. The pink and black dress was $1.99; the red and black dress was $2.99:

The dress on the left will most likely be what my daughter wears for Mother's Day since it looks quite nice with my dress. Both of these were $2 each:

This is a beautiful Bonnie Jean dress that was only $2.50:

My daughter will have to grow into both of these, but I never pass up dresses/jumpers like this! The one on the left is another brand of the "Little Dollys" dresses, and it was still brand-new with the tags attached and the original bow tied from the store! It was $2.50, and the pink jumper was $3:

These skirts were a little pricier, but still a great deal for what I was getting. The one on the left was $3 and the one on the right was $5:

As you can tell, it was a very profitable day! :)
Wednesday, May 6, 2009 2 comments

Grocery shopping picture and updated list

I guess I forgot to share my last week's Walgreens deals. It's no wonder since the last week has been a whirlwind of activity - none of it at my house! :) We've visited my family, taken one of our church teens to visit Bible college and spent a day thrift shopping with good friends. (More on some of that later.) So let me share these good deals, even though the deals aren't good this week. They're too good not to highlight. :)
The toothpaste and body wash were free after Register Rewards. The soda ended up being $0.66 for an entire 12-pack after the Register Rewards and coupons from the Super Bowl rebate. I added the clearanced Easter sacks since they were super-cute, only $0.06 each, and can be used to wrap a baby gift AND as gift sacks at Cousin Camp this year. All total, I spent about $2 on all of this, but I used my gift card so it was really free.

Now let's take a peek at the bent and dent store haul from my visit to my parents:

  • 3 bottles women's multi-vitamin (2.5 months' supply each) - $0.50 each
  • 3 bottles men's multi-vitamin (2.5 months' supply each) - $0.50 each
  • 4 boxes Airborne - $0.50 each
  • 2 bottles Viactive Flavor Glides (calcium supplement, 60 in each) - $0.50 each
  • gummi bear vitamins for the kids - $0.50
  • Children's chewable Pepto-Bismol - $0.50
  • Os-Cal calcium supplement - $0.50
  • 4 bottles (16 ozs) Cetaphil facial cleanser - $1.99 each
  • 6 (12 ozs) bags pretzels - $0.35 each
  • hulless corn puffs (one of my favorites) - $0.99
  • 200 sq ft Reynolds Wrap - $2.99 !!
  • 2 boxes zippered quart freezer bags - $0.79 each
  • 2 boxes zippered quart storage bags + 1 larger box of Glad brand - $0.69 each
  • 3 (12 ozs) containers Taco Bell nacho cheese dip - $0.50 each
  • 4 boxes (10 cookies each) Archway soft iced oatmeal cookies - $0.25 each
  • 4 boxes (10 cookies each) Archway soft oatmeal raisin cookies - $0.25 each
  • Ken's ginger and sesame marinade - $0.50
  • Heinz cream of chicken soup (equivalent of 4 smaller cans) - $1.29
  • mints for the kids - $0.89

TOTAL: about $32 (w/out tax on a few items)

I was very pleased with the deals!

Friday, May 1, 2009 2 comments

Bent and dent specials!

Sorry I don't have any pictures today, but I can't download any right now. I got some great deals at a bent and dent store by my parents, and I just had to share!

  • Four 16 oz bottles of Cetaphil cleanser for $1.99 each (I have to use this since my face is so sensitive.)
  • Multi-vitamins for myself, my husband and my kids - $0.50/bottle (average of 2 months' supply in each)
  • 4 boxes of Airborne - $0.50/bottle (My husband wanted me to buy some of this last week, but I didn't really want to pay $7-8 for it.)
  • Children's Pepto Bismol - $0.50 (Again, I've been wanting to get some since my kids are just as babyish as I am about upset stomachs. At least they have the excuse of almost being babies!)
  • Archway large soft cookies (10 cookies/pack) - $0.25/pack

There were other good deals, but those were the absolute best. I was very pleased with what I got for the money!