Friday, December 31, 2010

The Compact 2010 wrap up

I can't believe the year is over.  However, I am looking forward to a date night with The Hubbs tonight...some beer and some Top Gear are in our sights :)

As for The Compact, I got derailed and choose to buy new in a few instances.  As I reflect on all of the purchases I made this year, I can't believe how many have been used.  I scored at The Army, garage sales and from friends and family.  The Hubbs also turned a corner this year with curbing his spending and deciding to buy used more.

This journey has helped me to de-clutter our home.  I used to whine all.the.time about how small our home was.  It's only 900 sqft for 4 people, 2 dogs and 3 cats.  Yeah, I know.  But since the de-cluttering bug has hit, our house is much more of a home, than a dumping grounds for stuff. 

I want to thank each and every one of you for joining me.  I truly appreciated your comments and ideas throughout the year.  And of course, the best part is that I made a few new friends along the way.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My 2011 New Year Resolutions

First off I'd like to thank you all for joining me on this journey.  Doing The Compact has opened my eyes to more than I ever imagined just 1 year ago. 

This year my resolutions are:
No MSG, no high fructose corn syrup and no hydrogenated fats.  We are already doing this as a family 95% of the time, but I want to make it 100%.  The 5% is when we eat out and I want to be more aware of how they are making their food.

Cutting my internet usage at nap time from 1.5 hours to 45 minutes.  This will help to get those few nagging chores done, read my never ending books from the library, and plan meals and chores for the coming week.

Being much more diligent about saving money.  I already clip coupons, shop sales and buy bulk, but I'm talking about plunking money away.  Our goal is to save $4,000 this year!

And of course I'm going to continue The Compact, but doing a Lite version this year.  My shopping ways have forever been changed :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year Food Resolutions

Here are some good ideas from Kara @ Taste is Trump

I'll be posting my resolutions later this week as well as a wrap up of 2010 :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nordstrom's Rack

Have you ever been to The Rack?  If so, you know you can get good deals on nice clothing, shoes, and plenty of accessories for the whole family.  The Rack just moved into the old BB&Beyond last month and I took the kids in today to browse their kid's shoe selection.  I was thoroughly impressed compared to the last time I visited a Rack.  They had TONS of toddler shoes and many were in season.  They had Stride Rites, New Balances, Geox (I didn't like how hard the insole was on these), Bogs (never tried these either), Crocs, Nike, Adidas, and lots of others.  I didn't buy any, as the kids aren't in need of any right now.  However, I will be back to buy a few pairs as the need arises.  They also have "extra sales" on certain colored tags.  Today's extra was yellow tags 35% off.

If shop The Rack, what do you love to buy there?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sweet snacks

Today I'm making Christmas Crack, Peppermint Bark and Hard Orange Candy minus the corn syrup (same method as cinnamon, but we use sweet orange essential oil instead of cinnamon leaf).

These will be given to the guys at Sherwin Williams where The Hubbs gets his paint, and some family friends.  The Hubbs wants me to attempt caramels too, but we'll see ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

14 boxes of cereal for $14

And it's not even expired!  Mom's Best is on sale this week at Freddy's for $1/box.  I bought 14 boxes (this our fave brand of cereal) because money is tight...I would have bought more.  Here's The Hubbs putting it away in 1 of our stockpile spots (the stairwell down to the basement) :)
Don't mind the plastic bags...I forgot mine :(

Don't mind the Blue Moon left over from Halloween ;)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December Declutter

Do you like/want/need to declutter?  Want to join my challenge to declutter your home before the New Year?  Let's do it!  Your list can be as little or big as you'd like :)

Go through garage/deep freezer and organize
Go through kitchen freezer and organize
Dust all baseboards
Wash all walls
Collect large glass pickle jars for storing the rest of my bulk, dry goods
Rearrange toy room and get ready for Christmas toys
Rearrange master bath/declutter linens
Clean fridge
Declutter "cleaner cabinet" under the kitchen sink

I'll be sure to post updates about my journey, so please post your list in the comments :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An update on the Kinect

Well, we didn't get it :(  We almost bought it and then The Hubbs started reading about the space needed for each "player".  We would have to move the couch totally out of the way for us to use it.  It wasn't worth it at all.  So, my mother-in-law "bought" me 5 workout DVDs on and we've been using those.  Just last night The Hubbs and I did The Biggest Loser's Cardio Max and it was a great workout :)

So, it saved us $150+ in the long run and I'm happy with the decision.

Have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving everyone :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

How organic is your milk?

Check out this study done on dozens of organic dairies across the US.  You'll see the score difference between a family farm and a factory farm.  Spokane Family Farm isn't on there because they are not certified organic.  I'm glad they're not CO because with it come some rules that are harsh when a cow gets sick.  They law requires them to kill the cow.  At SFFs this is not so, they treat their cows like family.  So, anyways, as you can see Costco and Horizon organic milks rate at the very bottom for their factory farming ethics.

Here is an article I found about SFF

Friday, November 19, 2010

Soapy soap soap

Around here we used to buy Softsoap at Costco for no other reason than it was there and we needed it.  We had the little bottles and would refill when needed.  I personally didn't like the soap, but couldn't ever find a decent replacement and honestly I never really looked.  I thought all liquid hand soap was the same.  Then I heard about Dr. Bronners!

For the past few months (while the last bottle of Softsoap was being finished up) I have been experimenting with Dr. Bronner's liquid soap.  I LOVE this soap and a little goes a long way.  I bought 3 new foaming hand soap bottles and poured out their contents (the Method brand bottles are best).  Then I filled them with 1/3 Dr. B's liquid soap (we got the almond scented one) and the rest with water.  The foam is awesome and actually The Hubbs and I use it as our body wash instead of bar soap in the shower too.

Currently, for the kids, we're finishing up our last bottle of Avalon Organics Baby Wash, which we've used from day one with our oldest.  It's smells awesome and doesn't have the icky chemicals and it makes a nice bubble bath too.  However, I'm going to switch to the Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild liquid soap and make another foaming pump for their baths. 

Because I love a good money savings break down, here it is :)
Softsoap Refill, 56oz / $6.89 = $.12/oz
Dr. Bronners Almond, 128oz (gallon) / $35 (I bought at a local store during a BIG sale) = $.27/oz

1 foaming bottle holds about 9oz and I use 3oz of soap per bottle.  So, this means that 1 bottle uses 3oz of soap compared to 9oz of the Softsoap.  This means that even though Dr. B's is more expensive up front, it's actually cheaper in the end at $.09/oz

As for the safety of the soaps, rates TONS of body care items with 0 being the best and 10 being the worst...
Softsoap rates at 6
Dr. Bronner's Almond rates at 2
Dr. Bronners Baby Mild rates at 1

Monday, November 15, 2010

A catch-up of sorts

The last month has been a whirlwind filled with good and bad.  Today was the cherry on top when I had to go the dentist for an emergency.  Well, that wasn't in the budget, sigh.

Slow season is officially upon us, however, we did finish our Christmas shopping 2 weeks ago.  We didn't go hardcore Compact, mainly because my husband didn't want to.  Out of the total number of presents purchased/made about 25% were bought new from a store.  The other 75% were bought 2nd hand or from etsy/hyenacart/made by me.  Most of the items we purchased new ended up being cheaper new, instead of buying used.  For example, I had been watching some used board games on eBay, but with shipping they came out to be more expensive than at our local game shop.  I'm not the kind of person to buy something used even if it's more expensive.  I have a budget to look out for, ya know ;)

Miss A's birthday party is this coming Saturday and we're throwing a pancake party.  I've been adding up the costs in Excel and here's how it breaks down:
75ish homemade pancakes = $10
Toppings = $6 *I have most of them on hand already*
Milk = 3 gallons = $10 *would be $15 but I have a free gallon next trip*
25 Paper plates & cups = $6
Favors = Free courtesy of my MIL

Grand total = $32 to feed 23 people (14 adults + 9 kids)

Compare this to the $9.99/per child price tag and we're at $100.  This does not include feeding the 14 adults.  So, it's way cheaper and less crazy to say the least.  I always enjoyed it when my mom threw a "home" birthday party for me when I was little.  A little imagination will go along ways. 

O, and I almost forgot.  Since everyone will be eating pancakes, I asked that everyone wear their PJs.  Too fun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A rough 2 weeks

So, I haven't posted much and probably won't for another week or so.  Last week my son had a viral GI bug that caused diarrhea for 6 days.  This morning I got a call from my mom with some bad news.  My grandma (my mom's mom) fell last night while on vacation in Hawaii.  She broke her hip and is now in the hospital for who knows how long.  She's in pretty good health otherwise for 76 years.  This means that Miss A's birthday party is up in the air.  My mom may be flying to Hawaii to stay with my grandma because the friend she went with can't stay.  I'm sad that my grandma is in pain and I'm even sadder that she can't make it to Miss A's 3rd birthday party.  They truly love each other and A will miss her dearly at her party.

Well, it looks like we'll be planning a trip over there before Christmas to see her :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Synthetic motor oil

I'm a bit of a car girl.  I've always liked being out in the garage and changing my own oil and doing basic maintenance, etc.  When I was 15 and going through driver's ed, our teacher said we had to learn to change a tire.  Well, my dad decided I would learn on his Ford Ranger and I realized changing tires is dirty and hard work.  I've only had to do it a one or two times since then and I'm thankful.  I'm also thankful for the skills my dad taught me to maintain a car, it has come in very handy as it makes me feel useful in the garage.

Recently I was at a Mindful Mamas meetings and we got to talking about synthetic motor oils and how they're better for our foreign dependence on oil because they're not made from oil.  While I agree with this, I also don't like all the chemicals that are produced for synthetic, but it seems six one half dozen the other, right?  So, I started researching synthetics and found out that they last much longer than conventional motor oil but are pricier.  So, I did the math...

O'Reilly parts store:
Castrol Syntec $5/quart (on sale, reg. $8/quart) = $25 for my SUV
Lasts about 7,000 miles
= $.0035/mile

Castrol GTX $3/quart = $15 for my SUV
Lasts 3,000 miles
= $.005/mile

So, it's cheaper to use synthetic + it's better for your engine :)

Are you willing to switch to synthetic?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yoke's 50% OFF everything

As we were driving home today from Fred Meyers for our weekly grocery trip, I noticed a 50% off everything sign at the Yokes on Progress/Sprague.  We pulled in not knowing what we would find.  The majority of what was left was all-natural or organic food (canned, packaged, etc) and body care items.  The store is closing and was pretty barren.  Here is a list of the things I can remember off the top of my head that we purchased...

2 Seventh Gen dish washing powder (my fave)
3 Clorox washing machine cleaner (my diapers are having major stink issues)
4 Kiss My Face lip balms (Christmas gifts)
2 Biokleen All-Purpose 32oz cleaners (3x concentrated)
2 Maid Naturally abrasive cleansing scrub (made in Spokane)
2 Mrs. Meyers toilet bowl cleaners
3 Kiss My Face bar soap (our fave bar soaps bar-none!)
1 bottle of Citra-Solv
5 Aura Cacia aromatherapy foaming bath soaks (Christmas gifts)
3 cans of organic crushed pineapple
3 bags of Mexican spices (incl. cinnamon sticks)
3 boxes of Annie's mac n cheese
1 box of organic cake mix
1 jar of some fancy brand spaghetti sauce
3 jars of organic strawberry jam
5 boxes of organic tea (Christmas gifts)
8 packs of Tic-Tacs (the kids love these as a treat, just 1 will do them)
10 packs of our fave gum

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Twin fitted sheets

Has anyone else tried to buy these 2nd hand?  I've bought 3 twin fitted sheets over the past 10 months and all of them had shot elastic.  So, tomorrow morning when we head to Fred Meyer's for their crazy Founder's Day Sale, I'll be picking up 2 new twin fitted sheets.  I'm tired of re tucking the old ones :/

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A trade off? Your thoughts?

So, The Hubbs and I have been contemplating joining our gym again.  It would be about $400/year for the 2 of us.  I would go in the evenings after the kids are in bed and he would go before he came home for dinner.  We both need some regular exercise, so this seemed liked a good fit and we like the gym's atmosphere.

Speed up to 2 nights ago when The Hubbs was surfing the net.  I walked by and he started talking about the Kinect, a gaming system similar to the Wii or PS3, but cheaper and better (or so we believe).  It doesn't require controllers of any kind, but you can buy heart rate monitors that strap to your arm, etc.  The system is only $150 and comes with a free game.  We also like The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout game and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.  The only caveat is that we're not sure if this will provide enough "pumping iron" for my better half.  If it doesn't, than we'll reevaluate and he may end up joining the gym by himself.

So what does all this have to do with The Compact?  Well, we're going to buy it new, in fact we're going to place a pre-order soon with the games.  We're still deciding where the best deals are, as some of the retailers are offering gift cards, etc if you buy from them.

So, how am I justifying this?  Well, here's my defense :P  If we go to the gym every other night for the next year we will be wasting gas and electricity (at the gym).  If we stay home and exercise we won't be.  See, The Hubbs plays his Xbox 360 most nights after the kids go to bed, so it would be on regardless.  Plus, we're hoping to have more motivation to do it since it's in our home.  It's also a big money saver, seeing as the system and 2 games = $250 vs. the gym membership at $400/year.

I'll keep you posted on when we make our final decision and I'll be sure to write a review too :)

How do you make exercise a part of your regular life?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No comment

Well I haven't had a comment in quite some time, so it may be time to let this blog go.  If you'd like to continue to read about my journey, than please leave a comment.

Happy Sunny Tuesday everyone

Monday, October 4, 2010

Reorganizing and buying new things

Yesterday morning was spent cleaning up and organizing my sewing area.  I've decided I'm done indefinitely and that we could move my stuff downstairs.  I ended up having 2 garbage bags worth of fabric that I'm trading to a friend.  She's going to fix a few of my diapers in trade :)

Currently The Hubbs is in a small office/den area (5' x 9') with all of his video games and DVDs up on shelves.  He plays his Xbox 360 after the kids go to bed and before we sit down and watch our favorite TV shows.  I've pined after that space for a few months now for a homeschooling room, but we didn't have anywhere to move him.  Until now.  He's moving into the bedroom and in order to do that we had to buy a TV bracket for mounting it in the corner of our room.  I'm thrilled to get him outta that room so I can put up stuff I've been saving.  I'll also have lots of shelving for my homeschooling books, lacing toys, etc etc :)  The possibilities are endless!

Another project that has been 2 years in the making is a new back door.  Back in the summer of 2008 we went to Lowe's and purchased a new front door and a new back door.  Our home was built in 1925 and the doors we had were literally 1 ply plywood in the main body.  Anybody wanting to get in could just kick their way through.  That summer The Hubbs and my dad installed the new door (I LOVE this new door) and it took all day long.  Again, our home is 85 years old and doesn't like to be remodeled.  So, the back door has sat in our garage for 2 years untouched. 

Last week The Hubbs kept mentioning installing it and I just brushed it off.  Then he started asking what kind of doggie door I'd like to have in the new door.  Um, something energy efficient would be great, I said.  So, last night we headed off to Home Depot to look for a new dog door (we checked Craigslist with no luck).  They were $135 and $250 for the ones we wanted.  The Hubbs started getting...well, he was mad.  We were both astonished as to why the doggie door was going to cost more than our new door.  So, we headed to Lowe's and found the same exact models for $85.  We bought the Ideal Pet Door.

The Hubbs has now installed the dog door in our new back door and he's planning to hang the door this afternoon.  We're hoping the back room (where the computer/washer/dryer all hang out) will be warmer and that we can save some money on our gas bill through the winter.

Are you doing any fall organizing?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to throw a frugal Halloween party

Only 1 month until Halloween!  We love Halloween at this house and we're going to be hosting our 3rd annual party this year.  We set up in the front yard with the outdoor fireplace full of warm fire, hotdogs to roast and plenty of snacks of course.  As the kids walk past we pass out candy and tell them how cute they are.  We don't do anything demonic or scary, we just love to celebrate the cold weather and I like to throw a party and spend time with family and friends.

I have no idea what The Hubbs and I will be, but we'll figure it out probably the day before ;)

Here's how I break down our party to-do list (expecting about 20 people)

Invites: I invite everyone through for free

Costumes: A new friend of mine just gave us 2 costumes last week.  Miss A will be a dalmatian and Little Mister will be a cow.

Food: Last month Fred Meyer had a huge sale on Hebrew National hot dogs so we stocked up.  I'll be buying the hot dog buns at the bread outlet a day or two prior to the party.  I will likely buy a few bags of chips and make a few sides

Candy: This year I'm going to buy the 5lb bag of Yummy Earth lollipops

Drinks: We'll have plenty of warm apple cider and a few adult beverages too

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


There has been a ton of blogging going on about preserving, e.g., canning, freezing, drying and pickling.  I've done all the above this summer and truly love it.  Some might say I'm a little addicted even :)  But I haven't seen anyone talk about juicing.  We recieved a Jack LaLane's juicer for free from a dear friend over a year ago.  It was taking up space on her counter and when she offered it to us, The Hubbs jumped all over it.  I was much more hesitant solely for our lack of counter space.  It now sits on top of the frig with all of my other "machines".  We juice fruits and veggies to make fun and tasty concoctions about once a month and all of us  enjoy it.  Lately though I've been thinking about how I can preserve this harvest even more.  I got a box of apples from the farm 2 weeks ago and they were pretty small, so I decided to juice them.  I got 4 quarts of juice that are now sitting in quart size freezer storage bags in the freezer.

Yesterday afternoon I went and foraged at my in-laws for grapes.  They have this yummy variety of seedless green grapes that grow over their fence from the neighbors.  They are seriously delicious.  I brought home a bunch and juiced them and got 2 quarts of juice.  We'll be heading back there later this week to pick the rest.  I'm pretty sure we'll pick at least 10 gallons worth and we'll eat to our hearts content and then juice the rest.  My mom also offered up about 10lbs of Italian plums and I took them all.  I juiced them tonight and got 2 quarts of juice.

What are we going to use this juice for?  Well, we don't drink soda in this house very often, and we don't drink juice very often either.  So, when the craving hits, I'll dilute it down a little and we'll enjoy it with breakfast or something.

Do you have a juicer?  Do you love it or hate it?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Update on Christmas shopping

We're about 1/5 of the way done with fall/winter birthday and Christmas shopping.  This is our 4th year of having a goal where we get all shopping done BEFORE Thanksgiving.  My mom's Christmas gifts are all done except for the body care items I'm going to make.  Today I scored on a BUNCH of stuff at a garage sale and at the Salvation Army...

Nine West real down vest $3.89, retails for about $30
SigTac jacket for The Hubbs (resembles CarHartt) for $4.89, retails for $65
Glo jeans for me $4.89, retail for $20 at Kmart
Chicos shirt for my mom $1.89, retails $55

I also got Little Mister the rest of his 2t wardrobe for early next year for $7.  Tons of light long sleeve shirts, khakis, jeans and more.  I got Miss A 2 footed sleepers and a long sleeve shirt for $1, woot!

What you scored on recently?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fruit Seasons

Good morning all!

I just came across this wonderful site while searching for fruits and veggies in season

Happy Monday my peeps!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Frugal Homeschool

From Penniless Parenting  (click the link to read the entire post)

...Most states have developed a standard curriculum. I assume that this is because they want to ensure that all children graduating within that state have covered certain core subjects.
Lucky us, because many states have made their "curriculum standards" available online. To find these curriculum standards, you just enter curriculum standards and the name of a state (i.e. "Washington Curriculum Standards") into the search box and search away. Being a native Ohionan, I searched and found their curriculum standards online.
I came across a few different state's curriculum standards, but the one I liked best (because it is easiest to figure out and understand) was the one I found for Tennessee. Tennessee Curriculum Standard- if you click that link, you'll see a list of different subjects as well as Early Childhood, each of those being links to pages with curriculum standards for each grade...

I personally really enjoy the Tennessee link :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Toy organizer: Part Two

I finally snagged one today and I'm so thrilled with it.  It cost me $25 and retails at Target for about $65.  It's in excellent shape, doesn't appear to ever been used.  After dinner tonight we unloaded the old toy chest which is an heirloom that my great grandpa made back when I was a kid.  It's now in Little Mister's room with a few toys in it.  I refuse to let it overflow like it had in the living room, errrr.

The art box

How do you organize toys and art supplies?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We're back

We're back from vacation...actually got home Saturday evening.  We had a wonderful time and stayed within our lenient budget too.  We drank plenty of wine, good beer and The Hubbs had a few Pepsi's too while we played board games and enjoyed the wonderful peace and quiet outside.  Here are a few photos :)
Guard dog, ha!
Gus and Vern playing
Prickly palm trees
One of the dozens of tiny toads
Wait, what?
Turkeys, turkeys everywhere
One of the two bald eagles
He's being a goof ball :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

What does Labor Day mean to you?

If you're reading this we're on the road to vacation, Happy Labor Day 2010!

I used to think Labor Day was just another day off when I was a "working girl".  It was nice to enjoy a long weekend as summer was winding down, but I didn't think much of it then.  Now that I'm a stay at home mom and I watch my wonderful husband go to work every week, I can truly appreciate it.  The Hubbs works his tail off, especially in the summer, usually with painting the exterior of homes mostly.  He has been very busy this summer, probably his busiest ever in the 3 years he has owned his own business.  He's thankful that currently he's booked though October and hoping for good weather to finish up a few more exteriors before the snow flies.  He was raised to work hard by both of his parents and takes his craftsmanship seriously which is why he is still in business.

What does Labor Day mean to you?

The history of Labor Day

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A frugalish vacation

We're headed to vacation tomorrow for a week long relaxation that we all deserve.  My MIL is graciously paying for the house, we're so blessed.  The four of us, plus my MIL, BIL and his fiance are staying in this lake house.

I took meal planning very seriously and my BIL was a little taken a back thinking that money is extra tight around here.  He didn't think it was necessary to write out a grocery list and plan everything down to the dollar.  Bless his heart, I love him like a brother, but he isn't a planner like me.  Thankfully money isn't too tight right now, but I still try to scrimp and save whenever possible, especially when I have 7 mouths to feed.  We split up the grocery bill amongst us and I'll be doing 90% of the cooking, which I will thoroughly enjoy.  We could have easily spent $400 to feed us all, but I've got the bill right at $230.  Now, that doesn't include meat, because we're just going to take from our personal freezer since we have a stockpile.  However it does include wine and beer, not in a large amount though.

Tonight I spent a couple hours baking 2 huge loaves of banana bread and a dozen banana bread muffins + 1 huge loaf of blueberry/zucchini bread and a dozen muffins.  These will be served for breakfast most mornings, but I'll also be bringing some cereal.  We're not doing a "big breakfast" because we're limited on space in the cars...we're all bringing our dogs.  So, I'm trying to keep ingredients at a minimum.  I'm going to take a gallon ziplock full of dry oatmeal w/ craisins and sunflower seeds to make one morning too.

We are going out to eat one night to one of the local burger joints likely, or one of us may just pick it up and bring it back if we're feeling extra lazy.  There is also a farmer's market about 30 miles away which I'm hoping to visit and pick up some fruit and veggies.  We won't be doing any souvenir shopping or typical touristy stuff...just relaxing, hiking, swimming, reading and LOTS of board games.

We're all excited to go, especially Miss A.  She keeps saying "Can we sleep in my sleeping bag at the lake house?".  Too cute.  The weather appears to be mid-70's all week which is a bummer for swimming, but you can bet your last nickel I will be in the lake every day, probably multiple times.  I LOVE to swim no matter the temperature...well maybe.

Have a great week everyone and I'll check back with you next week

Toy organizer

Since the cooler fall weather is upon us I'm looking to de-clutter our living/play room and streamline it.  The kids will be spending more time inside and I don't want their toys to be a sore point for myself.  Right now we have a toy box that was made by my great grandpa back when my brother and I were kids.  It's beautiful, and holds lots of toys, but that seems to be it's down fall too.  You can lose all the pieces to a toy in the bottom and virtually never find them again.  So, we're looking for a toy bin/organizer/whatchamacallit.  They seem to be pretty popular on Craigslist, so when we get back from vacation I'll be planning to snatch one up.  They retail from $40 to $100+ new, but are going for about $25 on Craigslist.

How do you organize toys and games?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cloth Diaper deals

Lately I've been wanting to change up my cloth diaper stash.  I have about 12 fitteds and 8 pockets (all are one size) who are made by a local mama, Primm n Proper Baby + some red-edged prefolds for when it's laundry day.  Last week I happened upon a Craigslist ad for 14 Kissaluvs fitteds (size 2) and 2 Imse Vimse (size large) covers for $5.  Not $5 for each diaper, $5 for ALL of it :)  The Kissaluvs have seen better days, but they work just fine for around the house/backyard.

Today I went searching on Craigslist again and found a mama who is selling some Thirsties covers and Mother Ease one size fitteds for pretty cheap.  I'm hoping to pick those up today.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My tomato soup recipe

Tomato Soup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced (optional)
  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes (I used Dry-Farmed Early Girls), roughly chopped
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 - 1 c. heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or other heavy pot.
  2. Add onion and saute for 1 minute; add carrot, salt & pepper to taste, and saute for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add roughly chopped tomatoes (do not seed or peel), crushing lightly between your fingers.
  4. Add the stock and herbs; reduce heat to medium. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and have released all their juice. Re-season, if necessary.
  5. Remove the soup to a strainer or food mill. If using a strainer, allow the solids to drain for at least 10 minutes, stirring and pressing every couple of minutes.
  6. Using your food processor process all of the "solids" until pureed
  7. Add to the strained soup and mix thoroughly
  8. Add the cream and serve (or freeze)
I multiplied this by 8 and made 2 gallons last week

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My favorite Etsy stores

With Christmas shopping in the early phases around here I've been window shopping on Etsy lately.  Here is a link to my favorites page, well it's actually 6 pages ;)


Who are some of your favorite Etsy artisans?  Do you have a certain artisan you buy from time and time again?

Monday, August 30, 2010

So Funny!

Yesterday The Hubbs went grocery shopping with us.  Kinda weird, but very nice indeed.  I usually go on Monday mornings, but he said we should all go together.  As I was zooming around the aisles while he had the kids in the cart, he randomly picked up a can of bread crumbs.  I stood there waiting to hear why he picked them up and then he said "What the heck.  Look at ALL these ingredients in the BREAD CRUMBS.  Aren't they supposed to be just bread crumbs?  It even has hydrogenated oil in it." 

I seriously love that guy and he makes me laugh all the time :)

*the can had about 30 ingredients in it*

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Christmas ideas

*A helmet should be worn while using these bikes*
I first saw a balance bike a few months ago at a garage sale.  It wasn't for sale, but was being used by a 3 yr old to ride around.  It looked so cool, yet so easy.  The boy was having a blast and had a lot of control while using it.  So, this year we're looking to buy one for each kiddo for Christmas.  There are no used ones to be had on Craigslist or eBay right now, but I will be watching both closely.

Another option would be for my hubby to modify the current toddler two-wheeler we have to make it a balance bike and buying a second one at thrift store and doing the same.  

Have you heard of these bikes?  Do you own one?  If so, what do you like/dislike about it?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Homemade disinfecting wipes

I ran across this article and thought some of you would like to read about it.  I'll certainly be doing this :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Let me start off by saying I'm excited!  See, around here naturally living is finally getting off the ground and becoming a bit more popular.  If you're a local reader than you're likely aware of the store Huckleberrys and probably love it.  If you don't love it, than I'm sorry, because I really freaking love it.

Saturday the 18th, Huckleberrys is having their bi-annual Natural Living Sale and all non-food items are 35% OFF.  This is a screaming deal.  I've already pre-ordered (you have to pre-order before Sept. 1st) a gallon of Dr. Bronner's Almond 18-in-1 liquid soap and a gallon of Giovanni Shampoo.  Here is the rest of my list and if you're wondering, yes I already made it into an Excel spreadsheet with AutoSum at the bottom.  I may or may not reveal the total to you.  The Hubbs will be "editing" it later tonite after he chokes a little at the number ;)

Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion
Dr. Bronners Almond
Giovanni Shampoo
Country Save
Bac-Out drain
Maid Naturally abrasive scrub
7th Gen disinfecting wipes x2
Child's cough
Chewy vitamins
Foaming soap x3
Burts Bees lip balmx5
Sea Fresh toothpaste x3
Mouthwash x2
Deodorant x3
Pest control spray

Do you stock up on sale like these?

What is your favorite "natural" care item?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Creativity abounds

I came across this book last week and surprisingly our library had it.  So, I reserved it and picked it up yesterday.  WOWza is it awesome.  It's going to be awesome for gift giving this year.  So, if you're a personal friend, you'll likely be getting some body/facial care items for Christmas *wink wink*

I've made simple milk baths, soothing soaks, and body scrubs in the past, but this opened my eyes to the many possibilities of toners, cleansers, massage oils, and lots of etc.

On to cooking, or whatever you'd call this...

Watermelon Sorbet
My dad goes to Hermiston, OR a lot for work.  He picked us up 2 LARGE seeded watermelons and they are delish.  Seeded watermelons are the bees knees if you ask anyone in our family :)  So, now that we're all a little full of watermelon I'm going to make some sorbet.

I've adapted this recipe from here


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 5 cups cubed, seeded watermelon


  1. Heat water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool. Place watermelon in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Whisk watermelon, lime juice and syrup together in a large bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions until it reaches "soft-serve" consistency. Transfer sorbet to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, sorbet should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This week's wrap up

Last Saturday we got a call from my BIL at 10:15pm.  He had quite a bit of joy in his voice when we answered and he said there was a wooden playground across the street in a free pile.  He was calling to make sure we wanted it and of course we did.  He said he was going to back up his truck and push it in and we'd deal with it in the AM.  That morning we went and picked 5 gallons of plums while the men strapped it in the back of the truck.  It's awesome!  I've put a twin sheet across the top for some shade and it fits perfect.  The men nailed, screwed, and tightened everything down while the kidlets were chomping at the bit to get up there.

Today we headed to Famous Footwear to get the kids some fall shoes.  They didn't have anything we really wanted so we wandered around a bit window shopping in our favorite stores for upcoming Christmas and birthday ideas.  I've already started our Excel spreadsheet for gift giving and I'd be happy to share it with you, just send me an email at fvcwft at gmail dot com.  We headed over to Sears because The Hubbs wanted to drool over a tool or something.  Before we left, I suggested we look at the Sears' kids shoes.  We ended up walking out of there for $67 + tax for 4 pairs of shoes.  WOOT!

Top left: New Balance tennis shoes (6w) for Little Mister = $28
Top right: New Balance tennis shoes (10w) for Little Miss = $12 *clearance*
Bottom left: Fila (look-a-like Keens) for next summer (6, they run BIG) for Little Mister = $12 *clearance*
Bottom right: New Balance tennis shoes (8w, for next year) for Little Mister = $15 *clearance*

Little Miss also has her New Balance water tennis shoes and she'll wear those until she outgrows them.  I also hit up the See Kai Run 1/2 off sale a month or two ago.  I got Little Mister 2 pairs and Little Miss 1 pair.  All we have left to buy are snow boots, but we don't plan to do that for at least 2 months.

Have you ever scored something from a free or garbage pile?  What brand(s) of shoes do you like to buy for your kids?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

1950's baking

I posted this on my personal, private blog, but thought some of you may be interested in it too :)

Yesterday I headed to Costco to grab $100 worth of groceries...icheewawa.  Anyways, I went down the baking aisle and saw a big box of 1950's Devil's Food Cake mix (with a frosting packet too).  For the life of me I can't remember the brand, but I didn't buy it because we don't have room for such a large box in the kitchen right now.  The reason I'm posting about this is because it didn't contain any high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats).  If you look below, the first picture is for Betty Crockers Devil's Food Cake mix which contains many of the ingredients that are bad for you.

This next picture is for Betty Crocker's Dark Chocolate frosting which also contains many of those same ingredients.

I'm an avid label reader, and not just the nutrition facts, but more importantly the ingredients.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Patagonia Capilene for $.97

For those of you who are familiar with the Patagonia brand name, then you're probably wondering what I got for $.97.  Maybe some socks, maybe a hat or something.

Well, I got a 2-piece men's XL Capilene (their base layer line).  It's navy blue fleece and the top is a long sleeve henley and the pants remind me of thermals (you wear under your pants).  These will be for The Hubbs, unless they don't fit.

I was looking for a stock pot at The Army this morning and may have accidentally scooted over to the 75% OFF rack, whoops!  I was just browsing and came upon this gold mine and then saw it was an XL.  WoOt!  I am so stoked!  The Hubbs' long underwear (thermals) have been looking tired the last 2 years, so these will be perfect :)

The top retails for $59 and the pants retail for $49!

*My camera is in the car, with a dead battery, so these are examples*