Monday, May 31, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge

Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate is hosting a June Food Stamp Challenge.  Katy lives in Oregon and her numbers are based on the OR food stamp program.  We live in Washington and I could not find the amount they give to a family of 4 each month through food stamps, however I did find something interesting.  The income guideline for a family of 4 is $3,675.  That is a lot of money for this side of state and we would qualify for that easily, but we don't need to thankfully.  I couldn't find the amount WA gives out though.

So, in Oregon the amount of food stamps for a family of 4 is $668/month.  This is outrageous to me and it doesn't even include non-food items.  I try to buy as much natural and organic food and products as our budget allows.  We spend about $360/month, but when we buckle down in the winter (when the biz is slow) I can get by with $250/month.  I'm going to shoot for spending no more than $360 this month.  We have a lot of plans for this month + camping and we all know that it can get out hand when you buy marshmallows and Hershey bars ;)  I will be including our non-food items like laundry detergent, deodorant, etc etc. 

I'll be posting my grocery bill totals each week along with supplementary trips to the store for the occasional batch of Rosauer's brownie bites and beer or wine.  I will still be using my coupons which save me an average of $5/week or $20/month.  I'm so curious to take an in-depth look at my grocery bill again.

215 days until Christmas

Yes, I'm kinda counting down.  A thread on The Babywearer got me thinking last week.  I'm going to have to start early this year and I've named Christmas 2010 "Quilty Christmas".  I've never made a ragtime quilt but this year I plan to make at least 7, ranging in sizes from twin to king.  I'm now on the hunt for fabric at garage sales or the thrift stores.  I'll keep you updated on how things go :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mai Birfday

So, my birthday is coming up.  Yes, it's a national holiday and yes you better send me a card.  Okay, okay, maybe just an envelope with $5 in it.  Any takers?  :)

Well if you can't tell, I get a little giddy about my birthday.  The hubbs loves to spoil me on my birthday and last year he bought me a Mountain Buggy Urban Double (they evidently re-named them recently) which is in the top 3 of best birthday gifts!  I freaking love this stroller and we found it across the state on Craigslist (used of course) for $225.  It's bright orange (which I've found is awesome for when go to a crowded place or just taking a walk down the street, nobody misses us).  Over the last year we bought the sun/bug shade and rain cover and use them a lot.  It fits through a standard doorway, the front wheels swivel, and it turns with the push of 1 finger.  I'm not into buying expensive baby gear, but this was well worth every penny.  It should last my daughter until she's 4, I'm guessing.

So why am I babbling about my stroller still?  It's because I still love it and if you're in the market for a used one, I suggest you research them.



Good morning everyone!  I just ran across this awesome blog called Friday-Follow.  Check it out!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Better Homes and Gardens

There is a bit of an uproar going on about BHG's latest magazine article titled "The 10 Commandments of dining with kids".

By Heather W. of Better Homes & Gardens

Let me be clear: I am not anti-kid. I adore children in all their lovable, spontaneous, energetic glory. However, in recent years, I’ve noticed a pronounced blurring of the boundaries between “adult world” and “kid world”, especially when it comes to dining out. Those seeking romantic, contemplative dining may find themselves irked by erstwhile tots in a refined restaurant -- but I don't think anyone is ready to institute a kid ban. Really, we can all get along...

With this in mind, offers our ten commandments for kids in upscale restaurants -- gentle reminders for parents and non-parents alike -- as well as kid-friendly recipes for creating your own restaurant experience at home.

Strollers have begun to overtake cars and wristwatches as conspicuous status symbols. You may be proud of your double-wide Maclaren, but be sure not to leave it jutting out in a place where waiters and other patrons might trip over in transit.

Leave the stroller at home and indulge your family with this melty, tasty Chicken and Cheese Panini.

Kids, as we all know, have kid-sized attention spans. Attempting to make them sit still while you enjoy a world-renowned chef’s esoteric, glacially-paced tasting menu isn’t going to be a pleasant experience for anyone.

For a fast meal your kids will still savor, whip up this Quick Crunchy Chicken Dinner.


Your server is there to accommodate you, but customer service has its limits. While most waiters are happy to engage and amuse your little one, it's bad form to delegate your child-minding duties to the person taking your sea bass order.

Let your kids serve themselves with our Best Yummy Mexican Meals

Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)

If you're breastfeeding, you likely want to cook something quick, easy, and protein-rich; we love this Speedy Bow Tie Pasta Dinner.

Most restaurants are happy to provide kid-friendly cuisine, so don’t hesitate to ask, just keep in mind you may experience sticker shock (e.g., $23 for pasta with butter)

For a filling and savory twist on basic spaghetti, try these hearty Filled Pasta Entrees.

It’s exciting to see your little one all dressed up at the table, and special occasions and birthdays are naturally conducive to photos, but overzealous documentation with flash photography, flip-cams, and camcorders can be distracting to fellow diners.

Say "cheese" with these ten tasty Macaroni and Cheese recipes.

It’s wise to bring a few of your kid’s favorite toys for their amusement but try not to bring excessively loud games and bleep-blooping electronic toys -- or at least be sure there’s a volume-off button.

Keep their hands busy with a finger-food meal, such as this tasty Buffalo Wing Dinner.

Unexpected tantrums and outbursts are a fact of life, but when a parent sits stoically as their child screams without any intervention, the mood of the room can quickly turn from convivial to incredulous to profoundly irritated.

They'll be screaming with joy for these homemade Mini Pizzas With Pizazz.

When you let your child run free in the restaurant, it’s not only disruptive to other diners, but it could be a safety hazard: Restaurants are full of hot plates and sharp cutlery, and kids underfoot could cause a major disaster.

Keep them planted happily in their seats with this zesty, crunchy Skillet Tostada Dinner.

Ah, the food fight. The epitome of fun at summer camp and grade school cafeterias -- less so at Michelin-starred eateries. If the food starts flying, quietly and firmly put an end to it.

And if your kids politely make their way through the meal without incident, treat them to a well-deserved Dessert treat.

I took issue with a few of the so-called Commandments, but especially the breastfeeding in the bathroom.  As most of us know, that can be pretty darn disgusting.  Some women are more timid than I.  And wherever they want to nurse is fine by me, even if they choose to do it in the bathroom.  I have to admit that I did it once when my first born was only a few weeks old.  We went to a surprise party and there was no where to sit down and I was too embarrassed to ask for a seat.  So, I went to the bathroom and fed her.  It was awful and I never did it again.

A magazine aimed at women and especially mothers has got to get their head on right.  I hope this seriously hurts their pocketbook and makes them think twice about writing an article to shame a mother's feeding choice.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A brand new...

...bed!  This was an exemption when I first started The Compact and we finally found one we liked.  We currently have a Simmons Beautyrest aka "sleep like you're in a taco shell piece of crapola".  Yeah, we hate it that much.  We plunked down $1k 5.5 years ago for that wonderful bed.  Yup, 5 years and it's TOAST.  We both have hated sleeping in it for about 6 months now.  Lets move on.

We went and tested out a few beds last night while my MIL watched the kids.  We fell IN LOVE with the Tempur-Pedic beds.  They are the top of the line when it comes to beds, hands down.  BUT, they cost 2 arms and 2 legs.  The top of the line one we wanted was $3799 + tax + misc = $41xx, OUCH!  The other two we liked were in the mid $2k.  Again, with the OUCH!  So we slept on our decision last pun intended.  We woke up this morning sore, but determined.  I wanted a new bed now.  The hubbs on the other hand isn't as impulsive as I am.  So, we went and bought a used air conditioner because the weather is getting warmer and we don't want to pay top dollar for it when it's 90 degrees out.  After that we headed downtown to Walker's furniture to look at mattresses.  They carry Tempur-Pedics as well, but they also carry a knock-off.  The brand is Spirit Sleep and the line is Theratouch (a foam mattress).  The model is Banzai and it's 12" of heaven.

So, now to the awesome part!  The bed comes in a box  So all we have to do after the kids wake up is go get the box from Walker's warehouse and bring it home, unroll it and in 15 minutes we'll have a brand new bed!  No lugging in a huge heavy awkward mattress.

Later today we'll haul out the old mattress and we're putting it on Craigslist for FREE. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the lookout

Well it's officially garage sale season in the Inland Northwest.  Last weekend was a big hit around here and I got all of Baby J's wardrobe for fall and winter for a meager $20!  Miss A's wardrobe is shaping up for summer, but I'm still on the look out for some things.

Lately I've been making a mental list of things that I want to look for in the coming weeks when I hit up some garage sales.  Since the list in my mind is getting long and my capacity to remember anything is getting short, I thought I would jot it down here...

An art easel for the kidlets
Teeter-totter for the back yard
Cotton short sleeve/shorts pjs for both the kids
Tank tops for both of them
Homeschool books
Amish cookbooks
Stove-top double griddle pan
Silicone basting brush
Metal measuring spoons
Metal measuring cups
Weed whacker
Reel mower
Purse for myself
Wood (2x4s, 2x6s, 2x8s, etc) for the tree fort the Hubbs is building

What are you in the market for these days?  What have you found that wasn't on your list?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Photo courtesy of Dave Ramsey

So the hubbs and I started casually talking about our debt.  We don't have car or credit card payments.  We do have a mortgage (and a small 2nd we got to fix up our house) and the hubbs' student loans.  After tonight's discussion we (meaning hubbs) figured we would be debt free in 2025 at the rate we're going.  Currently we're paying an extra $50/month on the second and it will be paid off in 3-4 years.  Next will be the student loans and we will be "snow-balling" it as Dave Ramsey says.  Which means when we pay off the 2nd we will then put ALL of that money every month towards the student loans, so almost doubling the monthly payment in our case.  Then once that is paid off, we will snowball all of that into our 1st mortgage which ends up being about double.  We will then be able to pay off our 1st in 5 yrs!!!

If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey and want to get a better handle on your finances I highly recommend you buy a used copy or get one of his many books from the library :)

Also, if you're having trouble keeping a budget I can send you a free copy of one my brother (he's a banker) created in Microsoft Excel.  It's really easy and doesn't require much :)  Post in the comments with your email address and I'll be happy to send it along

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Freezer dilemma

For the past few months I have mentioned to the hubbs that I would like a BIG freezer for the garage.  In the fall we plan to get a 1/4 or 1/2 a cow and possibly a pig to stock up the freezer.  All we have right now is our side-by-side frig/freezer and it's busting at the seams these days.  When our local grocer has a sale on ground beef and chicken breasts I stock up!  I also buy our frozen veggies at Costco (they are local to us and organic).  I also go to the bread outlets once a month and stock up on sandwich bread, rolls, bagels and odd and ends.  So this makes for a tight space that is highly unorganized :/

So why am I posting about the intimate details of my freezer?  Because I need your help and advice.  On our local Craigslist there are basically 2 categories of freezers, old and cheap ($50) OR new and a little more expensive ($150).  The newer ones are Energy Star approved and that's what I'm leaning towards.  It may cost us a little more cash up front, but it should pay for itself in the long run.

What would you prefer to buy?  Do you have a large freezer?  What are the pros/cons to owning more freezer space?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today's $1 garage sale SCORE!

Rody the Horse retails for $40 and I bought him for a $1.  He needs a good scrubbing and the kids already LOVE him :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Panhanders, beggars, bums, homeless people, and hobos

 Photo courtesy of City of Easton

I know this doesn't have a lot to do with The Compact, but I couldn't resist.

This is a hot topic and one I've been thinking about writing for a few weeks.  Lately Spokane Valley has become a haven for panhandling.  Just on my way home from the grocery store (1.5 miles away) I saw 2.  This was at 9am.  Most of them don't get out until 10ish.  The largest intersection near our house usually has at least 2 people begging.  When you get off the freeway, there will be 1.  When you get on the freeway, there will be 1.  When you go near Wal-mart there will be 1, maybe 2.  I cannot stand seeing all of this begging.

Recently a local Spokane Valley man, John Fisher, took matters into his own hands and started hanging out where the panhandlers were and had a sign that read "Stop the Panhandlers, Keep Your Change."  Here is his story.

A local news anchor also did a story on panhandling when he tried it out himself for a few days.  Watch the video here

Dave and I had a long conversation about it on the way home from dinner last night.  I kept asking why people gave to these beggars.  He said it was likely because they felt guilty.  Maybe they hadn't been to church in a while to tithe, maybe they hadn't chipped in for a co-worker's birthday gift, etc etc.  We all carry around our own guilt.  It's certainly a motivator to do things you may not normally do.  People need to stop and think of the consequences of their actions.  Giving a drug addict or an alcoholic cash is the worst thing you can do for them.  If you truly want to help those who need it, then I suggest donating cash, food or your time to your local shelter, food bank, or community center.  If you get into the habit of donating to a worthy cause monthly then your guilt about "not giving" will likely fall away.

So, what are your views on panhandling?  Do you give?  If so, why?

Recycling Facts

Good morning everyone!  I came across this site while searching for something else and I thought it would be perfect for the blog.  All information is from

Below are some of the latest facts about recycling:
  • Each person creates about 4.7 pounds of waste every single day
  • In the US 33.4% of solid waste is either recycled or composted, 12.6% is burned in combustion facilities and 54% makes it's way into landfills
  • In 2007 99% of lead acid batteries were recycled, 54% of paper and paperboard were recycled, 64% of yard trimmings are recycled and nearly 35% of metals were recycled
  • The amount of recycling in 2007 saved the energy equivalent of 10.7 billion gallons of gasoline and prevented the release of carbon dioxide of approximately 35 million cars
  • The number of landfills in the US are decreasing while their size is increasing. In 1998 there were 8,000 landfills but only 1,754 in 2007
  • Each ton of mixed paper that is recycled can save the energy equivalent to 185 gallons of gasoline
  • Approximately 8,660 curbside recycling programs exist in the United States
  • There are about 3,510 community composting programs in the United States
  • Disposal of waste to landfills has decreased from 89% in 1980 to 54% in 2007
  • Recycling 1 ton of aluminum cans conserves the equivalent of 1,665 gallons of gasoline
  • In 2007 the United States recycled and composted 85 million tons of the 254 million tons of municipal solid waste created

What are your thoughts on these facts?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mai Garden!

I'm going to be honest and tell you that I sat down about 3 times this week to post, but I've been in a cranky funk all week (which you may already know if you talked to me via in-person, the phone or email).  I'm very sorry to everyone.  I'm done being in a funk.  Do you want to know why?  MY GARDEN!

Purple carrots, tomatoes of all kinds, bell peppers, cucs, beets, lettuce mix, and radishes. All are NO-GMO (aka no genetically modified food)

4 pumpkins, 1 candy roaster winter squash, 6 snow peas, and 1 onion (to see if its too cold).  Much more to come in this box.