Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge: the end

I'm so glad this is over. 
I'm so thankful that we don't have to live on food stamps. 
I'm so happy I don't have to document my food budget anymore.

I thought this would be a fun challenge, but the last week proved the opposite.  We went over our $360/month budget.  Katy at the Non-Consumer Advocate set the limit at $101/person making the total $404, but I thought I could be under that.  I ended up near Katy's limit.  Now remember that the Oregon Food Stamp program allows a family of 4 to receive $668 in food stamps.  That is only for food items, no toilet paper, shampoo, etc.  That is $22+ a day to be spent on food.  At $400/month it ends up at $13+ a day.

I learned a lot through this month, but most of all that my bulk shopping can be a hindrance sometimes.  I like to buy everything I can in bulk e.g., dry goods (oatmeal, raisins, flour, etc).  This can be detrimental to a monthly budget if you're not careful.  I also starting purchasing local milk and at $4.99/gallon that put a big pinch in the budget.  But, I'm learning slowly to work around it :)

What did you think of the JFSC?  What would you have done differently?  How much do you spend on groceries a month?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

6 months in

It's been 6 months since I started The Compact and I'm here to write a review of what I've learned thus far.

1. Buying used saves you TONS of money
2. Buying new is sometimes okay
3. Talking to other people about what I'm doing usually makes them roll their eyes
4. It's fun to shop at thrift stores
5. I've discovered all the thrift stores in the Valley and like most of them.
6. The Hubbs still rolls his eyes at me when I suggest buying something used instead of new.
7. The Hubbs likes when I save him money
8. When Miss A gets a new shirt or dress she says "Mama, did you get this at the Army?"  *Salvation Army Bargain Center*
9. In my "crowd" that I hang around with (read: fellow crunchy mamas) they are stopping by the thrift stores more and more :)
10. I get to write about my scores here on this little blog

Here is a refresher of what I've purchased new thus far:
A twin bed for Miss A & a pillow
A king bed for us
Shoes for the kids (Stride Rites, See Kai Runs, New Balances, etc)
Fabric to make a few things
Underwear and bras using Kohl's free $10 gift cards
Maintenance items for my Mitsubishi & The Hubbs' Suburban

These are the items I stated in January that I would allow myself to buy new:
Hygiene items
Safety items (Car seats, child safety items)
Vehicle maintenance items (however we do shop at the junk yard for certain items)

So, what are you thoughts now that I'm 6 months in???

Friday, June 25, 2010

Camping & bees

We're headed out camping this afternoon and I stopped by WINCO to pick up a few things before we go.  I went down the seasonal aisle looking for zinc oxide sunscreen and didn't find any :(  But I did find yellow jacket traps and I knew we needed another one for the back yard (1 isn't cutting it) and I thought it would be a good idea to buy one for camping.  Bees are usually hanging around when there's food, and I don't want any of us to get stung.  They were $4.88/each and I hope to catch many of those little buggers this weekend!

Do you have bothersome yellow jackets in your yard?  How do you keep pests away while camping?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Carnival of Nursing in Public

I found this site on Facebook and thought I'd share.  Yes, it's not exactly on-topic, but eh, o well.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 21, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge: Grocery shopping week 4

I blew it today.  I spent all but about $25 of what was left in my budget.  I forgot my coupons at home as I was rushing out the door with the kids so that The Hubbs could catch an extra hour of shut eye on Father's Day.

I had $110.26 left and spent $84.27 leaving me with $25.99 left for 9 days.  I still have to buy this week's milk which will cost $20, leaving me with $5.99. I may be able to make this work, but I'm not going to stress about it.  I had to buy extra things for camping this weekend like paper towels and hotdogs, etc.  We'll see how the week goes :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

How did we get here?  It's been 7.5 years since we met on that fateful November evening.  I was working at the YMCA behind the check-in counter and he scanned his card.  The funny thing about this story is that he had been a member for a few years and I had never seen him.  Is that God or what?  That evening my friend Claudine was working with me and once he scanned his card, I told her that I thought he was really cute.  She got all giddy (we were like 13 year olds again) and then she did the unthinkable.  As he walking out of the locker room she went and told him that I thought he was cute.  I was mortified and thought that this was not how an adult acts.  My face was brick red and he came up to me and said "Your friend tells me you think I'm cute".  I said "yeah".  He got my number and we went on our first date the following night.  We saw Jackas* and had a great time.  He ended up staying late and watching TV with me at my house.  We talked about a ton of stuff that night.

6 months later we were engaged.  3 months after that we were married.  This August we will be married 7 years.  It's been the best journey of my life.  He is my rock.  He's quirky, funny, and caring.

He became a father in November 2007 and again in March 2009.  He loves being a father and it fits him so well.  He's very patient with the kids and loves them like nothing else.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I happened upon this article through a link at We are THAT family.  If you have children of any age, it's well worth the read.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Last night...

So, you know when your hubby gets a craving for that certain special wonderfully-delicious baked good?  Well, The Hubbs had a hankering for Rosauer's brownie bites last night.  They are a gift straight from God and so irresistible.  Darn Rosauers was having a 20% off beer and wine sale last night so he bought him self a bottle of beer and bottle of vino for me :)

$115.26 - $16 = $99.26 left for 11 days

Edited to ADD: alcohol cannot be purchased with food stamps and so I'm leaving it off.

My new total is $110.26 left for 11 days

Friday finds

I didn't have any intention of going garage saleing this morning, but The Hubbs handed me the garage sale section of the newspaper and I started looking.  I found a retiring teacher garage sale where I spent $7.  We are going to homeschool and her ad stated that most of everything would be $.25.  I went there first and this is what I got!
 6 Geoboards, 2 rulers, 1 box of dice, 4 sets of flash cards, 10 books, 1 box of crayons and 2 packs of stickers!

I then hit a sale about a block from home and got a cute green tank top and a baby doll for Miss A, $2/both.  I saw a Helly Hansen jacket for sale for $12 and it was my size, but I didn't have $12.  When I was done my hubby called and I mentioned it to him.  He was out giving a painting bid and swung back home.  He had bought it for me!  It's an early birthday present and I'm so excited to get it.  I think I may take it along tonight to Car d'Lane.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge: Grocery shopping week 3 *update*

Yesterday we headed to the Millwood Farmer's Market to get some veggies and a dessert, per The Hubbs' request.  I gladly obliged as the weather was gray and I wanted out of the house.  We got there right about when it opened and had plenty to choose from.  I bought 2 big bunches of green onions $3, 1lb of green snap peas $2.50, and 2 zucchinis for $1.  Then I headed over to the baker and started gazing at her wonderful goods.  I easily settled on the $3 super-sized cinnamon roll for dessert.  It was freaking delicious by the way.

$124.76 -$9.50 = $115.26 left for 12 days!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Price of food

My friend Meagan has a blog about food; she's a super-skilled chef, pastry chef and vegan to boot.  The pictures on her blog always make me hungry, no matter what time it is.

I hope you enjoy this article about the price of food

Monday, June 14, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge: Grocery shopping week 3

 I got all of my grocery shopping done this morning!  YAY for me!  I went to Fred Meyers as per usual and spent $41.33 (on grocery items).  I then trotted over to Yoke's to get some brown rice puffs (for baking) and a 6-pack of my hubby's new fave soda (cherry vanilla) and spent $6.98.  Then I ran up to Barneys and got our milk for the week, $19.96.  For a grand total of $68.27

$193.03 - $68.27 = $124.76 left for 15 days

We have a 2 busy weekends coming up and I doubt we'll have much leftover money, but we'll see.

Upcoming events:
Car d'Lane
Bogs for Dogs
Father's Day (which includes taking The Hubbs out to dinner)
Camping (25th - 27th) I will be "shopping my pantry" and making all the meals ahead and freezing them.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My finds

Both my parents went with and we all had fun.  Our biggest score was an American deluxe light reel mower for $5!  These retail on Craigslist for at least $40 used so this was a huge bargain.  I told my parents that it would be great for their front yard, but I was going to buy it regardless.  They ended up paying me for it, so now I'm going to help them adjust it and it will glide like a dream.

My mom and I were looking for housewares but couldn't find any :(

Here is everything I bought:
The tablecloth everything is laying on was $1
From left to right
An alphabet board $2.50
A season/time/date/etc board $2.50
5 books $2.50
Pooh PC game $1
From left to right:
4 Children's Place sweats for J (I will be cutting these into shorts) $2
5 knit leggings for A for fall $4
Ballet slippers for A $.25
Nike soft shoes for J $1
2 small baskets to sort mail $.50

Total = $17.25

Friday, June 11, 2010

Orowheat outlet

This morning while my mother-in-law played with the kids I ran to the Orowheat outlet.  I got all of this for$7.08 including tax.

All of it is in our new freezer and I'll be planning my menu around them next week.

I got:
2 packages of potato hot dog buns
2 packages of whole wheat hamburger buns
1 loaf of french bread (to use for french toast this week)
1 bag of whole wheat dinner rolls (to use this weekend with our roast)
3 bags of whole wheat bagels (for snack and lunches)

I also stopped by McDonalds, as an impulse hungry purchase, so that was $3
O, and I forgot to mention that last weekend The Hubbs treated me to donuts and a coffee for us, so that was $14.  Spendy, but OOOOO so yummy

This brings my total left to $193.03 and we have 19 days left

A new look

I decided to use Blogger's new design feature and changed it up a bit.  I hope you like it :)

The mother of all garage sales


Tomorrow is the mother of all garage sales in my area.  It's the Liberty Lake Yard Sale; a huge community of sales.  The last time I went I was probably 21 and went with my friend Bridgette.  We had a ton of fun and bought a few things.  I certainly didn't have the know how I do now.

As I read through my favorite thrifting blogs (listed at the bottom of this post) I'm certainly learning more about it.  I especially love this post from Apron Thrift Girl called How to Prepare for a Day of Thrifting
My mom and I are headed out to Liberty Lake before 8am on Saturday.  The Hubbs will be taking care of the kids all day, so I don't have to worry about them :)

I'll be stocking Mitzi with boxes to store our goods and lots of snacks and water.  The weather is forecast to be beautiful and warm, so we'll be dressing in layers and SUPER comfy shoes.  We'll be walking most of it which should end up being about 3-5 miles.

The Hubbs has requested a few things for me to purchase if I see them.  A thickness planer, some plumbing tools, and some deep cereal bowls.  I have a few things I'm still wanting if I can find a good deal.  I'd like to get the kids an art easel, a teeter-totter, a silicone basting brush, metal measuring cups and spoons, a metal spatula (for the grill) and of course tank tops for me.

So here are my favorite thrifting blogs:

I'll be sure to post what I find on Saturday or Sunday, with pictures of course!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge: Grocery shopping week 2 *update*

Yesterday I ran to Barney's and grabbed 3 gallons of Spokane Family Farm milk totaling $14.97.  I also grabbed a jar of 100% fruit preserves to mix in with our yogurt which was $3.

Left for the month = $217.11

Keeping track

I've decided to date a few of my household cleaners when I first open them.  I usually do 1 load of laundry a day + 1 load in the dishwasher every day.  I opened new detergents last week and I'm curious to find out if the bottle's "load amount" will be correct.  Will I get 64 loads out of my Biokleen or will I get more?  I'll keep you posted, but it may be a while...I'm hoping.

What type of laundry/dishwasher detergent do you use?  Do you like it?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Baby and toddler shoes

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Here I go.  I used to have dozens of pairs of shoes in my late teens and early twenties.  I worked at JCPenney through high school and always scored the $4 pair of shoes.  However, none of them were comfortable.  When I got pregnant with my daughter I decided to pair down (pun intended) and just get a few pairs of quality shoes.  I researched and researched and came up with Danskos for work and Chacos for play.  I have been in love with all the pairs over the years.  I have 2 pairs of flip flops and 1 pair of water sandals and I wear them all the time.  I barely wear socks or shoes all year round.  For the occasional "need real shoes" I put on my Danskos or Nike runners.  So, I've realized it's quality over quantity and that's usually the case for everything in life, right?

So now that I'm a mom I'm anal about the shoes I put on my kiddos feet.  The soles need to be very flexible, easy on and off and well made.  
I've come to love:
Robeez soft soles (or any maker of soft soled shoes)  I buy these gently used to save money

Now you may be thinking, sheesh she spends a lot of $$ on shoes.  Well, most times I don't.  I shop eBay, the forums I'm on, Craigslist and of course my wonderful friends.  Occasionally I can find a pair at local thrift store.   For example I went into Savvy Moms looking for PJs and I strolled by her shoe section and saw a pair of Stride Rite brown fisherman sandals in an 8W, my daughter's size.  They looked to have never been worn and were $5!  I also got 2 pairs of Vincent sandals for $30 shipped that were brand new from another member on my cloth diapering forum.  They retail for $48/each.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge: Grocery shopping week 2

I headed to Freddy's again and came out of there for $70.74.  However I did buy 3 new toothbrushes and a new razor and a small bag of cat food.  I always buy our cat food at a local pet store, but our eldest cat has been having a hard time chewing (we think it hurts his teeth) so I bought a bag of Friskies and he's in love again :)

So, non-grocery items totaled $23.14 and our grocery bill = $47.60

Left for the month = $235.08

*I still need to buy our local milk.  My mom and I, plus, the kidlets of course, went out to the farm today and had a tour.  It was wonderful and we both learned a ton about conventional milk and their milk.  They aren't certified organic because of certain stipulations, and I'm glad they aren't.  I'm usually 100% PRO organic, but in this case it isn't worth it.  So, from what we learned about conventional milk (what The Hubbs and I drink), I think we'll be switching to our local dairy as well.  This will of course put a bit of a bind in the grocery budget, but I know I can do it :)

Here are a few interesting graphs about food stamps

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Upcoming birthday and Father's Day

Good Sunday morning to everyone!  My mom's birthday is coming up this week and I've only gotten her 2 things and I want to really spoil her this year.  Anyhow, my brother and I went in together on a used Wii Resort sports game. I also got her this Scandanavian cookbook at the thrift store last week for $1.39 (we're part Finnish).

As you probably know, Father's Day is coming up and the city I call home is the city that started it all 100 years ago.  My dad owns and operates his own 1-man trucking company and he listens to the radio/CDs/audio CDs/etc all.the.time.  I got him 12 audio CDs at the thrift store for $.69/each.  They are The Bible on CD and I hope he really enjoys them.  After he's done listening to them, I may ask to put them on my iPod :)
*And if you're wondering...yes my floor is that ugly*

What are you giving for Father's Day?  What do you like to get your mom on her birthday?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A few things...

Today was a wonderful day here in the Inland Northwest.  We all got up and got out the door at 8am to hit a few garage sales and drop off a bid to a potential client of The Hubbs.  We've been in the market for a weed eater and finally found one today for $30!  It runs great and really whacks the crap outta those weeds and tall grass, hooray.  We then came home and started looking for a reel mower again.  It has been hard finding one.  Every time we call on one from Craigslist, it's already been sold.  However, today was our lucky day.  We got a Scotts Classic 20" for $25!  I still can't believe it was only $25.  I would have easily paid $50-$60 for it.  It's barely been used because they thought it needed sharpening.  Once I got it home and saw that it didn't cut very well, I asked The Hubbs to Swagbucks search "sharpening a reel mower".  He found a site that said that 95% of reel mowers don't need to be sharpened, just adjusted.  Boy were they right!  That baby purrs right along and cuts grass like nobody's business.  I got about 1/2 of our .5 acre done this afternoon.

June Food Stamp Challenge: Grocery shopping week 1 *update*

Yesterday I ran to Harvest Foods to get milk and I also bought Manwich sauce and a quart of beef stock (for my beef and lentil stew).  The total came to $9.xx, so we'll call it $10 even.  Every Friday night my mother-in-law buys dinner for the 4 of us and my brother-in-law.  We almost always get take out or delivery, but she's sick and I didn't find out until the last minute.  Sooooo, we ate out tonight on our dime and it was $21.20 and so worth it ;)

My maximum for this month = $360
Spent in week 1 = $77.32 (not counting non-food items)
What's left for the next 25 days =  $282.68

Friday, June 4, 2010

Other grocery options

I'm blessed with numerous grocery options with in minutes of our home.  The place I shop 90% of the time is Freddys and it's 2 miles away.  They have the best prices to go along with their extensive natural/organic section.  We don't do Wal-Mart and haven't for many years.  We also have 3 local grocers with in 2 miles that I like to support when I can.  One of them is Harvest Foods which is where I buy our Spokane Family Farm whole milk.  I can get it at other places, but HFs offers a Buy 10, Get 1 Free punch card, so I say "Why not?"

About 3 miles east of here is a URM Cash n Carry, but I haven't been there in ages.  They aim to sell to companies/restaurants so their stock is mostly bulk...huge bulk.  Another Cash n Carry is down the road the other way and I've never been, though I suspect it's about the same.  Another avenue is Grocery Outlet, which generally sells 'about to expire' groceries.  I plan to check them out this week to see what they have and determine if it's worth making a monthly trip or so.  They offer a wide range of products and are starting to offer natural/organic groceries which is a plus :)

Have you tried any of these types of grocers?  If so, what are the pros/cons?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A kid's kitchen tutorial

You know those awesome entertainment center turned kid's kitchen tutorials?  Like these ones here, here & here.  Well we don't have that kinda room in our 900 sqft bunga-tiny ;)  However we did have a tiny little plastic piece-o-crap that the kids kinda liked.  Well, I didn't like it because it wasn't big enuf for both of them to play with (irony, I know).  We put it on the porch last week and were going to sell it at the IL's garage sale.  Next thing we know, The Hubbs is selling his guitar to a family and the dad brings all of his kids when they pick it up.  The 7 year old was the one buying it with his own money (he sold his Nintendo DS to fund it.  Can I say awesome kids and awesomer parents?).  Anywho, the dad also had a 5 year old son who was DD and a 2 year old daughter.  The 5 year old saw the kitchen on the front porch and asked to have it and of course The Hubbs said yes.  Nothing better than giving a toy to a kid who will really love it.

Moving along in the story (can you tell I get side tracked at 9:30pm?).  I went to "The Army" yesterday afternoon because we wanted to get the kids a new kitchen.  They had no such thing, so I started brainstorming.  I remembered the entertainment centers turned kitchens, but I just couldn't pull the trigger on $20 and that much living room space gone.  Then I came upon it.  This little night stand/end tabley thing.  It was $2.89.  This project took me 3 hours, but could have easily taken 1.5...but I've got 2 busy kids.  This is it's story...

Sanded (so the paint will adhere better)

Painted using Egg-shell/Satin (you don't want to use Flat b/c you can't scrub stains off)
The Hubbs is a prof. painter and all the paint used is left-overs.
I painted the top a dark gray/green.  The orange circles are the "burners"
The tools my hubby let me use ;)
Miss A enjoying her part-way-done kitchen. We're going to cut a hole in the top right and sink a mini sink and faucet. The middle section will get a door to use as an oven and the bottom is going to get a curtain for storage of their pots and pans.
I'll be sure to post a follow-up when it's completed (hoping for this weekend).

Tonight after dinner The Hubbs and I got about 80% done.  Here is a tonight photo tutorial...

Cut hole for sink (this was an un-used metal bowl)

Cut holes for the faucet
Tighten it down with bolts
Here he's adding the "control knobs" for the "burners"
Tonight's portion is done and now all we have to do is add an oven door and a dishwasher door.
I'll post more this weekend when we finish it :)
*So far we've spent $2.89 for the unit and $1.90 for the curtain rod*

Freezer dilemma is over

We bought a freezer today.  She's a 20 year old Sears ColdSpot full size upright and she's avacado green...of course.  She was $50, well $49 b/c that's all we had at the moment.  She's in the garage all hooked up and I'll likely take some of the stock out of our over-stuffed kitchen freezer out there tomorrow.  The Hubbs' aunt offered us about 40lbs of organic beef last night.  She said they aren't eating it and it's been in their deep freezer for 15 months.  I'm so excited to get it :)  This freezer will allow me to stock up on meat, frozen veggies, frozen fruit, bread items, etc.

The older couple we bought it from were so gracious.  We came lacking the proper tools which is odd for my handyman hubby.  For some reason he's never owned an appliance dolly, but now it's on his Craigslist list.  They loaned us their awesome dolly and ramp so we could unload the freezer at our house.  They also had a brand new silver Corvette we both drooled over...

We're going to keep an eye on our electric bill in the next few months and decide if we want to upgrade to a newer Energy Star model.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Father's Day

Photo courtesy of Gingham Cherry

For a few weeks now I've been trying to think of a gift for The Hubbs.  Today it finally hit me!  A handprint & footprint canvas made by us.  I will be buying a new canvas at Joanns or Michaels, whichever is cheaper.  Then we'll break out the paints and start going to town.  I'm also on the look out for some used frames for his college degrees.  He's very modest about his extensive education, but I would like to display them.  He's earned it :)

I plan to take him out to dinner, likely it will be HuHot.  It's only 7 blocks from our house and the food is awesome!

That weekend will be filled with fun and sunshine (we hope).  Friday we're headed out to Car d'Lane in Coeur d'Alene, ID.  It's become a tradition in the last 5 years and this year we're going kid-less.  Saturday we're headed to Bogs for Dogs, a trashy event we wouldn't miss ;)

Sunday will be spent relaxing and visiting our fathers and giving them their gifts.  I will post those ideas once I figure them out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June Food Stamp Challenge: Grocery shopping week 1

Today I went grocery shopping at Fred Meyers.  My total was $67.63 for food and non-food items.  My non-food items were Biokleen liquid detergent, Glad kitchen trash bags (which I realize now are the wrong size), and Black Gold potting soil for a total of $21.51 in non-food items.  So, my real total for the challenge is $46.12.  I will be buying 2 gallons of local, all-natural whole milk for the kidlets tomorrow or Thursday which will add $10.  Their milk is low-temp pasteurized & not homogenized; I get about 8oz of cream off every gallon and give it to my parents and ILs.