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