Saturday, January 31, 2009

RACING THE TIMER - HOME BOOGIE

Today I am going to make a game out of straightening my house. I have several things I need to do today and a few places to go. I will also be gone for quite a bit in the afternoon. We will also be gone for much of tomorrow. So I want to get my cleaning done today.

I am easily amused so I like to make a game out of things sometimes. Like challenging myself to see how much money I can save out of the grocery budget. Or seeing how long I can wait without caving in and eating chocolate (do you want to know my record so far?). Or timing myself to see how long it really takes to load or unload the dishwasher so that next time I complain to myself I can tell myself it only takes a few minutes.......and yes, I just admitted that I talk to myself. Was there any doubt?

So folks, the name of the game is Racing The Timer. I am going to set a timer for ten minutes and run around hysterically in one room madly cleaning away. Then I will reset the timer and attack the next room and so on.

Setting a timer while you clean can actually be fun. It can present a bit of a challenge. How fast can you clean the kitchen? It can also keep you on track. You are less likely to be distracted when you are trying to beat the clock.

A timer can also help get you moving when you are lacking in motivation. You may not have the energy or the desire to do something but ten minutes tells you that there will be an end to it. You can jump right in, knowing that you don't have to do it for long.

Setting the timer and cleaning for ten minutes is a TMT (ten-minute-tidy). I think Flylady coined that phrase but I'm not sure. I know I heard it somewhere. Anyway, you can do a lot in ten minutes.

In the kitchen my TMT may involve taking out the recyling or garbage, unloading the dishwasher and reloading it, putting away any stray articles that have landed on the counters or wiping up around the dog's water dishes.

In the living room it usually includes straightening the slipcovers and the pillow cushions, or putting away any stray books, magazines or shoes lying around.

In the laundry room it most likely will include folding a batch of laundry, or starting a new load.

In the bedroom it might involve hanging up clothes or making the bed (if not done already), or putting away any books left out or papers or whatever.

In the bathroom it usually involves putting away anything left out (if not done already) and doing a quick spot-cleaning of the sink or mirrors and doing a swish and swipe of the toilet.

I don't do deep cleaning during this time. It is strictly surface cleaning. I am just looking to get things neat and presentable in a hurry. It is just a quick pickup. Sometimes a room may take less than ten minutes. Our sunroom, for instance, is an easy room to straighten. It gets alot of use but rarely gets messed up. The bathrooms are also usually quick to clean as my family is pretty good about putting away their grooming items and hanging up their towels.

If a room is really messy then ten minutes is not going to do it. So then it can be a twenty minute tidy, or even a thirty.

I am not just doing TMTs today. I also have some deep cleaning I want to do, but I will do the TMTs first. It's a lot easier to clean a room after it's been picked up first.

So these are my plans, as exciting or unexciting as they are. So if anybody is in the mood to race their timer and boogie around their home please join me! What can you accomplish in ten minutes?

Friday, January 30, 2009

MY GROCERY STORE HATES ME

My grocery store hates me. Yes they do. Today I decided to stop by there and buy a few things. We had run out of potatoes and I wanted to get some fresh fruit and a couple of other things.

While I was stalking, I mean hanging out in the produce department I went over to get some oranges. It seemed like all of the oranges were either all shriveled up and gross, or green, or moldy. I'm not kidding. Those were my choices. Yum.

So anyway, I decided to open a new box. I am sure that somewhere someone out there is freaking out but yes, that is what I did. While I was opening the box a gal that works in the produce department came over and looked shocked and then frowned at me. By then the box was already opened so I figured what harm could it do.

As I proceeded to take out my oranges a produce guy came over and frowned at me and asked me in a very firm tone "Are you done?" I said yes, I was done and that I wanted good oranges, not ones that were all moldy or shriveled. He said that yes he knew they were moldy and that it was a problem but that they were expecting a new shipment in soon.

So, somebody tell me why everybody was glaring at me? Is there some special grocery store ettiquette rule that I broke? I talked to someone I know who works in a grocery store and he said that the clerks were at fault, not me but I don't know if that's really true.

So if I did something wrong please tell me. Also tell me what do you do in the produce department of the grocery store? Do you tear the bananas apart? Do you open boxes? What do you do at the grocery store that strikes fear in the hearts of clerks when you come in because I think my grocery store hates me and I want to feel better.

FRUGAL FRIDAY TIP

I have a little frugal tip for you. I put on my detective hat and went undercover and did an experiment. I even took pictures! Unfortunately the pictures aren't loading so you'll have to come back later if you want to see them. They really aren't that exciting though, so don't worry about it....hehehe!

I got to thinking about stain removers. Let me tell you that I love me some stain remover! I gotta have it. I am a little controlling about my laundry. I have issues. So, the thought of using an "inferior" stain remover gives me the shakes.

During that very long year that my husband was out of work (many years ago) I discovered Goop worked great as a stain remover. Yes, Goop. The stuff that your husband cleans his hands with after he's been working on the car. The stuff you can buy at Home Depot or wherever.

The problem with Goop, however, was that the directions say that you need to rub it into the stain and let it set for about twenty minutes. Now, some people won't like scooping it up with their fingers and smearing it all over the stain. I'm not going to call anybody out on this but you know who you are.

I, however, love smearing it all around with my fingers. For those that never enjoyed fingerpainting I suppose you could wear gloves or use a spoon or a popsicle stick or something. Either that or let your kids do it.

As I said, that twenty minute wait was a problem. I had laundry lying all over the place while I dutifully waited my twenty minutes, and often I forgot about it. Needless to say I soon went back to my regualar stain remover and Goop was a thing of the past.

So yesterday I decided to do my own little experiment to pit Goop against my favorite stain remover and may the best stain remover win.
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First I took a white cotton diaper and very happily smeared chocolate and ketchup on different parts of it. I used a black marker and labeled the Goop side and the competitor's side so that I could tell the difference. Then I smeared the Goop on the chocolate and the ketchup, and used my current stain remover on the same stains on the other side.

This time I did not wait for twenty minutes. I waited only a minute or two and tossed it in the wash. I was suprised to find out that the Goop cleaned just as well as my regular stain remover. All the stains came out without a problem. And yes, I know that I have way to much time on my hands but no frugal challenge is to big to tackle for you guys!

So if you are in the market for an inexpensive stain remover you may want to consider Goop! I have to say that I was real happy with the results! For more great frugal tips and ideas please visit Biblical Womanhood here!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ABOUT RAISING RESPECTFUL KIDS


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


You know, when my kids were little I was afraid of them growing into teenagers. I remember being with a friend and her teenage son asked to do something and she said no. I remember thinking "How did she know to do that? How did she know that she should say no to that? How will I know?"

That was one of my concerns, that I wouldn't know how to parent a teenager. The other concern was that I wanted to raise respectful children. I had seen teenage rebellion and frankly, I feared it!

I do not claim to be an authority on parenting or teenagers, but I think that it's important to instill respect in our children from the very beginning. We need to teach them to respect our authority from babyhood. We need to teach them to respect God's authority. We need to let them know that we love them enough not to let them get away with things.

We need to set boundaries for our children, and we need to be consistent in enforcing those boundaries. In the beginning you set external boundaries for them in hopes that they will develop internal ones as they get older. So that, eventually, they will be able to learn to say "no" for themselves.

Any parent will probably tell you that being consistent in setting boundaries can be difficult, especially when you're tired!

As our children grew, we said no to some things. Sometimes you might hear a child say "You don't trust me."

We might say something like "It isn't a matter of trust. It's not that we don't trust you. It's that we don't trust your youth, your inexperience, your lack of judgement. You might get yourself into a situation that you don't yet have the exerience or wisdom to get out of." Sometimes it really isn't a matter of trust but of youth and inexperience. Sometimes you can trust the child but you can't trust the situation.

We did not accept disrespect as "normal" teenage behavior. That doesn't mean that our teens have never been disrespectful. I just mean that we did not condone or excuse such disrespect as acceptable and blame it on the fact that they were teens.

I believe that we do our teens a disservice when we allow them to get away with being disrespectful. When we excuse their bad behavior and say that they can't help themselves, that they are teenagers and are "supposed" to act that way. When we make excuses for their disrespect and rebellion and say that it is o.k. and normal because they are just learning to "find" themselves and separate from mom and dad.

What is a teenager supposed to do with that? How is he supposed to behave if he thinks he can't help it anyway? The teen years are tough. These kids are being bombarded with so much. They need to know that we are in the trenches with them, praying for them, loving them, supporting them, encouraging them. We don't surrender them to the fight. This battle is best fought on your knees in prayer. Pray for your child. Every day.

Many a mother of a struggling teenager will tell you that they aren't giving up, they pray and love them and they are in there fighting for these kids.

I do agree that there are alot of emotions running rampant during the teen years. But I think that our kids need us more during that time, not less. They need to know that we love them no matter what. But they also need to know that we are still going to expect them to be responsible for their actions and their behavior, just as we have been teaching them since childhood.

When the teen years first hit, we explained to our children that "I'm supposed to act this way, I'm a teenager" would not be an excuse in our home. We expected them to continue to be respectful in their words and actions, and we expected them to be responsible for their choices and behavior.

As they became older they were given a little more freedom, but we never gave a growing teen the same freedom that we experienced as their parents. We expected to know where they were going, and who they were going with, and we gave them a curfew to come home. For us, there were certain things that we just didn't feel were a good idea, so we said no to those things but yes to other things. We allowed them some freedom, but within boundaries.

I hesitate to post this because, the thing is, there are so many variables. The parent can do everything possible but the child still makes their own choices ultimately. This is not a post about how to raise perfect kids. Kids are no more perfect than their parents are, so they are going to have some good moments and some not so good moments.

Also, I am not talking about not allowing the children to grow and mature and learn to make their own decisions. I am just saying that I think it's o.k. to continue to expect our children to be respectful even when they become teenagers.

Our kids are now 15 and 20, and of course our 20 year is now in college. I wish you could meet them. They are awesome! Just know that even though raising teens might sound very scary, it can be such a blessing to watch your children grow up and mature. The Lord is there to give you wisdom every step of the way. It won't always be smooth sailing, perhaps, but thankfully the Lord is in the storm as well as the calm.

I am linking up to this linky party:


Faithful Friday Blog Hop

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WHAT IS YOUR "ROOM OF DOOM" AND WHY?

So apparently I am a very nosey person. Because I am still on my homemaking kick this week and now I am wondering what room in your home is your Room of Doom? (cue scary music). Seriously, do you have one room that you have the hardest time keeping clean?

You know the room, the one room that always seems to be the last room you clean, the last room that's put in order, the last room that gets any attention. If all of the rooms in your home were clean except one, this is the one room that would be messy. So, what room is it?

Mimi, girlfriend, you know I love ya and you are probably hyperventilating right now aren't you? Just the thought of that messy room in my home is doing you in, I know. That poor room. Nobody cares and nobody loves it.


O.k., so your garage can't count. Alright, you can count it but then you have to choose one room in your house just to make me feel better so I don't feel so alone. So tell me, because I am so nosey, which room is it and why?


Which room is my Room of Doom you ask? You didn't ask? Really? You're not nosey? Oooh I'm so embarrassed. Sorry. O.k. My room is........drumroll, please....the master bedroom.


Isn't that awful? I think I struggle with it because noone hardly ever sees it. I spend most of my time running around doing laundry, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, homeschooling, or being in other parts of the house and I just don't get back to it that often.

I am well meaning. I will do a pickup of the other rooms and always leave that room for last but just never seem to get to it on a daily basis.

What is in there that's so messy, you ask? Again you don't ask? Shhheeeessh! You guys are the nicest non-nosey people I know.

Well, there's some clean laundry that I was to lazy and in to much of a "hurry" to put away. So it's just sitting on the dresser. They can make a vacuum that can move itself around the carpet and they have yet to create clothes that can just put themselves away.....go figure!

A couple of books and magazines are lying around. Hey, you never know when you might wake up in the middle of the night and feel a desperate urge to read something!

There are some clothes that are ready to be taken downstairs to the laundry room to be washed. Some boots that made it into the bedroom but never made it into my side of closet. Again, I go back to that practically-alive vacuum cleaner and say to you that I wish those boots were made for walkin'.......

Dare I say that you will find a few items of clothing in there that aren't where they should be? Like maybe they should be hanging in the closet as opposed to draped over something. Not that I would ever do that of course.....drat! It's not "Not Me!" Monday. (Can you have a double negative in your blog or is a not-not not acceptable?)

Not only that, I started a thrift store pile and now it's all mixed in with the laundry and the clothes and I'm going to have to sort through the dern thing all over again. Otherwise I'll be tossing out the wrong items.

So today, I will be focusing on my own personal Room of Doom and get it all neat and orderly again! If I am not out in 30 days please send in a search party.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'M ALLERGIC TO MORNINGS

What is your morning personality? Cheerful? Grouchy? Quiet? No personality at all (hehehe)?

When I was a kid I would stumble out to the kitchen and sit on the floor by the heater. I just craved peace and quiet. Didn't get it, but I craved it. It was just so hard for me to talk to anyone in the morning. I much preferred growling. Can you say grouchy? (No wonder I have a "Grumpy" sweatshirt from Disneyland.)

After my husband and I got married I still had my quiet mornings. He usually went to work before I did. My morning routine was energetic, to say the least. I would wait until the last possible moment to drag myself out of bed and make a mad dash to get ready. (Did I mention that I was allergic to mornings?) I would get dressed, quickly do my hair and makeup and stop at the store. Most mornings I would stop and buy a pop and mini chocolate donuts for breakfast (extremely healthy) and then rush to work.....hoping I wouldn't be late.

Once our children came, my quiet mornings were no longer as quiet. As babies, they weren't talking but I would talk to them. Of course, once they became toddlers there were the endless questions of "Why mommy? Why, why, why?" Endless questions about endless things. I found myself having conversations at way to early an hour. After awhile, you do get used to it though and it becomes easier, even looked forward to!

I will say that I am not a perky, so cheerful it makes-you-want-to-throw-up kind of a morning person. But I'm not exactly a grouch either.....well, not usually.

But I still like to have some quiet moments when I first get up. I don't like to just rush out the door anymore. I like to sit and stare off into space until my brain wakes up. Kind of like a morning coma. Not a sugar induced coma though, more like a caffeine induced one. Oh, and I still like the heater. I used to fight my dogs for the floor one but now I have a Parabolic heater!!! Sometimes I have to fight the dogs for that, too, though.

My mom is still cheerful in the mornings. Always has been and probably always will be. How do people do that????? I love me some peace and quiet in the mornings! So now I get up a little earlier so that I can have that bit of calm before the day marches on. Sometimes I just love going to bed so that I can wake up in the morning. Now, if you can understand that than you so know what I'm talking about!

Come to think of it, nobody is going to understand what I'm talking about. I don't even understand what I'm talking about.....let's just say I guess I like my morning routine. I like getting up early enough so that I can "wake up" a bit before everybody else does (well, everybody within reason). I think I do it in self-defense....lol! I don't like rushing anymore. Because honestly? Sometimes I still think I'm allergic to mornings.

Monday, January 26, 2009

MAKING YOUR HOME SURVIVE

Forget making my home sing today! Right now I'm just trying to make it survive. I admit, I feel lousy. This is not a bid for sympathy...however, if you feel so inclined...hehehehe!

I know I'm not actually sick (although it's possible I'm coming down with a cold) and it's probably what I ate for lunch. My son and I met my friend and her kids for lunch. The purpose of it was a field trip for the benefit of our kids. They were to talk in sign language the whole time as her son and my younger son are ASL students (both my kids know sign language and I do, too).

Anyway, so my friend and I chatted away (in ASL), no verbal speech allowed, and had a great time but then I noticed I wasn't feeling well. Gee, do ya think it might have been the fact that I had french fries for lunch and a big diet pepsi......shhhhh! Don't tell anybody.

So, right now I am thawing out some soup as I don't feel like cooking dinner. I am also working my way through my cleaning. Since I'm not all-out sick I don't feel like I should just go and relax, although I am sitting here taking a break, praying my stomach will recover!

So, I guess some days your home sings and somedays it just survives!

"MAKING YOUR HOME SING" MONDAY

Alright y'all, it's Monday again! Time for another Making Your Home Sing! Monday post. You didn't know I was going to do this again today did you? Well, me neither but apparently I have alot more to say on the topic.

Today I want to talk about your daily routine. What is one thing that you could do today to make your day go better? What one thing can you change in your morning routine to make your day run more smoothly?


When is the last time you sat down and planned your day? Do you actually have a plan or goals or do you just let things happen as they may? How is that working for you?

Think about your day. What are the things that you do every morning and every evening without fail? This is your daily routine. Spending time with God's word and in prayer, washing your hair, feeding the dog, making meals, taking the dog out, changing diapers, taking kids to school, picking up kids from school, meals, picking up the house, dishes, etc. These are the benchmarks of your day. Everything else flows around this.

What, if anything, in your routine is fouling you up, and causing you alot of stress and headaches? Do your mornings flow smoothly and enable you to get out the door to work or begin your work at home with a smile on your face? Or do your mornings find you with a grimace on your face and anything but a song in your heart? How about your evenings? Do you go to bed feeling like you had a productive day or do you go to bed thinking about all the stuff you didn't do because your day got away from you?

What is it that's not quite working out and causing you extra stress? It's probably the first thing that just popped in your head.

For me, the one thing that I could do to make my mornings go better is to make sure that I get up on time. If I don't get up on time, then I am already behind my schedule the minute I get up. It is so easy to push that snooze button. They make it easy! I don't need an alarm clock that allows me to ignore it. I need one that will give me a good swift kick and get me out of bed. I need that thing that George Jetson had on his cartoon show, you know? The mechanical arm that picks him up and just carries him to where he needs to go. I gotta get me one of those.


In my series on Conquering the Messies I talked about setting up a daily schedule. Having a plan for your day can be a great stress reliever. For instance, when you get up in the morning you know what tasks you need to do in order for your morning to run smoothly. It doesn't mean that interruptions won't happen, but it does mean that you have a plan, an order to your day. Once you deal with the interruption, you will be able to get back on track.

When you're having a rough day you don't even need to think about what to do next. It's all written out for you already. You just move through your day and let your routines take over.

Take a moment and write down the things you do every morning before your day begins to unfold. A quiet time with the Lord is very important. We need that time with Him every day, reading His word and spending time in prayer. It's a relational thing. How can we get to know our Lord if we never spend time with Him?

What else is on your morning list? Exercise, shower, medicine, getting children up and dressed, breakfast, starting a load of laundry, taking the dogs out......any or all of these may be on there.

What about your afternoon routine? It may include flip-flopping the laundry, getting the kids down and up from a nap, picking up kids from school, errands, starting dinner, etc. Some of these things you do every single day at or about the same time. Some things (like laundry) may vary.

What about your evening? You might have things like dinner and cleaning up after dinner, playtime with kids, the children's bedtime routine (story, bath, prayers, etc.), picking up the house, washing your face, brushing your teeth, time with spouse, computer time or whatever. Each of these are probably done about the same time night after night.

You probably already have a well-established routine, whether you have it written down or not. Look at your routine, your typical day, and make a list of the things that aren't working. Is there anything that you can do to make things go more smoothly?

Many times all we need to do is just sit down and look at our day. Sometimes we stick to a routine even when it's not working anymore, because it's a habit. Perhaps we are scheduling way to many things for that day. Perhaps it is time to reschedule or rethink or rework, or just say no. Perhaps all we really need to do is get up earlier, or spend less time on the computer, or spend some time training our children on their own morning routine.

Today I encourage you to look at your morning routine, or create one if you haven't already. Really look at it and make sure that it is working for you. If it's not, ask yourself why. Don't be bound by old habits. What worked before may not be working now.

This week I will be working on getting up on time. That's it....nothing earth shattering. Just getting up on time. If I get up on time, then I will be able to get right into my regular morning routine and the rest of my day will run alot more smoothly. More hours in my day....woohoo!

What might you do today to make your home "sing!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

MENU PLAN MONDAY - JANUARY 25TH


Last week's menu planning went so well that I think I am hooked. Again, I am planning for a couple of nights of leftovers. I am only including the main dishes. Please go here for more Menu Plan Monday!

Chicken and Broccoli casserole

Crockpot Black Bean soup, very similar to this recipe

Kielbasa & Pasta Skillet Dinner

Baked Potato Bar

Fajitas (made with ground turkey)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

SOMEBODY HELP THE POOR BLOGGER.....

Here's a question out there for you guys. Does anybody read me in a reader? I have been reading about something called feedburner and thinking about adding it to my blog. But I don't really know much about it but it's supposed to make things easier to read by subscribing to a feed.

Anyway, when I tried to do it it says I already have a feed and I am supposed to select whether I want an Atom or RSS feed as my source. Huh? Apparently, I already have a feed.

So, I don't know what to do now as I don't want to mess anyone up if there's someone reading me thru a reader. Anybody have one of these feedburner things that can tell me? I thought it might be fun to add. Thanks guys, you are awesome!

I'M A REAL HOMEMAKER I AM!

O.k., so I have dinner going in the crockpot. I heart my crockpot. It just makes life so much easier. I browned the porkchops and tossed some onions and a few other things in there and they are happily cooking away.

Don't you just love having a crockpot (for those of you that do)? Usually I use it on days that I am out of the house for several hours. Today I am home but figured I could use that time to do other things....like blogging (~blush~).

I am also thinking that I want a food processor. Anybody have one of those? Do you like it or use it much? Since I am now trying to cook more from scratch I think that I would use it a whole lot more. I could make my own bread crumbs and would use it for other things as well, like curling my hair, or cleaning the bathtub, or saving the universe or whatever those things do. Boy, have I had to much sugar today or what?

I always feel like little-Suzy-homemaker when I have dinner going in the crockpot. For some reason it makes me feel like a "real" homemaker. Not that I am playing at it any other time, of course. But for some bizarre reason I always feel like I am "organized" when dinner is cooking away in that thing. Silly, I know.

Now I gotta go clean my bathrooms and then I will really feel like a "real" homemaker. Nothing like a clean bathroom to make you feel on top of things. It's messy now so I guess I am just "playing" at homemaking....hehehehehe!

CONTEST ENDING SOON

My sweet bloggy friend, Alicia from More Than Words, is having a giveaway that you can enter here. She has done her 250th post (wooohoo, you go girl!) and she is giving away a free custom blog makeover.

Hurry up and check out her site for the rules of entry (don't worry, they're easy). The contest ends tonight (Saturday 1/24/09) at 11:59 (West coast time).

MEAL PLANNING 201

I wanted to call this Meal Planning 101, except that I am not posting about how to do meal planning. Instead, I am posting about what happened after my meal planning, so it's 201! I'll do 101 another time!

I mentioned on MPM (Menu Plan Monday) that I was going back to meal planning. Monday and Tuesday went well. However Wednesday required a bit of flexibility.

I am going to explain this to you and you are probably going to get a headache. So buckle your seatbelt, and try and follow me here, o.k? It's not because I believe that you can't understand it. Not at all. I just doubt my ability to explain it. You see, it's my tortured reasoning that's at fault.

Here goes: I was going to be gone most of Thursday and not get home until dinner time. So, I needed to either make a meal on Wednesday that had enough leftovers for Thursday, or do a crockpot meal Thursday morning. Since I have to leave the house so early I didn't want to do that.

Now, how was that? Is your head o.k? Does it hurt? Do you feel a migrane coming on? No?! O.k. Good. Because there's more.

In my menu plan I had included a soup day using soup (wow, what a concept, using soup on a soup day, what will I think of next? Pizza on Pizza night?) Anyway, the soup was already frozen in the freezer. Good planning on my part, huh?

Aren't I smart! I don't have to cook and I use up some of the freezer inventory. I thought this would be a great idea to put it in the fridge to thaw and then we could heat it up on Thursday. Thus, no work on my part as the fridge does most of the work. Well, the fridge and the microwave.

Then I realized that I had some celery, carrots and potatoes that really needed to be used. So, I decided to make some potato soup on Wednesday. That would solve three problems: using food up before it goes bad, giving us dinner for Wednesday and leftovers for Thursday.


So here is my meal planning lesson: when you make your menu plan, it's a good idea to see what you have in your fridge that might need to be used up soon so it doesn't go to waste. Meal planning is not going to save you money if you are letting your food rot in the fridge.


Also, make sure you have everything on hand before making the meal. Since I hadn't orginally planned on making potato soup, I didn't check to make sure I had all the ingredients on hand before I started to make it. It wasn't until I had the carrots, potatoes and celery in the soup pot that it dawned on me that I might not have any cream cheese. Fortunately I did (yay me!).

The nice thing was my husband saying "Oh wow!" when he walked into the kitchen. I would love to say he was looking at me at the time but no, he was looking at the soup. He loves soup and potato soup is a favorite. For the potato soup recipe please go here.

YUMMY POTATO SOUP RECIPE

Here's a yummy recipe for potato soup that is very filling and will warm you up on a cold day!

Ingredients:
8 medium-large potatoes (peeled and diced)
3 carrots (I slice them but you can shred them if you want)
3 stalks of celery (diced)
1 medium onion (diced)
6 cups of water
4 to 6 tablespoons of butter (can use up to 8 tablespoons), or could use margarine i/o butter
8 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
3 cups of milk
1 8-oz. package of cream cheese (I use light)
1 family size can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup (or 2 15-oz. cans)

In a large kettle cook potatoes, carrots and celery in 6 cups of water until tender (medium to medium-high heat). Do not drain!

In another saucepan melt butter (or margarine). Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly until it's thickened (bring almost to a boil to thicken it, although you don't have to). Add the cream cheese and the chicken soup.

Then add the cream mixture to the potato mixture. Heat thoroughly over a low heat. I like to serve this with crumbled bacon and shredded cheese.

If you prefer to add an onion, you can saute the onions, carrots and celery in some oil first.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This is just a test. For some reason I am having trouble with my blog. I am also having trouble posting so I want to see if this will post as another one wouldn't. The previous post did, although my comments won't. If you don't see me for a couple of days you'll know why....hopefully things will resolve. I can't seem to access any of the helps.

TROUBLE WITH COMMENTS

Just wanted to tell you all that I am having trouble publishing comments. For some reason I keep getting an error message every time I try it. It says something about an illegal or malformed error. So if you don't see your comment this is why. I am hoping that this will change soon so please don't stop leaving comments. Hopefully it will resolve itself.

LET'S TALK ABOUT FAVORITE/LEAST FAVORITE CHORES

I was gone most of yesterday so didn't really have much time for a post. So, instead I have two questions for you. Because I'm curious. Because I'm always looking for a better way to do something. Because I need something to blog about. So, my friends:

What is your favorite household chore? What do you love to do most of all, or at least it rates right up there. By the way, don't you dislike the word chore? It makes homemaking seem like a, well.....a chore.

What is your least favorite household chore? What do you dread doing or drag your feet at doing, or would gladly pay someone else to do?

How do you motivate yourself to do your least favorite chore? (O.k., I lied......there are three questions.) Do you do that chore first, last, or perhaps reward yourself with a treat afterwards? What do you do? (I know, I lied again...more questions.)

I hope you have better luck with these questions than I am. The thing is, I like the result of the chore. I love having my bathrooms sparkling clean, so cleaning them is a necessary part of that. So, in a way, I don't really mind doing it.

But, I have to admit that I am not crazy about sorting clothes before I do laundry. It's so silly because it's so easy to do. In fact, I even have colored baskets that make sorting them into whites, colors, etc. much easier. Still.......I can easily put off doing that. Hence, sometimes my laundry room becomes a Mt. Never-Rest of mounds of laundry.

Yes, I know all about buying a laundry sorter. I know all about how easy it would be to teach my family to sort it themselves by tossing their things in the divided laundry sorter, or even colored bags. But knowing and doing.....sigh......

My favorite household chore? Hmmmmmm....does eating chocolate count? Well, this is my blog and I say it counts. But to be fair, I suppose the thing I always gravitate to first is cleaning my kitchen. I love a clean kitchen. Even more than a clean bathroom (although it's close). I could happily spend forever cleaning my kitchen.

I love the clean uncluttered countertops. I love the shiny tiles. I love the empty sink that smiles at me. I love the sheer expanse of countertop with nothing cluttering it - but I guess I said that already. It's not because I can practically see myself in the shiny tile......I mean, really, do I really need to see that first thing in the morning?

It's just that I love walking into a clean kitchen. Every time.

I am still working on making my home sing! How are you all doing with that this week? Remember I said we were going to encourage one another along the way! What a joy to make a home for those we love, or for ourselves if we're single. What a blessing to make a haven of rest after a long, weary day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

HOW TO BE LATE FOR A MEETING

Today I thought I would give you all a lesson in How To Be Late For A Meeting because, well.....(~blush~)...I excel at that sort of thing.

  1. Forget you have a meeting tonight so wait until absolutely the last minute to wash your gross hair.
  2. Decide on the spur of the moment to make dinner instead of taking it out of the freezer (more post on this later in the week). Be sure and choose a meal that involves lots of dicing and chopping.
  3. After dinner let the food set out a bit to cool, then forget to put it away in the fridge until you're ready to walk out the door.
  4. Make sure the fridge is really, really full. That way you have to take a few moments to figure out where you're going to put the leftovers. Make sure that a can of pop falls out and rolls across the floor so you can go after it. Be sure and kick it so it rolls faster.
  5. Wait as long as you can to let the big dog out to do his business before you leave, because you know he will run around outside and not come when you call.
  6. Chase the little puppy all over the place so that she will think you are playing and run from you.
  7. Be sure and forget to let the big dog back in again. You know how loud and long he barks and that will really score points with the neighbors.
  8. Forget that you are still wearing your workout clothing so that you have to take a few extra minutes to change.
  9. Stand for a few minutes and have a serious debate with yourself about the merits of wearing jewelry.
  10. You absolutely want to have the dryer running so that you have to run to the laundry room and turn it off before you go. That is always good for a laugh.
  11. Forget to tell your mom you are leaving. After all, it's much more fun for her to call your name and try and find you. It will give her something to pass the time while you're gone.
  12. Make sure that you lose your keys somewhere. That will always eat up at least ten minutes of your time.
  13. While you're at it, forget that you have a spare key that you could have used.
  14. You will want to have previously parked your car on the street and not in the driveway. That way, you can run all the way down the hill to your car, instead of being closer to it. Tell yourself it's good exercise.
  15. Make sure that the gas is getting near empty. That will cause all sorts of concern as you drive.
  16. On the way to your meeting, suddenly remember that last week you told everyone about the new thing you were going to bring this week to show them....then forget to bring it.
  17. Be thinking so hard that you forget that that big red round thing means Stop! and stop very suddenly.
  18. Confuse the people behind you by turning your right turn signal on...and then go straight ahead. That will keep them guessing and provide them with all sorts of fun.
  19. Notice that your speed keeps creeping up so ease your foot off the gas pedal so that you are going the speed limit. That way, you aren't going to get there any faster.
  20. Watch as a police car drives by and doesn't stop you because you are going the speed limit. Watch as he stops someone else instead.
  21. As you pull into the parking lot, stop and spend some time thinking about which parking spot to take. Which one is closer? Then park at the one that's furthest away.
  22. While parking, be sure and brake hard so that you knock your purse all over the floor of the car.
  23. Finally, as you walk into the meeting, see a friend of yours and remember that you were supposed to bring something and give it to her that night.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WHAT KIND OF A "CLEANER" ARE YOU?

Isn't it funny how we all are different in regards to how we approach cleaning?

Some people are all-or-nothing people. If they can't get it all done today they don't even want to start. They are waiting for a huge block of time, which may or may not ever come.

Some are behind-the-scenes kind of people. The rooms in their home may be a mess, but their closets and drawers are totally organized and something to behold. Their closets are neat enough to make your mother shed tears of joy.

Some people are very clean underneath but cluttered. You could eat off their floor.....if you could find it.

Some may take awhile to get motivated but when they do, lookout!!!! They are energized and are a lean-mean cleaning machine! They can clean for hours without coming up for air.

Some are great starters but not so great finishers. They start cleaning in a room, go to another room to put something away and start cleaning something in that room, only to wind up later in yet another room cleaning madly away there....but never finishing in the other rooms. So each room is just a little bit clean, but never completely.

Some people wander around alot with things in their hands. They get lots of great exercise but that's about it. You know how that goes. You start cleaning in the living room and you find Billy's shoes. So you return them to his bedroom only to find an empty plate, so you return that to the kitchen. While there you discover a book so you put it away in the family room, only to see a wrench lying out which leads you to the garage...which leads you to the car.....before you know it you're driving off somewhere.

Some people may have immaculate rooms but you'd better have your life insurance up-to-date if you open a closet or a cupboard.

Some are easily sidetracked. They have great enthusiasm when they start, only to find themselves getting distracted by something and soon find themselves reading a magazine they were supposed to be tossing, or watching a dvd that they were supposed to be organizing, or cooking a recipe from a cookbook they were supposed to be decluttering, making a phonecall, etc. Whatever they are doing reminds them of someone or something and it distracts them from their original task.

Some are easily discouraged and overwhelmed. So even though they have the desire to clean, they are easily discouraged and sometimes give up to soon. The task threatens to overwhelm them and they lose heart.

Some are perfectionists and everything needs to be "just right." So they can spend way to much time on any one task, getting it "perfect" while the rest of their home can be a mess.

In examining our "style" of cleaning, we may find that we have several methods, including some I didn't mention! I think I've had a little of each of these in me at one time or another.

Whenever we are preparing to entertain, my perfectionism can threaten to get in the way. The rugs could need vacuuming, the furniture in dire need of dusting, or the rooms need to be decluttered. Where will you find me? Organizing a closet or drawer that noone will ever see and trying to make it "perfect." Or decluttering my closet, or madly reorganizing the bookcase that noone will notice.

Seriously, I do this! I know I do it too! So I am learning to force myself to see the big picture. To do the vacuuming or the dusting and the things that need doing, and quit alphabetizing my cookbooks or whatever strange thing I come up with to do. It is easier now than it used to be, because I realize that people are coming over to see us, not the house, and that noone really cares (well.....except me.....).

At times I am gung-ho and a steamroller, look out dust here I come! At other times I am off in a corner, thumbing through a magazine that I am supposed to be recycling, or looking through the baby clothes (oooops....I never said that, I am not sentimental enough to keep a few baby clothes). At other times I am easily distracted and wandering from room to room, without a real plan.

I find that I am at my best and the most organized when I am sticking to my routines (daily and weekly) and stay on top of the maintenance cleaning. That helps me stay focused and on task and keep on top of things. So, what about you? What kind of a "cleaner" are you? Come on, you can tell us! We're all friends here!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

OOOPS I DID IT AGAIN!

In case you're wondering, I accidentally posted tomorrow's post on "cleaning" today. It wasn't even finished yet so it was an accident. I was typing it and hit the wrong button. So, if you saw it and wondered where it went, it is back in draft waiting to be finished and will be posted tomorrow! Sorry and now I return you to our regularly scheduled blog.....

GREAT WAY TO SAVE ON KID'S CLOTHING


Lynnae is hosting Tightwad Tuesday again.
I don't know about your kids, but my boys could wear a hole in their jeans like nobody's business. In fact, one day several years ago, I put my youngest in brand new jeans and he managed to tear them that very same day. Wow! I have to admit, I was impressed, lol!

If it wasn't for the Sear's KidVantage Club we would have been spending alot more money keeping these kids in clothes. Sears has a wonderful free program. If you buy your kid's clothes there, and they wear out or develop a hole in them before outgrowing them, Sears will exchange the clothes for brand new ones.....for free. Yup, you heard me. Free! To my knowledge this is only available in the stores, however.

I used to buy each kid about three pairs of jeans, one to wash, one to wear, and one to spare. I would buy them one size larger than my child was currently wearing. That way, he would have a little growing room. I always liked to do that with clothes anyway, no matter where I bought them. So the jeans would be a little big at first but we would just fold the cuffs up and they'd wear a belt. Eventually they would grow into them.

I would go quite a while before needing to buy a new pair of jeans in the next size up. That's because, first of all, I had bought them one size larger to begin with. So it would take awhile to grow into them. Also, every time they wore a hole in them I'd take them to Sears and get them replaced. Now, not every kid is going to grow at the same rate, so perhaps they won't last as long for you. Still, it's a great plan. I never needed to buy new ones until my sons' outgrew the size they were wearing.

Of course, if you have a baby or toddler who is growing faster than they can wear out their clothes, this would probably not be a good plan until they got to, perhaps, school aged.

Not only do you get the clothes replaced for free, but for every $100 of kid's clothing that you buy, Sears will give you a 15% off discount coupon receipt (good for your next kid's clothing purchase). I think this is cumulative, so I don't think it matters if you take months and months to spend the $100, you will still get the coupon after you spend that amount. This is not a one time deal either. It's every time you spend a total of $100 there.

Signing up for this program is free, too. I believe that you are required to wash the clothes before you bring them back to exchange them. You will also want to bring your receipt just in case. Sometimes they've asked to see my receipt and sometimes they haven't. It just depends. I keep my receipts in a certain place and I write on them so that I know what I bought for whom. That way I can keep it straight for when I return things.

Sears goes all the way up to size 18, so we are still buying clothes there. My 20 year old is buying his own clothes now, for the most part, and my 15 year old buys some of his clothes too. Still, Sears is the place that we're buying jeans even now. I think they exchange kid's sized shoes too but I'm not sure.

I priced jeans at a thrift store once, and they were a little cheaper. But they weren't cheaper in the long run because once they wore out they couldn't be replaced. So it made more sense to me to pay a few extra dollars for jeans that I could replace in three or four months (that's about how long my son would usually take to wear a hole in the knee).

I don't work for Sears and noone asked me to write this. I just wanted to share it with you because honestly, when you're trying to be frugal and save money....in my opinion, this is a great way to do it!

Please check their website and don't take everything I've said at face value in case any of it is inaccurate. I am tired and probably not making a lot of sense, also policies can change, of course. You need to go and check this out for yourself and not just take my word for it. Read what they say themselves for the most accurate, up to date information. Please go here to check it out and type KidVantage (that is KidVantage, not Kid Advantage). Please go here for more frugal tips at Tightwad Tuesday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A HOME THAT SINGS!

O.k., people, it is time to get serious about confession time here, so here goes. Lately I have been lazy and undisciplined. O.k., I can be brave. I can admit this loud and clear for all the blogging world to read...........sigh! Lately I have been lazy and undisciplined. Yup, I have been. Not quite sure when it happened. I think it happened one day when I wasn't looking. You know, those days when your back is turned and something happens? Those kinds of things sneak up on you, ya know?

I really want to blame blogging.......I really, really, really do. Sure, it's part of it, but not all of it, because I've had unproductive days before I discovered blogging. I will be so disciplined and so focused around here, and then I get sidetracked and the next thing you know I'm off in a corner, drooling over a magazine, or drinking a diet pepsi and surfing the web, or reading a book, or yakking on the phone, or watching some stupid t.v. show that caught my eye.

It wouldn't be so bad if I was staying on top of things around here. But when things start to slide then it is time to do some evaluating of how I'm managing my time.

Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a wife and a mother. Yup. I always wanted to be a homemaker. I wanted to be a good one too. I mean, seriously, I don't think anyone ever says "You know what? I want to be a homemaker, and I want to really do a very poor job of it. I want to create chaos in the home, and cook really gross food, and make sure noone ever has any clean socks, and run around wearing stained shirts and hair that looks like a bird was building a nest in it. Oh, and I want to make sure I make my family miserable too."

I love my husband and I love my family and I want to make a lovely home for them. A peaceful one. An orderly one. A home with homecooked meals. And clean bathrooms. And fresh smelling laundry. A home with a smiling, cheerful mom who knows what she is making for dinner that night, instead of a frazzled mom who is running around at the last minute trying to pull a miracle, or a baked chicken, out of her hat. I want my home to sing!

Now, just so you know, noone around here is complaining, except for me that is, hehehe! I have decided that I am going back to the basics. I have got to go back to my daily routine. I have got to get my act together and get organized.

I know how to do it, I know why to do it, I even know when to do it....tomorrow. I love my family and they are my "job!" After all, isn't that what a homemaker does.....makes a home?! God blessed me with this family and by His grace I will be able to put my focus where it belongs and not get sidetracked.

So, starting tomorrow I will wake up on time. Yup! I have been hitting the snooze button one to many times lately. I will monitor my computer time....sniff! snort! sob!.....and I will go back to my carefully, prayerfully thought out schedule of daily and weekly routines.

Ladies, do you have a daily routine that you do? Do you have a plan for your day or does your day just slip away from you, as mine has lately? Are you spending more time that usual on things that are taking you away from that which is important to you? Do you have time to play on the computer but not time to spend with the Lord (ouch!, because I am saying this to myself too!). Are you stressed out because of poor time management and find yourself snapping at those you love? Are you keeping up with the meals, cleaning and laundry or are you barely staying afloat?

If you are struggling with being undisciplined as I have been than join me today and every day and we will encourage one another. If you are single, then you are still making a beautiful home for yourself, because you deserve to have a peaceful, orderly singing home too. If you are married, then take joy in making a home for yourself and your family. Not just a house to live in, but a home. A warm, loving, inviting place. A place that sings!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

MENU PLAN MONDAY



Today is my first Menu Plan Monday. I have to admit it's a little intimidating to decide what I am going to cook this week and stick with it. So I am taking the easy way out by selecting the meals but not the day. That way I have a plan, which will save me time and money in the long run, but I am not bound to it on any particular day.

I know this isn't horribly exciting but I am posting this for accountability's sake. This is part of my plan to be more frugal and save money on our financial "diet" that I mentioned recently. The more I meal plan the more likely I will save money as I won't be making any last minute runs to the grocery store (and buying more than I'd planned), I won't be eating out because I don't have any plans for dinner, and I'll be less likely to be tempted to buy lots of convenience foods.

I have three days a week that I am out in the afternoon and barely get home in time to cook dinner so I will be making bigger portions and planning for lots of leftovers on those days.

Fortunately my family loves leftovers (and casseroles) and so do I. I will only be posting the main dishes, for the most part, as the vegies and fruits will be decided on that day (unless the vegetable is part of the meal).

Turkey soup from the freezer*, homemade rolls

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole*

Crockpot: Saucy Pork Chops*, Mashed Potatoes

Baked Potato Bar

*I will plan to have leftovers of these. For more menu plans please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie and see what everyone else is doing.

My dear friend Alicia, at Confessions of a Snowflake has given me this award. You gotta go pay her a visit because she is a sweetie.
Now I am supposed to list five things I an addicted to (only five?) and then pass this on to five other bloggers. I am not going to list my Savior nor my family as those are a given. I am not going to list blogging either. So, how about this in no particular order:
  1. Chocolate
  2. Diet pepsi
  3. Organizing
  4. Reading
  5. Costco

Now, as to who I am passing this on to. I don't know who has it and who hasn't but I am going to list some blogs that I have recently discovered and am growing to love. I am only listing three because I am under a time limit here and I have to leave soon. However, I do suggest that you visit these blogs and meet these lovely ladies and make some new friends!

April

Erin

Beth

BRAGGING ON MY KIDS

I was going to take the day off today and not post but I have to brag on my kids. Last night my hubby and I went out to a free dinner (prime rib...woohooo!) and left our sons (15 and 20) at home.

As you know I had all sorts of things I wanted to do yesterday, cleaning the house was big on the list. However, I ran out of time and didn't get to do all the cleaning I wanted.

When we came home I noticed that the entry hall was clean. It was a mess earlier as I was using it as kind of a holding-spot for things that I had just dumped there earlier when I was in a hurry. Also, the carpeting on the stairs looked suspiciously clean.

So I walked into the living room and a couple of items appeared absent that had been there earlier. I walked into the kitchen and some things were missing off the counters that had been there earlier as well.

I found the culprits downstairs in my mom's room. They were watching a movie with her.

Yup....my boys had cleaned the house while we were gone. They had cleaned up the entry hall and put everything away, straightened up the living room, dining room, family room, sunroom, bathrooms and the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, loaded it back up again, washed the dishes that couldn't go into the dishwasher, taken out the recyling and garbage, folded some clothes, put away the laundry, swept the hardwoods, dusted, and vacuumed and probably did a few other things that I haven't discovered yet. Then they went in and spent the rest of the evening watching a movie with their grandmother.

Isn't that awesome! You can bet that I thanked them many times! In fact, I'll probably still be thanking them tomorrow! I was so surprised as it was totally unexpected that they would do that. They, of course, had no idea that I had wanted to get the house clean yesterday (as neither one was home for very long, at least, when I was there) and I had not asked them to help clean it or anything.

Instead, they just straightened it up just because they felt like it and because they wanted to do it to help. I am so proud of them. They gave up their whole evening to clean the house and then to spend time with their grandma. I love my boys!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SATUR-DAZE

Anybody else have a busy day today? I do. For one thing, I forgot I signed up to bring 5,000,000,000 cookies to something at church (o.k., that may be a slight exaggeration on my part). But still, I have to bring some.

I forgot to return my library books yesterday and now they are overdue, so I have to take care of that. Hey, I am just doing my part in helping to support our local library.

I have several errands to do today because I couldn't do them yesterday, because I forgot and left my phone at someone's house. I had to pick up my phone because, for goodness sake, you cannot expect me to last a whole week without my phone. I mean, I rarely use it, but suppose I needed it????? Suppose somebody wants me to star in a broadway musical? Suppose the Dog Whisperer needed my help? You never know, I might get a Very Important Phone Call!

Stay with me here.....so I couldn't run my errands yesterday because there wasn't enough time because of homeschooling and my phone (and me being lazy) and me having to be somewhere at 3:30. Thus, no time for errands yesterday. Hence, errands today.

Things I have to do today:

  • clean up my house,
  • do laundry,
  • forget my laundry so we have no clean towels or socks,
  • make 5,000,000,000 cookies or muffins or something,
  • clean up my house (yeah, I know I mentioned it already but it's kinda messy so it's gonna take a little time),
  • wash my hair,
  • run my errands,
  • forget why I was going on my errands and go somewhere else instead,
  • forget what I need to buy and buy something else instead,
  • go to the library,
  • forget to return my books while at the library so rack up more fines,
  • have something unexpected happen that I didn't know was gonna happen that will throw off my plans and make me a nervous wreck,
  • clean up my house,
  • lose my car keys,
  • get gas
  • forget to get gas so run out of gas and have to walk home
  • forget something else and remember it at the last minute and panic because I have run out of time,
  • have 12,438 people call me that absolutely need to talk to me today,
  • call 583 people that I can't live without talking to today,
  • clean my house,
  • and manage to lose ten pounds all before tonight.....all in all, a typical Saturday.
I don't know what you all have got going today but I hope you have a great day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

SUPPLEMENTING OUR INCOME (THE EARLY YEARS)

When my oldest was a baby I returned to work after maternity leave with plans in my head. Plans of how I was going to quit my job and supplement our income from home.

My boss had said that I could go from full-time to part-time, and I had arranged with my mom to care for our son while I worked three days a week. We just couldn't afford for me to stay at home full-time. Then, the night before I was to return to work part-time I got a phone call. They told me that I had to come back and work full-time or I wasn't to come back at all.

Because I didn't have childcare full-time I was allowed to work part-time for a month, but then I was expected to go full-time. I prayed and brainstormed ways that I could quit my job.

I talked with a friend about opening a daycare together, I thought about doing daycare on my own, I thought about being a nanny, delivering morning newspapers, running errands for people, walking dogs, cleaning houses, doing afterschool care, becoming a professional organizer, typing up term papers for college students, being a telemarketer, working nights so that we wouldn't have to put our son in daycare. I don't even remember all the ideas I came up with.

One day as I left for work, my precious baby boy smiled at me, and I burst into tears. I cried all the way to work. I just couldn't leave him anymore. I called my husband sobbing, telling him I wanted to quit my job. "I know, sweetie, and maybe in six months you can quit."

"No!" I sobbed. "I want to quit today. He (our baby) smiled at me!" So I mentioned a plan I'd talked with him about and had been praying about and thought might work. My sweet husband knew I'd always desired to be home and said o.k. We trusted that the Lord would provide and that the plan was a good one. I gave my three week notice that day and began to put my plan into action.

In order to be home with my son, I sold items from one of those home-party plans you've heard about. I went into people's homes and gave a presentation. People bought things and booked parties and I was on my way. I did pretty well on that. I did that for a couple of years and then I quit.

To supplement our income on and off over the years I tried several different things. None of these were for very long and they certainly were not all at the same time. Eventually we were able to live on my husband's income so I just did a few extra things occasionally as a way of making a little additional Christmas money or saving some money for a vacation. (Of course, once I started homeschooling I really didn't have much time to spare.)

I made phone calls from my home for awhile, trying to schedule people for a cleaning service. This did not work very well, as I could not do it during the day because I needed peace and quiet. I disliked doing it at night because it was hard to get a hold of people during the dinner hour, and also, you couldn't call very late. Plus, I missed dinner and putting the kids to bed. Again, it was hard to get peace and quiet, even with my husband watching the kids, and it meant that he had to come home from his job and handle the kids all evening. I found myself constantly shushing the kids, and finally, with my husband's blessing, I quit.

I tried several different things over the years. I cared for a neighbor's children a couple of hours after school. I tried doing office work for a friend one day a week, which later went to one day a month. I worked part-time for a month in an office (for a temporary agency) when I was six months along with our second child, this was right before Christmas and gave us a little extra money. I was a mystery shopper for awhile. Another thing I did was to sign on with an agency where I would go and sample a product and give my opinion and was paid anywhere from $25-$75. This one only happened a few times a year at best.

One of the things that has really paid off, over the years, is trying to live more frugally. I had a work friend who quit her job the same day that I quit mine. Less than a year later she was back looking for work, but I was able to still remain at home.

The difference was that we had adjusted our lifestyle in order to live within or beneath our means, and they had not. During that year when she was at home, they had bought a brand new vehicle, eaten out alot, bought several items for their home, and many other things. I am not judging them. I am just explaining what happened. They could not sustain a two-income spending habit on a one-income budget.

We had adjusted to less money and for a long while things were tight. But it was worth it to me to be at home. I was able to be with my babies, which is what I wanted. Also, I had more time to learn about how to save money and time to do it.

It is amazing how creative a mommy can be when her precious baby smiles at her! Please go here for lots and lots of great frugal ideas!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

MENU PLANNING (A.K.A. "I GIVE UP")

Well, as much as I've resisted it, I think I am going to have to go back to menu planning.

Oh, I've heard all the arguments. In fact, I've made them. It will save you money, it will save you time, it will save you stress, it will save you work, blah, blah, blah!

As much as I dislike to admit it, "they" might be right. If I want to save money, I have got to have a plan. If I want to save time, I have got to have a plan. If I want to keep from being stressed....you get the picture.

In the past, I have tried menu planning before but I have always drifted away from it. In fact, I even had it narrowed down to a "theme" night. One night might be Italian, another night would be breakfast (pancakes, waffles, etc.), another would be soup and/or salad, or crockpot night, another might be Mexican food. Or one night would be chicken, another night ground turkey (I never buy ground beef, I use ground turkey instead), etc.

There are two main reasons why I am resisiting it now and why I got away from it in the first place. The first is planning. Even though I had (and have) lots of menus already written down, I did have to sit down and see what ingredients I had on hand. I would either have to plan my menus out of what ingredients I had, or go buy them. I just never really wanted to take the time to sit down and plan, even though it was written into my schedule (remember....I heart schedules).

The second is that sometimes I wasn't in the mood to eat what I had planned. I tried to make it flexible enough so that I could rotate things around, but even so, I knew it would be easier to stick with my plan.

I did enjoy the freedom of menu planning. I mean, I didn't have to decide every day what I was making for dinner. It was already decided. I also posted the list on the fridge so that I could point any wayward soul in that direction that was inquiring about it.

I guess I am just going to have to bite the bullet and do it. I am going to go back to having a crockpot night one night a week, and also make up a couple of extra casseroles to freeze, and stuff like that. I have always wanted to try OAMC (Once A Month Cooking) but I think that's a bit much for me right now. I'll stick with making a couple of extra meals for the freezer.

I have lots of experimenting I want to do on my financial diet so I have some new recipes to try. Also, I like to limit how much meat we eat in a week, so I always want to have a couple of meatless meals as well. I will have to find that cord-thingy so that I can take pictures of some of my adventures in cooking that I will be doing.

For now, I guess I'll have to make that first menu plan. Maybe I'll get it done in time to join Menu Plan Monday. So, tell me, what are you all doing? Do you menu plan? Do you have a theme night each night of the week? What's happening in your kitchen?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR BLOGGING?

I would love to know how you manage your blogging. I am finding that I don't have the time to visit all the blogs (and comment on them) that I would like to every day, much as I'd love to. There are alot of great blogs out there.

I do read and respond to every comment I receive because I appreciate that people took the time to leave one and I like hearing what they have to say, but I don't have time to visit all the blogs that I would like every day.

So, how do you handle your blogging? Does it take you a long time to write a post or do you just crank one out?

How do you handle your readers? Do you visit each and every one every day?

How do you handle your comments? Do you read and respond to every one? Do you comment on your blog or their blog or email?

Thank you for your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

FRUGALITY - IS IT A HOBBY? A JOB? OR A LIFESTYLE?



Today is Tightwad Tuesday again, hosted by Lynnae at beingfrugal.net.

When trying to save money by adopting a more frugal lifestyle, one of the things that I find important is my attitude. I can look at being frugal as a hobby, a job or a lifestyle.

If it's a hobby, than it is something that I dabble in, from time to time. Putting little thought or effort into it until I have some free time to spend on my hobby. For the most part, it won't be something I have much time to do, because other priorities will get in the way. It will be something that I think about fondly but rarely have time to do. It feels good to think about it, but it's hard to find the time to do it. It will be just one of many hobbies that I have.

If I look upon it as a job then it can become a chore. It can be something that I work at when I'd rather be doing something else. It can be something that I do because it needs doing, but not neccesarily something I enjoy. It can also be something that I leave at the "office" and only choose to think about during "business" hours.

If I choose to look at it as a lifestyle, then it shapes my values. It shapes my choices. It becomes part of who I am. It doesn't define me, but it an integral part of me. It puts me in the driver's seat of my life in regards to how I view my financial future.

We need to make a decision as to how we are going to view our bills, our debts, our financial choices. Are they just something that we play at but don't take seriously? Are they something that we avoid thinking about as much as possible, and only do it when we have to? Are they something that we may not like, but know that we need to take responsibility for?

The problem with a frugal hobby is that we often don't think about it enough. It becomes something we will do "tomorrow." When tomorrow comes, and it's not "fun" being frugal anymore, we can easily give up on it. When it involves a little bit of work and effort on our part, we may get easily discouraged and decide it's not worth it.

The problem with a frugal job is that it becomes an "I have to do this" sort of thing. We focus on the "doing" part of it, and not on the benefits. We get hung up on the negative aspect of what we have to do "without" and don't focus enough on the rewards of what we're gaining. It becomes a job, it becomes "work" and we are no longer happy in our chosen "career!"

I think that I need a little bit of all three of these in trying to be frugal. I need it to be a little bit of a hobby so that I can make a game out of it. So that I can challenge myself to come in under budget at the grocery store. So I can see how much I can save this month. So that I can see just how low I can purchase an item.

I need it to be a little bit of a job so that I will set aside time to do it. So that I will make time in my day to do my frugal "homework." So that I will find the time to make some things from scratch, to clip coupons, to work on my pricebook, and several other things. So that I will just accept that I need to do it, and just do it.

Lastly, I need it to be a lifestyle so that I will integrate it into my thoughts, my goals, and my life. That way, I will be more likely to succeed at saving money because it will be something that I desire to do. It will stop being just a wish and will become a goal, a reality.

Please go here for more frugal tips and ideas.

Monday, January 12, 2009

GREAT LINK

Hey y'all. Jill from Jill's Crazy Life is just starting a great series on cheap meals. She's calling it "Frugal Feasting"and it is going to cover making a pricebook (which you know I've encouraged you all to do) and cooking with beans and stuff like that.

It's not that I like sending you all away from here, but we can't keep up with everything that's out there in blogland so when I see something I think you might be interested in, I like to tell you about it. I'd like to think you'd do the same for me.

I have linked you to her main page as she's already mentioned this for about three posts in a row, so you'll want to scroll down to read it all, or click her Frugal Feasting label to see them all. You can access her by the link on my sidebar or on this post.

"NOT ME" MONDAY!



Today is "Not Me" Monday again! Join us in a little free therapy as you share your "not me's!" and read other's brave confessions on MckMama's blog today!

It's not me that is sitting at the computer typing this and seriously trying to talk myself out of eating an ice cream cone (without the cone). I would never consider eating that.

It wasn't me that was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of someone throwing up. Upon learning that it was our beagle throwing up (seriously, who knew a dog could make a sound like that?) all over the place, it wasn't me who wistfully thought that if my son was sick at least he would have made it to the toilet and I wouldn't have had to clean anything up. I would never wish illness on my son, no matter how tired I was.

It wasn't me that kept hoping it would snow alot one night this week because I didn't want to have to get up and leave the house the next day.

It wasn't me that realized, right before I had to leave the house to meet with somebody, that I had forgotten to wash my hair that morning. It wasn't me that panicked and poured baby powder on my hair in hopes that it would take out the grease. I mean, seriously, how do you forget to wash your hair?

It wasn't me that put my shirt on backward and wore it quite awhile before noticing.

It also wasn't me that forgot to bring any cash when I went shopping.

It wasn't me that got a clerk so confused that she burst out laughing and said "I have no idea what you people are doing." It wasn't me that shook my head and confessed that I had no idea either.

It wasn't me that parked my car and walked all the way into the hospital to visit my brother and then had to go back out again because I left the stuff I brought him in the car.

It also wasn't me that had rasberry sherbert for dinner last night. No, I had a very well balanced meal instead. (Again, I point you to the previously discussed ice cream cone debate). In my defense, my brother insisted that he wasn't going to eat it anyway, so how could I disappoint him and let it go to waste?

It wasn't me that paid money for something and then proceeded to lose it somewhere between the store and home.

I wasn't me that ate three chocolate chip cookies in one day. No, I would never do something so unhealthy as that. It wasn't me that checked the bag to see if there were any left either. Must I again remind you about the ice cream cone debate???? Seriously, weren't you listening? Didn't you believe me?
It wasn't me that kept saying "you stink" to my puppy in hopes that she would give herself a bath. Cat's do it. How hard can it be?
It's also not me that can't decide if I'm happy or sad that my week wasn't more eventful last week, in order that my post would be more interesting today! Please go here for more "not me's!"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A FASCINATION WITH PROCRASTINATION

I have a strange family living in my house. I don't know their names. They are just there, day after day....staring at me. They never say anything. They just lurk. It's unnerving. In fact, it's downright annoying sometimes.

Who am I talking about? The family that lives in my picture frame. Am I the only person that has a picture frame on display with a generic picture of a "fake" family in it? I am, aren't I?

Go ahead. Tell me. I can take it. I know I am the only one. I know it.

Because nobody else, on this planet, would put a picture frame out on display without a picture in it. Right? Who would do that? Well.....me. It's such a lovely frame, after all. It just seemed a shame to waste it by waiting until I found a picture to put in it.

It's not that I think the "generic" family is much better looking than my family. It's not because I think they look happier or smarter.

It's because sometimes I forget to "finish" things. I have every intention of seeing it through, but then I get distracted. After awhile, it all becomes a part of the house "decor" and I don't even see it anymore.

Today, I am going to make an effort to finish some of the things that need doing around here. Some of the things that I started but didn't finish. To say I have procrastinated would be fair. Let's just say I think I must have a fascination with procrastination!

Today I am going to pretend I am visiting in my home for the first time and look around here with "new" eyes. To see what a visitor would see. To see things that need doing that I haven't been noticing.

Like the laundry. The towels are neatly folded in the basket but they need to be put away.

Like the Christmas decorations. Yes, they are still up. I am not even going to bother to explain that one to you. But I really do have a good reason....well, sort of.......

Like the shirts that need ironing. I rarely buy shirts that need ironing because I don't want to spend the time doing it. But I didn't buy these.

Like the paperwork. It's been there for weeks, waiting for me to finish filling it out.

Like the thrift store donations. I gathered them all together and they're still sitting there. I guess I hoped that they'd walk out to the car by themselves. They are a lazy bunch because they are still there.

Like giving my puppy a bath. No matter how many times I say "you stink" she still won't go and bathe herself. I mean really, how hard can it be? Cats do it. Seriously, do I have to do everything for her?

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I have lots to do....blah, blah, blah! BTW, if you missed it, scroll down and check out my post after this (or go "here") to meet two new friends. Me? I'm going to be doing stuff around here, like trying to find a picture for that picture frame....Care to join me anyone?

AWARDS






I wish I could figure out two things in life....I wish I could figure out how to upload a picture on my blog so that I can put it anywhere other than the top. It only loads at the top and I have never been able to put it anywhere else (like under the text or something).
I wish I could figure out why the spacing on my blog gets bizarre sometimes....like now. Consider yourselves blessed if you have figured this out!

"Lisa" has given me the lemonade stand award. Please pop over and give her a visit. She is a sweetheart.

The purpose of this award is to give it to someone who is showing gratitude or a good attitude ("if life hands you lemons, make lemonade") within their life or blog. The rules: 1) put the logo on your blog 2) nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude and/or gratitude. 3) have your 10 pass it along to 10 more!

"Phoebe" has given me the Kreative blogger award. You really need to go visit Phoebe. She is blogging her way out of debt and is a great source of encouragement and ideas along the way. Be sure and read about her journey on her sidebar. For this award I am to list six things I am grateful for and pass it on to six people.



I have to admit that I got behind on posting these awards and have noticed them on several blogs this week. If I have forgotten anyone else I am sorry! So I am just going to thank Lisa and Phoebe very much for thinking of me, and opening these awards up to anyone who doesn't have them and would like them.


I am thankful for:




1. My Savior


2. My husband and children


3. My family and friends


4. My church


5. My freedom


6. My health


Friday, January 9, 2009

FRUGAL FRIDAY (FINANCIAL "DIET" UPDATE)

As mentioned in the past, we are going on a financial "diet" around here. I thought I might give you an update today. Please try not to fall asleep as I've only just begun and we really haven't done any major grocery shopping around here yet. I will tell you some of the things I did this week that were good, and some of the things that were not so good. You decide which is which!

I forgot I was on a "diet." Part of the success of going on any diet, physical or financial, is to remember that you are on a diet. That really helps you to stay focused and on target.

So, my first venture out was shopping with a friend even though I didn't need to buy anything. She wanted to go and even though I didn't need anything, I went along. Of course, I forget I was on this financial "diet" and happily spent the gas to drive all the way out there. Being with a friend is fun, but I could have skipped the store and got together with her at another time, somewhere closer to home and avoiding any temptation to buy things I didn't need.

I bought a diet pop while out on errands today. In the past, I have mentioned how sometimes "I waste money buying pop" while I'm out running around, instead of planning ahead and bringing a can from home. Today I was going to bring a can from home, but a certain child, who shall remain nameless, took the last one out of the fridge.

Now, you don't expect me to drink pop at room temperature do you, seriously? Do you? In order to save money? I don't think so. There are just some things to difficult to do.....

I forgot I had laundry in the washer and so had to run it through again. Oh, like you've never done that!!!! Well, maybe you haven't. Being disorganized can cost you money if you have to rewash your clothes all over again. It may not be alot, but it all adds up!

I am changing the way I look at things. I was going to buy some of the things I usually buy but don't really need, like croissants, and decided that I could make a lot more healthy things for breakfast and save the money. Please don't ask me if I have made any of these things yet though....

All of a sudden I am looking at things that I would normally buy (like pizza) and think, "I can make that for so much cheaper!" Please don't ask me if I have made any of these things yet though....

I had oatmeal for breakfast this week instead of something not as filling and not as healthy.

I am changing my attitude. I am thinking with a "needs" versus "wants" mentality. I may want it, in order to save myself time, or just because it looks good and I'm hungry, or whatever.....but do I really need it? Is it going to help me reach my financial goals?

I didn't buy a cute top at the store. Using my amazing powers of deduction, I knew that I already had a white one and didn't really need another one. Besides, earlier this week we all learned that "you can't eat clothes" and I was supposed to be looking for food not clothing.

I made a lasagna for dinner instead of buying a frozen one at the store. It is so easy to make a lasagna (I don't even boil the noodles) that really, I don't even have an excuse not to anymore.

I ate three cookies today. Oh, sorry! I forgot which diet we were talking about. Never mind.

I got to the thrift store after it closed. Well, you can't spend money if you can't get into the store.....not that I needed anything.

I went to the bookstore but didn't buy anything. I rarely buy books at the bookstore. I usually get them from the library but my son gave me a gift certificate for Christmas. However, I couldn't decide what books to get so I wound up leaving without buying anything. If you can't make up your mind it is probably better not to buy something than to make a rash decision to buy that you may regret later.

I took the library books back in time in order to avoid a late fee. Now, I have to admit that I have a rather bad attitude about library fines. What's a few bucks here and there? Aren't I doing my small part to help support the library?

One small thing of croissants is not going to send me into debt. One small library fine is not going to send me into debt (although my husband would beg to differ, hehehe!) However, the little things do matter. The little things add up. Most people will hesitate before buying a car or a plasma t.v. or an entire new fall wardrobe.

But we often won't give a second thought about buying a frozen lasagna at Costco even though we could make it at home (guilty!), or buying a case of pop even though we could drink water (guilty!) or buying a dozen croissants when oatmeal would be healthier and cheaper (guilty!).

We need to change our thinking. We need to remember our desire to either get out of debt, stay out of debt, increase our savings, establish an emergency fund, or build for our future. We need to consider the little things (a nickel here, a dime there) before they turn into bigger things (like debt).

What frugal things did you do (or not do) this week?