Friday, July 30, 2010

Frugal Friday - The lunch box drawer

Today is Frugal Friday at Life As Mom.

One of the most frugal tips of all is to pack yours and your family's lunch for work or school. Now that those children who aren't home schooled are about to head back to school, its time to really begin to plan for this and also to stock up on some lunch items.

My husband and I have been diligently taking our lunches to work for a while now. When I see lunch box type items on sale I try to buy them and stock up. So this week I dedicated an area of my pantry to lunch box "easy to grab" items.

Our main source for lunches are leftovers. My hubby goes ahead and puts the leftovers into small plastic containers with lids in the refrigerator, which are the perfect size for grabbing when you are in a hurry. This week I made homemade vegetable soup on the one day that our temperatures actually stayed below 90! I then thoroughly enjoyed having this soup along with a pimento cheese sandwich for lunch the next day.

I'm planning to make myself a cute lunch box soon which will make taking my lunch even more pleasant.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On my sewing table this morning.....

Nine Patches! At this point in the summer, at one a day, I should have 58 9 patches done toward my goal. However, I have 45 done. So I made the decision yesterday to get caught up. I am so happy that July is almost over. August is still hot and definitely still summer, but it means Fall is coming!!!

A few of my recent 9 patches:

I love this pink and black one.

What's not to like about chickens and fall colors?

Leftovers from two recent purses:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

$5.00 CVS Challenge

I love the idea of seeing how much value you can get for $5.00 at CVS and Walgreens. Alyssa of Kingdom First Mom hosts these challenges every Sunday. Here's what I got at CVS for close to $5.00 his week:

I started with $2.00 extra bucks and did not include tax.

Transaction #1:

Kotex U pads or Tampons $4.99, less $1.00 printable coupon, Extra Bucks earned $4.99
Dove 2 pack soap, $3.00, Extra Bucks earned $2.00

$6.99, less the $2.00 EBs I had on hand means I spent $4.99 out of pocket and earned $6.99 extra bucks.

Transaction #2:

Maxwell House Coffee(I buy the 1/2 caffeine), buy one get one free. ($5.19). Paid with the $4.99 extra buck from transaction #1, for 20 cents out of pocket. They had this same deal last week and I bought 2 cans of coffee for the price of one and also used a $1.00 coupon.

I still have $2.00 extra bucks for next week!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Mama Bag Update

The big black bag is history. Here is the new bag I made her sitting on the walker as we were leaving to go to church yesterday. As you can see its pretty full and I'm thinking I should have made it bigger. But I think the contents would expand to fit whatever the size!

There was one heart stopping moment when the ushers were taking up the collection at church. She couldn't find her donation! I sat there helplessly as the usher went on his way to the next pew without Mama's money. After church I asked her if she had a problem finding her money and she said, "No, she just forgot to get it together."

You wouldn't believe how much lighter this bag is too! Evidently change had been accumulating in the bottom of the old big black bag and when she switched bags, she put all the change in a jar. Now she plans to put all her change in the jar and not in the bag. I appreciate that since I am the official bag carrier when we go places. :o)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summertime Sewing

I'll never forget how much fun I had doing my SNOW DAY SEWING back in the winter while I was housebound. Well, its extremely hot and I'm staying inside today too. So the sewing continued this afternoon.

I made this from fabric leftover from making the apron for Friday Night Sew In. I got carried away and ended up with a bag totally different than what I had planned. I kind of like the Hobo style and have listed it in my Etsy Shop

Friday Night Sew In Results

My Friday Night Sew In has turned into a Saturday Morning Sew In both times I have participated! Although I did cut out and sew a little on the apron last night, I did the majority of the work on it this morning. I was just too tired to work on it past 8:00 last night.

I had no one to take a picture, so I took this one in the bathroom mirror:

Close up:

You can see the other side of the apron in this picture.

I have some small scraps of this fabric left and am thinking of making myself a lunch bag from them later today. I have been taking my lunch on a regular basis for a while now and am tired of using plastic grocery bags to pack them in.

Have a great Saturday! Its going to be 100 degrees or more here today with a heat index of 115, so I will definitely be inside!

Friday, July 23, 2010

In The Kitchen With Debbie - Cooking What's on Sale

One of the most economical ways to feed a family is to cook what's on sale. This week cabbage are on sale at Food Lion for 39 cents a pound and smoked sausage packages for $2.00. I saw a cabbage and sausage dish on the Family Homestead Blog and had been craving it ever since. Here's my version:

I sauteed some onions and bell peppers from our own plants, in a small amount of oil.

Then I added the smoked sausage after cutting into bite size pieces.

I sliced and cut one half of the cabbage into manageable pieces. I filled the pan pretty full because the cabbage pieces shrink down as they cook. I added a little chicken broth left from boiling chicken earlier in the week.

I covered the pan, reduced the heat and let it cook until it was our family's desired tenderness.

Almost done:

I put the remaining half of the cabbage back in the fridge to be used for making coleslaw in the next few days.

My goal is to shop only to replenish my pantry and freezer and to cook what's on sale each week at the best prices.

A few items on sale at Food Lion this week that I plan to purchase:

Whole chickens 47 cents a pound or cut up chickens 77 cents a pound. I plan to freeze some of these.

Kraft Mayo 2 for $6.00 with a $1.50 off 2 coupon. Mayo is one thing my pantry is out of and although this isn't exactly the cheapest price I've ever seen, its better than paying full price! The cost of mayo has steadily increased lately in my opinion. I will only purchase two and then I will be on the look out for good deals and/or coupons.

Arm and Hammer laundry detergent, Buy one, get one free, with a $1.00 off 2 coupon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friday Night Sew In for JULY!

Its time for Friday Night Sew In again! This month its this Friday night, July 23rd. You can sign up or check out blogs who are participating HERE.

My project for this month is to make an apron for my son's girlfriend. She is a hairdresser and likes to wear aprons to work and also likes zebra prints and pink. Her birthday is August 1st, so this will be the perfect time to make this project during Friday Night Sew In.

The apron made from this pattern is reversible and so these fabrics will work well, I think.

I hope to post the finished apron Saturday. See you then!

No waste With My New Waste Can

I found this neat little trash can on clearance at Walmart. I have been wanting something like it to use for a things to be put in the compost bin outside. In our Walmart there is an aisle in the back of the store with clearanced items such as towels, sheets, and other home goods. I enjoy walking through there because sometimes I run across something I really need (or just plain old want).

When I need to throw away something that's compostable, I just step on the little foot pedal and the lid goes up. Inside is a bucket with handle that lifts out so that it can easily be dumped outside in the compost bin. The lid stays closed so none of those annoying little flying critters get in. We usually dump it before any odors appear, but if not, the closed lid keeps that under wraps too.

Things I routinely compost are: egg shells, used coffee grounds, tea bags, onion, potato and tomato peelings, and anything else that comes from vegetables such as the ends of okra pods,the insides of bell peppers etc.

The little lift out bucket gets dumped here.

Our soil at the farmhouse is sandy, so hopefully I can use some of this compost this fall or next spring to amend some of the soil.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In The Sewing Room

This is the Mama bag. My mother asked me to make her a purse. She wanted it to be big, with a closure at the top and with shoulder straps. It is quilted, has a quilted outer pocket, a magnetic snap closure and 4 inside pockets. The only question is, will she use it? She is sort of set in her ways and she has been using the same big black pocketbook for a long, long time. I will let you know if she actually uses it!

I like to have cloth napkins on hand and ever since we moved to the farmhouse my supply of cloth napkins has dwindled down to about four. Not sure what happened to them, unless I left them at the old house. Anyway, I made several from kitchen or food themed scraps.

Teacups, teapots and pitchers:

Chocolate covered strawberries:

China plates:

Rhonda reminded me in THIS POST that its a good idea to put a stack of cloth napkins and dish towels in a basket near the paper towels as a reminder to use them instead of the paper towels, if possible:

I'm also still working on the Summer One a Day 9 Patch Challenge. I did get behind, but not too badly. Today is the 20th of July, which means I should have 50 done. I have 39, so if I do a couple a day I will be caught up in no time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Bottomless Pantry

Thanks for joining me while I cook from the pantry in July! The way it looks in there, I will be doing the same in August and beyond. I should donate some of the food to my church's food pantry. The only thing is I generally like to donate foods that are ready to eat and most of the foods in my pantry are ingredients for recipes.

Here are just a few of the ways I have been cooking from the pantry... and using coupons combined with sales prices.

See these two boxes of pasta?
There was just a little in the bottom of the boxes. Why in the world I left these small amounts in the boxes, I'm not sure. But the good thing is that combined, they made just enough together to cook in a little chicken broth made from boiling chicken to be used in chicken salad.
Our Sunday lunchMy hubby likes to have some kind of bread with his meals, so when I have time I try to serve biscuits or cornbread. I found 2 of these corn muffin mixes in the pantry. They are easy and good
A 5 pound bag of potatoes were in the basket where I keep potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes. They were sprouting and slightly wrinkled, but still good. A tip I learned for making mashed potatoes. Slice the potatoes into thin slices before boiling. They mash up so much more easily that way. No need to get out a mixer. I also had a small amount of sour cream that needed to be used and always have butter or margarine on hand. I bought this marinated pork tenderloin on sale for half price and used a $1.00 off coupon. This brought the price down from $8.99 to $3.50.
I opened a can of green beans, put a few sliced onions on top and added little Italian Salad Dressing. After simmering for a bit the onions are tender and the salad dressing gives the plain old beans a little kick. Again, all these things were in the pantry.

Another tip for the busy homemaker is to cook on the weekend for the week ahead. Yesterday afternoon I cooked some chicken breasts bought on sale for 89 cents a pound in the crockpot with bbq sauce. When they were done I placed them in a baking dish that has a lid and refrigerated them. Then it will be easy to stick the pan in the oven after getting home from work to heat them. This way they will taste like they were freshly oven cooked in only a few minutes time.

I also browned some ground beef, chopped onions and green pepper. For one supper time meal this week, I can add jarred spaghetti sauce and make lasagana, or spaghetti. Something good to go with lasagna or spaghetti that uses up stale bread is to toast the bread in the oven under the broiler on one side. Then spread some margarine on the other side, toast that side, sprinkle with garlic powder and voila! Garlic bread! Yum!

Friday, July 16, 2010

In The Kitchen With Debbie - Living Off the Land

A tomato sandwich and homemade hash browned potatoes with LOTS OF KETCHUP:
We don't have a real garden this year, but maybe we will have one next year. That hasn't stopped us from living off the land as much as possible. The gifts of produce keep on coming and we are striving to use them. Fresh veggies are so good, you wouldn't think that would be hard. But, I've come to realize why some foods are called convenience food. BECAUSE THEY ARE CONVENIENT, THAT'S WHY! Anyway, fresh veggies are delicious and so much better for us and you can't be the price, if they are free!

These are cucumbers marinated in vinegar. Just peel and slice them and place in a shallow dish. Then pour a little vinegar in the dish and if you like, sprinkle black pepper on top.

More freshly dug potatoes

To make fried okra I wash them, cut off the ends and cut them up in to wheels like this.
I put the okra in a plastic bowl that has a tight fitting cover and sprinkle some corn meal on top. Cover and shake.
Place a little oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the okra. Cover and stir often until the okra are lightly browned and tender.
Some gifted corn ready to be shucked:
The shucks go into our little compost bin.
Ready to be cooked.

Its wonderful to be able to eat fresh veggies. Since their shelf life is short, we cook and eat them as quickly as possible, leaving the nonperishables in the pantry for later, when the veggies aren't so plentiful.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thank You.

I want to thank all of you for your sweet comments, thoughts and prayers as a result of my father's recent death. Thank you!

I'm sure many of you have lost a parent. So you already know that losing a parent is a difficult thing, no matter what the circumstances or what kind of relationship the two of you had. Knowing that you will never see them again, in this life, and wondering if you honored them as you should have. There are memories, good and bad. There are thoughts of what could have been or what might have been in the future. There may be anger or just plain old feelings of deep sadness.

With all that having been said, I will take a short blogging break this week. My heart is just not ready to come up with anything uplifting. I already have a post ready which I prepared a few days ago, which I will probably post on Friday and it will be another "In the Kitchen With Debbie" post. After that I hope to be back to regular posting the following week.

Thanks again!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Brave Blogger

Are you brave enough to show what the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink looks like?

Here you go! The last place you probably wanted to see in my house. We seem to use a lot of dish washing liquid and they are a great filler when coupon shopping at Walgreens and CVS. If I need a filler, I'd much rather buy something really useful like dishwashing liquid, as opposed to a candy bar or something like that. There always seems to be at least one brand on sale every week. So, I've accumulated a little stockpile underneath the kitchen sink.

I'm really on a roll with couponing lately! I think its worthwhile to budget $5.00 at Walgreens and $5.00 at CVS weekly. If you would like to get ideas for how to get the best bargains for $5.00 out of pocket at Walgreens and CVS, you should check out the Kingdom First Mom blog. Every week, she hosts the $5.00 Walgreens Challenge and the $5.00 CVS Challenge.

Yesterday I made a quick run on my lunch break to CVS and Walgreens and here's how I did.


1 large Crest Whitening with Scope toothpaste $2.99, less $1.50 off coupon, received $1.00 Register Reward

1 large Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste $2.99, less 75 cents off coupon, received $1.00 Register Reward

1 Package of Cascade Dishwasher gelpacs $3.99, less 50 cents coupon, received $2.00 Register Reward.

2 10 count packages of pencils (for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes) 19 cents each.

I applied the $5.00 Register Reward I had on hand from last week, so out of pocket I paid $2.80.

Register Rewards on hand $4.00


First Transaction:

1 Cover Girl CG Smoothers Make Up, $8.99, used $1.00 off coupon
1 Cover Girl Mascara, $4.99 (used buy one mascara and get one eye shadow free coupon)
1 Cover eye shadow $3.49(free with coupon above)

Earned $5.00 extra bucks in the buy $15.00 and get $5.00 EBs deal

1 Small bottle of Bausch and Lomb contact lens solution $2.99, earned $2.99 EBs

Second Transaction:

1 Small bottle of Bausch and Lomb contact lens solution $2.99, earned $2.99 EBs. Paid for with the $2.99 EB from above. (There is a limit of 2 of these, even though the sales paper says 1.)

I paid for the first transaction with $10.99 Extra Bucks I had on hand and so the total out of pocket for this week was $4.98

Extra Bucks on hand is $7.99

Ok, now tell me what's underneath your sink!!! Be brave!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Simple Coupon organization

I really hate to do unnecessary work and I don't have a lot of time to spend clipping a bunch of coupons.

I've been experimenting with coupon organization systems for quite some time. The following system is working.... for the time being. It requires a whole lot less work than clipping every single coupon. Here's my latest attempt.

1. When I get the coupon inserts I go through them and only clip the ones I'm sure I would use, especially if the item were on sale. Examples are: toilet paper, toothpaste and Hunts Ketchup. By the way, I plan to never pay for toothpaste again!

I then file these in the appropriate category in the coupon organizer. I carry this with me in the car so that its available if I make a stop at the grocery store or drug store.

2. There are a couple of couponing blogs that I read when making my shopping list, which show the deals for each store along with coupon match ups. The only problem, in my opinion, is that they will say something like this, "1.00 off coupon from 6/27 Red Plum". Well, that works fine if its 6/28, but if its 2 or 3 weeks or more later, I have no idea where that coupon is, without going through stacks of coupon inserts.

Since there are often coupons in the Parade Magazine and the date is clearly printed on the front cover, I stick the coupon inserts with the remaining unclipped coupons inside the parade magazine that came out the same date. Then I just keep these little packets in order by date. When I need to find a coupon from a prior week, I can find the insert needed by checking the date on the outside of the parade magazine.

These packets don't take up much space and can be stored in a small cardboard box, such as an empty envelope box from my office. This can be kept in the car for any new deals posted on the couponing blogs. That way I can quickly leaf through my coupons to see if I have the coupon and if its worth taking advantage of.

3. I use the same process for the All You Magazine coupons. I clip the ones I know I will use and then just keep the magazines in a convenient place, along with the above described Parade Magazine with coupon inserts. When all the coupons are out of date I can just throw away or recycle that little packet or magazine.

4. Each week I compile my shopping lists based on my own take on the sales papers for each store and coupon blog posts which tell me what coupons are available to go along with the sales prices. I can look at my coupon inserts by date to find any older coupons. Then I just paperclip the coupons to the list for each store.

5. This system is especially helpful for me because I do not get many of the coupons listed that the folks in bigger metropolitan areas get. I used to drive me crazy because I would look and look for a certain coupon, thinking I was just over looking it. Now I can be sure as to whether or not I ever had it to begin with!

A Quilt Finish - Kintergarten Art Quilt

I am happy to say I am finished with this quilt, except for a label!  Its different than any quilt I've ever made.  I would describe it...