Thrift store challenge

One of my favorite decor blogs, Young House Love, hosted a thrift store challenge last week based on a new song by a popular rap artist. While I did not enjoy the song (which was sadly full of profanity) I couldn’t pass up an excuse to go thrifting!! I took MiniMe with me and we had a blast.

The rules of the game were:

1. Go to a thrift store of your choice with only $20 in your pocket (referenced in the song) and take a picture of yourself. Of course, MiniMe took a picture of me so I had to take a picture of her, too. The pictures crack me up. It seems obvious in my face that I want her to hurry because the whole picture thing is embarrassing me a little. She, on the other hand, has this “heh, heh, heh, I have $20 whole dollars!!!” look on her face. Overjoy

From Drop Box
From Drop Box

2. Find a couple of things referenced in the song and snap a picture of them.

We found suitcases…

From Drop Box

And sort of a keyboard…

From Drop Box

We were in a bit of a hurry to get to dance so we didn’t try on any big coats or look for footy pajamas. We did notice a *lot* of old TVs which weren’t in the song but we took a picture anyway.

From Drop Box

I also took a picture of this cool rocker just because I kind of liked it.

From Drop Box

3. Buy anything you want with your $20 and photograph your spoils.

From Drop Box

I wound up not spending my whole $20. It was half off day at the thrift store plus I literally had only $20 with me so I was concerned about going over. This thrift store takes cash only. I came home with a great little side table for $4.99. I’ve been looking for a good sturdy one for a while and this one has a flip top to use as extra storage. How cool is that? I think it looks kind of mid-century.

I also bought a couple of picture frames for me ($1.50 and $0.75) and a nice silver butterfly frame for Novella ($2.99). The little basket I grabbed first off thinking I could spray paint it. I should have looked at it a little closer, though, because it’s not in tip top shape. It was $1.50 so not a huge loss. I think I just got too excited. 🙂 I may spray paint it anyway and use it for a while.

My grand total was $12.13. And going thrifting with my girl? Priceless!


A simple project and a new and exciting way to kill spiders!

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After church Sunday the whole family stopped by Lowes to pick up some knobs for Novella’s newly painted chest/night stand (post on that project coming this week!). While we were there we picked up some basil and a couple of tomato plants for the patio. While we do have a back yard we share it with two apartments so I don’ feel I can really dig into the dirt and plant a garden. But there’s nothing wrong with container gardening!

Novella was out with Dad yesterday afternoon at a dance rehearsal and the rest of us headed outside to get those plants in their pots! I had picked up a bag of organic potting soil a few weeks ago and luckily it was exactly enough to pot our tomatoes and basil.

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All of the kids wanted to help — even Wesley! Jesse put one handful of dirt in the pot and he was done. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture. He was more interested in playing in the yard.

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Wesley helped out by pushing Jesse and Sophia around in the Pooh car for a while. It was apparently hard work!

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Sophia and John Elijah were all over the gardening, though. Abe was, too! We got the plants in the dirt fairly quickly.

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Things went a little crazy after they turned on the water. I resisted at first but then I caved and let them play for a few minutes. I even held the hose so the big boys could get in on the action, too. Novella was sorry she missed it.

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We even saw a rainbow in the water stream and Abe caught a picture of it. Can you see it?

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Hopefully we can keep the plants alive this time. I don’t have a great track record with, well, pretty much anything that grows in a pot or in the ground. When it was time to clean up we saw a scary looking black spider on the water hose! It was black with white spots.

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Kenny doesn’t think it was dangerous. I plan on looking it up. At the time it looked plenty dangerous! I was afraid to try to smack it because it didn’t look like it would kill easily. I instructed the boys to keep an eye on it’s whereabouts while I ran into the house for the spider spray. Of course I couldn’t find it. The boys were concerned. They didn’t want to smack it, either, but neither did they want to just leave it to find it’s way into the house!

So I did the next best thing. I sprayed it with left over polyacrylic spray from the night stand re-do. 🙂 It did the trick and turned the spider a cool metallic blue.

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The boys were impressed at my ingenuity. My head is a little bigger.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend polyacrylic spray as a spider spray, though. It is a bit pricey as a bug killer. Wink


Garage sales!

I haven’t been to garage sales in years — mainly because I’ve been in declutter mode and I knew I would buy things I didn’t need if I went. But I’ve been meaning to go since we moved because we got rid of A LOT of stuff before we moved. We literally sold almost every piece of furniture we owned. We had a huge sale ourselves and Goodwill practically knew us by name we dropped van loads off so many times.

I’m still really in declutter mode. I hate clutter. I hate being drug down by “stuff.” But I’ve also started reading design blogs. 😉

Abe got up early to go with me this morning because the first thing I wanted to do was stop by Ace hardware for the free quart of paint they were giving away today. For some reason he really wanted to go to Ace. He was so funny. He went up and down every aisle very slowly (some of them twice!) and kept saying, “Wow! There’s a lot to see at Ace Hardware. I really like this store!”

We got this:
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I don’t know if the color will show up but we picked a light fresh yellow called “Saffron”:
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I’ve got a small plain three drawer chest I’m going to paint and let Novella use for a night stand.

After we left Ace, we headed out to an area not far from our house where there was a neighborhood yard sale. Gotta love those! 15 sales almost within walking distance from each other. The weird thing about New York is that the sales don’t start until 8 or 9 in the morning and they strongly discourage early birds. In Alabama the sales never start later than 7 a.m. and to be honest most of the good stuff is gone by the time the sale officially starts because the early birds come at 6 a.m.! Abe and I got to the first sale around 8:30 and no one was there. In fact we didn’t really see many people until around 10.

Anyway, I digress. I went hoping to find a couple of matching lamps for our bedroom. The first sale we stopped at had 2 of these:

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They need a little cleaning up and maybe some modern shades but they were $1 a piece, people!! I also picked up a yoga mat for Novella and this cute little Rembrandt print:

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We hit several duds after that. Abe got a pinewood derby car kit for the wood to carve, a lightsaber for 25 cents and a lampshade out of a free pile. I picked up a t-shirt and this Escher print for $1 in a glass frame:

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Remember I said I don’t go to yardsales because I come home with things I don’t need? Yeah. I didn’t need the Escher print. But I’m a sucker for real art prints. And Kenny was excited. He claimed it for his office. 🙂

The biggest mistake of the day? $5 for this bucket of gears:

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I wanted a huge bucket of tinker toys, too, but I ran out of money. Probably a good thing. Abe was totally against it. His point was that he would probably be the one cleaning this stuff up!

Biggest score? At the last garage sale we stopped at we found this:

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For free! And they seemed apologetic that it was dirty. Abe and I were so excited!! I probably shouldn’t go garage saling (is that a word?) too often but it sure did make for a fun morning.


Menu Plan Monday

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Breakfasts:
Cereal
Oatmeal packets
Homemade granola cereal
Muffins/ smoothies
Eggs/ bacon/ biscuits
Oatmeal packets or cream of wheat
Whole grain pancakes

Lunches:
Snackie
Roll ups/ wraps
Sandwiches

Dinners:
Cheese and turkey bacon paninis on oat bread/ grapes
Pasta with sauce/ green beans
Stir fry over rice
Soup and salad
Tacos
Homemade pizza
Homemade macaroni and cheese (recipe to follow later this week!)/ chicken nuggets


CVS deal of the week: We saved 93%!!

Kenny worked a great deal for me tonight at CVS. Since we got it done early in the week I thought I would share. 🙂

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Duracell batteries – on sale for $2.99 – used $0.75 coupon
Dove soap – on sale for $0.97
Allegra allergy medicine – on sale for $6.99 – received $6.99 Extra Bucks
Pedia Care cold medicine – $7.99 – used $3.00 instant coupon plus $1.00 printable manufacturer’s coupon
Nature’s Own Vitamin C (2 bottles) – on sale Buy One Get One Free – used 2 $3.00 coupons that came in the mail

Kenny also used $8.58 in Extra Bucks from a previous trip plus a $5 off $25 purchase coupon we received in our e-mail inbox.

Before sales and coupons the total was $38.98. Grand total Kenny paid out of pocket including tax: $2.84. Plus he received $6.99 in Extra Bucks for the next trip. Whoo hoo!! Way to go Kenny. Thank you, honey. 🙂 The best part is that we actually needed everything on the list so in addition to my sweet husband I am also SO thankful for the Lord’s provision.

Hope you can go work a great deal at CVS this week, too!!


Menu Plan Monday (or Tuesday)

I meant to get this up yesterday but, unfortunately, I have a house full of sickies. So here it is a day late:

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Monday — Spaghetti and meatballs with green salad
Tuesday — Meat patties over rice with gravy; celery with cream cheese; cucumbers
Wednesday — Soup and salad (probably potato soup as I have a few left over baked potatoes from Sunday night’s dinner)
Thursday — Tacos (taco salad for Mom and Dad)
Friday — Homemade Pizza
Saturday — Hamburgers and hot dogs

We’re doing a bit of a pantry clean out menu plan this week so I can defrost my chest freezer this week. I’m hoping it will get us a little ahead on the food budget, too, as I spent WAY too much last month!!!


Meal planning: How to get started

I’ve been working on this meal planning thing for a long time and the first thing I have to say is that it’s a work in progress. I still don’t have everything figured out and learn something new nearly every month. My goal is to have a set monthly meal plan (with a couple of spontaneous flex days allowed) with a set grocery list to go with it. I’m not there yet. 🙂

I’ve been talking to a very dear relative who is just starting this meal planning journey, though, so I thought I’d go ahead a share what I have learned so far.

I had no thoughts of meal planning when I was newly married. We bought whatever we thought looked good in the store and tried to figure out some recipe to go with it throughout the week. If there was a recipe I specifically wanted to try I usually made a special trip to the store for the ingredients. This wasn’t such a big deal. We lived in Nashville, Tennessee, minutes from several grocery stores including Kroger, Aldi’s, and a family run health food store. Also (and this is the biggie) we had no kids. We could easily go to all three stores together and spend hours puttering around and buying different things to try. What a fun time that was! I don’t mean to suggest we spent tons of money on food, though. Some weeks we only had $25 to spend. I could get a little despondent about that but Kenny always turned it into a game of what fun things can we do with $25. 🙂

But life changes. For us we still don’t have a lot of money for groceries and I can still get down about it at times. But I’m learning. I’m learning to be thankful for what I have (I know people who have far less and have far better attitudes about it!) and to be creative and flexible. Flexibility is not something that comes easy for me but we can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens us. (Phillipians 4:13) And God cares about our meal plan. He cares how much we spend on our groceries every week. He wants us to be good stewards of the money he has given us. I try to remember to pray before I go shopping each week. I pray that he will show me the good deals and help me to use my money wisely.

The first thing to do is print out a monthly calendar. You can print these from Donna Young’s homeschool printables or a hundred other places on the web.

Next ask your spouse what his favorite meals are if you don’t know them already. My husband almost always gives me high praises about my cooking (another thing he learned as a newlywed) so I actually didn’t know his favorites. Plug those meals into the calendar first. If he is on any dietary restrictions that will have to be taken into account.

The third step is to ask your children for their favorites and plug those in. Those meals are likely to be easier than you think! My kids favorites are macaroni and cheese, hotdogs and hamburgers, and tacos.

Fill the blank spaces with your favorites plus a few vegetarian meals and at least a couple “flex” nights when you can be creative if you desire.

At this point you can take a break. The hard part is over. You have at least a springboard from which to work. You can use this monthly meal plan over and over until it isn’t working any longer. (it’s possible kids could grow out of wanting to eat tacos and pizza every week; I wouldn’t know that yet!)

After you have your grand plan print yourself another calendar. This calendar will have slots for just one week’s meals. It will include breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks if you serve snacks. Look at that monthly plan and transfer one week’s dinners to the weekly plan. Make sure you fill this calendar in with a pencil! Then fill in some easy breakfasts and lunches. And finally some snacks that hopefully you can either prepare ahead of time or that the kids can get for themselves. Our current plan for breakfasts and lunches is:

Breakfasts:
Sunday — toast/bananas
Monday — oatmeal
Tuesday — cereal/ toast
Wednesday — muffins/ smoothies
Thursday — eggs/ toast
Friday — cream of wheat or oatmeal
Saturday — pancakes or cereal

Lunches:
Sunday — at church
Monday — snackie
Tuesday — roll ups/ wraps
Wednesday — sandwiches
Thursday — snackie
Friday — roll ups/ wraps
Saturday — sandwiches

For snacks they eat fruit, peanut butter crackers, pretzels or whatever else they can find. Sometimes I schedule snacks but I rarely follow the schedule. That’s an area that is still in progress in the Bailey house. 🙂

After you have your weekly meal plan set make your grocery list to match it. You may find as you make your grocery list that you will not be able to afford everything on your list. At this point you can substitute high cost ingredients for things you have on hand or things that are on sale that week. This is why you used a pencil and why you need to be flexible. Think of this as the grocery game. How well can I feed my family on what I have available? Use everything at your disposal — your brain, the sale papers, any coupons you may have, food you are given, etc.

Eventually you will find that you are writing some of the same ingredients down week after week. At this point you can make a weekly grocery list on your computer with those items already typed in to save yourself more time (things like milk, bread, eggs, etc.).

O.K. Let’s review. Here’s what to do to get started meal planning:

1. Print out a blank calendar
2. Plug in your family’s favorite meals
3. Plug in your favorite meals
4. Include some vegetarian meals and flex days
5. Print a weekly calendar
6. Transfer dinners to the weekly plan and add breakfasts, lunches and snacks
7. Make a grocery list to correspond making changes to your plan as necessary

That should get you started. We can delve into other areas in future posts. If there is anything you would like to know more about please ask in the comments! God bless your journey. Meal planning is part of being a Proverbs 31 woman!!


Review: Shutterfly for photo cards

I have tried several of the big photo companies for prints and/or greeting cards. Most of them are fine, one of them I will never ever use again because they lost 2 rolls of 35 mm film (of Wesley’s 5th birthday!), and one stands out among the crowd for me. I tried Shutterfly for the first time a couple of months ago for Jesse’s baby announcements. I was very pleased with the results. The website was easy to use, my pictures were a snap to edit, and the cards turned out great. They also had a terrific selection from which to choose. I was able to find a card that matched the brown and white polka dot blanket Jesse used when he came home from the hospital! For Christmas greetings they have a wide assortment of folded cards, flat cards and even cards to use for invites to your Christmas party.

Now you are probably thinking that I sound like a commercial for Shutterfly. Actually, I am!! They are running a terrific promotion right now for bloggers. If you are willing to blog about Shutterfly and their products they will give you 50 free photo cards for Christmas. And since I was planning to order my photo cards from Shutterfly anyway, I’m thrilled to toot their horn. 🙂


Love Affair with CVS!!

I’ve gotten some good deals in the past, but this week rocks if you play your cards right.

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It all started when Kenny ran into CVS for a drink on his way home from the church yard sale Saturday. He purchased his dollar drink and on the receipt was a coupon for $5 off a $15 purchase good for only 3 days. We knew we couldn’t let this go to waste! I couldn’t wait to get the Sunday paper the next day. We found a great deal on cereal and Kenny stopped by on Sunday night. It’s a good idea to work your deals as early in the week as possible. If you wait until Saturday night the items you want are likely to be sold out.

He bought 3 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal which was on sale 3 for $10 plus you get $5 back in Extra Bucks. He also bought a bottle of Tide laundry detergent on sale for $5.97. I had a $1 manufacturer’s coupon for the cereal and a $1 manufacturer’s coupon for the Tide. I also had $8 in Extra Bucks from a previous trip plus the $5 off $15 purchase coupon he had received on Saturday.

He paid… drum roll please… $0.59 for everything plus he got $5 back in Extra Bucks and another $5 of $15 purchase.

You may have noticed that there is more in the photo than 3 boxes of cereal and some Tide. 🙂 Kenny went back for another trip last night and got 3 more boxes of cereal, some cold medicine and come kind of chocolate candy/cookie things. We had to use the $5 off $15 within 3 days again and the cereal deal could be run twice. He also used $8.50 in Extra Bucks that we had received for summer spending credits. He paid $1.67 for everything and got another $5 back in Extra Bucks.

SOOOO, for $2.26 he got everything in the photo plus I still have $10.00 in Extra Bucks to play with next week’s ad. 🙂 I’m lovin’ CVS!!

Just for fun I thought I’d post a couple other deals I found while I was out yesterday.

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I currently have 2 kids in diapers. (hopefully not for long. Sophia’s doing great.) My old diaper budget before Jesse arrived was $40. I really hated to double that. I haven’t had to so far because the church gave me a diaper shower before baby’s arrival and I have had a great stockpile plus some cash and giftcards that were given for Jesse. I’ve still got lots of diapers left but had run out of size 1 which he’s still wearing. So I ran to Target with my $40 worth of baby money for the month. They had their boxes of diapers on sale for $19.79 with a $5 gift card back if you bought two. I had a Target coupon for $5 off 2 boxes of diapers plus I had two $2 diaper coupons. I also bought a package of wipes on sale for $5.49 and used a $1.50 Target coupon and stacked it with a $2 manufacturer’s coupon. I paid a grand total of $35.93 for everything. The box should be enough to last Sophia the month. Jesse will probably need more but I accidentally bought size 2 instead of size 1 and they actually fit him better. He was ready to move up and I didn’t realize it. Not sure why the recent plumber bottom and lots of leakage problems didn’t clue me in… I still have lots of size 2 diapers from the shower so we’re definitely good for this month and probably next month, too, on Jesse. Yea!! Now if I can just get Sophia completely potty trained this month I may be able to put next month’s $40 in savings!

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After Target I went really fast (Kenny had to be at work at 10 and I was cutting it close) to Pet Smart for rabbit food. In case you didn’t know, Novella has a rabbit named Buttercup that we’ve had for 3 years. Anyway, I had a $5 gift card from Pet Smart I received in the mail and was hoping to get the rabbit food for under $5. My budget for pet supplies for the month is $30 which must include rabbit food, dog food and any treats. Usually I can’t afford any treats. When I got to the rabbit food aisle I found a bag of rabbit food reduced for quick sale by 50%. That made it $2.99. Since I needed to use my gift card I bought another bag at regular price. I paid a total of $4.38 for rabbit food that would normally have cost me over $12. Buttercup is covered for this month and next plus I got another $5 gift card in the mail! Maybe I’ll have time to check on their dog food prices!

Before closing I want to take a moment to thank God for helping find these deals and save my family money. It takes some time and effort but I believe it is part of striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman (see Proverbs 31:10-31). I also want to thank my dear husband without whom the CVS and Publix deals would not be possible. He is always glad to run out and catch a deal for me when I’m too tired to get out.


Freezer Cooking Session Coming Up!

I love to do once-a-month cooking. It’s a lot of hard work but it really pays off when dinner is mostly done at the end of a hard day of homeschooling, potty training and nursing a new baby.

It has worked out in my schedule that I will be able to devote every 3rd Friday to freezer cooking. Yea! I wasn’t able to prepare for this budget wise this month as I just found out about the opening in my schedule, so this week I’m going to concentrate on things I can make from the ingredients I already have on hand. I will need to buy eggs but that’s about it.

Here is what I plan to make for the freezer this Friday:

Fall Comfort Muffins x4
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins*
Cinnamon Muffins*
Pancake mix x4
Cornbread mix x4
Pizza crusts x4
Taquitos
Granola x4
Banana bread
Pumpkin bread

*optional for if I have time.