Thursday, March 25, 2010

Low grade Spring fever

I have been busy and happy and, most recently, healthy. Having a bad cold over spring break allowed me to have some time at home (in between naps) to get my spring organization started. I cleaned out my craft bin and made a clear out for the charity shop. It felt great to dump the clutter and old toys that we no longer have need of. My closet real estate is at a premium and I need it for new deals that I find!
We also made some spring crafts and are currently working on some cute Easter crafts. I will take a photograph when we complete them, though some are surprise gifts and some of my readers are the intended recipients, so it may have to wait a bit. That's the price I pay for Internet fame ;) Hmm, what else have I been doing? Oh, I made my own peanut butter. This has been on my list for a while, but I only tried it in the last week. Wow! So hip! So good! So cheap! I accidentally added a bit too much salt, so my nut butter will really only be good for baking, (oats come too mind) but the principle is there and since I paid just two bucks for the natural peanuts and got about two full cups of peanut butter, I can see repeating this experience for toast and such. My next plan is to make homemade chocolate hazelnut spread *drool*. I also made a batch of yogurt, which turned out too runny. I added a pack of instant pudding and froze it into pops. Voila, I am the best mom eva! I also whizzed up a batch of hummus made from dried chickpeas that I pre-soaked overnight then froze in small batches. This method seems to be the most logical for me, because I don't need huge quantities of beans at a time and the pre-soaking, flash freezing thing really cuts down on actual cooking time. Sure, it's a bit of prep but it costs pennies compared to canned beans, and the prep is uh; 1. Dump beans into a bowl of water, 2. Walk away until tomorrow sometime, so I think I can handle it. The other thing I did was to buy some new spring fashions at my favourite store ever. I got four new pairs of sunglasses at 1.99 ea, a cool spring scarf, .99, a jean jacket (free with BOGO coupon) and a teenage mutant ninja turtle costume (a fashion must this spring in the five year old set, also my BOGO item ;) 5.99. I have already had many compliments on my fresh look and I get that nice feeling of having something new to wear. I always say that Fall is my favourite season, but Spring is in the running for first in my affections these days.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Leprechauns took over my blog! Welcome spring!

I don't know what happened on March 18, but I am going to say that it was those lickety leprechauns! We have had a mild winter this year, and it has been wonderfully pleasant except for the fact that I seemed to have caught every rampant virus that went by. I was sick last week and all my extra activities went by the wayside so that I could reserve my energy for getting well. Needless to say, my housework is a disaster. Oh well, now that I am better, I have all that catch up to look forward to...oh man. I did not get to my planned wardrobe refashioning, however I did stick to my menu plan! It saved me really because I was too ill to think of "what's for dinner" questions, it was all too much for my addled mind. We stayed home and made St Paddy's Day crafts instead. I printed off some free colouring pages and took the time to organize my craft storage tower. We also made spring windsocks using crepe paper streamers and foam plates, they are so pretty blowing in the wind. Now that the craft supplies are in order, I can find what I need when inspiration strikes! Unfortunately, the same can not be said of my kitchen. I need some serious inspiration in there. Today I am trying to get my files and tax things organized and attack the holy hell fire of a mess I have going on in the scullery. I think the leprechauns have been having a heydey in there, I really do. I blame the leprechauns.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Plan and Deal of the Day

This goofy grin is proof that $1.49 can make you deleriously happy. That is how much I paid for the lovely salmon coloured pashmina I am modelling for you today. I have had many compliments and envious glances while I wear it and to me, it truly shouts, "Spring is here!'
But enough about me. I had planned on posting a photo of tonight's dinner, which, in my cheeky way, I had named, "White Trash Chinese Food". It was your standard handful of this and that vegetable with last night's rice, stir fried with soy sauce and a little bit of love. I had begun spinning out the details of my witty prose in my head and had just taken a stunning photo and was about to upload it when, alas, my camera batteries had other ideas. They unceremoniously died. One of the drawbacks of being cheap is that I always wait until I am utterly without one. single. battery. left in the house before I pony up the cash for more, therefore, all the battery power I wasted taking vain photos of my self in a pashmina could have been used for bloggy zucchini and last night's rice. Oh well.
Here's what we are supposed to be eating this week. This doesn't always go to plan, but at least I try.
Monday-toast, pastrami sandwiches and orange slices, supposed to be Tacos (substituted White Trash Chinese Food, I am so not in the mood for ground beef) yay! Meatless Menu Plan Monday! Except I didn't plan it. Oh well.
Tuesday, PB baked oatmeal (never got to this last week), egg salad, Fish and potato
Wednesday, yogurt smoothies, toast, Irish stew.
Thursday, pancakes, leftovers, Tacos
Friday, cereal, tunafish and crackers, HM pizza
Saturday, froot loops, yes, froot loops. soup and san, leftovers.
Sunday Pork roast and potatoes

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where do you draw the line?

I love used things.
My foray into frugality thus far has been fruitful. I can go to a thrift shop and know in about five minutes whether I am going to come out with a deal or not. I can get things that are trendy and hip for a fraction of what people pay in the malls, and usually with better quality. I know how to compare sale prices and loss leaders and clip coupons, but one thing I don't know, exactly, yet is; Where do you draw the line? What is too frugal? I know this boils down to preference and choice and even your personal situation at the time. For example, I distinctly remember vowing that I would never buy used underwear, and for panties, I can honestly say that this vow remains unbroken. A dollar a pair is worth it for me, knowing that no other hoochie has grazed the gusset but mine. However, there was an occasion when I was in college, subsisting on student loans and pizza tips, with a safety pin holding my straps together that I did peruse the ladies lingerie at Value Village and I came away with a very good quality bra for four bucks. In that state of need, I looked the other way on the personal nature of the item and after washing, it didn't bother me a bit. I find that is usually the case, if I can wash it, I can make it mine. I haven't bought a used bra in a very long time, mostly because I need the support more than a bargain, but if I had to, I'd do it again. I recently read some comments about a person finding a bargain on shoes in the thrift store. I did buy used shoes once and found that they never felt like they were mine. I always felt as if I were wearing someone else's shoes, which I must say is a very odd feeling. I've not bought a used pair since, nor do I intend to. I won't say never, because let's face it; if I needed to, well then that would be a different story altogether. What I am beginning to realize is that if I am frugal in the small things, the everyday items, then when I need to "splurge" on a new bra or pair of shoes, I can and I can feel good about it too, knowing that I have been wise with many other small purchases, clothing, food and toiletries, in order to make better use of my money. The more I get into these habits, though, the more eccentric I must seem. I am horrified to spend more than fifty cents for toothpaste. For crying out loud, why would anyone do that? I've got six tubes stashed if anyone needs them with a coupon...hello? What? Is that too weird?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pita Pizzas

I have found the answer to saving money AND time with homemade pizza for my family! That answer comes in the form of Greek meets Italian cuisine!
I saw many people do this before but for some reason it just never clicked. Pita bread as pizza crust. So simple! I used to buy the specific ready made pizza crust and I would get them for two for around five bucks. Still a bargain compared to takeout prices. Here's the breakdown of my ingredients cost, approximately.
Pita bread cost me 2.50 for eight pitas! (I used four for dinner, $1.25.) Pepperoni,$5 (of which I froze half and used 1/4 of the package, $1.25 ) mozzarella block, $5, (I used less than 1/4 block for four pita pizzas,$1.25,) homemade garlic and herb tomato sauce using canned tomatoes, pennies, .10 1/2 a chopped white onion, .10, 1/4 green pepper .20.
So, for four pita pizzas I estimate that I spent a grand total of : $4.15 or $1.04 per pita pizza! Not to mention that I have more than enough ingredients for another meal, and if I buy more pitas, three more pizza meals, at least! This is the type of frugal finding that excites me these days. Go ahead, make fun. I don't care. I'm eating pita pizza!
I especially like the thin crust option, and the fact that my pitas were wholewheat. I also enjoy the fact that it switches up the homemade pizza menu. I have been experimenting with different types of crust and for ease and price, so far pita pizzas are in the running for first! We were so excited to eat our pita pizzas that we couldn't wait for Friday night and had them on Tuesday instead.
Now, that is living dangerously!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I am trying to get back into the menu planning more regularly again.
Here's what we'll (hopefully) be eating this week.

Pancakes, orange wedges
Leftover mac and cheese
Meatloaf and potatoes
tom soup and grilled cheese
Chicken and rice and beans

french toast
sausage peas and pasta
PB baked oatmeal
chicken salad san
crustless ham quiche
yogurt, fruit, toast
egg salad san, celery with cream cheese
HM pizza
Free choice
HM bread (?)
veg soup
Chili or stew in the crockpot

Friday, March 5, 2010


Why, oh why do I EVER buy things new?

Recently I bought a new copy of a popular self help book that was reccommended to my husband and me. We needed two copies, as he was leaving town and we both want to read it and compare notes. I rushed to the mall and paid $18.95 for his copy and thought I'd order mine with my swagbucks gift card redemptions. This way, I'd be splitting the cost of the two books in half, theoretically anyhow. Except, I forgot to do one thing; shop around! A few days later, I found the very same popular self help book at Value Village for .99! Of course I snapped it up, thank goodness, I won't have to use my swags on it. Now, I am kind of kicking myself for buying the new book! I had assumed I would never find it used because it was newly published. So the lesson here is: Never assume you can't get exactly what you want used and cheap, frugalistas. It only makes an ass-out of -u- and -me. Sheesh.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Deal of the Day

Spring has sprung! I like spring, it's warm and sunny, but it is also muddy and wet. Time for new rain boots, soccer cleats, and a rain coat. I got this nice waterproof coat at a new local non-profit thrift shop I am helping to run at my job. It is called Venture Treasures. It is a thrift shop designed to have people with disabilities have meaningful work, community inclusion and integration as well as a source of revenue for the organisation. I am so proud to be a part of this "Venture" not only because it is such a worthy cause, but, yes, because of the amazing deals!! All of the items donated are priced well below other local thrift stores because we want this stuff to move. We have limited storage space. As an employee, I get first peeks at stuff, though I still buy during regular store hours from another employee to keep things fair. This rain jacket, which I bought for my son for the season, was an absolute steal! I saw similar, new ones in the Walmart flyer for 25 dollars. I guess that is not such a bad price for a new coat that a kid will probably outgrow by spring's end. I prefer my price, however, which was...get this, FIFTY CENTS! Oh yeah! Once I washed it and used a sharpie to write my son's name in the collar, you'd never know this coat was used. The kid before probably only wore it a few months too! I figure that saves me $24.50 to use on other stuff.
Did I mention I love getting deals?
I'm sure you'll all be hearing more about Venture Treasures and my Deals of the Day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My cheapness makes me healthier?

I have been experimenting with couponing the last few months and I am starting to devise a system that seems to be working out. I use a mini photo album so I can flip through and see all the expiry dates and details. Mine is a flat one and small enough to carry in the basket of the shopping cart for quick referral. I also have an envelope in the front for coupons I plan to use on that particular shopping trip. Now, there are many experts out there on the subject, my post is but a fledgling (word of the day) attempt to emulate those people, so if you are going to follow my ways, do so at your own peril. I may or may not be getting it right. There. Disclaimer complete. Pictured here are a couple of things I got for fifty cents each using coupons and the Kashi sample, which was free and came with a two dollar coupon. I shop according to the stores' loss leaders and then use my coupons. If the item is not on sale, a coupon doesn't make much difference to the bottom line. I throw out a lot of coupons that expire and/or are not worth the deal. Each month, I go through and make sure none of my coupons are expired. Here, when the item is 1.49 on sale (Canadian prices) my dollar off coupons give me a little more bang for my buck. Many people say that coupons make you buy items that you wouldn't normally buy, and then hook you on that brand. I say, that is mostly true, with some caveats. For instance, it is true that I don't normally buy Catelli brand multi grain pasta. I usually buy generic white pasta. For fifty cents, though, I will stock up on multi grain pasta. Maybe I will become hooked on it and then eat only multi grain pasta from now on! Wouldn't that be wonderful? The brownies, I wouldn't normally buy, as I usually make those from scratch using my own homemade mix. For convenience and the price, I thought, why not? When I got home I realized they were "light" brownies. Good thing, because now I can eat twice as many without guilt ;) I admit that I have made a few errors and bought things that were not worth the price, even with a coupon. I am on a learning curve and frugality is a process, not an event. It is my hope that what good deals I do make, make up for the blunders and it all evens out. At some point I will come out ahead, right??
Also, on the suggestion and review by The Non Consumer Advocate I reserved, at the library of course, a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette. What a treasure trove!
I am actively searching at Swagbucks to get enough giftcards to order this beauty for free!
OK, back to real life, my kitchen is a disaster. Have a wonderfully frugal day.