Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How I Shoe Shop For My Children

The 6 year old had a piece break on one of his tennis shoes, the ones he wears every day to school, so he needed some new shoes.

I used to actually take my kids to the shoe store when they needed new shoes.  You know the old fashioned way?

But, there were several issues with that method:
1) The obvious hassle/chaos of taking kids anywhere when you have 4 children
2) The store would not always have the style or size we needed
3) My kid would sometimes pick out ugly shoes.  On principle I won't pay $40 or $50 for shoes that I don't like because you know my children are not the boss, they get input but I get final veto.  Yes, I am The Grinch and ALWAYS veto the light-up shoes.  I know, my children will need therapy some day to deal with the devastation of never having light-up shoes!  So, I get veto-power, but depending on the day and the kid and how much sleep they had the night before, sometimes that veto met with some drama that was not fun for anyone.

Thankfully the gift that is The Internet allowed me a new way!

Here's how I've been shopping for shoes for my kids for the past couple of years and it is working awesomely:

Step 1:  I measure the kid's foot with this handy sizer: Squatchi, Kid's Shoe Sizer, Green (it measures from toddler size 2 to youth size 5 -- sadly I do now have a child with a foot too big for this tool).

Step 2:  I go on where I am a VIP (really I am!) and therefore get free next day delivery and free returns, and I order a few (sometimes even 5 or 6) different shoes that I like in the child's size (I order 1/2 to 1 size up from whatever they measure at).

Step 3:  When the shoes arrive I set them all out and the child tries on a different shoe for each foot.  We have a contest nearly exactly like the Olympics where the shoes compete.  The child decides which shoe he or she likes better, left foot or right foot shoe.  The loser shoe is eliminated from the competition.  The winner goes on to face a new challenger.  Once a clear favorite has been determined, both matching shoes are tried on just in case, and then the winner is officially declared.

Step 4:  All loser shoes are boxed back up in their original shoe boxes and then put back into the shipping box they came in.  

Step 5:  I go to and select my order and follow the short, easy steps to print a return label.  I tape the box shut, tape the label on, and drop off the package at a UPS facility.  I have a box, mail place that is super easy to just run a box in and set it on the counter.  Since there is already a shipping label there is no need to wait in line.  Then Zappos credits back my credit card for the returned shoes.

Shoe shopping, the fun way!  Have the shoe store come to you!

My kid gets to feel like he or she has picked out their shoes but really they are only picking from a small, pre-screened group of shoes all of which I like!  Parenting wins are hard to come by, so I certainly celebrate the beauty of this one!

***I am not compensated in any way by for this post.  I am just sharing what really does work for me in my real life.***

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A porch full of packages, an unstuffed duck and other random things

Remember on Monday when I said I had just that morning done most of my Christmas shopping on the Internet?  Well, guess what our front door looked like today:

I texted my husband the picture while he was at work with the message, "Santa came!"

Now, to wrap everything . . .


We celebrated a birthday here on Monday.  Madeline the goldendoodle turned 3 years old!  The new stuffed duck she got for her birthday:

That duck got excellent reviews on Amazon and truly it did survive longer than many stuffed toys Madeline has had, but tonight the duck lost a good amount of stuffing.  I daresay by the end of the weekend it will be just a carcass like all her other animals.

Poor Madeline needs a grooming terribly but when I called the groomer this week to schedule an appointment he politely told me that they were booked until the new year.  What?  Oh, I guess everyone wants a clean, freshly groomed dog for the holidays.

So, guess what we'll be doing this weekend?  Grooming our own dog.  And next year you can bet I'll be making that holiday grooming appointment earlier!


Because my kids might look back at this blog someday when they are grown, here is photographic proof that I was a nice mom.  Their after school snack last Friday:

Hot chocolate AND a homemade (okay home-baked) cookie!!!  That has to erase all the times I nagged you to hang up your coat already!  


And speaking of coats, WHY is it still cold?  We live in an area of the country where 70 degrees days are not uncommon in December and anytime we get really chilly temps, like in the 30s, then it only lasts a couple days and bam, we're back up into the 70s and wearing our flip-flops.

But, we have now had a full 8 days since we were able to wear shorts!  Yesterday before school I told one of my children to get their coat and they looked at me and asked incredulously, "It's STILL cold?!!"  See, it's unusual this cold snap that won't go away.  Of course, I realize my whining about 30 degrees is laughable to many of you who live in the frozen tundra and my winter hat really does go off to you.  I would not survive!


Happy Friday!  If you need me I'll be mailing Christmas cards, grooming my dog, watching the 6 year old's first basketball game, and wrapping presents -- maybe not all at the same time, but if anybody has an app for that, please share!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Best Way To Christmas Shop

Today, after the hustle of getting the 3 big kids off to elementary school and Little Girl dropped off at preschool,  I finally had 3 whole hours with all 4 of my kids in school and no appointment or commitments of somewhere I had to be.  This happens rarely.

I had some, okay, a lot, honestly, ALL my Christmas shopping still to do.

So, did I spend the 3 hours driving all over town in the cold and the rain, fighting over parking spots perusing disheveled store shelves, and waiting in lines?  NO WAY!

I came home to my gloriously silent house, poured myself a cup of coffee, sat down on my couch with a cozy blanket, and did 90% of my Christmas shopping right there from my living room!

Oh how I do love the Internet!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Breakfast delivered right to my front door!

I have 4 kids.

As much as I try to avoid highly processed foods to feed my family, breakfast cereal is an exception.

We eat it for breakfast about 5 days each week.  I know it would be better to cook a from-scratch breakfast each morning, but that just is not going to happen on most school days and with one child allergic to eggs I struggle to find healthy breakfast options for her anyway.  I do at least pick the healthier cereals, ones with more protein.

But, all that being said.  Six of us eating cereal 5 days every week adds up to A LOT of cereal.

So, wanna know what I'm loving right now?

This delivered right to my front door every few weeks:

Cracklin' Oat Bran Cereal, 17-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 10) from

The price is comparable to what I'd pay at my local grocery store!  And the convenience of fewer items on my grocery store list, not having to fill up my cart with just cereal, and an automatically replenishing supply is awesome!

Even the dog is happy!

Now, to bring back the milk delivery (and not pay a fortune for the service). . .

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dogercize and Other Random Things

Yesterday when I was doing my Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred exercise video (Yes, I'm still doing the Shred even years later,  I do it a couple times each week along with some running days as my exercise regime.  Sometimes I think I'd like more variety, but I haven't found a workout video that's as good of a work-out for the time put in -- in this case 30 minutes for cardio, abs, & weights!), this was my view during the abs/sit-ups part.
Each time I leaned forward and sat up for the sit-up, I got a wet sloppy kiss right on my face!  If you've never had this exercise experience, you are missing out for sure!  Dog breath makes the whole thing even lovelier!


I really didn't make any fitness New Year's resolutions, but the fragment above combined with this one will make it seem that way.

Guess who likes to drink green smoothies with me at lunch?

Is there anything Little Girl won't eat, you may ask about my 4 year old (home from Ethiopia 1 year)?  Peanut butter!  Yep, she doesn't like it at all.  But, really I can't think of anything else she won't eat!  Recently we discovered that she LOVES grapefruit juice!  I'm so thankful for what a great eater she is, I just had my moms' group tonight that is a support group for adoptive mothers and it's more the norm that adopted kids have food issues!


My husband took the training wheels off the 5 year old's bike a few weeks ago.  He's actually pretty stable, has gone some very short distances on his own, and seems just about ready to take off on two wheels all by himself.  But for now, he does need someone to walk alongside and steady him a bunch.   Today, while I was doing that he told me he wanted to do "super fast mode".  As in, he wanted me to sprint down the street while holding onto his bike helping him balance!  Um, no, Buddy, you gotta wait 'til you're doing this all on your own for "super fast mode".  I'm huffing and puffing just through "medium mode".


I saw something this week that quickly became reason #2,248 The Internet has made me a better homemaker and it is an entire website devoted to what's good at Trader Joe's?  Don't ask me how much more money I spent on my Trader Joe's run after discovering this website!  But the cookie butter?  Honestly I don't get the hype.  I tried a spoonful straight from the jar and really I wasn't impressed, maybe it's because I don't love gingerbread?

So far, it's the pizza dough, the cereal bars, the Jo-Jos (vanilla, chocolate or candy cane -- all awesome), the chocolate bars, and the Ethiopian coffee that keep me going back to Trader Joe's.  But, I have some new stuff I bought this week that I've yet to try, like the veggie sausage patties I'm going to try to slip into my family's Saturday morning breakfast as if it's regular sausage! 

Happy Friday, Friends!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gifts That Give Back

In the shopping frenzy of the season, wouldn't it be nice to buy a lovely gift for someone on your list but also be helping someone in need at the same time?  Check out these links to some really awesome gift that also give back.  Win-Win!  Their mission from their website:  1. To provide food, water and medicine to children in need worldwide 2. To bring awareness to the orphan crisis 3. To assist adoptive families with fundraising through the sale of original and handmade products 

I have one of these magazine bead necklaces and love it.  I truly wear it at least twice a week! - Products that support survivors of modern day slavery
These necklaces are beautiful!  And have such an amazing story!  From their website:
Slavery survivors often create beautiful works of art as part of recovery therapy. The repetitive nature of stringing jewelry, weaving fabric, and embroidery provides these embattled survivors with a sense of comfort and security in structure and routine, engendering a feeling of pride and accomplishment.. These exquisite pieces reflect the strength, beauty, and resilience of each survivor. These Healing Necklaces, each one unique in color and design, are crafted by the women and girls as part of recovery therapy at our partner shelters in Southeast Asia. - There is so much to love here, I can't even narrow down the list - check out their beautiful jewelry, cheerful tea towels, and much more! - All of the products are handmade by wonderful amazing people who just happen to live in some of the most poverty stricken and difficult places in the world. By purchasing their products you are helping create and sustain jobs for them, which positively impacts all other areas of their life. Under each item for sale here, you will find the inspiring stories of the incredible people who make the products and learn how your purchase is benefiting them and their communities.

 I especially love their cute children's hats this adorable stuffed elephant or giraffe and these llamas

Also, don't forget about  These are my favorite shoes ever, I've worn them out a couple different times because I wear them so much and re-ordered another pair!  Their are the winter version of flip-flops -- so comfortable, easy to slip on and they go with pretty much anything!

Source: via It on Pinterest

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

April Fool's Pranks I'm Playing on My Kids!

Our little girl from Ethiopia has recently learned how to ask "Why?".  We were in Target, on the bathroom accessories aisle and she looked at a shelf completely lined with trash cans that were for sale, turned to me confused, pointed and asked, "Why, Mom?"


Speaking of shopping, this is not at all newsworthy, but I switched my membership from Sams to Costco about 6 months ago because I'd heard so many friends rave about Costco and there was a new one built fairly close to my house ('course not as close as the Sams).  

And you know what?  

I don't get the Costco hype at all! Supposedly they have more organic-type foods, which I'm into, but they don't have as good a deal on organic milk as my HEB and the soy yogurt I'm now eating every day is nary to be found at Costco.  Not to mention a lot of the old standby basics I bought at Sams I can't find at Costco.  I'd already decided to go crawling back to Sams and ask if they'd please have me back when lo and behold they sent me a card in the mail saying they missed me and gave me a free 2 month membership if I'd come back.

Dear Sams, 

You had me at "we missed you"!  And my kids are in withdrawal over your beef jerky, Costco's tastes funny.  I'll be there tomorrow!

With promises to never stray again, yours truly,
It Feels Like Chaos


A couple years ago for April Fool's Day, I used some food coloring and dyed the kid's milk blue before pouring it into their cups at breakfast.

They thought it was so funny and still talk about it occasionally.

So, I'm planning some stuff for April Fool's Day this coming Sunday.

Here are some pranks I have up my sleeve:
  • When we were in Ethiopia last summer with our 2 oldest kids, I was so worried someone would accidentally drink water from the faucet or even just wash their hands and not use hand sanitizer after it, so I covered the faucet in our guest house bathroom with a plastic baggie and then used a rubber band to secure it in place.  It worked pretty well!  But, this Sunday, April Fool's Day (actually late at night on Saturday since my kids wake up earlier than me), I'm going to plastic baggie the faucets in our house!
  • Also, when I lay out the kids' clothes on their closet doors for church, I'm going to switch them up, not too obviously like putting girl clothes on the boy doors, but I'm going to lay out my 4 year old son's clothes for the 9 year's old son to put on and switch the girls up, too!  I bet my oldest son won't even notice his clothes are 4 sizes too small!
  • We typically eat cereal before church, so I'm going to fill the kid cereal bowls with milk the night before and freeze them. Then in the morning we can add a little cereal and milk on top and the kids will be in for a surprise when they dig into their bowls!

I'm looking for more ideas, nothing mean, just harmless fun that will get them laughing, not crying!!  Do you have any good ones?


***I was in no way compensated by Sams Club to write this post!***

Find more Finer Things Friday and  Friday Fragments.

Mommy's Idea

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grocery Logistics

I haven't done a Works for Me Wednesday post in forever and it's time.

Right now we are in the thick of planning for life with 4 kids, so I'd welcome any tips, hints, revelations you've had about managing life with many kids (and I do realize what constitutes "many kids" is different for everyone -- we can have fun debating that in a different blog post).

One thing that is a challenge for moms with many kids is feeding everybody. I've already seen this with having 3 kids. Just the logistics of keeping enough food in the house can be tricky. For example, right now with the kids we currently have, we go through 6 gallon size jugs of milk EVERY WEEK! My kids love milk, which is great, I think, for their health. They drink it with every meal and my 8 year old often asks for refills. I like to limit my grocery shopping to once a week so I get a lot of comments from the checkers with my 6 gallons of milk, but at least I've figured out a way for all of them to fit in my fridge at the same time! Although, I'm not sure how it's going to work when we add another child to the household. Perhaps we just need our own cow!

Also consumed with the milk, we go through a lot of cereal. I'm not too proud to admit that my kids only get a home-cooked breakfast once a week, on Saturday, and the other 6 mornings it's cereal! At least they get home-cooked dinners 6 nights per week, and the cereals I buy are fairly healthy -- Cracklin Oat Bran, Life, Multigrain Cheerios -- are all regulars at our house. For me, I like the Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal (both the kind with almonds and without, actually I mix the two kinds for the perfect ratio of almonds to not -- too much information?), eat it every day and never get tired of it! So, I was thrilled to learn a while back that had Kashi cereal in their grocery that they could ship right to my door with no shipping cost and I could even get a discount on the cereal if I subscribed to get the delivery on a regular basis! The contents of a delivery:

For me this works great. I pay less per box than at the store (or at least it priced out at less when I last compared), I don't ever have to worry about running out because I have deliveries scheduled periodically, and it's one less item for my grocery shopping trip every week! (And one less item, especially something bulky like cereal, is key when your cart is already full of children with little room for groceries -- which happened to me every week during the summer, and yes my kids are all 3 big enough to walk, but the trip goes quicker if only 1 walks and 2 ride.)

Since discovering the Kashi cereal, I've set up some more things in Amazon's subscribe and save. I only do items that are cheaper or the same price as at the regular grocery and things we use regularly. So far, my daughter's non-prescription allergy medicine, our bath soap, my husband's razor refills, and Clif bars are all on our list. And I'd love to add more, but so far our other frequently used products are either not there or they are more expensive than the grocery, so I'd rather just stockpile a bunch when I make a store run.

**** Disclaimer: I am an affiliate and will get a small portion of the proceeds should you make a purchase after using a link on my blog, but I assure you I would not recommend something if I was not happy with it after using it myself for months! ****

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When You Don't Want the Newest Thing!

Do you remember the game Battleship?

My husband and I both have memories of loving the game as children and we knew our kids, especially our oldest child, would love it, but the modern version just isn't the same and to me the modernizing made it much worse, so I didn't buy it.

But, then I decided to look on Ebay. There are tons of old versions of Battleship out there from pretty much any year over the past few decades!!

For not much more money than the current version sold in stores, I got a 1998 edition of the game in excellent condition and without the annoying modern twists. It's perfect! And there's been a lot of this going on around here:

So fun!!

Ebay also didn't fail me a couple years ago when I was looking for the more classic Strawberry Shortcake dolls that I remembered from my childhood, not the souped up versions they sell today! I got some super sweet, gently used dolls made in the 1980s!

Because really sometimes I just don't want the newest thing, sometimes the older models were better!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Outsmarting Target

***We got some more good news from our adoption agency on Friday and are currently in any-day-now mode for getting our referral, but no call today! Actually that's not true, there were 2 calls to my cell phone today, both of which made my heart beat out of my chest when I heard the ringing, but they were not THE call! And the call from a relative of mine who lives in the same 817 area code as our adoption agency from a new cell number that my phone didn't recognize -- so not funny! I really, really thought that one was THE CALL! So, in an attempt to gain just a bit of sanity for myself, here's a post about shopping and sewing!!!****

Several months ago when my daughter turned 5 years old and outgrew the toddler section at Target, I wrote the following letter to the Target store in my head:

Dear Target,

I must first say that I love your store and shop there quite often. I've even been known to make a trip to a Target store 3 times in 1 week! Over the past 5 years I've loved shopping your baby/toddler girl section. I've been amazed at the cute, quality dresses and other adorable things I've been able to get for my daughter at such reasonable prices!

However, my daughter is now five and has outgrown your toddler section. I've looked in your "Little Girl's" section, but seeing as how I do not want my 5 year old to look like Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, I'm afraid I cannot find many clothes there I'd buy for my little girl. Please consider carrying over some of the same cute, sweet styles from your toddler department into the little girl's section, and save the black lace and cropped t-shirts for your lingerie department.

Almost your biggest fan

I have no idea why I never actually wrote and mailed that letter. Instead, for the last several months I've walked by the toddler girl section and just sighed at all the cute things that I couldn't buy and snarled at the mostly tacky selection in the little girl's section. But recently, I realized I could buy a toddler dress for my daughter and then just add a bit of my own length with an extra ruffle of coordinating fabric!

I bought this dress minus the bottom ruffle for about $10, and then just added the ruffle.

I even made some coordinating ruffle pants!
A custom-looking outfit that was super easy and cheap!

And the best part? I now again have a reason to shop in the Target toddler girl section!

Find more Gratituesday, Tackle it Tuesday, and Works for Me Wednesday

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Best Gifts Can Be Given Lazily

Some of my favorite moments from Christmas 2010 were from Christmas Eve morning (no not Christmas morning when my own kids dug into presents) when our family of five gathered around the computer together and picked out gifts for children in 3rd world countries, children that have known poverty the likes of which we cannot even fathom.

Last year we did our Christmas giving in the form of sponsoring a local needy family and it was great, but we didn't get their wishlist until kind of last minute so we couldn't buy anything on-line and spent a weekend running all over town dragging our kids through crowded stores to find coats and shoes in all the right sizes for the family of 3 kids plus a single mom. I was really glad that we did it, but in hindsight I think the spirit of what we were doing was entirely lost on our kids as we snapped at them to behave in long check-out lines and stressed over if we'd gotten all the right sizes.

So, this year doing the biggest chunk of our giving through shopping on-line at World Vision seemed like the way to go. The lazy way to go, perhaps, but still a tremendous organization doing great things around the world!

We watched the videos on the various gift choices learning things like how just 2 chickens can completely change a family's future, suddenly with that gift they have an ongoing source of nourishment and income as the chickens lay eggs and also give birth to baby chickens.

My husband and I had an amount in mind that we wanted to give overall and helped the children dole it out among various gifts. And when our amount was exhausted, the 7 year old offered up some of his allowance towards another gift.

It was one of the most fun gift giving experiences I've ever had! We were all together in the comfort of our home, thinking about people other than ourselves, nobody was whining or hiding under racks of clothes, we learned about agriculture and how people on the other side of the world live, and it kinda felt like we were actually giving Jesus presents for His birthday!

And how exciting it was to be able to give someone a goat for Christmas or chickens or a rabbit or a Bible (which will likely be the only one in their entire village and read and listened to by many)! I'm so grateful we had the privilege!

Find more Gratituesday here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Better Purpose for Our Money

My children followed me like three little ducks as I wound my way down aisles of bookshelves to the back of the store. I removed the books I'd brought in from the bag over my shoulder and stacked them on the counter. The woman working there looked the books over and said kind of apologetically as if she thought I'd expect more, "I can give you $6 for them."

"Great!" I said, excited to turn unwanted books into cash, exhilarated to be ridding my home of clutter and getting paid to do it!

She printed off a little receipt for me that I could redeem at the check-out with the $6.00 amount printed on it, and I was ready for my 2nd mission in that store. . .

Introduce my children to the Half Price Bookstore.

They were skeptical about it when I launched the idea at home on the Friday afternoon of their Spring Break. "Can't we just go to a regular bookstore!" my oldest lamented. But when I led them over to the children's section of the Half Price Books, they were amazed. It seemed a lot like the regular bookstore! "Are these books really used, Mama?" they asked. "Yes," I told them, and then slightly under my breath, "although more gently used than you guys seem to
use books!"

There was a particular book I was looking for, one our library didn't have available for check-out, one that correlated with a play I was taking my 4 year old daughter to soon and wanted to read her the book first. We found it in great condition and $1.98. Then I told my boys they could each pick one book. One of my sons picked a book that was $3.75. I glanced down at the $6 ticket in my hand and said, "There are 3 of you and I have $6, you can each get one that is $1.98." He argued briefly that I could just pay the extra from my wallet, even offered to use his allowance at one point. I found a $1.98 book on Benjamin Franklin. My son has a new interest in inventions and non-fiction books, so he was sold on it.

It felt good at the register to be able to buy them all three a good book for only some spare change to cover the tax after I turned in the $6 ticket.

Then as I got in the car and began to drive home, another feeling kind of crept in. Was I being too frugal? I mean in the store I was acting as if the $6.00 printed on the ticket was the only money we had in the world, when we really could have afforded to spend more. Did I really want my kids looking back at their childhood and remembering their mom saying, "No, Honey, you need to pick a cheaper used book"?

But then I remembered the reason for my ever increasing frugality. It is, thankfully, not because of our need. My husband's salary has not decreased these last few years, actually the opposite, but we are challenging ourselves to spend less on stuff for us, so we have more to give away to those who truly have need.

That evening after the used bookstore expedition, we opened the mail and found this:
It's a letter from a little girl named Juliet we currently sponsor who is an orphan in Uganda, and says "I love you so much. I pray for you and your family. I like hearing songs." and then later, "I am 8 years old. God has good plans for you. God loves us all. I love you. love, Juliet." We've sponsored her for a few years now, paying $30 per month for her care in the Lulwanda Children's Home.

And then and there my husband and I sat down with our kids and did something we've talked about for a few months now, we sponsored another child. Although we sponsor one, we've felt compelled to do more and have been moved by the work Compassion International is doing in the lives of children living in poverty.

So, Friday evening we sat around the computer together and browsed the profiles of kids we could sponsor. We decided on Mathews, a little boy from Ethiopia (where we are adopting a daughter from) who is 7 just like my oldest son. And we committed to be a part of his life for a long time, hopefully until he is grown, God-willing. We'll send the $38 per month to provide him with food and clean water, medical care, education, and most important he'll be taught about Jesus! But, as a family (Compassion encourages but does not require writing to your sponsored child) we also committed to writing to Mathews once a month to let him know we care about him and God does, too.

When we finished, I was excited, excited to become a part of this boy's life. Excited to have the opportunity to make a positive difference in his life. Excited for another tie to Ethiopia, a country we will forever be linked to once we bring home our daughter from there. Excited to maybe even get to meet Mathews during 1 of the 2 trips we will make to Ethiopia over the next year to adopt our daughter (God just may bring good out of the 2 trips requirement, yet!)!

And then there was the opportunity for the teachable moment. I told my kids, "You know we could have easily spent $38 in that used bookstore today. Even with the books being half price, there were several neat ones, ones that came with toys, even. I know if I'd let you, you guys could have spent that much and more, but because we didn't we can send that money to help Mathews have things like water and food that he really needs.

I'm grateful to be able to make life better for Juliet and Mathews, and I'm so very grateful for a better purpose for our God-given money than blowing it in a bookstore!

This post is part of the
Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
Find more Tuesdays Unwrapped, Tackle it Tuesday, Try and Tell & Works for Me Wednesday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Perfect Valentine's Day Gift!

Would you like to know what my husband and I are getting each other for Valentine's Day?

And getting for our kids, too?

These shirts! Check out the awesomeness here!

And the best part?

For every shirt we (or you or anyone) buy Children's HopeChest will provide an orphan in Ethiopia with a new pair of shoes and a new shirt!

Would you like to join in on the blessings -- a new shirt for yourself or someone you love plus a shirt and shoes for an orphan?

The store opens at 7AM on Friday, Jan. 15th and the first 25 people who purchase a HopeChest Project T shirt will receive a free autographed copy of Tom Davis’ book- Scared

Find more Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Before 10 AM

Do you ever wake up at 6:45AM to the sound of kids,
jump in the shower for a just wash your-body-but-not-your-hair-shower (maybe that's technically a bath, but standing up!),
break up a battle,
feed everybody,
feed yourself,
drink coffee,
hug your kids,
start some wash,
unload the dishwasher,
clear the table,
brush kid teeth,
have oldest child change the Diaper Genie,
brush your own teeth,
get 3 kids dressed,
get yourself dressed,
load the dishwasher,
tell kids to clean the playroom,
end up doing most of it yourself,
make a grocery list,
pack lunch for the activity later in the morning,
get kids downstairs,
take care of the dog,
get shoes on everybody and in the car for 2 errands,
arrive at the 1st store at 9:31AM . . .

and realize it doesn't open until 10AM!

I mean the thought didn't even occur to you that the store would not yet be opened, it's the middle of the day in Mommyland!

Anyone else hooked on stores that open before 10:00 AM? Definitely a finer thing!

Find more Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, Hooked on Fridays at Hooked on Houses

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

13 Things I buy at Sam's

I've spent the last few years refining my Sam's shopping list, trying to figure out what to buy there. You know, comparing what they sell in the warehouse store with what we'd actually use in mass quantities and what was truly a good deal. When I'm in the store I'm always spying on other people's baskets, wondering, "What do they buy at Sam's?" So without further commentary, I'm sharing our list because I know you are on the edge of your seats in anticipation and because I strive to be helpful:

13 Things I Buy at Sam’s

1. Pampers Diapers
2. Coke Zero
3. Canned goods - Corn, green beans, diced tomatoes, cream of
mushroom soup
4. Large Containers of Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks & animal crackers
5. Raw Spaghetti, Jarred Pasta Sauce & Frozen Meatballs (talk about an easy meal!) 6. Fruit Snacks
7. Ketchup
8. Batteries
9. Chicken Breasts, whole chickens & Ground Beef
10. Peppermint Extra Gum
11. Cleaners like dishwasher detergent action packs, Tide, fabric softener, Windex, bathroom cleaner, and Mr. Clean Erasers
12. Ziploc Bags (freezer bags, sandwich bags, and gallon sized bags)
13. Kashi Go-Lean Cereal

So, now I'd love to hear what you buy!

Ahh. . . a stockpile pantry. I love it, but as I see the food and supplies overflowing from my regular pantry into the garage one, I cannot help but think of those who have so much less. Children who go hungry day after day, and children who die of malnutrition. Want to help them? I have a new blog button on the right-hand side to link you to an organization I've recently learned a lot about, Children's HopeChest. They are doing some truly amazing work to save and redeem the lives of orphan children around the world.

Find more Thankful Thursday at Women Taking A Stand, Thousand Words Thursday at Cheaper Than Therapy, Thursday Thirteen, & Happy to be @ Home

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Ways to Save Money Part 2

In honor of today's frugal themed Works for Me Wednesday I am going to add on to the list I posted here of ways to save money.
  • Repurpose household items. The last few months my kids have had more fun with large empty yogurt containers. They use them as buckets to collect leaves, dirt, rocks, etc. I organized my kids' sock drawer using empty shoe boxes as dividers instead of buying containers.
  • Call the company. Now I posted last time on how you can trim money from bills like the phone bill by calling the company and eliminating options you pay for and don't need, like call forwarding. But now I'm talking about when you have a problem with a product. Two different times (a few years apart) I've called the Diaper Genie company, Playtex, to see about getting a new part for a piece that broken on the lid to my diaper pail. Both times they sent me a new lid for free! For my over a year old Diaper Genie! I would have bought a new one, but instead I saved that money! Another time I called the company because we had lost one piece to our Perfection game. I described the piece we were missing and asked if I could buy it. The lady told me that they don't sell the pieces individually but that she could send me the whole set of pieces for free!!! What a deal!!! So, if you have anything broken or missing pieces, it might just be worth your while to call and see what they say (probably helps if you ask very, very nicely!).
  • Use cloth napkins. Granted this won't save much money, but it does, a little. And napkins are one less item you'll have to worry about on the grocery list!! Turns out I had a large set of cloth napkins that someone had given us as a gift and we were never using. I do a laundry load of towels every few days or so anyway so it has been easy to just throw the cloth napkins in with those loads. And you're helping the environment!
  • Buy ground beef and chicken breasts at Sams Club. Costco may have similar deals, but I have a membership at Sams and their prices for these items are always cheaper than my regular grocery. Of course I have to buy a bigger pack, but that is not a problem, I freeze what I won't use right away.
  • Potty train your toddler closer to 2, rather than 3 years old. Now granted every child is different and for some kids this may not be achievable, but it is possible to potty train most kids when they turn 2 even though the norm in the U.S. seems to be older than that. Think how much money you'd save each month on diapers!
  • Plant a vegetable garden. We are very new to gardening, but have gotten a few edible things so far, and hope to get more soon. Seeds cost very little and may save your produce bill. Also, gardening doubles as a cheap family activity and great learning experience for your kids. All 3 of my kids love helping in the garden!
  • Send fewer clothes to the dry cleaners. I have had great results washing several typically dry-clean clothing items like skirts, dresses, and sweaters on the hand-wash setting in my washer, hanging them to dry, and then ironing them. Also, there are wonderful non-iron dress shirts out there now. My husband has Brooks Brothers Non-Iron dress shirts and they are amazing! Just wash, and dry on low and really there is no ironing required! Those shirts have more than paid for themselves in money saved sending his shirts to be laundered!
Do you have any money saving tips to share?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Easy Stockpile Shopping & Menu Plan Monday

Since I have had my 3rd child I have become a huge stockpile shopper. When you have 3 young kids, grocery stores are not the place you want to really hang out. Let's just say not much fun! So, my grocery store goals are to go as infrequently as possible and spend as little time per trip as possible.

Stockpile shopping has changed my life! I haven't yet perfected it to the extent some people do, where they know when an item has hit its lowest price ever and then they stock up. I'd like to get to that point, but for now my thought is really this simple: If I am already in the store, on the aisle buying salsa and my family literally eats tons of it (including my 1 year-old -- it's Texas, y'all!), why buy one jar (which will last us about a week or two) when I can buy 4? It will save me a trip down that aisle for the next several shopping trips.

Basically anything my family eats or uses that is a non-perishable or lasts a while, I always buy several at once. I've been able to cut down on trips to the store, and it really takes no longer to buy 6 of something than it does to buy 1!

If you live along the Gulf-Coast, like me, another huge plus of stockpile shopping is that you will not only be able to feed your family, but other families as well when the stores are closed after a hurricane!

The key to stockpile shopping is to find storage for the extra items, but get creative. I converted the bottom of my dining room china cabinet into canned good storage and part of our garage into storage for paper towels, laundry detergent, cleaners, canned drinks, ziploc bags, etc.

Also, just a warning that initially stockpile shopping can kill your monthly food budget, but it will even out over time.

Our Menu for the week:

Sunday: Eat at Superbowl party
Monday: 13 Bean Soup, corn bread, broccoli
Tuesday: Chicken Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: Left-overs
Thursday: Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Chicken Tacos, Mexican rice, corn
Friday: Homemade pizza, creamed spinach
Saturday: Out to eat

For more Menu Plan Monday visit Organizing Junkie.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Goal, The Empty Drawer, The Farmer's Market, and The Squash Casserole

One of my new goals, and also a part of my plan to save my family money, is to stop wasting food! I am ashamed to admit the produce I’ve thrown out in the past. I would buy more than I ended up needing for a recipe or buy new fruit before we’d eaten all the old and the extra would rot in my produce drawer until I finally got around to cleaning out the fridge (meaning it began to smell!) and then it was thrown away. So now I am planning better, doubling recipes and freezing extras to use everything that I buy. I was so excited to actually achieve a nearly empty produce drawer (only one small packet of carrot sticks remained) without throwing anything away! My produce drawer is never that empty!

In case an empty produce drawer doesn’t fill you with excitement, I’ll quickly move on to my next point! How to restock the produce? A trip to the farmer’s market! Discovering the farmer’s market has been the best thing to happen to my family foodwise in the last couple years! The one I go to is called Canino’s and it is not nearby my house, but so worth the drive. The produce is the freshest I’ve seen and so much cheaper than the grocery store. I’ve bought Honeycrisp apples there for $1.69 a pound to find them a couple days later at the Central Market for $3.89 a pound – talk about a huge difference!

We eat so much healthier having all this fresh produce on hand and my kids love going to the farmer’s market and picking things out so it gets them excited about vegetables! I only go about every 3 weeks, so I stock up when I go. Check out everything I scored there a couple weeks ago! Oh, and they have great beans, honey, nuts, eggs and yogurt pretzels!

What did I do with all that ye
llow squash you ask? I made this Yellow Squash Casserole recipe and doubled it, freezing the 2nd casserole in a Ziploc with the cooking instructions written on the bag. Each casserole will serve as a side item for my family for 3 meals, so in one 30 min. session I created 6 meals worth of vegetables!

Yellow Squash Casserole from

4 cups sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
35 buttery round crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melt
1 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the
cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Picture of casserole ready to be baked and bowl with extra batc
h to be frozen in the bag on the right.

Check more food ideas on Tasty Tuesday at Forever Wherever