Saturday, April 18, 2009

Money Savers April 5th-18th

1.  In spite of being $30.00 over my grocery budget for the month, I shopped my pantry and freezer for many of our meals.  I think that I better seriously reconsider the $400/month budget!

2.  Started line drying our laundry

3.  Utilized FREE places to visit while kids were home for Spring Break.  We have been to the park 3 times this week.

4.  Had friends over for dinner and made a simple meal, instead of going out for a costly meal and hiring a babysitter.

5.  Allowed my son to take a week off from music lessons during Spring break.  Saved us $63.00

6.  Bought my daughter a dress for father/daughter dance with a %50 off coupon.  Dress was $40, I got it for $20.

7.  Started walking with a friend for exercise.  I think I will be able to cancel the costly gym membership.  Walking is free!

8.  Utilized all the coupons I have gotten from merchants this month for my birthday.  Free lunch at Noodles, free lotion at Aveda, $10 gift card from Chicos, etc.... The list goes on.  

9.  Used birthday money from in laws for a treat for myself.  A pedicure.  Okay, I know not frugal, but I am using money that was given to me for me.  

10.  Went to Mall of America and spent only $15.00.  

Menu April5th-April 18th

I was planning to post my dinner menu weekly.  But, with Easter being last weekend, I never got around to it.  So here I have 2 weeks, hopefully I will be more organized next week:)

Sunday April 5th - Chicken Tikka Masala

Monday April 6th - Pasta, Salad and Bread

Tuesday April 7th - Beef Stroganoff

Wednesday April 8th - Beef Stew, Biscuits

Thursday April 9th - Turkey or Boca Burgers, Fries

Friday April 10th - Pizza

Saturday April 11th- Chicken or Bean Tacos

Sunday April 12th - Easter Dinner with Family

Monday April 13th - Kids and I out of town, husband had hamburgers

Tuesday April 14th - Ditto

Wednesday April 15th - Kids had a bagged microwave meal, I had baked potato, Eric had meeting

Thursday April 16th - Salmon, broccoli, couscous

Friday April 17th - Hamburgers/Turkey Burgers/Boca Burgers, Chips, corn, vegetable platter, homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches

Saturday April 18th - Pork or Bean Tacos

Notice a trend?  We have taco night every Saturday.   Tuesday night is usually some kind of a pasta.  Friday is pizza night.  Last night was an exception because we had friends over for dinner.  I add variety each week, for example I use different meats for the tacos or different sauces on the pasta.  I do it this way to save time and money though. 

I need a fish taco recipe.  If anyone has one, (mom), let me know.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

Catchy title, huh?  Or a bit cliche?  No matter what you may think, spring has sprung in our neck of the woods this week.  Our little bit of sunshine could not have come at a better time. The kids are home for Spring Break this week, so the cooperation from Mother Nature has been greatly appreciated.

I decided to take advantage of the sunshine today and use it as a dryer.  Nothing smells better then sheets that have line dried in mother natures free dryer.  It is usually around May that I begin to dry the majority of my laundry outside.  Line drying is free!  Nothing could be more frugal and earth friendly.  I have also read that the sun is a natural antiseptic.  I don't know if that is true, but if it is, another great reason to line dry.  I will be the first to admit that it can be hassle. Countless loads of laundry have been left outside, forgotten, rained on and rewashed. I will try to improve on this year, but make no promises.  I find that making promises just leads to disappointment when some go unfulfilled.

While outside today, I saw that my tulips and daffodils are ready to bloom.  What  beautiful flowers, sadly only in bloom for a short time each year.  I make the most of it while I can keeping most outside to enjoy in their natural state.  But, I do bring some inside to keep in a vase.  Happily, I know that with summer just around the corner, more flowers will be in bloom shortly.

Our weather was in the 70's today.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Like I said before, a perfect day.  My kids were hard to persuade to go outside early in the day.  Spring break has a tendency of making kids want to sleep later than they should, followed by watching mindless cartoons on TV.  Since they had been busy with the grandparents for a few days, I allowed a little TV watching and then threw them outside.  I was so pleased when they informed me of their plans to go into the woods near our house and build a fort.  How nice to hear those words.  We live in such a modern age.  Computers, television and video games seem to be the only thing that kids want to do.  When I hear my kids doing something that I would have done, I realize that I am doing something right after all.  My kids are certainly plugged in, but, we do try to regulate it during the week.  Lately, we have been allowing more technology than I am comfortable with, I think it is time to reevaluate what is appropriate.

Today made me excited for summer vacation.  I look forward to spending time watching my kids play and swim.  I also look forward to spending time reading alone in the backyard, sleeping in and spending time with husband (probably gardening).  We have so much to look forward to and to be grateful for.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Home again, home again.....

The kids and I returned from our trip to St. Paul Minnesota.  We had a fantastic time!  Thanks grandma and grandpa!

My kids and I are so fortunate to have parents/grandparents who truly went out of their way to make our trip fun and memorable.  We only had one full day to spend in the Twin Cities seeing the sights.  Our first stop was the Como Zoo in St. Paul.  I am not kidding when I say St. Paul has a truly beautiful zoo.  Admission is a donation, the zoo gives suggestions, but the actual cost is at the visitors discretion.  Personally, I would never feel comfortable not giving something.   Zoos are in desperate need of financial support.  Regardless of how one feels about zoos, animals are there no matter what and need to be fed.  I say this because my 10 year old daughter is a true animal rights activist.  She is very conflicted on how she feels about zoos.  I respect her opinions, and agree with some of them.  All that aside, we all had a great time.  If one has the opportunity to go to the Como Zoo, take extra time to go to the Primate building. It is a wonderful experience and the primates are guaranteed to entertain.

Next, we were off to where else, The Mall of America.  Not to shop though.  We went to the aquarium.  Again, we had a great time.  It is not a huge aquarium, don't go thinking it is like the Shed in Chicago.  It is an aquarium in a mall.  But, the wildlife that was there was amazing. I took some great pictures of a HUGE sea turtle that came right up to the glass and looked at me.  It was an experience that people don't have everyday.  It made me truly appreciate what we have in our beautiful oceans.  This great big world has so much to offer.  I am lucky to have gotten a glimpse of it at The Mall of America.  Who would have known?  The aquarium also gave the kids an opportunity to touch some of the sea animals in a "petting zoo".  They touched them, but to be honest, I don't know if that is the right thing to do.  Does a starfish really need to be pet?  Maybe my animals rights, activist daughter is rubbing off on me more than I know?

We did a little bit of shopping.  Grandma had given each of the kids $20, which was of course burning a hole in each of their pockets.  My son, the practical, organized one wanted a yo yo and a Godiva Milk Shake.  He was very easy to please and done shopping early.  The girls on the other hand, had spent unwisely early at the zoo.  To their disappointment, Mall of America does have an American Girl store.  Because they had spent unwisely at the zoo they only had a few dollars to spend at the American Girl store.  My 6 year old was disappointed to learn that the only thing she could afford was a pair of red shoes for her doll.  But, I will give her an A for effort in attempting to find a full outfit for her doll that was within her budget.  I am proud to say, I only bought one thing.  My 10 year old had earned a small gift for good grades.  I also bought the girls ice cream cones for getting along.  Yes, I am bad, but I wanted one afternoon of no fighting.  So, I bribed them.  Plain and simple, no fighting equaled ice cream. My grand total at the mall was $15.00.  How many people can say they went to the Mall of America and spent $15.00?  Not many I would guess.

Our trip ended with dinner out for my birthday.  My parents treated us to a great dinner at a restaurant near their home.  We had a great time and look forward to visiting again soon.  I promised we would be back in the summer, I plan to keep my promise.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On Vacation

Today I took my children on a road trip to Minnesota.  My parents live in the Twin Cities, 5 hours from our home in Milwaukee.  We do not see them enough, through no ones fault but my own. My parents are always the ones responsible for making the trek to our home for a visit.  For years, I have had the excuse of having babies, toddlers or preschoolers to drag along.  It was always harder for me to make the trip.   Today, as we drove across the great state of Wisconsin, (don't let a map fool you, this is one big state to drive across) my daughters were complaining endlessly.  It was too long!  They were in the car for ever!  Would we ever get to Minnesota?  These statements and questions went on forever.  In their defense, they are not used to the trip, I am ashamed to say it has been 2 years since we traveled to see the grandparents.  My son, in all his wisdom said "why are you complaining?  They always come to us."  In that one statement I realized I have no more excuses to avoid that very long trip.  Mom, Dad, you have my word.  We will split the time with you now.  50/50, it's time, and you have earned it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!  My family is not very religious.  However, I do have to admit that I love Easter. I love the idea of rebirth, the very definition of Spring in my opinion.  The flowers are just beginning to bloom, the insects are rustling (my husband saw a solitary bee today) and the animals are waking up and/or giving birth.  The proof in that was the baby fawn we saw with it's mother today on our way home from Grandma's house. 

Our Easter was as close to perfect as possible, in my opinion.  The weather was perfect.  It has been sunny and the temperature seasonal.   The drive we had to make to Green Bay was without incident.  Very little fighting between the kids, light traffic and great company.  We were able to visit with family that we just don't see enough.  It is on days like today, I realize our modern, hectic lifestyle really does interfere with spending time with family and friends on a regular basis. Holidays tend to remind me of the days when families gathered together for Sunday Suppers.  The special occasion on those Sundays of day's past was love of family.  My own family is guilty of making a quick dinner of sandwiches on Sundays in fall because football or soccer practice is on the schedule.  I ask myself, how did I let this happen to my own family? I had vowed to myself years ago that my family would not become over scheduled, I was unable to keep my own promise to myself.  .

I reminisce today, but guarantee that by tomorrow I will be back into my own fast paced life. I will forget the tinge of guilt I felt today when I had to say goodbye to my Uncle too soon or when I saw my husband say good bye to his ailing Grandmother, knowing we probably will not see either of them again until late summer, or even Christmas.  I wish I could say that I am going to have my own rebirth and make family more of a priority.  Realistically though, I know that the distance between our families and the time constraints that we all have make it very difficult to see one another more.  However, I could make a commitment to see family on a more regular basis, maybe once every 3 months instead of every 6 months.  I could also insist that 3 nights a week my own family sits at the table together, all of us.  Sundays included.  We could make baby steps toward making family time more of a priority.  Who knows, maybe in time, we could return to the idea of a Sunday Supper.