Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tie Up Curtains on the Cheap

I have slowly been redecorating our bedroom.  One of the things on the list was curtains for the windows.  We have two windows in our room and of course I am decorating on a budget.  I found a white table cloth at The Mission Mart for about $5 that I thought may work to re-purpose into the curtains.  I also bought some Heat N Bond at Walmart because I am much to lazy to actually sew the curtains myself. 

The first thing I did was cut the table cloth in half.  Since the table cloth is hemmed already on all sides I planned to use the cut raw edge to fold over and make the curtain pocket.  Next I measured how wide I would need to make the pocket in order to fit on the curtain rod.  Then I got out my ironing board and iron and went to work.

Here I am ironing the Heat N Bond on to form the pocket.  It was super easy to use and worked really well!  I did this to both pieces to form the curtains.  Here is what they looked like when the pockets were complete and I put them on the rods.

Next I took some ribbon I already had and measured twice the size of the curtain.  I did not attach the ribbon, I just looped it over the curtain rod that way I could change it if I wanted.  I then tied the curtains up.

Here is what they turned out like!

I estimated I spent about $5 a curtain and they turned out really cute!  One of these days I will get the room finished and take some pictures of the whole room then :)


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

I have been making different versions of homemade laundry soap for along time.  I use to make a liquid/gel type version that a wonderful lady by the name of Diane gave me the recipe for about 10 yrs ago.  I still make it sometimes but lately I have been making a slightly homemade version of a powered form.  This is easier for me since at this season of my life I am busy running kids around and do not always have alot of time.
I found this recipe for the powered form on a blog somewhere.  I do not remember whose it was so I can not give them credit.  If I find it again I will be sure to edit this post :)

Here is the semi homemade powered version I have been using:

Powdered Laundry Soap

1 cup Sun w/ bleach alternative powder laundry detergent ( bought this at Walmart and I just used regular Sun laundry detergent NOT the kids with bleach alternative in it)
1 cup Sun Oxygen Cleaner ( I found this at the Dollar General Store)
1 cup Borax ( I buy this at Walmart)
1 cup Super Washing Soda ( I can only find this at Schnucks in my area)

Mix all ingredients and put in a plastic container with a lid.  To use: 1/8 cup per load.

I love the powered version.  This is suppose to be a semi homemade cheaper version of Tide.  I have been using it for 6 months now with no problems.  I make up a double batch at a time and store it in a old ice cream tub.

Here is the liquid version that I have used in the past.  I used this version for a very long time.  I really loved it but it does take time to make and I just don't have alot of extra time right now so that is why I switched.

Liquid/Gel Laundry Soap

Grate 1 standard size bar 5.5 oz Fels Naptha Soap ( I buy mine at Kroger)  I have used both a cheese grater and a food processor to do this
Mix the grated soap with 4 cups hot water and cook over low heat stirring constantly until all the grated soap is dissolved. ( do not let come to a boil)
Pour into 5 gallon bucket and add 3 gallons of hot water straight from the tap. Stir to mix.
Then stir in 1 cup or more if you have hard water of Super Washing Soda ( I buy this at Schnucks). 
I then also at 1 cup Borax.  This is not in the original recipe my friend gave me but I have seen this in other similar recipes and it seems to help with my hard water.
Mix well.
Then let the mixture sit over night and set into a gel type substance.  Stir well before using.
For use:  use 3/4 to 1 cup depending on your needs.  I use about 1 cup.  I have heard this is safe for front loading machines although I do not have one.  This laundry soap does not suds up.  If you are big on suds then this is not the soap for you. 
I have found this works well and did well on stains too.

I am linking this post at http://beingfrugalbychoice.blogspot.com/2011/04/mostly-homemade-mondays.html

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Walgreens Shopping Trip

Yesterday after I got done working I made a quick run to Walgreen's.  I try to keep a small stockpile of things we use often.  I also try to buy these things at the least expensive price and use coupons to help lower the price.  But I am in no way a extreme couponer.  I just use them for things that we normally use and I am not brand loyal to most things. 

Here is what I bought:

Easter basket item: $1.79
Purex laundry soap 32 load- $ 2.99 sale price used $1.00 coupon = $1.99
Excedrin 24 counts- $4.99 - used coupon for free product = FREE
Herbal Essence shampoo 12 oz- $2.99 sale price used $1.00 coupon =$1.99
2 Right Guard deodorant 4oz- $4.49 buy one get one free sale and used bogo free coupon = FREE

My total before coupons and tax was - $21.74
I paid out of pocket - $6.80  I didn't think this was to bad :)

I do sometimes buy laundry soap when I can get it for under $2.00.  I use it occasionally when I am out of homemade soap and haven't had time to make any.  I have also bee trying to buy shampoo for color treated hair since my daughter and I dye our hair.  That is what the Herbal Essence shampoo was for.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekly To Do List- Getting Ready for Vacation Version :)

1. Finish project one.
2. Move in file cabinet and get organized
3. Clean living room
    a. dust
    b. ceiling fan
    c. vacuum rug
    d. sweep floors
    e. mop floors
4. Clean kitchen
    a. dust
    b. wipe down cabinets
    c. wipe down doors
    d. wipe down refrigerator
    e.  sweep floors
    f. mop floors
5. Clean Lilly's room
6. Wash bedding
7. Pack for vacation
8. Plan menu for when we return
9. Grocery shop
10. Do banking
11. Pay all bills
12. Put away decor stuff downstairs

Menu Monday

Here is my menu for the week:

Monday - sub sandwiches and chips ( Dance and Brownie Meeting night)

Tuesday- Omelette's and Toast

Wednesday - Stuffed Green Pepper Soup and Salad ( this will be made in the crock pot since this is also Dance night and Guitar Lessons.  Hopefully this will also leave extra for the freezer for the husbands lunches)

Thursday - Quesidillas and Refried Beans. ( Refried Beans will be made that morning in crock pot)

Friday - Leaving for vacation :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Laundry Day

Thankfully I am feeling  almost human again.  Although my youngest is still sick with the flu. 

On Wednesday's is the start of my laundry day.  I usually can't get all of it done in one day.  That is usually because I try to get to many things done at one time instead of just concentrating on the laundry.

There are a few things I do to make my laundry experience as painless as possible in the time and money department.

1.  I pretreat all stains
2.  I make my own laundry soap. ( will do a post on the recipe for that at a later time)
3.  I wash all loads except whites and sometimes bedding in cold water
4.  I have stopped using fabric softener and have noticed hardly any difference
5.  I hang alot of my own clothes on a drying rack to dry instead of using the dyer.       
    That is not to say that I never use the dryer but I do hang most of my own
6.  In the warm weather months I use a clothes line and use the dryer only at night after 
     the sun goes down. ( I'll have to do a post on that one too when it gets warmer )

All of these things combined I believe help me to save at least a few pennies or more each month to add to my "debt snowball" !

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


My youngest and I have been sick for the past two days.  It is really putting a damper on the things I had hoped to accomplish this week.  Maybe though that is the point, my body is trying to tell me something???.  Maybe it is saying "hey you, your not getting enough sleep and taking care of yourself".  To which I know all of this and I have tried to change it but I have difficulty following through. 

Anyway, I had planned to get my grocery shopping finished yesterday since I had procrastinated and not done it on Friday like I had planned.  Well that didn't happen either so today I made a list and my husband was nice enough to go to Aldi for me.  There was a couple things that Aldi didn't have so later tonight he will also make a stop at Kroger for me.  Later this week I hope to tally up my receipts and post about what i spent on groceries for this two week time period.  Hopefully I stayed within budget.  I have had my husband make extra runs to the store for things we need since my youngest had the flu.

Keep your fingers crossed for me :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Plan

I try to plan our dinners out for two weeks at a time.  My husband is paid every other Thursday.  Usually the Tuesday or Wednesday before pay day, I sit down and plan what we will have for the next two weeks.    Most of the time I plan for 15 or 16 days at a time. That way if I don't get to the grocery store for a few days after pay day we still have our dinners planned out.  I print out a calendar from http://www.freeprintable.net/ for the current month and use that to write my dinner plans on.  In the past I was only doing the main course but for this two weeks I decided to also plan side dishes and snacks.  I plan to start doing a baking day once a week but so far that has not happened :(  I also try to plan breakfasts for Saturday's and Sunday's on the weekends that the kids are all home.  We don't eat much cereal so on those days especially we cook breakfast of some sort.  I also try to plan at least a couple crock pot meals to eat on our busiest days.  We also have soup at least once in a two week time frame.

So here is our menu for March 3-17 ( we are leaving for vacation on March 18)

March 3-Chicken Fingers, Leftover Stuffing ( from a previous meal) Green beans
March 4- Pizza Soup ( we did not have this.  It was fairly warm out so we grilled hamburgers instead and I made the Pizza Soup for lunch the next day. This is also made with leftover pizza sauce from another meal)
March 5- Leftover biscuits for breakfast from a previous meal, Stir-Fry and Rice for Dinner
March 6-  Eggs, Bacon, Sausage and Biscuits for Breakfast, Leftovers for Dinner
March 7- Pizza Pasta Bake ( made with the last of the pizza sauce.  We got three meals out of one batch of home made sauce) & Green beans
March 8- Chicken Tacos & corn ( crock pot meal)
March 9- Country Cabin Potatoes w/ diced Ham ( new crock pot recipe)
March 10 - Stuffed Green Pepper Soup & Bread
March 11- Porgies
March 12-???? ( most of the kids are gone this weekend so it is up in the air what we will eat)
March 13-Leftovers
March 14-Sub Sandwiches & chips
March 15-Omelette's and Toast
March 16-Quasidillas, Refried beans, Salsa & Sour cream
March 17-Cheese Soup, Bread and Salad  ( Pay Day)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2011 Goals

I enjoy the idea of setting New Years resolutions each year, even if I fail at keeping them.  I figure it is the thought at least that counts.  It is nice to look them over every once and a while over the course of the year and at least see if I am managing to accomplish any of them.  Sometimes I have a hard time being realistic about the amount of goals I can get done each year.  I try to divide my goals up into categories which helps me keep tack of them better and see which ones might need alittle more work at getting done.

Anyway, this is my list of goals for 2011:


1. Visit more with my girlfriends.  Shoot for once a month.
2. Invite friends over for dinner or out to dinner.  Shoot for every other month.
3. Be more mindful of the amount of time kids are using the computer.
4. Be more mindful of my own computer time.
5. Read with Lilly more
6. Ask for help from everyone in my family more when I am feeling overwhelmed
7. Teach the kids to cook a few basic meals
8. Family movie night once a month
9. Go to the library more
10. Read more books
11. Wiener Roast 2x
12. Camping at least once this year
13. Be more mindful of scheduling my time
14. Make more gifts this year for bday's and Christmas
15. Exercise more


1. Sewing desk for office
2. Shelves for office
3. Closet shelves for office
4. Peg board for office
5. Organize office
6. Downstairs bathroom floor
7. Kitchen Floor
8. make better use of chore notebook
9. organize coupon binder
10. Make a price book
11. Make a household notebook


1. Pay off the balance on windows
2. Save for South Carolina trip
3. Pay extra towards car
4. Sell on eBay
5. Pay cash for downstairs bathroom floor
6. Try to shave $50 a month off grocery budget
7. Save for Christmas
8. Track clothing/shoes purchases for family for the year
9. Pay bills on time
10. Possible bathroom remodel

Well there they are.  After typing them out that seems like alot.  Sometime soon I will post an update on how I am doing with reaching my goals so far :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Who am I?

I thought it might be appropriate to do a post about me.  I am Melissa, 37 and I have lived in Illinois most of my life.  I have been married to my husband for 10 yrs.  Together we have 5 kids.  The oldest is 21, grown and moved out.  He lives with his fiance about 3 minutes from us. # 2 is 16 and does not live with us full time but we do see her often. #3 is 15 and will turn 16 at the end of this month.  Both girls are getting ready to get their drivers licence.  #4 is 13, he plays guitar and will graduate from 8th grade this year. #5 is the baby of the family and is 7.  She is just starting to figure out what is means to be the youngest in the family and have so many older siblings.

We have a crazy busy life.  Since we are a blended family we are always driving to and fro with kids going somewhere.  Everyone is involved in after school activities which has practices and lessons to attend.  My husband also is a bass player, in a band on top of working towards his Bachelor degree and working full time at his job. 

So I am the domestic CEO of our family. I have always been frugal, crafty and interested in saving money.  A few years ago I discovered blogs and Dave Ramsey.  That is when I really stepped it up with my frugality's.  Not only do I love money saving blogs but I also love crafty ones.  I love to make things and always have a project of some sort going.  I have a love affair with spray paint.  My kids say if you stay in one place to long at our house you will get painted too :)  Being crafty is just another way for me to save money.  If I can make it on the cheap why buy it? 

Last year in 2010 is when I really decided that we needed to work our "plan".  So this will be the story of us and my documentation of it........

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Plan

Today I paid the last payment to our home equity loan. In October, 2010 we used this loan to buy new windows for our house.  Paying off this loan was a big step in our plan.

 Our/my plan is simple:  it is to be debt free except our mortgage by the time I turn 39.  That is in a little over 14 1/2 months.  We have one big debt left which is my car payment.  We owe a little over $18,000 on it.  Ya, I know that is alot of money to pay off and not alot of time.  Can we do it?  Maybe we can and maybe we can't.... but we sure are going to try.  So this is my blog and my story on what we are going to do to get there and a few fun stuff about our family too :)  This should be fun!