Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Creating a Summer Schedule

Today is the last full day of school for Kid # 5.  I really need to come up with a summer schedule for all of us so that I can keep my sanity and also make my husband happy.  Even though we ( the kids and I) are on summer break my husband is not and still must go to work 5 or 6 days a week.  He also works strange hours and so at times will be sleeping during the day.  This will require us to be somewhat quiet or out of the house on those days.  3 of the kids who are here, are teenagers.  As most of you know teenagers or at least a lot of them like to stay up late at night and sleep half the day.  Although, this does not really bother me, it does bother my husband.  So I feel that there is going to have to be some sort of compromise made in this area in order to keep the peace in our house for the summer.

I also need to come up with some sort of menu/schedule for breakfast, lunches and dinners.  I do not want to be cooking or cleaning up the kitchen all day long.  I also do not want to be heating the house up with the oven all summer either.  Last summer we purchased a toaster oven when our toaster died.  That was a great purchase!  We will be using that alot this summer in place of our oven.  That way the house doesn't get heated up but we can still have frozen pizza, corn dogs, chicken nuggets etc.  I also hope to have a baking day once or twice a month and do a big majority of it all in one day.  Again, so we don't heat the house up all the time.  I will then freeze and take out what we would need each week for breakfasts and snacks.

So far I have come up with this schedule as far as breakfasts go:

Monday - Bagels or English muffins, fruit
Tuesday - Yogurt, granola, or smoothies and fruit
Wednesday - scrambled eggs and toast or biscuits and fruit
Thursday - pancakes, waffles or french toast and fruit
Friday - muffins or some kind of sweet bread, or cinnamon roll and fruit
Saturday - coffee cake and fruit
Sunday - "Sunday Family Brunch"

As you can see I plan to serve fruit with every breakfast.  This is something new I am trying.  I think we could use a little more fresh fruit in our diets.  I also plan to serve more cut up fresh veggies with our lunches.  I am hoping to have a lunch plan similar to my breakfast plan finished soon.  Then continue on with our normal dinner menu planning every week or two.

Friday, May 27, 2011

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Hung several loads of laundry on the clothes line.

2. Made Kid # 5 a birthday present using some things I already had. ( will post about this after her birthday on Monday)

3. Shopped the "loss leaders" at the grocery store and stocked up in order to save money later.

4. Paid all the bills on time and worked on our two week budget

5. Paid extra on the car payment which now totals an extra payment for the month of May.

Paying The Bills

I hate paying the bills.  I frequently am late paying them even though we have the money.  There I just put that out there and just wanted to be real here!  I don't have a good reason for not paying them other then I hate the chore of doing so.  I hate trying to keep track of all the paper work required of our household finances.  I really need to come up with a better system to do so.  This is one of my goals for the month of June.  I need to get our filing cabinet in order so that I can impliment a better system for filing the paper work before and after the household bills are paid.  This also includes other bills like doctor and dentist bills along with insurance and flexible spending account paper work too. 

So far I have been adding each bill as it comes in to my calendar I keep on the computer.  I then can set the calendar to remind me when a bill is due.  For the month of May this worked nicely and I paid then as the reminders popped up.

However yesterday was pay day and I decided to try something even better..........I just paid all the bills that were due out of that pay check!  Yup all of them yesterday!  Which worked out nicely! lol!  Now if I can just keep up with that plan!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Searl House Happenings

This week is the last full week of school.  Actually one week from today we will all officially be on summer break.  Of course this is the busiest weekend of what seems like the whole year,  starting on Thursday with Kid #4's 8th grade graduation.  On top of that, also on the same night, is the rehearsal for Kid #3 and 5's dance recital.  Ya someone didn't plan that well!  On Friday is the official dance recital.  Then Saturday, Kid # 2 is coming and we all will be attending a wedding of some close friends.  The hubby is also DJ'ing the wedding reception. Then we get a break for Sunday and Monday is Kid # 5's birthday.  Wow that makes me tired just typing it all out.

I am really looking forward to summer break.  It will be nice to be less structured in our day.  Although we will still be busy.  Kid # 3 will still have dance squad practice 3 days a week.  She will also be doing her Drivers Ed behind the wheel training two days a week.  Kid # 4 will still have guitar lessons and counselling sessions.  Hopefully we will be able to combine the two and have those on the same day and around the same time since they are very close in location.  Which then would not only save us some money but also some driving time every week. 

Normally I like to have a plan for our summer for breakfast, lunches and dinners.  I have to say though that I am not very motivated to create one.  I know I really need to though.  Not only will it help to save some money in the grocery budget but it also helps to save my sanity.  But I am feeling very uninspired when it comes to meal planning and can honestly say I have not really planned one for several weeks now.  My grocery budget it showing it too!

I'd also really like to create some sort of cleaning and laundry schedule.  That way everyone can help and pitch in and I won't become so overwhelmed with everyone being home.  This would also allow me sometime to be able to complete a few more projects. 

I guess I really should get to work on all of this :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Shopped the loss leaders for groceries and stretched my grocery budget.

2. Went to Goodwill and found a few things that will work for kid # 2 & 3 to wear to a wedding we are gong to at the end of the month.

3. Refurbished two of our ceiling fans ( see Thrifty Thursday post from yesterday)

4. My husband changed the oil in his band van himself, which saved us money.

5. Found a light to replace kid #5's broken ceiling fan at a yard sale today for $10

Added a Ticker

You may have noticed that I added a ticker to the top of my blog.  Our last big debt other then our house is my car payment.  This ticker reflects that.  I am hoping by having a visual reminder on my blog it will help keep me motivated to pay this off as quickly as possible.  My goal is to have it paid off by June 1, 2012.  Some people may think that is an unrealistic goal.  I say if you don't set big goals that might be hard to obtain then how will you ever know if you can really do them or not?  Anyway that is my plan.  I will keep it updated so everyone can see how I/we are doing with it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thirfty Thursday Project

We have replaced most of the ceiling fans in our house except two.  One is in our bedroom and the other in the office.  Now both of these ceiling fans still worked fine, so I really saw no need in buying new ones.  However, I was not crazy about their brassiness.  The other ceiling fans that we have replaced were now oil rubbed bronze.  I really wanted these last two to be the same finish as the others.  My husband was nice enough to take them down, take them apart and tape them up with painters tape.  ( Isn't he great!)  I then got out my handy dandy spray paint and went to town.  Here is the before :

and here is the after:

My husband was also nice enough to install them back in there places.  I love how they turned out and this project was  basically free since I already had the spray paint from a previous project!

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Getting Ready For The Week Ahead

This morning we had pancakes for "Sunday Family Brunch".  My husband made the pancakes and while he was making them I asked him to double up the batch so that there would be extra for the freezer.  By doing this it saves us money and allows us to have breakfasts on hand for busy school mornings.  Two weeks ago I did the same with waffles, which the kids are still eating.

On Sunday's I like to try to get somethings done that will help make our week run more smoothly. The extra breakfast items is just one of them.  I also try to plan out my menu for the week and do an inventory of the continents of the kitchen. I usually do this after I glance at the calendar I keep on my computer and have made note of any particularly busy days.  On those days I try to plan a meal using the crock pot or some other quick easy meal.  I also like to make sure the kitchen is cleaned on Sunday that way it starts the week off looking nice.

 I usually try to look over the lunch menu for kid #5 so that I know what days she will need a sack lunch.  We also try to get all of the laundry put away and lay out kid # 5's clothes based on what the weather is suppose to be like for the week.

Just by doing these few things it can really help my week run a lot nicer and be less stressful.  This also allows me to plan what projects I might want to accomplish during the week  :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Hung out several loads of laundry.

2.  Did not turn on my air just because it was hot a few days of the week.

3. Made Kid # 2 a birthday present which saved me $25

4. Used up all our leftover food.

5. Called about a Dr bill to make sure both of Kid # 3 insurances had been billed before I paid it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What we ate tonight........

Tonight we had a cold chicken pasta salad.  It sounded good and it was easy and cheap.  Here is a price run down:

1 1/2 boxes Healthy Harvest garden spiral pasta ( was a by 10 get it for 49 cent special one week at Kroger)- .74 cents

1 package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts ( marinated these and then grilled them on the George Foreman) -$2.47

1/2 of a green pepper - .50 cents

4 or 5 baby carrots - .20 cents

1/2 can of black olives -.49 cents

1/ can of sliced tomatoes ( this was left over from something else) - .25 cents

1/2 a bottle of Kroger brand Roasted Red Pepper Salad Vinaigrette ( part of another 10 for 10 special at Kroger) -.50 cents

Total for the dinner about $5.15.  Not to bad considering it fed 5 people and we also had leftovers :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Tip

This weeks tip is super easy and not very time consuming.  In our house we love coffee.  My husband and I drink it every morning.  We have a coffee pot that shuts off after it has been on two hours.  Sometimes this is not very convenient.  So that we don't have to continually worry about our pot shutting off before we are ready and then wasting our coffee, we use a carafe.  I bought it at The Mission Mart for just a few bucks and we use it all the time.  We fill it full of hot tap water first to heat it up and then pour that out and add our coffee.  It works great and we then don't have to worry about the pot turning off on us as we are drinking it.  My husband occasionally uses it for hot tea also.  Easy, simple money saving idea.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. I made chicken stock for soup in my crock pot using leftover chicken carcass

2. I hung out 3 loads of laundry on my clothesline since the weather has been nice.

3. I made my Mom a Mothers Day present using items I already had instead of buying her one.

4. I ordered Kid # 2 a bday present and used a 15 % off coupon which helped me save a few dollars

5.  Cooked and ate at home every day this week.  Seems we have been eating out alot lately!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thrifty Bookcase Project

Some time last summer my husband and I bought a little book shelf for a $1 at a yard sale.  It was made of white laminate and was in bad shape.  It had chunks missing out of it and looked as if someone had tried painting it.  It sat and sat in our garage all last summer and all through the winter.  Well if you happen to be a friend on my Facebook page then you know that I have a goal to complete 52 projects in 52 weeks.  I decided that this would be one of my projects. 

Here is a before pic.  I had already removed the shelf before I remembered to take a pic.        

My husband patched the missing chunks and gave it a sanding.  He then helped me out by taking it all apart.  I then covered each board with Mod Podge and some wrapping paper kid #3 picked out.  After all the boards were covered and dry I put the book case back together and my husband cut a scrap board for the backing.  Which I then painted white and he attached.  Here is the finished product :

I think it turned out pretty cute.  It now resides in kid # 2 & 3's room.  Total cost of the project was $1 for book shelf, and $3 for wrapping paper at Big Lots. The Mod Podge, wood filler, sand paper, scrape wood for backing and paint we already had left over from other projects.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Tip

My Tuesday Tip for this week is.......cook with powdered milk.  Yup I just said powdered milk.  That does not mean switch and start drinking it.  Just use it in place of milk that you would normally drink.  When cooking with it there is no taste difference and it helps stretch the milk that you drink.  On Sunday I made a big batch of homemade waffles for "Sunday Family Brunch".  I tripled the recipe so that I would have extra for the freezer.  When I tripled the recipe I then needed 4 1/2 cups milk.  Before I started I made up a 2 quart jug of powdered milk and used that in my waffles. I will then use up the rest of the milk over the next week in other cooking projects. I can buy a box of powdered milk at Aldi for $5.99.  Since we have a large family we go through several gallons of milk a week.  Using the powered milk to cook with really helps me stretch my grocery budget.

PS: I used more of this powdered milk for mashed potatoes for dinner tonight :)

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