Wednesday, August 31, 2011

September To- Do List

Clean stove, inside and out

Rip out kitchen floor

Clean behind everything on the kitchen counters

Clean kitchen refrigerator

Clean garage refrigerator

Looks like September will be the month to really deep clean the kitchen!

Make my Mom and Mother in laws Christmas gifts.  Get one gift bought for each of the kids.

Make Kid # 3 corsage and boutonniere for Homecoming.  A post and pics to follow :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Home Management Binder!!

Well I have finally finished my binder!  I have been using it for a couple of weeks now and it is awesome!  There are a few things I have taken out and added in but over all it is how I wanted it.  The only thing I purchased to put this together were some more page protectors and that is because I ran out of my original ones.  Anyway here it is:

This is the spine and cover: 

I used a binder I already had that my husband had probably picked up at a yard sale some place.  We buy binders alot when we see them places and they are super cheap.  First I decorated the front of the binder.  I cut a piece of scrap book paper to fit. Then added a piece of white card stock and named our binder with scrap book stickers. The covered up portion is our last name.  I also used a few more stickers to add a little decoration :)  I then used the scraps from the orange poke a dot paper to decorate the spine.  I didn't have enough stickers to spell out the front page title so I just put "House" on it and figured if anyone had to find my binder they would be able to figure it out with just that.

On the inside of the binder is a pocket that I added an " Emergency Information" page I printed out from Life....Your way.  I also have a zippered pouch that holds my pencils, pens and dry erase markers.

After that I added a whole year calendar in a page protector for 2011 and 2012

The first section of the binder is my "Planner" section.   I used some file folders I already had and cut them down to size to fit the binder and use as dividers.  I then printed some clip art and glued that on each divider.  I also used my label maker to make labels for the tab section of the divider.

All the pages in my binder are in page protectors.  In the planner section I use dry erase markers on them so that I do not have to continue to print pages. So far this has worked out well.  My first page in this section is a daily planner page

The next two pages are a weekly planner page.  This makes it easy for me to see at a glance what is going on in the week.  All 3 of these pages I found at Organized Home .

Next I have a two page blank monthly calendar that I can fill in with a dry erase marker myself each month.  This has been very helpful when making appointments to be able to look at the whole month.  I found this calendar here I forgot to take a pic of it so you will just have to click the link to take a look :)

Next I have a cleaning checklist that I found here at Simple Mom . Then I also have a menu planning page that I printed from The Project Girl .  I printed this on both sides of the paper so I could menu plan two weeks at a time. The very last thing in the Planner section is some notebook paper that I use for grocery lists.

The next section in my binder is the Calendar section

I have a calendar program I use on my computer to add all important dates for our family.  I have printed this off up until December of this year.  At the beginning of each month, I plan to make sure the calendar in the binder is up to date with the one on my computer,  if not I will print it again.  I also have each of the kids school calendars as well as my husbands gig calendar and college calendar.

Each of the 4 kids who are still in school have their own sections. I printed some clip art for them and also added their names with my label maker on their dividers.

Kid #2 

Kid # 3

Kid # 4

Kid # 5

In each of their sections I have put an "Medical Information" page which I printed from Finding Home .  I also included another copy of their school calendar, bus schedule, bell schedule and class schedule if those things apply to the child.  I will also be including any extra curricular activity schedules they may have.  In Kid # 5's section I will be keeping her weekly teachers notes and spelling lists that she brings home on Friday's.

The last section in the binder is my projects.

My husband made me this form for me to keep track of the things I would like to accomplish in our house.  There is a space to fill in for each room of the house.

I have a book list and movie list that I also printed from Finding Home in this section too.  The very last thing is more notebook paper which I have already started a "wish list" on for items I would like to have as gifts.

That is all there is to it.  It took awhile to put the binder together but I am so glad I did!  It is proving to be very helpful already this school year!  I however,  did not include a financial section in this binder.  I have decide to create a separate one for those items.  My home management one will occasionally leave the house with me.  I do not want to be carrying around my important financial information with me so I decided to make a separate one that will always stay in our home in a safe place.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Menu Plan 8/2 - 9/4

Monday - Leftover Meatball Subs

Tuesday - Pork Steak on the grill

Wednesday- Mexican Pasta Skillet

Thursday - BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Wiener Roast

Sunday -Waffles and Bacon

I have yet to figure out my side dishes but those are usually not the hard part for me each day. 

Debt Free by Thirty's Give Away

Just a little more time left to enter Debt Free by Thirty give away!  Click on the link and go for it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Made a plan and started my Christmas Shopping

2. Mixed up a batch of laundry soap ( I used a new recipe and if it works out I will share it soon)

3. Mixed up a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner using items I already had

4. Menu planned and cooked at home

5.  Spent some time hanging out with friends at their homes instead of going out= free entertainments and good company

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Christmas Plan

I am just gonna put my list of people I buy or make gifts for here on the blog so I can keep track of it.  I will be updating my list and crossing things off as I purchase or make them.  I am also am not going to put exactly what I am giving as gifts that way if anyone in my family actually reads my blog they won't know what the gifts are :)

Photo for Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards ordered

Christmas Tree

Kid # 5 picture with Santa

Husband  - I don't really do a set number of gifts for my husband but we do have a set amount we get to spend on each other :)

1 gift so far

Kid # 1 

gift # 1                                   
gift # 2
gift # 3
gift # 4

Kid # 2

gift # 1
gift # 2
gift # 3
gift # 4

Kid # 3

gift # 1
gift # 2
gift # 3
gift # 4

Kid # 4

gift # 1
gift # 2
gift # 3
gift # 4

Kid # 5

gift # 1
gift # 2
gift # 3
gift # 4

Future Daughter In law

gift # 1
gift # 2
gift # 3
gift # 4

Step dad
Family gift for nieces and nephew
bro in law

Mother in law
Father in law



Teacher gift for Kid # 5

Well that is all I can think of to add to my list at the moment.  I plan to keep this updated to help me stay organized

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All-Purpose Cleaner

I keep a bottle of this under my sink in the kitchen.  I  use it to clean any place that you would use a spray cleaner on.  I love it!

All-Purpose Cleaner

1-teaspoon Borax

1/2 - teaspoon Super Washing Soda

2 - tablespoons White Vinegar or Lemon Juice ( I have used both and they both work well!)

1 - tablespoon liquid soap ( I use Dr Bonner's)

Combine with 2 cups very hot water  and use in a spray bottle. ( I just fill my spray bottle up with hot water and really don't even measure anymore)

Taco Salad

We had this taco salad over the weekend with my husbands family.  Everyone ate several helpings of it and it was a huge hit with our family.  I decided to recreate it last night for our dinner and everyone seemed to enjoy it again especially since there was only enough left for two lunch's for my husband!

Brown 1lb ground beef and make taco meat as usual.  While that is cooking shred lettuce for a salad as you usually would and put in a bowl.  Add black beans or pinto beans drained.  I used black beans that I had cooked myself ( it is much cheaper to make black beans yourself and is not hard at all!  I just follow the package directions.  Once they cool I package them up in 2 cups portions and freeze in Ziploc bags.) and had frozen in the freezer and defrosted earlier in the day.  I then added, sliced black olives, diced canned tomatoes drained, cut up onion and shredded taco cheese.  I did not measure any of this I just used my best judgement on how much to add.   Then the comes the best part :)  I added enough FRENCH DRESSING to just cover the salad and mixed it all up.  I then added the taco meat once it was done and tortilla chips crumbs from my bag.  The french dressing is what made the taco salad so good.  I had never had one with dressing on it like that before!  I made my own french dressing, thanks to my sister who gave me my grandmothers recipe and it is super easy to make!

My estimated cost off this meal was less then $5.  I had all the ingredients already for the dressing!

Here is the recipe : 

Grandma's French Dressing
1 1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons paprika

1 pinch red pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated onion  ( I used a tablespoon of onion powder cause I was to lazy to grate onion)

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup oil   ( I used olive oil)

Mix until sugar is dissolved.

Makes one pint.

Grandma also suggest when storing it to add a whole clove of garlic. She makes it in a quart jar and shakes it. 

I made it in a bowl and used my stick blender and then add it to a jar after it was all blended!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My 7 Things

Judy at We may be poor, but we are happy asked what are 7 things you can't give up, would give up or have given up, in order to save money and/or get out of debt?  Here is my list:

Can't give up

1. Internet - I like having Internet

2. Victoria Secret bras - I've given birth to 4 kids and nursed 2 for long periods of time these bras work for me and last me yrs

3. Coffee -I would not be a happy person without coffee.  I always make it at home though and never buy it out

4. Tampons - This one is self explanatory but I have to admit that I am thinking about trying the "mama pads".

5. House Phone- I would rather give up my cell phone which I hate anyway then my house phone!

6. Kleenex - I am never gonna be a hankie type girl

7. Toilet Paper - We are never gonna be a "family cloth" type family :P

Would give up

1. Cable - we didn't have this for 7 yrs and I could easily go back to not having it)

2. 2nd car - I could learn to live with only one car if I had too

3. Meat every day - I could easily not eat meat every day

4. My cell phone - did not have one for a long time and I could easily live without it again

5.  Dryer - I have gone whole summers without having a dryer before and I could learn to live without one permanently if I had to

6. Weekend Newspaper - We get Saturday and Sunday's paper.  It was cheaper to get both then to just get Sunday's.  I could give them up if I needed to though.

7. Netflix

Have given up

1. Paper towel - we use rags.  I do have paper towel around for dog accidents but it last us forever and ever.  I estimate I buy it twice a yr.

2. Paper napkins - the only paper napkins we have are once that I have picked up from restaurants or the kids have have bought home from fast food they have purchased.

3. Frozen Pizza - I never buy frozen pizza anymore.  My hubby makes the best homemade pizza :)

4. Movie/Game rentals.- We have Netflix which is way cheaper then the movie rental stores we have around here. 

5. Buying Books - I use the Library now

6. Dryer sheets- I can't remember the last time I bought these

7. Individually packed food items -  I always buy the large bags and repackage as needed.

This list was actually harder to come up with then I thought it would be! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Menu Plan 8/22 - 8/28

Monday- Sub sandwiches, Veggies & Dip

Tuesday - Chicken Thighs on the Grill, Salad and Rice

Wednesday - Taco Salad

Thursday- Meatball Subs

Friday- Shrimp Stir Fry

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday - Quesadillas

Saturday, August 20, 2011

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Took Kid # 5 to have her hair cut at the beauty school

2. Menu planned and had a leftover night

3. Planned my driving to save on gas

4. Used my clothes line and drying racks to dry our clothes

5. Made snacks for the kids using items in our pantry we already had :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Christmas Shopping???

Just wondering if anyone besides me has started their Christmas shopping yet? Our last immediate family birthday is at the beginning of August. Usually after this takes place I start my shopping for Christmas.  This year I bought two gifts in July.  I have ideas for almost everyone that we buy gifts for.  Now I will be spending the rest of this time looking for good deals for the things on my list. I will also be looking for good sales and coupons to bu the supplies I need for the gifts I wish to make.   I am hoping to have most of my shopping done by the end of October except for the Santa gifts for the 5 kids.  How about all of you?  Have you started shopping yet or at least started making your gift list?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Tip

This is my school supply box.

Since today is the start of our school year, I thought this would be an appropriate Tuesday Tip :)  This box is just a simple plastic storage box that I collect school supplies to place in it.  I will pick up a few items here and there as I see a good deal on them.  Last week I bought the loose leaf notebook paper at Office Max for a penny with a limit of 3.  I have had this box for several yrs now.  This year I spent less then $20 on supplies for 4 kids.  Most of what I spent was really picking up a few deals here and there to put in the box.  So this is my Tuesday Tip, start a school supply box.  Take an extra couple of dollars and buy a few supplies in the next couple of weeks. After school starts alot of the supplies will be marked down even cheaper so that stores can clear them out to make way for holiday decorations. This is how I have saved a ton of money at the start of each school year :)

I am linking up to  Learning The Frugal Life's


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Searl House Happenings..........

I love the weather we have been having here this last week :)  As I type this, I am sitting on my small deck with my laptop and drinking my coffee.  It is quiet here this morning.  I believe Kid # 2 and 3 are still sleeping.  I figure they might as well enjoy it while they can since school will be starting for Kid # 3 and 4 in just 4 very short days.  Kid # 2 and 5 will be starting the following week.  The summer sure seems to have flown by!

Last week, we took the 4 kids to Chicago for an over night visit.  It was our last fling before school starts.  My in laws had given us some money for Christmas for the family which we used for our trip.  We have decided as most of the kids are older now, when money is given as a gift like that, to save it for experiences.  Making memories is much more important then owning stuff and none of the kids want for stuff!

Speaking of my in laws, they will be visiting for the next couple of weeks.  We are all looking forward to spending time with them.  We made sure that Kid # 2 is here for some extended time also so that she will be able to spend time with her grandparents. Kid # 5 loves when her grandparents visit.  My Mother in law was kind enough to pick up some clothes for Kid # 5 at a big consignment sale they have in her area.  We are excited to see what she has bought with her :)

My husband took a few days vacation since his parents are visiting.  One of the items on our Summer List is to go to the drive in.  It just so happens there is one in his hometown, where his parents are staying.  We plan to get that marked off our list this weekend :)  It will also be nice to have Hubby home for a few days and not have to worry about work!

I spent most of last week working on my Home Management Binder.  I believe that I will have it all complete by the end of this weekend.  I want to have it done and be able to start using it by the time school starts :)  I have been taking pics along the way and plan to do a post on it very soon!

Well it is about Noon here, time to getting started on my to-do list for the day!  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. I have worked on my Home Management Binder all week.  The only thing I have had to buy for it is more page protectors.  Otherwise I have used up items I already had.  Pics and a post about the binder to come soon :)

2. Bought a end table at Goodwill for our living room which we have slowly been re-doing.  Spent about $15.  It will need a little sprucing up but I already have the items to do that.

3.  Did some ad matching at Walmart

4.  Turned off my air conditioning!  We have been having wonderful weather the last few days

5.  Menu planned!  I have not done this much all summer!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Menu 8/9-8/13

I have really got away from menu planning over the summer.  School will be starting here in one week.  I really need to get back to being more organized so this week I planned our menu.  Here it is:

Monday- Sandwiches

Tuesday- Pork steaks from the freezer, Tomato Salad -free tomatoes from guy at my husbands work, potatoes

Wednesday-BLT's- using up more of the free tomatoes

Thursday- Crock pot Roast, I haven't planned the sides yet

Friday- Leftovers

Saturday- Hamburgers- using hamburger that I plan to buy at Kroger's today or tomorrow that is on sale

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer List Update

I haven't updated our summer list on the blog at all this summer.  I thought since school will be starting now would be a good time.  We do plan to continue doing things on our list even after school starts.  We will just try to do them on the weekend until it gets cold.  Then perhaps we will need to make a winter list :) 

1. Ice skating
2. Childrens Museum
3. Harry Potter Movie
4. Splashdown
5. Art Museum
6. Wiener Roast x2
7. Make Root beer Floats
8. Go to Beach
9. Drive In
10.  Knights Action Park
11. Lorena's
12. Picnic
13. Roller Skating
14. Bowling
15. Go to a Fair
16. Go to Movie
17. Six Flags
18. Go to Library ( I would like to do this once a week) we have done this one several times over the summer
19. Go to 5 Point
20.  Aquarium
21. Camping
22. Outdoor concert
23. Outdoor movie
24. Play at the splash fountain
25. Go to the park ( I would like to do this once a week also) ( done this 1x 7/6)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Side Yard Project........

We have this space between our fence and our house that no one really uses but you can see from the front.  It doesn't get enough sun light there so nothing really grows there but the occasional weed.  What does happen though its it collects leaves and garbage.  It just looks bad!  I had found some good size stepping stones at a yard sale for $1 a piece.  I got 6 of them.  I really wish I would have got more but that is all that was left.  I decided I would use those on the project.  Here is a before pic:

Next I used some weed killer to get rid of any stray weeds that did grow along there.  Normally I am not a big chemical user in the yard but I didn't want to have to worry about weeds anymore in this spot.  Next I bought some edging and some weed fabric at Big Lots.  I ended up having to buy two rolls of both the edging and the fabric.  I ended up using very little of the second rolls of each so perhaps I will be able to make use of it in a future project.  My hubby picked up some yard staples and some tacks used to hold the fabric in place for me.  Anyway, I used the edging to line the fence with so that my mulch would not leak out for under it.  I laid and tacked down the weed fabric and then filled the space all in with mulch.  Once that was done I had my kids help me move the stepping stones into place.  Here is what it looks like now:

Total cost of the project was about $60! I consider that to be some what thrifty since yard projects always end up being so much money!  It was totally worth the money spent since it looks so much better!