Monday, June 30, 2008


Yeah, this frugal blogger doesn't have a budget. We live pretty reasonably, and can pay our bills. We invest a decent amount, though not as much as I'd like. Until a few years ago, we were always in the black. Then I quit working, we had a kid, we finished our basement, we tore out all of our upstairs walls, we had another kid, Stewart lost his job, our first kid started at a pricey preschool, and now we've got some debt on our equity line.

I'm not sure how much detail I'm going to feel comfortable sharing on-line yet. Maybe all of it, maybe very little. I'll hash it out in my head in the days to come. Suffice to say the debt's pretty big, though neither of us are worried. Stewart has his main job back, plus side-work. I've got my eBay. Plus July is Nate's last month of pricey preschool, and cheapie preschool starts up in September. That'll help tremendously.

So we've decided to be more careful about our daily purchases and to spend a full month tracking everything we spend. I'm starting June 30th and we'll go through July. I'm going to use the Dave Ramsey Monthly Accounting chart to track everything, but we are not going to be using the envelope system. We put every single thing possible on our credit card which puts 2% into Nate's college fund. It really adds up.

If we look back at what we spend in this month and we're overspending, we'll use a modified envelope system to get us back in check: keep a notebook with us and when we make a purchase, subtract the amount spent from the appropriate category. When the allotted balance reaches zero we stop spending in that category. This will allow us to keep buying on the credit card and getting the benefits and still keep us in check.

Any good budget tips out there? What's worked best for you?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Milestone Moment!

Too much information, maybe, but nursing has been a big part of my early relationship with my sons. I weaned Nate at 9 months when he finally took a bottle.

Due to his early exposure, Jack has always taken a bottle so I wasn't sure when we'd finish nursing. The answer? Today.

My supply has been dwindling - it's very circular. I add in another bottle so I get less milk, Jack gets more frustrated, I add in another bottle, and so it goes. And now it's gone.

I'm a little sad, nothing major. I hope the seven months was good for him. I have no worries about our "bonding" - we gaze into each other's eyes whenever he's eating, no matter what he's eating from. We'll both be fine.

CVS weekly deals - June 29th

Here's what's to come this week (monthly deals not included):

  • Weekly items:

    • CVS aftershaves (limit 5). Pay $2.59, get $1 ECB back. Use the $2/CVS skincare coupon to make this a money-maker. You can print the coupon as many times as you like. I believe this deal is only good through Monday 6/30.

    • Crest toothpaste (limit 1). Pay $1.99, get $1 ECB. Use the $1/Crest coupon from the 6/2 P&G insert to make this a freebie. This deal is only good through Monday 6/30.

    • Clairol Natural Instincts (limit 1). Pay $5.99, get $1 ECB back. Use the $4/coupon from the 6/1 P&G insert to make the net cost $.99! This deal is only good through Monday 6/30.

    • Bic Soleil deal (limit 4 items (two razors and two cartridge packs)) - Buy the razor and a 4-pack of cartridges at $6.99 each, earn 5 ECBs. Use TWO $4/coupons from the 6/22 Smart Source. Net cost of $1 for both items together. This sale is also a July ECB sale, so you can do it all through July.

    • Huggies Lotion or Wash 15 oz (limit 5) - buy each for $3.49, get $2 ECBs. Use the $1/coupon from the 6/22 Smart Source insert. Net cost of $.49 each!

    • Accu-Check Compact Plus Diabetes Kit (limit 1) - buy for $9.99, get $9.99 ECBs. Freebie!

    • Physicians Formula mascara (limit 1) - buy each for $7.99, get $7.99 ECBs. Freebie!

Last week's meal plan

Tried out a few new ones last week:

Monday was a Spanish Tortilla.

I was a little wary of how simple it was, seasoning-wise, but it was very subtle and very good. I think it would be a great way to use up leftovers, and a kind-of fancy "breakfast for dinner." I didn't skin the potatoes (more work, less nutrition). Leftovers were even good cold (with a little ketchup, I admit.)

Tuesday was another new one: Bulgur with Apricots and Almonds. This was the first recipe that I thought was pretty disappointing - it was bland and boring. But I'm still very glad I made it because I really liked the texture and taste of the bulgur wheat, and I plan on using it again, albeit with another recipe.

Wednesday is "friend day" and Dave was over as usual. He brought along a kale salad and re-did the bulgur salad by sauteeing my block of tofu with some asian sauce and adding the bulger to it. Totally saved the recipe.

Thursday I re-made the Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad. Somehow it wasn't as good as the first time; maybe because I used canned corn. Still very good and very nutritious.

Friday and weekend were "catch as catch can" with leftovers and Trader Joes meals.

This next week will be a little odd - I'm throwing down a "use what's in your pantry" challenge. Wackiness ensues.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CVS weekly deals - June 22nd

Not a whole lot of deals for me this week, but free is always good.

Soyjoy bars are on sale for a buck, and when you buy 4 you get 4 ECBs. I bought 20 on my account and 20 on Stewart's. I've heard they're pretty terrible, but Nate liked it just fine. Yay for healthy free snacks!

The vitamins are B0G0, and I had two coupons for $2/off. Found Vitamin C for $5.39, so I paid $.70 for each bottle (only one is shown because I gave one to a friend).

The Colgate is on sale for $2.99 and each is generating 2 ECBs. I had 5 coupons for $1/off from a recent Sunday insert.

I had a few $3/15 coupons leftover and decided to try one at the self-checkout. It went through just fine!

Merchandise cost: $60.34

ECBs generated: $50
Coupons used: $12

Net cost: Earned $1.66!

A challenge: shop in your pantry!

This week's meal plan is set, but here's what I plan to do for next week: shop out of my pantry and let it guide the meal plan. I hope to use up every odd can, strange jar of sauce, and frozen thing that's been there for long enough that I know I'm not going to use it otherwise.

I've pared down those items in the past few months, and donated anything I know for sure we won't be using. Here's what's left to work with:

Two jars of BBQ sauce
2/3 box of lasagne noodles
A jar of alfredo sauce
Two cans of refried beans
Block of tofu
Two packages of cream cheese
Beef broth & chicken broth
Tomato juice
Frozen salmon
Chicken burgers
Morningstar Farms veggie crumbles (meat substitute)

Got any good ideas for this mess? Send 'em along!

Monday, June 23, 2008

CVS weekly deals - June 15th

This was a fun deal.

Oral-B CrossAction Power Toothbrushes were on sale from $8.99 to $5.99 (replacement heads, too). Each toothbrush generates 3 ECBs. One of the recent newspaper inserts had coupons for buy one, get one free.


Four toothbrushes @ $5.99 each ($23.96)
Four replacement packs @ $5.99 each ($23.96)
Subtotal cost: $47.92

Used four BOGO (buy one, get one) coupons
Subtotal cost: $23.96
ECBs generated: $24

I did have to pay sales tax on these, so my net cost on all 8 was $1.52.

Icing on the cake: at the bottom of my receipt from buying the toothbrushes was a coupon for $2/Almay products. The Almay one-coat mascara this week was on-sale for $6.99 and is generating $5 ECBs, so with the coupon it was free. My favorite word!

Dabbling in Walgreens again

Had a not-so-great experience when I first tried to "do the deals" at Walgreens (the $20 in Register Rewards didn't print out; had to send in a form to have them mailed to me). I just received my gift card from the Free After Rebate items from a few months ago, and my $20 in Register Rewards actually showed up, so I thought I'd give it one more try.

See here for Money Saving Mom's explanation of how to work Walgreens.

The cereal was on sale 3/$7, with $2 RRs printing out (they didn't actually print out, but a manger intervened and put the two bucks on my gift card). I had a manufacturer coupon for $1/2 boxes, so the total cost for the cereal was $1.33 per box.

The rest of the items were free after rebate, so my net cost for everything shown is just the $4!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Meal plan from last week

We were out of town all weekend, so I only made three meals this week. All three were new ones, but I don't have any photos to share. The burritos were too boring to photograph and we skedaddled out of town too soon to take pictures of the salad.

Monday & Tuesday we had Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos. The recipe makes 12 very big burritos and they were absolutely delicious. We all loved them, and will certainly make them again. The best part is that they can be frozen and then reheated individually.

Mashing the beans into the sweet potatoes cuts the overwhelming sweetness of that much potato, and adds tons of fiber and protein. I used four medium-large sweet potatoes, poked holes, wrapped them in tin foil, and threw them in the oven for about an hour at 350. They were nice and mushy when they came out, and I just mashed the beans directly into them with the rest of the ingredients. Nate loved helping to squish them all together; it kept him busy for quite a while. I'm giving this recipe 13 stars.

Wednesday I made up a new recipe: pizza burritos. I took the leftover tortillas, spread them with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Then I sauteed all of the leftover random vegetables in the fridge (mushrooms, spinach, a green pepper, and onions) and threw them on top. Sprinkled with oregano and salt, and folded them up. Stewart had them for lunch and Nate had them for two dinners. They were very good, though obviously nothing special.

What they were was a GREAT, somewhat nutritious, way to use up all of the orphaned vegetables and random shredded cheese and the pasta sauce left in the bottom of the jars. 7 stars.

Thursday I made Curried Couscous With Broccoli and Feta. After I made it, I realized it was a whole lot similar to the rice salad I love to make but with couscous as the grain. Next time I will leave out the feta - I think the flavor is too strong and it just wasn't a coherent part of the flavor of the dish. Anyway, it was great. 16 stars. Definitely going to show up again.

Reliving a weekend away

When I get frustrated at the kids, when I'm so tired I'm foggy, when I've wiped my 94th poopy butt, I'll have this weekend to look back and remember. I'm writing it all down so I can rehash and revel and rub it all in. 'Cause my kids may not sleep as well as yours do, they may be louder and more fidgety and less cuddly, but I got to get away from them for 48 straight hours. So ha.

Friday evening my parents came to take over and we skedaddled. Nate seemed sad, but Mom reports 5 minutes of whining and then complete distraction with the promise of a trip to the corner Chinese food shop. Loyal boy. We drove to Baltimore and checked into the Westin airport hotel. I took a very long shower that involved shaving (!), foot scrubbing (!), and lotion afterwards (!!!). Put on a coat of nail polish and headed downstairs for a nice dinner. Hanging out in the room and then bed at 11:30.

It was amazing: after dinner, I truly felt "Okay, time to go home!" It was shocking to realize we still had the rest of the night, the entire next day, and most of Sunday still to come. Shocking in a good, fantastic, fabulous way.

Woke up on my own at 7:15, but fell back asleep until the 8 am call. A lovely breakfast and then off to the airport. It was incredible to just head out with one little bag! Got 5 luxury magazines and a Coke (!!) with caffeine (!!!) and enjoyed all of the leisurely travel.

The wedding was beautiful and special, and I'm thrilled we were able to be there. We visited with some old friends from DC, and Stewart took beautiful pictures of the blushing bride and her new wife.

Left the reception at 7:30 and headed back to the airport. A middle seat was never so luxurious as when I had nobody else to be responsible for. Pure pleasure.

Bed at 2 am, and a sleep until 10. Breakfast downstairs, and then total apathy in the room for several hours. TV surfing, more toenail polish, a bit of a doze. Ice cream in Baltimore, and then home to my kiddos.

I opened the door, Nate saw me, smiled, and said "Where's Dada?" Lovely. Great. He was happy to see me, but nothing beat the happy of seeing Daddy. Jack gave me a few "welcome home" hair-pulls, and we were all back in business.

Thank goodness for my amazing parents. I didn't worry at all, and barely thought about home. They know my kids and love my kids and I knew they'd figure everything out. And they did.

We're doing this again in 6 months, no questions. It was great to be together, just us, without anyone else to be responsible for. It's great for my kids to be with my parents, and to know that we have a life outside of them. A little one, but a life nonetheless. And hopefully we didn't send my parents too much closer to their graves with the night-feeds and the spit-up.

Off to stare at my toes for a little while.

Friday, June 20, 2008

My first hunting trip at Target

Figured as long as I was going to Target today, I'd cash in one some of the great deals Money Saving Mom posted about for this week. We are seriously never going to need toothpaste again.

Net cost before coupons: $27.26
Net cost after coupons: $.26

Had to pay sales tax on it all, so my grand total was the $.26 plus $1.16 for a total of $1.42.

Totally worth it.

Jack's Monthly Newsletter, Month Seven

Dear Jack,

Happy seven-month birthday, sweet boy. You're coming along.

You continue to amaze everyone with your happy nature and your big smiles. When I'm holding you facing outwards and people start to interact with you, I can tell you're grinning because the sides of your cheeks push outwards with the force of your smile. I honestly can't think of a time when someone got your attention and you didn't reward them with a smile, even when you've been sick, even when you've been tired. A lesson to be learned, I think.

Sleep is still elusive, but I see some progress. Without any "training" on my part, you've started skipping some of your night-waking. Two nights in a row you slept from 7 to 3:30, and again until 6. And last night you did have a feed at midnight, but then slept until 5:30. So progress is slow, but it's there.

You can be quite the inquisitive one. I try to keep several soft toys with me when I put you in the car, and as you accidentally toss each one over the side of your carseat I hand you a new one. I love stealing glances of you in the mirror as you handle each one, turn it all around, look at every piece of it, and thoughtfully chew on the different parts. Sometimes you hum the whole time you're doing your examinations.

You are pretty content with almost anything we're doing. You love the swings in the park, but you also love it when I just throw you up in the air. You love it when your brother wants to hang out in your crib with you, but you also love it when the cashier at the store talks to you. Life is one grand adventure, and you're just taking it all in.

Contentment aside, you are not a physically calm baby. You are constantly moving, squirming, grabbing, pulling, and fidgeting around. When I feed you, I always give you a little blanket or your Pooh bear to fondle, but you're never content with it. You spend pretty much the whole time reaching up as high as you can to grab and pull my hair. It's your prime directive: must pull hair. Hard. I'm logging today as your first official crawl, though it was just a bitty one - you got up on all fours and then tried to push into a push-up position, and when you came down you slightly moved one knee forward before collapsing onto your belly. Good job, buddy.

There's just no way a Mom of two kids can help comparing them, even when they try not to. So I'll just get it out in the open: you are far more social than Nate ever was, and you are far less physical. You still haven't cut a tooth and you've just started to be able to sit up. I am constantly surprised when you do things differently than Nate did, but I'm soaking it all up. I'm so glad that you're your own little person; that I get someone totally different to love.

Tonight Daddy and I are taking our first weekend away in quite a long time. Grandma and Grandpa are going to stay with you and Nate and take wonderful care of you. I hope that I don't miss you guys, but I know I'll be thinking about you. For better and for worse, taking care of you and your brother is the point of my life, my prime directive. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Garden update

I swear the garden grows every night. It's amazing. I love coming out in the morning and seeing how it looks, and if there are any new little tomatoes, and how everything is thriving. It's such a joy.


Today we achieved the Triple Lindy of parenthood: the double transfer.

Took the boys to meet my Mom at the playground in Maryland; rode the train and had a fine old time. Hit Target and cleared them out of their free stuff (check the other blog for details in the next few days). Both boys predictably fell asleep on the way home.

Rolled up to the house; no parking spaces out front. Darnit - how to handle this? Alright, Nate's older and can scream louder if someone tries to kidnap him, so Jack into the house first. Pulled up to an illegal street space and put on the blinkers. Scooped Jack up, locked the car, and bolted (gently, gently) into the house. Up the stairs, shades down, fan on, Jack into the crib. Shove the pacifier in when he starts to cry, bolt out of the room and close the door.

Run down the stairs, jump into the car, pull into a now open space. Grab Nate up, lock the car, speed-walk into the house. No crying from Jack's room yet. Into Nate's room, shades down, fan on. Tell him he can watch his TV after nap instead of before, give him Bumper. Close the door.


It's still quiet an hour later.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Last week's meal plan

We were away for 3 nights last week, so just a few items to review for last week:

Monday: Wheatberry Salad again. This is a good standard for us. I think I undercooked the wheatberries this time, but I kinda like the chewy texture. Nate and Stewart both liked it, but didn't love it. I love that it gets whole grains and fruit (apples and raisins) into their bodies.

Tuesday: Spinach Calzones with Blue Cheese again. We love it.

Wednesday: Soba Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables. This was the only new recipe I tried and it was pretty good. Not great, but good. I used a peeler to slide the carrots lengthwise and liked the way it looked. Nate liked it a lot, so I'm happy about that.

Definitely planning on trying some new recipe this week! Anyone have any good new ones?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

CVS weekly deals - June 9th

I know I haven't posted last week's deals yet. I'll get around to it, I promise.

Fresh from the kill at CVS this morning:

Transaction 1:

Two boxes of Cheerios - $3.34 each
Two boxes of Fiber One - $3.34 each
Two boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios - $3.34 each

Used $3/15 CVS coupon
Used (2) $1.50 off Cheerios coupons (from last week's Pamper's deal)
Used (2) $1.00 off Fiber One coupons
Used (2) $1.00 off Honey Nut Cheerios coupons

Earned 10 ECBs for buying $20 in General Mills cereal

Net cost on this transaction: Totally free.


Transaction 2:

Two Garnier Nutrisse Micro-Bead Cream Scrubs - $6.59 each
One package CVS bandaids - $1.99

Used $3/15 CVS coupon

Earned 10 ECBs on Garnier items
Earned 1.99 ECBs on bandaids

Net cost on this transaction: $.30


Transaction 3:

Three Powerades - $1.00 each
One Dove shampoo - $4.99
One Dove conditioner - Free (buy 1, get one free)
Package of two Crossaction toothbrushes - $6.99

Used $3/15 CVS coupon
Used (2) $2/Dove coupons - from the Sunday inserts
Used (3) $.75/Powerade coupons - from the Sunday inserts

Earned 6.99 ECBS on

Net cost for this transaction: Earned $1.01!


Transaction 4:

Two Nivea for Men shaving gels - $3.99 each
One Gillette Fusion razor - $9.99

Used $3/15 CVS coupon
Used $4/Gilette coupon - from the Sunday inserts
Used $4/Nivea coupon - from the Sunday inserts

Earned 5 ECBs for half of Nivea deal
Earned 4 ECBs for Gilette purchase

Net cost for this transaction: earned $1.46!


Transaction 5:

One Schick Quattro razor - $9.49
One Dove shampoo - $4.99
One Dove conditioner - Free (Buy one, get one free)

Used $3/15 CVS coupon
Used (2) $2/Dove coupons - from the Sunday inserts
Used $3/Schick coupon - from the Sunday inserts

Net cost for this transaction: $1.91


Transaction 6:

Four Nivea shave gels - $3.99 each

Used $3/15 CVS coupon
Used (2) $4/Nivea coupons - from the Sunday inserts

Earned 5 ECBs on Nivea products

Net cost for this transaction: $.59


So I got all of this:

Sales price on the merchandise: $100.54 (with sales tax included)

Net cost on the merchandise: $.33. THIRTY-THREE CENTS. AFTER SALES TAX.

CVS rocks.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jack's first Arrowroot biscuit

"What's this?"

"It's food? Are you sure?"


"I WUV food!" (ala Nate)


"More please!"

Our little oasis

Until a few days ago, there was no other way to describe our backyard: it was white-trash. It was even worse before we had the back fence replaced - it was a rickety broken mess. A few weeks ago:

We've been working hard for a few weeks, and we're finally done. Here's our little oasis now:

View from the back fence, toward our house:

I do wish my boys had a big, huge, green yard to play in. But we're very lucky to have the space that we do, and I'm counting my blessings.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The (meal) week in review

Decided it might make more sense to talk about my weekly meal plan after the week is up, so I can include photos and comments about what I chose.

This past week, I only ended up doing two recipes - we ate each for two nights. I always double-up my recipes and freeze half if it's freezable or eat it for two (or three) nights if it won't freeze well. Friday night we just picked out of the fridge for dinner and weekends we tend to be going in opposite directions. For example, Stewart's photographing a wedding tonight, so he'll eat there. I'll just eat a Lean Cuisine Panini or a can of soup.


Monday and Wednesday we had Summer Rolls. I decided to practice a bit of frugality and omit the shrimp - I doubled up on the avocado and used a bit of fake crab in half. Next time I'll skip the protein altogether - it was great with just avocado and cilantro.

Tuesday and Thursday we had Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad. Oh my goodness this was good. Got lucky finding really nice ripe mangoes at the store. I'm not sure how much the dish benefitted from the roasting of the corn kernels; I might try skipping that step next time to save some time. I used half frozen corn kernels and half fresh. Truly delicious. Nate at bowl after bowl after bowl. I just can't explain how good I feel when I see him stuff healthy food down his throat!

(Emily - are you out there? I think you would love this recipe!)

Nate's Monthly Newsletter, Two Years Nine Months

Dear Nate,

Someone asked me how old you were the other day, and I told them you were almost three. Then I had a seizure. How is it possible that you are almost three?

Your language has taken a quantum leap in the last week or so, and now you're on top of your game. The negotiating has begun, almost always in relation to sleep. Right before your nap yesterday you came into the kitchen where I was working on dinner and slyly asked "Can I have a banana and then my nap?" How could resist?

You're starting to identify your feelings, for which I give your school all the credit. We walked to the fire station a few days ago to check out the ambulances and firetrucks, and you babbled the whole way there: "Going to see the firetrucks? And the ambulance? And the fireman?" The second one of the firemen spoke to you, you stopped functioning. You tucked your chin into your shoulder and couldn't speak. When I asked you to please say "hello" to the fireman, you whispered "I'm too shy."

We had a little talk about how it's fine to be shy, but you still have to use good manners. I'm never going to make you hug someone or try to force you to interact, but you do have to say "hello", "goodbye", "please", and "thank you."

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

You're not a social butterfly; you never have been. I remember people trying to get you to smile at them when you were a baby - it was an exercise in futility. You didn't cry, but you sure weren't about to smile at a stranger. But with your family, you're really very sunshiney and friendly. You ask me: What's that Mama? And I'll tell you: That's cilantro! Your inevitable response: Ooooh, I WUV cilantro! Daddy loves cilantro! Do you love cilantro? Fill in whatever word you want for cilantro and that's your response to anything new. I hope that positive attitude carries over to what I think of as your "real life" - when you're grown.

Life with you these days is like having a sports announcer at all times: you like to narrate what you've done and what you're doing. After a tantrum, you'll tell me "I was crying, Mama." You fell down trying to climb into your carseat last week, splat onto the parking lot floor. Of course I ran over to pick you up, got you calmed down, and we started for home. A few minutes later I hear "I fell down, Mama." Yes, you did. "And I cried." Yes again. "And then you picked me up!" I did, buddy. That's what Mommies do. "Mommies pick up little boys?" Yep, and hopefully don't get arrested for it.

You still love to tell me "no!" and I've taken to calling you "sassy." You retort: I'm not sassy, you're sassy. Sometimes you'll be playing with your blocks and I hear you banging them together saying "You're being rude! You're being rude!" At least it's getting through.

I have no complaints about you as a two year-old. I think you're a blast. There's no doubt that it's a lot of work trying to raise you properly, to teach you manners and consideration and empathy and goodness. This morning you were using my camera to take pictures in the living room, and you plopped down next to Jack and started taking pictures of him. In between each one you gave him a little pet on the head. You give us spontaneous hugs, and you light up when Jack is around. You're very sweet, and very special.

I love you,

An auspicious (poopy) beginning

I've been letting the boy run pantsless every afternoon and he's peed in the potty several times without any prompting. He's waking up dry, and likes watching everyone go potty. Plus I keep confusing Nate's Target-brand diapers with Jack's Target-brand diapers (Target keeps the prices low low low by saving the ink that it would take to put a "3" or a "5" to indicate the sizes.) I decided enough was enough with the diapers.

Ooh, Diego underpants!

We started the formal potty training today. I decided to keep him pantsless for two days, then underpants for two days, and then we'll venture into pants territory. I took him out of school for next week and we're going to hunker down at home for at least 5 days - I'm trying to set him up to succeed.

And he really is succeeding. We're only through our first morning and he hasn't had any accidents - he's used the potty, without any prompting, four times (three pees and a poop). The poop was especially impressive since he was playing in the basement - he came running up the stairs yelling "The poop is coming! The poop is coming!"

He's like a little Paul Revere.

An interesting development

Jack wasn't feeling well yesterday, so he went to bed at 6 pm. I checked on him at 6:30, to make sure he hadn't thrown up again, and found him sleeping soundly with no pacifier. I was pleased at that - it probably means it fell out when he cried (for a few minutes) when I put him down, and he still was able to fall asleep without it. Good.

Went to bed early myself, and woke up at 2 am, a little surprised that Jack hadn't yet paged me for the first of his feeds. Went in to check on him and found him sleeping soundly - sucking away on the pacifier. Woke Stewart from a dead sleep to ask if he'd put it in for him; once my very confused husband figured out what I was talking about, he said he had not. Very interesting.

I'll be heading to the store today to stock up on more pacifiers; I plan to littler the crib with those things, so that whenever he reaches out a hand he finds one waiting. And I'll put a little extra money aside in the orthodontist savings account, and enjoy the heck out of my sleep.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A great resource

Here's a list of all of the online printable coupons out right now. Very helpful!


Speaking of hippy-dippy frugality

I like to feed the kids organic when I can, especially milk and cheese. I don't go terribly out of my way, but when the cost is reasonable I opt for organic. Thank goodness for Trader Joes and their cheapie organics!

So it's baby food time for Jack, and try to keep costs reasonable means I can either buy non-organic food or make my own organic, like I did with Nate. I happen to love "putting food up" - it makes me feel all Little House on the Prairie. So I made him the food.

It's so easy it's almost ridiculous: bake the sweet potatoes and acorn squash until mushy, puree with breastmilk. Glop onto cookie sheets in glumps, freeze, put in bags. Boil apples until mushy, rinse, repeat. Bananas are the easist: puree with breastmilk, freeze in glops. I cut up a bunch of avocados, froze in slices, and put one into his meals here and there, to cut back on the sweetness of the foods I picked.

I'm especially glad I did this because the boy is a pig. He eats food three times a day, probably about 5 ounces each feed. It's a good thing I'm learning frugality now; when these boys are teenagers I think our food bills are going to be outrageous.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hippy-dippy frugality

I read a lot of "frugality blogs" and I learn a lot, use some of it, and reject a whole heck of a lot of what they have to say. A woman today wrote about setting a timer for her showers; she's proud to have cut them down from 10 minutes to 5. She's shooting to get it down to 3 minutes. I read a lot about how and when people find time to clip coupons, how they cut their own hair at home, and how they visit four grocery stores each week to maximize the bargains.

I do have the luxury of being able to buy what I need. I try to be frugal and smart with our money, but we don't have to pinch every penny until it hurts. I know that some people are very close to the bone.

But for people somewhere in the middle, I just say this: please consider the cost of your precious time. To spend three hours making bread, which you can buy for $3, seems like a losing proposition. If you love making bread, it's worth every second. To save a couple of bucks? I won't do it.

Here's an example: my husband drinks 2 or 3 beers a night. It costs us about $15 a week. This is the ultimate in luxury purchases. That said, I'd never ask him to give it up. He works hard, spends time with his kids, and indulges very little. Let him have his beer.

It's hard, when you're trying to stay in the "frugal mindset", to remember to be sane and balanced about money. To remember that the point of it all is to create a happy, safe life for everyone; not to die with money in the bank. I tend to err a bit too much on the frugality side; my husband a little too much on the spendy side. We're lucky to have a built-in system of "checks and balances". Knowing what he's thinking makes me consider the time and money-worthiness of some of my projects; knowing that I'm going to see the credit card bill makes him do the same.

What kinds of balanced choices are you making these days? Any suggestions to share?

My new blog - a small change

I guess it's a big one. I changed the name of my other blog to The City Mom - I'm really focusing on living, and raising kids, in the city. The "frugal living" stuff is just a bonus.

Find me here:

The City Mom


I wrote recently about walking to get a bunch of errands done; I do it at least 3 times a week. Today it was CVS and the bank.

Today I found a link to a site that will tell you how "walkable" your neighborhood is. My address got an 89 (out of 100).

What's your walkability score?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Like a weed

Little man is growing up. Yesterday he started pushing up a bit, mostly like he was doing a push up. Today he really started getting his knees underneath. It's amazing how fast it goes.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

My social butterfly is always always always happy if someone's holding him but hasn't much cared for being left on the nice, clean, plush carpet surrounded by his toys. Now that he's starting to be able to move around a bit, things are changing for the better. Today he spent at least a half hour on the floor spinning around on his belly and checking each toy out in turn. I guess that's the benefit of having no short-term memory, hell he probably has no long-term memory either - on each rotation when he came to the next toy it was totally brand new to him. Even though he'd just played with it moments before. Works for me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Massive growth.

So the Burpee order that I canceled? They refunded me, but shipped it anyway. It arrives today with a whole load of tomato seedlings inside. I'll inventory it when it comes in and figure out what the heck to do with all of these new babies! I'm excited, but I need more planters and soil (and space!).


Sunday, June 1, 2008

New CVS $3 / $15 purchase

Just sign up for a membership here:

Beacon Journal

You'll have to use a real e-mail address, but you can put in fake information for everything else.

Then click here to go directly to the add. Play around with your print options - I used the "Print Current View" option once the coupon was in the main part of my screen.

New June deals will be up soon!

CVS May wrapup

Went to CVS yesterday to get the rest of the Free After ECB items on Stewart's account.

I haven't added up the merchandise worth, but to get all of this (including toothpaste for Nate which we just needed), CVS paid me $11.70

Those days are passing, since my $5 / 15 coupons are now officially expired. It's sort of fun to look forward to figuring out new good deals in the coming days!

Meal plan - week of June 2

It's gotten hot here, so I think it's time to work some cooler meals into the mix. Tonight we'll have the Tofu Parmigiana - I prepped the tofu yesterday but we ended up going out for BBQ and eating our weight in ribs. Leftovers for lunch today Yum.

So, in no particular order, our dinners for this week:

* Shrimp summer rolls (Stewart loves these) I do my own version with shrimp, chives, cilantro, and a peanut dipping sauce. They're a little complicated to make, so it'll definitely be a "after the kids are in bed" dinner

* Soba Salad with Tofu

* Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad

I think we'll have leftovers from at least one of those meals, plus the nice weather is encouraging us to eat out in our local restaurants. I'll just plan those 3 dinners and play the rest of them by ear.