Monday, July 8, 2013

Helping You Save a Buck

Like a dollar not the deer ...

I hate shopping at Wal-Mart! I cringe every time I walk into the place. I saw a documentary about the company a few years ago and that turned me off of the superstore. I heard they're apparently trying to turn things around ... maybe I need to find a newer documentary. 

Even though I prefer to buy American made things from local stores, Wally World has become a necessary evil in my life. The reason I shop there is 2-fold.
    1. When I get out, especially when I've got all 3 in tow, I need to get as much of what I need in the same
    place because there's really no telling when I'll get out again. So ... convenience.  

    2. The prices. I'm a cheapskate ... not ashamed of it. 

Okay, so here's where the good part comes in! My wonderful sis-in-law told me about price matching at Wal-Mart. They will match a lower price at any other local store. Woohoo! Ever since I made this discovery, I've added a step to my grocery list making process. I check pretty much every store in the local area for better deals. Takes me about an hour. But I think it's worth it! 

Many times Wal-Mart really does have the lowest price. But I'm usually able to save at least $25 this way. It's worth it to me since I go through at least 2 gallons of milk and 3 pints of strawberries a week.  

So I've decided to share the love! After my weekly grocery trip, I'm going to post things I've bought that I price matched so everyone can benefit from my research. A good example of the deals I find: Strawberries are almost always .99 a pint at Aldi. They're usually $1.98 at Wal-Mart ... half off! YAY! 

Since I'll only be posting about the deals I've found on my trip, I'll tell you how I do it in case you want to do your own legwork. :) 

1. I've bookmarked every grocery store I can think of in the area: Tom Thumb, Aldi, Albertsons, Kroger, The Dollar Store, Dollar General, CVS, Walgreens, Brookshires, Target, Sprouts, & HEB (Having them bookmarked just makes the process easier)
2. Make out my grocery list.
3. Get on my computer and pull up each store's online weekly ad paper & look for the items on my list. Sometimes, if I see a really good deal I'll get something not on my list but I'm not about buying 42 travel size shampoos for only $1.29. I just want a good deal on the things I already buy.
4. When I find a better deal at a different store, I write the better price, the item info (brand, size, etc) & the store I found it at next to the item on my list. 
    Note: If Tom Thumb has 16oz of cheese for $4 but I can only find the same cheese at Wal-Mart in 8oz I'll
    say 8oz for $2 ... get it? 

    Note #2: I try to stay pretty true to the exact size & brand. However, if the Tom Thumb brand cheese is
    on sale I'll relate that to the Wal-Mart brand cheese. Sometimes the cashiers except it, sometimes not.

5. When I shop I'll get whatever's cheaper ... Wal-Mart or the other store. When at the register, I tell the cashier right off that I'm price matching. Then I group all my price matched items together (just makes it easier). When the cashier comes to an item I'm pricing matching I tell him "That cheese is $2 at Tom Thumb."

Although someone could very easily take advantage of the system, I don't. I stay very honest to it. Even though I'd LOVE to tell them milk is on sale for $1 somewhere. :( 

Tune in later or my deal postings!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Laundry Room ReDo

We've been living with my folks for almost a year (can't believe that!). It's been an adjustment in many ways. For me, it's been hard not having my own house/space. My parents are wonderful about sharing their space but when it comes down to it everything is still my mom's kitchen, my mom's decorations, my mom's furniture, etc. 

Me and mom have chatted about some areas we'd like to declutter and give a face lift. Top of the list: the pantry and laundry room. Mom was out of town for part of this week so I decided to surprise her with a laundry room redo! 

It was my first real redo and I had such a good time doing it! One lesson I learned was don't cut corners. Just do things they way they should be done. It may take longer but not as long as doing something half-assed and having to go back and fix it. :o) Here's what I did and how I did it.

This is the worst before pic ever! I forgot to take a picture before I moved everything to the garage. Picture this: a table taking up the whole wall on the left, making it impossible to stand in front of the washer. You actually had to stand off to the side to load/unload it. ANNOYING! On the table was wire racks filled with extra food, lightbulbs, cleaners, Eve's backpacks and crafts. It was stacked at least 5 1/5 feet high. Bulk papergoods, trashbags and pet food spilled out from under the table. Because of that whole monstrosity, you really only had about half (if that) of this empty space to walk in. It was basically impossible for 2 people to do anything but stand in there. Get the picture?? Oh and I didn't address the homemade hanging clothes bar (you can see part of it above the cabinets). This room was once my mom's sewing room so my dad installed that for her then. Ever since we moved in, it's been home to about 100+ hangers (usually empty) and some clothes hanging up to dry. It made it even harder to access the washing machine and the items on the table.

Here's the almost completed after. I picked a color for an accent wall (I'm pretty much in love with that blue color right now!) and then I revolved everything else around that. I organized and cleaned out everything in the cabinets, sanded, primed and painted them. A tip: when buying white paint, make sure you have WHITE PAINT and not a base for them to add color to. I bought wall decals at Joann's and put them on the washer and dryer (thanks Pinterest!). I just happened to find a $20 4.5x6 rug at WalMart in the perfect color. I snatched that guy up right away! I hung a white rack to hang Eve's backpacks and lunch boxes from and the white bins house her crafts and poopoo prizes.

The finished, finished product! I took off the old cabinet hardware and added adorable lollipop looking knobs I found at Hobby Lobby in my perfect shade of blue. I wanted most of the cleaners to still be super accessible so I put them on that thin rack between the dryer and the wall.

Definitely a fun experience! It was a little intimidating at first and I learned alot along the way. Bu more importantly, I learned that I can do it! Stay tuned for the pantry redo.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beer Broccoli Cheese Soup

I discovered greatness! I was going to make broccoli cheese soup for some friends and my husband, half jokingly, suggested I make it with beer. I've seen Cheddar beer soup recipes before so I thought, Okay, I'll give it a shot!

It turned out so delicious! Here's what I did:

4 big heads of broccoli
1 Guinness beer (some recipes I've seen say not to use stout beer when cooking but I use beer because I want to taste it. So I go with dark.)
1 block Velveta (next time I'll use cream cheese to eliminate the fake food)
1 big handful of shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup half and half or cream or milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt


Steam broccoli. In a separate pot melt cheese in the beer over medium heat to create a yummy cheese sauce. When the broccoli has steamed and the sauce has sauced, drain broccoli. By mixing half broccoli half cheese sauce in your blender, blend everything until creamy. At this point I put everything back into the pot to season. Just season to taste. I used salt, paprika and turmeric (because I heard The Doctors say its super good for you and should be added to everything!) I wasn't sure if I was going to add the cream and the yogurt but I ended up incorporating it after seasoning the soup. I guess you could add it to the sauce making process. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Latest Goings On

 Eve LOVES putting things on the babies' heads. Today she thought Noomi needed a spring hat.

It's almost time to break out the play yard. These guys are getting around fast!

I think it's hysterical when they crash in random places like this. Justin always has the touch. 

Justin and Eve decorated a cake for Justin's birthday. Eve picked the color/flavor of course.

Organization: Take 2

So I posted on some of the organization I did in Eve's closet. Here is some of the stuff I got done in the babies' closet and drawers. 

What next? Hum ... perhaps momma & daddy's room?

 I got these baskets from the Dollar Store. They had them in 5 different colors. I wanted something to shove all the random stuff in the babies' closet in that I want easy access to but don't necessarily use on a daily basis.

These are the drawer organizers in action! LOVE LOVE!! 

Diapers, formula and blankets. My dad built these shelves before we moved in. At first they really annoyed me but I like them now.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More Secrets

There was a time when I was a one-kid mom running my own home. I have since evolved to a three-kid mom sharing the homemaking responsibilities. I think things are about equal ... more kids, less homemaking responsibilities. I thought I'd share some of what I do that has made keeping house MUCH easier for me.
Before we moved in with my folks and the only kid I had nipping at my heels was Eve, I used the Card File System. The what??, you ask. I got this idea from the book Sidetracked Home Executives, a book my mom read when she was a young housewife and passed on to me. It's a great system to organize your chores and appointments and everything else you want to accomplish in a day, week, month and year. I'm hoping to go back to this system once things stabilize around here.
Now I use a calendar. I made a blank one that I framed and write in the days, month and chores with a dry erase marker. My goal these days is to do ONE chore a day. For example, this week looked like this:
- Monday: Our room
- Tuesday: Bathrooms (mine and the girls')
- Wednesday: Girls' rooms
- Thursday: Laundry
- Friday: Closets
Sometimes I end up doing laundry more than once a week and "closets" isn't on there every week. It usually rotates with something like "floors" or "organize" or something like that. I'm a big list maker. I feel SUPER accomplished if I can finish my one chore a day (which I usually can) and check it off. I feel like an ober achiever if i can manage to throw another chore in too.
BUT IS THERE TIME FOR ALL OF THAT?? A very valid question, I frequently ask myself. The answer is: But of course!
Part of the hole Card File system I mentioned above is timing how long it takes you to do one chore. Not how long it takes to clean the entire bathroom but how long it takes to do each individual thing: clean the toilet, wipe down the sink, clean the shower, etc. It's AMAZING how long it really takes you to clean something! I can clean my entire bathroom in about 3 minutes ... THREE MINUTES! That includes straightening, wiping down and scrubbing the toilet, spraying down and rinsing the shower, wiping out the sink, wiping the mirror and cleaning off the floor. So if time is your issue, I encourage you to set a timer and let yourself see how it really doesn't take that long to get stuff done. I was amazed! I'm sure will be too!
What secrets do you use to gets daily chores accomplished?

Right where I'm meant to be.

I've blogged before about how I do what I do in hopes it will give other moms some new ideas and tools.
Today I wanted to talk about why I do what I do in hopes to encourage others.
I've lived such a full life! I have been so extremely blessed to live out my dreams and have experiences I never would've thought possible. I was an Air Force journalist for 4 years. I worked as an EMT and nurse tech caring for people. I made it through nursing school with zero school debt. I've piloted an airplane, traveled the world and had countless adventures.
I'm currently living another dream ... being a mom. However, there are still unfulfilled desires in my heart. I graduated nursing school in December and had Eve in March. When I was pregnant I wasn't 100% sure if I was going to stay at home full time or work. When Eve was about 9 months old I decided to look for a job. I was offered a job as a nurse in a newborn nursery and was almost through the testing process to be a firefighter for 2 different cities. It was when I was on the brink of accepting a job outside of the home that I realized I was being offered a once in a lifetime job opportunity ... raising my baby. I realized that I would NEVER have this chance again. I would never have the chance to see my daughter's first steps, first words, first food, teach her things and watch her grow. Nursing could wait. Firefighting (a dream I'd had since I was 16) could wait. God was calling me to a different purpose.
Even now, there are days when I lose my focus and get online to scope out jobs. I have a $30,000 degree that many people would see as going to waste. I still want to be a nurse. I want to go back to school and eventually be an advance practice nurse. But that's not where God wants me to be right now. Spending my days thinking about where I could be and what else I could be doing, takes away from this job. It puts my mind on something else, somewhere God doesn't want it to go right now. I'm confident there will come a time when I will see those dreams fulfilled.
I understand the NEED for moms to work. Times are hard. But I encourage you moms who are struggling with being home with your kids to pray about where you're supposed to be. If the Lord says "With your kids" I encourage you to BE with your kids. Get off the internet, throw away the job listings and shelve those dreams that are out of season. Surround yourself with people who encourage and support you in this job because yours is a once in a lifetime job and not everyone gets the offer.

Toddler Closet Organization

As I mentioned in a previous post, the organization bug has bitten me. I've been meaning to organize/clean out both of the girls' closets for a while and I've finally done it!! 

I wish I would have taken before pictures, but I didn't. :o( Anyway, here's what I did and how I did it.

Bins for book storage. We've got tons of books. I like to swap them out for the ones on Eve's bookshelf every now and then so I needed them to be accessible. I bought the blue bin at Target for $10. Then I found the green ones at the Dollar Store! 

Dress-up clothes. I bought hooks at the Dollar Store to hang her dress-up dresses on. I wasn't sure how it'd work because before this I had them all shoved into a box and it was easy for Eve to put them away (even though I did it most of the time). Turns out she LOVES to hang them up! I've had to stick the hooks back on the wall twice, but that's what you get for $1 items. I already had the stack of 3 drawers on the left and it works perfect for dress-up accessories.

Saw this on Pinterest. Love it! I use it for both Eve and the babies' lost socks.   

I decided to hang most of Eve's clothes and get bins for the rest. I already had these white ones but I saw some just like them at the Dollar Store. That's also where I got the polka dot bins. Shoes now go in the striped basket. Perfect, because it keeps Eve out of them and focused on her dress-up shoes for playing. I labeled the bins because we have 4 people in the house who could potentially dress Eve and because my step-daughter is here every now and then, I wanted to be clear where everything is. 

I HAVE DISCOVERED CLOTHES ROLLING!! What a space saver! In the bins are rolled panties, balled up socks, swimwear and rolled up knit pants and shorts. For more on rolling, check back when I post pics of the babies' closet and dresser. I went crazy!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting It Together!



I've been on a cleaning/organizing binge lately! It started with me declaring war on germs in an attempt to keep the flu away. That bled into organizing the girls' closets, drawers and clothes. I'll post more on all that later. 

So I went to Target to get some organizing equipment and ended up with a big basket for books for $10. I was okay with the price for what I was getting. But then I came home only to discover I really needed 2 more of those baskets. 

Instead of going back to Target, I headed to the Dollar Store! SCORE!!! I found everything Target had at the Dollar Store plus more. Granted it's probably not the quality I would've gotten at Target, but it worked perfectly for what I needed.

I discovered how rolling clothes and towels can save SO much room in your drawers and cabinets and look so much neater. With that in mind, I found these amazing drawer organizers! FOR A DOLLAR! They had 2 different sizes. I'll post pictures later of the organizers in use so you can see how amazing they are in action!

 They had 2 different sizes - small and medium. But that leads me to believe there's a large somewhere!

This is how they looked in the package.

Kiddie Kid Update

Well I made it though Christmas and took about 5 pictures. I'm the worst mother ever!! Long story short, my phone is my main camera and when my good phone broke I got a functioning "new" phone with a horrible camera. (Thus the low quality pictures I will be posting) But I managed to get at least 1 picture of each kid at Christmas. 

So Eve will turn 3 in March! It seems like she's been 2 for a decade! I'm very excited to see what 3 holds. Justin and I have both loved the 2s. Her name means "life" and she is the life of our family that is for sure! She has been taking gymnastics since September. She is the youngest and smallest girl in her whole gym. Yet she was the first one in her class to do some pretty advanced tricks by herself! She loves it! Right now she's in a mommy and me class and I'm so reluctant to move her because I absolutely love her coach! My job during classes is help keep her focused and remind her she's supposed to listen and obey then to help coach in getting her to do the tricks. She's learning so much!
My stinky bug as a newborn.
My baby big girl at gymnastics.

On the baby front, the girls are getting BIG! I've noticed just in the last few days how solid they're getting. They're SO close to crawling. But that doesn't keep them from getting around. Between scooting and army crawling they get around ... FAST! I'm loving it!! They are starting to recognize people and when Justin comes home from work they get so excited and try to get to him. 

They've been growing within 1/2 an inch or 1/2 a pound of each other. It's really been fun to watch them grow. I keep thinking they'll start looking drastically different and they keep looking more alike!

They're interacting with each other. They'll hold hands and touch each other's faces. They'll put each other's hands in their own mouths and try to play with the other's clothes. The absolutely LOVE Eve and Toria! When Eve walks into the room they're fixated. Granted it's hard to be because she usually runs into a room singing and dancing. Toria sings to them and they are mesmerized. They're getting to be so interactive and fun!
 Who's who?


Eve's doing. She wanted Noomi to play dressup with her. 

Playing with her sister's pumpkin butt!

My Life Is Complete

I've got an amazing husband and the best 3 daughters anyone could ask for! What more could a girl ask for?? A VITAMIX!! This week I got one! I've wanted one of these for literally years! My mom and I finally went together and got one. 

I fought with the dang thing the first morning we had it after mixing 1 cup of coffee and 1 cup of protein drink with a bunch of ice and ending up with about 20 cups of a separated liquid ice slushy mix. BAH! It didn't detour me and later that day I made a very drinkable green smoothie.

So excited at the possibilities!!